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Will you undertake the task We give you complete freedom, and as a reward you will, we believe, have the credit of presenting to the world the most wonderful history, as distinguished from romance, that its records can show. Read the manuscript (which I have copied out fairly for your benefit), and let me know.
We got out of the boat and ran to the buck, which was shot through the spine and stone dead. It took us a quarter of an hour or more to clean it and cut off as much of the best meat as we could carry, and, having packed this away, we had barely light enough to row up into the lagoon-like space, into which, there being a hollow in the swamp, the river here expanded. Just as the light vanished we cast anchor about thirty fathoms from the edge of the lake. We did not dare to go ashore, not knowing if we should find dry ground to camp on, and greatly fearing the poisonous exhalations from the marsh, from which we thought we should be freer on the water. So we lighted a lantern, and made our evening meal off another potted tongue in the best fashion that we could, and then prepared to go to sleep, only, however, to find that sleep was impossible. For, whether they were attracted by the lantern, or by the unaccustomed smell of a white man for which they had been waiting for the last thousand years or so, I know not; but certainly we were presently attacked by tens of thousands of the most bloodthirsty, pertinacious, and huge mosquitoes that I ever saw or read of. In clouds they came, and pinged and buzzed and bit till we were nearly mad. Tobacco smoke only seemed to stir them into a merrier and more active life, till at length we were driven to covering ourselves with blankets, head and all, and sitting to slowly stew and continually scratch and swear beneath them. And as we sat, suddenly rolling out like thunder through the silence came the deep roar of a lion, and then of a second lion, moving among the reeds within sixty yards of us.
The conversation after this was of such a desultory order that I do not quite recollect it. For some reason, perhaps from a desire to keep her identity and character in reserve, Ayesha did not talk freely, as she usually did. Presently, however, she informed Leo that she had arranged a dance that night for our amusement. I was astonished to hear this, as I fancied that the Amahagger were much too gloomy a folk to indulge in any such frivolity; but, as will presently more clearly appear, it turned out that an Amahagger dance has little in common with such fantastic festivities in other countries, savage or civilised. Then, as we were about to withdraw, she suggested that Leo might like to see some of the wonders of the caves, and as he gladly assented thither we departed, accompanied by Job and Billali. To describe our visit would only be to repeat a great deal of what I have already said. The tombs we entered were indeed different, for the whole rock was a honeycomb of sepulchres,21 but the contents were nearly always similar. Afterwards we visited the pyramid of bones that had haunted my dreams on the previous night, and from thence went down a long passage to one of the great vaults occupied by the bodies of the poorer citizens of Imperial Kôr. These bodies were not nearly so well preserved as were those of the wealthier classes. Many of them had no linen covering on them, also they were buried from five hundred to one thousand in a single large vault, the corpses in some instances being thickly piled one upon another, like a heap of slain.
So quietly and so gravely, in truth, that her gust ofrage subsided before the low-spoken menace of thewords. No quick anger was his but a steady anddeadly purpose. Again she felt the hard-held force,the mystery of the man, as if flowing suddenly upwardfrom subterranean channels. What wrong had hesuffered, what undeserved torture at the hands of thisman and others thus to freeze his soul
With a scowl he stalked out of the house, leaving avery angry, very tremulous and very heart-sick girl.The fellow was in truth not a man, she perceived, but acreature so conscienceless and loathsome that sheseemed contaminated through and through by histouch, his words, and their previous relations. Howgrossly he had deceived her as to his real character!What a horrible future as his wife she had escaped!Nor was she yet free, for he promised to make an infinityof trouble.
Presently with a gentle movement she drew her handfree. She had been quite dumbfounded, but not sodumbfounded that she did not realize that this new situationhad requirements of its own. He appeared absolutelysincere and resolute.
At first he did not find Sorenson, so that he supposedhim buried beneath the wreckage, but presently hediscovered his crumpled form lying jammed between thebase of the ledge and a boulder. Weir lifted the limpfigure from its resting place and bore it to open ground,where he made an examination of the still form. ClearlySorenson had been pitched free of the car and crushedagainst the rock wall. His cap was missing; his coatwas ripped up the back and a part of it gone as if caughtand held by some obstruction in the car when he hadbeen shot forth; blood and a great bruise marked onecheek; and the way his legs dragged when he was lifted173up indicated some serious injury to those members. Butthe man still breathed.
Then, if ever, Steele Weir had displayed his amazingspeed in beating an enemy to his gun, for Vorse had indeedbeen quick, keyed by a knowledge that for him thismeant imprisonment or freedom, a slow death or liberty.
In a way, too, I shall have helped to remove theoppressive weight of these men, Sorenson, Burkhardt,Judge Gordon and Vorse, with their sinister influence,from this community and region. They have alwaysheld the natives in more or less open subjection, financial,political, and moral. There should be a freer airin San Mateo henceforth. The people will have a chanceto grow. They no longer will feel the threat of brutal318masters always over them; and with the completion ofthe irrigation project and the infusion of new settlersthey will become better citizens.
Two trails met and crossed near a sand-buffetedbowlder of lava stone, which was huge, grotesqueand forbidding in its bulky indistinctness. The15first of the trails ran north and south and was faintbut plainly discernible, being beaten a trifle belowthe level of the desert and forming a depressionwhich the winds alternately filled and emptied ofdust; and its arrow-like directness, swerving neitherto the right nor left, bespoke of the haste whichurged the unfortunate traveler to have done withit as speedily as possible, since there was nothingalluring along its heat-cursed course to bid himtarry in his riding. There was yet another reasonfor haste, for the water holes were over fifty milesapart, and in that country water holes were moreor less uncertain and doubtful as to being free frommineral poisons. On the occasions when theApaches awoke to find that many of their youngmen were missing, and a proved warrior or two,this trail become weighted with possibilities, forthis desert was the playground of war parties, anunlimited ante-room for the preliminaries to predatorypilgrimages; and the northern trail then partookof the nature of a huge wire over which playedan alternating current, the potentials of which werethe ranges at one end and the savagery and warspirit of the painted tribes at the other: and thevoltage was frequently deadly. 153554b96e