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In Africa, in 1897, white hunter Allan Quatermain forswears his lifelong search for adventure after losing his native guide in an elephant stampede. His vow is soon broken, however, when he meets Englishwoman Elizabeth Curtis, who persuades him to take her and her brother John Goode on a dangerous expedition into the continent's interior to find her missing husband Henry. As Allan needs money to send to his son in England, he accepts Elizabeth's offer of five thousand English pounds to lead the safari. As his only clue to Henry's whereabouts, Allan is given a crude, four-hundred -year-old map to King Solomon's diamond mines, Henry's destination. From the outset, Allan questions Elizabeth's motives, but his first theory, that she must find Henry's body to claim his inheritance money, proves false when he learns that she is wealthy. The expedition moves slowly toward its first goal, Kalawanna village, an area not visited by a white man in more than five years. When a violent stampede of zebras, giraffes and other wild animals forces the expedition members to take cover, Elizabeth and Allan fall into an accidental embrace. As time passes, a mild but contentious romance between Elizabeth and Allan begins to flourish. Just before approaching Kalawanna, Allan's native escorts encounter a Kalawanna rattle snake, which they know to be a bad omen, and they flee. Elizabeth and John are Allan's only remaining companions until a mysterious and silent native asks to join them. When the four enter the eerie village of Kalawanna, they are immediately taken by the villagers to Kalawanna's only white man, the sinister Smith, who tells them that he met Henry one year earlier. Allan suddenly remembers that Smith is wanted for cannibalistic murder, and realizing that Smith has no intention of letting them get out alive, he quickly overpowers him and forces him to instruct his army of natives to let them leave. Allan takes Smith hostage to ensure their safe passage, and when Smith tries to escape, Allan shoots him. During a brutal desert passage Allan and Elizabeth find the handle of Henry's rifle, and Allan suspects that Henry is dead. Elizabeth then confesses to Allan that she is searching for Henry as a form of penance for not loving her husband enough and running out on him. Later Allan discovers that their mysterious African companion is a Watusi king returning to claim the kingdom that was stolen from him. Upon entering the Watusi village, the reigning king shows Allan, John and Elizabeth the direction of King Solomon's Mines. The rebel king's apparent hospitality is short-lived, however, as some of his men follow Allan and the others and set off a rockslide to trap them. After discovering a human skull in the mines, the three believe the situation to be hopeless until they discover a passageway to freedom. Allan, John and Elizabeth return to the Watusi village in time to witness the rightful king win his kingdom back from the rebels in a battle. They then begin their journey home.