She eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 371 pages of information about She.
on our left, through which, I presume, he had been taking a morning stroll, and came running up to see what sort of strange animals we were.  He stared, and stared, and then held up his hands in horror, and nearly fell to the ground.  Next, he started off as hard as he could for the grove some two hundred yards away.  No wonder that he was horrified at our appearance, for we must have been a shocking sight.  To begin, Leo, with his golden curls turned a snowy white, his clothes nearly rent from his body, his worn face and his hands a mass of bruises, cuts, and blood-encrusted filth, was a sufficiently alarming spectacle, as he painfully dragged himself along the ground, and I have no doubt that I was little better to look on.  I know that two days afterwards when I inspected my face in some water I scarcely recognised myself.  I have never been famous for beauty, but there was something beside ugliness stamped upon my features that I have never got rid of until this day, something resembling that wild look with which a startled person wakes from deep sleep more than anything else that I can think of.  And really it is not to be wondered at.  What I do wonder at is that we escaped at all with our reason.

Presently, to my intense relief, I saw old Billali hurrying towards us, and even then I could scarcely help smiling at the expression of consternation on his dignified countenance.

“Oh, my Baboon! my Baboon!” he cried, “my dear son, is it indeed thee and the Lion?  Why, his mane that was ripe as corn is white like the snow.  Whence come ye? and where is the Pig, and where too She-who-must-be-obeyed?”

“Dead, both dead,” I answered; “but ask no questions; help us, and give us food and water, or we too shall die before thine eyes.  Seest thou not that our tongues are black for want of water?  How, then, can we talk?”

“Dead!” he gasped.  “Impossible. She who never dies—­dead, how can it be?” and then, perceiving, I think, that his face was being watched by the mutes who had come running up, he checked himself, and motioned to them to carry us to the camp, which they did.

Fortunately when we arrived some broth was boiling on the fire, and with this Billali fed us, for we were too weak to feed ourselves, thereby I firmly believe saving us from death by exhaustion.  Then he bade the mutes wash the blood and grime from us with wet cloths, and after that we were laid down upon piles of aromatic grass, and instantly fell into the dead sleep of absolute exhaustion of mind and body.

XXVIII

OVER THE MOUNTAIN

The next thing I recollect is a feeling of the most dreadful stiffness, and a sort of vague idea passing through my half-awakened brain that I was a carpet that had just been beaten.  I opened my eyes, and the first thing they fell on was the venerable countenance of our old friend Billali, who was seated by the side of the improvised bed upon which I was sleeping, and thoughtfully stroking his long beard.  The sight of him at once brought back to my mind a recollection of all that we had recently passed through, which was accentuated by the vision of poor Leo lying opposite to me, his face knocked almost to a jelly, and his beautiful crowd of curls turned from yellow to white,[*] and I shut my eyes again and groaned.

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She from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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