King Solomon's Mines

King Solomon's Mines Summary and Analysis of Chapters 19 and 20


Ten days after escaping the dark chambers of Solomon’s treasure store, Quatermain, Sir Henry, and Good find themselves back in Loo. After having rested for two days, the men had tried to find the secret entrance to the treasure chamber, but to no avail. Giving up, they returned to Loo and prepared for their longer journey back to their own country. Ignosi finds their intent to leave disturbing, going so far as to question Quatermain’s priorities in loving the precious diamonds more than their friendship. Quatermain replies that, just as Ignosi longed for his homeland when he joined the men in their quest, so do the white men long for their own homes. Somewhat mollified, Ignosi declares that Quatermain, Sir Henry, and Good are the only white men who will ever enter Kukuanaland; he warns the men that any other whites who approach will not be welcomed, and if they do not leave of their own accord they will be driven off or killed. He then declares the names of the three men—their “African” names, will be remembered as the names of gods among the Kukuanas, passed on for generations but never uttered aloud.

Just before they leave, Good is approached by a young Kukuana woman bearing flowers. She eagerly desires to see Good’s “beautiful white legs” before he leaves. At first Good balks at the prospect of showing his legs, but the cajoling of Sir Henry and Quatermain lead him to roll his pants-leg up to the knee. The woman and several other onlookers stare in awe at Good’s white leg before Good makes his departure.

The men learn of an alternate—and less perilous—route away from Kukuanaland, along which there is said to be an oasis. The men readily choose this path over the dangers of thirst and wild animals. Infadoos and a group of Kukuanas escort the men as far as the borders of Kukuanaland, then bid them farewell. Before leaving, Good makes Infadoos a gift of his spare monocle, giving the old Kukuana a token of his esteem and a physical badge of honor among the Kukuanas. Three days later the men reach the oasis and make camp by its refreshing waters.

As Quatermain surveys the oasis, he comes across a hut (much to his surprise). A white man clothed in animal skins, comes out of the hut and looks upon him. Quatermain asks his companions to verify that he is not hallucinating, when Sir Henry recognizes the white man as his brother George. When the men cry out in delight, another figure—this time a black man—exits the hut and addresses Quatermain. This is Jim, whom Quatermain had sent to deliver a note to George over two years ago.

As it turns out, George had attempted to reach King Solomon’s mines by this route rather than the more dangerous desert way. While camping at the oasis and preparing to head into Kukuanaland, a boulder (accidentally dislodged by Jim) fell and crushed his leg. Unable to climb the mountains or return the way he came, George settled in to survive at the oasis as long as he could. With Jim’s help he built the hut and hunted game, which provided both food and clothing for the men. For two years they have lived this way, never anticipating seeing another human face, let alone these familiar faces.

Sir Henry relates his own adventures to his brother, and he concludes with Quatermain showing George the diamonds retrieved from Solomon’s treasure chamber. George declares that at least the men have gotten some benefit from their expedition, but Sir Henry insists that the diamonds belong to Quatermain and Good—he only sought to find his brother. Quatermain and Good secretly decide between them to give Sir Henry a third of the diamonds or, if he will not take them, to give them to George, whom they believe has suffered even more than they in his pursuit of King Solomon’s Mines. Sir Henry reluctantly agrees.

The men make their return journey, taking turns bearing the limping George back to Durban. There Quatermain takes his leave of the other men as they return to England. As Quatermain is writing the final lines of his narrative, a letter arrives from Sir Henry. Sir Henry urges Quatermain to come to England and take up residence near him; a house has recently gone up for sale and the proceeds from selling off a few of the diamonds will pay for the residence. To further entice Quatermain, Sir Henry has had Quatermain’s son Harry visit and quite enjoys the young man’s company. Quatermain is touched by Sir Henry’s desire to have his friend nearby, and ends the narrative declaring his intention to return to England.


Good’s gift to Infadoos is reminiscent of the cargo cult, in which artifacts from a strange culture are made objects of admiration or even worship by another culture. Good’s “glass eye” had fascinated the Kukuanas from the first moment they saw him. By giving Infadoos a spare monocle, Good imparts to Infadoos a level of respect among the Kukuanas. Although often an object of humor, it is Good who seems to be most connected to the Kukuanas.

The three white men are deified among the Kukuanas. Their practice of remembering the men’s names by never uttering them aloud is strange to the men, but reflects the sanctity with which they regard these men. However, even as he honors them, Ignosi tells the white men that no other whites will be allowed in Kukuanaland. Ignosi has seen their influence, and does not wish it to continue among his people. This final closing of the borders by Ignosi is interesting in that the new king sees the dangers of allowing white/European culture to infiltrate his land. Just as he owes his throne to the three white men to some extent, so does he recognize that an imperialistic nation could use force, guile, or technology to place their own favored man on the throne at any time. Ignosi chooses instead to keep the Kukuanas insular and avoid the negative influence of Europe.

At the same time, Ignosi holds these three specific white men in high regard. When they tell him of their desire to depart, Ignosi says, “It is the bright stones that ye love more than me, your friend” (Haggard 279). In response to this charge of materialism, Quatermain replies that just as Ignosi longed for his homeland, so too do these men long to return to their own nation. This assuages Ignosi, but it leaves the reader with a sense that the diamonds have become disproportionately valuable to the men—even Sir Henry Curtis has not mentioned his brother lately—and thus the pretext for their adventure has become an empty goal.

Haggard leaves no loose ends in his novel. The purpose of Sir Henry’s quest—to find his brother or news of him—is finally achieved, although somewhat by accident. Sir Henry had become convinced that Neville died en route to Solomon’s Mines. What he did not foresee was that Neville would become incapacitated on the way and never complete the journey, yet still live. Also, George Neville took a different route than that indicated by da Silvestra’s map, and so the evidence of his journey could not be found along the path of Sir Henry’s expedition. Although the finding of Sir Henry’s brother feels a bit like convenient coincidence, the details of his story mesh well with the events of Quatermain’s narrative. The lack of evidence (including a body or any signs of previous camps) and information regarding Neville left Sir Henry in despair, but the lack was not due to his death in the wilderness, but due to his taking a different route and meeting an unexpected obstacle.

Although George Neville denies it, the blame for his injury is in some part the fault of Jim, the African hunter of Quatermain’s acquaintance. Although probably intended as a plot device, it is interesting to note that George’s injury and Sir Henry’s subsequent anxiety and trials are partially the fault of an African native. Haggard could not have George simply meet with an accident—thus making the man incompetent and no fit brother for the mighty Sir Henry Curtis. He had to place the burden of the mistake upon another character—a minor African character—in order to meet the expectations of his readership.

The issue of materialism is again raised. Quatermain and Good readily agree to share a third of their diamonds with Sir Henry and, when he refuses, with George Neville as recompense for his suffering in quest for them. Neville accepts where Sir Henry did not. Again, Sir Henry Curtis is the ideal hero—brave, compassionate—and in this case content with his station in life and his income level. Quatermain is no hero—he wants the money, but mostly for his son—but he is human, and thus makes a better point of view character for the novel than would Sir Henry.

The story finishes with a letter. Sir Henry has already made the acquaintance of Quatermain’s son and likes the young many very much. He wants Quatermain to join him and Good in England, where a nearby house has recently opened up. In this way, the three bachelors can live in luxury and peace for their remaining days. Quatermain, although restless and a born hunter and explorer, considers taking Sir Henry up on the offer. He wants to see his son grow up and succeed, and it is in England that he can best achieve that goal. Like Odysseus, Quatermain is now in a position to retire and finish his son’s training in manhood, knowing that his legacy is secure.