« НазадПродовжити »
ous, lay curled upon the
him a clue to what was bedding that covered the happening. Hartley preserved bottom of the covered waggon. his self-control: he was fully She listened apathetically to alive to the menace of the her husband's description of danger. the doctor's abilities, and be- “If I were the millionaire gan a long recital of her ail- Rhodes, should I be on trek ments since marriage. Hartley with a rotten old waggon and interpreted with a perfectly a span of poor oxen ?” he asked straight face, and sotto voce ad- quietly. vised that the administration The objection was invincible. of the physic be postponed to The wealth of Rhodes was the last.
proverbial, and wealth to a « These Boers wat the Boer always took the concrete effect of first doses very care- form of good cattle and a brandfully, and if anything should new gaily painted waggon. happen-well, we had better Van Enter had commented on not be near.
the ramshackle appearance of The proceedings had been Smeer's transport plant. He overlooked through a tear in turned to his daughter. the tilt-cloth by a bulky girl “You are foolish, Kaatje. of about seventeen, who pres. Rhodes has much money. ently showed herself at the What would he be doing with front of the waggon.
a span like that?” “Mother," said she, "you are "But the Burghers took all verneuked. This is no real his transport at Doornkop. It doctor. It is Cecil Rhodes and is Rhodes running away to Dr Jameson. Look!" and she Delagoa," the girl protested thrust into her mother's face with angry insistence. a portrait of the great man The situation looked serious, cut from an English illustrated for this new argument weighed paper.
with Van Enter, as feminine The announcement of the logic ever does with a Boer. presence of a puff - adder in "Did
you ever hear that the bed
would not have Rhodes could talk the Taal caused
consternation. as I do? And what should The woman stared from the Rhodes be doing here when he picture to Hartley, and shrank has all Cape Colony to move
if she feared he about in?” Hartley asked. would strike her. Her hus- Van Enter was still doubtband gave one glance at the ful. The outside Boer had portrait, then put a hand on only partially awakened from Hartley's shoulder.
the nightmare terrors of the “Are you Rhodes?” he de- Raid, and though the event manded; "for if you be, then was four months old, it was this doctor must be Jameson.” being discussed in the remote
Wilmot was startled; for districts as if it were the sensathough he understood no Taal, tion of the previous week. the production of the portrait “Suppose I were Rhodes,"
Hartley continued, “should I and herds was too tedious for not make you sell me your an expedition costing £2 a-day waggon and oxen, which are so for
waggon - hire alone and much better than mine? In- rapidly running short of prostead of that, I do not even visions. tell you I want them.
I want them. I let my In order to allay any lingerdoctor physic your vrouw, and ing suspicion on the part of I give you a soupie of good the Boer, Hartley accepted his brandy, taking nothing from escort through the last dorp on you.
Does that look like the line of march, but was Rhodes ?”
careful to make no stay there ; Van Enter began to be im- for dorp officialdom, having pressed. The Boer conception plenty of time on its hands, of the character of the Colossus might prove inquisitive. Harthad been well presented. ley did not feel comfortable till
“And you talk of likenesses. he was outspanned six miles Many a foolish fellow has taken beyond the dorp. He sent me for Rhodes, but I am not Smeer and the Kafirs back to so nearly like him as you are to make such purchases as were a Boer who stole my horse by necessary, and took advantage Ermelo last year.
of the dying moon to work a Van Enter looked uneasy for trek that put twenty miles few moments; then the between him and the
reprehumour of the situation ap- sentatives of Pretoria. pealed to him, for he laughed, The country had again beand Hartley knew that all come uniformly wild and diffidanger was past, since laughter cult, and
rain had kills the reason in an Afri- softened and cut up the roads kander.
into morass or gully. The oxen Within ten minutes Van began to give up, and longer Enter had produced his bottle and more frequent rests and of carefully - conserved dop shorter treks were imperative. brandy, Wilmot had adminis- The waits gave Wilmot ample tered a half-pint of his physic opportunity for gratifying his to the vrouw, who took it with exploratory instinct by rides the nonchalance and ease of a off the track in quest of game confirmed hypochondriac, and and topographical enlightenall parted as friends.
ment. Hartley still strongly Van Enter had invited opposed these solitary excurHartley to join forces with him sions, and by way of deterrent and trek along the same route. told many stories of new-comers, The Yorkshireman quite ap- and even old hands, being left preciated the advantage of to die in the veld as the result travelling under the escort of of a broken limb obtained while a Burgher known in and know- scaling some rugged height. ing the district, and would Veld lore has hundreds of these have been glad to accept the records, all sufficiently tragic offer. But the progress of a to need no embellishment. Boer on trek with his flocks As they struck the road that led to the once famous gold- waggon that evening, “I want fields of the Murchison Range, you to make a note of something they came upon an object-lesson I have forgotten. If we pull in one of the most pathetic this thing through, and anymemorials ever erected over a thing should happen to me like nameless grave.
