King Solomon’s Mines

H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines
According to legend, King Solomon’s Mines are full of diamonds and riches. You are Allan Quatermain, and you possess an old, unreliable map that may lead to the mines’ secret location. Do you have the cunning to survive a quest to find the hidden caves? Or will you be done in by the villains and deadly traps that lie in your path? Step into this adventure, and choose your path. But choose wisely, or else! Interactive books for kids are more popular than ever. Create your own adventure with the Can You Survive? book series for boys and girls.

Free Excerpt

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Your name is Allan Quatermain, a hunter and an adventurer. The year is 1850, and you are traveling through Africa. You are on a quest to find King Solomon’s diamond mines. You are joined by Sir Henry Curtis, a gentleman with yellow hair, a yellow beard, and large gray eyes, and Captain John Good, a clean-shaven navy officer who has false teeth and wears an eyeglass over his right eye. You have also hired several servants to help you along the way.

After a very long and tiring trip, you reach Sitanda’s Kraal. This is where your expedition becomes truly dangerous, for you are about to enter the desert.

You rest and sleep for more than a day. At sunset, you eat a hearty meal of fresh beef. Then you wait for the moon to rise. You must travel by night because the sun is too hot during the day. It is even too hot and dry for animals to live very far into the desert.

“Gentlemen,” Sir Henry says to you and Captain Good, “we are going on a strange journey. It is very doubtful that we can succeed. But we are three men who will stand together.”

You nod your head in agreement.

The time to depart arrives. You leave most of your men and many of your supplies behind. The men must guard the supplies that you won’t carry into the desert.

Each remaining man can only take forty pounds of gear, so you pack only what is absolutely necessary. Then you start on your way. You have nothing to guide you but the distant mountains in the moonlight.

Your map was drawn by a dying man, many years ago, so it is not very reliable. Yet you must trust it. Your first goal is to get to a pool of water marked on the map. It appears to be in the middle of the desert, about sixty miles from Sitanda’s Kraal. If you fail to find this water, you will most likely die of thirst.

You walk until the sun comes up. The only animals you see along the way are a few ostriches. Your boots fill with sand, and you must empty them every few miles. At last, when the sun rises, you sleep.

After a few days of travel, you feel baked through and through. There’s no shade to sleep under in this part of the desert. The burning sun seems to boil your blood.

After sleeping for a while, you sit up and gasp. Your companions are also awake.

“It’s too hot,” says Captain Good.

“What’s to be done?” asks Sir Henry. “We can’t stand this for long.”

You think for a moment and come up with two ideas. You can stay where you are, stick to the plan, and travel only by night. You can dig a hole in the ground too. That might provide some relief from the scorching sun. Or, according to the map, you should be within twelve or fifteen miles of the water—if it exists. So you could begin walking now, in the middle of the day, and hope to reach it soon enough to save you. What will you choose to do?

Wait for sundown.

Begin walking.

***

Wait for sundown.

The sun is fierce, and everyone is dangerously overheated. You look around at your group. They are tired, sunburned, and moving very slowly. Your only hope is to dig a hole in the ground.

You rummage through your supplies, looking for anything to shovel with. You find some cups, a bowl, and a kettle. You hand them out to the group. “Everyone start digging,” you say. “We must get out of the sun.”

The work is difficult, and you quickly tire. Soon, your vision starts to blur, but you fight through it.

“I can see diamonds shining over there!” Captain Good shouts. He starts to get up but falls down again. He’s beginning to hallucinate.

Sir Henry crawls over to him. “Here, have some of my water,” he says.

You admire him for his sacrifice. There is barely any water left.

“We can do this,” you say, trying to keep the group’s spirits up. And you continue to dig.

Every once in a while, you hear Captain Good shout, “I see diamonds!”

The shifting sand and blowing wind make it difficult to progress much. As soon as you think you’re nearly done, a gust of wind comes and blows more sand into the hole.

“We need to work together, men,” Sir Henry says. “Stand close together in front of the hole. Block the wind while we dig!”

All of you crouch closely together and shovel with as much strength as you can find. After another hour of digging, you make a space big enough for everyone. You fall, exhausted, into your homemade shelter.

As the others join you, you pull out the map and look at it once again. “The map was right about so many other things,” you say. “I wonder if it was right about the water.”

You see your friends slowly pass out, one by one. The sand blows into the hole, covering you. You’re too tired to care. You close your eyes as the sand buries you. Too late, you realize that you and your men have dug your own graves.

***

Begin walking.

It is only about three o’clock in the afternoon, but you determine that it would be better to die walking than to be killed here by heat and thirst. You and your companions begin on your way.

Throughout the afternoon you creep slowly and painfully along. You scarcely do more than a mile and a half in an hour. At sunset you rest again, waiting for the moon to rise and light your way.

Sir Henry points out a small hill about eight miles in the distance, and you march toward it. You feel dreadfully exhausted, and you suffer tortures from thirst and prickly heat. Once in a while, you fall to the ground from tiredness.

Endless hours pass, and the sun rises once more. It surprises you to learn that you have walked all night.

Morning comes and goes, as does midday. Finally, at about two o’clock in the afternoon, you reach the foot of the desert hill. You stop and drink your last drops of water. You are utterly worn out in body and mind.

“If we cannot find water, we shall all be dead before the moon rises,” you say. And with the words spoken, you collapse to the ground and fall asleep.

Two hours later, you wake from torturing thirst. You wait for the others to awaken, and you begin to discuss the situation.

“If the map is right, there should be water nearby,” you say.

One of your servants stands up and begins to walk about, staring at the ground. He stops, cries out, and points to the earth. “It’s a Springbuck track!” he says. “Springbucks don’t go far from water. I think I can smell water too.”

“If there’s water nearby, it must be a bit farther along our path,” says Captain Good.

Sir Henry strokes his yellow beard thoughtfully. “Or perhaps it’s on top of the hill,” he says.

Captain Good shrugs his shoulders and turns toward you. “What do you think, Quatermain?”