Men of Men (Ballantyne Book 2)
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Men of Men by Wilbur Smith
It was called The Devil's Own: a steep scar in the African earth, around which men toiled with picks, shovels, and dreams of the milky treasures that would become prized, polished diamonds. In this demonic race, native tribesmen became miners. Sometimes they became thieves. And then they became rebels.
Zouga Ballantyne, an African-born Englishman, sees the Devil's Own mine as his ticket to the North: a realm of waterfalls and fertile plains, teeming wildlife, and seeded fields of gold. But what happens in the diamond mines of the fledgling Boer Free State sets the course for Ballantyne and a cast of comrades, enemies, and lovers--and for the continent itself.
From the visions of imperialists to the fury between a father and a son, from the lengths a man will go for a woman and a woman for her convictions, a tragic clash of generations and civilizations was shaking 19th-century Africa, where some warriors fought for their gods--and others for the men who came before them...
And guards and children and wives and supplicants who crowded the enclosed stockade. The wagon was Lobengula’s throne, and the open stockade his audience chamber. Because there would be white men and women in his audience, he had donned his European finery for this occasion. The long coat encrusted with gold lace had once belonged to a Portuguese diplomat. The lace was tarnished and one epaulette was missing, and the front could not be buttoned over the king’s noble belly, not by twelve inches,.
Jerked at the trigger and nothing happened except that the lion was closer still. In her panic she had forgotten the safety catch of the rifle. It was almost too late; the lion reached up and struck the barrel with one enormous paw. The blow jarred her wrists and numbed her arms, but she kept her grip and slid the catch forward with her thumb and thrust the muzzle into the animal’s jaws as she pulled the trigger again. The shot was almost drowned in the lion’s roars. The recoil broke her grip.
Were Lobengula’s four Cape wagons with the teams already in the traces. About the wagons were a small party of the royal retainers: two of the king’s senior wives, four elderly indunas, and a dozen or so slaves and servants. The king himself sat on the box of the leading wagon. In that wagon were all Lobengula’s treasures, a hundred big tusks of ivory, the little sealed pots of uncut diamonds, and the canvas bags stencilled with the name ‘The Standard Bank Ltd’ containing the sovereigns paid to.
About under dirty weatherworn canvas, although already some sheets of the ubiquitous corrugated iron had been laboriously transported from the coast and knocked up into boxlike shanties. Some of these, with a fine sense of order, had been arranged in an approximation of a straight line, forming the first rudimentary streets. These belonged to the ‘kopje-wallopers’, the previously nomadic diamond buyers who had until recently roamed the diggings, but who had now found it worth their while to set.
Shone like a war helmet and his neatly-cropped beard emphasized the jut of his heavy jaw, and the long black tapered hippohide kurbash whip hung from his right hand, touching the floor at the toe of his riding boot. ‘Do you have an answer?’ Zouga’s tone was quiet, and deadly cold. Ralph was still dusty as a miller from the pit. The dust was thick and red in his hair, and outlined the curl of his nostrils and ran like tears from the corners of his eyes. He wiped his forehead on his shirtsleeve,.