With Three Illustrations by A.C. Michael. London, New York, Toronto and Melbourne: Cassell and Company, 1909. 8 pp ads dated Oct 1908. Original blue-grey cloth.
First English Edition of this tale involving "crooked finance in England, thwarted romance, effectively functioning [tribal] fetishes, and erotic captivity in darkest Africa." Alan Vernon's uncle, a missionary, had years earlier fled an African tribe, with their golden fetish mask that has supernatural powers; now Alan, in trouble with shady creditors and wanting a clean slate so as to marry his beloved, tries to return the idol to the tribe for the gold he needs. But upon reaching his destination, there is an unexpected development:
Asika, the beautiful, vicious priestess-queen of the land, confesses to a passion for Alan and decides that he shall be her next husband, as soon as the present one dies. Asika is Haggard's extreme attempt to present devouring woman: beautiful, sensual, frenzied, unspeakably cruel and vicious... [Come to find out, as shown in the color frontispiece plate, Asika's] collection of mummified husbands is enormous [quotes from Bleiler].
This English edition was published on 5 March 1909, three months after the American edition (which was dated 1908). This copy is in very good-plus, perhaps near-fine, condition (minor wear at the head of the spine, some wear to the outer margins of one plate (not affecting image). Scott 51; Whatmore F33; Bleiler 731.
This is an inscribed presentation copy from Haggard, reading on the half-title verso "To Mrs Pitt | from H. Rider Haggard | 5 March 1909 [the date of publication]". Though we have no proof, this was most likely Mrs Sarah Pitt, a writer of novels meant for children, or at least young adults -- for whom Cassell was likewise the UK publisher; she had been quite popular during the years 1881-1900, which were also Haggard's best years. Item #14475