My first knowledge that I was on the wrong trail came when I heard the yells of the pursuing savages suddenly grow fainter and fainter far off to my left.
I had gone but a short distance further when what seemed to be an excellent trail opened up around the face of a high cliff. The trail was level and quite broad and led upward and in the general direction I wished to go. The cliff arose for several hundred feet on my right, and on my left was an equal and nearly perpendicular drop to the bottom of a rocky ravine.
Dismounting, I laid Powell upon the ground, but the most painstaking examination failed to reveal the faintest spark of life. I forced water from my canteen between his dead lips, bathed his face and rubbed his hands, working over him continuously for the better part of an hour in the face of the fact that I knew him to be dead.
I was very fond of Powell; he was thoroughly a man in every respect; a polished southern gentleman; a staunch and true friend; and it was with a feeling of the deepest grief that I finally gave up my crude endeavors at resuscitation.
Leaving Powell’s body where it lay on the ledge I crept into the cave to reconnoiter. I found a large chamber, possibly a hundred feet in diameter and thirty or forty feet in height; a smooth and well-worn floor, and many other evidences that the cave had, at some remote period, been inhabited. The back of the cave was so lost in dense shadow that I could not distinguish whether there were openings into other apartments or not.
It is the custom of the
Mahars to liberate those who remain alive within the arena after the beasts depart or are killed. Thus it has happened that several mighty warriors from far distant lands, whom we have captured on our slave raids, have battled the brutes turned in upon them and slain them, thereby winning their freedom. In the instance which you witnessed the beasts killed each other, but the result was the same—the man and woman were liberated, furnished with weapons, and started on their homeward journey. The chances are that ere long you will know much more about it than I,” and he grinned as he spoke. The Sagoths have a well-developed sense of humor. “And suppose it is the arena,” I continued; “what then?” “You saw the two who met the tarag and the thag the time that you escaped?” he said. “Yes.” “Your end in the arena would be similar to what was intended for them,” he explained, “though of course the same kinds of animals might not be employed.” “It is sure death in either event?” I asked.
The Queen smiled and passed on. ‘Who ARE you talking to?’ said the King, going up to Alice, and looking at the Cat’s head with great curiosity. ‘It’s a friend of mine—a Cheshire Cat,’ said Alice: ‘allow me to introduce it.’ ‘I don’t like the look of it at all,’ said the King: ‘however, it may kiss my hand if it likes.’ ‘I’d rather not,’ the Cat remarked.
‘Don’t be impertinent,’ said the King, ‘and don’t look at me like that!’ He got behind Alice as he spoke. ‘A cat may look at a king,’ said Alice. ‘I’ve read that in some book, but I don’t remember where.’ ‘Well, it must be removed,’ said the King very decidedly, and he called the Queen, who was passing at the moment, ‘My dear! I wish you would have this cat removed!’ The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. ‘Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking round. ‘I’ll fetch the executioner myself,’ said the King eagerly, and he hurried off. Alice thought she might as well go back, and see how the game was going on, as she heard the Queen’s voice in the distance, screaming with passion.
She had already heard her sentence three of the players to be executed for having missed their turns, and she did not like the look of things at all, as the game was in such confusion that she never knew whether it was her turn or not. So she went in search of her hedgehog. The hedgehog was engaged in a fight with another hedgehog, which seemed to Alice an excellent opportunity for croqueting one of them with the other: the only difficulty was, that her flamingo was gone across to the other side of the garden, where Alice could see it trying in a helpless sort of way to fly up into a tree.
Queen’s voice in the distance, screaming with passion
So she tucked it away under her arm, that it might not escape again, and went back for a little more conversation with her friend. When she got back to the Cheshire Cat, she was surprised to find quite a large crowd collected round it: there was a dispute going on between the executioner, the King, and the Queen, who were all talking at once, while all the rest were quite silent, and looked very uncomfortable. The moment Alice appeared, she was appealed to by all three to settle the question, and they repeated their arguments to her, though, as they all spoke at once, she found it very hard indeed to make out exactly what they said.