Benita, an African Romance

Author: Henry Rider Haggard


It may interest readers of this story to know that its author
believes it to have a certain foundation in fact.

It was said about five-and-twenty or thirty years ago that an
adventurous trader, hearing from some natives in the territory
that lies at the back of Quilimane, the legend of a great treasure
buried in or about the sixteenth century by a party of Portuguese
who were afterwards massacred, as a last resource attempted its
discovery by the help of a mesmerist. According to this history
the child who was used as a subject in the experiment, when in a
state of trance, detailed the adventures and death of the unhappy
Portuguese men and women, two of whom leapt from the point of a
high rock into the Zambesi. Although he knew no tongue but
English, this clairvoyant child is declared to have repeated in
Portuguese the prayers these unfortunates offered up, and even to
have sung the very hymns they sang. Moreover, with much other
detail, he described the burial of the great treasure and its
exact situation so accurately that the white man and the mesmerist
were able to dig for and find the place where /it had been/—for
the bags were gone, swept out by the floods of the river.

Some gold coins remained, however, one of them a ducat of Aloysius
Mocenigo, Doge of Venice. Afterwards the boy was again thrown into
a trance (in all he was mesmerized eight times), and revealed
where the sacks still lay; but before the white trader could renew
his search for them, the party was hunted out of the country by
natives whose superstitious fears were aroused, barely escaping
with their lives.

It should be added that, as in the following tale, the chief who
was ruling there when the tragedy happened, declared the place to
be sacred, and that if it were entered evil would befall his
tribe. Thus it came about that for generations it was never
violated, until at length his descendants were driven farther from
the river by war, and from one of them the white man heard the


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Chicago: Henry Rider Haggard, "Notes," Benita, an African Romance, ed. Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915 and trans. Evans, Sebastian in Benita, an African Romance Original Sources, accessed May 20, 2024,

MLA: Haggard, Henry Rider. "Notes." Benita, an African Romance, edited by Macaulay, G. C. (George Campbell), 1852-1915, and translated by Evans, Sebastian, in Benita, an African Romance, Original Sources. 20 May. 2024.

Harvard: Haggard, HR, 'Notes' in Benita, an African Romance, ed. and trans. . cited in , Benita, an African Romance. Original Sources, retrieved 20 May 2024, from