“I hate ’em, my lord, and they haunts” (he said ’aunts) “me. If ever I get out of this I’ll go and live in Ireland, my lord, where they say there ain’t none. But it isn’t likely that I shall,” he added mournfully, “for the omen is horrid.”
“On the contrary,” I answered, “it is splendid, for you have killed the snake and not the snake you. ‘The dog it was that died,’ Savage.”
After this the Kafirs gave Savage a second very long name which meant “He-who-sits-down-on-snakes-and-makes-them-flat.” Having remounted him on his horse, which was standing patiently a few yards away, at length we got off. I lingered a minute behind the others to give some directions to my old Griqua gardener, Jack, who snivelled at parting with me, and to take a last look at my little home. Alack! I feared it might be the last indeed, knowing as I did that this was a dangerous enterprise upon which I found myself embarked, I who had vowed that I would be done with danger.
With a lump in my throat I turned from the contemplation of that peaceful dwelling and happy garden in which each tree and plant was dear to me, and waving a good-bye to Jack, cantered on to where Ragnall was waiting for me.
“I am afraid this is rather a sad hour for you, who are leaving your little boy and your home,” he said gently, “to face unknown perils.”
“Not so sad as others I have passed,” I answered, “and perils are my daily bread in every sense of the word. Moreover, whatever it is for me it is for you also.”
“No, Quatermain. For me it is an hour of hope; a faint hope, I admit, but the only one left, for the letters I got last night from Egypt and England report that no clue whatsoever has been found, and indeed that the search for any has been abandoned. Yes, I follow the last star left in my sky and if it sets I hope that I may set also, at any rate to this world. Therefore I am happier than I have been for months, thanks to you,” and he stretched out his hand, which I shook.
It was a token of friendship and mutual confidence which I am glad to say nothing that happened afterwards ever disturbed for a moment.
THE MEETING IN THE DESERT
Now I do not propose to describe all our journey to Kendahland, or at any rate the first part thereof. It was interesting enough in its way and we met with a few hunting adventures, also some others. But there is so much to tell of what happened to us after we reached the place that I have not the time, even if I had the inclination to set all these matters down. Let it be sufficient, then, to say that although owing to political events the country happened to be rather disturbed at the time, we trekked through Zululand without any great difficulty. For here my name was a power in the land and all parties united to help me. Thence, too, I managed to dispatch three messengers, half-bred border men, lean fellows and swift of foot, forward to the king of the Mazitu, as Hans had suggested that I should do, advising him that his old friends, Macumazana, Watcher-by-Night, and the yellow man who was named Light-in-Darkness and Lord-of-the-Fire, were about to visit him again.