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P Abrakhams - Tropoyu Groma 1971 izd 12r A5 Kommentariy

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Язык книги Питера Абрахамса «Тропою грома»
нетруден, словарь, которым пользуется автор, невелик по
объёму, в тексте встречаются грамматические конструкции,
которые в основном входят в программу 1-го курса обучения на
факультетах и в институтах иностранных языков. Поэтому эта
книга будет доступна студентам на 2-м курсе или даже в конце
1-го курса.
Язык Питера Абрахамса характеризуется некоторыми
особенностями, и прежде всего это касается словаря писателя.
Автор постоянно пользуется приёмом повтора слов: одни
и те же слова повторяются очень часто для описания движений,
ситуации, чувств, картин природы и т. д. Для примера можно
привести выражения: the sun slanted; days slipped; tension slipped
from him; panic gripped; fear gripped; eyes danced; tears welled up;
feeling welled up; he swung up и т. д.
Частая повторяемость слов, однако, не может
объясняться только индивидуальной чертой Абрахамса как
писателя. Следует помнить, что английские слова многозначны,
что значения одного и того же слова часто контрастируют друг с
другом.
Другой особенностью Абрахамса является то, что он
стремится наибольшим образом приблизить авторскую речь к
речи разговорной, к речи персонажей своего романа. В авторское
повествование вводятся характерные для разговорной речи
сокращённые формы, вроде don't; doesn't; won't; can't и т. д.;
часто употребляются формы Continuous, причём даже и с теми
глаголами, которые обычно в этой форме не употребляются: I am
believing; Mako was seeing и т. п.
Желая раскрыть внутренний мир своего героя, Абрахамс
прибегает и к так называемому «внутреннему монологу» или
«несобственно прямой речи», когда автор говорит как бы от
имени Ланни, Исаака, Сари, Селии и любого другого персонажа.
Этот литературный приём вызывает особые изменения в языке,
как правило в области синтаксических конструкций. Например,
чтобы передать быстроту смены мыслей героя, или же
драматическую напряжённость действия, автор переходит к
коротким, эллиптическим предложениям (в них опускается
какой-либо член предложения, само собой разумеющийся, или
легко подразумевающийся). Речь персонажей полна таких
разговорных эллиптических конструкций; в ней замечаются и
отступления от грамматических норм, в особенности тогда,
когда эти нарушения норм служат средством речевой
характеристики (как, например, в разговоре Файиты и Мабель с
молодым английским антропологом Тони, когда обе женщины
говорят на ломаном английском языке).
Комментарий, помещённый в конце книги, ставит перед
собой цель облегчить понимание собственно содержания
произведения, а также и особенностей языка автора. Внимание
читателя останавливается на исторических фактах, на
интересных языковых явлениях (идиомах, грамматических
особенностях), на стилистических приёмах, применяемых
Абрахамсом, и проч.
Комментарий содержит:
1) справки о встречающихся в тексте исторических
событиях, фактах, именах;
2) объяснение грамматических явлений, которые, как
правило, незнакомы студентам 1-го курса;
3) перевод отдельных слов и выражений.
Следует иметь в виду, что комментарий обычно
предлагает лишь один из возможных способов интерпретации
текста. Во многих случаях читатель может найти, или просто
почувствовать и какое-то другое значение. Для иллюстрации
способов разрешения такого рода «переводческих трудностей»
мы в некоторых случаях привлекаем примеры из перевода
книги, сделанного О.П. Холмской (П. Абрахамс, «Тропою
грома». Издательство иностранной литературы, 1949 г.).
Комментарий имеет целью содействовать развитию
навыков грамматического, лексического и стилистического
анализа текста, а также ознакомлению учащихся с некоторыми
приёмами интерпретации текста (что принято называть
неточным и непонятным словом «перевод»).
5
CONTENTS
Page
О КОММЕНТАРИИ
4
Book One
HOME
10
Book Two
LOVE
98
Book Three HATE
248
Epilogue
365
КОММЕНТАРИЙ
367
ПОСЛЕСЛОВИЕ
404
6
Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed but man:1
Equal, unclassed, tribeless and nationless, 2
Exempt from awe, worship, degree, the king
Over himself; just, gentle, wise: but Man.
— SHELLEY
The form of sport3 to which I am most addicted4 is
consequential5 conversation. I was deprived of it during four
years' sojourn among the Pigmentocracy6 of South Africa by
repeated attempts to communicate through the medium of
dialogue conducted like this:
Any South African Graduate: If you had lived in this
country as long as I have you would know that a native
can't be taught to read or write.
Myself: Have you ever visited Fort Hare Missionary
College?7
South African Graduate: Don't talk to me about
missionaries.
Myself: Well, I have. I have seen a class of pure blood
Bantu8 students from the Cis-Kei9 working out differential
equations.
South African Graduate: What would you do if a black
man raped your sister?
— PROFESSOR LANCELOT HOGBEN, F.R.S.10
in his preface to Cedric Dover's Half-Caste
7
1
HE STEPPED out of the station and pushed the receipts into
his wallet. That was settled. His cases were looked after.1 There
was no going back now. Not that he wanted to go back. But it
was something definite. Clear-cut. He was on his way home.
It had been difficult. Celia had wanted him to stay. And
the others too. The argument with Celia wasn't over yet. She
was right about the job in the Colored Boys' High School,2 it
was a rare offer. But he couldn't take it. He had to go home.
That was some- thing he could not make Celia understand.
Lanny turned into Adderley Street. He stood on the curb
till a car shot by, then crossed the street.
It was a pity Celia couldn't understand because he did
want her to.3 They'd been together for a long time and he loved
her, They'd practically gone through school together and he
would miss her a lot. Still, he had to go, and with his cases
booked through4 it was settled. Not that he hadn't made up his
mind, but still.
It was a pity about the gang5 coming tonight. He wanted
to be alone, to think, to try and remember what home was like.
After all, seven years was a long time and he'd only received a
dozen letters or so in all that time.
He felt thirsty and looked at his watch. There was time
for a cup of tea. He crossed the Parade and went into Fatty's at
the foot of District Six.6
BOOK I, chapter 1
This was his last cup of tea at Fatty's. He smiled
thoughtfully. He would miss all this. Two o'clock of a morning
after some dance or party he and Celia and the gang would
come to Fatty's for his famous sausage and mash. It has
happened often. Sometimes it was only Celia and himself. And
sometimes he was alone. Fatty's had become an institution in
his life7 in the last seven years. And this was the end of it.
Yes, this was also, the end of Cape Town and its bustling
and exciting stream of life. The end of the coon shows8 and the
parties and the dances and the excitement one felt in District
Six on a Saturday night; it was also the end of his life at the
university and his circle of friends there; the end of swotting
and living in an atmosphere of learning and wisdom; the end of
those heated political meetings with their violent party factions;
the end of those giant demonstrations on one or another of the
many issues that affected the colored people. It was the end of
all these things and he would miss them all.
But most of all he would miss Celia, for they had done
many things together; shared so much fun and excitement.
Celia. was pretty and a good companion. When he felt like9 a
walk or a climb up Table Mountain or a swim she was always
there and ready; always game with her straight wiry form10 and
laughing mouth and eyes. She had been good to him. And so
had her people.11 They had been very kind to him. He would
miss them.
Fatty came over to his table. A fat, cheerful Greek with
laughing wrinkles at the sides of his eyes.
11
BOOK I, chapter 1
"You're alone today," Fatty said.
Lanny nodded and lit a cigarette.
"I'm leaving tonight."
"Leaving?"
"Yes, Fatty. I'm going home to the Karroo."12
"Not coming back?"
Lanny shrugged.
"And the pretty one?"
"She's staying."
"She will not like it." "I don't like it."
Fatty clicked his tongue in sympathy.
Lanny got up and paid for his tea. At the door he shook
Fatty's hand.
"I lose a good customer," Fatty said.
Lanny grinned. "I will miss my sausage and mash at all
hours of the night, Fatty."
He jumped into a passing bus and went to the top. The
bus picked its way through District Six and dropped him at the
top end, in the select and exclusive quarter of the upper crust of
Cape Town's colored community.13
Thoughtfully he went up the side street to the house
where he lodged. Only two more hours before he had to catch
his train and then Cape Town would be behind him. It made
him feel strange. He had forgotten what the other life was like,
the life before Cape Town. It was so long ago. The only thing
12
BOOK I, chapter 1
that stood out clearly was his mother's face. His sister Mabel he
remembered more vaguely. The rest was a distant blur except
for the big house on the hill overlooking their little township.
How could he forget that? All the legends he heard as a child
were connected with the big house and its owners. When he
and other children were naughty they were threatened with dire
penalties that would be visited on them from the big house on
the hill. They were told that the big baas14 with the red hair and
red beard would lock them up for days with nothing to eat. Yes.
And that was something more frightening than any beating. But
all of it was long ago. What was home like now? … Well, he
would find out soon enough. Still, it would be better to have
some idea what he was going back to. Seven years is such a
long time to be away from a place.
Entering the house he went up the short flight of stairs to
his room. He sat on the divan and looked around. This had
been his home for four years. He stretched out on the divan and
shut his eyes. The last couple of days had tired him very much.
He had lived under a strain and now he was beginning to feel
it. He did want to think through, to try and recapture something
from the past, so that it would not all be so strange to him when
he got there. But it was hard to get hold of anything except his
mother, and she was out of setting. He tried to sketch in a
background round her15 but failed.
He dozed off.
13
BOOK I, chapter 1
When he woke Celia was shaking his shoulders and
calling his name softly. He ran his fingers through his crisp
wavy hair and sat up.
"I didn't mean to go to sleep," he said.
"You were tired. It's a good thing. Come. Wash the sleep
out of your face, the others will be here any minute now."
She took his arm and led him to the door.
"I wish they were not coming," he said.
"I'm glad they are coming," Celia said. "It makes things
easier. I have to behave with them around. You see, I really
don't want you to go, Lanny."
"I'm sorry, Celia, but I must go. That community sent me
here. My mother couldn't do it on her own."
"I know, Lanny, I agree you've got to go, but I don't want
you to go." She patted his arm and looked at her shoes. "And
you didn't even ask me to come with you."
"But Celia. … "
"It's all right, really, Lanny. I'm going to behave myself
and I am not going to try to dissuade you any more. Now go
on. I'm going to help Mother Smith with the cookies she's
prepared for your party."
She pushed him toward the bathroom and hurried
downstairs. While he washed he heard the doorbell, then
voices. Yes, that was Larry and his pretty Jewish girl Rosa.
Then more voices. "The Duke" and Marie. And then Thomas
and his girl, Fanny. That was the lot. The intimate little circle.
14
BOOK I, chapter 1
They had done things together. Had fun together. The Colored
Standard always referred to them as "The Eight." Well, this was
the last meeting of The Eight. After this there'd be only seven.
He wondered what was going to happen to them. Well, it had
been good while it lasted.
He left the bathroom and went to his room. Larry and
Rosa were helping Celia bring up the cookies. The Duke was in
charge of the beer.
"Here's the breaker of the circle," Fanny called and
slipped her arm through Lanny's. They trooped into the room
and made themselves comfortable. A strained cheerfulness
hung over them as they talked about nothing that really
mattered and emptied glass after glass of beer and ate cookie
after cookie.
A sudden hush fell over the room. Larry looked at Lanny
and Celia. Celia slipped her arm through Lanny's and forced a
smile to her lips.
"This is the end of The Eight," Larry said, "so let us look
back on past happiness and count our blessings. … Do you
remember …"
And he recalled a happy episode in the past of the Eight.
Rosa recalled another incident. Somebody else thought of
another. And as they talked and laughed the strain went out of
the air and a touch of nostalgia flowed into their voices and
showed in their eyes. …
Time hurried away, and soon it was time for Lanny to go.
He slipped the few odds and ends that he had not packed into
15
BOOK I, chapter 1
his bags, into his attache case. Celia watched him strangely as
he pushed her portrait, that had stood near his bed, into the
case. …
Two taxis took them to the station. The train was waiting.
One by one they bade him good-by in their own individual
ways. Last of all Celia said good-by. It was hard to leave her.
They held hands and looked at each other in silence. The
whistle blew. The train moved. Reluctantly he let go of her
hand.16 She clung to him for a minute. The train gathered
speed.
Lanny was on his way home.
16
2
IT WAS early morning when the train pulled into the little
siding.1 Lanny stepped into the fresh morning air and took a
deep breath. He was nearly home now. A little while longer and
he would be there. Just a little while. He smiled. He smiled
because the air was clean and fresh and because he had hugged
the vague memory of home and felt like the returning son. He
had done what they had hoped he would do, and more. They had
sent him to Cape Town to get a teacher's certificate. Well, he had
done even better. He had won a scholarship and got a diploma,
and then he had won another grant2 and got an arts degree.3
The son was returning with even more success than the
community had hoped for.
He smiled because the smell of the earth was in the air;
because the loose, fine brown dust jumped to his nose and
choked him a little. But he didn't mind the dust. It was a part of
home. A part of the childhood he could not remember clearly.
He was back on the highveld,4 that was the important thing.
The haunting poetry of Totius5 slipped through his mind. Poetry
that had captured the soul of the vast undulating expansiveness
of the South African highveld. Pringle6 too, had captured a bit
of that.
Afar in the desert I love to ride,
With the silent bush-boy alone by my side
Away, away from the dwellings of men
By the wild deer's haunt, by the buffalo's glen;
BOOK I, chapter 2
And then those beautiful lines:
Far hid from the pitiless plunderer's view
In the pathless depths of the parched Karroo.
Yes, but it was essentially the Afrikander7 poets who had
succeeded in catching the spirit of the land. They felt the land
more than the English-speaking section did.
The train hooted shrilly and slowly jogged out of the
siding. On its way to Bloemfontein, and then Johannesburg,8
and then farther north.
Lanny walked to the far end of the platform where his
cases had been dumped. There was no booking office at the
little siding. There was no cloakroom where he could leave his
cases, and no porters stepped up to help with them. He smiled
ruefully. No, this wasn't Cape Town where there was a taxi or a
porter to help you whenever you snapped your fingers.9 This
was the highveld and he was back on it; soon he would be
among the old people again. Soon he would be hearing their
simple Afrikaans10 again. It would be good after his spell of
English11 in Cape Town.
Cape Town? It was far away now. No one would imagine
that it was just a night's journey from here. It seemed as though
it were in another world. But it was a familiar world. Where he
was going was home, and yet he would have to learn the ways
of home.
He picked up his cases and walked to the little barrier
where the ticket collector impatiently waited for him. When he
18
BOOK I, chapter 2
got to the man he put down his cases and searched his pockets
for the ticket. Coldly the man stared at him, looked him up and
down.
"Nice day," Lanny said. "I'm returning home after seven
years." The ticket collector stared at him, a cold hostile stare.
And suddenly Lanny remembered. This was not Cape
Town. This was the highveld, and on the highveld one did not
speak to a white man till he spoke to you. He should have
remembered. It was stupid to forget. He had brought his Cape
Town manners with him. Remember, Lanny, he told himself,
no social intercourse with white people here. And don't you
forget it! He smiled grimly and passed his ticket to the man.
Still those cold hostile eyes stared at him.
He can't intimidate me, Lanny thought. He picked up his
cases and passed the man, feeling those eyes on his back as he
left the siding. Well, he had made a mistake.
A dusty cart track curved away to the right. It led, he
knew, to the village which was beyond that rising about two
miles away. To the left was a cluster of houses, the beginnings
of a township.12 Farther away to the left were isolated
farmsteads.
There was room.13 Room to breathe. And clean air. And
the curving earth as far as the eye could see. There was the blue
sky and the bright morning sun and a cool breeze. Space to live
in. Breathing space.14
Across the way from the siding was a little coffee stall. A
buxom Afrikander lass tended it. A lorry stood a little way from
19
BOOK I, chapter 2
the stall. Two bronze, muscular men were drinking coffee.
They all looked at Lanny.
Lanny dumped his cases on the ground and stood looking
along the sandy track. It was a long way and the cases were
heavy. He could do with a cup of coffee,15 but this wasn't Cape
Town. In Cape Town he would have stepped across and asked
for a cup. Here he could not do that. He knew the three people
were looking at him but he took no notice.
"Do you see what I see?" one of the men asked.
The other pursed his lips16 and looked doubtful:
"I'm not sure. It looks like an ape in a better Sunday suit
than I have. But today's not Sunday so I'm not sure."
"Perhaps he wears suits like that every day, … Besides,
you are wrong, he's too pale to be an ape. That's a city bushy."17
The second man rubbed his eyes and looked intently at
Lanny.
The girl giggled, then broke into laughter.
"Bushy?" asked the second man.
"Yes. In the cities they speak English and call themselves
Eurafricans."18
"Eurafricans? It's a big word. What does it mean?"
The first man grinned:
"You know. Colored, half-caste,19 bastard!" He spat out
the last word with contempt.
The second man nodded and pointed at Lanny:
20
BOOK I, chapter 2
"And that's one of them?"
"Yes."
"He's pretty, isn't he? And look at the beautiful creases in
his trousers. I bet you a tailor made that suit for him. And look
at his shoes. Did you ever have shoes like that?"
Lanny reached down to pick up his cases. The best thing
he could do was to get out of here. There was no sense in
looking for trouble. He'd take any one of them, but of course
they wouldn't fight fair.
"Hey! You!"
Lanny stretched himself and waited. He had discussed
the color question a lot in the National Liberation League20 and
the Non-European United Front;21 now it had picked him out.
It had called him.
"Come here!" It was the first man.
South Africa, Lanny thought tiredly, this is South Africa.
He walked across the narrow track. At least they won't frighten
this colored, he decided; hurt me, yes, but frighten me, no. He
stopped directly in front of the man and looked straight into his
face.
The man inspected him closely.
"Where you from?"22 the man shot at him.23
"Cape Town."
"What do you want here?"
"I live here."
21
BOOK I, chapter 2
"Haven't seen you around."24
"I've been in Cape Town for seven years."
"School?"
"Yes."
"University?"
"Yes."
"What are you?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean what I say. Have you any fancy titles?"25
Lanny smiled. "Yes, I have two."
Suddenly the man's hand shot out and cracked across
Lanny's mouth. With an effort Lanny controlled the instinctive
urge to strike back. The man saw the move and struck again.
Lanny touched his lips with his tongue and spat. A patch of red
blood dropped on the fine dust and seeped through it. Lanny
watched it.
"Don't smile at me!" the man hissed.
South Africa, Lanny thought, this is South Africa. And
this man in front of him resented him because he was educated
and showed independence. If he had been humble the man
probably would have been kind to him, smiled and sent him
away. This was still the old struggle for conquest. The history
of his country. This man in front of him had to dominate him,
he was fearful in case he did not. This was the history of South
Africa in stark, brutal reality. He saw it clearly suddenly. Not
22
BOOK I, chapter 2
out of books. Not with kindly lecturers talking and eager or
indifferent students making notes. Not these. No.
As he stood there with the morning sun behind him, he
saw it all more vividly than he had ever seen it. South Africa.
The landing of Van Rebeck.26 The feeble resistance of the
Bushmen with their poison darts. He could see the surprise on
their faces when the blunderbusses spoke and they died. And
their retreat from their old playground, the beautiful, rich, foodgiving Cape Valley. They had been driven to the valley by the
superior Hottentots, and driven from the valley by the coming
of the white man. It was easy. They went down easily. They
were a weak, feeble crowd who knew only their poison darts.
And what are poison darts against blunderbusses? What
indeed!
For a while the man's eyes rested on the fountain pen in
his pocket.
"Education," the man said bitterly.
And still Lanny saw the battle going on. Zulu impis
against white Voortrekkers.27 The bitterness of that fight. The
native fighting for his land. The white man fighting for a
foothold and fighting even harder to retain it.
In a few seconds the turbulent history of the country
rolled over his head like a huge wave and was gone. He
shuddered as the wave passed.
And here I am, Lanny thought, fighting the same battle in
the twentieth century. How long would it go on? How much
would it change? It had been intensified to a point where he,
23
BOOK I, chapter 2
Lanny, stood facing a man he did not know and who did not
know him but who had struck him because he was educated
and wore decent clothes.
"Well? . . ." the man threatened.
Lanny knew that all he had to do was to lower his eyes or
look away — any gesture of defeat would have done — and the
man would tell him to go.
He returned the man's stare. The man raised his fist.
I will not give in, Lanny decided, and turned and walked
away.
"Bastard!" the man roared.
A pang of fear gripped Lanny's heart but he kept on.
"No! Don't!" It was the girl.
Lanny picked up his cases and walked along the sandy
track. This was the road home. Soon now he would get there.
Soon now he would hear the simple Afrikaans of the old folk.
Soon now he would see Mabel. Yes, this was the road home.
His head throbbed painfully. This was the road home. He bit
his lips and held his head high. He stepped onto the grass as the
lorry went past. Something wet struck his cheek. He wiped the
spittle away. …
Long after the lorry had gone, after the trail of dust had
settled, and the earth and the sky were in the same place, Lanny
stood there, staring at nothing, thinking of nothing, feeling
nothing. The earth and the sky were in their places. The sun
was getting warmer. The cool breeze was still in the air. And
24
BOOK I, chapter 2
the air was still fresh and free. This was the highveld and Cape
Town was far away.
A spasm of trembling shot through his body and he
became conscious of the fact that he was breathing, hard. And
again everything was all right. Only his cheek burned. It was as
though a red-hot iron had been impressed on his flesh.
I must get home, Lanny thought. He shrugged, flung
back his head, and walked along the sandy track.
He moved steadily, looking neither left nor right; neither
slackening nor hastening his footsteps. A slow, steady
movement that seemed to be independent. Not controlled by
his brain. Not controlled by anything.
Behind him, a trail of fine dust rose easily into the air.
The sunrays filtered through and touched it with rainbow
colors. Then the dust floated lightly back to the earth again. It
was as though a figure of dust walked four or five yards behind
Lanny.
Now he had topped the first rising and the fever had gone
from his brain. The burning heat was no longer on his cheek.
He began to take an interest in his surroundings. Behind him,
and sloping down toward the sea and Cape Town, ran the
railway line. And on either side of the line stretched greenish
brown grass, occasionally interrupted by a hillock or a valley,
as far as the horizon where the pale blue sky curved toward the
earth.
There was space. Enough to live in and be free. But
somehow it was not quite as exciting as it had been before the
25
BOOK I, chapter 2
incident in front of the coffee stall. Still, he didn't want to think
of that. What did old Schimd say:
"Bitterness renders one impotent."28
His arms were beginning to feel the strain of carrying
two heavy bags. Pity he couldn't have left them with the trunk
on the platform. Still, the siding was now very far behind him.
It couldn't be so much farther to go. And besides, it would be
too much trouble for anybody to pinch the trunk; it was big and
awkward and loaded with books. But his cases were a different
proposition.29
The sun had moved a long way up and it was beginning
to get really hot. His shirt felt wet between his shoulder blades
and under his armpits. His arms felt as though they would
come out of their sockets.30 If he had been on that lorry he
would have been home for over an hour now. Best have a short
rest.
He stepped off the track, dumped his cases on the ground,
and stretched himself full length on the grass. A cigarette
would be a good thing. He found one and lit it.
In a little while now he'd be there. Just a little while.
What was it going to be like? Damnable how hard it was to
recall anything. That is, except his mother, of course. What
would Mabel look like? She would be illiterate, of course. For
all he knew she might even be married. The poorer girls in
Cape Town had babies before they were out of their teens
sometimes. Good thing Mabel wasn't in Cape Town. He had
seen some very young girls, some of them pretty, too, selling
26
BOOK I, chapter 2
themselves. Of course most of them couldn't help it. But many
of them didn't try to. The homes in which they were brought up
probably had a lot to do with it. There was so much poverty
among the colored people.
He flung away the cigarette end and got up. He stretched
and bent his arms, then gripped a case in each hand and moved
on along the track.
The track skirted some fenced-off farmland, swung left,
then right, and went straight up the sloping hill. Beads of sweat
glistened on Lanny's forehead as he reached the top of the hill.
His heart pounded. He set the cases on the ground and looked.
The first thing that caught his eye was the big house on
the left. The big house on the hill. There it was, on the edge of
the next hill. The track forked where he stood, and one of its
forkings ran through the valley to the big house. His eyes left
the big house and followed the right fork. That was the way
home. And there, down there in the heart of the valley, was
home. That cluster of small, nondescript buildings31 was home.
He took his bags and hurried down to the right. Home
after seven years. Home. The word had meant so much to him.
Now it was reality. In Cape Town when others had spoken
about home he had been silent. It was so hard to remember
home. He had left when he was fifteen. And now there it was.
That cluster of houses was home. He forgot his tiredness and
walked faster. Now he would see his mother again. The cases
felt light suddenly. She would be pleased with the present he
had brought her. He passed a building that looked like a very
27
BOOK I, chapter 2
poor shop, but he was too excited to more than just notice it.32
A thin colored boy ran out of the shop, stared at Lanny with
open mouth, and then, tucking his parcel firmly under his arm,
streaked past him. He shouted something incoherent as he
raced toward the group of houses.
Lanny grinned and hurried on. Kids were the same
everywhere.
The old Jewish storekeeper and his son came to the door
of the shop and watched Lanny.
Now the houses were beginning to take individual shape.
He could sort them out and separate them. But how would he
know which was home? He would have to ask somebody,
which was a pity because he didn't want to. It would have been
so much better if he could have gone straight up to the house
and walked in. What a pleasant surprise it would have been. He
would have liked to see his mother's face when he walked in. …
But what was this? … People coming. … Women. …
And children. … And there were some old men too. They
looked awfully poor and thin. …
There she was! … Mother! … Ahead of them all! …
How changed she was compared to the picture he had carried
in his mind. She was so old.
His mother ran, arms outstretched, and stumbled. Lanny
dropped his cases and ran forward. The old woman fell into his
arms and clung to him. Tears ran down her face.
28
BOOK I, chapter 2
"My child. … My child. …" The old woman held him as
if she would never let him go again.
The others hung back. Lanny had returned and it was
right that his mother should be the first to greet him. This was
her moment.
29
3
THE women and children and old men had gone. The greeting
was over till the evening when the younger men returned from
their labor on the surrounding farms and the unemployed from
their hunting for food. When they came back there would be
another get-together. Now he was alone with his mother in the
little two-roomed shack.
It was hard to believe that this was home; that he had
been born and spent fifteen years of his life here before going
to Cape Town. How could they have sent him to Cape Town if
all of them were as poor as this?
The old woman smiled through her tears, a happy,
comforting smile, and pushed dry twigs into the strange
contraption in the corner that served as a stove. Half the smoke
escaped into the room and the rest went up the bent and twisted
pieces of corrugated iron that served as a chimney.
"The water will soon boil," she said, turning her head to
him. He smiled at her. How old and worn she looked! But it
wasn't so much age.
"It's all right, mother," he said softly.
"Of course, Lanny," she said and blew into the stove.
"Let me do it," he said kneeling beside her.
"Mind your clothes!"
She tried to stop him from coming near the dirty fire.
"It's nothing, mother."
BOOK I, chapter 3
"Oh but they are so beautiful. Not even the white people
here wear clothes like that."
Lanny smiled grimly, bent his head, and blew into the
fire. Little sparks jumped into being, and in a moment the twigs
blazed into a cheerful, crackling flame.
His head was close to his mother's bosom, and while he
blew, she raised her hand, moved it as though to lay it on his
head, then pulled it away again. Her eyes clouded. Quickly she
got to her feet and went to the other room. Lanny heard her
quick intake of breath. He followed her into the room.
She stood at the foot of the twisted old bed, her head
buried on her chest and silent sobs shaking her body.
Lanny went to her and put his arm round her thin
shoulders.
"I can't," she whimpered, "I can't."
"What is it, mother?" he asked softly.
"I can't believe it, Lanny. You are so big and you are a
gentleman. And you are my son. I can't believe it."
"Why not, mother?"
"Look at my clothes. Look at my hands. Look at the
place I live in. It's a poor colored woman's place and you are a
grand gentleman from Cape Town."
"I am your son, mother. You sent me to Cape Town. I am
your son. Isn't that so?"
From the other room they could hear the hissing of the
kettle.
31
BOOK I, chapter 3
"Isn't it so, mother?"
"Yes, Lanny."
"Then stop crying."
The shaking of her body lessened, then stopped. Lanny
gave her his handkerchief and she wiped her eyes.
"I'm a silly woman," she said.
"I don't agree," he replied. "Come and I'll make you a cup
of tea."
He led her into the other room and made her sit down and
tell him where things were. She protested but he would not
listen to her protests. While he made the tea she watched him
incredulously.
Could this be my son? The little boy who played in this
place? The boy whom I smacked when he was naughty? Was
this that same little boy who shouted and ran about the house;
the barefooted boy with the torn shirt and pants, and greasy
legs and arms and dirty neck that he hated washing? If it was,
then time did strange things to people. Changed them. Made
them different from what they had been. But here everything
was the same. The other children who had grown up with him
were still the same. Some were still dirty and naughty. They
had grown taller and broader, it was true, and wore long pants.
And the girls — some had babies, husbands, but they were as
they had been when they were younger, only grown up now.
There was nothing different, nothing new about them. Only her
Lanny was different. The way he walked, the way he looked at
32
BOOK I, chapter 3
you. He was not like a son any more.1 … No, not that. … It
was. … When he had put his arm around her in the other room
it was as if someone who understood and was older and knew
more than she did was comforting her, and she had felt as
though she were the child and he the grown person. How could
it be so between a mother and her son? Time did strange things
to people sometimes. And yet Tant' Elsie's son Martin had been
in Cape Town and when he came back he was the same, only
he tried to cheat people here. And then he had gone back to
Cape Town. The last they had heard of him was that he was in
jail for having killed a person in a fight. Only Lanny was
different. One could see that without his even speaking. …
Tant' Sannie from next door knocked and entered. She
had a plate of cookies which she shyly put on the table.
"I know you are not baking today, so I thought I would
bring this." She looked at Lanny. "I hope you like them. I'm a
bit short of fat. Well, good-by, Sister Swartz."
"He won't let me make the tea," Lanny's mother said.
Tant' Sannie laughed and backed out the door.
Lanny poured the tea and seated himself beside his
mother.
"Here's your tea, mother."
Over tea Lanny told her about Cape Town and what he
had been doing. She was interested in everything and kept him
talking. And he was glad to talk because it set her at ease. Bit
by bit her reserve went and they were chatting intimately.
33
BOOK I, chapter 3
About Cape Town. About the people here. And soon she was
laughing when he told her about some of the funny things he
had seen in Cape Town.
Lanny filled the teapot again. The cookies were all gone
and it was as though he hadn't really been away from home.
"Where's Mabel?"
"So you remember her."
"Certainly, mother. Did you think I had forgotten my only
sister?"
"When you didn't ask about her I thought you had." "No.
I hadn't forgotten. I wanted to know about you first, though. I
was getting a little worried for fear you didn't like your son.
Where is she?"
"She works at the big house."
"The one on the hill?"
"That's the only big house there is."
"Is she very big?"
"Not as tall as you but she's grown a lot. A boy has gone
to tell her that you are home. She'll be back any time now."
"And what about her work?"
"The white folk of the big house are very good."
"Tell me, mother, do they still make children behave by
telling them they'll be locked up in the big house with nothing
to eat?"
She laughed. It was good to see a light in her eyes.
34
BOOK I, chapter 3
"Yes."
"Are they still as afraid of the big baas with the red hair
and beard?"
"He's dead, Lanny. Of course you don't know. He's been
dead for four years now. He was a very good man. There are
few like him in the world today."
"I thought people were afraid of him."
"Only if they had done some wrong. He was hard but he
was just. You should be thankful to him and bless his memory,
son."
"Why?"
"Good heavens. I believe you don't know."
"Know what?"
"He gave the money to send you to Cape Town."
"He did!"
"Yes. You didn't think we could send you? Baas Gert
gave the money and insisted that you be sent to Cape Town."
"Why?"
His mother looked into space and a thoughtful vacancy
settled on her face.
"Why?" Lanny repeated.
His mother pulled herself together and smiled. A soft,
gentle, wistful smile. "He was a good man, Lanny. He was the
best man I ever knew, so kind, and so soft in spite of his
hardness and strength."
35
BOOK I, chapter 3
Suddenly she jumped up.
"Listen to me talking here and so much to do.2 You'd
better go and rest, son. Go'n lie on the bed. You will need it. All
the young girls will be here tonight to examine you. And the
men will come to talk. People are hungry for news. Go'n lie
down while I make a meal. Go on! Go on!"
She bustled him into the other room. Lanny took off his
coat and stretched himself on the bed.
Home. He was home at last. Home. What a good feeling.
Perhaps he was born on this bed on which he was now lying.
That was home. Something that dug into roots.3 So deep that
everything you touched stirred you. That was home. The base
of your life. The place where you first felt and tasted and began
to recognize things. Home.
He shut his eyes. …
The woman closed the door between the two rooms and
busied herself with food. What would he like to eat? She must
give him a meal that he would like. True, he was her son and
should be satisfied with what he got, but he was also a grown
man. He was her son and a stranger at the same time. A piece
of meat, perhaps. It was a week day. But still, a piece of meat
would be good for his first meal at home. Yes, she would hurry
up to the old Jewish store and get a piece of meat. There was a
sixpence on the shelf in the other room.
On tiptoe she went into the room. She mustn't disturb
him. He must be very tired after his journey. She looked on the
shelf but the sixpence wasn't there. Mabel must have taken it.
36
BOOK I, chapter 3
Bad habits that girl was getting into.4 Taking money when she
saw it lying around. She was wrong if she thought she was too
big to be smacked. A fine thing with her brother home from
Cape Town and not a piece of meat in the house.
"Lost anything, mother?"
"I thought you were asleep."
"No. I was just tasting the goodness of being home."
"I had a sixpence here but it's gone. That Mabel must
have taken it."
"Oh I've got some money."
He sat up and took a wallet out of the inside pocket of his
coat. Opening the wallet he pulled some notes out.
"Where did you get all that money, Lanny?"
He smiled. To have a number of notes here was cause for
suspicion.
"I earned it, mother."
"But you were at school."
"I found time to earn it. I helped richer students with their
lessons and I had two regular Indian girls to teach. Their
parents were old-fashioned and would not send them to school.
Take these."
