“I almost wish I were back,” said Good, with a sigh.
As for myself, I reflected that all’s well that ends well; but in the course of a long life of shaves, I never had such shaves as those which I had recently experienced. The thought of that battle makes me feel cold all over, and as for our experience in the treasure chamber—!
Next morning we started on a toilsome trudge across the desert, having with us a good supply of water carried by our five guides, and camped that night in the open, marching again at dawn on the morrow.
By noon of the third day’s journey we could see the trees of the oasis of which the guides spoke, and within an hour of sundown we were walking once more upon grass and listening to the sound of running water.
And now I come to perhaps the strangest adventure that happened to us in all this strange business, and one which shows how wonderfully things are brought about.
I was walking along quietly, some way in front of the other two, down the banks of the stream which runs from the oasis till it is swallowed up in the hungry desert sands, when suddenly I stopped and rubbed my eyes, as well I might. There, not twenty yards in front of me, placed in a charming situation, under the shade of a species of fig-tree, and facing to the stream, was a cosy hut, built more or less on the Kafir principle with grass and withes, but having a full-length door instead of a bee-hole.
“What the dickens,” said I to myself, “can a hut be doing here?” Even as I said it the door of the hut opened, and there limped out of it a white man clothed in skins, and with an enormous black beard. I thought that I must have got a touch of the sun. It was impossible. No hunter ever came to such a place as this. Certainly no hunter would ever settle in it. I stared and stared, and so did the other man, and just at that juncture Sir Henry and Good walked up.
“Look here, you fellows,” I said, “is that a white man, or am I mad?”
Sir Henry looked, and Good looked, and then all of a sudden the lame white man with a black beard uttered a great cry, and began hobbling towards us. When he was close he fell down in a sort of faint.
With a spring Sir Henry was by his side.
“Great Powers!” he cried, “it is my brother George!”
At the sound of this disturbance, another figure, also clad in skins, emerged from the hut, a gun in his hand, and ran towards us. On seeing me he too gave a cry.
“Macumazahn,” he halloed, “don’t you know me, Baas? I’m Jim the hunter. I lost the note you gave me to give to the Baas, and we have been here nearly two years.” And the fellow fell at my feet, and rolled over and over, weeping for joy.
“You careless scoundrel!” I said; “you ought to be well sjambocked” —that is, hided.