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“Next day came Pagan to house where the Vrouw du pay for the work that was Plessis (which was me) will done. He drove up in his give us some coffee.' smart cart, and tiptoed his way “I was watching, you may daintily to the edge of the be sure, and again I saw the spruit where the bricks lay. wintry red swell above the He was an old man, very cleanly white whisker, and I clenched dressed, with hard white hair my hands in wrath and conon his head and face, and a tempt at the creature's littlequick manner of looking from
I was sure he would side to side, like a little bird. have liked to sweep my man's In all his aspect there was courtesy aside, and certainly nothing but spoke of easy the politeness had a prick in wealth and the serenity of a it. He was rich, and old, and well - ordered life; there was fat, with a consequence in his even that unkindly sharpness of mien and an air that hinted tone and manner that is a dead- he was used to deference, and weight on the well-to-do. My Kornel was but a muddy brickhusband was at work when he moulder. Yet there stood my drove up, but he straightened man, so easy in his quiet his back, squared his broad speech, so sure of himself, so shoulders, and came up from dangerous a target for conthe mud, walking at the full tempt, that the rich man only of his height and smiling down stammered. Kornel nodded as at the rich man with half- though he understood the in
vitation to be accepted, and “Daag, Heer Pagan,' he walked up to the house, leavsaid to him, in the tone of one ing old Pagan to count the who needs and desires nothing, bricks and follow. and held out his hand-mud "I kissed him as he came in. from the elbow - with some You've trampled his dirty thing lordly in the gesture. soul under your heel,' I said, The rich man cocked his head and I love you for it. I love quickly, in the way he had to see you upright and a man and hung in the breeching for of purpose : whatever comes of a moment, ere he rendered his it, I shall honour you always.' hand to Kornel, with a redden- "He kissed me and laughed. ing of the cheek above his ‘Nothing will happen, if we white whisker that betrayed are lucky,' he said. “There is him, I thought, for a paltry more in John Pagan than the soul.
big stomach and the money. "I've come to your But we mustn't crawl to him ; bricks,' he said curtly, and I'll wager he never crawled to pay for 'em, if they're all himself when he was poor.' right.'
“I set the coffee ready, " Ah, the bricks,' said Kor- spreading the table with a nel airily. Yes, to be sure. fine cloth I had brought from There they are. Go and count Kornel's farm, one of the few them, if you like, and then things we had taken with us, you can come to me at my and presently in
Directly I saw him o' learning, not even makin' I felt a doubt of him : there mud-bricks. The very same
a kind of surreptitious thing happened to me. Lord, viciousness showing in his sour it's past forty years ago!
I smile that warned me. He turned out six hundred dozen, was like a man who is brewing and had 'em thrown on my an unpleasant joke.
hands. It nearly broke my "Ah, Mrs du Plessis,' he heart.' said, 'your man
will have "I can understand that,' been working very hard.' said Kornel But what is
“'You know what brick- wrong with my bricks ?' moulding is, then?' I said. “Old Pagan set his cup
back “He grinned. A little,' he on the table and sat up in his said ; 'yes, a little. There's chair. As he began to speak few jobs I haven't put a hand he hitched back the sleeves of to in my time. Work's a fine his coat and moved his neck thing, when a man knows how in his white collar. to work.'
6. See here!' he said. • It's “• You are very right,' agreed a little thing, like turning up Kornel.
the toe of a horseshoe, but “This is good coffee,' said just as essential. When ye John Pagan, as he stirred his set your full moulds out to cup. “In fact, it's better than dry, did ye set 'em on edge, the bricks.'
to drain away the water ? 666 A better hand was at did not? Well, that's what's work on it,' said Kornel. wrong. They're just mud-pies
"So I should judge,' an- -lumps o' damp dirt, that'll swered Pagan sleekly. 'I crumble as soon as they're dry. should like another cup of this There's ninety dozen of 'em, by coffee, if I may trouble you, my count, and there'll not be Mrs du Plessis.'
