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Quatermain: the Complete Adventures 5

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Quatermain: the Complete Adventures 5
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): H. Rider Haggard
Date Published: 2009/03
Page Count: 476
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-603-8
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-604-5

Quatermain loads his elephant gun and embarks on more adventures

This is the fifth volume of Leonaur's seven volume complete coordinated collection of the epic adventure stories of Allan Quatermain, Rider-Haggard's consummate nineteenth century white man in Africa. The Quatermain tales include many that are much less familiar than the first story—the famous King Solomon's Mines. Quatermain is a man of his time and place so most of his adventures included the wild, warlike, tribal nations of South East Africa, its beautiful and untamed landscape and its spectacular and often dangerous fauna. Historically accurate elements such as slavers and the imperial domination of Victorian powers are also common. But Rider-Haggard always held a space open for the fantastical. Wizardry, ghosts, hidden peoples, bizarre cults and incredible creatures—which seemed to have the potential to be hidden somewhere in the dark heart of the Dark Continent—and all are likely to make appearances in their turn. This volume includes the two novels The Ancient Allan & She and Allan to delight Quatermain's enthusiastic aficionados.

We entered the City of Graves that is called Sekera. In the centre towered pyramids that hid the bones of ancient and forgotten kings, and everywhere around upon the desert sands was street upon street of monuments, but save for a priest or two hurrying to patter his paid office in the funeral chapels of the departed, never a living man. Bes looked about him and sniffed with his wide nostrils.<br>
"Is there not death enough in the world, Master," he asked, "that the living should wish to proclaim it in this fashion, rolling it on their tongues like a morsel they are loth to swallow, because it tastes so good? Oh! what a waste is here. All these have had their day and yet they need houses and pyramids and painted chambers in which to sleep, whereas if they believed the faith they practised, they would have been content to give their bones to feed the earth they fed on, and fill heaven with their souls."<br>
"Do your people thus, Bes?"<br>
"For the most part, Master. Our dead kings and great ones we enclose in pillars of crystal, but we do this that they may serve a double purpose. One is that the pillars may support the roof of their successors, and the other, that those who inherit their goods may please themselves by reflecting how much handsomer they are than those who went before them. For no mummy looks really nice, Master, at least with its wrappings off, and our kings are put naked into the crystal."<br>
"And what becomes of the rest, Bes?"<br>
"Their bodies go to the earth or the water and the Grasshopper carries off their souls to—where, Master?"<br>
"I do not know, Bes."<br>
"No, Master, no one knows, except the lady Amada and perhaps the holy Tanofir. Here I think is the entrance to his hole," and he pulled up his beast with a jerk at what looked like the doorway of a tomb.<br>
Apparently we were expected, for a tall and proud-looking girl clad in white and with extraordinarily dark eyes, appeared in the doorway and asked in a soft voice if we were the noble Shabaka and Bes, his slave.<br>
"I am Shabaka," I answered, "and this is Bes, who is not my slave but a free citizen of Egypt."<br>
The girl contemplated the dwarf with her big eyes, then said,
"And other things, I think."<br>
"What things?" inquired Bes with interest, as he stared at this beautiful lady.
"A very brave and clever man and one perhaps who is more than he seems to be?"<br>
"Who has been telling you about me?" exclaimed Bes anxiously.<br>
"No one, O Bes, at least not that I can remember."<br>
"Not that you can remember! Then who and what are you who learn things you know not how?"<br>
"I am named Karema and desert-bred, and my office is that of Cup to the holy Tanofir."<br>
"If hermits drink from such a cup I shall turn hermit," said Bes, laughing. "But how can a woman be a man's cup and what kind of a wine does he drink from her?"<br>
"The wine of wisdom, O Bes," she replied colouring a little, for like many Arabs of high blood she was very fair in hue.<br>
"Wine of wisdom," said Bes. "From such cups most drink the wine of folly, or sometimes of madness."<br>
"The holy Tanofir awaits you," she interrupted, and turning, entered the doorway. <br>
A little way down the passage was a niche in which stood three lamps ready lighted. One of these she took and gave the others to us. Then we followed her down a steep incline of many steps, till at length we found ourselves in a hot and enormous hall hewn from the living rock and filled with blackness.
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