He handed her two pound notes.
"It's too much. I only want a sixpence."
"Take them, mother."
37
BOOK I, chapter 3
She took the money and went out. Outside she looked at
the two notes again. They were crisp and new. Her heart
throbbed with pride. Her son had not only come home, but he
had come home a good person. He had given her money. Two
pound notes. More than any of the other men earned in a
month, and he had just given it to her like that. And from their
talk she knew he had refused a good job to teach in the best
colored school in Cape Town just to come home to his own
people. He must be very good and clever and wise for them to
offer him a job like that. And there must have been many others
who wanted the job. Yes, it was good that her Lanny was home.
And such a fine young man too. How the girls would fall over
themselves to get him!5
She hurried out and up along the footpath that led to the
store. Neighbors called out to her. Some asked her how the new
arrival was, others wanted to know what he intended doing,
others just told her what a lucky woman she was, and some,
playfully, offered their daughters for consideration.6
But Sister Swartz could not stop to answer them. She was
too proud and happy and confused. She held the two new
pound notes up in the air for all and sundry to see, and
whispered, to that nobody could hear her:
"He gave them to me."
Some women called out kindly remarks to her. Others
were silent and envious. And the old men recalled how Lanny
had been just an ordinary, dirty little nipper not so long ago.
38
BOOK I, chapter 3
Sister Swartz hurried into the store, that sold both
groceries and meat. The old storekeeper, with his quick, sad
eyes, greeted her. A little farther away his son looked up from a
book. He had weak eyes and powerful horn-rimmed glasses.
"You are happy today, Mrs. Swartz," the old storekeeper
said.
"My son has come back from Cape Town," she said.
"So. … That was your son. A fine-looking young man."
"Yes, he's a good boy."
"I am glad for you, Mrs. Swartz. Is he visiting you?"
"He has come home to stay. He has come from school.
You know, not the ordinary school. It is higher than the
ordinary school. The word for it is so long."
"University," the young man said.
"That's it!"
"What's he learned?" the young man asked.
"Many things," said Mrs. Swartz proudly. "He's got a
dip— something, for teaching. … It's like the cigarettes. …
Diploma. … That's it. And he's a bachelor something. … "
"Teacher's diploma and a Bachelor of Arts," said the
young man.
"That's it!"
"He's a clever boy!" said the old man. "You must be
proud, heh?"
39
BOOK I, chapter 3
"He's been away such a long time, Mr. Finkelberg. Of
course I'm proud, but it makes one feel a bit strange."
The old man beamed at her and nodded.
"I understand. It was the same for me when Isaac, there,
came back. I trembled and I was nervous of the wisdom of his
books. His books say, 'Do this and that' — things that we know
from experience it is wrong to do — and he talks a lot in a
clever way. But me, I am not worried now. And you, too, will
find it so. You and I, we are old, we know that the wisdom of
living is greater than the wisdom of the book. … You want a
nice piece of meat for the boy, I think, heh?"
He went over to the meat counter and selected a fine
fresh joint.
"This, I think," he said. "It is the best piece of meat I
have. So shall the returning son be welcomed to his mother's
home, heh? I wrap it up. It is all right. If you have not the
money you can pay some other time. You are a good customer.
All right?"
She held up the two new pound notes:
"I have the money. He gave it to me."
The old man snapped his fingers and looked at his son
with twinkling eyes.
"Now how is this?" he said. When Isaac returned he did
not have one penny. I had to send him the money for the train.
And now your boy comes, and he has money and he gives it to
you. Heh, how is it? And there are those who say, 'Everything
40
BOOK I, chapter 3
the Jew touches becomes money.' They are foolish ones, those.
They should look at my son and they will know. And now he is
writing a book! And even that will not become money!"
The old man burst out laughing and wrapped up the joint.
Isaac grinned. Mrs. Swartz smiled.
"Here, Mrs. Swartz. I tell you what we do. You pay only
half. The family of Finkelberg, they give the other half to
welcome the returning son, heh?"
Mrs. Swartz thanked Mr. Finkelberg and bought a few
other things. Rice, beans, sugar. It was good to be able to buy
what one needed. Now butter would be a very nice thing to
have and Lanny would like it. Besides it was only sevenpence
and it was for Lanny. She bought a pound. On his first night at
home he must want for nothing. This would be a real welcome
for the returning son.
Mr. Finkelberg wrapped all her parcels into one and
counted out her change. She really hadn't spent much. Less
than five shillings. When one had money it really went a long
way. And the pound of butter would last a week if kept in cold
water — and if she watched Mabel. Mabel's eating was the
bane of her life.7 But she was a good girl. She brought home
her fifteen shillings every month and only kept five for herself.
Yes, she was a good girl.
She thanked Mr. Finkelberg, bade him and Isaac good
day, and hurried home. Nice old gentleman, Mr. Finkelberg.
Very good of him to give half the meat as a welcome to
Lanny's return. She must tell Lanny. And Isaac was a nice boy
41
BOOK I, chapter 3
too, very dreamy and always with his long thin face in a book,
but nice. If he were a colored boy she would have wanted him
to be a friend of Lanny's. And he had been to school too. Not as
clever as her Lanny, of course!
Stilleveld — "quiet field" — was one of hundreds of little
places scattered up and down the Union of South Africa, small
strips of land where native or colored people lived and built
their homes and bred their children and grew old and died, by
kind permission of a white landowner. Sometimes they paid a
small rent; sometimes they gave their labor in return for the
right to stay on the land. Among the older folk, of whom very
few were left now, there were those who remembered the days
when they were slaves. There were also those who had
wonderful tales of the goodness of the white man to tell, and
those who had horrible tales of the badness of the white man to
tell.
And Stilleveld, in company with the many other places
like it, had also been the birthplace of a new people. A people
who were neither white nor black; neither Europeans nor native
Africans but a blending of the two that was at once different
from both white and black, and lived neither in the one world
nor in the other, but precariously between the two.
In the old days and in the days that were not so old, a
lonely farmer out on his farmland might see the beauty of the
daughter of one of his natives — or it might even be the wife;
42
BOOK I, chapter 3
or perhaps a friend visiting him from far-off Cape Town saw
her; or just a white wanderer passing in search of fortune and a
home. …
So the new people grew up and multiplied and intermarried among themselves and lived between the two worlds.
They called themselves colored. Others preferred to be
called Eurafricans. Some strongly maintained that they were a
new nation. …
The forebears of the little colored community of
Stilleveld were the white folks who lived in the big house on
the hill and those on the surrounding farms. The old folks knew
it. Some were proud to recall that they, were distantly related to
this or that white farmer. The younger people only knew they
were colored. There was nothing else to know. They had
always been colored. They were inferior to the white people.
Not so very much; they had white blood in their veins. But they
were superior to the black people.
No one had ever suggested or even thought that the other
half of their ancestry was to be found in the native village
across the hill, just behind Stilleveld. …
Lanny opened his eyes and looked at the smiling young
woman who leaned over him. This must be Mabel, he thought.
But there was nothing familiar about her. She was a stranger to
him. If he had seen her in Cape Town he would have looked
43
BOOK I, chapter 3
once and gone on his way without knowing she was his sister.
He sat up.
"Hello. So you are Mabel."
She studied him carefully, then nodded.
"And you are Lanny. And who is she?"
She pushed a photograph in front of Lanny's face.
Lanny smiled and took it from her.
"That's Celia."
"Aren't you angry because I looked in your things?"
What a strange question, Lanny thought, and looked
closely at her. She was good to look at in a broad way. Strong
arms and broad shoulders, a healthy color and bearing. She was
on the shortish side with strong peasant thighs8 and legs and an
amazingly thin waist. Her lips seemed perpetually to smile but
there was no laughter in her dark bright eyes.
"Am I pretty?" she asked eagerly.
"Why?"
"You were looking at me."
"I thought you were younger."
She took the picture from him and looked at it.
"Celia," she said softly. "A pretty name. And she's pretty
too. Is she your girl? I wish I had a dress like hers. She's like a
white girl." She looked sharply at him. "Is she a white girl?"
Lanny smiled and shook his head.
Mabel turned her back to him and spoke softly:
44
BOOK I, chapter 3
"If you promise not to tell mother, I'll tell you something.
Promise?"
"All right. I promise."
"Cross your heart."
She turned her head to see him crossing his heart; then
she looked away again.
"Cross my heart."
"I have a white boy," she announced.
"What!"
"You promised."
"You with a white boy here! You'll get into trouble,
Mabel. Who is he?"
"No."
"Listen to me, Mabel. If you are not careful you'll have a
child without a father. If he tells you he'll marry you it's a lot of
lies. Who is he, Mabel? I promise you I won't tell mother."
''I can't tell you. … Ssssh. Here's mother."
The old woman looked at Mabel and shook her head
sadly. Mabel looked anxiously at Lanny.
"Did she wake you up to talk her nonsense?" his mother
asked.
Lanny lit a cigarette and laughed.
"No, mother, she's been very good. We've been getting to
know each other."
Mabel's eyes were thankful. The old woman smiled.
45
BOOK I, chapter 3
"Well, that's the first good thing I've heard about her for a
long time," she declared emphatically.
"She's all right, mother," Lanny protested.
The unexpected support shook Mabel. Her chin trembled.
Her eyes brimmed. "You're always making me out bad in front
of others," she cried passionately while the tears streamed
down her face. "In front of strangers too! Lanny's my brother
but he hasn't been here long. It's always the same! Everybody
here picking on me!9 Picking on me!"
"Hush, child!" the old woman said. "People won't find
fault with you if there is no fault. Where there's smoke there's a
fire."
"It's jealousy!" Mabel cried. And even my own mother is
against me, believing others instead of me. And here's Lanny
just come home too!"
"Be quiet, child!"
Lanny put his arm round Mabel's shoulders and patted
her:
"Come now, don't cry. You're a big girl. I'll stand by you."
Mabel buried her head in his coat.
"It's good to have a brother."
"Yes, it's good and you and I will have fun. Now go and
wash your face."
Mabel looked up and smiled at him through her tears. He
gave her his handkerchief and she wiped her eyes, handed back
the handkerchief, and went out.
46
BOOK I, chapter 3
"Well I declare!" his mother said. You have a way with
you,10 Lanny. If anybody told me that girl could be so soft I
wouldn't have believed it. If you go on like this you will have
all the girls of Stilleveld crying on your shoulders, son."
"What's wrong with her, mother?"
The old woman looked thoughtfull and shook her head.
"You know how it is sometimes, son. She quarrels with
everybody. No one has a good word for her except old Mad
Sam. And sometimes she does things that upset people for no
reason. And she tells lies about people. Oh how she lies! It
makes for bad feeling.11 … But listen to me standing here
talking! I tell you I've done nothing and the day's almost gone.
Your coming home has made me as foolish as a young girl of
nineteen. I've done nothing but dream and talk and run around
doing nothing."
She hurried to the door, then stopped.
"Oh. I nearly forgot. … See how it is! … I came to tell
you that the preacher has sent word12 that he's coming to have a
talk with you in a little while."
"Thank you, mother."
She turned to the door and paused again.
"And there's such preparation for tonight, son! Most of
the girls have come home early from service. Word's been
going around and they're washing and dressing as never
before."
47
BOOK I, chapter 3
She paused and looked tenderly at him. Then she went on
softly:
"You see, son, you are the first child that has gone away
from Stilleveld and become an educated man with letters
behind your name and with so much respect in the Cape. The
preacher says you have brought wisdom and a new life to us.
So you see why everyone is preparing, son. It is a great day for
the people here, and they are very proud of you. And to think
that it is my son!"
She went out, then pushed her head back through the
door and smiled at him while tears showed in her eyes.
"And I am glad you've come home, Lanny. Not because
you are an educated man but because you are my son. And it's
good for a mother when her son leaves good things to come
home to her."
For a long time after the door had shut Lanny stared at it.
Yes. He was right to come home. It would be more difficult
here. He would miss many things and many People. He would
miss Celia. But there were things he could do here. Many
things. But I must keep my head,13 he told himself. Keep my
head and be careful.
And dear old mother. All these other things excited her
but more than these she was glad he was home because he was
her son. And he was glad too, to be home. What did Toomer14
say? …
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BOOK I, chapter 3
… Now just before an epoch's sun declines,
Thy son, in time, I have returned to thee.
Thy son, I have, in time, returned to thee.
In time, for though the sun is setting on
A song-lit race of slaves, it has not set;
Though late, О soil, it is not too late yet
To catch thy plaintive soul, leaving, soon gone,
Leaving, to catch thy plaintive soul soon gone.
Lanny put on his coat, lit a cigarette, and went out. His
mother looked up briefly and smiled, then carried on with her
work.15 Outside, Lanny flung back his head and took a deep
breath and looked around.
Dusk was settling over the valley, and Stilleveld — his
home — was a cluster of little mud and wood and old
corrugated iron huts that lost their harsh, ugly poverty and
looked soft and friendly in the twilight. A group of drab shacks
huddling close together for comfort, so it seemed. And a
narrow lane, pitted with mud and stagnant pools in the rainy
season and filling the air with dust in the dry season, divided
the little village into two. When he was young, a long time ago,
and before "mad" was added to his name, Mad Sam had named
the lane High Street and it had stuck. It was still High Street.
In the deepening dusk Lanny looked down High Street
and felt at home. It was a strange feeling because he did not
really like the place. It was dirty and obviously unhealthy. The
water from the one well16 at the bottom of High Street looked
yellow with mud and when he had a drink it had tasted of mud.
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BOOK I, chapter 3
Two young girls walked past and smiled at him with their
eyes. He felt depressed. He was sure their eyes were bloodshot
though he had not seen them. His mother's eyes were
bloodshot, and so were Mabel's; so had been everybody's he
had looked at. And that parchy, dry, hard, nondescript skin17
was not his mother's alone, everybody had it. And everybody
was thin and hard and bony.
In Cape Town there was poverty among the colored
people; but there was contrast as well. There were the poor, the
not-so-poor, and the well-to-do. But here it didn't seem like
that. Here it was as though everybody was born to be horribly
poor and would live like that and die like that. The poor people
in Cape Town were poor but they were different. Inside, some
of them were free of their poverty. Here they were not. Here
one could see it in their eyes and in the way they moved and in
everything they did. Here one could hear it in their voices. It
was there, inside them, and that was even worse than the
poverty in which they lived.
Lanny shut his eyes and tried to think of Celia,
concentrating hard. He tried to conjure up her picture in his
mind's eye but failed. It had always been easy but now he
couldn't do it. Something interfered. What was it? Deep down
Lanny knew what it was. It had gnawed at his vitals ever since
it had suddenly flashed into his mind, but he refused to put it
into words, even in thought. He pushed it down again and
looked at his watch.
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BOOK I, chapter 3
"It is twenty past six now. … Let me see. … What would
Celia be doing now? … Twenty past six. … Cape Town. …
What would she be doing now? … I know at seven she'd be
having her tea at home. That is, unless she's having a meal out
tonight. … But what would she be doing now? . . ."
"Good evening. I also talk to myself sometimes. It is
when I'm trying very hard to remember something."
Lanny pulled himself together and looked at the old man,
who smiled at him. He had been too engrossed in his own
thoughts to hear him come up.
The old man was tall and shadowy and stooping.18 His
woolly hair was completely white. Lanny couldn't see much of
his face, but it, too, looked thin and parched like all the other
faces he had seen. He was sure that the eyes were bloodshot.
The smile on the old man's face was beautiful but he wasn't
sure whether this was the effect of the gathering night or not.
"I trust I haven't disturbed you," the old man said and his
voice was deep and strong.
"Not at all."
"I am the preacher. You were too young when you went
away to remember me, sir, but I remember you."
"Then you must remember my name," Lanny said.
The preacher was silent. Lanny suddenly realized that
although there was no outward sign of it the preacher was
nervous.
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BOOK I, chapter 3
"It is nice to be home, Papa," Lanny said and took the old
man's hand.
"God be praised!" the preacher said and his voice
trembled. "Forgive me, Lanny, son, but we've never had a
learned man among us and it is hard to know how to talk to a
learned man. One day we saw a picture from Cape Town in one
of the colored papers. It was your picture and there were letters
behind your name. There was no one who could read what was
written but we knew you must be a very learned man to have
your picture in the paper. So it was hard to speak to you, son."
"But I'm still Lanny, Papa. I was born here and this is my
home, and you are the preacher here."
"But you are a learned man, son. You know more than
everybody here. Almost as much as the white people in the big
house and all the other white people; so we must treat you with
the same respect we have for them and we must be proud to
think you are colored like us. You are a great man, son, and you
can do great things for us."
"I'm not a great man, Papa."
"You are, Lanny, son. You know almost as much as the
white folk in the big house."
Lanny smiled. Almost as much as the white folk in the
big house. He was sure he knew as much if not more, but
because the people in the big house were white it was
inconceivable to his own people that he could know more.
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BOOK I, chapter 3
By wordless mutual agreement Lanny and the preacher
strolled slowly down High Street. They left a low, thin trail of
dust in their wake. And women arid girls and young children
and men put their heads out of their doors and windows, where
they had windows, and watched the preacher and the educated
young man who was the son of Sister Swartz. And watching,
the young girls, with warmth in their eyes, remarked on how
handsome the young man was, and banteringly challenged each
other to battle for his affections. And in the eyes of the old
women there was a warm kindliness and pride that they shared
with Sister Swartz. It wasn't always that a boy came home and
left good things behind him in order to be with his people. The
story of the picture of the very pretty girl that he had brought
with him went the rounds.19 Mabel had smuggled it out to show
it to some of the girls and they had studied it with envy and
admiration. Why, she was almost white! And her hair was so
beautifully done. And even in the picture they could see how
soft and rosy her skin was. And she was beautiful. …
"I've nursed one dream very close to my bosom for a
long time," the old preacher said tentatively and fixed his eyes
on some distant object on the horizon.
"Yes?"
"It's been with me for years, son."
"What is it?"
"I prayed the Lord to let me live to see it, son."
Lanny was silent.
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BOOK I, chapter 3
"I'm an old man and thought I would not see it. But every
night I went on my knees and I said: 'Lord, it is not just the
stubbornness of an old man who is afraid of death. No, Lord, it
isn't just that. It is the one wish of my heart. Let me live to see
it. And when I've seen it, then Thy will be done. Amen.' That
was my prayer and now it seems the Lord is answering it. The
Lord is good, son. Did He not say, 'Ask and ye shall receive'? I
have asked and He has answered."
"What is it, Papa?"
"What do you plan to do here, son?"
Lanny smiled and pushed his hands into his pockets:
"The most important thing is to start a school here. There
are other things too, but that is the first. Why?"
"It was that I prayed for, son. To see a school where the
children of Stilleveld can learn the wisdom of the world. Where
they can learn to write their names so that they don't have to
make a cross like I do, so that they can open the Good Book20
and read it for themselves. … D'you know, son, I've never read
one word in the Good Book. Y'see I cannot read. But our
children and our children's children must be able to read. If
they do that then the world will be open to them. That is why I
have prayed for this day, son. It is the beginning of great things.
For when our children can read and write their names, then
they will no longer live in poor houses like the ones here, and
then they will not be treated as they are treated, and then there
will be work and good food and clothing for all. That has been
my dream, Lanny."
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BOOK I, chapter 3
The depth of feeling with which the old man spoke
stirred Lanny, and his vision too. But it was wrong to think that
because one could read and write the color bar21 would
disappear and there would be work and money and better
houses and better food and clothing. In Cape Town he had seen
and met hundreds of young men who were educated and
unemployed. Most of them had matriculated.22 A few of them
even had degrees.
He turned his head to the preacher to tell him this. …
"Yes! This is a time for great things!" the old man said.
Lanny bit his lower lip and decided not to say that
literacy did not solve all problems.
They walked on in silence. The group of hutlets that
made up Stilleveld lay behind and a little below them for they
were climbing a hill. Night had settled over the countryside.
There was a cool freshness in the air, and a peaceful silence
that was foreign to Lanny.
He thought of Toomer's words:
Now just before an epoch's sun declines,
Thy son, I have, in time, returned to thee.
Well, the sun had gone and night had come and he was
home. He stopped and looked back. Yes, there it was, home. A
cluster of old mud huts that looked like dark shadows from
here. That was home. Here beside him was an illiterate old man
who was the spiritual father of the little community that made
up his home.
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BOOK I, chapter 3
The old man stopped and looked too. And as they
watched, a fire was kindled down there and bright yellow
flames licked at the sky and grew bigger, trying to dispel the
darkness. But there was too much darkness and too little flame,
and it was as though the flame were bright spit on a dark ocean.
"That is for you," the preacher said. "They are preparing a
welcoming party."
"The fire looks lost in the darkness," Lanny said.
"It is beautiful and bright," the preacher said.
They turned and carried on up the hillside.23 Underfoot
the grass was soft and lush, and overhead bright stars twinkled
in a clear sky.
They topped the little hill and stopped. Below him on that
side Lanny could see little fires too. There were about a dozen,
very tiny compared to the solitary fire at Stilleveld. He looked
back to make sure. Yes, he could see Stilleveld as well as this
other place from here. And the fire at Stilleveld was very much
bigger than any one of those down there. Probably bigger than
all of them put together. But those little fires, scattered over a
wider area, seemed to beat off more of the darkness than the
big one at Stilleveld.
"What's that place?"
"Mako's Kraal.24 They have a school there. Young Mako
is the teacher. It's always been a pain to me that the Kaffirs25
had a school while we didn't. Now that will end."
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BOOK I, chapter 3
From the darkness, a little way away, a man got up and
stretched himself. Neither Lanny nor the preacher had seen
him.
"I told you you could send some of your children across
and I would teach them, preacher, but you did not do it." The
man spoke in English. His voice was soft and husky, with a
note of human warmth in it.
Lanny swung round abruptly: "Who's that?"
"That's Young Mako," the preacher said and called out a
greeting.
Young Mako struck a match, lit his pipe, and approached
them slowly. All Lanny could make out was that he seemed to
tower above them. In reality he was only a few inches taller
than Lanny.
"Good evening," Mako said. "You are the teacher from
Cape Town. There is much talk of it. Your people are excited
and word of your coming has traveled all over the two valleys
and, I believe, into houses of the white folk as well. I am
Young Mako, as your preacher has told you. It is wrong for him
to complain because I offered him a place for his children at
our school but he wouldn't have it."
"Of course I wouldn't have it!" the old man exclaimed.
Lanny was surprised. The preacher spoke Afrikaans and
Mako spoke English but they understood each other.
"Why not?" Mako asked.
"I've told you before."
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BOOK I, chapter 3
"Yes, something about God making us different. Tell me,
do you think your God will be angry because a colored child is
taught in a native school?"
The preacher cleared his throat, spat, and lit his pipe:
"God made white and colored and black, Mako. He made
them different because He wanted them to be different. It is His
will that colored people should live and work and learn among
colored people. If it was not so He would have made us all the
same."
"And it was His will too, old man, that the white man
should have everything that is good, heh? And that we poor
black things should work for him, heh? Is that the will of your
God?"
"Don't mock, Mako," the old man said sharply.
"Answer me, old man," Mako said softly. "I am not
mocking."
"It is the will of the Lord that we should be different."
"And the whites rich?" Mako asked.
The old man was silent.
"And the colored and natives poor?"
The old man was still silent.
"And the whites treating us like slaves?"
The old man shook his head but said nothing.
"Your God must be white," Mako went on. "He must be.
He says to you, 'You are colored, do not mix with the natives.'26
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BOOK I, chapter 3
That is what the government says and the government believes
in the color bar, so all I can think is that your God believes in
the color bar too."
"That's all nonsense, Mako, we are suffering for the sins
of the world. … "
"Why should only the people who are not white suffer?"
"Oh rot,27 Mako!"
Mako laughed deep in his throat.28
"I must go now, old man." He turned to Lanny. "I hope
we will meet again. Then, perhaps, we will be able to talk. I
might be useful to you. Good-by. … Good-by, preacher, take
care, and tell your God to treat the black people as though He
loves them too."
He swung left and hurried down the hillside in the
direction of the many little lights.
"Good Kaffir, Mako," the preacher said, and Lanny noted
the superior snobbery in his voice.
Mako was an educated man but he was a Kaffir:
consequently the illiterate preacher, by virtue of being colored,
was his superior, and so was every colored person in Stilleveld!
It wasn't something the preacher thought about consciously. It
was just so, quite naturally, and nobody had ever questioned it.
Just as nobody had ever questioned the "natural superiority" of
the whites in the big house and the surrounding farmsteads. It
was as natural as that he, Lanny, could not know more than the
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BOOK I, chapter 3
white people. The nearest he could come was to be "almost as
good." The preacher had said so.
Lanny remembered his own thoughts when he was trying
to recall the image of Celia just before the preacher had come
up. Then he had felt this prejudice too. He had tried to push it
down but he had known it was there. He had felt different from
the people at Stilleveld. Their superior. Especially when those
two girls had passed and made eyes at him. And yet they were
colored. His people. He had even felt it with his mother on
occasions. What was it? Why was it?
Mako was an educated man but there was some
difference between them. He knew it was there. No point in
lying about it. Mako was black and he was colored. And yet he
didn't believe in the "privilege of the white blood" in his veins.
He'd had an experience of that privilege at the station. But
when he was face to face with Mako there was nothing he
could say. And he had felt slightly ashamed of being with the
black man. There was nothing to be ashamed of, nobody could
have seen him. But there it was. He had been ashamed and
afraid. And suddenly he knew how ashamed he would have
been if Celia had known his mother and the kind of place in
which he was born, and the kind of people among whom he
was born.
"But it is wrong!" he said.
"What is wrong?" the preacher asked.
"Nothing. I was just talking to myself."
The old man struck a match and sucked at his pipe.
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BOOK I, chapter 3
"It is almost time for the party to start," the old man said,
"and as I must give the welcome speech, I will go down now
and prepare it. Coming along?"
"No. I will stay here for a while."
"Don't be too long."
"No, Papa."
The old preacher walked away and was soon swallowed
by the night. And down there the solitary fire still spat at the
sea of darkness, while on the other side a few of the tiny fires
had gone out, but the rest still seemed more powerful against
the dark than the one big fire. Where Lanny stood all was in
darkness.
He seated himself on the grass, took out a cigarette and
lit it. I must be careful, he decided; I must be very careful,
things are not going to be easy. And I must get rid of this
feeling of being different or they will notice it. That will not be
good.
"I wonder what Celia's doing," he said aloud and looked
up at the sky. He missed her. He had known he would miss her.
What surprised him was that there was no pain about it. He had
thought it would hurt but it didn't. He just felt lonely.
But he had done the right thing in coming here. These
people needed him. There was so much to be done for Them.
So much he had to help them do.
"All over your country there are people who have not yet
begun to live, Swartz. They are your people. And they are
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BOOK I, chapter 3
existing, not living. Young men like you must go to them and
give them a chance to live and grow and develop as social
human beings. If that is done they will release a tremendous
new vitality that will stir not only your country but the whole
world. If my teaching has been worth anything you will go to
your people and help them to learn to live."
Old Schimd had said that when he had gone to say goodby. He was a strange but wise Old Austrian Jew who had been
driven out of his country. Lanny smiled and pulled on his
cigarette. It had gone out.
"I will do it, professor," he said feeling for a match in his
pocket.
"Who's that?" a woman's voice called out. There was a
mixture of fear and arrogance in it.
Lanny jumped up and swung round. He had been sure he
was alone.
"Who's that?" the voice asked again. This time with more
arrogance than fear. Near by a dog growled.
Lanny strained his eyes but couldn't see.
"And who are you?" he asked.
There was a long silence broken only by the scraping
noise as the dog strained at the leash a few yards ahead of him.
"If you don't tell me who you are I'll set the dog on you,"
the woman said but uncertainty had crept into her voice.
Lanny decided that the voice was nice and smiled.
"I'm at your mercy as far as the dog's concerned."
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BOOK I, chapter 3
"Well? Who are you then?"
"I didn't say I'd tell you."
"I'll set the dog on you."
"I know you will not."
"Why not?" The question was out before she could check
it.
"Because you are not afraid and you are not cruel. Your
voice tells me all that."
"Very clever."
"And now you are becoming friendly."
There was a short spell of silence, then he heard a move.
"Are you going?" he asked.
"Yes."
"Please tell me who you are."
Again there was a silence, longer this time. Just when
Lanny had given up hoping she would reply she said:
"I'm Sarie Villier," with friendliness in her voice.
"Villier?"
"Yes. I live around here. Our house is called the House
on the Hill."
"Oh!" Lanny exclaimed.
"And you?"
"I'm Lanny Swartz. My sister works for you."
Lanny heard a sharp intake of breath.
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BOOK I, chapter 3
"You … Lanny Swartz. … And you spoke to me like
that!"
"Like what?"
"Like my equal. … Like a European. … "
"Am I supposed to be your inferior? And do colored
people speak differently from Europeans?"
"I've a good mind to set the dog on you."
Lanny felt angry suddenly. Waves of anger rose inside
him.
"No you won't! You can't help your nature and your
nature is not completely brutalized yet. Your bad manners are
as natural as your instinctive kindness." There was harshness in
his voice.
"You …" The words choked in her throat. "You …"
"Go on! Say it. 'Black bastard' is what you are looking
for."
"That's a lie! And you are a beast!"
There was a long pause. Lanny lit his cigarette with
trembling fingers.
"Well, are you going to start shouting now or when you
are nearer the house to let them know that a black bastard tried
to rape you?"
There was a sound of quick movement where the woman
stood, then something hit Lanny across the chest. He caught it.
It was a stout walking stick.
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BOOK I, chapter 3
With the stick in his hand he listened to the fading
footfalls29 of the woman and the dog.
A spasm of trembling shot through his body. The night
was cool but he wiped beads of sweat from his forehead.
Lanny crushed out his cigarette end, turned, and slowly
made his way down to the solitary fire of Stilleveld.
65
4
"HERE'S our young man," the preacher said and took Lanny's
arm. "I was just thinking of sending somebody up the hill to go
and get you."
And now his mother was beside him. She took his arm
and led him around the fire to where a long table was piled
with food. All around them were people, people talking and
laughing and shaking his hand and patting him on the back;
men and women, young girls and boys and half-naked little
pot-bellied children.
They all talked and laughed loudly, but Lanny fancied
there was a false note to their cheerfulness. It didn't seem real
and it depressed him.
The flames of the roaring fire leaped up at the darkness
and red little sparks were lost in it. Over it all — over the
babble of voices, the hissing and crackling roar of the fire, the
false and forced cheerfulness and nervous shouting — was the
awful quiet of the night. Nothing could blot that out. Sound
only accentuated it.
"Over there, Lanny," his mother said and led him to one
end of the long table.
The preacher sat at the other end. And on either side a
row of people were jammed tightly together. Lanny smiled at
his mother, who was beside the preacher at the other end of the
BOOK I, chapter 4
table. In the glow of the firelight the old woman's eyes glowed
with a warm and humble pride.
The preacher got up and raised both arms. Quiet settled
over the little colored community of Stilleveld, a quiet that was
in tune with the stillness of the night. All eyes turned to the old
man.
In a deep and humble voice he told them about his prayer
which the Lord had answered. And he told them that the
colored people were what they were because they couldn't read
or write. And he said how much better things would be for
them when they could read and write and that Lanny had come
with all his wisdom to teach them to read and write so that
things would be much better for them and that he, the preacher,
was going to put down his name as the first pupil, for it was not
the young ones only who could learn but the old ones too. And
it was with humbleness that they had to thank the Lord for this
new light that had come among them and was going to change
the lot of the colored people of Stilleveld.
He had looked with envy at the Kaffirs of Mako's Kraal
who had a school and a teacher but now it was different. Now
they would show the Kaffirs something!
And so they would eat and drink and dance and sing and
be happy for a new day had dawned for them. …
The old women brought the food and piled it on the table
and the preacher blessed it and they ate.
A great sense of responsibility took hold of Lanny. These
people thought that by teaching them to read and write he
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BOOK I, chapter 4
could change their lot. He wasn't sure of it. But what could
change their lot? They couldn't demonstrate here. There were
only a handful of them. What could he do apart from teaching
them to read and write?
He pushed the thought aside and watched the people
around him. He was beginning to recognize some of them. The
cheerfully lewd woman with the high cheekbones and very
broad bottom was called Fieta. It was hard to determine her
age. She seemed the least subdued in that crowd. He had seen
her earlier in the day in the house across the way. She probably
lived there.
He watched Fieta throwing back her head and laughing
with a note of defiance in her laughter. There were two young
men with her. She was obviously leading them on and enjoying
it very much. He noticed a few older women looking at her
with disapproval and smiled.
Mabel touched his arm.
"That's Fieta," she said. "She's been to Cape Town too.
She's nice."
"She seems to be happy," he said.
"She's always happy."
"Always?"
"Yes. Always. Fieta never stops laughing. The people
here don't like her but she doesn't care."
"Why?"
"Because she just doesn't care."
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BOOK I, chapter 4
"No, silly, I mean why don't they like her?"
Mabel giggled and looked round to make sure nobody
was near enough to hear, then she explained in a whisper:
"Every time Fieta comes from Cape Town she has a baby.
She has four now."
Lanny repressed a smile. "What's wrong with that?"
Mabel was enjoying herself. "She never knows who the
father is. I heard Tant' Annie tell ma. Tant' Annie said they all
had different fathers and Fieta doesn't even know which is
which. You should have heard her voice when she said to ma,
'Sister Swartz, I don't know what great sin I've done that the
Lord should punish me so!' But she loves the children, Lanny!
She loves them! Tant' Annie loves the children so I think she's
really happy every time Fieta comes home with a new baby!"
"And how does Fieta feel?" Lanny asked.
Mabel doubled up with laughter1 and held her sides.
"Fieta is funny," she said. "Don't tell mother, but some of
us girls sometimes meet her behind the old Jew's shop and then
she tells us all sorts of things." Mabel paused and wiped the
tears from her eyes. "Fieta says that if a man is nice and no fool
and knows how to talk and make her feel proud, then she just
can't help it. She says … "
"All right. That's enough, Mabel," Lanny looked again at
Fieta. She turned her head from the two men and caught his
eye. The laughter in her eyes flowed to her lips and her teeth
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BOOK I, chapter 4
flashed as she smiled at him. It was such a warm, friendly
smile, Lanny couldn't help returning it.
