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The Keepers of the King's Peace   By: (1875-1932)

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First Page:

THE KEEPERS OF THE KING'S PEACE

BY EDGAR WALLACE

WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED LONDON AND MELBOURNE

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY THE WHITEFRIARS PRESS LTD., LONDON AND TONBRIDGE

CONTENTS

CHAP. PAGE

I BONES, SANDERS AND ANOTHER 5

II BONES CHANGES HIS RELIGION 28

III THE MAKER OF STORMS 53

IV BONES AND THE WIRELESS 75

V THE REMEDY 99

VI THE MEDICINE MAN 117

VII BONES, KING MAKER 135

VIII THE TAMER OF BEASTS 154

IX THE MERCENARIES 169

X THE WATERS OF MADNESS 191

XI EYE TO EYE 215

XII THE HOODED KING 233

TO

PAT

(P. M. C. W.)

THE KEEPERS OF THE KING'S PEACE

CHAPTER I

BONES, SANDERS AND ANOTHER

To Isongo, which stands upon the tributary of that name, came a woman of the Isisi who had lost her husband through a providential tree falling upon him. I say "providential," for it was notorious that he was an evil man, a drinker of beer and a favourite of many bad persons. Also he made magic in the forest, and was reputedly the familiar of Bashunbi the devil brother of M'shimba M'shamba. He beat his wives, and once had set fire to his house from sheer wickedness. So that when he was borne back to the village on a grass bier and the women of his house decked themselves with green leaves and arm in arm staggered and stamped through the village street in their death dance, there was a suspicion of hilarity in their song, and a more cheery step in their dance than the occasion called for.

An old man named D'wiri, who knew every step of every dance, saw this and said in his stern way that it was shameless. But he was old and was, moreover, in fear for the decorum of his own obsequies if these outrageous departures from custom were approved or allowed to pass without reprimand.

When M'lama, the wife of G'mami, had seen her lord depart in the canoe for burial in the middle island and had wailed her conventional grief, she washed the dust from her body at the river's edge and went back to her hut. And all that was grief for the dead man was washed away with the dust of mourning.

Many moons came out of the sky, were wasted and died before the woman M'lama showed signs of her gifts. It is said that they appeared one night after a great storm wherein lightning played such strange tricks upon the river that even the old man D'wiri could not remember parallel instances.

In the night the wife of a hunter named E'sani Osoni brought a dying child into the hut of the widow. He had been choked by a fish bone and was in extremis when M'lama put her hand upon his head and straightway the bone flew from his mouth, "and there was a cry terrible to hear such a cry as a leopard makes when he is pursued by ghosts."

A week later a baby girl fell into a terrible fit and M'lama had laid her hand upon it and behold! it slept from that moment.

Ahmet, chief of the Government spies, heard of these happenings and came a three days' journey by river to Isongo.

"What are these stories of miracles?" he asked.

" Capita ," said the chief, using the term of regard which is employed in the Belgian Congo, "this woman M'lama is a true witch and has great gifts, for she raises the dead by the touch of her hand. This I have seen. Also it is said that when U'gomi, the woodcutter, made a fault, cutting his foot in two, this woman healed him marvellously."

"I will see this M'lama," said Ahmet importantly.

He found her in her hut tossing four bones idly. These were the shanks of goats, and each time they fell differently.

"O Ahmet," she said, when he entered, "you have a wife who is sick, also a first born boy who does not speak though he is more than six seasons old... Continue reading book >>




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