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him the while I busied myself like sin, you can never undo with the last turn of the cook- it, whatever forgiveness you ing and set the table to rights. win. But a leaf or two bruised But he glanced at me from between two clean pebbles, and time to time with something the pebbles boiled with the of surprise and disapproval : stew, spices the whole thing perhaps a white woman with a touch of devil spices a
Kafir servant had never met his eyes before. Kornel “ You
be sure I was did not miss the expression anxious about it, and watched of his face.
Kornel and my pa as they 66. We will show you some- started to eat. Kornel swalthing new in the dinner line,' he lowed his first mouthful with remarked knowingly. “There an appearance of keen judgare things you can't teach to a ment; then he winked swiftly Kafir, you know.'
to me, and nodded slightly. What things ?' demanded It was his praise of the dish.
Oh, if you had known my man, “Ah, you shall see in you would not need telling that moment,' answered Kornel, that was enough for me. My nodding mysteriously. 'Chris- father commenced to eat as tina will show you. Have you though curious of the food ever heard of a ragout?' before him. He gave no sign
“My father shook his head. of liking or otherwise; but Neither had I; but I held my presently he squared his shoultongue.
ders, drew his chair closer to "Well,' said Kornel, a the table, and gave his mind ragout is a fowl cooked to the matter. Christina has cooked it. It “That's right, walk into it,' is a very favourite dish among said Kornel. the rich men in Johannes- “It is very good indeed,' burg If you will draw up said my father, eating thoughtyour chair to the table you fully, and presently I helped shall see.'
Kornel “It is true that I had a good gave him soda - water with hand with a fowl, stewed in a whisky in it, and thereafter fashion of my own, which was there were other things to eat mainly the outcome of ignor. -nearly thirty shillings' worth. ance and emergency; but it After that they sat and smoked, was very fortunate that and drank the strong coffee I that day of all days the con- made for them, and passed the trivance should have turned whisky bottle to and fro beout so well. It was tender, tween them. All the while and the flesh was seasoned to Kornel babbled amiably of just the right flavour by the foolish things, — sunsets, and stuff I stewed with it-certain Shakespeare and the ways of herbs, Katje, and a hint of a women, -till I caught myself whiff of garlic. Garlic is a wondering whether indeed he thing you must not play with: relished the change from the
• H'm ;
wide clean veld of the farm to do not take the bread out of this squalid habitation of toil. the mouths of Kafirs.'
“I suppose,' said my father "I see,' answered Kornel at last, when Kornel
Kornel had briefly; and I, who watched finished talking about sunsets, him, knew from his voice that
- I suppose a ragoo, as you call there was to be no truce after it, is very expensive to make?' that, - that we should still
“I really couldn't say,' earn our livelihood by the mud answered Kornel. But I bricks. should think not.'
66. You will come ?' asked
my and you
think a father. Kafir could not be taught to
“Good Lord, no!' replied make them ?'
"You would weary "Kornel laughed. 'I should me to death in
I be sorry to try,' he said.
don't mind being civil when “My father pondered on that we meet, but live with you! for a while, smoking strongly It would be to make oneself a and glancing from time to time vegetable.' at me.
“My father heard him out “I'm growing an old man,' with a grave face, and then he said at last, and old men rose to his feet. There was a are lonely at the best.'
stateliness in his manner that 66. Some seem
to wish it,' grieved me, for when a said Kornel
meets a rebuff with silence and “I say they are lonely,' re- dignity he is ageing. peated my father sharply. 'I "You are right, perhaps,' have no wife, and I cannot be he said. 'I don't know, but bothered with getting another you may be. Anyhow, I have at my time of life.' He shook enjoyed an excellent meal, and his grey head sadly. Not I
Good - bye, that I should have to look far Christina!' for one,' he added, however.
6. When he was gone,
Kornel “Kornel laughed, and my turned to me. father looked at him angrily. 66. It is evident you cannot
“If it had not been for you,' have both a husband and a he said, 'I should still have had father,' he said; but I am sorry my daughter Christina to live for the rudeness, kleintje. He with me.
I am tired of being is a greater man than I.' alone, and I cannot nurse the “I think you might have wrong done me by my own flesh made it otherwise,' I answered, and blood. You and Christina for my heart ached for my had better come out to the farm father. and live with me.'
“He shrugged his shoulders. “. And leave my business ?' 'You must manage to forgive asked Kornel.
me,' he said. 'I have a thou"Oh, there is mud and sand dozen bricks to make, water on the farm, if your and that will be punishment business pleases you,' retorted enough.'
• But out there we “But you will not start
again to-night!' I cried, for it beside me with the limpness of was already the thin end of man spent to the utmost evening, and he was taking off ounce. He slept without turnhis clean clothes.
ing on his side, his worn hands, “A thousand dozen is a half-closed, lying loosely on the big handful,' he answered, quilt. Yet within an hour smiling. There's nothing like after daylight he rose with getting a grip on the work narrow, sleep - burdened eyes, ahead.'
fumbled into his clothes, and “So in a few minutes he staggered out to the spruit was down in the water again, again, to resume his merciless and the mud flew as he worked work with the very fever of at the heart-breaking task he energy,
The Kafirs that had taken upon him. After worked leisurely on the next all, the “ragout' was expen- plot stopped to look at him sive to make. It came dearer and to wonder at the speed than we expected.
