[*] It often puzzled all of us to understand how it
was possible that
Ignosi’s mother, bearing the child with her, should have survived
the dangers of her journey across the mountains and the desert,
dangers which so nearly proved fatal to ourselves. It has since
occurred to me, and I give the idea to the reader for what it is
worth, that she must have taken this second route, and wandered
out like Hagar into the wilderness. If she did so, there is no
longer anything inexplicable about the story, since, as Ignosi
himself related, she may well have been picked up by some ostrich
hunters before she or the child was exhausted, was led by them to
the oasis, and thence by stages to the fertile country, and so on
by slow degrees southwards to Zululand.—A.Q.
Travelling easily, on the night of the fourth day’s journey we found ourselves once more on the crest of the mountains that separate Kukuanaland from the desert, which rolled away in sandy billows at our feet, and about twenty-five miles to the north of Sheba’s Breasts.
At dawn on the following day, we were led to the edge of a very precipitous chasm, by which we were to descend the precipice, and gain the plain two thousand and more feet below.
Here we bade farewell to that true friend and sturdy old warrior, Infadoos, who solemnly wished all good upon us, and nearly wept with grief. “Never, my lords,” he said, “shall mine old eyes see the like of you again. Ah! the way that Incubu cut his men down in the battle! Ah! for the sight of that stroke with which he swept off my brother Twala’s head! It was beautiful—beautiful! I may never hope to see such another, except perchance in happy dreams.”
We were very sorry to part from him; indeed, Good was so moved that he gave him as a souvenir—what do you think?—an eye-glass; afterwards we discovered that it was a spare one. Infadoos was delighted, foreseeing that the possession of such an article would increase his prestige enormously, and after several vain attempts he actually succeeded in screwing it into his own eye. Anything more incongruous than the old warrior looked with an eye-glass I never saw. Eye-glasses do not go well with leopard-skin cloaks and black ostrich plumes.
Then, after seeing that our guides were well laden with water and provisions, and having received a thundering farewell salute from the Buffaloes, we wrung Infadoos by the hand, and began our downward climb. A very arduous business it proved to be, but somehow that evening we found ourselves at the bottom without accident.
“Do you know,” said Sir Henry that night, as we sat by our fire and gazed up at the beetling cliffs above us, “I think that there are worse places than Kukuanaland in the world, and that I have known unhappier times than the last month or two, though I have never spent such queer ones. Eh! you fellows?”