A guitar and a concertina struck up, and with much
laughter and talking people began to dance.
"Let's dance," Mabel said and took Lanny's arm.
"Not just yet."
"Oh come on. … "
"In a little while. I want to watch a bit more first."
"You've watched all evening. … " Mabel broke off and
pressed Lanny's arm.
"What's the matter?"
"She's coming, Lanny! Oh!"
Lanny turned his head and saw Fieta coming toward
them. The others also saw it. Lanny's mother moved, to get up
from where she sat next to the preacher, but the preacher put
his hand on her arm and restrained her. A few of the older
couples stopped dancing. Mabel looked anxiously for a way of
escape but was eager to stay as well.
Here and there people whispered bitterly. Fieta was a bad
woman. A whore. What right had she to go and speak to
Lanny? Didn't she have any shame? Others were just
interested. Curious. Eager to see what would happen. Would he
walk away? Would he ignore her? He was an educated man,
what would he do?
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BOOK I, chapter 4
With laughter in her eyes and her broad hips swaying
freely and arrogantly, Fieta moved slowly among the people
until she stood in front of Lanny.
"Hello," Fieta said.
"Hello, Fieta," Lanny responded.
She lifted an eyebrow and smiled.
"So Mabel's been telling you about me."
"Yes."
Fieta turned to Mabel and patted her arm.
"Run away, Mabel, I want to talk to your brother. And
your mother would like it better if you went."
Mabel hesitated.
"Go on, Mabel," Lanny said.
Mabel went. A young man grabbed her and they danced.
The invitation was still in Fieta's eyes. It seemed as
though it was there in spite of herself, as though she couldn't
help inviting men to see the fiery warmth that smoldered inside
her and all that was needed was understanding and wisdom to
get her to surrender.
"Why did you come back here?" she asked in a low,
husky voice.
"Sit down," Lanny said.
She obeyed. Lanny lit a cigarette.
"Why do you ask?"
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"Because I want to know. What do you want here? What
do you want to do to these people?"
"I want to help them."
"Why?"
"Because they are my people too."
"But what will you get out of it? … I've been in the Cape
too, I'm no fool. What do you want from them?"
"I want nothing from them, Fieta. I want to help them. I
want to educate them. That's all I want. Nothing else."
"They have no money, Lanny Swartz."
"I know."
"They have nothing you can take from them."
"I've told you I don't want to take anything from them."
"I've met educated men before, Lanny Swartz."
"I've told you the truth. Can't you understand that one can
want to do things for people because they are your people?
They are my people, Fieta."
"With all your learning you can make money in the
Cape."
"I was born here."
For a long time she looked into his eyes and there was
something else beside the come-hither look in her own. Then
slowly she nodded.
"I believe you," she said slowly. "Perhaps I'm making a
mistake but I believe you. I think you mean well, Lanny
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Swartz, and I'm glad. It means I've met one educated man who
is not a crook."
"There are many others. … "
"I have not met them but I've met you. … Now listen.
You know what these people think of me. They think I'm a
bitch and a whore. It's not their fault. They don't understand.
They can't understand what goes on in a person's heart. They
point their fingers at me. But they don't know all the evil of the
world and I do. And I will fight and kill anybody who brings
that evil here. … Go away, Lanny Swartz. Go to that pretty girl
Mabel told me about. The one of the picture. Education will not
be good for these people.
"Now they have little and they are satisfied. They haven't
enough of anything but in their own way they are happy. They
have their little God and their little church and their little
preacher and they are happy. If you give them learning even
this little happiness they have will be lost.
"If they get learning they will start longing for things
they have never thought of before. They will want more food
and many other things. They will say the whites are no better
than they are and that will bring them trouble. I have seen it
happen in another place, Lanny Swartz. I don't want it to
happen here. They are my people and I love them. Please go
away, Lanny Swartz."
Lanny was startled. Fieta knew so much. She had put into
words what he had felt rather vaguely. She had seen it all very
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clearly. But it was all wrong. You didn't solve anything by
running away.
The preacher thought education would automatically
make life easier, Fieta thought it would cause trouble. Who was
right? And what was he to do?
"Think carefully, Lanny Swartz."
"I think you are wrong, Fieta; it isn't education only that
makes people want things."
"But education helps them to want and makes them
unhappy. Don't argue with me, please, I know it won't be good
for them. Your coming here is only going to make trouble.
Please go away."
Old Schimd had said his people were not living, only
existing. Fieta was asking him to let them go on existing. He
couldn't do it. He looked at her and shook his head.
"I'm not going away, Fieta, I'm staying here and I'm
going to do what I think is right. … But I'm glad you spoke to
me. I'll try to make the people understand that you are a good
person. … "
"I could kill you," Fieta said simply and got up and
walked away.
He watched her broad, swaying hips and straight back
until she was lost on the other side of the fire. A strange
woman. A strange mixture. He couldn't understand her. She
didn't mind what the people thought of her and yet she loved
them fiercely and wanted to protect them as much as she could.
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"Strange woman," he said aloud.
"A sinful woman," the preacher said, standing behind
him.
Lanny turned his head and opened his mouth; then he
shrugged and remained silent. Mabel came and took his arm
and insisted on his dancing with her.
"What did she say, Lanny?" Mabel asked as they danced.
"Nothing."
"Please tell me, Lanny."
"There's nothing to tell, Mabel."
"But you talked so long."
"Be quiet, will you?"
Mabel looked into his face. "She's upset you."
"Be quiet, Mabel."
They danced in silence. And around them others danced
and laughed and talked. More wood was piled on the fire. The
crackling flames leaped up at the darkness. The music was
vigorous and exciting. In a dark spot a group of men
surreptitiously drank beer.2 And everywhere was the laughter
of young women.
The preacher and Mrs. Swartz sat side by side, both
proud and happy, both pairs of eyes watching Lanny and
Mabel.
A young girl took Lanny from Mabel and danced with
him. The preacher laughed and turned to Mrs. Swartz.
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"The young women have eyes only for your son, Sister
Swartz."
"He's a fine boy," she said.
"Yes. The young woman who gets him will be lucky. …
They tell me he's brought the picture of a young woman from
the Cape?"
"It's that Mabel and her thief's fingers," the old woman
said.
"I hear she is very pretty," the preacher said.
"Very pretty," the old woman said.
"You don't think he will go back to her?"
"I don't think so. … "
"An educated young man can be very lonely here. … "
"I don't think he will go back."
"I am very glad, sister."
Impulsively the old woman placed her hand on the
preacher's arm and looked into his face.
"Tell me, preacher. … Do you think I should tell him
about his father? … I mean his father?"
For a long while there was silence between them. The
preacher buried his chin on his chest and shut his eyes. The old
woman watched him with anxiety.
When he looked up his eyes were clear and kindly.
"You are a good woman, Sister Swartz. I don't think
there's any need to tell him. You have suffered enough. The few
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who knew about it are either dead or have forgotten it. Shall we
try to forget it too?"
"Thank the Lord," the old woman said and sighed.
"Yes, sister, thank the Lord. Out of your suffering has
come light to make this valley shine. You have not suffered for
nothing, sister."
"He is so like … like his— it is all right for me to say 'his
father,' isn't it, preacher?"
"Yes, sister."
"The way he looks at you. The way he talks. The way he
carries himself. It is as though he knew. Not like us. Do these
things tell, preacher?" There was painful pleading in her voice.
The preacher patted her hand: "Hush, sister. Don't upset
yourself. There is nothing to be upset about."
"You are very good, preacher."
The preacher jumped up suddenly.
"Come, Sister Swartz, you and I must dance! We won't
let Tant' Annie outdo us. Just look at her jumping around like a
young lamb!"
Fieta's gray and wrinkled old mother was indeed dancing
with gay abandon with an equally gray old man who had
thrown his stick away for this night of celebration. And a little
distance away Fieta and her eldest child, a girl of fourteen,
were laughing and calling encouragement to Tant' Annie and
her long-bearded companion.
The preacher and Mrs. Swartz joined the dancing
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Through the shadowy darkness of the Hight Street, Mad
Sam hobbled along in the direction of the fire. He didn't walk.
His movement was a sort of left-footed running jump with his
right leg trailing slightly behind. Sam's body was twisted and
deformed. But Sam had not been born like that.
There had been a time when he was straight and moved
with ease and freedom and with a certain youthful arrogance.
That was long ago. A very long time ago. Almost thirty years
ago.
The story of Sam's twisted body was a love story. He had
loved and had been loved by a young woman. It had been
many years ago and the young woman was white.
And early one morning farm laborers on their way to
work from Stilleveld had come upon a twisted heap lying in the
open. It had turned out to be Sam. They had carried him back
thinking him dead.
The right side of his head had been crushed in, as though
by a boot. Most of the ribs in the right side of his chest were
broken. His right arm was broken in many places. There was an
ugly and bleeding gash in his right groin. That was how they
had picked him up early one morning almost thirty years ago.
They had thought he was dead. But they had been wrong. Later
they had thought he was certain to die. But again they had been
proved wrong. For over a week he had been unconscious. But
he had lived.
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And ever since then he had moved with that twisted, leftfooted running jump trailing his right leg a little. And ever
since then there had been the huge bump on the right side of
his head. And ever since then he had ceased to be a young man
and had become at once old and ageless.
Nobody had ever found out who had done this to Sam.
Sam had isolated himself and wandered round the valley at
nights. In the course of time, almost automatically, he had
become attached to the big house on the hill where he worked
when he felt like it and went off when he felt like it, and where
they gave him regular food and old, discarded clothing. …
Sam continued his jumping movement until he was near
the fire. People greeted him. Someone brought him a piece of
meat. Another, a plate. Yet another brought him a piece of
bread. Someone else brought him something to drink. With the
kindness of normal People they treated him as an abnormal
person. A queer light showed in his eyes but he accepted
everything they gave him without a word. People said things to
him, asked questions, then turned away, not expecting any
reply. Sam moved among them, wordless. Then he saw Fieta.
She saw him and stepped to his side. She dropped her hand on
his arm.
"How are you, Sam?"
"All right," Sam said softly in a surprisingly deep and
clear voice. The queer light went out of his eyes. "And you?"
"The same," Fieta said.
"This is for Lanny Swartz?" Sam asked looking round.
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Fieta nodded.
"They want him at the big house," Sam said.
"There he is," Fieta said and pointed Lanny out. "I spoke
to him. He's all right. I told him to go away but he won't."
"Why should he go?"
"Education will only bring trouble to our people, Sam."
There was something very wise and understanding about
the twisted hulk of the man as he looked at her.
"I think he should stay, Fieta."
Surprise showed in Fieta's eyes. Sam tried to smile. The
left side of his face creased painfully. Tears stood in Fieta's
eyes suddenly. Again she put her hand on his arm.
"How is your head, Sam?"
"It is very clear just now," he said and hobbled toward
Lanny.
Sam touched Lanny. The preacher and Lanny's mother
stopped dancing and drew near. Lanny turned to Sam. This
must be Mad Sam, he decided.
"They call me Mad Sam," Sam said. "You are Lanny
Swartz. Gert Villier wants you to come to the big house now.
He wants to talk to you."
"Gert Villier," Lanny said softly, remembering his
meeting with Sarie Villier earlier. He wondered whether this
meant more trouble. He felt almost certain it did. And all the
time he was conscious of Sam's steady and verу sane gaze.
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Why did they call him Mad Sam? There was nothing mad
about him.
"But it's so late," Lanny said, looking at his watch. "After
ten. And the party. … "
"You'd better go, son," the preacher said.
"Yes," his mother said, "they don't often call one to the
big house."
Lanny looked at Sam and nodded. "All right."
They moved away from the fire and the people. Fieta's
eyes followed them till they were swallowed by the dark.
The moon had not yet risen. There was nothing to dispel
the dark of the night.
Lanny walked in silence beside the hobbling creature. He
was full of his own thoughts. The woman, Sarie Villier, had
probably reported her encounter with him. He wondered what
would happen now. And what was this Gert Villier like? Still,
he would wait and see.
Once Lanny stumbled in the dark. A strong hand caught
him and saved him from falling. He was surprised at the
strength of the hand. It had practically lifted him up.
"You are very strong," he said.
Mad Sam made no reply.
Lanny began to think of Sam. The little he had seen had
convinced him that there was nothing mad about him. Instead,
he had noticed that same look in Sam's eyes that he had seen in
the eyes of his old teacher, Professor Schimd. He decided to
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find out why they called Sam "mad". Perhaps he could ask him
now. No. Perhaps it would hurt his feelings. He'd better not. …
But perhaps he would. Yes. He'd try as carefully as he could.
"Sam."
"Yes?"
Lanny marveled again at the quiet dignity and strength in
the man's voice. And for all the lumbering appearance of his
movement, Lanny noticed that he was really fast and
surefooted.
"I want to ask you something, Sam."
"Well?"
"But first I would like to take your hand and tell you I'm
your friend."
Lanny felt Sam's left hand on his arm. It slipped down till
it gripped his right hand.
"The other one is no good," Sam said. "All right. Now we
are friends. Ask."
"I don't mean to be rude, Sam. I just want to know. … "
"Ask, Lanny Swartz, and do not be afraid."
Lanny was silent for a little while, then asked:
"Why do they call you Mad Sam?"
They had come to the end of the climb and the ground
underfoot was now level.
"Sometimes I get headaches," Sam said. His voice was
impersonal and aloof. "After a time the headaches get worse
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and go on getting worse till they are so bad that everything
becomes blank. When that happens I go mad."
"I see," Lanny said slowly. He wanted to ask more but
thought it better not to.
Sam seemed to understand this. He went on:
"So you see, the people are right when they say I'm mad.
It is true."
"How did it happen, Sam?"
Sam led the way in silence. They passed a few outhouses
and went up a gravel path. Lanny waited but Sam said nothing.
They went round the big house to the back.
"We are there," Sam announced flatly and pushed open
the kitchen door.
Two native women were busy in the kitchen. They
looked up, then carried on with what they were doing. Sam led
the way through, into a little passage along which a row of
stout beams made of young trees held up the ceiling and also
walled off rooms.
There were five doors leading from the passage. One
faced the kitchen, and two were on either side of the passage.
As they moved down the short hall one of the doors on
the left opened and a young woman stepped out.
"Hello, Sam," she said.
"Hello, Sarie," Sam replied.
Lanny was surprised that Sam should call her by her
name without any respectful prefix. Sam had spoken about
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Gert Villier, not Baas Gert, which was the normal thing, but he
had thought it was because there were no white people present.
He was further surprised by the young woman who stood
looking at him. There was no reason to be surprised, but
somehow, hearing her voice and being able to see her at the
same time did surprise him.
She was young and ordinary and sturdily attractive with
high cheekbones and loose corn-colored hair combed back.
"And who is this?" she asked.
"Lanny Swartz," Sam said.
"I thought so," she said looking Lanny up and down.
Something in her voice made Sam look at her and then at
Lanny.
"Yes, we have met," Lanny said coldly.
"Come," Sam said and pushed open the door that faced
the kitchen.
"Lanny Swartz is here, Gert," he announced impersonally.
"Come in, Swartz," a gruff voice called.
Lanny stepped past Sam. A big man sat at table at the far
side of the room. His pointed beard was as red as the carroty
mop on his head. His big, freckled hands were pressed palms
downward on the table. Without looking up he said:
"You can go now, Sam."
Lanny remained standing near the door. The big man at
the table did not move or look up for what seemed ages to
Lanny. He sat like a statue carved in human flesh, motionless
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and impersonal. Neither a positive nor a negative force seemed
to flow from him. Like somebody dead, a deep recess of
Lanny's mind whispered. Quiet settled over the room. Lanny
fancied he could hear the thumping of his heart. And in fancy
the thumping grew louder. His body began to tremble. He felt
painfully tense.
This is what he wants, Lanny told himself. He shook off
the oppressive feeling and looked at the man at the table. It's all
right, he told himself, I won't let him dominate me and I won't
speak first. He called me: let him speak.
To Lanny it seemed that he had stood there for hours
when Gert Villier finally raised his eyes and looked at him. The
cold blue eyes studied him impersonally, ran over him three or
four times from head to foot not to miss anything and then
settled on his face.
"So you are Lanny Swartz, heh," Gert Villier said finally.
Lanny remained silent.
"Can't you speak, man?" Villier roared suddenly.
"What am I to say?" Lanny asked softly.
"That's better," Villier said but his eyes had grown hard.
"What do you want to see me about?"3 Lanny asked.
The big hands were remarkably still on the table.
"You are going to start a school here, I understand."
"At Stilleveld. … Yes."
"What about money?"
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"I've seen the education authorities in the Cape."
"So. … Arranged everything. … Heh?"
"Yes."
"On whose property will the school be?"
"Stilleveld is government property."
"So you know that too."
"Yes."
"A very educated man, I see."
Villier got up and walked over to the window. He threw it
wide open and put his head out. Then suddenly he swung round
and walked toward Lanny.
"And who do you think you are to make plans without
consulting me or the other Europeans around here?"
"We are not slaves."
"Ah!" Villier exclaimed and walked back to the window.
"An independent man, I see. My friends who met you this
morning — do you remember them? — were right. You are
proud. You feel as good as any man. … You have forgotten
your place! … We don't like that sort of spirit here, Mister
Swartz. We like things the way they have always been. The
colored people are satisfied. They are happy as they are. They
understand us and we understand them. Remember that! We
don't like the way things are run4 in Cape Town; we don't want
anything changed here, do you understand? I want to warn you
now, Swartz, and I never warn more than once. I don't care if
you have all the education authorities in the world behind you.
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If you make one wrong step, Swartz, you will get more trouble
than is good for any living man. We do not like independent
bastards here, Mister Swartz."
Villier went back to his chair and took up his original
position.
"You may go," he said without looking up.
Lanny went out. The little passage was empty and so was
the kitchen. He stood outside the kitchen door till his eyes were
adjusted to the dark, then he went round the big house and
walked in the direction of Stilleveld, He felt unbearably weary.
What Villier had said had been half-expected. He wouldn't
think about that now. He was too tired. The best thing to do
was to get home and get some sleep.
He passed the outhouses. The moon was rising. Not a
typical South African moon. Much too small and weak. He
could just see the outlines of Stilleveld to his right.
Then quite suddenly two dark figures rose in front of
him. Something hard sank into the pit of his stomach. The wind
wheezed out of his body5 and his knees wobbled under him.
Instinctively he struck out hard at the figure in front of him.
There was a grunt and a curse. Then a fist smashed solidly
against his nose. He staggered and reeled back. Again
something hard sank into the pit of his stomach. Lanny
collapsed in a heap and lay still. Blood flowed from his nose.
One of the two men stepped toward the prostrate figure
and raised his foot, then stopped. He had heard the approaching
barks of a dog, and behind that the sound of running feet.
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"Let's get out of here," he said, "someone's coming."
They slipped away.
The dog found the still figure of Lanny and stood
growling over him till Sarie Villier came up.
The young woman played her torch6 over Lanny's form,
then bent down and raised his head. Lanny opened his eyes.
"It's all right, they have gone," she said.
Painfully Lanny got up and stood holding his stomach.
"Be careful, your nose is bleeding," she said.
He hung his head forward so that the blood should not
drop on his clothes.
"What happened?"
"I don't know. They suddenly jumped on me."
"Do you know who they are?"
"No."
"Did you quarrel with Uncle Gert?"
"No. He quarreled with me."
She was silent for a while, then she asked:
"Does it hurt much?"
"No, it's all right now. It's lucky you came along. They
had just begun. I'll go along now. Thank you very much." He
thought of his mother. It would upset her so to see him like
this. "I wish I could wash the blood off before I go back. It
would upset my mother to see me like this. But still. … Good
night. … "
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"You can wash your face in our kitchen," Sarie
suggested.
"I think I'd better not," he said.
"Everybody's gone to bed and Gert never comes into the
kitchen. Come on. It will be quite all right, and then your
mother needn't know."
"All right. Thank you very much."
They walked back to the big house. Sarie gave Lanny a
bowl of water and watched him wash the blood from his face.
She wanted to help him dust7 the back of his jacket where he
had lain in the sand. But something held her back. She was
white and he was colored. It was hard, though, to remember it
all the time. He didn't behave as though he were colored. She
had to force it into her mind in order to remember it all the
time.
And now, should she give him a towel to wipe his face?
Impulsively she gave him her own hand towel. She watched
him wipe his face, then looked curiously at the towel when he
returned it to her. It was so strange. He thanked her but as a
matter of course, as though he were used to getting towels from
white girls, but he couldn't be — or could he?
"There's dust on the back of your jacket," she whispered.
He tried to reach it but failed. Tentatively she stepped
forward and brushed it off.
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"Thank you," Lanny said, "you have been really kind. It
makes me feel terribly ashamed for what I said to you earlier
this evening."
"And so you should be!"
They smiled at each other.
Sarie was surprised at herself for accepting the equality
that Lanny had established between them. It was unheard of.
But it was even more unheard of to find a colored man
behaving as he did.
"Is it education that makes you behave as you do?" she
asked.
Lanny understood what she meant. He smiled.
"Yes, it is partly education."
"Are there many others like you?"
"Yes. You see, the color bar is not so strong in the Cape."
"Do they treat the colored people like white people
there?"
"Some of them — yes."
She wanted to ask him whether he had had white friends
in the Cape, but the words would not come out. In any case, it
seemed wrong.
"Well, thank you very much," Lanny said. "Good night."
"Good night."
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Long after Lanny had gone Sarie sat thinking of this
colored man who didn't behave like a colored man and was not
mad like Mad Sam.
Again Lanny walked away from the big house. And as he
walked many thoughts raced through his brain.8 A furious
jumble of unassorted thoughts9 that was like physical torture in
its pain.
And over him, and the big house and the two valleys,
hung the night. A long night. Dark and painfully austere and
impersonal. And so quiet. More quiet than quiet itself. And this
quiet was intensified by the lost and hopeless noises of the little
creatures of the veld.10
Lanny stumbled in the dark. Calm yourself, he told
himself. Calm yourself and get the dark cloud out of your
mind. Darkness means bitterness and bitterness is harmful. He
ran his tongue over the inside of his mouth and felt its rawness
and tasted blood.
But there was no calming the furious pounding of his
heart and the awful throb in his brain.11
He hurried down the incline that led to Stilleveld. And all
the time he could see the figure of Gert Villier, his big hands
pressed downward on the table, his huge body relaxed and
impersonal, sitting motionless.
"Calm yourself," he said with intensity and stopped
walking.
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Slowly, very slowly, the bitter fire went out of his body.12
He could almost feel it going. In its place a heavy sadness took
possession of him. Things were clear again. But it was such a
hopelessly painful clarity. It hurt intensely but he felt better.
He swung into Mad Sam's High Street and walked down
its length. He wasn't sure whether he'd be able to find the house
in the dark; he knew it was near the end of the lane.
There was no need to search, however. The door of his
mother's house was wide open, and in the doorway, his back to
the light, stood the old preacher.
"That you, Lanny?"13 the preacher called.
"Yes."
"We were worried," his mother said from behind the
preacher.
He stepped past the preacher and closed the door. Forcing
a smile to his lips, he looked at his mother.
"Why are you still up?" he asked with mock severity.
The thoughtful frown faded from the preacher's brow. He
smiled and turned to the door.
"Everything all right, son?"
"Yes, Papa."
"Well, I'll say good night now. You need to rest. We'll talk
tomorrow. Good night, sister."
The preacher stepped into the darkness and shut the door.
"You look tired, son," the old woman told Lanny.
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"You should be asleep, mother."
"I had to wait for you, Lanny."
Lanny put his arm round her shoulders and pressed her to
him.
"Was everything all right?" she asked.
"Yes. Villier wanted to know what I intend doing."
"And you told him?"
"Yes."
"And it was all right?"
"Yes, mother. … Now go to bed. You look tired."
The old woman indicated a corner of the room where a
bed had been made on the floor. "Mabel and I will sleep there.
You will sleep on the bed in the bedroom."
"I will not!" Lanny said firmly. "You'll have the bed. I'll
sleep here. Where is Mabel?"
"She was so tired she stretched herself on the bed. I'll
wake her."
"You go in and go to bed, mother, I'll sleep here."
Doubtfully the old woman went into the next room. She
seemed outraged at the thought of him sleeping on the floor. He
was an educated man. A gentleman from Cape Town. It was all
right for her and Mabel to sleep on the floor. She wanted to
argue with him but there was a firm line about his mouth and
the look in his eyes was firm too. He followed her into the
room and brought out his case.
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"Good night, mother," he called and shut the door
between them.
The old woman hugged the blankets round her shoulders
and felt an inner warmth that had nothing to do with the
covering of the bed. Her son had come home. He was in the
next room. There was a man in her family again. The house had
a head again. Such a long time the house had been without a
head. Since her old man died eight— nine years ago. And such
a man! Everybody respected him. The white folks in the big
house had sent for him. Not often that they do that. But they
had to respect him. He was an educated man. Such a man!
Two big teardrops stole from her eyes and seeped into the
pillow and a warm smile eased the wrinkles of her face. The
smile was still on her lips when she fell asleep.
In the other room Lanny lay smoking till the early hours
of the morning. …
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95
1
ISAAC FINKELBERG turned to his father. "Young Mako and
Lanny Swartz are coming here tonight."
The old Jew turned his sad eyes from the open door of
the store and looked at his son.
"You will bring us trouble," he said in a controlled voice.
"Oh don't start again!'' Isaac retorted.
"For all your learning you are a fool," the old man said
sadly. "Just think, my son, think." He pleaded with his hands.1
"Already the Dutch people are saying things about us because
we are Jews. That is how it began in the old country. Don't you
understand, my little Isaac?"
"I understand too well."
"You don't. You think your father is getting the habits of
these Dutchmen and feeling better than the black people.2 You
are wrong. Too long have I been insulted to want to insult
others. I am only thinking of you and the store and myself. We
want a place where we can live in peace and freedom. It is all
right here. If we look after our own business and leave the
others alone, perhaps they will leave us alone."
His sad, wise eyes pleaded with his son; begged him to
understand the centuries of oppression that made him see
things as he did.
Isaac shook his head and shrugged. He took off his
glasses and polished them.
BOOK II, chapter 1
"In the old country you minded your own business,
father, heh?"
"Yes," the old man sighed.
"But they did not leave you alone. They killed your wife
and two of your children. My mother, my brother, and my
sister."
"You were young. You only know what I told you."
"Still, they did kill them, didn't they?"
"Yes," the old man said painfully.
"And now you want to mind your own business again,
just as you did in the old country."
"Perhaps these people will be different."
"You hope so."
"What is there but hope, my son?"
Isaac looked at his father and thought bitterly.
The Jew. The Jew. The meek and humble Jew. Two
thousand years of oppression and persecution had so crushed
him that now he talked of hoping that people would be
different. The poor humble Jew. He seemed to have forgotten
how to strike a blow for his own freedom and independence.
Hoping that people would be different. Two thousand years. A
long, long time is two thousand years. A long time indeed. Had
their blood run to water in that time? No. Not run to water.
Perhaps they were too civilized. Too humane. They were
known for the peaceful arts. The creative arts. Scholarship.
They were too civilized. Yes. That's it. Much too civilized. Too
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deeply steeped in the peaceful, commercial, and creatively
gentle art of living. They knew how to build but they have
forgotten how to destroy. And the foundations were rotten.
Rotten to the core.
The Jew. The poor humble Jew. He builds so well.
Creates so well. And then some evil savage comes along and
sweeps away his creations overnight. And then, with infinite
patience, that two-thousand-year-old patience that stared at him
from his father's eyes, he sets about building again.
Where was the warrior, the Jew with the strong arm,
schooled in the arts of war as well as in the arts of peace? The
ordinary Jew, neither humble nor aggressive but quietly selfassertive where the affairs of the world, which were also his,
were concerned? The rotten foundations had to be smashed and
humility couldn't do it.
A shy, understanding smile flitted across the old man's
face. It was as though he had followed his son's thoughts. He
nodded understandingly.
"Yes. I know your thoughts. They are hard and there is
scorn in them. You say your father is weak and cowardly.
Perhaps you say to yourself that your people are weak and
cowardly. And in your own mind3 you lash them with the angry
tongue of the prophets, my son. It is ever so, my son. I was thus
with my father, and he was thus with his father, and so it goes
back. So it will go forward, too. Your son will be thus with you.
It is easy to fight with your mind.4 Scorn flows through you
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and it mirrors itself in your eyes. But it is not so easy to fight
outside of the mind."
"You are not even fighting in your mind," Isaac said
softly.
"And is it so wrong to want peace and to desire that
others leave you alone?" The old man tried to work himself
into an anger.5 "Is the law of life now to fight and to fight and
to fight?" But somehow he couldn't get angry. He understood
his son's feelings too well.
Isaac smiled wryly.
"You are at peace, aren't you, father?"
The old man nodded slowly and turned away.
"Yes, inside there is peace," he said with a strange
sadness in his voice.
Isaac went to the door and stood awkwardly behind his
father.
"I know you must be lonely," the old man said without
turning. "These two young people are educated like you. It will
be good for you to talk with them and it will be good for them
too. But please be careful. We do not want trouble with the
Dutch here."
"I will be careful," Isaac said, patting the old man's arm
clumsily.
"You are a good boy," the old man said, staring away to
where the sun was sliding into obscurity6 behind the distant
western hills. How his old woman would have loved to stand
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here beside him now in this warm and pleasant land. She
always did love the warmth. But she was under the earth in the
old country. And so beautiful she was. Such a good mother to
his children. A good and true wife to him. Life was so empty
without her voice and the patter of her feet and the touch of her
hand. Only a small part of him seemed to live. The rest was
with her in the old country, under the earth.
Isaac looked at his father's face, then swung round
abruptly and walked through the shop to the little room at the
back that was his own private den.
He sat down at his desk and stared out of the open
window. Unseeing eyes travelled over the green, undulating
earth than rose and fell till it faded on the horizon.
"There is something about the old folk," he whispered in
a soft, wondering voice. "At least they have found peace, peace
inside."
A single, energetic fly circled round the room. The rest
were asleep on the ceiling. Only this solitary one seemed to
have the strength or will power to move about, making its faint
buzzing noise.
Outside, night drew near, seeming to run a race from east
to west with the sunrays on the horizon as the winning posts.7
And over all was the hushed stillness of the wide tropical earth
and sky.
"Yes, at least they have found peace," Isaac murmured
and opened the brown notebook on his desk.
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He heard his father shutting the shop and shooting the
bolts into place. He listened carefully to the muffled thud-thud
as the old man walked past and went into his own room.
"They have found peace," he intoned softly, but there was
just a hint of doubt in his voice now.
The notebook in front of him lay open but his mind was
still on his father.8 He concentrated on listening to any sound
his father might make. But there was silence, nothing but
silence between his room and his father's.
He moved his body slightly as though relaxing some
tension and turned the pages of the notebook. It was crowded
with writing in a small, neat, economical hand. This was his
daily diary, which he had kept since he had arrived at
Stilleveld. It helped chase away the long hours of the slowmoving nights when he was tired of reading or working on the
book about which his father mocked him so often. Slowly he
flicked the pages over, pausing occasionally to read an entry
here and there. Then he stopped quite suddenly and listened.
He got up noiselessly, tiptoed to his door, and opened it without
a sound.
Through the open door came the low, muffled voice of
his father. The old man was singing. The tune was strange and
outlandish, foreign to the orthodox European musical scale.9
And the words were in the language of the old country. Here
and there Isaac recognized some of them. But it was the
haunting loneliness, the resigned desolation in the voice that he
listened to.10
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It was the lonely voice of all the Jews everywhere who
had been made homeless wanderers over the earth's surface for
more than two thousand years; the voice of a Jew who had to
leave a home he had built with his own hands; the voice of a
Jew who was in a land far from that where a brother, a sister, a
child, a parent, a wife was buried; the voice of a Jew who had
suffered all insults and indignities and violences; the voice of a
Jew who had given much and then received spittle on his face;
a desolate voice that had gained a quiet, resigned strength in
submission, the voice of a homeless Jew. … It rose and fell
slowly with an uneven monotony.
"They have found peace," Isaac said bitterly.
He walked over to the old man's door and pushed it open.
The old man sat on his bed, rocking from side to side as he
sang. He stopped and looked up at Isaac. For a space there was
silence between father and son. Then Isaac said:
"Peace is very heavy, is it not, father?"
The old man saw the kindly understanding in Isaac's
saw the clarity with which his son understood emotions
that he only felt. And he resented it. It could not be fight that
his son should know so much, that he should be afraid of his
son's eyes. It disturbed him. It touched the roots of his life, of
his way of living. That look in his son's eyes threatened to
interfere with the peace he had found in his old age. It stirred
feelings that he hadn't known were in him. Perhaps they had
been buried there, deep inside of him since his youth. But his
son was not religious and he had always been religious. It
eyes,11
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could not be the same thing. And it could not be right. Isaac
seemed to be looking into his brain and seeing his thoughts.
"Get out!" he shouted suddenly, jumping up. "Get out!"
His fists drummed a tattoo12 on Isaac's chest. Isaac caught his
father's wrists and held them tight.
"Let me go!" The old man trembled with rage. "Never
before in my family was there an unbeliever! This is the
greatest shame of my old age! Making a mockery of my
religion! Let me go, you child of evil. Let me go!" He
wrenched one hand free and struck Isaac across the mouth.
For a second Isaac's body tensed: then he relaxed. He
released his hold on the other wrist and walked out. The old
man slammed the door behind him.
Isaac went back into his room and sat staring out of the
window. Night had reached the sunrays on the western horizon
and darkness gathered everywhere.
The old colored woman who worked for the Finkelbergs
brought an oil lamp in and hung it in the center of the room.
"Don't take a light in to my father yet, Mrs. Snyder,"
Isaac said:
"All right, Mr. Isaac," the woman said. "The food is
nearly ready."
Isaac turned to her and smiled: "I'll call him in a few
minutes. Just let me know when you are ready. And Mrs.
Snyder, if you will be kind enough to make us a pot of coffee
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and keep it on the stove I shall be very grateful. You see, we
are having a visitor. Mr. Swartz is coming to see us tonight".
"Lanny Swartz?"
"Yes, Mrs. Snyder."
Isaac smiled as Mrs. Snyder beamed with pride. She
wouldn't be so proud if she knew Mako was coming as well, he
thought.
