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قراءة كتاب Benita, an African romance

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‏اللغة: English
Benita, an African romance

Benita, an African romance

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 1


By H. Rider Haggard


     It may interest readers of this story to know that its author
     believes it to have a certain foundation in fact.

     It was said about five-and-twenty or thirty years ago that an
     adventurous trader, hearing from some natives in the territory
     that lies at the back of Quilimane, the legend of a great treasure
     buried in or about the sixteenth century by a party of Portuguese
     who were afterwards massacred, as a last resource attempted its
     discovery by the help of a mesmerist. According to this history
     the child who was used as a subject in the experiment, when in a
     state of trance, detailed the adventures and death of the unhappy
     Portuguese men and women, two of whom leapt from the point of a
     high rock into the Zambesi. Although he knew no tongue but
     English, this clairvoyant child is declared to have repeated in
     Portuguese the prayers these unfortunates offered up, and even to
     have sung the very hymns they sang. Moreover, with much other
     detail, he described the burial of the great treasure and its
     exact situation so accurately that the white man and the mesmerist
     were able to dig for and find the place where it had been—for
     the bags were gone, swept out by the floods of the river.

     Some gold coins remained, however, one of them a ducat of Aloysius
     Mocenigo, Doge of Venice. Afterwards the boy was again thrown into
     a trance (in all he was mesmerized eight times), and revealed
     where the sacks still lay; but before the white trader could renew
     his search for them, the party was hunted out of the country by
     natives whose superstitious fears were aroused, barely escaping
     with their lives.

     It should be added that, as in the following tale, the chief who
     was ruling there when the tragedy happened, declared the place to
     be sacred, and that if it were entered evil would befall his
     tribe. Thus it came about that for generations it was never
     violated, until at length his descendants were driven farther from
     the river by war, and from one of them the white man heard the





Beautiful, beautiful was that night! No air that stirred; the black smoke from the funnels of the mail steamer Zanzibar lay low over the surface of the sea like vast, floating ostrich plumes that vanished one by one in the starlight. Benita Beatrix Clifford, for that was her full name, who had been christened Benita after her mother and Beatrix after her father's only sister, leaning idly over the bulwark rail, thought to herself that a child might have sailed that sea in a boat of bark and come safely into port.

Then a tall man of about thirty years of age, who was smoking a cigar, strolled up to her. At his coming she moved a little as