“She” by Henry Rider Haggard Part II

Map of Africa--

Map of Africa–click to enlarge

Well, we’re 29% of the way into “She”.  That’s the way it is when you’re
reading on Kindle–who knows what page you’re on or how many to go.

Remember young Vincey?  Turns out his name is Leo, so that’s how I’ll
refer to him from now on.  After reading all the sherds and scrolls, Leo is
really interested in finding out about his ancestral lineage and wants to go to
Africa to explore.  Holly and Job aren’t as keen to leave their comfortable
English surroundings, but of course they go, too.

They get a ship outfitted, with a crew, and set sail.  As you might expect,
a “squall” comes up and, similar to the horrendous rain we had yesterday
as backlash from Andrea coming up the coast, they are soaked to the skin
and Leo almost drowns.  The ship is lost, but they have a dhow.  I think
that’s like a sturdy dinghy.  The text says they are on the “eastern shore
of Central Africa.”

Have you been there?  I have been swimming on the western shore of
Africa—in Madeira, see map—and the ocean was wonderful–inky blue
and deep!  But I’ve never been to the eastern shore . . .

island of Madeira in Atlantic, western shore of Africa.  click to enlarge

island of Madeira in
Atlantic, western shore of
Africa. click to enlarge

Nothing is easy but they finally spot a huge mountain that looks like an
Ethiopian head—as described in the scrolls in uncial Greek, cursive
Greek, and Mediœval Latin–and they pull in to a nearby river.

There are only four of them now: Holly, Leo, Job and Mahomed, who
had steered the ship before it went down.

They kill a deer/stag and watch two lions in a fight–one with a
crocodile . . .you know the routine.  If you care, after a while the river
is too shallow and they have to pull the darned dhow up a canal, etc.

Then! some natives catch them and maybe the plot will thicken.  The
natives do not kill them because……drum roll………… “She” has said
not to kill any white men who arrive.

That’s “She-who-must-be-obeyed.”  No one has seen her except her
servants; “those who waited on her were deaf and dumb, and therefore
could tell no tales . . .”  But she is rumored to be lovely and immortal.

These natives are the Amahagger tribe and women are the leaders–
my kind of tribe!  One of them, Ustane, takes a liking to Leo and
claims him for her own.  One night after she sings and performs
a long chant with foreboding, probably in a minor key, that predicts
a dour future for them all, she insists that she and Leo enjoy
happiness while they can.

No one fancies Holly (remember he’s the ugly one) but one
woman chases poor Job and he tries to escape her attentions.

That’s about where we are—it might amuse you to just read over
a few of the notes I bookmarked as I read along so you’ll get the
flavor:

“had got the lion’s body in his iron jaws just above the hips, and
was squeezing him and  . . .”

“answered in my best Arabic (isn’t this a riot?  Now he knows
Arabic as well as the uncial Greek, and mediœval Latin!), which
he appeared to understand, for the man turned . . .”

“word brought to me from ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed,’ “White
men come; if white men come, slay them not.  Let them be
brought to the house of . . .”

“carrying on their shoulders palanquins–with four bearers
and two spare men to each palanquin–and in these it was
promptly . . .”

Oh, I love a good book with palanquins, don’t you?  That’s
pal’ un keen.   (can’t get my schwa symbol to work and that
was going to be the highlight of this post for me)

“but my experience is that people are apt to fossilise even at a
University if they follow the same paths too persistently . . .”

“the shadowy figure . . .addressed as ‘Father.’  He was a
wonderful-looking old man, with a snowy beard . . .”

“I am bound, however, to say that the change of
husbands was not nearly . . .

“Oh, Lord! she’s coming for me again . . .”

to be continued . . .

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2 Responses to “She” by Henry Rider Haggard Part II

  1. Alex says:

    I haven’t read this but I do remember thoroughly enjoying the film as a child. These days I don’t think I could get through it without visions of Rumpole’s ‘She-who-must-be-obeyed’ floating into my mind, which would rather spoil the general ambience.

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