"Yes, Mr. Isaac. And shall I leave some of those cookies I
baked yesterday in the oven? They are very nice if they are
warmed up, you know, Mr. Isaac."
"Do warm them, Mrs. Snyder.13 And let me know when
you are ready and I'll call my father."
She went out. Isaac flicked over the pages of his diary till
he got to the last entry. He glanced over it, then unscrewed the
cap of his fountain pen and began to write immediately below
the last entry. He wrote steadily:
Old Mrs. Snyder is very excited because Swartz is
coming here tonight. I suppose it's some sort of "honor." I've
wisely not told her that Young Mako is coming as well.
Father struck me in the face a few minutes ago. I must
have upset him a lot.
Something very interesting took place this afternoon. The
daughter of the "aristocracy" of Afrikanderdom around here
came into the shop. With her was that strange man with the
wise eyes, Mad Sam. I'm sure he's the handiwork of "white
superiority."14 However, Miss Villier was doing her ordering
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when Swartz walked in. Her face changed color when she saw
him. Something came into her eyes. It's hard to read Swartz's
face. It's very schooled.15 But for the first time, as far as I know,
it had lost its control. I don't know what emotions he registered,
I feel sure, though, that there is something between them. Mad
Sam noticed it too. His wise eyes darted from the one to the
other. I don't think he misses much. I've always wanted to speak
to him. But he's forbidden me with his eyes. I will, though.
Lanny Swartz and Sarie Villier! I wonder what's going to
happen.
It's a curious place, this. I wonder how many places like
it there arc in this vast continent. This is only one little place.
One little village in Africa. And yet there's Lanny Swartz and
Sarie Villier, there is Mad Sam, there is Mako (I like him). I
don't know about Swartz. He's very reserved. More unfree than
Mako. I wonder how they will get on. I'll see soon.
Something is going to happen here soon. I wonder what.
A village in Africa. It sounds very good. It sounds human and
friendly. A Jew, a half caste, and a Negro are meeting tonight in
a village in Africa. …
Mrs. Snyder knocked, and pushed her head into the room.
"Food's ready, Mr. Isaac."
"Thank you, Mrs. Snyder."
"I've looked after the coffee and the cookies."
"Very good."
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"May I go now, Mr. Isaac? You see I've . . ."
"Yes. You may go, Mrs. Snyder. Good night."
"Good night, Mr. Isaac."
Isaac listened to the back door's bang, then got up and
went to his father's room. He tapped lightly on the door.
"Who is it?"
"It's me, Isaac."
"What do you want?"
"Food is ready. Let us eat."
"I do not wish to eat. You eat."
Isaac was silent for a while. He tapped again.
"What now?"
"I want to say something, father."
"Say it."
"I want to apologize."
"What?"
"I want to beg your forgiveness."
There was a pause, then the door opened and his father
looked at him out of the darkness of the room. As Isaac began
to speak his father stopped him.
"The food will be cold," the old man said gruffly.
"Come!"
A gentle smile played on Isaac's lips as he followed his
father.
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2
ISAAC stared out of his window and smiled. A quiet
excitement gripped him.
Behind him, Lanny was on one knee studying the titles
on his bookshelf.
Mako had still to arrive. Isaac strained his ears and
peered into the darkness. From somewhere in the High Street a
dog wailed pathetically.
"Miserable dog," Isaac said without turning his head.
"You're lucky, you hear it from a distance," Lanny said.
Again the smile flitted across Isaac's lips. It had startled
him to discover how easily he and Lanny understood each other.
He had not felt his normal shyness with Lanny. And he didn't
have to explain. He made remarks and Lanny understood. And
he didn't have to talk. Lanny was at ease. His face was still a
mask but there was no stiffness about him. They had spoken to
each other in half-sentences for the last fifteen minutes.
"Sometimes he carries on like that all night," Lanny said.
"Must be awful," Isaac replied.
"It's hell."
Isaac listened hard for some sound of Mako.
"It's dark tonight," he said.
"I miss the lights," Lanny said.
BOOK II, chapter 2
"Lonely sometimes?" Isaac asked thinking of the picture
of the pretty girl Mabel had displayed boastfully some time
ago.
Lanny flicked over the pages of Steinbeck's Pastures of
Heaven.
"It's not so bad now I've got the school. Used to be
awful."
"The first month's the worst."
"Then I've only got a week to go."1
"Yes, only a week, then the worst will be over. … Talking
about loneliness." Isaac turned and watched Lanny's face
carefully, "when the Villier girl first arrived. … " He paused
deliberately.
Lanny looked up from the book.
"Yes?"
His face tells you nothing, Isaac said to himself, but he
did look up — rather quickly, too.
"She was almost distracted with loneliness."
"Been here long?"
"A few months."
"Know anything about her?"
"Not a thing except that she's a distant niece of the
present Villier. A poor relative probably. I hear they used to be
quite a clan.2 Now big Gert is the last of the line except for
Sarie. But you would know all that. You were born here."
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Lanny nodded.
Isaac watched Lanny speculatively, carefully, to make
sure of striking just the right note.3 Mentally he chose his
words with great care:
"There are whispers that the line isn't really near its
end."4
"No?"
Isaac studied Lanny's facial structure5 and mentally
compared it with that of Gert Villier. Then he said: "Yes, it is
whispered that the line of Villier can be picked up in
Stilleveld."
Lanny turned his eyes full on Isaac. The ease had gone
out of the room. There was an undercurrent of tension in
Lanny.
"Not all the colored people are illegitimate, you know,"
he said softly.
"Don't misunderstand me, Swartz," Isaac said.
"I'm not. I thought it might be useful to settle that point."
He caressed his jaw. "And where do the whispers say the line
of Villier, as you call it, carries on?"
"In Stilleveld."
"You know what I mean," Lanny said impatiently.
"Oh." Isaac smiled his secret, twisted smile as though he
were sharing a joke with himself. "They didn't mention any
names."
"I see."
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Isaac turned his back to the room and leaned out of the
window. Lanny turned back to The Pastures of Heaven. A moth
flew into the room and danced a crazy circle round the lamp,
spinning faster and faster in an ever smaller Kg till it finally
lost all sense of caution and fluttered over the open top of the
long bulb. There was a soft crackle. Its wings dried up. It
dropped to the floor and lay still. Its dance of light had ended in
death.
"He's not really late, you know," Lanny said.
"So you know I've asked Mako," Isaac said.
"It wasn't so difficult to guess."
"I suppose not. I think I hear him." Isaac leaned farther
out of the window and bent his head to listen Bore carefully.
Faintly he heard the light thud of shoes on the hard, sandy
earth.
"You met Mako?" Isaac asked.
Lanny nodded without raising his eyes from The Pastures
of Heaven.
"On the first day I arrived."
The footsteps drew near. Isaac hurried out to meet Mako.
Lanny searched his pockets till he found a cigarette. Again the
desolate wail of the dog floated into the room.
Lanny got up as Isaac and Mako came in.
Mako smiled and held out his hand. Lanny took the hand
and studied Young Mako. This was the first chance he had had
of seeing him at close quarters.
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A slender, small-boned young man with a deep brown
skin stood in front of him. There was a smile on his lips and
thoughtfulness in his dark eyes. His skin was smooth and
tightly drawn except for the single furrow that ran across his
wide forehead.6
Lanny had imagined someone totally different in
appearance. This slender, smooth person didn't go with the
mocking voice he had heard three weeks ago. The voice had
been the voice of a big person. Not someone only slightly taller
than himself. And then the voice spoke to him again.
"I had hoped you would come over to our place, you
know."
Yes, this was Mako all right. The same voice he had
heard that night.
"I've been very busy with the school and other things."
They're fencing,7 Isaac thought.
"How's the old preacher?" Mako asked. "Still praying for
my black soul to his white God?"
Isaac took off his glasses and rubbed them vigorously,
swaying from his heels to his toes and back.
"Surely the preacher's God can't be white — he isn't,"
Isaac murmured.
Lanny looked from Mako to Isaac quickly. What were
they driving at?
Isaac slipped on his glasses and spoke hurriedly:
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"I mean to say that we Jews have a Jewish God, but even
that's not important. The fact that He is a Jew is one up for us —
I mean Jews of course — but He's white as well. That is the point.
He is a white God, so all the white people have a white God.
A European God. What about the God of the non-Europeans?
How do they visualize Him? … Sit down, Mako, Lanny. …
"It is normal for people to give their religion some
familiar personification8. … I wonder what sort of color the
non-Europeans give their God when they imagine Him.
"When I was a boy He was an old, white-haired whitebearded patriarch slightly dirty — I mean His robes — like the
very old Jews. I had something to pray to then, something that
responded to the reality of my world. … What about you,
Mako?"
Mako laughed and leaned back. He spoke slowly,
smilingly, trying to recapture a very old picture:
"He was a foreigner, of course; my people said so. My
Village killed one girl because she had become a Christian. He
was somebody to be afraid of, this God that the white men in
their long robes brought. And like the other boys of my village,
my fear drove me to Him. I was afraid of Him and there was
the promise of punishment if I followed Him so I had to find
out about Him.
"And the preachers, the white men with the long robes,
told such beautiful stories about Him that I lost all interest in
His color. The story I liked most was how He made water into
wine and also the one where He brought the dead men to life
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again. And making a lot of food out of little! That was good. So
I followed Him because He was a good man and was nearly
beaten to death. But I also followed Him because the
missionaries were good to me.
"Then one night I wanted to know about His color,"
Mako laughed softly. "I think somebody had called me a Kaffir
and spat at me. So I went to the chapel and knelt in front of the
black statue of St. Peter. I prayed for such a long time but
neither God nor St. Peter would tell me if He was white or
black or if He loved the white people more than the black
people. Can you see? A little black boy in the dark and empty
chapel. But no answer. I was unhappy. Oh so unhappy." Again
Mako laughed softly.
"There was a bowl of water at the feet of St. Peter. I
looked at the bowl and said, 'God, turn the water into wine so
that I may know You love me too, even if I'm black.' I waited
but the water remained water. I said it again and added 'please.'
Nothing happened. Then I thought, 'Maybe God thinks I'll
drink the wine,' so I said, 'On my honor, God, I will not drink
the wine, I promise' — but nothing happened. That is all. After
that He was not the same for me. … "
"And now?" Isaac asked.
"We are not talking of now."
"What about you, Swartz?"
Lanny looked at Isaac and shook his head:
"I was never really interested."
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"Not in color?"
"Not particularly. You see, I went to Cape Town early."
"Surely there's colored nationalism."9
"Indeed!" Mako said.
"I don't know," Lanny said. "Colored people don't talk
about nationality and race and color."
"I wonder why," Isaac said.
Lanny saw the challenge in his eyes and for some strange
reason he felt himself on the defensive.10
"Probably because they are neither white nor black," he
said with a casualness he didn't feel.
"Would you say they are afraid of thinking about these
things?"
"There is nothing to think about," Mako said and looked
at Lanny. "When Swartz says they are neither white nor black
that covers it. There is not the tribalism and traditional past of
my people or of the white people in them.11 For them there is
no past, only the future."
"You cannot deny the group feeling,"12 Isaac said.
Lanny felt easier. It was all right for them to discuss the
colored people.
"There is the group feeling," Lanny said.
"It is not real," Mako said.
"Colored marries colored," Isaac said.
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"The dark girl tries to marry a pale man; the dark man
tries to marry a pale girl."
"They are still colored," Lanny said, "still within the
group."
"Yes, but always trying to move up to the white. Why?"
He looked at Isaac and Lanny but neither said anything.
He waited a while, then answered his own question:
"Because they have no real roots of their own. Not the
past, not the tradition of the white or of the black. That is why
they try to grade upward. The whites are in power, they control
everything. There is disadvantage, the color bar, in grading
toward the African so they grade toward the white. A half-caste
writer called them 'marginal men';13 he was right. An English
poet said: 'Only ghosts can live between two fires'; he was
right. They are between two fires. They are trying to get out of
it. For me, there is the problem of the colored people. … "
He lapsed into silence and no one spoke in the room.
Lanny sat with his chin on his chest, thinking over Mako's
words and at the same time marvelling at Mako's knowledge.
Isaac sat with his mouth slightly open, his face screwed
up in concentration.14 Then he shrugged quickly and jumped
up:
"I want to think this over," he said going to the door.
"Coffee will clear the brain. I'll bring it in."
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BOOK II, chapter 2
Lanny handed Mako a cigarette and settled back in his
chair. He wanted to tell Mako how surprised he was at his
knowledge but embarrassment made him hold his peace.15
In the kitchen Isaac muttered as he poured the coffee.
Then the old man's door opened and he came out.
"Well, young men," he said, "and how is your talk going?
I hear my son in he kitchen so I think I will have a cup of
coffee with you and then I will go so that you can talk with
freedom, heh?"
Mako smiled and offered the old man a cigarette.
"There is no need to leave," he said.
"Oh but I know there is," the old man said, nodding
wisely. "When the young are together it is wise for an old man
to be with other old men or to be away — it is an old saying, I
don't know where it comes from, but it is true. If you want to
tell of a girl, how can you tell it with freedom when there is an
old man there, heh?"
"But we are not talking of girls," Lanny said.
Old Mr. Finkelberg smiled and there was wisdom in his
eyes. The wisdom of one who had been young once and had
not forgotten.
"Young men start their talk about the stars or about how
it is best to sow seeds, and then, before you know how, the talk
is about women. It is so."
Before either of the two young men could reply, Isaac
entered with the coffee. His face lit up when he saw his father
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in the room. The eyes of the old Jew met his son's, lingered on
them for a while in silent commune, and then it was all over.
There was harmony between father and son again, and the old
understanding.
"Well," Isaac said and passed the coffee and cookies
around.
"You like it here?" the old man asked, looking at Lanny.
Lanny smiled wryly.
"You need not answer. I can see."
"But I do like it— sometimes."
"When you are teaching," Isaac said.
"When I'm teaching."
After that there was silence while they drank the coffee.
And suddenly it dawned on Lanny16 that this silence was really
deep, complete. It seemed that for a while even the little
creatures of the veld had all stopped their little noises to
emphasize the silence. Not a sound anywhere. The hushed
stillness of death in the air.17 It made it possible to see the
world as a ball that had suddenly grown silent — and there was
the fear that it might be lifeless as well — and it frightened him
for it seemed akin to all those terrifying forces, space, utter
darkness, the depth of the ocean, and man alone in a dead
place. He listened intently and the silence grew. Even his heart
seemed to have stopped its beat.
Then suddenly the silence was shattered by the harsh
scraping noise of a match being struck. He jerked his head up
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and saw Mako lighting his pipe. Then he saw Isaac's eyes on
his face, watching him intently. Those eyes seemed anxious to
tear his skin open and see inside him. A queer chap.
Mako sucked at his pipe and stared out of the open
window. And now the deep silence was gone. From the High
Street the sulky howl of the dog carried over the night air. What
was Mako seeing, staring so intently out the window? There
was only darkness out there.
Isaac cleared his throat.
"And now, Mako, going back to our talk — your theory
of roots, I mean. Can you apply it any way to the Jews? They
have roots, you know, and tradition and a past. Probably the
oldest in the world."
"Yes. That is true. They have roots, but not in the sense
that I think of roots. They are like the colored people in one
way and unlike the colored people in another way. The
traditions the Jews have are traditions of suffering. That is
really all. That and their religion."
"What of their past? You can't sweep that away."
Mako looked at the old man and smiled.
"Their past is dead, friend, like the old African empires
and civilizations that were before the white man."
"Dead or alive, it is still their past."
"No. It has become the past of the world, just as our old
past, when the world finally accepts it, will become the past of
the world."
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"Then where does your talk of tradition and the past
lead?" Lanny asked.
"I will try to explain. I think we agree that the coloreds
have no past of their own, no tradition of their own. They are
between the white world and the black. They have a future.
"Of the Jew I think his past and his tradition have been
wiped away because he has no land of his own. He lives in
lands of other nations. Say you have Jews living in France and
others living in England. Because they are an old people, this
would not be so for only a hundred years but for much longer.
And the Jew child in France will be a Frenchman except for his
religion and the language of his religion. And so the one in
England, he will be English except for his religion and the
language of his religion.
"You see? For me it is like this: The Jew has too much of
his past and that is only language and religion. He holds it too
tight and it is not enough. The thing that is common to all Jews
is religion and, sometimes, the language of that religion which
is in the past. In the present the common thing is the
persecution. I think the Jew must make more of a future and
not let the past sit on him too heavily."
"You are against our religion?" the old man asked
sharply.
"That is not so," Mako denied vigorously. "I am just
explaining your problem, as it seems to me."
"But how can we make more of a future for us?" Isaac
asked.
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"You have no independent nationality. … I can be a
Christian, I can be a follower of Islam or of Zionism or any
other religion, but I am still a Zulu because there is Zululand
and the language of Zululand is Zulu and here is a way of
living that is Zulu, which is my way and the way of the people
who live in that land. There are things we do, the way we
behave, customs, the way we get our food, the way we enjoy
ourselves; these are the things that make me and the others who
come from that land have this common feeling that you call
nationalism. Ours is a real feeling because it springs from the
way we live in our own land. Take away the religion and it is
still there. … "
The old man sighed and got up.
These young people talked such a lot.
How could you help feeling like a Jew because of land
and custom and other such things? One is a Jew because one is
a Jew and that is the end of it.
One is a Jew or a gentile and that is the end of it. No
book learning is needed to know that. Your father was a Jew
before you and your father's father.
A Chinaman didn't stop being a Chinaman because he
didn't have the same land and language. … But what about
those others, the Japanese? Were they Chinese or had they been
Chinese at any time? They could not have been. …
Mako was still speaking: "If these things were not common
to all the Zulus then they would not have been Zulus. … "
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"I am tired," the old man said wearily. "I will leave you,
young people. I need rest. But let me tell you, a man is a man,
and if he is a Jew then he is a Jew and it is finished, and if he is
a Zulu then he is a Zulu and it is finished. It is no crime to be
anything God made you so and there it is. Good night."
He went out heavily and shut the door behind him.
Isaac smiled, shaking his head slowly. Mako looked at
Isaac and a responding smile flitted across his face.
Lanny looked at Mako and chose his words carefully:
"You said earlier that the coloreds were living between
two fires and that they tried to escape by grading upward."18
"Yes."
"You sounded as though you disapproved. Why?"
"Yes," Isaac broke in, "are you against mixed marriages?"
Mako sucked at his pipe and thought. Then he spoke:
"I do not object to the coloreds grading upward, or trying
to, because it is toward the whites. I do so because it shows the
way in which he is not free. What I mean is this: if the whites
and the black people were equal, if there were no color bar, if a
black man could go to Parliament and had all the same rights as
a white man, and the colored people wanted to grade toward
the whites, then it would be all right. I would not object. Now
they try to grade toward the white man because he has power.
They accept the inferior position and try to escape it by trying
to become white themselves. You see, it is a slavery of the
mind and that is even worse than the slavery of the body. It is
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like we black people trying to make our hair straight because
the white man has straight hair. It is the internal unfreedom, the
acceptance of the slave state and trying to graduate from it that
I am against. You see? It is the same about mixed marriage. If it
is compensation for not being white then I will fight it with all
my strength. If it is the business of a man and a woman who
love and have stepped above and beyond color then it is their
business. And there is this too, Finkelberg. Among educated
Africans and other non-Europeans in this country you will find
a movement away from our own past. It is natural. We are ruled
by foreigners who are white. They control our education. We
have to learn and assimilate many of their ways to survive. It is
not strange, then, to find the English graduate and the African
graduate having much in common. If an English graduate
married a Pole they would have less in common than if an
African graduate married an English person. There is more in
common between the African and the English than there is
between, say, the English and the Poles. It is so because the
English have conquered this country and in the course of time
have imposed their ways on us. I speak their language more
easily than my own. Swartz knows only their language and
their ways. Nobody worries when an English man or woman
marries a Pole, who is farther removed from the ways of
England than we are. But you have made me talk too much and
it is getting late. I must go soon. … " He looked at Isaac and
there was a slightly mocking smile on his lips.
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"We've covered much ground," Isaac said. "What do you
think of it all, Swartz?"
Lanny laughed and shook his head. "I'll have to think
about it. It's too new for me to say anything. Some of it sounds
like my old professor, some of it I've never heard before. All I
can say is that Mako's brain seems to be crammed full of
knowledge."
Suddenly Isaac jumped up excitedly and stalked round
the room nodding his head. "Be quiet," he said and leaned
against the door with his eyes closed. The fingers of his left
hand drummed out a steady tattoo against the door. He opened
his eyes and laughed at Mako. A note of triumph ran through
the laughter.
"Well?" Mako said.
"Well indeed!" Isaac exclaimed.
He moved forward slowly until he stood facing Mako.
Lanny watched them curiously. What now?
"I believe," Isaac said softly, "that if you let a man talk
long enough he'll undo himself. It never fails. It has succeeded
now."
The mocking light appeared in Mako's eyes.
"So," he said with the same mockery in his voice that
Lanny had heard when he had spoken to the old preacher that
first night.
"Yes," Isaac said, but he didn't sound quite as certain of
himself. "First you tell us about custom and tradition and
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nationalism, which we accept. And now you sweep nationalism
aside by supporting mixed marriages. That's not so good for a
man who sees things so clearly. Well?"
Mako laughed.
"Nationalism is a fact, whether you accept it or not.19 In
the old days when a man from another tribe came to my tribe
he might have been killed, and even if he was not killed, he
was an outsider and he felt it in many ways. So it was best for
him to stay in his own tribe, move among his own people,
whom he knew well. It was safe for him. It protected him. It
was the instinct of the herd at its lowest level. Safety was
among his kind and most other things were the enemy. But
after a time it became not the nationalism of tribes but of
groups of tribes who became nations and these tribes mixed in
every way. The instinct of the herd is now on a higher plane.
"Now you have, not tribes fearing tribes and fighting
each other, but nations fighting nations and fearing each other.
"There is more courage in the national marriage than
there was in the tribal marriage for it means man is freer. You
see, marriage between a Zulu and Msutu is intermarriage too.
They are different tribes. It is a mirror to the nationalism on a
higher plane. There are those who say the world will not be
free and happy — and I agree — until nations stop fighting
other nations and nations stop oppressing other nations. The
national intermarriage, whether it is between white and black
or between pink and red, is a mirror of this highest form of
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world nationalism when man will really be free. See? Where,
then, is my contradiction?"
Lanny leaned forward and stared out of the window.
There was something exciting happening inside him. Something
new. Mako had shown him something, a picture that was broad
and real. That quiet, rather deep, rich voice. Schimd had
probably tried to tell him the same thing but he had never seen
it clearly. Why was it so clear to him now? Lines from a poem
ran through his mind. He couldn't recall who the poet was.
Only the lines. Lines etched in the fog of his brain.20 An
English poet saying the same thing that this black boy in Africa
had just said. Who was the poet? No, he couldn't recall. Only
those lines and the music of Mako's voice long after it had
stopped speaking. The voice of man saying:
"Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed but man!
Equal, unclassed, tribeless and nationless,
Exempt from awe, worship, degree, the king
Over himself; just, gentle, wise: but Man."
"That's beautiful," Isaac said looking at Lanny. "Who
wrote it?"
Lanny shook his head. He had spoken aloud without
realizing it. He smiled self-consciously.
"Who wrote it?" Isaac repeated.
"I can't remember at the moment. I didn't know I was
saying it aloud."
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"It was appropriate to Mako's statement. Let me know
when you remember who wrote it. I'd like to look up the rest. I
didn't know poetry could have politics in it. Don't like poetry
much."
Mako got up and stretched himself. He walked over to
the window and looked out. The moon had suddenly appeared.
It was big and had dispelled the darkness. The country lay
bathed in moonlight.
"It was an Englishman called Shelley," Mako said. "He
loved freedom and fought for it. If he had been alive today he
would have fought for the freedom of the African people." He
spoke in a quiet, distant voice, as though his thoughts were far
away.
Isaac opened his mouth and turned to Lanny, then shut it
again, watching him.
Lanny stared at Mako's back. For a moment the mask had
slipped from his face and eyes. His dark skin looked flushed
and his eyes were curious and excited. Question after question
seemed to form on his lips.
You are shaken, my friend, Isaac thought. Then he smiled
and shook his head. "But I'm shaken as well," he murmured.
The others didn't hear him.
"Beautiful," Mako said.
Isaac looked at his back.
"Beautiful?"
"Yes."
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"Oh. You mean the scenery."
"That, yes. But also other things."
Isaac laughed.
"I was going to say you are a rationalist, Mako — having
reasons for everything, your thoughts and explanations — but
now I can't."
Mako turned and looked at Isaac, then his eyes strayed to
Lanny, who sat quietly, smoking.
"What is the good of names? ... For me, I pray for the day
when there are no names, Finkelberg. I pray for the beautiful
things. I like the beautiful things, the free things and the free
people. I try to dig past the names21 to find the good and
beautiful. Maybe one day all the world will want to do so too.
It wants to now, but maybe it doesn't know it. I like my people
but they are not better than other people. I want to like other
people too, but how can I like those who are hard on my
people? I must fight them. And when we are free, then I will
learn to love them. … Now I must go."
Are there others like him in other villages in Africa?
Isaac wondered. Is Mako only one of many who are feeling this
way; one of many who are beginning to find words for their
feeling; one of many who talk rather sadly but firmly about
fighting? How much of this is representative for all Africa?
"I'll walk with you," Lanny said.
"I'm glad you came," Isaac said. "Perhaps we'll meet
again soon."
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They went out into the warm, moonlit night and slowly
strolled down to Stilleveld.
Isaac watched them till they were out of sight.
"I wonder," he said softly, "I wonder." Then he shut the
door and went to his room to record the evening in his diary.
"And how do you find it?" Mako asked.
"They are very poor," Lanny said.
"They are all poor here, even some of the white folks."
"It's not only that," Lanny said.
"You mean their minds?"
"I don't know what I mean. … It's the way they look."
"It is a little better for us," Mako said. "The land is ours.
There is more of it than you have. There is more water too. We
do not depend so much on the white farmers. But even we are
poor."
"You have seen their skins?"
Mako nodded in the dark.
"Yes. I have seen their skins. The water is bad. The food
is not good. The money they get is little."
"If only there was something I could do."
They walked down the quiet High Street, climbed the
little hill, and stopped. Behind them nestled Stilleveld, and in
front of them, in a bigger, more fertile valley, lay Mako's Kraal.
Lanny looked at Young Mako and held out his hand.
"Good night; I'm glad I met you again."
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"We will meet again," Mako said. "Perhaps when you
have nothing to do you will come over to my place. Come any
night you like. I can lend you some books. Good night."
Long after Mako had gone Lanny stood staring down into
the valley. He felt tired and rather restless. He walked over to a
smooth, round stone and sat on it. It was quiet. He needed
quiet. But there was an odd yearning somewhere inside him, it
grew stronger by the minute. It grew till it became an
unbearable loneliness hammering at his heart. He told himself
to snap out of it but it grew worse. He wanted someone,
someone to talk to and laugh with.
He thought of Celia. It would be good to be with her
now; to hear her laughter and happy talk. It would probably do
him good to write her a letter. Tonight's spell at the young Jew's
had reminded him of nights in Cape Town with the gang.
Celia. … Celia. … It would be so good to be with Celia.
He closed his eyes and tried to see her in a familiar pose. Celia.
Celia. Celia loved him. A good girl. A beautiful girl. A friend.
They had done so much together. Celia. …
Somewhere something rustled faintly. He bent his head
and listened intently. Could it be Sarie Villier? He listened hard
but there was only silence.
"Damned fool!" he said bitterly.
He lit a cigarette and flung the used matchstick away
violently. Waves of futile anger passed over him. What right
had he to wait for Sarie Villier? He hurried down toward
Stilleveld. …
131
3
THE morning sun slanted into the little room and fell on the
face of Mabel, asleep. She looked very young, very childlike in
sleep. The hard, defiant, swaggering naughtiness was gone
from her face. One helpless hand nursed the side of her face.
Her full lips were slightly parted. Mabel asleep was Mabel the
child.
The old woman leaned over the bed and looked at her,
hand poised ready to shake her to wakefulness, but the childlike
innocence stayed the hand, her eyes softened and gentle creases
showed at the sides of her mouth.
"Mother's little child," she murmured, caressing her child
with her eyes.
Mabel groaned and turned on her back. The old woman's
eyes hardened. The face became stern and forbidding again.
She shook Mabel roughly.
"Mabel! Mabel! Wake up! You'll be late for work!
Wake up!"
Mabel groaned her protest and burrowed deep into the
blankets, trying to hide her head under the pillow.
Again her mother shook her vigorously.
"Wake up!"
A flood of sleepy, mournful protests greeted this.
The old woman walked to the foot of the bed and began
to pull the blankets off. She swore steadily as she pulled off
BOOK II, chapter 3
blanket after blanket till there were none over Mabel and only a
thin, worn petticoat covered the smooth, brown, young curves
of her body.
Protesting bitterly but refusing to relinquish her last,
lingering hold on sleep,1 Mabel rolled onto her side and pulled
her knees up to her chest.
"So you won't get up," the old woman said grimly and
gave the broad bottom a resounding smack.
Mabel yelled herself into wakefulness2 and the childlike
quality disappeared from her face.
"You've to be at work in fifteen minutes," the old woman
said and went out.
Mabel complained violently while she dressed. Nothing
but work here. Work, work, work all the day, and then more
work. Nothing to show for it. No clothes. Best to run away. Go
to Cape Town where girls wore beautiful dresses and highheeled shoes and didn't have to work. Why should she work all
the days of her life?
"You haven't the whole day!" her mother called.
"Can't a person even get dressed!" she yelled back and
began to tremble with anger.
"It's nearly six," her mother called, a little more kindly.
"I'm not a slave!" she cried, tears brimming her eyes.
The old woman heard the desperation in Mabel's voice
and came quietly into the room from the kitchen. She leaned
against the door and looked at the girl. There was something
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wrong. She knew that. Something really wrong. Mabel talking
back and Mabel arguing was one thing, but Mabel like this was
another. Something was wrong.
"What is it, my child?"
"I'm not a slave!" Mabel cried, staring defiantly at her
mother.
The old woman watched her in silence for a while, then
asked again:
"What is it, my child?"
The defiance died out of Mabel's eyes, her shoulders
slumped forward. Tears streamed down her cheeks. Her lips
trembled. She stood cornered,3 turning her eyes from side to
side looking for a way of escape.
"I am your mother, child, tell me what it is. I've been in
the world a long time. I know more about it than you do. What
is it?"
"You don't know!" Mabel cried and there was hopelessness
in her voice. "You don't know! You are old! I am young! I want
beautiful clothes and shoes and I want to go places and meet
people — young men who are nice. You don't know! But I know,
I am young!" Her tears flowed freely.
A spasm of pain passed over the old woman's face. She
went forward, gripped Mabel's shoulders, then folded her to her
bosom. Mabel clung to her mother. Painful sobs shook her
body and burst from her throat. The old woman held the child
tight and waited for the storm to pass.
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"I know how you feel, my child," she said in a faraway
voice. "I have felt like that when I was young. I know how you
feel, Mabel. I am your mother. I know, my child. It is like
something that wants to burst inside and choke you, isn't it?"
Mabel nodded in the folds.
"I know it. Not only young people have it. Old people
have it too. I have it. But we must live, my child. Life is hard.
The good things are not for us. They are for the white folks. We
must work hard to live. With the little money I make from my
washing and your little money and the help Lanny is giving us,
perhaps you can visit Cape Town for a few days in a little
while. Heh?"
"You said so before, mother."
"We didn't have Lanny then, child. Now you must hurry
or you'll be very late for work. There's a piece of bread and a
cup of coffee for you."
"I'm not hungry, ma." Mabel said and went out. From the
door she asked: "Where's Lanny?"
"He's gone for a walk," the old woman replied.
From across the street Fieta waved to Mabel as she went
past. A little farther down another girl, who worked for the
nearest neighbors of the Villiers, joined her.
Together they climbed the little hill and veered to the left.
Behind them the morning sun climbed. A day of work had
begun. The men, who worked on the farms mostly, had gone
out much earlier.
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The sun had climbed till it stood right overhead and
slightly to the north.4 It glistened on the green grass and brown
earth. A heat haze hung over the Karroo.
Gert Villier had ridden over to the far corner of his land
to see that the natives did their work properly. The two white
overseers who were squatters on his land had gone into the
hills with the natives to look for stray sheep.
At the back of the house two native women were busy
washing. Mabel did the rinsing and hanging.
Sarie Villier came out of the back door and stood
watching, then she sauntered up to Mabel.
Mabel looked up with a question in her eyes but Sarie
remained silent so she carried on with her work. Sarie studied
her carefully. This was Lanny Swartz's sister. But there was
nothing of Lanny Swartz about her. There was no family
likeness. Not even a single mannerism. Nothing.
This was a colored girl. She behaved like a colored girl.
Like all colored people Sarie had ever known. Quiet and
respectfully humble.
The two native women stole furtive glances at Sarie.
Why was she watching the Bushman girl so intently? Was she
cross?
Mabel was growing uncomfortable under the steady eyes
of the white girl. A piece of linen slipped from her trembling
fingers and dropped. She apologized nervously, picked it up,
and passed it to the nearest native woman.
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Sarie smiled. A colored girl. Like all the others. Nervous
and respectful. Only her brother was different. Didn't behave
like a colored person. Gert had been choked with rage when he
had left. "Educated bastard," Gert had called him. Was it only
education that made him different from all the others? He didn't
behave like a colored person. He wasn't humble, and he looked
you straight in the eyes. …
"Mabel."
The girl jumped. "Yes, Miss Sarie?"
"Come and help me turn the beds."
"But I've made them, Miss Sarie."
"I know, but you didn't turn the mattresses. Baas Gert
complained this morning."
A sullen look crept into Mabel's eyes. Sarie turned and
led the way to the house. Mabel flung a shirt vigorously back
into the water and followed. The two native women,
exchanging looks, went on with their washing.
Sarie and Mabel went into Gert's bedroom. In silence
they stripped the bed, turned the mattress, pummeled it and
made the bed again.
"That's better," Sarie said and led the way to her room.
She moved more slowly in her own room. After the bed was
stripped she sat on the mattress and smiled at Mabel. Against
her will Mabel returned the smile.
