Solomon Kane gazed sombrely at the native woman who lay dead at his
feet. Little more than a girl she was, but her wasted limbs and
staring eyes showed that she had suffered much before death brought
her merciful relief. Kane noted the chain galls on her limbs, the deep
crisscrossed scars on her back, the mark of the yoke on her neck. His
cold eyes deepened strangely, showing chill glints and lights like
clouds passing across depths of ice.
"Even into this lonesome land they come," he muttered. "I had not
He raised his head and gazed eastward. Black dots against the blue
wheeled and circled.
"The kites mark their trail," muttered the tall Englishman.
"Destruction goeth before them and death followeth after. Woe unto ye,
sons of iniquity, for the wrath of God is upon ye. The cords be loosed
on the iron necks of the hounds of hate and the bow of vengeance is
strung. Ye are proud-stomached and strong, and the people cry out
beneath your feet, but retribution cometh in the blackness of midnight
and the redness of dawn." He shifted the belt that held his heavy
pistols and the keen dirk, instinctively touched the long rapier at
his hip, and went stealthily but swiftly eastward. A cruel anger
burned in his deep eyes like blue volcanic fires burning beneath
leagues of ice, and the hand that gripped his long, cat-headed stave
hardened into iron.
After some hours of steady striding, he came within hearing of the
slave train that wound its laborious way through the jungle. The
piteous cries of the slaves, the shouts and curses of the drivers,
and the cracking of the whips came plainly to his ears. Another hour
brought him even with them, and gliding along through the jungle
parallel to the trail taken by the slavers, he spied upon them safely.
Kane had fought Indians in Darien and had learned much of their
More than a hundred natives, young men and women, staggered along the
trail, stark naked and made fast together by cruel yoke-like affairs
of wood. These yokes, rough and heavy, fitted over their necks and
linked them together, two by two. The yokes were in turn fettered
together, making one long chain. Of the drivers there were fifteen
Arabs and some seventy negro warriors, whose weapons and fantastic
apparel showed them to be of some eastern tribe--one of those tribes
subjugated and made Moslems and allies by the conquering Arabs.
Five Arabs walked ahead of the train with some thirty of their
warriors, and five brought up the rear with the rest of the negro
warriors. The rest marched beside the staggering slaves, urging them
along with shouts and curses and with long, cruel whips which brought
spurts of blood at almost every blow. These slavers were fools as well
as rogues, reflected Kane--not more than half of them would survive
the hardships of the trek to the coast.