three dozen that ye could use “ He laid his
cup the in any way consistent wi' contable and bit his nails while science. Do ye take my I filled it, glancing round at meanin'?' my poor room the while and “Kornel nodded very thoughtsmiling to himself.
fully. “Yes,' he said, 'I like the “Well, you'll just need to coffee, but I don't like the get to work again,' said the bricks. They're no good at all.' old man. “Maybe I'm not
“We both stared at him, exactly keen on greetings and silent and aghast, and the invitations and the like, but white-haired old man chuckled you'll not be able to teach me in our stricken faces.
anything on bricks. So if “What is wrong with them?' you're thinking anything about demanded Kornel at last. His the splendour o’ your work, face was white, but he spoke wait till ye’re master of it before quite naturally.
you waste more thought. I'm "Aha!' laughed old Pagan. your better as & craftsman,' Ye see, there's no trade that he said, with a glance towards ye can take up without a bit me.
“I was red all over, what won to believe that there is a with shame and sorrow, but I flaw in the argument, but for marked that the paltriness us it was true, and bitterly seemed to have gone from true. We were never on the John Pagan as as he right side of ten shillings; we began to talk of work. He
He were never out of sight of the turned then to Kornel with a thin brink of want. That we briskness that was not were preserved and kept clear kindly.
of disaster was due only to the “ I was relying on you for toil of Kornel and my own bricks,' he said, 'for you can anxious care for the spending work, and that's a fact. Per- of the money.
I found out haps you'll can let me have a that a wife who is strong has hundred dozen by Thursday, a great trade to drive in upeh? I'm waitin' on them. And holding her house, and I, at if you'll make sure of it, I'll do any rate, was proficient in wi' ye what's my common cus- 'maintaining cleanliness, in tom, and that's pay half the buying and making food, and price in advance. How'll that preserving to my home the suit?'
atmosphere of happiness and “Kornel rose from his chair welcome that anchors a man and stammered thanks, and to his own place. Take it all John Pagan paid the money in all, we were happy, and yet on to the table.
I would not pretend that there “ I'll be down on Thursday were not grim hours when we to see the bricks,' he said, “and wondered if the mere living don't forget the dodge I told were worth all that it cost. ye. And maybe Mrs du Kornel, hard as iron always, Plessis 'll be willing to give grew lean and stooped, and me coffee again when I come. there appeared in his face a So good-day to ye, and mind kind of wild care that fright-drain 'em!'
From the chill up“When he was gone Kornel coming of the dawn to the and I looked at each other and rising of the wind at evening laughed emptily. Then he went he taxed himself remorselessly out to the mud again to make at the sorry work in the mud, ready for Thursday.
while I scrubbed and scraped “ So it was we lived for a and plotted and prayed to time that was shorter than it make the meagre pay cover seemed, building on the mud of wants that were pared meagre our shaky fortunes a pride that enough. Yes, there were cerour poverty could not over- tainly times when we thought turn. Kornel had a saying the cost too great, but, God be that seemed irreligious but praised ! we never thought it
• There are minis- at the same moment, and the ters and farmers and lawyers stronger always upheld the who are rich,' he would ob- weaker. serve, but there's no money
" And there was never any in work.' I have since been shame in the matter, Even
as we feared nothing, we were he said. I have a stiffness in never ashamed. Never ! my back that makes me in
"One morning, about an clined for anything rather than hour before high sun, when this work,-even your father.' the dust lay thick on the road “We walked up to the house into the town that passed our together, and Kornel's brow land, and the neighbourhood was creased with thought, while around was feverish with the his lips smiled. fuss of the Kafirs and yellow “You see,' he said, 'we folk, I stood for a moment at want nothing from him-nothmy door, looking down to where ing at all, so we can't afford Kornel was fervently at work to be humble.
