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one chance of safety,-flight sufficient help. He was also by way of Portuguese terri- treading a path even more diffitory.

cult—the path of duty. The doctor was kindly sym- The temptation to play the pathetic next morning. He coward had assailed him only noted the signs of harassing during the dark hours before worry and anxiety on Hartley's the dawn. With sunrise came face, and tried to cheer him. brightness of the day and clear. It was pleasant to find a man ness of brain, and a resolution so concerned about the fate of to play the man and forget a friend, in a country where that he had ever thought of friendship was but å sordid running away. He would risk matter of community of busi- arrest, trial, anything rather ness interest. Like most men, than that one woman should he had taken a liking to Hart- have cause to believe him capley at sight, and was prepared able of a crime so despicable to do much to help him. He as murder and flight. began by returning his fee. It would be superfluous to Hartley firmly refused it, but describe the many disasters accepted the offer of the young that occurred under conditions surgeon's company on a final so favourable for them. The ride round.

new brake-blocks, inefficiently They rode all that day. and hurriedly made to take They found a Kafir kraal, but the place of the old, worked the natives had seen no white badly, and caused more than man, they said, or, if they had, one slight accident; while the had been bribed to silence. voorlouper, having the preHartley's instinctive distrust occupied mind of a novice like of the black race inclined him Hartley to control him, instead to the latter theory, and he be- of the alert argus eye of the gan such a browbeating cross- dead Boer, took the liberties examination that the subjects that come instinctively to the ended by running away.

Kafir with an easy baas, and This was all that he needed added more than his fair share to confirm his opinion that they to the bungles and blunders of knew something. He did not the trek. tell his companion what he Fifteen days after the death guessed, but declared his inten- of Johannes Smeer, and thirtytion of staying with the waggon three from the starting of a few days on the chance of the expedition, the waggon arlearning something, then trek- rived at the boundary that king to the Rand.

marked the north - western Next morning the doctor limit of the Krugersdorp started for Pietersburg. An district. Two Boers suddenly hour later Hartley was adding rose out of the grass by the

now and trying experience side of the track and apto his store,—that of driving proached, calling out “Stop!” a span of oxen over difficult One of them seized the reins and strange country with in- by which the voorlouper guided

ever

soream

a

areas.

the leading oxen, and roughly order to stand till called forchecked them.

and went to the sitting-room Prepared for the worst, and door. He knocked once, then anticipating arrest, Hartley entered and called. The room came forward.

was in darkness, but a slit “Where do you come from?” of light from the kitchen he was asked.

door showed that some one “Pietersburg

was astir. “Then you cannot go on.” “Piet, come here !” Hartley “Why not?”

called again. Do you not know that The kitchen door opened, rinderpest has come into the and Mrs de Villiers, slatternly land from the north? The and dirty, stood in the crack Lord has sent it as a punish- between door-post and doorment for letting the Rooineks edge. No Boer woman stay in the land."

yet threw a door wide open in During the absence of the the presence of a stranger. expedition, rinderpest had ap- She gave a little peared in the Transvaal, and on seeing Hartley, and retired

system of cordons had precipitately backwards, pullbeen established to protect ing the door after her, and unaffected

Hartley's took up the cry that had cattle would not be permitted brought her into the sittingto cross the border until they roomhad been certified clean. This “Piet, come! Piet, come!” meant a delay of several days. Hartley sat on the sofa and The farm of Piet de Villiers quietly waited. He could hear was less

than three hours voices whispering loudly, the distant, and thither Hartley shuffling of feet, and the sounds rode as soon as he had com

disturbed and excited pleted arrangements for leav- household. A few minutes ing the waggon and oxen. later Piet de Villiers, half

It was well after sunset awake and minus boots and when he reached the house. coat, shuffled into the room. The usual chorus of barking His vrouw came close behind, from the dozen nondescript carrying a candle. dogs gave the only sign of Hartley did not wait for the life: the house was silent and master of the house to

open

the dark. A Kafir peeped out of conversation. the kitchen-boy's hut. Hart- “Sit down, Piet; light your ley called to him to take charge pipe and listen. I have a bad of the horse. At the sound of story to tell you.” He spoke the voice the native first spoke the Taal. to some one inside, then ran to Piet lumbered his big body the back of the house as if into the nearest chair, and put to raise the alarm. Hartley his elbows on the table. Mrs threw the reins over the horse's de Villiers placed the candle head-a sign that every South by her husband and sat close African horse recognises as an against the wall, folded her

of a

woman.

hands, and looked Hartley up pelled a lull. Hartley took adand down.

vantage of it. “It's a bad story I have “ Yes, Piet; Johannes Smeer to tell, Piet. You must is murdered. By whom I know listen while I tell it all from not. It was for diamonds. the beginning I must have He was stone-crushed while he time."

slept, and the diamonds taken “Ja, time to make up wicked from him.” lies,” Mrs de Villiers interrupt

“By you.

You have the ed, in a tone of undisguised diamonds, you thief, you murhostility. “Where is Johannes derer!” the woman screamed. Smeer Tell us that before “ You are foolish, you make lies.

We know. Why should I kill Johannes for You have murdered him. He diamonds that I had given was my cousin. You mur- him, when I had a hat full ? dered him and stole his dia- Does a farmer kill the ox for monds. We know. Toli has eating his grass ?” told us.”

Through a gauntlet of inter“It is Toli who lies,” Hart- ruptions and hysterical charges ley answered quietly, filling his Hartley proceeded at a steady pipe deliberately. “Johannes pace, ignoring the wife, and Smeer was your cousin. Do giving Piet a clear and peryou think if I had done what fectly straightforward account you say I should have come of the expedition. He admitted back to you, his cousin ?” the gun - running, but said

“Ja, you do it to make be- nothing of the attempt at lieve. You would do any wick- blackmail by Johannes, or the edness and come and tell it. disappearance of Wilmot. But you shall be caught. You “It is all lies! You fought shall go to tronk.