"How's the school going?" Sarie asked in a friendly
voice.
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"Lanny says it's all right."
"I hear there's a night school as well, for the older people."
"Yes."
Mabel was thawing a little.
"Do you go to it?"
Mabel nodded. And then she suddenly burst out laughing.
Sarie smiled. "What are you laughing at?"
"You know Tant' Annie, Miss Sarie?"
Sarie thought for a while and shook her head.
"You know Fieta?"
"Yes, I've seen her."
"Well, Tant' Annie is her mother."
"Yes?"
"Well, Tant' Annie is very old. She has no teeth and is so
old she is almost blind. Well, she goes to the night school too!
And it's so funny to see her trying to see the letters on the
board!"
Mabel doubled up with laughter. Sarie smiled.
"And your— er— teacher?" Sarie asked.
"You mean Lanny?"
"Yes. Yes, Lanny. Is he happy?" She watched Mabel
carefully.
Mabel thought a moment. Sarie could almost see her
thinking.
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"I don't know," Mabel said slowly, shaking her head.
"You see, it's not easy to tell with Lanny.5 You don't know what
he thinks or what he feels. He's different. If anybody else is
unhappy we know. With him we don't. I think it's because of
his learning."
Different, Sarie thought. Yes, even Mabel has noticed it.
"What does he do when he's not teaching?"
"He reads and goes for walks. Oh, he does read many
books, Miss Sarie. … You know, sometimes I think he longs
for Celia."
"Celia?" Sarie said slowly.
"Yes. Celia is his girl. She's very beautiful, Miss Sarie.
I've seen her picture. He brought it with him. She wears lovely
clothes. You should see it sometime."
"I would like to, Mabel."
"I'll bring it for you tomorrow."
"Won't Lanny object?"
"He won't know."
"I see."
"You must see her, Miss Sarie. She's almost …" Mabel
shut her mouth tightly and turned away.
Sarie looked at her, then got up. "Let's do the bed."
They finished the bed in silence. Sarie looked up and
caught Mabel's eyes.
"Almost what, Mabel?"
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Mabel hesitated and looked away. "Almost white, Miss
Sarie."
"And pretty?"
"Yes, Miss Sarie."
Sarie walked over to the little mirror on the wall and
looked into it.
"That's all, Mabel. Thank you for helping me."
Mabel went to the door and paused.
"Miss Sarie. … "
"Yes?"
"Can I go off for a little while now? I won't be very
long."
"You've been going at this time every day for a week
now, Mabel. Where do you go to?"
"Please, Miss Sarie," Mabel said anxiously.
Sarie stared into the mirror.
"All right. But this is the last time."
"Oh, thank you, Miss Sarie!" Mabel exclaimed joyously
and hurried out.
She's not like Lanny at all, Sarie thought and stared into
the little mirror.
She wondered if this Celia girl was really beautiful.6
Then suddenly she tossed her head in anger and walked out of
the room. She would have a horse saddled and ride out to meet
Gert. He would probably be furious. The natives were getting
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very lax in their work. But she could not choke down the
gnawing restlessness that had suddenly gripped her.
There was silence in the midday air. Not a blade of grass
rustled. Not a leaf anywhere stirred. Only the warm sun beat
down harshly, pitilessly, sapping the strength of man and beast,
and turning everything it touched to a golden bronze. The sun
had the Midas touch.7
Only the figure of the young Englishman showed any
signs of life. He kept shading his eyes and stared along the
narrow track. It was hot in the little car, but at least there was
some shade there.
She should be here now, he told himself for the twentieth
time and scanned the little track again. She always came that
way. She had been coming that way for a week.
He mopped his forehead. Suddenly he felt the presence
of another person, quite near. Again he scanned the track, but
there was nobody and she always came that way. Slowly he
turned his head slightly to the right.
Yes! There she was! Only about a hundred yards away
from the car, and trying to approach without his seeing her.
"Hello there, Mabel!" he called.
"Damn!" Mabel said and stopped trying to stalk the car.
The young man jumped out and went to meet her.
"I thought you were not coming," he said.
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"You know I come," Mabel said, lowering her eyes. A
smile pulled at the sides of her mouth.
"You're a sweet lass, I shall miss you."
"My missus … my missus … my missus … "
"Yes, what about your missus — beastly word — ?"
"My missus … er … " she fumbled awkwardly to get the
English words from the recesses of her mind, "my missus no let
me come nearly." The words tumbled out in a noteless rush.
The young Englishman laughed. They got into the car.
Mabel eyed the shining instruments with childlike pleasure and
leaned back against the soft cushion. This was the height of
luxury for her. She had never been in anything so grand.
"Tell me about your missus — beastly word — in your
own language. Say it in Afrikaans."
"Heh?"
"Your missus no let you come, say in Afrikaans."
Mabel laughed and turned her head away.
"Come on!"
With head averted she told him in Afrikaans. When she
had finished speaking she turned and looked at him coyly.
"Now I understand what you are saying," he said,
laughing.
"You laugh me," Mabel said.8
"Not on your life, my girl!"
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Tentatively she touched the steering wheel and looked at
him.
"Like it?" he asked.
She nodded vigorously. For Mabel the world was
transformed. She wasn't colored and she wasn't poor and she
wasn't Mabel and she didn't work. She was a grand white lady
and this was her car and this was her husband beside her. Her
clothes were fine. And the world on which she looked from the
little car was a beautiful fairy world. In vision things were what
she wanted them to be. The cocky hardness went out of her
eyes, her face softened. Wistfulness played round her mouth.
The young man saw the faraway look and understood. He
watched her with tenderness. Dreaming and unable to tell him
what her dreams were all about. Strange country, this. He felt
glad he was leaving it so soon. He couldn't stand or understand
the horrid behavior of the white people here toward the colored
people. They all seemed pathological about it.
He had tried once to discuss it with a young Dutch doctor,
a reasonable sort of fellow, but the first thing he had heard was
whether he wanted his sister to marry a Kaffir and then he was
asked what he would do if a black man raped his sister. He had
asked the Dutchman what he would do if a white man raped a
black girl and that had been the end of their friendship.
And here was this poor girl, dreaming; he wondered what
about. How did she feel about this color business? How do all
the black people in this country feel about it?
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He took her hand and patted it. She clung to his fingers.
She raised his hand to her lips and kissed it passionately.
"Mabel," he said softly.
She looked at him with loving eyes.
"Mabel, we are friends, you and I, heh?"
She nodded.
He knew she wasn't really paying any attention.
"Listen, Mabel, you told me about your brother, Lanny,
very clever, teacher. He's your brother, heh? I'm your brother
too, heh?"
Mabel choked for words in a foreign language. But she
did not know any words to explain to him that he was different
from Lanny because he was a white man from across the sea.
She hadn't been going to school long enough. Her face worked9
as she tried to find the right words.
"I … love," she pleaded. "I love." Tears flowed from her
eyes.
The young man shook his head.
"No, Mabel."
"Yes!" she cried fiercely.
"You only think so. Besides, I must go. Back home.
Home. Away across the water." He cursed himself bitterly for
not being able to speak Afrikaans so that he could explain to
her.
Mabel looked anxiously at him. "You go?"
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He nodded. Blast this language difficulty!
"Me too?"
"No, Mabel."
A string of words flowed from her lips. She clutched his
hands. There was pleading in her voice, in the very ring of
those words he could not understand. In spite of himself he
thought how expressive the language sounded.
"No, Mabel!"
Mabel looked at him with unbelieving eyes.
"No, Mabel," he said again.
Mabel saw then that he meant it. She bit her lower lip and
leaned back. Tears welled up in her eyes again and streamed
down her cheeks. No sound came from her. There was only the
trembling of her body and the flowing tears.
He gathered her to him and the flood broke. She cried
piteously against his jacket. And as they sat thus, the brown girl
and the white boy, they were unaware of the figure fast
approaching from behind the nearest kopje10 a hundred yards
away.
Fieta hurried along, for Mabel's sobs carried through the
still air. As she hurried she cursed under her breath. Her eyes
flashed with anger. What was the white man trying to do to
Mabel? Probably trying to force her. Good thing she had
followed Mabel one afternoon. Good thing she had come here
this afternoon and waited and watched.
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She was right up to the car now. And still nobody had
noticed her. Only Mabel's sobs rent the air. The white man
whispered soothing words.
"What's going on here? What are you doing to Mabel?"
There was cold fury in her voice.
The white man lifted his head and looked calmly at her.
This disconcerted Fieta a little. They usually showed shame.
"Can you speak English?" he asked quietly.
Mabel lifted her head but avoided Fieta's eyes.
"What's he done to you, Mabel?"
"Nothing."
"Why are you crying?"
"It's nothing," Mabel said sullenly.
"You will need help, Mabel. Have you …"
"No."
"Then why are, you crying?"
"Leave me alone!"
"Please, do you speak English?"
Fieta nodded and looked at the young man.
"Then please listen to me. I haven't done Mabel any
harm."
"You all say so," Fieta said bitterly in English.
"It's true."
"You think you can come and mess, then go because we
are colored. Fine people, white people! Don't want nothing
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with coloreds, you say, then you find a girl. You mess them and
you go. White people!" Fieta trembled with fury. "Come on,
Mabel!" she ended up in Afrikaans.
"Please listen to me!" the young man said sharply. He
turned to Mabel. "Tell her to listen, please."
"Come on, Mabel!" Fieta ordered.
Mabel looked from Fieta to the young man.
"He wants to tell me something," she said softly. "You
understand his language. Listen and tell me. He has done
nothing, Fieta. Please."
"You'd better come!" Fieta said sharply.
"Please, Fieta."
Fieta looked at the young man. He didn't behave as
though he had done anything wrong.
"You say he hasn't done anything to you?"
"He hasn't. Really."
"All right." She looked at the young man and nodded.
"You speak."
"Get in the back," the young man said, "the sun is very
hot."
Fieta hesitated, then got in.
"First let me explain to you," he said looking at Fieta.
She nodded judiciously.
"I'm an anthropologist. … "
"What?"
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"Oh," the young man said smiling, "I learn about people."
"You learn about people," Fieta said doubtfully.
He nodded. "Yes. It's true. I go about and get to know
people. I make friends with them and try to understand them."
Fieta nodded, but the light of doubt was still in her eyes.
"I came from England to try to understand the colored
people. I want to write a book about them."
Fieta looked at the man to see whether he was pulling her
leg.11 White people didn't write books about colored people.
"Why?" she asked tentatively.
"Because it is good to know about people, and I want
others to know the colored people are as good as white
people. … "
Fieta couldn't believe she had heard aright.
"As good as white people?"
"Yes."
"You think so?" she asked eagerly.
"I know it. … So you see why I made friends with
Mabel. I want to write a lot about her in my book. I want to
show the world what Mabel is like. I want to tell them how she
feels and what she thinks so that they will treat colored people
as they treat white people. Tell her."
Fieta explained to Mabel. Mabel said something;
"She say do you love her," Fieta said turning to the young
man.
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"Listen carefully, Fieta. Tell her I love her as I love my
sister who is at home. Tell her it is a big and beautiful love and
it is something that is very important. And tell her when I leave
here today I will remember her."
"You leaving?" Fieta asked. Her teeth flashed and
dimples showed in her cheeks as she gave him a friendly,
interested smile.
"Yes. I must be on the ship tomorrow. Tell her about love
and my leaving."
Fieta explained carefully. Mabel grew agitated. Her eyes
brimmed again. She clutched her hands on her breast. She
grabbed Fieta's hand when Fieta had finished speaking.
"Please, Fieta, tell him I want to go with him. Tell him
I will work hard and be good. Tell him I can cook. You know
I can. I will do all his washing, and for his sister too. You know
I wash well. Please make him take me with. Please, Fieta.
Please. … "
Great warmth and understanding showed in Fieta's eyes.
"Little Mabel," she said with the tenderness of a mother.
"You love him very much, don't you?"
"I do! I do! Tell him I will learn quickly. I will learn so
that I am educated just like Lanny and I will speak his language
— I will speak English just like he does. Tell him to take me
with, please, Fieta!"
"He can't, little Mabel. He's got a wife and two children.
He can't take you with him but he loves you like a little sister
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and it is a good love. Don't make it hard for him. He's a good
man."
Mabel swallowed hard. An intense pain gripped her
heart. The pain was so great there wasn't any room for tears.
"I said to her you have a wife and two children," Fieta
explained to him, "so now she can't go with you. You are kind
to her and it makes her love you. She say you must take her
with because you are kind. She say she will work for you so I
tell her."
The young man clenched his hands into hard fists and
looked away. "Kindness," he said with great bitterness.
Fieta smiled with understanding. "Our men are not so
kind."
"No," he said sharply. "They are kind. Only they have no
chance. Life is so hard, their conditions so cruel that they have
only time to struggle to survive. They are humiliated so much,
hurt so much that they compensate themselves by being hard to
others in turn."
"Say it slowly so I will understand."
"It is not important, Fieta. … Tell Mabel I must go now."
Fieta told Mabel. Mabel looked at him.
"Name?"
"Tony. … Good-by, Mabel."
Mabel whispered quickly to Fieta and looked away.
"She say will you kiss her. … You are a good man and
you are white; if you kiss her it will be good."
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Tony leaned forward and kissed Mabel on the lips. Mabel
hurried out of the car and walked away, tears streaming down
her face. Fieta took the hand Tony offered her.
"Good-by, Fieta."
"Good-by, Tony. … Mabel she love the white people. …
Me, I know them, I hate them. … You make it so I almost don't
hate them. Good-by. … "
She followed Mabel.
The little car moved off leaving a trail of dust in its wake.
The hot day followed its inevitable course.
All over the world people went about their business.
In Cape Town.
In Johannesburg.
In Pretoria.
In South Africa.
In the continent of Africa.
And in other continents.
It was all the same all over the world. People went about
their business. Only it wasn't the same time all over the world.
And it wasn't the same day all over the world. And people
weren't all the same color all over the world. And it wasn't a
hot day like this, perhaps, all over the world. But they went
about their business.
And the people of the two valleys, Stilleveld and Mako's
Kraal, also went about their business.
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For Mabel only, everything had ended with the going of
her white man.
Fieta sat with her on the little ridge overlooking
Stilleveld. Fieta watched her with a sense of impotence. What
could she do to ease the rigidity that had crept into Mabel's
body?
"Cry, Mabel," Fieta said. "It will do you good. It will lift
some of the pain from your heart."
And down in the valley the old colored women wrestled
with the midget plots of sandy earth in the hope of getting
some sustenance from it. And pot-bellied little colored children
fought hunger and sleepiness while Lanny tried to teach them
the three R's.12
"It is not good to choke feeling inside you, Mabel," Fieta
said softly. "It is not good. Believe me. I know. I have suffered
too, Mabel. Sometimes Sam goes mad, Mabel. Do you know
why? It is because he keeps so much inside him. Don't do it,
Mabel. I love Sam very much. So you see, I'm unhappy too."
But Mabel didn't hear.
Down in the valley, at the store, the old Jewish
storekeeper weighed out a penny's mealie meal for Tant' Susan,
whose man had left her with five children and gone to the Cape
three years ago, and who was slowly dying of t.b., and whose
eyes glittered unnaturally in her sunken face. The old Jew
added a little shovelful to the proper quota. There were five
children and this was all they had to eat. He felt unhappy and
hated being a storekeeper.
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Isaac watched his father and the dying old colored
woman with eyes that were as old as time.
In the dirty, sandy High Street, two naked little colored
children with no other color than that of the earth played with
the miserable dog that moaned at night.
Fieta was feeling desperate. Mabel looked so old
suddenly. So old and so worn. Like a person who has tired of
life. She shook Mabel.
"We must go home now," Fieta said. "I will come with
you. We'll tell your mother you are not well. Then I'll go to the
big house and tell them you are ill."
Mabel remained silent. Fieta got up and walked, a little
way, then looked back. Mabel was still as she had been all the
time.
Fieta thought hard.
Turning quickly, she walked briskly toward Mabel. She
leaned forward, grabbed the front of Mabel's dress, and pulled
her violently to her feet. Mabel swayed. Fieta hit her across the
face. And as she stepped back Fieta hit her again, hard.
Mabel's legs gave way and she fell backward. Fieta
pulled her up again and, holding the front of her dress with the
left hand, kept smacking her face with the right.
The glazed look went out of Mabel's eyes. Pain showed
instead.
Fieta smacked again, hard. A trickle of blood showed at
the side of Mabel's mouth.
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Then, quite suddenly, Mabel burst out crying. Fieta
pushed her away and she fell again.
Her crying grew violent, out of control, turned into
agonized shoutings of pain. Her fingers dug into the earth
clawing the scant grass.
"Go on! Cry, damn you!" Fieta shouted and tears flowed
down her own cheeks.
Mabel's crying turned into curses. The curses rent the air,
then gradually died down till she lay spent and sobbing with
her face buried in the warm earth. Fieta slumped down beside
the prone form and sat staring into space.
So this is how a girl stops being a girl and becomes a
woman, Fieta thought bitterly.
"In my day it was easier," she said softly. "You were
raped and that was the end of it."
The sun slanted far to the west and touched the distant
hills with gold. A cool breeze sprang up and people ceased
sweating so much.
"Feeling better, Mabel?"
Mabel raised her head and looked at Fieta.
"You don't know how it hurts, Fieta."
Fieta looked away and said:
"I do know. … Many, many years ago, before you were
born, I met a man and I loved him the first day I met him. He
was fine and young and strong. He was educated and there
weren't many educated colored people in those days. … But he
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didn't love me. He was colored like me but he didn't love me,
he loved a white girl. You don't know her. She died before you
were born. Your mother knew her. She lived in the big house …"
"Here?"
"Yes, Mabel, here. … He loved her and she loved him
too. … The white folks nearly killed him. … He's different now
and I still love him and it hurts as much to love him now. That
is why I go to Cape Town and sleep with other men. I still love
him. … "
"Sam?"
"Yes," Fieta said heavily.
For a long time Fieta sat staring into space, and the past
put on flesh again and walked through her brain.13 And again
the tragedy of Sam who had been Samuel Du Plessis was
enacted, ending with the death of the white girl who loved him
and the finding of his twisted body in the early morning. …
Many, many years ago.
Fieta shook herself and got up.
"We must go now."
She helped Mabel up and together the two women
walked down to Stilleveld. Behind them the sun had gone
down.
155
4
A MATCH flared up in the darkness. Briefly, it lifted Lanny's
face from the uniformity of the surrounding gloom.1 He lit the
cigarette and blew out the match and again a gloomy darkness
covered the little hill overlooking the two valleys.
He moved his back so that the stone against which he
leaned did not hurt him. He blew a cloud of smoke into the
gloom and thought about Mabel. She had changed suddenly.
When he had got home from school he had found Mabel in
bed. And Fieta was there. Fieta had stood between Mabel and
everybody else. A strange person, Fieta, a queer combination of
hardness and softness. Mabel was the second person with
whom he had seen Fieta being soft and protective.
He pulled at his cigarette.2 The red glow brightened, then
dulled again. The light of the glowworms flickered on and off
in the quiet dark of the hushed night.
Something had happened to Mabel, of that he was sure.
There wasn't much wrong with her physically. But she was
changed. It was an impression. He tried to nail it down. To put
it into language he understood. What was the difference?
Mabel yesterday and Mabel today. What was it? Yesterday she
was cocky.3 … A child! Today? Today she is subdued. … A
woman! That was it. Mabel had ceased being a child, had
become a woman. But did it happen just like that — one day a
girl is a child and the next day she's a woman? What caused it?
BOOK II, chapter 4
He remembered the first day he had seen Mabel after his
return. She had been like a child then. So changed now. …
Well, everything was changing. For the older folk, but
especially the young girls, night school had ceased to be an
exciting adventure. He knew most of the young girls had come
in the hope that he would make eyes at them. Still, there it
was. …
He pulled hard at the cigarette and thought about Cape
Town. There it would be noisy tonight. The noise of traffic.
The babel of voices and much to do. The cinemas, concerts,
parties, and dances to go to; meeting friends in cafes and
talking interminably. It would be so different from this quiet
night here. But somehow he didn't long for it any more. It
belonged to another part of his life.
He heard footfalls in the distance, drawing near. He knew
they belonged to Sarie Villier. It had to be so. It could not be
otherwise. He sat without turning his head. Calmly listening.
There was a peculiar rhythm about the sound. They were
spaced evenly, but each foot seemed to hesitate just before
making contact with the earth.4
The footsteps drew near, then stopped quite close to him.
Lanny did not turn his head. He drew on his cigarette and let
out a gust of smoke.
"Good evening," he said impersonally.
"Good evening," the girl said equally impersonally.
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Lanny crushed the red end of the cigarette into the soft
earth and flung it away from him.
"I had a message that Mabel is ill," Sarie said without any
real interest in her voice. "How is she?"
He turned his head and tried to see her face. She found a
smooth flat stone and sat on it.
"I don't know," he said. "She seemed very miserable
when I saw her tonight. Fieta might be able to tell you
something. She's guarding Mabel."
"Didn't she tell you?"
"Fieta doesn't like me."
"Oh."
In the darkness the girl's fingers found a tuft of grass. She
jerked and the tuft came away in her hand.
"You must miss Cape Town," she said, her voice less
impersonal.
"Sometimes," he said coldly.
Hard to get anything from his voice, she thought.
"I liked it when I was there."
"Yes, it's very lively," he returned.
"You must feel very lonely sometimes," she said
tentatively.
I wish I could see her face, he thought.
"You must feel lonely too," he said.
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"Sometimes. But I haven't lived in a big town for a long
time as you have. Before I came here I lived in a small town in
the Transvaal, so I am more used to it." Her voice was friendly
and human.
"Do you like it here?" Lanny asked.
"I think so. … I sometimes wish it was more interesting,
though. One gets tired of the same people. I do."
They were silent for a little while. Lanny fished out some
cigarettes.
"Will you have a cigarette?"
"I don't smoke but I'll try one."
She's afraid of saying no, Lanny thought and smiled.
He struck a match and looked at her. Leaning forward he
gave her the cigarette, then held the light to it. Her fingers
trembled. Her face looked soft in the light of the match. He lit
his own cigarette, blew out the match, and sat back.
"Tell me something," he said.
"Yes?" she asked hurriedly.
"Why did you help me that night?"
"I don't know."
"I mean, you're not interested in colored people."
She remained silent.
"Are you interested?" Lanny pressed.
"I don't know," she said irritably.
"I'm sorry."
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"It's all right."
"You know there'll be trouble if you are found here with
me."
"For you," she said. "Gert doesn't like you. He's been
talking a lot about you."
Lanny laughed softly. "What does he call me?"
"Names," she said.
"Tell me one."
"No!" she said sharply.
"You're strange," Lanny said softly.
"Why?"
"You're different from the other white people around
here. No other white girl around here would think of sitting out
on the veld alone with a colored man at night. Why do you do
it?"
"You do ask a lot of questions," she said shortly.
"I just wanted to know," he said.
The girl remained silent for a while, then said:
"You remember how rude you were that first night we
met here; funny, it was dark then and it is dark now; well,
anyway you were rude and I wanted to find out if you could
behave yourself better."
"And do I?"
She laughed. "You are trying hard." Her voice took on a
serious note again: "You are different from the others. Different
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from all the others I've met. You're not afraid and you look
people in the face. I didn't know any colored person could be
like that. Not afraid, I mean. You don't behave like the others."
"I'm not different," Lanny said slowly. "I was born here,
I'm one of them. The only difference is that I've had a chance
that they've never had. I've been able to see and do and learn
things that are foreign to them. I have found out why some
people are white and others black, why some people have
woolly hair and others not, and when you know those things
you aren't afraid of people because they have different colors
and so forth."
"Are there many like you? Many colored people who are
not afraid?"
"Yes. Quite a few. And more coming up every day."
"I haven't met many. You are the first one, and you are
not like a colored person. You are just a person. Are those
others like that too?"
"Colored people only behave as they do because the
white people force them to do so. If they are left alone and not
bullied and given a chance to live and develop like human
beings you won't tell me I'm different from them. Even you
won't feel different from them. If only they had a chance to be
human beings. … "
"You must hate us sometimes," Sarie said softly, as
though she had made a great discovery.
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Lanny remained quiet, staring into the blanket of
darkness in front of him. He felt at ease. Peaceful and quiet.
There was a quietness inside him that was in tune with the
quietness of the veld. And in a dim way he knew Sarie had
something to do with it, her being there had made it possible.
The girl felt the enchantment of the quiet more acutely.
She allowed her being to merge into it and hugged it to her
heart as the old Zulu women drew the blankets tightly around
them on cold winter mornings, with warm sensuous pleasure.
There was room only for the glory of this perfect surrender.
Below them, to the right, the little lights of Stilleveld
glowed from the little shacks of the colored folk. And to the
left, those of the natives.
From Stilleveld's High Street the sullen bark of the lonely
dog drifted up to them. Sarie stirred as though emerging from a
trance.
"It is quiet here," she said and felt foolish because it
sounded so trite.
"Yes, it is," Lanny said and wondered what else he could
say.
Sarie stretched her arms and jumped up. Lanny thought
of something to say to her. It was so difficult.
"Let's walk a little," she said tentatively.
Lanny jumped up. He sensed her beside him. He wished
he could see her. He was interested in what she wore.
"All right. Which way?"
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"We'll go down," she said.
She moved down toward the left.
"To Mako's Kraal?"
"Not all the way."
He followed her. They walked side by side down the faint
footpath. He could just see her outline. A shadowy figure,
graceful and erect, moving easily over the stones and mounds
as though she knew each one of them. Once he stumbled over a
mound and nearly fell. She put out her hand and helped steady
him. Another time he lurched into her and nearly knocked her
over.
He should take my arm, she thought, I know the place.
She tried to tell him to take her arm but somehow the words
would not come.
They struck a fairly smooth patch. She slowed her pace.
"It's smooth here," she said.
Far to the east the moon was rising quickly. It was the
summer moon that came late.
"It will be lighter in a little while," she said.
"Yes."
Blast the dark, she thought, I wish I could see his face.
Under his breath Lanny murmured:
"Piping down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee— —"
She caught a few words. "What's that?"
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"A bit of English poetry," he said laughing.
He's very shy, she thought and said: "Say it so that I can
hear."
"It's very simple," he said. "It was written by a man
called Blake."5
She moved closer to him and casually slipped her arm
through his. "There are more stones and mounds here," she said
steering him to the left so that they were moving away from
Mako's Kraal. "Go on, say the poem," she urged.
"I didn't know you understood English," he said.
"We're a bilingual country, didn't you know?"
He heard the laughter in her voice and felt stupid.
"I'm sorry," he said. "The people around here all speak
only Afrikaans so I took it for granted. 6 … "
"Well, say the poem," she said.
"Well … uh …"
She laughed and he liked the sound of her laughter.
"Don't tell me any more about it, just say it."
He felt her nearness, the hand resting on his arm, her
shoulder rubbing against his as they moved. And he didn't feel
isolated any more. She could be a good friend to him. He spoke
the lines softly:
"Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee.
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me: —
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'Pipe a song about a lamb:'
So I piped with merry cheer.
'Piper, pipe that song again:'
So I piped; he wept to hear".
Sarie broke in:
" 'Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book that all may read' —
So he vanished from my sight;
And I plucked a hollow reed,
And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs,
Every child may joy to hear."
"And that," Sarie said gaily, "was also written by a man
called Blake. Ever heard of him?"
Lanny felt hurt and angry. She sensed it and laughed
softly.
"You are vain, Lanny Swartz," she said lightly.
Lanny tried to pull his arm away but she held it tight.
Sarie felt pleased. This time he was angry because she wanted
him to be angry. He tugged but she held his arm firmly. He
couldn't get away without hurting her and she knew he
wouldn't do that.
"Why can't you leave me alone!" he said bitterly. He
knew he was behaving stupidly and this angered him more.
"Please!" she said.
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Lanny stopped trying to free himself. There was
something in her voice. He was wrong. It hadn't been a white
person trying to make a fool of him.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"You shouldn't be angry," she said tentatively. She pulled
her arm out of his.
They were like strangers again. The intimacy was not
around them. They were reserved, like two people who did not
know each other very well. A little while back it had been so
different. Lanny thought bitterly.
"I am sorry," he said earnestly.
They turned left again. And now Mako's Kraal was
behind them and they were working back to their starting point.
They walked in silence for a while. The moon was climbing
and the darkness was gradually lifting. They could see more of
each other.
"You see," Sarie said, "you shouldn't be angry because I
didn't even know I was making fun of you until you got angry.
It is because when I make fun … I did it also …" her voice
trailed off, then picked up again after a few minutes, "I only
wanted to make you angry, but not so that you should be cross
with me. … Do you see? It is because …" Again her voice
trailed off.
"Don't worry, it's all right," Lanny said.
"I'll explain to you sometime," she said.
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Lanny felt miserable. It seemed such a little thing, yet it,
had spoiled everything for them. Sarie Villier seemed far away
now, remote from him. She had withdrawn within herself so
that he could not feel any personality.
"Are you in a hurry or can we sit down here for a while?
I want to try to explain something to you."
He waited for her to speak but it seemed that her answer
would never come. Sarie stared hard at the vague outline of his
face as though by concentration she could lift the gloom and
look into his eyes. Then, quite suddenly, she relaxed and went
down on her knees. She stayed like that for a while, palms
pressed against the soft grass, then settled down.
Lanny lit a cigarette and settled near her.
"When I got angry it wasn't I alone. It was I and the other
coloreds who are like myself; those who want to be free; those
who do not feel that they are inferior to anybody because of
their color. You see, we know that people are always trying to
insult us, and to keep that insult away we try to forestall it.
We're always looking for it so that we can deal with it. It is
sometimes so without our thinking about it. And when people
are as sensitive as that about anything they sometimes see an
insult where it does not exist. I was not getting angry with you.
Do you see?"
Sarie Villier tried to see it as he explained, but it was
difficult. Not only colored people got angry. She tried to see
herself as a colored person. If she were colored and Lanny
white, how would she have felt? She could see herself in a
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brown skin. She could even see herself with uncontrollable hair
like Mabel's, but she couldn't feel colored. She didn't know
how. She could understand Mabel as a colored person. When
she thought of Mabel she thought of a colored person. But she
couldn't with Lanny. He was just a person. It was because he
was a person that she was out there with him. He was a man
and she was a girl. Yes, he had the color of a colored person,
but he was just a person.
And as she thought, it became more involved. Harder to
understand. How could she understand him as a colored person
when she knew him only as a person?
"Do you see?" Lanny repeated.
"Yes," she said, "but don't do it again!"
They got up and walked on till they overlooked the two
valleys again. Most of the houses were in darkness. Most of the
people had gone to bed.
"I think I must go back now," she said.
He curbed an impulse to offer to walk back with her.
"I'm glad you came," he said.
"Really?" She asked it simply.
"Yes."
"I will come again tomorrow night," her voice became
cheerful, "but only if you'll promise not to become colored if I
make fun of you. I like you as just a person. All right?"
"All right."
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Sarie Villier pushed out her hand. Lanny took it. It felt
small and soft and warm.
"Good night, Lanny Swartz," she said softly.
He watched till she was out of sight and till her footfalls
had died away. Then he turned and walked slowly down to
Stilleveld. He was acutely conscious that he was on the
highveld and that Sarie Villier was a white girl and that he had
felt more at ease walking with her than he had been in a long
time. He took this uneasy awareness to bed with him. It
haunted his sleep and made it restless and full of horrifying
dreams.
When Sarie Villier entered the big house, Mad Sam got
up from the dark corner where he had sat in the shadows. He
leaned against the wall and groaned aloud. The pain was
throbbing in his brain. He knew it very well. It was a prelude to
the blankness that often overcame him. Always it had been so.
As long as he could remember. What had been before the pain
was far away, like a dream that grew less clear after each attack
of blankness. He wished the blankness would come. It was the
slow torture of the mounting pain that was so unbearable.
Feeling his brain throbbing and expanding till it pushed against
the encasing bone and flesh, fighting to burst his head open.
That growing, growing, growing until his head was on the
verge of splitting, till he wanted to help the process by bashing
his head against some sharp rock that would open it and relieve
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it of the tightness. … He moaned and clung to the wall. The
throb of his head vibrated through his body. Torture flowed
through his limbs. Tears of agony brimmed his eyes. His sense
of reason ebbed away. The blankness was coming on, but oh so
slowly!
With a giant effort he forced himself to think, to get
beyond torture and feeling and use his brain. For a moment
reason returned to him.
"I must get to Fieta," he said. He concentrated on the
thought and repeated it. It was some point of reason to hold on
to. The one spot of light in his darkness.
"I must get to Fieta."
For a while he clung to the wall.
I must get to Fieta.
He moved away from the wall, stumbled, and dropped to
his knees. Painfully he picked himself up and forced himself to
keep on going. He moved, doubled up, reeling like a drunken
man, his head hanging in front of him as though it were too
heavy. He moaned desperately.
I must get to Fieta.
But the light was fading. The unbearable pain had grown
even worse. Torture pushed reason away. He made one more
desperate effort to focus his mind on Fieta and failed. …
His mind dissolved. Halfway between the big house on
the hill where the white folk lived and Stilleveld's High Street
he sank to the earth and lay as one dead.
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The moon traveled west and time stood still. A subdued
half-light invaded the land and robbed it of its inky character.
The minutes made an hour and more. And then a mad man rose
from where a tortured man had fallen. He scooped up a fistful
of sand and rubbed it on his face, and with a loud laugh he ran
across the veld.
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5
MORNING broke with a heaviness in the home of Sister
Swartz.1 It had nothing to do with the weather, this heaviness.
It flowed from her two children. Mabel had changed so
suddenly into a lifeless, listless, laughter-less woman.2 And
Lanny was quiet and brooding and remote. Sister Swartz did
not know what to do. She longed for advice from the preacher.
He would know what to do. She raised her eyes from the little
stove and stole a quick glance at Lanny. He ate without tasting
his food, a deep frown across his forehead.
She looked at Mabel. The child hadn't touched her food.
She had tried to drink her coffee and left it alone. It wasn't like
Mabel to leave her food, even when she was unhappy. She had
never done it before.
"You must hurry up with your food, Mabel," the old
woman said.
"I don't feel hungry," Mabel said and got up. She went
into the bedroom. The old woman waited a while, then
followed her.