with which the rows of drying “Late into the night he held bricks lengthened and multion, though thrice I went out to plied. I saw them pointing as the bank of the stream to beg I stood at the door, heavyhim to quit it and come to bed. hearted and anxious, and enThere was a great pale moon vied the ease of their manner that night, which threw up of life, and the simplicity that the colours of things strongly, could be content with such and I have yet in my mind work at such a wage. Yes, I and my heart—that picture, — have envied Kafirs, Katje: the stained water, and the bank there are times for all women of grey mud over it, and be- when we envy the dead. tween the two my Kornel bent “But it was the day after over the endless boxes, vehe- that that the trouble came mently working with no con- upon us, great and violent and sideration for the limits of his unawaited. Kornel had been strength. His arms gleamed up at daybreak again, working with the wet, and were cease- as strongly as ever, though his less : he might have been mouth
loose with the dumb machine, without capac- strain and his face very yellow ity for weariness. If he had and white. The drying and toiled before, now he toiled the dry bricks were lying on doubly: there was a trouble in the ground in long rows, and his mind to be sweated out and some which were hard were a debt of money to be repaid. already stacked to make room And also, like a peril always for others. It was a tremendnear at hand, there was the ous output for one man in the thin margin that stood between time it had taken; and when us and starvation.
the Kafirs turned out, gabbling “When he came to bed at and laughing as usual, they length, he lay down without stopped to look in surprise the greeting he was wont to at our plot and the great give me-lapsed into his place quantity
bricks. They VOL, CLXXVIII. —NO. MLXXXI.
gathered in a group, and talked before my face, and took them among themselves and pointed, down again in time to see and presently I was aware Kornel's fist fly up and out, there was something toward. and the great Kafir reel back One of them in particular—a from a vicious blow in the face. great brown brute, with bulky “But he gave way for a shoulders and huge arms moment only. Next instant seemed to be concerned in the he recovered and his huge arm affair: he stared continually rose, and I screamed and ran towards Kornel, and talked forward as the brick, dry and loudly, his voice running up hard as a stone, struck Kornel into the squeak of a Kafir on the head and tumbled him, when he is excited, or angry, loosely like a dead man, among or afraid ; and presently he the rows of bricks about him. stepped over our border line I did not see the Kafir run and walked down to the bricks. away, - I saw only the thin He was jabbering to himself white face of my man turned all the time as he stooped and up to the sun, and the blood picked up bricks and examined that ran from his brown hair. them closely, and glanced down I lifted his head and called to to the spruit where Kornel was him ; but his head lolled on his still working.
shoulders, and I let him lie "I watched him, but I said while I ran out crying to find nothing, hoping he would go help. away before Kornel saw him; “It was some of the yellow but he kept on, and presently folk who carried him in for my man looked up.
me, and brought the German “ He saw the Kafir at once, doctor. Kornel was on the bed and climbed up the bank pretty when he came, and he caused quickly. There was something the cut to be bandaged, and like a smile on his face, a look then spoke abstrusely of the as though he had found the effect of the blow, so that I relief he needed. He walked understood nothing at all. I swiftly over to the Kafir. learned, however, how I was to
“What are you doing here?' tend him, how feed him, and he demanded, keeping his eyes how he would lie unconscious unwinkingly on the staring for long intervals when there eyes of the Kafir.
would be nothing at all to do " The latter held
dried for him. But he told me I had brick in his great paw, and nothing to fear in the end. now he thrust it forward and Indeed, he had a kind of cheeribroke into a torrent of speech. ness which seems to belong to He accused Kornel of having doctors, which did much to trespassed in the night and comfort me and steady me for stolen the bricks of the Kafirs.
what was to come. Kornel No man, he said, could have would not die, he said; and it made so many by himself; and was that assurance I chiefly then he began to call names. needed. I shuddered and put my hands “ The day went slowly for
me, I can tell you. There was for a woman, it debases, it unyet food enough in the house makes, it breaks. to last us a little while, and I "I worked hard at it, husmade a mess for Kornel, and banding my strength, and ate what I wanted myself. He within an hour I was weak recovered his sense of things and foolish with the effort. once or twice, but when night Twice I had left it to go in came he dropped off again into and see if all was well with a stupor from which he was not Kornel, and this rested me; to be roused, and it was then I but I was now resolved that left him. I felt as though I I must rest no more, if were a traitor to him in his
our debt was to be paid and weakness; but my mind had bread earned for the grim days buzzed hopelessly all day about to come. So I stayed in the the problem of our mere living, bitter water and worked on, and I saw nothing else for it, till even the sense of pain was 80 down I went to the spruit dulled and it seemed that I was to earn what I might for my past the capacity of feeling. sick husband.
“I was toiling thus (never “The moon gave me light, mind my old troubles, Katje and I had watched Kornel dear; this is years ago) when often enough to know how to a sound came to my ears that go about the work. But the caused me to look up. It had water, as it flowed about my been going on for some time, legs, bit me with a chill that persisting till it gained my made me gasp, and the effort notice, and suddenly I became of the work, the constant bend- aware that there were men on ing and lifting, tried every our ground among the bricks. muscle in my body. I had I climbed half-way up seen the cruelty of the work to look at them, where they in its traces on Kornel, and could not see me; and I saw knew how little it gave and several dark figures bent to how much it took ; but with some business or moving here this first trial of it came the and there. I caught the sound realisation, never lost since, of of hushed voices, too, though how gallant a
man I had no words; and then the hot chosen to stand between me wrath set my blood racing as and the world, and how much I realised what was going on. I owed him. I had not time The Kafirs, who knew my man to think a great deal, for was wounded and helpless, ,the torture of brickmaking is the very beast who had felled partly in the fact that while him,—were stealing the bricks it wrenches the body, it joins he had laboured so stoutly to the mind to its infinite trivial- make. My head swam with a ity. If you think, you do not delirium of vivid anger at the pack the mud as it must be meanness of the crime, and packed, and the sun crumbles without calculation, with no your bricks to dust. It is no thought of fear, I scrambled task for a real man at all ; even up and ran at them, shouting.