The fourth and final volume of Haggard's gripping collected tales of the 'Dark Continent'
Rider Haggard's affection for and affinity with the 'Dark Continent' is well known. His adventures featuring Allan Quatermain—the little white hunter, trader and explorer are justly famous and appear as a collected set in their entirety from Leonaur. For some that generous helping of African adventures simply will not be sufficient. Although Haggard was a prolific author not all of his material is familiar or available to those who would enjoy it. Leonaur has gathered together Haggard's 'other' adventures set in Africa into one collection of four books available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket for collectors.
Volume four of Leonaur's collection of Haggard’s African stories concludes the series in fine and satisfying style. The first of the two novels here is 'The Ghost Kings'. Those familiar with the Quatermain stories will recognise a familiar theme that always delivers a good tale. A 'White Priestess' has arisen in the Zulu nation and intrigue and violence must surely follow. This volume concludes explosively with the novel, 'The Yellow Idol', an exciting adventure with all the ingredients Haggard enthusiasts love. Our heroes venture into the hostile desert, but beneath its sands lies an unknown and hidden city and its strange and mysterious people. This great yarn concludes Leonaur's special collection of eight novels and a novelette in four coordinating volumes that Haggard enthusiasts will want to keep forever.
Then of a sudden Noie sprang up, and seized a flaming brand from the fire; it was the limb of a fetish, made of some resinous wood. She ran from the cave swiftly, before they could stop her, and vanished in the gathering gloom, to return again in a few moments weak and breathless. “Come out, now,” she said, “and see a sight such as you shall never behold again,” and there was something so strange in her voice that, notwithstanding their weakness, they rose and followed her. <br>
Outside the cave they could not stand because of the might of the hurricane, but cast themselves upon the ground, and following Noie’s outstretched arm, looked up towards the top of the mound. Then they saw that the Tree of the Tribe was on fire. Already its vast trunk and boughs were wrapped in flame, which burnt furiously because of the resin within them, while long flakes of blazing moss were being swept away to leeward, to fall among the forest that lay beyond the wall.<br>
“Did you do this?” cried Rachel to Noie.<br>
“Aye, Zoola, who else? That was the message which came to me. Now my office is fulfilled, but you two will live though I must die, I who have destroyed the People of the Dwarfs; I who was born that I should destroy them.”<br>
“Destroyed them!” exclaimed Rachel. “What do you mean?”<br>
“I mean that when their Tree dies, they die, the whole race of them. Oh! Nya told me, Nya told me—they die as their Tree dies, by fire. To the Wall, to the Wall now, and look. Follow me.”<br>
Forgetting their hunger-bred weakness in the wild excitement of that moment, Rachel and Richard struggled hand in hand, after Noie’s thin, ethereal form. Across the open space they struggled, through the furious bufferings of the gale, sometimes on their feet, sometimes on their hands and knees, till they came to the great wall where a stairway ran up it to an outlook tower. Up this stair they climbed slowly since at times the weight of the wind pinned them against the blocks of stone, till at length they reached its crest and crept into the shelter of the hollow tower. Hence, looking through the loopholes in the ancient masonry, they saw a fearful sight. The flakes of burning moss from the Tree of the Tribe had fallen among the tops of the forest, parched almost to tinder with drought and heat, and fired them here and there. Fanned by the screaming gale the flames spread rapidly, leaping from tree to tree, now in one direction, now in another, as the hurricane veered, which it did continually, till the whole green forest became a sheet of fire, an ever-widening sheet which spread east and west and north and south for miles and miles and tens of miles.<br>
Earth and sky were one blaze of light given out by the torch-like resinous trees as they burned from the top downwards. By that intense light the three watchers could see hundreds of the People of the Dwarfs flitting about between the trunks. Waving their arms and gibbering, they rushed this way and that, to the north to be met by fire, to the south to be met by fire, till at length the blazing boughs and boles fell upon them and they disappeared in showers of red sparks, or, more fortunate, fled away, never to return, before the flame that leapt after them. One company of them ran towards the Sanctuary; they could see them threading their path between the trees, and growing ever fewer as the burning branches fell among them from above. They leapt, they ran, they battled, springing this way and that, but ever the great flaring boughs crashed down among them, crushing them, shrivelling them up, till at length of all their number but a single man staggered into the open belt between the edge of the forest and the wall. His white hair and his garments seemed to be smouldering. He gripped at them with his hands, then coming to a little bush—it was the top of Nya’s tree which she had thrust into the ground to grow there—dragged it up and began to beat himself with it as though to extinguish the flames. In an instant it took fire also, burning him horribly, so that with a yell he threw it to the ground, and ran on towards the wall. As he came they saw his face. It was that of Eddo.