King Solomon's Mines

King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard Read Free Book Online

Book: King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard Read Free Book Online
Authors: H. Rider Haggard
time.”
    “Yes,” said Sir Henry, “your letter was forwarded to me. You said in it that the gentleman called Neville left Bamangwato in the beginning of May in a waggon with a driver, a voorlooper, g and a Kafir hunter called Jim, announcing his intention of trekking if possible as far as Inyati, 9 the extreme trading post in the Matabele country, where he would sell his wagon and proceed on foot. You also said that he did sell his waggon, for six months afterwards you saw the waggon in the possession of a Portuguese trader, who told you that he had bought it at Inyati from a white man whose name he had forgotten, and that the white man with a native servant had started off for the interior on a shooting trip, he believed.”
    “Yes.”
    Then came a pause.
    “Mr. Quatermain,” said Sir Henry, suddenly, “I suppose you know or can guess nothing more of the reasons of my—of Mr. Neville’s journey to the northward, or as to what point that journey was directed ?”
    “I heard something,” I answered, and stopped. The subject was one which I did not care to discuss.
    Sir Henry and Captain Good looked at each other, and Captain Good nodded.
    “Mr. Quatermain,” said the former, “I am going to tell you a story, and ask your advice, and perhaps your assistance. The agent who forwarded me your letter told me that I might implicitly rely upon it, as you were,” he said, “well known and universally respected in Natal, and especially noted for your discretion.”
    I bowed and drank some whisky and water to hide my confusion, for I am a modest man—and Sir Henry went on.
    “Mr. Neville was my brother.”
    “Oh,” I said, starting, for now I knew who Sir Henry had reminded me of when I first saw him. His brother was a much smaller man and had a dark beard, but now I thought of it, he possessed eyes of the same shade of grey and with the same keen look in them, and the features too were not unlike.
    “He was,” went on Sir Henry, “my only and younger brother, and till five years ago I do not suppose we were ever a month away from each other. But just about five years ago a misfortune befell us, as sometimes does happen in families. We had quarrelled bitterly, and I behaved very unjustly to my brother in my anger.” Here Captain Good nodded his head vigorously to himself. The ship gave a big roll just then, so that the looking-glass, which was fixed opposite us to starboard, was for a moment nearly over our heads, and as I was sitting with my hands in my pockets and staring upwards, I could see him nodding like anything.
    “As I daresay you know,” went on Sir Henry, “if a man dies intestate, and has no property but land, real property it is called in England, it all descends to his eldest son. It so happened that just at the time when we quarrelled our father died intestate. He had put off making his will until it was too late. The result was that my brother, who had not been brought up to any profession, was left without a penny. Of course it would have been my duty to provide for him, but at the time the quarrel between us was so bitter that I did not—to my shame I say it (and he sighed deeply) offer to do anything. It was not that I grudged him anything, but I waited for him to make advances, and he made none. I am sorry to trouble you with all this, Mr. Quatermain, but I must to make things clear, eh, Good?”
    “Quite so, quite so,” said the captain. “Mr. Quatermain will, I am sure, keep this history to himself.”
    “Of course,” said I, for I rather pride myself on my discretion.
    “Well,” went on Sir Henry, “my brother had a few hundred pounds to his account at the time, and without saying anything to me he drew out this paltry sum, and, having adopted the name of Neville, started off for South Africa in the wild hope of making a fortune. This I heard afterwards. Some three years passed, and I heard nothing of my brother, though I wrote several times. Doubtless the letters never

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