Mabel stood staring out of the little window, seeing
nothing. Her shoulders drooped heavily. An air of sadness
enveloped her. The old woman went up to her and put her arm
round the girl's shoulders. Suddenly Mabel turned and buried
her heap in her mother's bosom. A spasm of trembling shot
through her, body. The old woman held her close.
BOOK II, chapter 5
"What is it, my child?"
"Nothing."
"Tell me, I'm your mother, child."
"It's nothing."
"Are you in trouble at the big house?"
"No."
What else could upset her so? The old woman wondered.
"Is it a man, child? Are you in trouble? You know? …"
"No, mother."
Oh how can one comfort one's child if one doesn't know
what's wrong! Sadness touched the old woman's heart. Fieta
knew what was wrong with her daughter.
"I'm your mother, my child. I have more right to know
what's wrong with you than Fieta. You should trust me, child. I
am your mother. You came out of my womb!" Tears glistened
in her eyes.
Mabel looked at her mother and there was compassion
and understanding in her eyes. Her mother saw the look; knew
it; it was a look the old and the very wise gave to those who
were not so wise. It was not the look of a child.
"Dear mother," Mabel whispered sadly and kissed her.
"There's nothing wrong with me; nothing that you can help, or
even Fieta. I didn't tell her. And don't worry. I'm not pregnant
and there won't be any trouble about anything."
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She kissed her mother again and went out. In the other
room Lanny was thoughtfully drinking his coffee. Mabel
hesitated, then touched his shoulder.
"Walk a little way with me, please, Lanny."
Lanny looked at her and saw her unhappiness. He pushed
his thoughts away and got up.
From the tiny window the old woman watched them walk
down the High Street. A nameless fear gripped her heart. She
stifled a sob, turned quickly, and began to make the bed with
great vigor.
"You are not feeling happy just now, are you?" Lanny
said, looking sideways at Mabel.
"No," Mabel said shortly.
"Like to tell me about it?"3
"No."
"Is it the white boy you talked about?"
"Did I talk about him?"
"Yes. From which farm does he come?"
"He isn't from here, Lanny. He's from England and he's
gone back and he hasn't made love to me, Lanny, and I'm not
going to have a baby."
"You are really unhappy, Mabel."
"I'm no longer a child, Lanny. Fieta was right." As though
thinking aloud, she murmured: "It would have been better if he
had raped me."
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Lanny jerked his head round and stared at her.
"No. It's better this way."
"You don't understand."
"I do. He's opened up a new world to you. A world where
people don't work all the time where they have time to laugh
and dance and eat nice food and enough of it, and all sorts of
other wonderful things.
"I've seen part of that world," said Lanny, "and I can tell
you it is better than this, but I can also tell you the other side …"
"No. You don't understand, Lanny. At first it was all that
you say it was but later it was different. I didn't even understand
the difference myself till now. It's hard to tell you. You and the
preacher make one see things when you talk, but. I can't. But
I'm telling you this because I think you will understand. That
white man showed me that I'm as good as anybody else, as
good as Sarie Villier, Lanny. He didn't try to tell me. It's the
things he did, the way he looked at me, even the way we
couldn't talk to each other because we didn't understand each
other's language. You see. If I tried to tell mother or any of the
others they would say I'm mad. But I know and it's no good
because I can't do anything like you can. You teach them here, I
can't. So I'm going away. It'll be easier somewhere else."
"I see. … " Lanny said doubtfully.
"You do see. … " she said urgently.
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"I see what you mean, but I don't know that I agree about
your going away, Mabel. Where will you go, and how will you
live?"
Mabel stopped and thought hard. She knew what she
wanted to say but it was so hard to find the words.
"Look, Lanny, inside me there's a free woman, outside
there's a slave woman, and both are me. I've got to make peace
between these two. If he had taken me with him I would have
found peace because I love him. Now I must find it myself and
I must go away to find it. Please understand."
"Where will you go?" Lanny asked slowly.
"To Cape Town."
"You are sure of yourself?"
"Yes."
They walked in silence till the big house was in sight.
"All right," Lanny said at last. "Is there anything I can
do?"
"You can help me with my fare."
"What about mother?"
"I can't bear to tell her, Lanny. Try to explain when I'm
gone. And look after her. She's getting old."
"When are you leaving?"
"There's a train tonight. Mother will be in church. I'll be
able to take some things."
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"I'll give you the address of someone who will help you
when you get to Cape Town."
"The girl of the picture?"
"Yes."
"No, thank you, Lanny."
"Why not?"
"I'd much rather not4 but thank you all the same. You're a
fine brother."
"How much do you want?"
"A pound, please."
"All right. You can have a couple. The Education
Department has sent me a few quid. They are sending six every
month. I'll be waiting for you. I'll go to the station with you."
"I'd much rather go alone, Lanny. And I'd much rather
you were not at home when I left."
"But why …"
"It would be easier. And try to make mother understand.
… Good-by, Lanny." She clung to him for a while, then hurried
away.
Lanny watched her go, turned slowly, and wandered
back. He thought of Mabel and her unhappiness. But it was
only with a corner of his mind. For at the same time he was
thinking of Sarie Villier who was a white girl. All through the
night he had seen her face. Calling to him. Talking to him.
Laughing. Being silent and serious. Being naughty. He felt he
had known her all his life. He felt that he had played with her
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and grown up with her. That they understood each other as few
people understand.
But it was all wrong. She was white and he was colored.
That couldn't be changed. Nothing could alter that. And it was
stupid of him to think of her. Thinking of her and seeing her
would only lead to trouble. What was it Mako had said the
other night? Something about race reflecting man's prejudice at
its lowest level. Perhaps. But it was there and one couldn't get
away from it. One had to live in the world and the world was
made like this. Easy enough for Mako to say one must fight
until the equality of races was acknowledged. A different thing
to do anything about it. Besides, he wanted to live and laugh
and be happy. He wanted to do things for his people, it was
true, but he also wanted to be happy. And besides, one can't
fight anything well without hating it. And he didn't hate
anything. He didn't hate the whites. Only in short spells, when
they did him any harm, did he feel bitter. But it passed and he
didn't want to fight anybody. Not in the way Mako wanted to.
Perhaps it was because he was colored. How did Mako
describe it? Living between two worlds. And last night Sarie
Villier had been beside him and he hadn't felt like an outsider,
like one living between two worlds. He had felt at home with
her.
"But nothing can come of it," he said without feeling.
Best not to see her again. Best to forget all about her. Work
hard and forget about a girl called Sarie Villier. Remember only
that there was a white girl called Sarie Villier and that he,
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Lanny Swartz, was colored. Remember that always. The two
didn't mix, couldn't mix. Old Schimd had said literacy would
unleash a tremendous new force among his people, had said
that he should play a part in that. That's why he had come
home. Not to look at Sarie Villier. The Education Department
had agreed to help the school. The school was the most
important thing. The white people had left him alone. They
wouldn't if he were seen with Sarie. And the school would
come to an end. No! He wouldn't see Sarie again. He would
walk elsewhere and read and think of other things. He would
find some colored girls here, even if it was only for a change
and some fun. …
Lanny felt easier after his decision not to see Sarie Villier
again. There was a tugging at his heart but he ignored it, and he
pushed all further thought of the girl out of his mind.
He thought of Mabel. But it was like thinking of the
problem of some stranger. He thought of his mother. It would
hit her hard, Mabel's going. He would do his best to make her
understand. He would sit with her tonight after Mabel had
gone.
He leaned against the low wall surrounding the
communal well at the bottom of the High Street, and thoughts
slipped through his mind with a facile grace. …
… Mabel would be leaving tonight. Hope life isn't too
hard with her. Must remember to put two pounds out for her. …
… Haven't seen Fieta lately. Wonder when she'll get
lonely enough to go to Cape Town again to come back with a
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baby. Strange woman, Fieta. Wonder what's between her and
Mad Sam. …
… Must see Mako and the young Jew boy again sometime
soon. It's the only sort of chance to talk. Perhaps I'll go to
Mako's tomorrow night. Would like to see how they run their
village. …
… Wonder what the Cape Town crowd's doing now. Celia.
Doesn't seem as though I was one of them once. …
So it went on. And all the time there was the thought of
Sarie Villier lurking at the back of his mind. Striving to come
to the fore.
An old woman came to the well and greeted him with the
deference due to the teacher who knew almost as much as the
white folk. He helped her with her water and she went,
trembling with excitement, bursting to tell the neighbors how
he helped her to get her water. And him an educated teacher!
One more story to add to the legend they had fondly built
around Lanny Swartz, who had gone to Cape Town like any
one of the other barefooted children, and who had come back
an educated man with letters behind his name and his picture in
the newspapers from Cape Town.
He looked at his watch. It was nearly time for school. He
lit a cigarette and strolled slowly up the street. From doors and
windows people watched and greeted him. They associated his
walk with the talk he had given in the church about fresh air
and how God liked open windows and people who had washed
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where others couldn't see as well as where others could see.
Some old mothers quickly opened their windows.
As he walked, Lanny heard the sound of high-pitched
laughter and shouting that occasionally ended in a screech or
bark. It grew in volume.5 It seemed to come from the other side
of the old Jew's store. People looked knowingly at each other
and told their children to go into the houses and remain there.
The children were reluctant.
The preacher came out of the ramshackle little church
and walked down till he stood beside Lanny. The crazy sounds
drew near. "It's Sam," the preacher said sadly. "The devil is in
him again."
The children who had been playing in front of the little
church, which was also their schoolroom, stopped and drew
near to watch the spectacle. Their eyes shone with excitement.
The village was quiet as Mad Sam came into sight. He
lurched from side to side, an old dog's bone in his belt,6 his
clothes torn. There were deep scratches and cuts all over the
visible parts of his body. Blood and mud had mixed and dried
on his face and head. His hair was like a mat soaked in clay.
Mad Sam jumped into the air and let out a loud yell.
Then he went on his stomach and began to eat the earth,
laughing wildly while he did it.
"We must control him," Lanny said and went forward.
The preacher grabbed his arm.
"He's dangerous if you interfere with him, son."
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"He must be controlled," Lanny said, shaking off the
preacher's hold and continuing forward.
Mad Sam looked up and saw Lanny approaching him. A
light of cunning showed in his eyes. They shifted and searched
the ground till they fell on a stout pole. There they rested for a
while, then went back to Lanny. With a loud cackling laugh he
bounded up and grabbed the pole with the abnormal strength of
madness. Jabbering, he approached Lanny.
"Come back, son!" the preacher called.
"If I run now he will kill me," Lanny said.
"If you stand he will kill you. Come back."
"I am your friend," Lanny said to Mad Sam. He didn't
like the look in the cunning, mad eyes. He didn't like the
mocking joy and lust for blood in them.
"I am your friend," Lanny repeated.
Still Sam drew near. Only a few yards separated them.
Panic shot through Lanny when he saw Sam brace himself to
strike. Lanny tensed himself to jump away and run.
"Don't run, Lanny Swartz!" Fieta's voice commanded
from behind him.
Quickly she stepped between him and Mad Sam. She
held out her hand.
"Give it to me," she said softly.
Sam stopped uncertainly in front of her.
"Give it to me," she repeated in the same soft voice.
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Sam looked from side to side as though trying to escape.
Then, reluctantly, he gave up his club. For a long time Fieta
looked intently into the mad eyes. And the madness seemed to
fade out of them and great pain appear. Sam began to tremble
and groan.
The madness had gone and the pressure was in his brain
again. The pressure rose to a maddening crescendo. Sam took a
faltering step forward and collapsed in Fieta's arms. The
pressure snapped. He would come out of his swoon and be all
right and go about his business again.
Lanny stepped forward to help Fieta. She pushed him
away violently.
"Leave me alone!"
The preacher took his arm and pulled him away.
"Leave her alone, son."
Fieta gathered the limp form of Mad Sam in her strong
arms, straightened up, and carried him into the house of her
mother.
For a brief spell there was silence everywhere; no motion
anywhere. There was the illusion of a petrified village with
petrified people. It lasted a few seconds, then snapped. Eyes
moved. People inhaled and exhaled. Blood flowed in their
veins. Life went on as elsewhere in South Africa and the world.
Lanny turned and went to his school and his children
who had to be taught the three R's. People went to clean their
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houses, dig their miniature plots, scrape and pinch to keep the
hawks of death7 from their doors.
Only in Tant' Annie's house was there silence as Fieta sat
nursing the limp form of Mad Sam, great love and great hatred
mingling in her brain and mirroring in her eyes.
Eventually Sam opened his eyes. They were calm and
peaceful, and a wise, understanding look was in them.
"How bad was it?" Fieta asked.
He tried to smile and the one side of his face twisted.
Fieta nodded.
He looked at her and there was a question in his eyes.
"No, you didn't hurt yourself much this time. A little
while ago you nearly killed Lanny Swartz."
A film of pain passed over his eyes. He still felt too weak
to speak but he asked her another question with his eyes. And
in a miraculous manner she understood again.
She answered: "No, you didn't even touch him. I stopped
you before you did anything."
She saw the thanks in his eyes and the strength went out
of her. She lowered her head till her chin rested on her chest.
Tears streamed from her eyes and soaked the front of her dress.
His good hand reached out and clasped her fingers.
After a while he said: "I must go and apologize to him."
"You must rest first," she said.
She made him comfortable on the old bed.
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"I'll get you some coffee, then you must sleep a little,"
she said.
She went into the other room, lit the primus stove, and
warmed the remains of the breakfast coffee. She poured it and
brought it in. Sam had listened to her every movement and had
thought about her. He watched her bringing him the coffee. She
was strong again. The moment of tears and weakness had
passed.
"Drink this," she said.
He sat up and took the coffee from her. He sipped
thoughtfully.
For all these years she had loved him with an unchanging
love. Why? What made it? Why was love thus?
He looked into her eyes.
"What is it?" she asked.
He considered for a while, then said:
"Why is love the one thing man cannot really control?"
She smiled. Some light reply was on the tip of her
tongue, but she looked into his eyes and the reply never came.
Instead she swung round and walked away from him till she
stared out of the little window.
"This coffee is good," Sam said.
"There's some more," she said without turning.
The sun had gone down and all the books had been
marked and all the children had gone home. The hours had
stolen one more day from living man, one day that would come
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back no more, that was lost forever in the seconds and minutes
that made up the past of each man's life. Again it was evening.
The old church was quiet. So quiet that Lanny could hear
the ticking of his wrist watch. And everywhere were shadows.
His thoughts were gloomy too, like the shadows around him.
… Tonight the old women were meeting in a house at the
bottom of the High Street. His mother would be there. His
mother would be there, and Mabel would be on her way to
Cape Town. Perhaps she was on her way now. …
He felt guilty about Mabel. He should have thought more
of her problem. He should have tried more to help her. Instead
he was concerned with his own feelings. He had not even tried
to help her. Perhaps she would become like so many other
women he had seen in Cape Town — women standing under
street lamps and inviting men with their gestures and their
eyes.
Prostitutes selling their bodies as a worker sells his
strength. Only there was a difference. The worker's sale of his
strength was natural, the young girl's sale of her body was not.
Something tugged at the back of his mind and asked why the
one was natural and the other not, but it was a faint, faraway,
unconscious tug and he ignored it. The one was natural and the
other was not. The one made him sick with nausea and the
other not. The one was right and the other was wrong. He could
almost see Mabel standing on a street corner, swaying her hips
and inviting men with her eyes. …
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Lanny hurried out of the dark church and walked briskly
till he was in sight of their home. His footsteps faltered. The
place was dark. Perhaps she hadn't gone yet. Perhaps she'd
come and gone. A nagging worry tugged at his brain and a
strange new unhappiness clung to his heart. He hurried on
again.
He pushed open the kitchen door and struck a match. In
the flickering light he saw his mother. The match went out. A
new fear gripped him. The picture was vivid in his mind — the
old woman with her arms folded on the table and her head
buried in her arms, quite still. Death jumped into Lanny's mind
with terrific suddenness.
His fingers trembled as he struck another match and lit
the oil lamp. The flame spread and soon the whole room was in
light. Lanny touched his mother's shoulder, The old woman
moved, then slowly raised her head.
"Hello, son," she said.
Lanny clung to the table and sighed. His heart danced
crazily for a moment, then became normal again. He smiled
tiredly at his mother.
"Such a bundle, Lanny," the old woman said. "I ache
everywhere. I just had to rest a little before going to our prayer
meeting. It was so nice in the dark. Sit down, son. Do you want
some tea? I'll make you a cup before I go." She smiled. "You
see, I'm beginning to remember you like tea in the evening, as
they do in Cape Town. I must be getting old, son. That bundle
of washing fair knocked me out.8 But those De Beer Dutch
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people do make their washing dirty. And so stingy they are,
son! Three shillings for such a big bundle — a whole days's
work. … But listen to me! I'll put on the kettle now."
"No, mother."
"Don't you want a cup of tea?"
"No. Where's Mabel?"
"Hasn't she given you your food yet?"
"I've eaten. I told her not to worry. Where is she?"
"I don't know, son. Perhaps she's still at work."
Lanny looked at the bedroom door and wondered.
"Have you eaten?" he asked without interest.
"Yes. The De Beers may be stingy with money but they
feed you well. A chop, dumpling, a huge mug of coffee and
bread and cheese."
Lanny went into the bedroom, lit the oil lamp, and looked
under the bed. Mabel's handmade straw case was gone. He
looked among the clothes hanging on the wall. Her three
dresses were gone. He went to his suitcase, opened it, and took
out his wallet. Three out of the five pounds remained. With a
sense of guilt he dug deeper into the case, lifted the paper at the
bottom, and counted the money there. It was all there. His
sense of guilt was stronger. He had thought that of his sister.
From the other room his mother's voice told him what big
appetites the De Beers had and what their meals had been today
and how skinny they all were in spite of it.
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He went back into the other room. He meant to tell his
mother that Mabel had gone but when he looked into her face
the words would not come.
Suddenly the old woman stopped talking and looked at
him. There was a mixture of anxiety and fear in her eyes. And
pleading, mute and helpless, was there too.9 He could see the
effort with which she summoned up the strength to speak. He
resolved then that he would never see Sarie Villier again.
"What is it, Lanny?" She tried to keep the tremor out of
her voice.
Lanny looked away and remained silent. What a damned
job it was to tell something sad. He felt angry with Mabel for
putting him in such a position.
"It's about Mabel, isn't it?" she said.
When he didn't reply she got up and touched his arm
tentatively.
"It's so bad not to know, son. It hurts more than if you
told me straight. Please, what is it?"
"Mabel has gone," Lanny said in a flat, impersonal voice.
The old woman went back to her chair and sat down
heavily.
"It had to be. Where did she go, son?"
"To Cape Town," Lanny said, keeping his eyes averted.
"With a man?"
"Alone."
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"What will she do? Where will she live?"
Lanny went to the door and looked out.
"Has she any money?"
"I gave her two pounds."
"How long can she live on that?"
"I don't know."
"But you lived in Cape Town."
"I still don't know, mother!"
The old woman looked round the room, went to the door
of the bedroom and looked in, returned to her seat. Once,
twice, three times she shook her head.
"Little Mabel," she said in a faraway voice. "Who's going
to mend and wash her clothes for her?"
She looked at Lanny as though expecting an answer.
Lanny lit a cigarette and smoked furiously. It would have been
better if she had cried.
"Who's going to wake her up in the morning?"
Oh God! Lanny thought.
"Who's going to scold her?" The voice trembled with
choked feeling. "She's going to miss that, Lanny. She's going to
miss my scolding. Who's going to scold her, Lanny?"
Lanny flung the half-smoked cigarette away violently.
"I'll hurry down to the station, perhaps I can catch her."
"And then?" the old woman asked softly.
"I'll bring her back."
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She looked up and the lost look10 had gone out of her
face and eyes.
"No, son. Let her go. She wants to." Tears welled up in
her eyes.11 "When a person goes like that the only way that
person can return is in the same way, without being forced."
The tears flowed freely.
She got up and started tidying the place. She touched a
chair, moved it a little. Brushed off an imaginary speck of dust.
Straightened a cup, moved the lamp a little. And all the time
the tears flowed.
"I must go or I'll be late," she said and hurried into the
other room.
She came out of the room and went to the door. Lanny
put out his hand. She pulled away. He remembered Fieta had
done the same when she had Mad Sam in her arms. But this
was his mother. Mabel was his sister.
"Don't worry about me," the old woman said. "Come
back when you want and go out if you want to and don't wait
up if I'm not here. Go to bed. Everything will be all right
tomorrow. … "
She hurried out as though running away from him.
"I must stay away from Sarie Villier!" Lanny said.
Tortured by longing and sadness, he blew out the lamps
and followed his mother out into the empty darkness.
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6
THE days slipped into nights and the nights slipped into days.
Together they made four days and four nights. The sun came
and went over the valley and the dark came and went.
Sometimes it was warmer than at other times, and sometimes
more noisy.
The people and the houses were the same. Only small,
unimportant things happened. Like once when part of a roof
suddenly fell in for no reason. And another time when an old
woman fell down near the well in the High Street and broke her
leg. An Anglican missionary doctor1 had to travel twenty miles
to come and set the leg.
True, Mabel had gone away. For two days that had been
the sensation of Stilleveld. Then people forgot it. Children ran
away to the towns fairly often. Life would go on as it had gone
on before. Only the discerning2 noticed that there was a sharp
change in Sister Swartz. She looked smaller and older. Stooped
more. And there was a look of tortured anxiety in her eyes
when she thought nobody was looking.
And Lanny's silence was also attributed to the going of
Mabel.
The school flourished. Some of the children were
beginning to read fairly fluently. One or two had done
remarkably well.3 Lanny had told these that if they kept on he
would get scholarships for them to go to Cape Town. The
parents of these children went hungry that their children with
BOOK II, chapter 6
the good brains might eat well, worked hard and stinted
themselves in all sorts of ways for they saw a son or a daughter
as a great person.4 Able to read and write. … Almost as good as
the white folk.
Fieta went about as usual, swaying her hips, the comehither look laughing out of her eyes. Men's eyes followed the
invitation of her lazy, swaying body as she moved by of an
evening, and frank hunger showed in their eyes. Women
commented on the fact that she had never stayed so long
before. Some even hinted, with malice, that she had her eyes on
the teacher5 and thanked the Lord that he showed no interest in
her.
Little had been seen of Mad Sam since his last spell.
Fieta roamed the open at night6 searching for him, but though
she did not find him, she never went up to the big house.
And all that time Lanny had stayed away from the hilltop
that overlooked the two valleys. Every evening he had gone
walking, but always away from that hilltop, as far away as he
could, for miles, till he was worn out. Then he would return
and lie awake for hours before slipping into a restless
unhealthy sleep.
Again it was late afternoon and the sun slanted far to the
west. Lanny crushed out his cigarette and closed his book. His
mother's eyes lingered anxiously on his face. She knew
something was wrong. She knew something had been wrong
for days. She wanted to ask him what the matter was but did
not know how to begin.
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He got up and went into the next room.
"Please God," the old woman prayed, "I don't know what
it is, but please make it right for him. Please God. He is a good
son and he is helping all of us."
Lanny came out of the room and went to the door.
"Do you want anything from the store, mother?"
"No, son."
He strolled slowly up the High Street, feeling empty,
dried up, the unalive husk of a human being. No feeling. No
thought. Moving, living, following the human behavior pattern
by instinct.7 He realized, uninterestedly, that this was what
people meant by unhappiness. Not feeling hurt or pain. Hurt
and pain were hurt and pain but unhappiness was something
different. People who were hurt were not necessarily unhappy.
Nor were people in pain necessarily unhappy. Unhappiness was
something different. A dull deadness with a streak of yearning
in it. That was unhappiness. Being unable to cry or laugh and
not caring very much but caring like hell underneath.
Unhappiness. A misused word translated into reality.8
And instinctively he knew that if he could bear it. today,
hold out for the rest of this day keep away from the hilltop and
from her, the rest would be easier. He would be safe. Unhappy
but safe.
He climbed up the one step and walked into the old Jew's
store. He raised his eyes. At the same time Sarie Villier turned
her head. They looked at each other.
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The old Jew behind the counter faded. Isaac, polishing
his thick glasses, his quick, sharp eyes darting from one to the
other, faded. Mad Sam, just behind Sarie, seeing and
understanding everything, faded. And they were alone.
Man and woman alone. Looking at each other across
everything. And everything faded because only they were
important. Only they mattered. Not the people around them or
the things around them. Not the store with this buzzing fan to
keep away the flies; not the sharp eyes of the people watching
them. Only they mattered. Nothing else. Not color or creed or
race or class. Only man and woman. Speaking in the language
they spoke centuries ago, before sound was controlled and
reduced to an exact and understandable medium, the language
of the eyes.
Her eyes said: "I've waited for you night after night." And
there was reproach in them.
His eyes were mute and guilty.
And hers said: "Why didn't you come? You promised to."
It was so for only a split second and then everything was
in its place again. Young Isaac was still in his corner rubbing
his glasses and looking from Lanny to Sarie. The old Jew had
not finished his sentence. The wise eyes of Mad Sam still took
in everything.
Sarie turned her head and smiled at the old Jew. Mad
Sam took a parcel from the counter and pushed it into his
basket. Isaac got up and moved toward Lanny, remaining on
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the other side of the counter, a friendly, welcoming smile on his
face.
"There's a letter for you from Cape Town," Isaac said.
Lanny waited.
Isaac went to the little corner of the shop that was the
post office and returned with the letter.
Lanny looked at the writing on the envelope and
recognized it. It was Celia's. And again he was on the highveld
and again he was a colored man, what Mako bluntly called a
half-caste. And the girl a few yards away from him was a white
girl and this was the country whose laws, written and
unwritten, said in effect:
"There shall be no equality between black and white in
church and state."
Remember that, Lanny Swartz, remember that, he told
himself. But his eyes stole to where Sarie stood and there was a
jump of joy in his heart when he saw her watching him. He
choked down the joy and concentrated on the letter.
Think of Celia, he told himself. Think of her. She's much
more beautiful than this white girl. And she is your kind.9 With
her there would be no trouble. Half-caste and half-caste belong.
Black and white don't.10 It's unnatural. Think of Celia, Lanny
Swartz, think of Celia. … But Sarie was close by, and though
she was not as beautiful and vivacious as Celia, she was there,
deep in his mind, eating into his flesh and torturing his brain.11
He opened the letter, then pushed it into his pocket unread.
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Something is happening here, Isaac thought. I wonder
what. There is something between them. I can feel it.
Something strong and compelling. But what? Christ! Why is it
so hard to understand another person fully, to see what's going
on underneath, to get at another person?12 Not just to know that
something's going on put to know what it is.
"I'll have some cigarettes and tobacco," Lanny said.
"Same brand?"
"Yes. Same brand."
Isaac fetched the cigarettes and tobacco.
"Oh, and will you send a bag of flour," Sarie told the old
man.
"Yes, Miss Villier." The old man made a note.
"A new lot of books have arrived from Cape Town,"
Isaac said. "Come in and have a look at them sometime when
you are free."
Lanny nodded.
"I must have the flour sometime today," Sarie said.
"You will," the old man said, rubbing his hands. "You
will."
Sarie moved to the door. Mad Sam picked up the basket
and hobbled after her. She paused at the door and turned. Her
eyes rested on Lanny. The ghost of a smile passed over her
face.13
"How is the school going, Mr. Swartz?"
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Lanny swung round quickly and looked at her.
"Fine."
"That's good. And how do you like our quiet valley? It
must be very lonely after the excitement of Cape Town. Don't
you miss Cape Town?"
"I don't know," Lanny said with a note of bitterness in his
voice.
The old Jew laughed. This was a good girl. She didn't
mind talking to coloreds, and she treated the teacher with the
respect a teacher deserves whether he is white or blue or green.
He liked her suddenly.
"I'm only an old man," he said, "not wise in books14 like
these two young men, and perhaps yourself too, but I know
something and you do not find it in books, Miss Villier. You
ask him if he is lonely because he is here in this place which
you call a quiet valley. He says I don't know. And why is it so?
It is because it is not in a book."
Isaac smiled and polished his glasses vigorously, Lanny
lit a cigarette and leaned against the counter.
The old Jew nodded wisely.
"You can smile, my son, and say to yourself: 'The old
man is dreaming in words again.' But I'll tell you something
and it is the truth that comes from living:
"Yes. This valley is quiet. You have only the days and the
stillness and the wind. There are many valleys like this all over
this country. A valley and a few houses and a few people and it
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is quiet. And a man fights for his bread and for his roof and for
his children. And all over the world you have more such
valleys than you have cities. And most of them, they are quiet
like this.
"But there is another one. The valley of the heart. It is
quiet too. For things are bad and bad things make it quiet and
empty and desolate. Even if a man is in a big city his heart can
be quiet like this valley. The desolation only leaves the valley
of the heart when there is love and goodness and
understanding, when there is no hate and no bitterness, when
there is laughter of children. … So for me, there is a quiet
valley for me here and in Cape Town and everywhere. You see,
Miss Villier, thus it is seen by an old Jew who has no land and
no home."
The old man laughed awkwardly and rubbed the counter
hard. Isaac stared at his father in amazement.
Lanny felt confused. He wanted to go out but Sarie was
between him and the door.
Mad Sam's eyes danced brightly.15 The old Jew looked at
Sam and nodded. They understood each other.
Sarie's eyes passed over Lanny's face.
"I'll be waiting," she said. … "Good-by."
"You will get it today," the old Jew said, thinking of the
flour.
With a last searching look at Lanny's face Mad Sam
followed Sarie out of the shop.
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Isaac pulled himself together and relegated thoughts
about the valley of the heart to the back of his mind. He smiled
at Lanny.
"Haven't seen you for days."
"I've been busy," Lanny said.
"I'm sorry about Mabel."
Lanny shrugged. "I suppose it had to happen. I wish I
knew where she was, though. I should have given her a letter to
some friend of mine."
You were too concerned with yourself, Isaac thought;
aloud he said:
"Mako was here yesterday. He asked about you."
Lanny jerked himself upright.
"I must go now. Night school, you know. See you again."
"Right."
Lanny went to the door, then stopped.
"Don't suppose you can come for a little walk?" he asked
without looking at Isaac.
Isaac looked at his father, then back at Lanny.
"Yes."
"Not if you're busy," Lanny said hurriedly.
"It's all right."
Isaac removed his apron and stepped round the counter.
He saw the disapproval in his father's eyes and clenched his
hands.
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"I'll be back soon, father."
The old man shook his head sadly.
They walked round the back of the store, away from
Stilleveld. For a long time they walked in silence. Lanny had
his hands pushed deep into his pockets and his head lowered.
Isaac, stooping slightly, held his head high, a faraway look in
the sharp eyes hidden behind the thick glasses.
The sun was almost gone. Only a streak of orange clung
to the sky in the west. And the coolness of evening was over
the land and the blue mountains in the distance faded to a misty
haziness.
From time to time Isaac turned his head and looked at
Lanny but remained silent.
And now the valley and the houses were far behind them
and they were two dots on the face of the lonely earth. No other
sign of human life was around them. There was silence on the
veld and on the earth and in the sky.
He doesn't really want to talk to me, Isaac decided, he
just wants somebody to understand. He removed his glasses
and looked straight ahead.
"When she said she'd be waiting it was meant for you,
heh?"
They walked a few more yards in silence.
"Yes."
For more minutes there was again only the silence of the
open. Impulsively Isaac flung his arm round Lanny's shoulders.
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"You don't want to tell me about it, Lanny. You just want
someone to understand. I understand."
By wordless agreement they turned and retraced their
steps.
Lanny felt calm when he left Isaac behind the store. It
made it easier for him to know that somebody understood. But
it wasn't that that calmed him. It was something else that he
could not get hold of. Something elusive. He did not try very
hard to get hold of whatever it was. It was not important.
Nothing seemed really important.
As he walked down toward the cluster of old houses that
made Stilleveld, the world suddenly became beautiful. He saw
the beauty of evening, the gentle interplay of shadows where
the earth rose and fell, he felt the soft green grass with the
fingers of his brain.16 And over all the land was the peaceinspired quiet of the open. He raised his eyes to the skies in
search of the evening star. It was there. And seeing it made him
lighthearted. He pushed his hands into his pockets, whistled a
gay tune, and went swinging down Mad Sam's High Street.
There was laughter in Lanny's world suddenly, and
lightheartedness. Somebody called out a greeting to him. He
responded warmly and stopped to hear an old man tell a story
with a dirty point that failed to come out. He joined in the old
man's loud laughter and told a funny story of his own. A few
people drew near and there was general laughter and
lightheartedness. And soon the whisper went round that the
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teacher was in a happier mood than they had ever seen him in
before.
Soon nearly half the street was out and one of those
impromptu colored parties had started. Stories flew around
with the gay abandon that is only found among the dark people
of Africa.
The old preacher hurried out of his little church where he
had been communing with his God while waiting for the night
school to start, capped the stories with a funny one of his own,
then informed everybody that it was nearly time for night
school.
"Thank the Lord," Sister Swartz murmured fervently,
"thank the blessed Lord." She had come out with the others and
seen Lanny laughing. The sight had made her weak with joy
and relief. For this was the Lanny who had first arrived home
from Cape Town, only he was happier now than he had been
then. "A completely different person from the Lanny who had
left the house an hour or so ago to go up to the store. Then she
had been aching with worry because he was unhappy. Now she
ached with joy and tears shone in her eyes. Lanny was happy.
Her child was happy. So great was her relief that her legs
became weak and she had to cling to the wall to stop herself
from falling. The weakness was leaving her now.
The preacher touched her shoulder. She looked into his
eyes and realized with a shock that he understood. The tears
brimmed her eyes and rolled down her cheeks.
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"I felt it as much as you did, sister," the old man said.
"But it is over now! Don't let him see your tears."
"Time for school!" the preacher called and hurried down
to the little church.
"Come, son," the old woman said, slipping her arm
through Lanny's. "I've a cup of tea ready for you. Then we'll go
to school."
Lanny patted her hand and smiled into her eyes. Arm in
arm they went into the little house.
"The Lord is great," the old woman murmured under her
breath in a burst of thankfulness.
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7
SARIE VILLIER leaned back in the comfortable chair and
closed her eyes. Gert got up and went out without a word. They
rarely spoke to each other, she and Gert.
