My dear Jebb,
Strange as were the adventures and escapes of Thomas Wingfield, once of this parish, whereof these pages tell, your own can almost equal them in these latter days, and, since a fellow feeling makes us kind, you at least they may move to a sigh of sympathy. Among many a distant land you know that in which he loved and fought, following vengeance and his fate, and by your side I saw its relics and its peoples, its volcans and its valleys. You know even where lies the treasure which, three centuries and more ago, he helped to bury, the countless treasure that an evil fortune held us back from seeking. Now the Indians have taken back their secret, and though many may search, none will lift the graven stone that seals it, nor shall the light of day shine again upon the golden head of Montezuma. So be it! The wealth which Cortes wept over, and his Spaniards sinned and died for, is for ever hidden yonder by the shores of the bitter lake whose waters gave up to you that ancient horror, the veritable and sleepless god of Sacrifice, of whom I would not rob you—and, for my part, I do not regret the loss.
What cannot be lost, what to me seem of more worth than the dead hero Guatemoc’s gems and jars of gold, are the memories of true friendship shown to us far away beneath the shadow of the Slumbering Woman,1 and it is in gratitude for these that I ask permission to set your name within a book which were it not for you would never have been written.
I am, my dear Jebb,
Always sincerely yours,
H. RIDER HAGGARD.
DITCHINGHAM, NORFOLK, October 5, 1892.
To J. Gladwyn Jebb, Esq.
Worn out prematurely by a life of hardship and extraordinary adventure, Mr. Jebb passed away on March 18, 1893, taking with him the respect and affection of all who had the honour of his friendship. The author has learned with pleasure that the reading of this tale in proof and the fact of its dedication to himself afforded him some amusement and satisfaction in the intervals of his sufferings.
H. R. H.
March 22, 1893.