Have we any in the spruit. There was al- money at all ? ' ways traffic on the road at that “We have three shillings,' hour, and something drew me I answered, and I owe to look towards it. At once I shilling for food.' saw my father. He was riding “That's not enough, he in, dressed in his black clothes, said, shaking his head. You very solemn and respectable, say he saw me working? We with his beard flowing over his must have thirty shillings at chest. At the same moment least; we must treat him well; he saw me, and seemed to start I can't let him off, now that he in his saddle and glance quickly has seen so much. We'll stuff at all about—at my poor little him till he bulges like a rotten house, the litter that lay around, cask, and wishes he could make the squalor of the town-end we bricks
I wonder if lived in, and the laborious bent Pagan would pay me in adback of my man as he squat- vance for a thousand dozen. tered about in the mud. He I'll go and ask him.' checked his horse an instant, as “He started for the door at though by an impulse—for my once, but turned and came back father, though I honoured him, to me. was a weak man, in whom no 16. He said once he had nothpurpose was steadfast. I saw ing to give me,' he whispered the wavering in his face and to me. Do you grudge me the uncertainty of his big pale this, kleintje ?' eyes; and then, half-nodding "Not I, I answered. I
as though in an em- only wish we could do more.' barrassment, he pushed on and “He kissed me, and was off entered the town. I went down in a moment. Pagan made no and told Kornel.
difficulty about the money. He “H'm !' He stood as though looked at Kornel shrewdly when in thought, looking up to me my man made the request, and from the water. Your father, paid at once. eh? Would you like him to “It suits me ye should be come and see you ?'
a wee thing in my debt,' he “I nodded.
said. “But you're so damned “He laughed and climbed up proud, there's times I'm scared the bank to me. So would I, O'ye. Sign yer name here.?.
“Now,' said Kornel, when here,' Kornel was saying. “We he had put the money in my
have a little time to ourselves hand, 'get what you need for then, for people have learned a dinner that will tickle the at last not to trouble us much. ou pa’s stomach, and a bottle One sees the sun go down of whisky. There never was yonder across the hills, and a deacon that did not suffer it is very pretty. Now, on from
complaint that the farm, nobody ever knew whisky would ease; and I'll how handsome the sunset is. get into what clean clothes We were like Kafirs on the I have and go to look for farm; but life in the town is him.'
quite different.' “So I bought the dinner. I “He chattered on in the was willing enough to suffer same strain, and my father the emptiness to come, if only was plainly dazed by it; so I could wipe from my father's that his judgment was all memory his impression of my fogged, and he took the words man's poverty; but all the at their face-value. I noticed same, in case he should refuse that my father seemed a little to visit us, I bought things abashed and doubtful: it was that would last long enough easy to see that this was the to serve ourselves until the opposite of what he had thirty shillings should have expected. been earned. They made a “He greeted me with a touch good show: for I have never of hesitation in his manner; been a fool in the matter of but I kissed him on the forefood, and I knew my father's head and
tried to appear a tastes. I promised myself that fortunate daughter – smiling his dinner should be his chief assuredly, you know, glad to memory of that day, at all exercise hospitality and to reevents. He was, I fear, the ceive my father in my own kind of man who remembers house. It was not all seemhis good dinners better than ing, either; for I had no shame anything else.
in my condition and my hus“It was a long time before band's fortune, -only a resentthey came, and I had given ment for those who affected to up all hope of the visit when expect it. I heard their voices. Or You are looking well,' said rather, it was Kornel's voice my father, staring at me. "How that I heard, in a tone of do you like the life you are careless civility, like one who living ?' performs casual duty of “Kornel smiled boldly across politeness. He was talking to me, and I laughed. nonsense in a slow drawl, and “I was never so happy in as they picked their way from my life,' I answered—and that, the road to the house my at any rate, was true. father looked up to him in a “My father grunted, and sat kind of wonder.
listening to the gentle flow of “The evenings are pleasant talk with which Kornel gagged