“So be it,” I said carelessly; “all time is before us, for we do not die. We are ready, lead on. But Infadoos, and thou Scragga, beware! Play us no monkey tricks, set for us no foxes’ snares, for before your brains of mud have thought of them we shall know and avenge. The light of the transparent eye of him with the bare legs and the half-haired face shall destroy you, and go through your land; his vanishing teeth shall affix themselves fast in you and eat you up, you and your wives and children; the magic tubes shall argue with you loudly, and make you as sieves. Beware!”
This magnificent address did not fail of its effect; indeed, it might almost have been spared, so deeply were our friends already impressed with our powers.
The old man made a deep obeisance, and murmured the words, “Koom Koom,” which I afterwards discovered was their royal salute, corresponding to the Bayete of the Zulus, and turning, addressed his followers. These at once proceeded to lay hold of all our goods and chattels, in order to bear them for us, excepting only the guns, which they would on no account touch. They even seized Good’s clothes, that, as the reader may remember, were neatly folded up beside him.
He saw and made a dive for them, and a loud altercation ensued.
“Let not my lord of the transparent Eye and the melting Teeth touch them,” said the old man. “Surely his slave shall carry the things.”
“But I want to put ’em on!” roared Good, in nervous English.
“Nay, my lord,” answered Infadoos, “would my lord cover up his beautiful white legs (although he is so dark Good has a singularly white skin) from the eyes of his servants? Have we offended my lord that he should do such a thing?”
Here I nearly exploded with laughing; and meanwhile one of the men started on with the garments.
“Damn it!” roared Good, “that black villain has got my trousers.”
“Look here, Good,” said Sir Henry; “you have appeared in this country in a certain character, and you must live up to it. It will never do for you to put on trousers again. Henceforth you must exist in a flannel shirt, a pair of boots, and an eye-glass.”
“Yes,” I said, “and with whiskers on one side of your face and not on the other. If you change any of these things the people will think that we are impostors. I am very sorry for you, but, seriously, you must. If once they begin to suspect us our lives will not be worth a brass farthing.”
“Do you really think so?” said Good gloomily.
“I do, indeed. Your ‘beautiful white legs’ and your eye-glass are now the features of our party, and as Sir Henry says, you must live up to them. Be thankful that you have got your boots on, and that the air is warm.”
Good sighed, and said no more, but it took him a fortnight to become accustomed to his new and scant attire.