She was the housekeeper. The poor relative. And Gert
was the last of the real Villiers. Gert had changed since the
death of that other Sarie. Before that he had been happy and
gay and full of pranks. She had heard all about the gay
madness of her uncle Gert when she was a little girl, about his
pranks and the funny stories he told and the mad things he did.
And he was so different now, didn't speak much, didn't
show any feeling; he was quiet and cold and hard. The last of
the real Villiers.
She wasn't really a Villier. She knew all about that. Her
father had been adopted as a little boy by Old Gert, the father
of this Gert, and had grown up as one of the sons of the house.
She tried to remember her father. … He was not like the
other Villiers. All the Villiers were big and strong and red. The
Villiers had always been proud of their red hair and red beards.
Her father was thin and small and dark. And how he could
make up stories! She smiled dreamily. Yes, how he could make
up stories! Even her mother could not keep up her anger when
he told a funny story. Mother had always been angry with him
because he was lazy. And the real Villiers all said he was lazy,
too. They despised laziness. Only Old Tante was fond of father.
BOOK II, chapter 7
She loved him more than she loved her own children. Poor Old
Tante.
They had been happy, she and her father. Very happy. Her
mother was always scolding and complaining and crying but
even that did not interfere with their happiness.
The present slipped into the past and the grave restored
its dead 1 and again she was a little girl on the little farm in the
Transvaal,2 and again they lived in the little white house that
her father had built on the land that Old Gert had given him.
Below the house ran a little stream, and at one beautiful
place a cluster of willows dipped their fingers into the running
water.3 That had been their happy spot. There he had spoken to
the willows and had told her what the willows said in reply. He
had promised to teach her the willow language there. Already
he had taught her much of the language of the water and she
could understand some of the whisperings of the stream as it
flowed away, down the land, to the far-off sea.
The sea! He had taken her there once when she had been
ill, and they had listened to the gruff old voice of the sea as it
groaned and cursed and threatened.4 What an old swearer the
sea was! He had explained to her that sailors swore so well
because the sea was a good teacher and the best swearer in all
the world.
But best of all had been those times when he opened a
book and took her on his knee and read.
Her mother hated that. All the Villiers did too. It was so
easy to understand now. But she never could understand it then.
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The Villiers had all gone to school but father was the only one
who kept his books and got more and loved them and read
them. The real Villiers worked hard and got bigger farms and
better houses. They sold their grain and bought pigs and cattle.
But father only worked till there was enough to last through the
winter and then he would turn to his little Sarie, and his books
and his walks.
Only once had he been angry.5 Mother had been scolding
because they were poor. He had got up and taken his pipe and
gone for a walk. While he was out mother had grabbed some
books lying on the table and pushed them into the fire and
poked them till they were burned to ashes. He had been very
angry when he got back and found out. He had hit mother
across the face and then covered his face with his hands. …
Sarie opened her eyes and sighed. They were both dead
now. Suddenly she got up and went to Gert's room. She
knocked, then pushed the door open. Gert looked up from the
old Dutch Bible.
"May I go and see Old Tante, Gert?"
"No!"
"Please."
"Why?"
"I want to see if she's all right."
"She is all right. The Kaffir girl will tell me if she isn't."
"But I'd like to see her, Gert."
Gert shut the Bible with a bang.
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"When you came here I told you you were free to come
and go as you please, but you were not to go and see Old Tante.
I told you there was to be no mention of her. If I wanted her
here and wanted you to see her I would not have put her on the
other side of the farm."
"But she must be lonely."
"That's enough!"
Sarie shut the door and went slowly to her own room.
She stared out of her window and saw nothing of the soft
African night. She did not feel hurt or upset. She was curious
about Old Tante. Why did Old Tante have to live on the other
side of the farm? Why couldn't she live here? Her curiosity had
been growing ever since her arrival and discovery that Old
Tante had to live on the other side of the farm. Why did Gert do
it? Old Tante was his own grandmother. What was the matter
with Gert?
The thing that surprised her most, though, was the
courage she had suddenly found to go and speak to Gert about
Old Tante.
She shook her head in an attempt to dismiss the whole
affair, and thought about Lanny. Really she had been thinking
about him all the time. He had been the background to all her
other thoughts.
He would be there tonight. She knew he would be. Deep
inside of her, below her heart, she knew. He would come. She
had asked him to come. Therefore he would come. She
understood that he had stayed away because he didn't want to
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come. He was afraid. She understood that too. But she didn't
want him to be afraid. There was nothing to be afraid of.
He was colored and she was white. But she didn't feel
different, not with him. With others, yes. But not with him. He
was a man and she was a woman. A boy and a girl.
And suddenly a frightful thought half-crept into her mind
— what would Gert do if he knew? — but she choked it down
vigorously. No one would know.
She remembered the night she had found him on the
ground and brought him back to wash the blood from his face.
His eyes had had the same look she had seen in her father's
when he returned to find his books burning.
Why am I going to see him? she asked herself.
But there was no answer. It was just the right thing to do.
There was no excitement in it. Just in the same way had she
gone those other nights when he did not come. And there had
been no deep disappointment then. Regret, yes. But that was
tempered by the knowledge that he would come. Just a warm
feeling inside and an understanding too big for her to
understand. And the warm feeling was there now, and the
understanding.
She turned from the window and snatches of the poetry
that her father had been so fond of reading to her raced through
her mind.
She went into the kitchen, humming. The two native
maids were washing up. She began to tidy up, putting things
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away and making things easier generally for the girls. Their
gratitude showed in their eyes. It meant they would get home
earlier.
"Sarie!"
Gert's voice echoed through the house.
She hurried to his room.
"Yes, Gert?"
He was dressed for going out. He's going to Smit's, Sarie
thought.
Smit's farm on the other side of the railway line was the
only place he ever visited apart from his business in connection
with the farm. And whenever he went to Smit's he stayed for
the night or longer, returning sick and red-eyed from drinking.
The natives kept out of his way at such times. The only person
whom he treated with consideration then was Mad Sam.
Gert looked at her and there was an apology in his eyes.
His voice was unusually soft when he spoke.
"I'm going to Smit's." He looked away. "I've told am not
to leave the house. On my way out I'll tell Viljoen to look in.
Perhaps you would like him and his wife to spend the night
here?"
Viljoen was a squatter6 on Gert's land, his right-hand man
and overseer. Sarie didn't like him or his wife.
"Sam will be enough. Leave the Viljoens alone."
A sad smile flitted over Gert's face. It made him human.
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"I don't like him either," he said heavily, "but he's a good
worker and the only one who will put up with my temper.7
You're another one who puts up with much, heh, Sarie?"
"It doesn't matter."
"All right then."
Sarie turned to go.
"Sarie. … "
She turned back to him.
" … I just have to go to Smit's. I wish I could make you
understand, Sarie."
Poor Gert, she thought, it is only at such times that he
calls me by my name.
"I understand," she said.
"But you don't! You can't!" he said fiercely. He pulled
himself together and shook his head. "Never mind. … Look.
Get a horse saddled and ride over to Old Tante if you wish, but
please don't talk to me about it. Understand?"
"Yes, Gert."
Without another look he walked past her and hurried out
of the house. Sarie remained in the open door, waiting and
listening. It seemed an hour before she finally heard the quick
rhythmic gallop of the horse fade into gradual silence. She shut
Gert's door and went into her own room.
Poor Gert. She understood that he had to go and drink
just as Mad Sam had to have his spells of madness. Only, Mad
Sam was mad and there seemed to be nothing wrong with Gert.
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Or perhaps his periods of drinking were his madness. Or
perhaps it had to do with that other Sarie who died a long time
ago.
She moved about the room, deep in thought, picking up
things and throwing them down, trying to make sense out of
Gert and his spells of being human immediately before he went
drinking. But again the thought of Lanny was at the back of her
mind and she knew that she was deliberately delaying her
going out to meet him, toying with these other thoughts that
flowed through her mind.
… That other Sarie what had she been like? Beautiful?
Kind? Nice? Was it her death that had changed Gert so? Why,
even when she was a little girl, didn't the family talk about that
other Sarie? And why did Old Tante have to live by herself on
the other side of the farm?
Lanny might be waiting, a hidden corner of her mind
whispered. She ignored it.
… And why had Gert suddenly changed his mind and
told her to go and see Old Tante? But she couldn't go tonight.
No. Not unless she took Lanny with her and she couldn't do
that. Why not? No. She couldn't do it. Not tonight anyway.
Perhaps some other time. She would go again, of course. She
wouldn't mention it to Gert, but she would go without his
knowing. He had told her to go. He hadn't said, "Go only
once." He had said "Go and don't talk about it." Well, she
would go and keep quiet. But not tonight. Tonight she would
see Lanny.
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She kicked off her slippers and put on her shoes and went
to the kitchen. The native girls were just leaving. She watched
them hurry away in the direction of Mako's Kraal, then she
went back and turned out the lamp in each room till the kitchen
was the only lighted place in the house.
Quickly and deftly she laid a corner of the kitchen table —
two coffee mugs, two little plates, a piece of cold meat, bread,
fat cakes. She hummed as she worked. She put coal into the old
stove, raked out the ashes, filled the kettle and put it on, got out
the coffee pot and put it ready with coffee.
A faraway look crept into her eyes as she stood on tiptoe
and reached up to blow out the oil lamp hanging from the
center of the kitchen ceiling. Doubt crept into her eyes. She
lowered herself onto her heels.
"But it can't be wrong," she said. "It can't be wrong to
like anybody."
But he had stayed away. Why? Did he think it was
wrong? She thought of her father. And clearly she realized that
even if he had said it was wrong she wouldn't have believed it.
Lanny's not like the others. He's different.
She reached up and blew out the light.
Outside the velvet touch of night softened everything,
gave it a kindly smoothness that made beautiful even the ugly
and intensified the beauty of the beautiful. Myriad stars
flickered brightly from a clear and distant sky.
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Sarie stared up at the stars and appealed to them to tell if
it was wrong. And the stars looked down with understanding
kindness and said No. And she appealed to the earth and the
reply was the same. In their infinite wisdom they said it was
not wrong.
The stars and the earth and the blades of grass and the
trees and the wind and the clouds and the shadowy patches of
darkness and light8 — the wise earth said it was not wrong.
And she believed it because she had believed even before it
had told her.
In the darkness the dog fussed at her knees, begging to go
with her.
"Come on," she said and walked in the direction of the
little hill that overlooked Stilleveld and Mako's Kraal.
From a distance she saw the glow that was like the glow
of a firefly. But she knew it wasn't a firefly. It was Lanny,
waiting. She walked on calmly, unhurried, peacefully serene.
"Good evening," she said and seated herself on a flat
stone near him. "Have you waited long?"
He held the cigarette to his watch.
"Nearly an hour," he said impersonally.
"I waited many nights," she said quietly. "Why did you
stay away?"
"I didn't want to come," he said.
"Why not?"
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Lanny pulled vigorously at his cigarette and remained
silent. Why did she have to ask these questions?
"Are you afraid?" she asked.
"No. But it isn't wise."
"Then why did you come?" softly.
Lanny choked down the angry retort. Why was he always
so short-tempered when he was with her?
"You asked me to," he said mildly.
She laughed softly and hugged her peaceful serenity.
It's not that she's beautiful, Lanny thought. Celia is much
more beautiful. But that didn't help. He was happy here with
this girl. Happy just sitting on this stone in silence and looking
into space. There was something calm and quiet that flowed
from her. Flowed into him and eased and rested him. Made him
want to lay his head on her lap and go to sleep. Made him
forget that she was white and he was colored. Made him feel
like a man. A calm, quiet, and contented man. It startled him to
realize that even his anger with her had this element of ease in
it. Yet she was not beautiful.
"It's lovely here," she said.
"Yes, it is," he said.
"Listen to the quiet", she said.
He listened and could hear the hushed stillness over
everything. Stillness flowing in in waves from the earth and the
air and the sky.
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"My father taught me to listen to quiet," she said,
knowing that he would understand.
"It's peaceful," he said.
"He loved books and peace and trees and rivers," she
said.
"Where's he now?"
"He's dead."
"I'm sorry."
"Oh it's a long time ago. … Now you know why I knew
'Piping down the valleys.'"
"Yes, now I know," he said and moved.
"There's a more comfortable stone here," she said.
He moved over to her side and eased himself down.9 It
was much more comfortable.
"The best thing of course is to lie on the grass. It's more
comfortable and I don't think there's any dew," she said and felt
the grass. "Lie on your back. It's more restful."
He stretched himself full length with his head a few
inches away from her lap.
"When I was a little girl," she said, "my father used to lie
on the grass and tell me about the things he thought about. The
really important things. Now you tell me."
"There isn't much," he said softly. "I want the school to
go well and the children to learn. My people need education."
"Is that all?"
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"No. I want them to live decently like human beings. To
have the right food and clothes and to have enough of the
things that make life good. I want them to be free and happy."
"Why?"
"I don't know. I just want them to have these things."
"How are you going to get these things?"
He screwed his head round and tried to see her face, tried
to see if the same quiet tranquillity was on it. The tranquillity
embraced him completely.
"I don't know," he said.
A little distance away a cricket burst into song, Cricketycrick. Pause. Crickety-crick. Pause. Crickety-crick. Pause.
Untiringly. Continuously. And over all hung a peaceful quiet.
"You're not really telling me what you think," she said.
"I did."
"No, Lanny. You told me what you want. What do you
think?"
He tried to see the things that were important to him. The
things he thought about. Restraint slipped from him.10
"It's hard."
"Please try. I want to know."
"It's hard, Sarie. You have to be black to understand. It's
not so much what I want or what any other colored person
wants. It's something more. Something deeper."
"What?"
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He thought aloud and she listened.
"Deep down I always feel choked and dry. Not enough
water or air. But only, it's in my heart. You see, my heart is not
free. I never do anything on an impulse. I have to stop and
think, Will I be insulted to get into trouble if I do this? I must
always make sure whether it's safe to do this or that. In Cape
Town, always, when I walked down a street in the center of the
town, I was afraid a white man might purposely walk into me
and start trouble.11 I wasn't afraid of the trouble or afraid of
fighting. I was just afraid and it choked my heart and dried it
up. Do you see?"
Sarie remained quiet, staring away into space. After a
while Lanny spoke again.
"When I arrived here I spoke to the stationmaster who
collected my ticket. Nothing much. Just something about the
day. He looked at me without a word. I want freedom, but more
than freedom I want to know that nobody will ever look at me
like that. I cannot be free while anybody looks at me like that.
"And after that there was a coffee stall and two men and
a girl. One of them hit me because I wasn't afraid and humble.
If I had hit him back I would have been dead. Then, later on,
they spat in my face.
"You see, I'm not afraid of the people. Perhaps it would
be better if I were. It's something inside I'm afraid of.
Something that will burst one day and then I shall be lost. It
hurts and chokes."
"You must hate us, Lanny", the girl said sadly and softly.
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"I don't know why I don't," he replied impersonally.
"You are good," she said.
Her fingers touched his forehead and rested there. He
closed his eyes and sighed. The world was perfect and quiet
and his heart wasn't dry and choking.
"I've never told anybody what I've just told you," he
whispered.
"I'm glad."
"Colored people never talk about it among themselves
and I've never been able to tell any white person. Not even my
friends. Not even those who are fighting for the colored
people."
"I'm glad," she repeated quietly and caressed his forehead
with the tips of her fingers. He reached up and touched the
caressing fingers.
"Lanny."
"Yes?"
"Is there any real difference between white people and
colored people?"
He tried to recall Young Mako's argument on nationality
but failed. The caressing fingers interfered.
"Yes. Colored are colored and white people are white.
That's one. Another is that colored people are half white."
"But more than that."
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"No. When man first appeared those who appeared in the
warm lands had more pigment in their skins to protect them
from the sun. Nature was helping to look after them. And
because the sun was so hot their hair became woolly. And those
in the cold countries had straight hair and very little pigment.
And that's how you get black people and white people. Why?"
"I just wanted to know. But even if you had told me
differently I would have said you were wrong because you and
I can talk to each other and understand each other."
"I wish more people could understand like that."
"Don't worry any more. Just close your eyes and lie still.
In a little while we'll go for a walk. But now you must lie still.
The dog's gone to sleep at my feet. Can you hear him snoring?"
"Yes."
"Well, you go to sleep too. Close your eyes. You looked
tired this afternoon. I'll watch over you. Go on! Close them."
The cool fingers rested on his eyes and held the lids
down, Lanny relaxed and felt his body easing into the earth,
which softened, yielded, and welcomed him.12
"Go to sleep," Sarie murmured, like a mother with a child
or a little girl with a beloved doll.
And presently Lanny slept.
Sarie felt as she had felt with her father as a little girl,
contented and happy. Belonging somewhere. And the girl and
the woman and the mother merged, and only the woman looked
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out of her eyes as she looked down on Lanny. And a warm,
understanding, and compassionate love showed in them.
She would help him remove the dry tightness from his
heart. She would do it because it made her happy and he would
be happy too. She would do it for that reason. But above all she
would do it because she couldn't help herself.13 Because he was
a man and she was a woman. It wasn't her fault that he was
born colored or that she was born white. They had no choice in
the matter. They were just born. Nobody asked them. And so
they would live and love without asking anybody. It wasn't
anybody's business. They didn't want to love. They just loved,.
It happened. They hadn't said a word about it. There was no
need to. Nobody would harm him.
"Sleep, my dear," she murmured, looking away across the
two valleys.
Isaac pulled at his pipe and stared at Mako through his
thick glasses.
"They're probably together now," Isaac said.
Mako replaced the empty coffee mug on the table
between them and bit his lips.
"I suspected something was going to happen," Isaac said.
"The girl is lonely. Swartz is quite handsome in his way. I
thought she'd use him to ease her boredom. But she's in love
with him, Mako, I tell you! Just think of it! An Afrikander girl
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head over heels in love14 with a colored man. I'd have sworn it
couldn't happen. Excitement — yes. I could understand if she
had made eyes at him for the excitement. But this afternoon I
saw it. Night after night she'd been waiting for him, and she
told him so this afternoon."
"What about Swartz?" Mako asked.
"He's the same. There's something like inevitability about
the way they seem drawn to each other. They don't seem to be
able to control their feeling."
"Or hide their feelings?"
"Or hide their feelings, Mako."
"But it's so stupid and dangerous. If he must fall in love
with a white woman why does he have to do it in this place?"
Isaac shook his head.
"You don't understand, Mako. There are two ways of
falling in love."
"Well?"
"You and I know one way. You look at a woman. She has
a pretty face and figure, her legs are just the right shape, the
way she carries her head, the way she looks at you, the way she
speaks, all these things you admire and what you see urges you
to fall in love. And then, perhaps, you find that you like the
same things, enjoy doing the same things, and think the same
things are important; if it is so then your love develops and
grows. That's one way. That's the love we understand.
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"But there is another kind too. By that love people are
just drawn together without looks or anything else mattering,15
not even the fact that this is the highveld."
"I don't believe it, Finkelberg."
"Yesterday I would have said the same, Mako."
"Swartz must be a fool. Why didn't he go away?"
"You're asking why a drowning man struggles for his
life."
"This fatal, inevitable love is nonsense."
"For you, Mako, yes. But not for Swartz. I don't know
what it is. I know the fact that your internal freedom is greater
than his has something to do with it. You are at once freer as
well as being more restricted because you have a past and a
tradition whereas he has none. You said so yourself the other
night."
"You mean the upward grading of the half-caste?''
"No. Not in this case. To Swartz, Sarie Villier is a girl. He
is not conscious to her color. For days he tried to keep the fact
that she was white firmly fixed in his mind. Today, in front of
my eyes, she swept it aside, for she's not conscious of his color.
Yes, in front of my very eyes she swept race and color and
nationality away as though it were a filthy little cobweb. They
were just a man and a woman."
One of his rare smiles lit up Mako's face and wiped the
hard lines of self-discipline from his mouth. It curved up
humorously. Mockery shone from his eyes.
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"You are romantic, my friend, and poetical. Not a hard
thing from the son of a people who could write such a beautiful
book as the Bible."
"I've seen Swartz day after day for the last week," Isaac
said seriously. "He looked worn out and tired. He was nervy.
And there's a very beautiful girl in Cape Town who loves him.
… Oh what's the good! The point is this thing is serious,
Mako."
Mako stared at the young Jew and became serious.
"Did you speak to him when you went walking?"
Isaac shook his head.
"It wouldn't have been any good."
"Who was here when she came in today?"
"Only myself and my father. Mad Sam was with her."
"That Mad Sam sees everything," Mako said slowly.
"Will he talk?" Isaac asked.
Mako shrugged.
"There's nothing we can do," Isaac said.
"We must make him understand," Mako said.
"How?"
"I don't know. Can we meet tomorrow?"
Isaac thought of his father and nodded ruefully.
"Ask Swartz to come. … Now I must go. Good night, my
friend."
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Mako went and Isaac remained. Both deep in thought
about the same thing.
Fieta sat with her hands cupping her chin,16 staring at a
corner of the little kitchen. The urge to move was on her17 and
she was fighting it. Always it would be so, that was the cross
she had to bear. She would fight the urge to do, fight it till her
brain ached; then she would get up and get dressed and walk to
the station and get a ticket to Cape Town, there to give herself
to other men to forget the tortured husk of the man she loved;
had loved all her life; would love till the day she died.
Why was God so unkind? Why had Sam lived? Better if
he had died instead of having to suffer a living death. Oh God!
How she hated God sometimes. How she hated everything and
everybody sometimes! How she hated the memory of that
white girl who even in death controlled Sam's love. And how
she loved Sam. …
Only Cape Town would ease her. Only forgetfulness in
the arms of the men. A wild whirl of men and beds that would
exhaust her body and bring a dull deadness to her brain. There
and only there was escape.
Hiding the hurt and laughing and swaying her hips and
calling them with her eyes till they ran like a pack of hungry
dogs after the same bone. Laughing while her heart bled. Cape
Town. There lay escape. Cape Town. There lay forgetfulness.
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Cape Town. The men were there to compensate in a small
measure.
Cape Town. To wipe the dead white girl from her brain.
To wipe Sam and the pain of Sam from her brain.18 Cape Town.
Escape.
"I must fight it," Fieta said and it was a prayer. But she
knew it was a hopeless prayer. It had always been hopeless.
The children were there to show it. Why should it be different
now? She clenched her fists till her nails ate into her palms and
blood showed. A solitary tear gathered in each eye and rolled
down her cheeks. What was the good of fighting? In the end
she would go because she was made of flesh and blood, not
stone. Flesh and blood could only endure so much.
She got up and went to the door, but before she got there
it opened and Mad Sam stood on the threshold. His eyes were
glazed. One side of his face twitched painfully.
Fieta took his arm, pulled him in, and shut the door.
"What is it, Sam?"
"My head aches."
"But it happened only a few days ago."
She eased him into a chair19 and stood over him.
"Not the same," he said thickly.20
Fieta closed her eyes and prayed for strength. Sam
lowered his head onto his chest.
"I want to remember," he said.
"It hurts you, Sam."
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"I must remember."
Yes. He must remember. It had happened twice before.
Something had forced the memory of the dead white girl into
his mind and he had come to her to help him remember.
Fieta told herself it was more than she could bear, more
than any human being should be made to bear. But she knew
she would bear it. For him she would bear anything, die a
million times, suffer anything. Sam was in her blood. Had
always been. Would always be.
She arranged the sentences in her mind. First: "She was
beautiful." First that and then the others would come more
easily. She held the back of the chair and clung till it hurt.
"She was beautiful, Sam." Her voice was clear and light
but tears showed in her tortured eyes.
"Yes. … " Sam said eagerly.
She shut her eyes and kept them closed.
"Can't you see her, Sam, with her lovely long face? Her
hair is parted in the muddle. Long black hair. And she's small.
Small and neat and slender. And there's a dimple on her chin
when she smiles. You always loved her teeth, Sam. You said
they were the finest ivory in the world."
Fieta hung onto the back of the chair and gulped in air.
A trickle of blood showed at the side of her mouth where she
had bit her lips.
Sam raised himself till he sat erect. His head tilted
proudly. An over-all sense of pride and peace showed in his
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bearing. And there was a film of empty tenderness over his
eyes. He was in the past again. Not a cripple. Seeing his Sarie
move. Knowing that she loved him.
"When she walks her right shoulder is raised a little. Can
you see her, Sam? …"
While Fieta still spoke the film faded from Sam's eyes;
they were suddenly clear and sharp and understanding. And
great pain showed in those wise eyes.
"You can stop, Fieta," he said with a weight of pain in his
voice. "It's all over."
He turned slowly and looked up at her face. Fieta tried to
smile but tears came instead and her face twisted. She
collapsed, went on one knee, then tried to raise herself. Sam
reached out with his good arm and pulled her down to him. She
resisted for a while, then gave in and buried her head on his
lap. She pushed a fist into her mouth to stop the choking sobs.
Sam gathered her hair in a bundle in his hand and pulled
it back till she looked up at him.
Slowly the sobbing left her body and the trembling
ceased.
"Dear Fieta," he said, and she could feel the roots of her
hair straining. And in the bright eyes, full of pain, she saw
something else as well.
"I've hurt you very much," he said.
"It doesn't matter," she said gruffly and wiped the tears
away.
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He looked at her for a long while, then looked away.
"I can't hurt you any more than I have already done.
Nothing can hurt you any more than that." He tried to smile.
One side of his face moved up. "If I were whole and a man I
could say, 'Fieta, I love you,' but I'm only a mad shadow. You
see, Fieta, what they've done to me has tied me to her with
something stronger than love. You I love, but she will always
be there. I can't remember what happened before this
happened. All I can remember is her. Not a person I can see but
someone I can feel.21 Beyond that there is nothing. And every
time I get mad she's there. She always will be."
"I know that, Sam. I've known that all the time. As long
as you love me nothing matters."
"That's not true, Fieta."
"It is, Sam. I was going to Cape Town but now I won't
go. I'm free from that. I'll stay here. I'll never to. I'll work here."
"I saw the pain on your face, Fieta."
"That was before I knew, Sam. I knew I was the closest
to you, Sam. Everyone knew that. But that is not love, Sam.
I've waited a long time, Sam."
Again the one side of Sam's face twisted.
"And you love this," he said looking at himself.
Fieta's eyes were soft and tender and understanding.
"I love you, Sam. I always have." And to herself she said
nothing else mattered but that.
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Fieta got up and put the coffee on the stove to warm up.
The world had suddenly become a lovelier place to be in.
"Sam."
"Yes, Fieta?"
She felt shy, as does a young woman with her very first
beau.22
"I want to ask you something."
"Then go on."
"I'm shy."
"All right. Be shy, but ask."
That was like Sam. Wise and understanding. Her heart
warmed.
"When did you first love me?" The voice was small and
eager.23
There was laughter in Sam's deep voice as he said:
"Oh a long, long time ago."
"How long ago, Sam?"
"Between five and ten years."
"And you kept silent?"
"I didn't want to hurt you."
Fieta laughed. He had been thinking about her and her
feelings.
"You are a fool, Sam," she said gaily, and poured the
coffee. She was glad her mother had taken the children to the
church meeting with her. Now she and Sam could be alone for
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a little, and she wanted it like that. Just the two of them for a
little while. She and her Sam. How long the waiting had been!
She gave him a mug of coffee and took her own to the
little window. Out there it was evening. And in the skies the
stars shone. Such a quiet evening. But it was different now. The
quiet of evening did not get on her nerves any more. There was
no more longing for noise and bustle, no yearning for Cape
Town. She loved the quiet of the valley now. It meant peace.
In the morning she would go up to the big house and see
Sarie Villier. She would take Mabel's place and work and earn
money. Poor Mabel. How was she getting on now? Did she
have a roof over her head in Cape Town? Where was she? Who
was she with? Well, Mabel would have to make her own way,
find what her heart was aching for. No one could help her.
Well, she would go to the big house and see Sarie Villier and
get that job.
"Tonight Gert Villier went drinking," Sam said.
Fieta listened to the music of his voice and only half-heard
his words.
"Sarie went out later and met Lanny Swartz. She loves
him. That brought my headache."
The words penetrated at last.24 She swung round and
stared at Sam.
"What?"
"It's true," he said.
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Again, Fieta told herself, again. The same thing all over
again. First Sam, now Lanny Swartz. Why? Why?
"It can't be, Sam."
"It is," he said quietly. "I know. I've seen it."
Sam had been like Lanny Swartz, strong and young and
healthy. Clever too. And they had done this to him. And now
the same thing was happening all over again. How would it
end?
"What about Lanny Swartz?" she asked.
"What do you mean?"
"Does he love her?"
"Yes."
"The fool!" she said bitterly. Again. All over again. Why
couldn't he keep to that pretty little girl of his?
"Is it wrong to love?" Sam asked softly.
"The people here worship him. Expect great things from
him."
"But is it wrong?"
"It's no good! He's just bringing more trouble."
Sam touched his face with his sound hand. The left side
of his face twisted upward. Deep wisdom showed in his eyes.
Fieta turned away. It was impossible to keep looking at Sam
when he had that light in his eyes. It was like looking at God if
there was a God.
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"You cannot stop it, Fieta," he said in a faraway voice.
"You see, love is strong. Stronger than hate even. Love is the
only thing that can kill hate, nothing else. You see, hate
destroys and that's why love is stronger. It builds. There is hope
for all the colored people in this country while one white
woman can love one colored man. Love keeps one alive. It
makes you understand and fight. … Look at me, Fieta. Lanny
Swartz and Sarie Villier cannot help themselves."
"But where will it end, Sam?"
"Who knows? …"
It must be stopped, Fieta told herself, it must be stopped.
And great anger against Lanny Swartz rose up in her breast.
Sarie touched Lanny's face.
"Wake up, Lanny."
Her fingers ran over his hair.
Lanny opened his eyes.
"Come on. Up with you."25
The moon was high and they could see each other by
moonlight. Lanny yawned and sat up.
"Nice sleep?"
"It was lovely."
"Then up we go."
She prodded the sleeping dog with her foot.
"You too, King!"
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She jumped up and held out her hands. Lanny gripped
them and heaved himself up. They stood looking at each other,
holding hands. King stretched and shook himself noisily.
Lanny pulled her toward him; his arms went round her
shoulders. They clung to each other.
There was no need for words. No need for either of them
to say, "I love you." They knew it. In a strangely simple and
elemental manner they knew it.
After a while Lanny pushed her away from him and took
her face between his hands and looked into her eyes. Tears wet
his hands.
"What is it?"
"Nothing. I'm just happy and longing for my father."
Tenderly he kissed her on the lips and wiped the tears
away. And again they strained against each other, fiercely and
passionately, till the dry choking feeling left his heart and the
empty loneliness of her heart was filled.
When she lifted her head and looked into his face her
eyes were brilliant as stars.
"Do you remember what the old Jew said about the
valley of the heart, Lanny?"
"Yes, I remember."
King stalked round them impatiently, but they took no
note for the world was theirs. The earth and everything it held,
and the beauties of the earth, the kind and the warm things. All
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else was forgotten. The ugly and the narrow and the mean and
the unkind26 — all these were forgotten. The dangers too.
Forgotten was the cardinal sin of their land, the sin
condemned by everyone, from the church downward to the
Labor party: the free and equal mixture of colors.27 Forgotten
was the ugly word "miscegenation"28 that would be used to
label their love. Forgotten were the stupid fears and prejudices
that hemmed in and enchained the minds of men.
They were alone and free and happy and in love. A boy
and a girl in love.
Sarie freed herself gently, took his arm, and led him
down in the direction of Mako's Kraal. King fussed around
them, dashing a little distance, waiting, then dashing back to
them. In an all-enveloping silence they walked for half an hour,
leaning against each other. They veered to the left of Mako's
Kraal and emerged on the other side of the valley. Their world
was enchanted.
… Sing of love, little children. Sing of love, old men and
women. Sing of love, young men and women. Sing of hearts
filled, thoughts filled with love. Sing of joy and of laughter,
deep and quiet, soundless and rich, overflowing the boundaries
of hate, damming the tides of crass stupidity; releasing, freeing,
uplifting. Sing a song for our time, little children. Not of hate.
Not of war. Sing of love. Tell the earth to emerge from its
pains, to unfetter its chains and to sing. Tell morning and
midday and twilight and night to lift up their voices and sing
for our time. Not of hate but of love. …
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Sarie looked up at Lanny's face. She saw peace there and
it filled her heart.
"Let's go back," she said. "Gert's away drinking. We can
have coffee at home. He won't return tonight."
"What about the others?"
"There's no one else."
"All right."
Again there was the enchanted silence between them as
they walked back. It hung over the valley and over the earth
they trod on.
Sarie opened the kitchen door and went in. He followed
her.
"Strike a match, please."
He fumbled with the box.
"The lamp's in the center of the room."
He cupped the flaming match29 and reached up. The lamp
flickered, then a blaze of light covered the room. They looked
at each other. In the light Sarie suddenly felt shy. She lowered
her eyes. A smile touched the corners of her mouth. When she
looked up again the shyness was gone. She searched his face.
Yes, he had stiffened. He wasn't completely relaxed. There was
a touch of alertness about him. And suddenly it dawned on her
that she could sense his every passing mood and reaction. A
wave of tenderness passed through her.
She put her arms round his neck and rested her head on
his chest and closed her eyes. His arms went round her. She felt
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him relaxing and then found time to marvel at her complete
lack of restraint with him. But it was so natural to be in his
arms. It was like being with her father. Only different.
Something deeper.
She pushed him away.
"Sit down while I get the coffee."
He watched her work. It was good. Made him feel full
and real and complete and human. She brought the coffee and
sat facing him.
"Sarie," he said softly.
"Heh?"
"I just wanted to hear the sound of your name."
"You are mad," she said joyfully. "Now eat."
For a while they ate in silence. Sarie thought of the
picture of Celia. She wondered about the other girl. Did she
love Lanny? And did he love her? No. He couldn't. Of that she
was sure.
"Lanny."
"Yes?"
"Tell me about the girl in Cape Town."
"How do you know about her?"
"Mabel showed me that picture."
Damn Mabel, he thought angrily.
"Do you love her?" She watched his face closely.
He thought for a while, then shook his head. "No."
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"Did you?"
Lanny frowned thoughtfully. It all seemed so strange
now. He thought of Celia, thought of their relationship.
"I thought so then. Yes, I did. But now I know it can't be
true. It's so different with you."
