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H Rider Haggard - Elissa

H Rider Haggard - Elissa

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Published by KAW
H Rider Haggard
H Rider Haggard

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Published by: KAW on May 01, 2013
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or The Doom of Zimbabweby H. Rider Haggard
To the Memory of the ChildNada Burnham,who "bound all to her" and, while her father cut his way through the hordesof the Ingobo Regiment, perished of the hardships of war at Buluwayo on19th May, 1896, I dedicate these tales--and more particularly the last, that of a Faith which triumphed over savagery and death.H. Rider Haggard.Ditchingham.
Author's Note
Of the three stories that comprise this volume[*], one, "The Wizard," a taleof victorious faith, first appeared some years ago as a Christmas Annual.Another, "Elissa," is an attempt, difficult enough owing to the scantiness of the material left to us by time, to recreate the life of the ancient PhoenicianZimbabwe, whose ruins still stand in Rhodesia, and, with the addition of thenecessary love story, to suggest circumstances such as might have broughtabout or accompanied its fall at the hands of the surrounding savage tribes.The third, "Black Heart and White Heart," is a story of the courtship, trialsand final union of a pair of Zulu lovers in the time of King Cetywayo.
[*] This text was prepared from a volume published in 1900 titled "Black Heart and White Heart, and Other Stories." -- JB.
The world is full of ruins, but few of them have an origin so utterly lost inmystery as those of Zimbabwe in South Central Africa. Who built them?What purpose did they serve? These are questions that must have perplexedmany generations, and many different races of men.The researches of Mr. Wilmot prove to us indeed that in the Middle AgesZimbabwe or Zimboe was the seat of a barbarous empire, whose ruler wasnamed the Emperor of Monomotapa, also that for some years the Jesuitsministered in a Christian church built beneath the shadow of its ancienttowers. But of the original purpose of those towers, and of the race thatreared them, the inhabitants of mediæval Monomotapa, it is probable, knewless even than we know to-day. The labours and skilled observation of thelate Mr. Theodore Bent, whose death is so great a loss to all interested insuch matters, have shown almost beyond question that Zimbabwe was oncean inland Phoenician city, or at the least a city whose inhabitants were of arace which practised Phoenician customs and worshipped the Phoeniciandeities. Beyond this all is conjecture. How it happened that a trading town,protected by vast fortifications and adorned with temples dedicated to theworship of the gods of the Sidonians -- or rather trading towns, forZimbabwe is only one of a group of ruins -- were built by civilised men inthe heart of Africa perhaps we shall never learn with certainty, though thediscovery of the burying-places of their inhabitants might throw some lightupon the problem.But if actual proof is lacking, it is scarcely to be doubted -- for the numerousold workings in Rhodesia tell their own tale -- that it was the presence of payable gold reefs worked by slave labour which tempted the Phoenicianmerchants and chapmen, contrary to their custom, to travel so far from thesea and establish themselves inland. Perhaps the city Zimboe was the Ophirspoken of in the first Book of Kings. At least, it is almost certain that itsprincipal industries were the smelting and the sale of gold, also it seemsprobable that expeditions travelling by sea and land would have occupiedquite three years of time in reaching it from Jerusalem and returning thitherladen with the gold and precious stones, the ivory and the almug trees (1Kings x.). Journeying in Africa must have been slow in those days; that itwas also dangerous is testified by the ruins of the ancient forts built toprotect the route between the gold towns and the sea.However these things may be, there remains ample room for speculationboth as to the dim beginnings of the ancient city and its still dimmer end,whereof we can guess only, when it became weakened by luxury and themixture of races, that hordes of invading savages stamped it out of existencebeneath their blood-stained feet, as, in after ages, they stamped out the
Empire of Monomotapa. In the following romantic sketch the writer hasventured -- no easy task -- to suggest incidents such as might haveaccompanied this first extinction of the Phoenician Zimbabwe. The pursuitindeed is one in which he can only hope to fill the place of a humble pioneer,since it is certain that in times to come the dead fortress-temples of SouthAfrica will occupy the pens of many generations of the writers of romancewho, as he hopes, may have more ascertained facts to build upon than areavailable to-day.
Chapter I
The Caravan
The sun, which shone upon a day that was gathered to the past some three thousand yearsago, was setting in full glory over the expanses of south-eastern Africa -- the Libya of theancients. Its last burning rays fell upon a cavalcade of weary men, who, together with longstrings of camels, asses and oxen, after much toil had struggled to the crest of a line of stonyhills, where they were halted to recover breath. Before them lay a plain, clothed with sereyellow grass -- for the season was winter -- and bounded by mountains of no great height,upon whose slopes stood the city which they had travelled far to seek. It was the ancient cityof Zimboe, whereof the lonely ruins are known to us moderns as Zimbabwe.At the sight of its flat-roofed houses of sun-dried brick, set upon the side of the opposing hill,and dominated by a huge circular building of dark stone, the caravan raised a great shout of  joy. It shouted in several tongues, in the tongues of Phoenicia, of Egypt, of the Hebrews, of Arabia, and of the coasts of Africa, for all these peoples were represented amongst itsnumbers. Well might the wanderers cry out in their delight, seeing that at length, after eightmonths of perilous travelling from the coast, they beheld the walls of their city of rest, of thegolden Ophir of the Bible. Their company had started from the eastern port, numberingfifteen hundred men, besides women and children, and of those not more than half were leftalive. Once a savage tribe had ambushed them, killing many. Once the pestilential fever of the low lands had taken them so that they died of it by scores. Twice also had they sufferedheavily through hunger and thirst, to say nothing of their losses by the fangs of lions,crocodiles, and other wild beasts which with the country swarmed. Now their toils were over;and for six months, or perhaps a year, they might rest and trade in the Great City, enjoying itswealth, its flesh-pots, and the unholy orgies which, among people of the Phoenician race,were dignified by the name of the worship of the gods of heaven.

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