The third volume in this stunning series of adventures in the distant past
Rider Haggard is one of the most famous authors of adventure fiction in the English language. Almost everyone has heard of Allan Quatermain—the hero of King Solomon's Mines—and the beautiful, ruthless, magically immortal Ayesha—She 'who must be obeyed.' All of Haggard’s novels and stories featuring both characters are available in handsome Leonaur editions. Haggard was a prolific writer so it is not surprising that only a few of his titles are widely known—and read—by an audience which would enjoy them all. The essential elements of his most famous creations—the great African continent and ancient civilisations, mysterious and exotic, mythical, imagined or real, are combined in a number of his novels and stories and these too have now been collected by Leonaur into a special four volume set—African Adventures. Readers will therefore be unsurprised to learn that Haggard could not resist writing a number of tales about ancient civilisations, or that in these he naturally gravitated towards the most evocative of them all—the world of the Ancient Egyptians and the other peoples of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. This is a stunning body of fiction which Leonaur has gathered together into a four volume set—each successive volume following a chronological time-line along the sweeping march of history.
Volume three of this four volume collection is very substantial—containing three stories of Haggard's vision of the ancient world. The World's Desire, the first novel in this volume and fifth in the series takes place in of Ancient Greece. This is a mythical and magical adventure with elements of the fantastical which Haggard aficionados will recognise and relish. The second story, 'Elissa,' is a shorter work which features a Phoenician colony in Africa, while the final novel in this volume focuses around the turbulent period when Jerusalem fell to the invading Roman Empire. Available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket for collectors.
The curtains shook, the doors were burst asunder, and through them poured guards, eunuchs, and waiting-women. <br>
“Help,” she cried, pointing to the Wanderer. “Help, help! oh, save mine honour from this evil man, this foreign thief whom Pharaoh set to guard me, and who guards me thus. This coward who dares to creep upon me—the Queen of Khem—even as I slept in Pharaoh’s bed!” and she cast herself upon the floor and threw her hair about her, and lay there groaning and weeping as though in the last agony of shame.<br>
Now when the guards saw how the thing was, a great cry of rage and shame went up from them, and they rushed upon the Wanderer like wolves upon a stag at bay. But he leapt backwards to the side of the bed, and even as he leapt he set the arrow in his hand upon the string of the great black bow. Then he drew it to his ear. The bow-string sang, the arrow rushed forth, and he who stood before it got his death. Again the bow-string sang, again the arrow rushed, and lo! another man was sped. A third time he drew the bow and the soul of a third went down the ways of hell. Now they rolled back from him as the waters roll from a rock, for none dares face the shafts of death. They shot at him with spears and arrows from behind the shelter of the pillars, but none of these might harm him, for some fell from his mail and some he caught upon his buckler.<br>
Now among those who had run thither at the sound of the cries of Meriamun was that same Kurri, the miserable captain of the Sidonians, whose life the Wanderer had spared, and whom he had given to the Queen to be her jeweller. And when Kurri saw the Wanderer’s plight, he thought in his greedy heart of those treasures that he had lost, and of how he who had been a captain and a rich merchant of Sidon was now nothing but a slave.<br>
Then a great desire came upon him to work the Wanderer ill, if so he might. Now all round the edge of the chamber were shadows, for the light was yet faint, and Kurri crept into the shadows, carrying a long spear in his hand, and that spear was hafted into the bronze point which had stood in the Wanderer’s helm. Little did the Wanderer glance his way, for he watched the lances and arrows that flew towards him from the portal, so the end of it was that the Sidonian passed round the chamber unseen and climbed into the golden bed of Pharaoh on the further side of the bed. Now the Wanderer stood with his back to the bed and a spear’s length from it, and in the silken hangings were fixed spears and arrows. Kurri’s first thought was to stab him in the back, but this he did not; first, because he feared lest he should fail to pierce the golden harness and the Wanderer should turn and slay him; and again because he hoped that the Wanderer would be put to death by torment, and he was fain to have a hand in it, for after the fashion of the Sidonians he was skilled in the tormenting of men. Therefore he waited till presently the Wanderer let fall his buckler and drew the bow. But ere the arrow reached his ear Kurri had stretched out his spear from between the hangings and touched the string with the keen bronze, so that it burst asunder and the grey shaft fell upon the marble floor. Then, as the Wanderer cast down the bow and turned with a cry to spring on him who had cut the cord, for his eye had caught the sheen of the outstretched spear, Kurri lifted the covering of the purple web which lay upon the bed and deftly cast it over the hero’s head so that he was enmeshed. Thereon the soldiers and the eunuchs took heart, seeing what had been done, and ere ever the Wanderer could clear himself from the covering and draw his sword, they rushed upon him. Cumbered as he was, they might not easily overcome him, but in the end they bore him down and held him fast, so that he could not stir so much as a finger. Then one cried aloud to Meriamun:<br>
“The Lion is trapped, O Queen! Say, shall we slay him?”<br>
But Meriamun, who had watched the fray through cover of her hands, shuddered and made answer:<br>
“Nay, but lock his tongue with a gag, strip his armour from him, and bind him with fetters of bronze, and make him fast to the dungeon walls with great chains of bronze. There shall he bide till Pharaoh come again; for against Pharaoh’s honour he hath sinned and shamefully broken that oath he swore to him, and therefore shall Pharaoh make him die in such fashion as seems good to him.”<br>
Now when Kurri heard these words, and saw the Wanderer’s sorry plight, he bent over him and said:<br>
“It was I, Kurri the Sidonian, who cut the cord of thy great bow, Eperitus; with the spear-point that thou gavest back to me I cut it, I, whose folk thou didst slay and madest me a slave. And I will crave this boon of Pharaoh, that mine shall be the hand to torment thee night and day till at last thou diest, cursing the day that thou wast born.”<br>
The Wanderer looked upon him and answered: “There thou liest, thou Sidonian dog, for this is written in thy face, that thou thyself shalt die within an hour and that strangely.”<br>
Then Kurri shrank back scowling. But no more words might Odysseus speak, for at once they forced his jaws apart and gagged him with a gag of iron; and thereafter, stripping his harness from him, they bound him with fetters as the Queen had commanded.<br>
Now while they dealt thus with the Wanderer, Meriamun passed into another chamber and swiftly threw robes upon her to hide her disarray, clasping them round her with the golden girdle which now she must always wear. But her long hair she left unbound, nor did she wash the stain of tears from her face, for she was minded to seem shamed and woe-begone in the eyes of all men till Pharaoh came again.