Beneath a that”-he had been telling the large thorn - tree was a heap story of the death and burial of of stones, almost breast-high, a companion in Mashonalandwhich tradition says marks the "all my share goes to Clarie. resting place of an unknown But bear in mind, Wilmot, only white man, who, with a native on condition that she doesn't servant, was prospecting and marry that—" hunting in this region in the He jerked his pipe in the early Eighties. He died from direction where Smeer was the effect of some such accident sleeping wrapped in his as Hartley prophesied for Wil- blankets. mot. Evidently the Kafir had “I'll see it through, Dick; possessed a larger share of the but there's no occasion to talk virtue of gratitude than is usu- of pegging out.” ally accredited to his race, for “I've got to finish up somehe had carved on the trunk of where; why not now? It the tree in large rude letters would be like my luck to knock this simple tribute to his dead under just as I had pulled off master
the biggest thing in my life.” This
the first time GOOD BAAS.
Hartley had made any reference The district oontains many to what Wilmot had long since uninscribed memorials to the guessed was an understanding unknown wardens of the Em- between him and Clarie. He pire who have fallen by the felt encouraged to put way, whose memory lives only questionin some distant home beyond “I suppose if it's not a the seas, or perchance in the funeral here, it will be a mar. breasts of the companions of riage there?” the trek, who passed through Hartley replied quite frankly: the most heartrending of tra- “Yes, it's all fixed up. At vails that friendship can suffer, any rate, I think it is, or it -watching one die to whom would be if I was not such an no help can be given, then dig- ass when it comes to talking to ging his lonely grave and leav. women. Look here"-he being him to the eternal solitude came very earnest “I don't of the wilderness. Twice had know whether it's the same Hartley undergone this ordeal, with other chaps, but when and the sight of these tragic I'm away from Clarie I can reminders of the shadows of think of all sorts of things I the veld depressed him for the want to say to her, and the rest of that day.
proper way to say them, but “Wilmot,” said he, as the I'm hanged if it doesn't all slip two sat smoking under the away as soon as I get within
range, and I can only drivel. mother. We're selfish brutes,
in captious criticism of every: “How did you manage with thing South African, and -the other one ?”
railing against the fate which “ Don't talk of her. She was had bound him to the country. not the same class as Clarie. It is a psychological condition Man, but it makes me wicked that most home-born Colonials when I think what a fool I was suffer from at times, and its over her.
she was the effect on the new-comer, keenly
the veld that charmed his imWilmot laughed. “A man pressionable companion. He doesn't leave a fortune to the refused to see either sense or first girl that amuses him.” pleasure in Wilmot's fondness
Hartley looked up quickly, for squatting over a camp-fire then puffed at his pipe and that only repaid the toil of relit it-sure sign of mental feeding it by belching its perturbation.
smoke and flame in his face “She amuses you, eh? Is with every gust.
If he did there any one else?'
come near it, it was because “Yes, my mother. I owe the smoke drove away the her a bit.”
swarms of winged insects that Hartley seemed relieved, and made it impossible to burn a the hard, angry look that usu- lamp under the stuffy waggonally prefaced trouble melted. tent. He refused to eat the “Now
Like buck shot with so much toil by to hear a chap talk of his Wilmot because it was taste
you talk sense.
less, and the fish because they could be substituted without were bony. Even Wilmot was detection ; the ever - present bound to confess that the thirst, that he feared and poetry of a bed in the grass loathed to quench with the beneath the canopy of heaven, muddy liquid of the turbid fanned by the gentle zephyrs of streams; and, worse than all, the silent night, degenerated the necessity of abstaining into very rough prose after he from washing, because of the had twice been trampled by a filthy water, but mainly for prowling ox, found a snake in the reason that the sun-burned his blanket, and his body cov- skin could not bear the torture. ered with crawling ants. After Then the sufferings of the that he slept beneath the wretched oxen under the lash waggon-tilt, preferring the close and the strain of a load too unwholesome atmosphere, the great filled him with passionmosquitoes, and moths, to the ate repugnance, and the aplarger horrors of the bivouac proach to a hill or bad place in by the camp-fire. Very early the road was always the signal in the trek he had accepted for him to ride out of sight Hartley's assurance that the and sound of the cruel work. sun could be safely left to rise The first experience of an oxwithout his supervision. On waggon trek is ever the one or two occasions that trial to the man who has any he had conformed to the con- tenderness in his heart for vention that requires travellers animals. Then if, as sometimes to rise at daybreak to enthuse happened, an accession of travover the sunrise in the mount- eller's trials goaded Wilmot to ains, the poetic spirit had been an expression of disgust and damped by the soul-searching disappointment, another
pechilliness of the morning mist, culiarity of the old Colonial and his lungs choked by the showed itself in Hartley, who smoke from the fire of damp sneered at him for a tenderfoot, wood. A few more such dis- and wound up a seething reenchantments, and the iterative buke of his effeminacy by degrumbling of his companion, manding to know why he recompletely killed the gipsy mained in a country bo obnoxspirit in him, and reaction set ious. Wilmot would feel hurt in. He began to feel the dis- at the absence of logio and comforts of the trek,—the mono- justice, for he had not seen tonous fare of tinned meats; enough of the Colonial to know the coarse underdone bread that, like a parent, he claimed baked in the gritty ashes; the the right to disparage his offtea and coffee 80 similar in spring, but resented the same taste and appearance that they privilege in another.