In addition, the neck of Haffgo was encircled by a double string of the same dazzling jewels, of hardly less magnitude; while the wrist of the right hand, which rested on a large javelin, was clasped by a golden bracelet of what appeared to be living fire.
The king was dressed in a species of thin cloth, gathered by a girdle at the waist. The crimson tint of this garment was relieved by figures of the sun, moon and stars, of dragons, birds, beasts and reptiles in gold. One of his feet was visible, disclosing a species of sandal such as is seen among the natives of the East Indies.
Had King Haffgo been encountered anywhere else, he would have been set down as a European with an unusually fair complexion. It bore no liking to that of the African or native Murhapa. His skin had none of that chalky, transparent appearance shown by the Albinos, but was almost pinkish and ruddy.
His bushy hair was not white, but of a decided brown, his eyes hazel, his nose Roman, with a strong chin and a keen expression, such as was natural to a man who had reigned an absolute autocrat all his life.
He was about fifty years of age, but his face was wrinkled like a man of threescore and more.
King Haffgo was seated on his throne when his visitors were ushered into his presence, as though he expected and was waiting for them.
The white men were unacquainted with the etiquette prevailing in this barbaric court, but there are certain ceremonies which are received as expressive of courtesy and obeisance the world over.
Ziffak gave no instructions; but, placing himself at the side of Professor Grimcke on the left, he surveyed his friends with much curiosity, as if waiting to see how they would conduct themselves.
Grimcke, Long and Ashman removed their hats and bowed slowly, bending their heads almost to their knees. Then, as they straightened up again, the Professor, who took upon himself the duty of spokesman, said:
“We greet the great King Haffgo, and beg that he will accept the homage of his brothers from their homes near the great water.”
“Why do my brothers come from their homes to hunt out the king of the Murhapas, when he has not asked them to come?”
These words were uttered almost exactly as given. The accent was thick and somewhat broken, but they showed an astonishing command of the English tongue, and proved that Waggaman and Burkhardt had found some exceedingly apt pupils among this people.
It is not necessary to give the interview in detail. There was a certain stateliness about the manner of the king which was remarkably becoming. His guests had prepared themselves, when starting out on their exploring enterprise, to make friends, by providing a large supply of gaudy trinkets, such as is always pleasing to the average savage; but, when they saw the wonderful crown and diamond ornaments of this autocrat, they were ashamed to let the baubles in their possession be seen.