THE RETURN OF SHE
By H. Rider Haggard
“Here ends this history so far as it concerns science and the outside world. What its end will be as regards Leo and myself is more than I can guess. But we feel that it is not reached. . . . Often I sit alone at night, staring with the eyes of my mind into the blackness of unborn time, and wondering in what shape and form the great drama will be finally developed, and where the scene of its next act will be laid. And when, ultimately, that final development occurs, as I have no doubt it must and will occur, in obedience to a fate that never swerves and a purpose which cannot be altered, what will be the part played therein by that beautiful Egyptian Amenar-tas, the Princess of the royal house of the Pharaohs, for the love of whom the priest Kallikrates broke his vows to Isis, and, pursued by the vengeance of the outraged goddess, fled down the coast of Lybia to meet his doom at Kor?”— She, Silver Library Edition, p. 277.
My dear Lang,
The appointed years—alas! how many of them—are gone by, leaving Ayesha lovely and loving and ourselves alive. As it was promised in the Caves of Kor She has returned again.
To you therefore who accepted the first, I offer this further history of one of the various incarnations of that Immortal.
My hope is that after you have read her record, notwithstanding her subtleties and sins and the shortcomings of her chronicler (no easy office!) you may continue to wear your chain of “loyalty to our lady Ayesha.” Such, I confess, is still the fate of your old friend
H. Rider Haggard.
Not with a view of conciliating those readers who on principle object to sequels, but as a matter of fact, the Author wishes to say that he does not so regard this book.
Rather does he venture to ask that it should be considered as the conclusion of an imaginative tragedy (if he may so call it) whereof one half has been already published.
This conclusion it was always his desire to write should he be destined to live through those many years which, in obedience to his original design, must be allowed to lapse between the events of the first and second parts of the romance.
In response to many enquiries he may add that the name Ayesha, which since the days of the prophet Mahomet, who had a wife so called, and perhaps before them, has been common in the East, should be pronounced Assha.
Verily and indeed it is the unexpected that happens! Probably if there was one person upon the earth from whom the Editor of this, and of a certain previous history, did not expect to hear again, that person was Ludwig Horace Holly. This, too, for a good reason; he believed him to have taken his departure from the earth.