"Suppose the almanac is wrong?" suggested Sir Henry to Good, who was busily employed in working out something on the fly-leaf of the book.
"I don't see any reason to suppose anything of the sort," was his answer. "Eclipses always come up to time; at least, that is my experience of them, and it especially states that it will be visible in Africa. I have worked out the reckonings as well as I can without knowing our exact position; and I make out that the eclipse should begin here about one o'clock to-morrow, and last till half-past two. For half an hour or more there should be total darkness."
"Well," said Sir Henry, "I suppose we had better risk it."
I acquiesced, though doubtfully, for eclipses are queer cattle to deal with, and sent Umbopa to summon the chiefs back. Presently they came, and I addressed them thus:
"Great men of the Kukuanas, and thou, Infadoos, listen. We are not fond of showing our powers, since to do so is to interfere with the course of nature, and plunge the world into fear and confusion; but as this matter is a great one, and as we are angered against the king because of the slaughter we have seen, and because of the act of the Isanusi Gagool, who would have put our friend Ignosi to death, we have determined to do so, and to give such a sign as all men may see. Come thither," and I led them to the door of the hut and pointed to the fiery ball of the rising sun; "what see ye there?"
"We see the rising sun," answered the spokesman of the party.
"It is so. Now tell me, can any mortal man put out that sun, so that night comes down on the land at midday?"
The chief laughed a little. "No, my lord, that no man can do. The sun is stronger than man who looks on him."
"Ye say so. Yet I tell you that this day, one hour after midday, will we put out that sun for a space of an hour, and darkness shall cover the earth, and it shall be for a sign that we are indeed men of honor, and that Ignosi is indeed king of the Kukuanas. If we do this thing will it satisfy ye?"
"Yea, my lords," answered the old chief with a smile, which was reflected on the faces of his companions; "if ye do this thing we will be satisfied indeed."
"It shall be done: we three, Incubu the Elephant, Bougwan the clear-eyed, and Macumazahn, who watches in the night, have said it, and it shall be done. Dost thou hear, Infadoos?"
"I hear, my lord, but it is a wonderful thing that ye promise, to put out the sun, the father of all things, who shines forever."
"Yet shall we do it, Infadoos."
"It is well, my lords. To-day, a little after midday, will Twala send for my lords to witness the girls dance, and one hour after the dance begins shall the girl whom Twala thinks the fairest be killed by Scragga, the king's son, as a sacrifice to the silent stone ones, who sit and keep watch by the mountains yonder," and he pointed to the three strange looking peaks where Solomon's Road was supposed to end. "Then let my lords darken the sun, and save the maiden's life and the people will indeed believe."
"Ay," said the old chief, still smiling a little, "the. people will believe, indeed."
"Two miles from Loo," went on Infadoos, "there is a hill curved like the new moon, a stronghold, where my regiment, and three other regiments which these men command, are stationed. This morning we will make a plan whereby other regiments, two or three, may be moved there also. Then, if my lords can
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