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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 243 pages of information about King Solomon's Mines.
saves his forces and attains his ends, to certain slaughter, in order to give their cause and the remainder of the army a chance of success.  They were foredoomed to die, and they knew the truth.  It was to be their task to engage regiment after regiment of Twala’s army on the narrow strip of green beneath us, till they were exterminated or till the wings found a favourable opportunity for their onslaught.  And yet they never hesitated, nor could I detect a sign of fear upon the face of a single warrior.  There they were—­going to certain death, about to quit the blessed light of day for ever, and yet able to contemplate their doom without a tremor.  Even at that moment I could not help contrasting their state of mind with my own, which was far from comfortable, and breathing a sigh of envy and admiration.  Never before had I seen such an absolute devotion to the idea of duty, and such a complete indifference to its bitter fruits.

“Behold your king!” ended old Infadoos, pointing to Ignosi; “go fight and fall for him, as is the duty of brave men, and cursed and shameful for ever be the name of him who shrinks from death for his king, or who turns his back to the foe.  Behold your king, chiefs, captains, and soldiers!  Now do your homage to the sacred Snake, and then follow on, that Incubu and I may show you a road to the heart of Twala’s host.”

There was a moment’s pause, then suddenly a murmur arose from the serried phalanxes before us, a sound like the distant whisper of the sea, caused by the gentle tapping of the handles of six thousand spears against their holders’ shields.  Slowly it swelled, till its growing volume deepened and widened into a roar of rolling noise, that echoed like thunder against the mountains, and filled the air with heavy waves of sound.  Then it decreased, and by faint degrees died away into nothing, and suddenly out crashed the royal salute.

Ignosi, I thought to myself, might well be a proud man that day, for no Roman emperor ever had such a salutation from gladiators “about to die.”

Ignosi acknowledged this magnificent act of homage by lifting his battle-axe, and then the Greys filed off in a triple-line formation, each line containing about one thousand fighting men, exclusive of officers.  When the last companies had advanced some five hundred yards, Ignosi put himself at the head of the Buffaloes, which regiment was drawn up in a similar three-fold formation, and gave the word to march, and off we went, I, needless to say, uttering the most heartfelt prayers that I might emerge from that entertainment with a whole skin.  Many a queer position have I found myself in, but never before in one quite so unpleasant as the present, or one in which my chance of coming off safe was smaller.

By the time that we reached the edge of the plateau the Greys were already half-way down the slope ending in the tongue of grass land that ran up into the bend of the mountain, something as the frog of a horse’s foot runs up into the shoe.  The excitement in Twala’s camp on the plain beyond was very great, and regiment after regiment was starting forward at a long swinging trot in order to reach the root of the tongue of land before the attacking force could emerge into the plain of Loo.

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