Where are

Johannes to get back your diahis diamonds ?”

monds, and drove him out of Hartley kept commendably the waggon to sleep that you cool. “Piet,” he said, between might murder him. Toli has the puffs of his pipe, “I have told us all,” Mrs de Villiers come to tell you my story. interrupted. How can I tell it if she will Hartley showed the first sign not let me speak?”

of temper. Piet turned to the woman “Toli says this, does he? and made a gesture for silence. Did he tell you that I acShe turned fiercely on her cused him of the murder, and husband.

that he ran away because of “What! you would have me fear?” say nothing? You want to “Yes, fear of you; you were cover_this schelm? You are going to murder him. I know glad Johannes is murdered. I everything. And where is the will speak.”

young Rooinek? Why do you And she did.

Both men

not bring him to tell lies ? smoked placidly during the You know he will not bear storm till want of breath com you out. He is honest."

;" he

said.

scene, and

" Run

SO

Hartley felt sick, and made manner of a man who heard an no reply.

excuse he could not accept. “Yes, where is Wilmot ?-he His stolid, stupid face had inwill tell the truth.'

credulity and obstinate sceptiHendrika had entered the cism stamped upon it.

“ You room, and stood by the side of had

better go away,' her mother. She was in an

His passive, quietelaborate dressing-gown, whose loving nature revolted at embellishment she had con- everything violent. He hated cealed and marred by throwing a

would rather an old shawl over her head and allow a malefactor to escape shoulders. She stood an

em than have the trouble and bodiment of inartistic incon- exertion of arresting him. gruity,—delicate lace and rib

away

before the bon, ragged and dirty woollen. Smeers come : they are wait

“Why did you make Wilmot ing for you,” he repeated. bury Johannes ?” she de Hartley started as if stung. manded. " We know, - you “Run away! By God, no! dared not look on him. It is not for all the police in the always with murderers. Transvaal,” he shouted, standHave you murdered Wilmot? ing up and facing the group Where is he? Why does he defiantly. “Where's Clarie? not come to bear out your You may believe I'm a murlies?

derer, but she does not." Hartley relit his pipe. The “Go away,” Piet repeated questioning of the girl unnerved petulantly and paralysed him. His cour “It's your house, Piet, but age was oozing. He wanted I don't go until Clarie tells to be brave and conceal noth

me to.” ing, but he hesitated to make At that moment there was a the answer that he felt must flash of white at the door. condemn him irretrievably. Clarie, with a wrapper thrown Where was Wilmot ? He hon- round her, her long brown hair estly did not know, but dare streaming over her shoulders, not confess it, much less could her face white as her robe and he put his suspicions into her dark eyes gleaming feverwords. To impute treachery ishly, glided noiselessly into the to his friend while he himself room. She walked swiftly up under

grave suspicion to Hartley, and pointing to the would be the act of a coward. door that opened upon the

“You cannot answer," came stoep, said in a tone strangely the voice of Hendrika. “You at variance with her usual know you have murdered him. subdued and gentle speechI can feel it. Father, send a “Go-go at once !" Kafir for Frickkie and Jan Hartley stood dazed and Smeer: they are on the farm, irresolute. and must catch this schelm.” “But, Clarie, why should I

Old Piet spoke at last. He go if I am innocent ?” had been listening with the “Go!” she repeated, and she

was

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put her hand on his arm as if “Don't cry, haartje,” he said to force him.

soothingly. “Why did you tell He looked at her for a space. him you thought him a mur“I'll

go
if
you

believe me a derer ? I know you don't. murderer."

But it looks black against “I do,-go."

him." “ You do?” He asked the Clarie controlled herself with question with lingering, doubt- an effort. “It does look ful emphasis.

black,' she said. “That's “I do,-go away.

why I drove him away.” He picked up the sjambok “But do you think he murthat he had laid on the table, dered Smeer?” gave one long stupefied look I should have sent him at the white-robed, trembling away just the same.' figure, put on his hat, and Then you don't think him passed into the darkness with- bad.” out a word.

She shook her head. Clarie stood, statuesque, till “ You are a strange girl, the door had closed behind Clarie. Why did you say you him, then threw herself on to believed him guilty ?” the sofa and burst into "Father, you don't underhysterical sobs.

stand Dick. You heard him Mrs de Villiers walked over say he would not go but for and stood by her. “ That is

If I had told him I your Rooinek lover, eh? - a thought him innocent, he would murderer; and you send him have stayed to be caught that away that he may not be he might justify my faith in caught. But he will be. him; but I know he would have Hendrika, tell Toli to ride fast no chance.

no chance. They would conto Frickkie Smeer. Quick! I vict him easily. It broke my can hear he is going that way.' heart to say it, but it was the

Hendrika left by the kitchen, only way, -I know him so and her mother followed. As well.'

As well.” And she broke again she disappeared, a little figure into sobs, while little Lisbeth in a dishevelled night - dress lavished wet kisses and old came furtively into the room Piet awkwardly stroked her and climbed on to the sofa, hair, muttering, Haartje, where she nestled beside the haartje!” weeping woman. It was little Clarie had summed the inLisbeth.

cident accurately when she Old Piet sat at the table said she knew Hartley so well. watching the child fondling Her strangely unexpected deand kissing her sister. Pres- nunciation of the man was the ently he got up, slouched to outcome of a woman's instinct the sofa, and sat down. Clarie and impulse. She had heard lay with her back to him, her her sister's threat to send for face buried in a cushion. Her the sons of the dead Smeer, father gently pulled one hand and knew well that it portended away.

disaster for Hartley. Days be

me.

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