"And she?"
"I don't know, Sarie. She said she loved me. You see we
went everywhere together. We went to dances and parties and
did everything together. And Celia is very nice."
"She looks very beautiful."
"She is."
"Perhaps you'd forget me if you saw her again."
"No. I couldn't. It's different with you."
"Are you sure?"
"I know it! You're inside me!"
Sarie looked away and thought of herself being inside
Lanny.
"You're inside me too, Lanny."
She got up and brought more coffee.
"Did you tell her you loved her?"
"Yes," he said unhappily.
Her eyes danced with mischief.30
"Many times?"
"Yes."
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"Did you kiss her?"
"Yes."
"Many times?"
"Please, Sarie. … "
"Did you?"
"Yes," he said miserably.
She thought of something else and the mischief went out
of her eyes. Blood rushed to her face. She lowered her head
and bit her lips. Shame at her thought, anxiety, and curiosity
fought each other. She had to know.
Lanny looked at her lowered face and fidgeted nervously.
"Did you …" Sarie spoke in a small, painful voice, "did
you …" Her voice trailed off in uncomfortable unhappiness.
Anxiety hung over them. They were awkward and ill at
ease. Lanny took a huge gulp of coffee and choked. He
coughed violently for a few seconds. Sarie clasped and
unclasped her hands. She could feel the furious pounding of
her heart.
"You must tell me, Lanny. … Please", she whispered.
Lanny got up. The chair rolled over and fell back with a
bang. She looked up at his face and pain showed in her eyes.
He turned his back on her.
"It was before I knew you, Sarie. How was I to know I
was going to meet you? How was I to know?" It was a cry of
pain and guilt.
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Sarie lowered her head again.
"Many times?" Her voice was hoarse.
"No. Two or three times. … Please, Sarie, please!"
And again there was silence between them. A long,
aching silence. And the memory of his tortured voice throbbed
in Sarie's brain till the possessively jealous woman gave place
to the understanding woman.31 It didn't matter. All that was in
the past. It was wrong of her to feel hurt, and more so to hurt
him.
"It doesn't matter," she said. "A man must have his
pleasure."
"I'm sorry," he said. "Do you hate me?"
She looked up and smiled through tears.
"I can never hate you, Lanny."
"I love only you," he said.
"I know," she said. "It was a stupid, mad thing to ask you
all those questions. I was really playing at first. But the thought
suddenly came into my head and I had to ask you."
"Never mind," he said.
"I'm a fool," she said.
"You've never had a boy?" he asked tentatively.
"No. Never."
"It wouldn't have mattered," he said.
Sarie looked at him and knew he was lying. An
understanding smile flitted over her face.
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"Sit down. We've forgotten the food."
He picked up the chair and seated himself. Neither of
them paid any more attention to the food. They sat looking at
each other. Completely entranced.
Strange how suddenly happiness can come, Sarie
thought.
I'll get money and we'll go away, Lanny thought, to
Portuguese East Africa32 where there's no color bar. Yes, we'll
go there and get married. Just the pair of us. Alone. Together
and happy always.
The old Jew was right, Sarie thought. When two people
love, the heart stops being a quiet, empty valley.
We'll go everywhere we want to together, Lanny thought,
and nobody will interfere with us.
I don't want anything now, Sarie thought, not a thing in
the world. I have everything I want. Yesterday I wanted so much
without knowing what. Today I've got everything. She smiled
and came out of her dream.
She began to clear the table. Lanny helped her. They
washed the cups and plates and put them away. And when they
had done they stood looking at each other. There was so much
and so little to say to each other. It was as though they lived
here and this was their home. They stood holding hands and
looking round the tidy kitchen.
"Let's go into the other room," Sarie said and led him into
the dark dining room.
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Together they squeezed into the old rocking chair. The
chair rocked them easily. Sarie closed her eyes.
"Close your eyes", she murmured.
"They are closed," he said contentedly.
"Then go to sleep," she said and rested her head on his
shoulder. She hummed softly to the easy motion of the chair.
After a while the humming dropped to a sleepy murmur, then
faded. She sighed and nestled against his neck.
They slept.
Sarie woke. She was suddenly alert. She had heard a
sound in the kitchen. Lanny stirred and turned his head to her.
She put her hand on his mouth. They listened. Footsteps moved
across the kitchen. In a minute they would get to the dining
room door. Had Gert returned? She was petrified. The steps
drew near. In a minute now. Her arm went round Lanny's neck.
Desperate courage surged up in her. She would protect him.
Then she heard the kitchen door open. There was more
sound. Then a voice said, "Mad Sam." She recognized it as
Viljoen's voice. Then the sound of Sam moving. Then Sam's
deep quiet voice:
"What's wrong?"
And then Viljoen:
"This lamp has been on since eleven. It's nearly four in
the morning. I came to find out. Where's Miss Sarie?"
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Sarie held her breath. Lanny stirred uneasily beside her.
"She's asleep," Sam's voice said. "I put the light on. I forgot
it when I went out to sleep."
"Damned careless bastard!" Viljoen's voice said angrily.
"I'll tell Gert about this."
Then his footsteps as he stalked out of the kitchen. Then
silence. A long silence.
Sarie tiptoed to the door leading to the kitchen and
looked. The kitchen light was out. The kitchen door stood
open. By the light of the moon she saw Sam huddled up on the
kitchen doorstep.
"It's all right," Sam said without turning his head, "He's
gone. But do not put on the light. He blew it out."
Sarie turned to find Lanny beside her.
"Sam knows!" she said. "He knows and he helped us."
"Thank you, Sam", Sarie said to the huddled figure at the
kitchen door.
Sam remained silent and unmoving.
"It is nearly morning," Lanny said.
"We've slept long," Sarie said.
They passed the figure at the kitchen door and went out.
Lanny stopped and looked down at Sam. But Sam remained
staring at one spot on the moonlit earth. Lanny felt ill at ease.
"Thank you, Sam," he said and walked away.
Sarie took his arm. Beyond the outhouse he stopped.
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"You must go back now, Sarie."
"All right."
They clung to each other.
"Tomorrow," she said.
"Tomorrow," he repeated.
She turned and walked back to the house. He watched her
till she was lost behind an outhouse, then he turned and walked
slowly toward Stilleveld, the vision of a round-faced girl with
understanding eyes and corn-colored hair tucked deep in his
heart.
Soon it would be morning.
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245
1
MORNING broke quiet and hushed, subdued as if holding its
breath. Sunrays filtered in wherever they could, driving out
darkness and choking the shadows, and a strange haze that was
not mist hung over the valley.1 Summer moved on with the
ease of a graceful, well-balanced peasant girl.
Two ragged little boys with dirty slates basked in the
sunshine against the eastern wall of the tin church. A little girl,
still eating her breakfast, hurried down the High Street to join
them. The preacher came out of his little shack behind the
church adjusting his reversed collar.2 He called a booming
greeting3 to the children, who responded halfheartedly. A man
late for work hurried out of a shack at the lower end of the
High Street and trotted away praying that the white man would
not sack him. That he would be abused and probably kicked he
expected.4 … There was a young one coming in a few weeks
and the wife had to have something.
Old Tant' Annie was busy on the little square of earth that
she had made into the front of her house. It was not fenced or
elevated. It was just a part of the High Street that she had
adopted. Over a long time she had hardened the plot of earth by
soaking it with water and then covering it with a mixture of
manure and clay. Now it was as hard as a well-filed floor and
she was putting the finishing touches5 to it. Dipping her fingers
into a bowl of water and pressing them hard on the latest layer6
of pure horse manure, she traced a series of varied but
BOOK III, chapter 1
balancing patterns.7 Pride shone in her old eyes. It would be the
best front in the whole of Stilleveld; just as her handmade
floors were the best.
Sister Swartz looked down on her sleeping son. He had
been out very late last night and the food she had left for him
was still untouched. She had waited up till well after twelve
and then she had gone to bed and kept awake for hours. …
Well, she must have slept for she hadn't heard him come in.
Yes. Let him rest a little longer. Get everything ready. And if he
hurried he would still be in time for school. He looked very
happy in his sleep. Like a little boy who had gone to bed with a
pleasant thought and kept the sign of it still on his face. It
needed a lot of strength to stop herself from going on her knees
and gathering him to her bosom.8 Such a fine, upright man her
son had grown into.9 Enough to fill any mother's heart.
Of course she couldn't understand him all the time. …
But that didn't matter. He was an educated man. He was
different from the others. One can't understand an educated
man all the time. Educated people have to have their thoughts
to themselves sometimes.10 And he was a man with titles. Still
it would be so nice to understand him. To know what was
going on in his mind. As it was with Mabel. The thought had
slipped out before she could check it. She tried not to think of
Mabel but it was no use. The thought had cheated her. Misery
showed in her eyes.11 She turned from the sleeping Lanny and
went to the fire. If only she knew where the girl was and how
she was getting on. If only she knew that the child was all
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right. She set the breakfast things. If only she knew that the
child was safe from bad men in Cape Town. The big cities are
full of bad men. She poked the fire12 and pushed a few pieces
of wood into it. The porridge was nearly ready. She could tell
by the smell.
Sister Swartz thought of her own mother. She
remembered clearly what the old woman had said when her
marriage to Swartz took place. She closed her eyes and saw the
gray dusty old face again and heard the rusty old voice saying:
"Soon you will be a mother, my child. That is your duty
on the earth. Be a good mother. It is a hard thing. The Blessed
Mother of Christ has shown that the heart of a mother must
always weep. You will know the heartache of a mother, my
child."
Sister Swartz brushed away a tear and pushed the
porridge to a cooler part of the fire.
I must wake him now, Sister Swartz thought, and wiped
her eyes again to make sure.
"Lanny. … " she called softly.
Across the way Fieta opened the door and looked at Tant'
Annie.
"You're dressed early," the old woman said sharply.
"I thought you had that Cape Town look in your eyes."13
"I'm not going to Cape Town," Fieta said quietly.
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The old woman shrugged.
"Johannesburg — it's the same thing. You'll come back
with a child."
Fieta smiled and shook her head.
"No, ma. I'm going nowhere. I'm not leaving here
again."14
The old woman shrugged, dipped her fingers in the water,
and then stopped suddenly and looked up. The sharp old eyes
searched Fieta's face. Slowly they filled with tears.
"First time I've seen you cry," Fieta said casually, but her
eyes were bright.
"I'm not crying!" the old woman said harshly.
"I'm going to the big house," Fieta said. "We'll have a
little more money and food now." She stepped out gingerly and
avoided the old woman's work of art.15
"Is it Sam?" her mother asked.
"None of your business," Fieta said calmly and walked
down the High Street, hips swaying freely, proud head carried
high. Her mother stared after her till she was out of sight and
then carried on with her work, tears mixing with her patterns.
Fieta walked on till she topped the little hill that
overlooked the two valleys, past that, past the outhouses — and
memory rushed back on her. This was the route she had taken
when she was a young girl. Each morning she had gone that
way and each evening she had returned by the same way. Such
a long time ago. So much had happened. And now she was
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taking the same route again. It was as though in all the years
she had made a huge circle that had finally reached its starting
point again. Nearly thirty years.
She looked over the familiar back yard of the big house.
The same. Certain new things had replaced the old, others had
grown old and rusty. But really, deep down, everything was the
same. Just as it had been when she was a girl of fifteen.
She opened the kitchen door and stepped in. The two
native maids looked at her. Doubt and recognition battled in the
eyes of the older one.16 Fieta smiled at her.
"Remember me, Maria?"
"Fieta?" the woman asked doubtfully.
"Yes. I want to see the missus."
Maria hesitated.
"Go on!" Fieta said. "I'm coming back. I shall be in
charge."
Maria smiled. She remembered the Fieta of many years
ago.17
"The same, heh?" Maria said.
Fieta stared at her from under lowered eyebrows. Maria
went out. Fieta moved round the kitchen looking things over. It
shocked her to find that she still remembered the places of
certain things. She turned to find Sarie watching her. Slowly
she walked up to Sarie. Not beautiful, she thought, not a patch
on that other Sarie; not much of a figure either; just homely.18
And Lanny Swartz loves her and she loves him. The same
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thing all over again. Only, I don't love Lanny Swartz. Not the
same thing.
"Good morning," Fieta said. "I'm Fieta."
"I know," Sarie said.
Not even the same voice, Fieta thought; rather deep and
soft. Not like the other, which was as clear and light as a bell.
"You'll need somebody to take Mabel's place."
"Yes."
I wonder if Lanny's as happy as I am, Sarie thought.
"I can do it. Of course, I'll do more than Mabel did. She
was a child when she was here. I'll look after these girls for you
and do the cooking. I know what Baas Gert likes, I worked
here before your time."
"Did you?"
I wonder if he's very tired, Sarie thought.
"Yes. A long time ago. The other Miss Sarie was still here
then."
Sarie controlled the urge to ask questions and waited.
"You gave Mabel fifteen shillings a month."
"Yes."
"That's not enough for me. I have children. I want a
pound."
"I can't give you a pound."
"Baas Gert will give it to me."
Sarie stiffened.
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"I do the hiring for the house,"19 she said coldly.
"I'm sorry," Fieta said with a smile. "I don't think you
understood me. I didn't mean that. I mean you'd better tell him
before you hire me."
Sarie flushed. Anger showed in her eyes.
The ghost of a smile remained on Fieta's lips.20 This girl
didn't know about the past. Nobody had told her anything.
"I don't think— —" Sarie began, but Fieta interrupted
her.
"Go and tell Baas Gert I'm here and you'll see," Fieta
said.
Sarie hesitated, then turned slowly and went to Gert's
room. This had something to do with that other Sarie. She was
sure of it. She made up her mind to find out about it.
She knocked on Gert's door and pushed it open. Gert
raised bloodshot eyes and stared at her. His hands trembled and
a violent headache tortured him. He had returned in that state
two hours ago from Smit's.
"I don't want to be bothered," he said sharply.
"There's a colored woman to take Mabel's place," she
said.
Gert banged his fist on the table.
"What do you think I feed you for! Can't you even hire
someone without bothering me!"
"She wanted me to tell you her name is Fieta," Sarie said.
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"Who did you say?" His voice sounded tired suddenly.
"Fieta."
Sarie watched him as he relaxed, leaned back, and closed
his eyes. He rubbed his forehead with the back of a huge hand
and opened his eyes. They were dull and lifeless. Staring at
nothing. A name had conjured up the past.
He rose slowly and swayed a little on his feet.
"Where is she?" he asked in a subdued voice.
"In the kitchen."
She followed him into the kitchen where Fieta stood
waiting with her arms folded across her ample bosom.
"Get out!" Gert yelled at the two native women. They
hurried out.
He stared at Fieta for a long while.
"You're older," he said dully.
She laughed. He noted that the voice was still the same.
"So are you, Baas Gert."
"Yes," he said slowly, then jerked himself upright. A
harsh note crept into his voice. "What do you want?"
"Work."
"There is no work for you."
"Are you afraid, Baas Gert?" she asked softly.
"I'm not afraid!" he said sharply. "I fear nothing."
"Yes, Baas Gert. But you don't want me here, heh?"
"Why do you want work here?"
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"I need the money and it's near home."
"Where've you been all this time?"
"All over the place."
"What do you mean?"
"Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein; all
over the place."
"Husband?"
"No."
"Children?"
"Four."
He smiled and turned on his heels.
"I want five shillings more than Mabel got," Fieta said.
"All right," Gert flung over his shoulder and went back to
his room.
Fieta looked at Sarie with an understanding light in her
eyes.
"I'm sorry, Miss Sarie— —"
"It's all right," Sarie said and went to her room.
Love is like that, Fieta thought and smiled. If she weren't
in love she would hate me for this and show it. She shrugged,
went to the door, and called the native women.
"I'm boss here," she told them, "I come after Miss Sarie.21
You understand?"
They nodded.
"All right. Now we'll work. And clean work it must be."22
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Sarie came out of her room half an hour later dressed for
riding.
"I want you to see to lunch," she told Fieta. "The
overseer, Mynheer Viljoen, will come for lunch to give his
report to Gert."
"All right."
"I won't be here. If Gert asks for me say I've gone out for
a ride, will you?"
Fieta nodded. Sarie hurried out to the stable and saddled
her horse. A few minutes later she rode away. A tense
excitement gripped her. She was on her way to see Old Tante.
Would she be very old? Would she explain things? Question
after question shot through her mind. About the other Sarie.
About Gert. About Fieta.
The easy rhythm of the horse's hoofs thrilled her. It
always did, but it was stronger this morning. She laughed out
loud. It was because Lanny was there with her. He was at the
back of her mind and deep in her heart. All she had to do was
shut her eyes to see his face. Lanny! How wonderful the world
was.
He would be teaching now. It would be so interesting to
tiptoe into his class and sit with the children and listen to him. I
am mad, she told herself, and hugged her madness tenderly.23
She passed a few natives working on their own. Out of
sheer joy she waved. They waved in return. The world was a
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beautifully friendly place. Friendly green and brown and blue
and gold.24
A bird swept past her.
"I'll race you!" she cried.
She leaned forward and spoke in the horse's ear. Horse
and rider streaked away after the bird. The bird swerved to the
left.
"Afraid!" she called after it and laughed.
A cow grazed peacefully ahead. She brought the horse to
a halt beside it and leaned over toward it. The cow raised big,
sentimental brown eyes.
"Do you know Lanny?" Sarie asked cheerfully.
The sentimental eyes stared curiously.
"Bah!" Sarie said. "You're hopeless. The grass knows
him, the trees know him, the wind knows him, and they've
whispered it to you and you don't know him! Shame on you!"
Her heel touched the horse's flank and they shot off
again. How she wished he was here to race her. Or just to play.
Or just to be quiet.
She looked ahead and saw the house a few hundred yards
away. Now she would know. Again the questions raced through
her brain. A final dash and they were there.
She pulled up and looked at the little house. It looked just
like the houses of Stilleveld, only this one was made of bricks,
not pieces of corrugated iron.
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She jumped off and tied up the horse. Fear touched her.
She hung back. Now that she was there she was afraid of
meeting Old Tante. She did not know what she was afraid of.
Something just held her back. She felt like a daring child who
had taken off its shoes and socks and now contemplated the
fast-running stream.25
The door of the shack opened and a tiny, bent form,
covered with layers of clothes and leaning on a stick, looked
out at her.
"Who's there?" a rusty, faded old voice croaked.
Sarie walked forward, heart pounding.
"Who is it?"
"I'm Sarie, Old Tante."
"Who?" The old woman cupped her ear.26
"Sarie!"
"No need to shout," the old woman said crossly. Her thin
old voice quivered. "Come here. I want to see you."
Sarie stepped forward and looked closely at the old face.
It was a shrunken mass of overlapping layers of parched gray
skin, flabby and loose. The eyes were deep in their sockets and
the toothless mouth trembled. Old Tante was old. Well over a
hundred. She had been in the Kaffir wars. Nobody, least of all
Old Tante, knew quite how old she was.
"Nearer," the old woman said plaintively. "My eyes are
weak. I should have died a long time ago. I can't see you."
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Sarie stood close to Old Tante. The old face screwed up
in concentration, the old eyes peered hard.
"You're a shadow. You are not a ghost, are you?"
"No, Tante."
"Your name?"
"Sarie."
"My ears are good," the old woman muttered. "Only my
eyes."
She turned and moved slowly back into the little shack.
She's forgotten me, Sarie thought, and followed her into
the room.
Old Tante slumped into her chair and stared at nothing.
Old and dried up she looked, only half-alive and completely
sexless. I wouldn't like to be so old, Sarie thought.
"It's lonely," Old Tante said tearfully. "It's lonely."
Sarie looked round the little room. It was old, like Old
Tante. An old Voortrekker chest,27 a many-colored, muchpatched faded quilt covering an equally ancient bed. She
shivered suddenly in spite of the warm weather. Time lay
heavily over everything here and it was pathetically tragic to be
old and alone.
"I want coffee," Old Tante said peevishly. "Never get it."
Sarie stepped across the room and into the kitchen. An
old native woman who was slowly peeling potatoes looked up.
"You look after old missus?" Sarie asked.
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The native woman nodded slowly, her eyes intent on
Sarie's face. "I work for old missus when I was a child. She
look after me. Now I look after her."28 And you people have no
time for her, the woman's eyes said.
Sarie saw a pot of coffee and put it on the fire to warm.
"Are you alone?"
"Me and my old man and old missus, we are alone. My
old man is very old. He sleeps all the time in the sun."
Three old people alone, Sarie thought, and felt miserable.
The coffee was warm. She filled a mug and gave it to the old
native woman. She filled another and took it into the other
room. Old Tante lay back in her chair with her eyes shut. She's
asleep, Sarie thought.
"That you, Hannah?" Old Tante's voice quivered.
"No. It's me, Sarie."
"Sarie?" Old Tante said in a puzzled voice.
"Here's your coffee," Sarie said and held the mug to Old
Tante's lips.
Old Tante took the mug and brushed Sarie's help aside.29
"I can feed myself."
Sarie found a chair, drew it near, and sat facing Old
Tante. How to begin? Would she remember?
The old woman raised her head. There was a sly look in
her eyes. She looked knowingly at Sarie.
"Are you still in love with Sam Du Plessis?"
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"Sam Du Plessis?" Sarie's brows creased in a frown.
Old Tante cackled.
"Don't pretend with me. I know all about it. Gert does
too."
"Who is Sam Du Plessis, Tante?"
Old Tante rocked with malicious laughter. Then suddenly
she stopped laughing and frowned.
"They've beaten you!"30 she accused. She closed her eyes
and leaned back; then pulled herself upright again and clutched
the sides of her chair. "They've beaten you! I never thought you
would give in. I'm ashamed of you. Ashamed." She shook her
head sadly. "Only the foundling could fight them because he
wasn't a Villier. I thought you could too. I'm ashamed of you. I
thought you were the one outsider who could fight them."31
Sarie understood suddenly.
"Listen, Old Tante. I am not that Sarie. I am the daughter
of the foundling. I am another Sarie, do you understand?
Another Sarie."
"Another Sarie?" Old Tante shut her eyes and tried to
think.
"Yes! The daughter of the foundling."
"Then where is my Sarie? Why does she allow them to
treat her Old Tante like this? Where is she?"
Sarie got up, went to the tiny window, and looked out on
the sunlit summer morning. Was Old Tante mad? Who was
Sam Du Plessis? So the other Sarie didn't love Gert.
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"She's dead!" Old Tante's voice carried softly to her. "He
killed her. He killed her because she loved Sam Du Plessis. Oh,
he didn't touch her or put anything into her drink. But she died
so he must have killed her. Just as he killed Sam Du Plessis."
"She died of fever," Sarie said.
"He killed her," Old Tante said. "I told him so and I told
him the truth. I'm not ashamed of her. She didn't give in. She
loved Sam Du Plessis. And I told him the truth so he put me
here. He's afraid of me because I understand and I told him
what I understood and it's the truth."
"What did you tell him, Old Tante?" Sarie asked.
"You say you are not my Sarie?" the old woman asked
appealingly.
"I am the foundling's daughter."
"Come here."
Sarie gave a last look at the bright sunshine and turned to
Old Tante.
"Kneel here, in front of me."
Sarie went on her knees. Old Tante put out her hands and
ran them over Sarie's hair. They trembled. "Too thick, not wavy
like hers, and short. It's not black, I'm sure."
"No," Sarie said softly.
The old hands ran over her face, touched her forehead,
eyebrows, nose, cheeks, chin, lips, then crept slowly back to
the old lap. Old Tante's mouth quivered.
"What did you tell him, Tante?"
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"You are not my Sarie."
"I'm the foundling's daughter."
"Yes. He understood. That's why I liked the foundling.
Sarie liked him, too. But my son married him to that Van Wyck
girl. I wanted him to marry Sarie. They would have been
happy. But my son wanted Sarie for Gert. Young Koos was a
fool to send his daughter here. I told him not to. I told him
Sarie would not be happy."
"What did you tell Gert, Tante?"
"I knew for a long time that Sarie loved Sam Du Plessis.
I could see it in her eyes." Old Tante cackled maliciously. She
closed her eyes and relaxed.
Sarie got up and tiptoed to the window. The sun was still
bright out there, shining on all the green things.
"More coffee," Old Tante called.
Sarie sighed, took the mug and went for more coffee.
Who was Sam Du Plessis? She stopped in her tracks. Her eyes
opened wide. But it couldn't be! It couldn't be! The idea
persisted. She gave the coffee to Old Tante.
"What did you tell Gert, Old Tante?"
"It was the morning he said Du Plessis was dead and
Sarie got ill. I knew then he had killed Du Plessis. I told him it
didn't matter how many he killed, they would still get him. I
told him there are too many of them.
"When Christ Jesus was born there were three wise men
who were led by a star and one of them was a black man. There
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was no Afrikander among them. A black man and no
Afrikander, I told him.
"We had shot them and killed them and taken their land
from them and tried to make slaves of them, but one day they
would fight us again. They would come back and fight again
because we are hard on them. We have taken their land and
now we are afraid of them. I told him a man must fight if his
land is taken because his land is his life.
"We have fought the English because we wanted this
land, so the Kaffirs would fight us because it is their land and
they have nothing. The Good Book says so, I told him.
"I told him they would take our women because our
women would love them because they are people like us. My
son, Gert's father, has a child in Stilleveld and its mother is
black. I told him in his heart he was afraid of the Kaffirs.
"They would come again. They would fight again. I told
him every day. …" The old woman stared. Fear showed in her
eyes. Her hands went up to her throat. "My gun!" she
whispered. "My gun! … Where are the men? Where are they?
The Kaffirs are coming! The Kaffirs are coming! Give me the
gun quickly! They are coming to kill us!"
Sarie shook Old Tante.
"No one is coming. It's all right, Tante. You are safe."
"They're coming! There!" Her body trembled. She clung
to Sarie and pressed her face against Sarie's body. "They are
coming!"
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Old Hannah came in slowly, with labored movements,
pushed Sarie aside, and raised Old Tante's face.
"It is me, Hannah, missus," she said softly. "Do not be
afraid. I will speak to them. They will listen to me. I will tell
them you have been good to me and they will not harm you.
They will listen to me for they are my people. Do not be afraid,
missus."
"You will tell them. … " Old Tante pleaded.
"I will tell them you have been good to me."
"I threw a brush at you once."
"I was naughty, as children are. You were right."
"And you will tell them. … "
"I will tell them."
"What will you tell them?"
"I will tell them you were good to me," Hannah said
patiently.
"And you will not leave me?"
"I will not leave you. Now you must sleep. Come."
Together they moved over to the old bedstead. Old Tante
closed her eyes. In a minute she was fast asleep. Hannah drew
the quilt over her. Sarie followed Hannah to the kitchen.
"Is she always like that?" Sarie asked.
"Only sometimes."
"You understand her."
"I was with her since I was a child."
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"Will she be all right?"
"I look after her," Hannah said proudly.
"Can I come back?"
"Baas Gert, he knows of your coming?"
"No."
"Then you can come if you do not let him know."
Sarie thought of Sam Du Plessis. Perhaps Hannah knew
him.
"Hannah."
"Yes?"
"You remember Miss Sarie?"
"Yes. I remember."
"You remember she loved Sam Du Plessis?"
"Yes."
"Who was Sam Du Plessis?"
Sudden hostility showed in Hannah's eyes.
"Why do you want to know?"
"I just want to know."
"I cannot tell you."
She knows, Sarie thought, she knows but will not tell.
"Can I come tonight and bring my friend?"
"Is he also a friend of Baas Gert?"
"No. Baas Gert hates him."
"All right. But old missus might be tired."
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"Then we will talk to you."
"All right."
"And you won't tell anybody about him?"
"Your friend?"
"Yes."
"No. I will not tell."
Sarie went out and walked round the house to her horse.
She felt tired suddenly, tired and worn out. The joy had gone
out of the morning and she ached for Lanny to be with her and
to talk to her. She got on her horse and cantered away from the
little shack. Three old people all by themselves, one sleeping in
the sun, the other half-mad, and the third looking after all of
them.
Lanny looked over the row of bent heads as the children
busied themselves with their sums. He slipped his hand into his
pocket to find a pencil and pulled out Celia's letter. He had
forgotten all about it. Being with Sarie was like that. It made
him forget everything. The thought of her brought a tender
smile to his lips. If only the day would move fast! He wanted to
be beside her, to talk to her, hear her voice and sense her
presence, to enjoy the serene tranquillity that was always with
Sarie.
Slowly he pulled the letter out of the envelope, and
unfolded it. He stared into space. Strange how they seemed to
belong with each other. It was the most natural and normal
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thing on earth for them to be together and to love. As if they
had known each other since the beginning of time, always. He
focused his eyes on the letter.
"My Dear Lanny. … "
A young arm shot up and fingers snapped.32 He looked
up.
"Yes, Franz?"
"The third sum on the board, teacher."
"Yes, what about it?"
"What is the last number, please?"
He got up and chalked the number more clearly.
"All right?"
"Yes."
"Yes, thank you, Franz."
"Yes, thank you, teacher."
He went back to his seat and picked up the letter.
MY DEAR LANNY,
It's weeks since I last heard from you, so I'v decided to spend
part of my fortnight in your corner of the world. Hope I'm welcome.
Don't start worrying about a place to put me up, I know conditions
must be pretty primitive so let's take it as read,33 though I'm sure it
can't be worse than the place I went to for my practical two years
ago.
I'm choked with news34 but most of it can wait till I see you,
which will be soon. I'm catching a late morning train tomorrow and
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the booking clerk tells me I'll get there about five-ish.35 Meet me if
you can, but I'm sure to be able to find the place on my own if you
are busy. All the news when I see you.
Much love,
CELIA.
Lanny read the letter again, slowly. Celia coming here. It
was the one thing he did not want just now. And she would be
here some time today. If he had read the letter when it came he
could have wired and put her off.36 It was too late now. Well,
she'll have to know. She'll have to know sooner or later in any
case.
But he felt sorry for her. It would hurt her and he was
very fond of her and didn't want to hurt her. Still, it couldn't be
helped.
Celia's arriving today, he thought unbelievingly.
Better do something about it.
"Listen, children. I'm going out. I want you to be quiet
while I'm out. If you finish your work carry on with the
exercises I gave you for homework."
He went out to find the preacher and his mother. When he
got them together he told them about Celia's letter. A knowing
look passed between the preacher and his mother.
After much thought the preacher raised his head and
smiled.
"The best thing, I think, son, is for you to move in with
me and let the young lady stay with your mother."
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Lanny nodded.
"That's the best thing," his mother said excitedly. "I must
find some clean linen. I wonder who has sheets so that I can
borrow them."
"Don't worry
understand."
about
that,
mother.
Celia
would
"I must," Sister Swartz declared. "I can't shame my son."
"All right," Lanny said. "I must go back to the school
now."
"Don't worry about a thing, son," the preacher called after
him. "We will see to everything."
Blast, Lanny thought explosively, and hurried into the
little church.
Everyone in Stilleveld soon knew that Lanny's young
woman from Cape Town was coming to see him. Secret
preparations to welcome her were made. The old preacher was
childishly happy as the brains behind the conspiracy.37 Why,
she might even come to stay. … And then Stilleveld would
have two teachers. Two people who had gone to all the colleges
in Cape Town and that other big place with the long name
where they get their titles. They would indeed be rich!
The sun was slanting far to the west when Lanny reached
the little siding. He passed the coffee stall. The girl was alone.
He remembered the day of his arrival. It was vivid. Reliving
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the incident again, he felt bitterness well up in his heart.38 He
looked at the girl, tried to catch her eye, but she stared through
him. To her he was not there. Just black dirt on the earth. Not a
person of flesh and blood and feeling. An uncontrollable spasm
of trembling shot through his body.
And then the face of Sarie was there, soothed him, made
him easy and calm and peaceful again. He looked at the girl
and a smile touched his lips. He walked past the little stall.
Soon now the train would be in. A little way behind him two
little colored boys with a pushcart came playing along the
sandy road. They would take Celia's luggage in the cart.
He looked at his watch and thought of Celia. But
somehow he couldn't sort out his thoughts. They were all a
confused and jumbled mess. He could not even remember what
she looked like. He knew she was beautiful and had a lovely
voice but that was all. No. Not all. She had beautiful legs. The
most attractively beautiful and desirable legs he had ever seen.
He could remember them clearly. Slender and shapely and
fading away into her dress just about the knees. Funny that he
should remember Celia's legs. He had not even thought of
Sarie's. Hadn't even seen them or thought what they looked like
or been interested in them. Strange that Celia's legs were so
vivid in his mind and not Sarie's. He thought a while, then
shook his head slightly. Not strange after all. With a little
thought he could remember Celia's body, her breasts, the shape
of her shoulders, the curve of her neck where it fused into
shoulder and body, the sound of her voice, light and clear and
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gay, the way she walked as though the world belonged to her,
the way she smiled with sudden intimacy that creased the
corners of her mouth and eyes. With a little thought he could
remember all that. He could see Celia.
But not Sarie. No amount of thought could bring her to
life. She was veiled in a shadow and he could see only a face
that could not be described and understanding eyes that
brought peace to his heart and mind. He tried to remember her
voice, but that, too, was only a sound meaning peace.39
And quite clearly he knew it would always be so. He
would never be able to see Sarie as distinctly as he saw Celia.
He would never be able to remember the shape of her legs or
the curve of her neck or the way she smiled. Always hers
would be a shadow face with understanding eyes that meant
peace. It would be so always because she was deep in his heart.
She possessed him without depending on a shapely leg or smile
or look or curve. Being Sarie, she possessed him completely
because she was Sarie.
With a shrill hoot the train slid into the siding and came
to a stop. Lanny lit a cigarette with trembling fingers and
stepped forward looking down to the far end of the train.
Celia stepped out of the train, dumped two suitcases, and
looked around.
Lanny went up to the ticket collector.
"I'm meeting that young lady down there," he pointed.
"Can I go in and help her with her cases … please?"
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The collector looked him up and down, spat, then
nodded.
"Bring the ticket to the office", the collector said
brusquely. "I can't wait here all day."
Lanny nodded and hurried down the platform. The train
began to move and jogged slowly out of the siding. Celia
waved and ran to meet him. Her eyes shone. He realized afresh
that she was a very beautiful girl. She flung her arms round his
neck and hugged him, then held him at arm's length and looked
at his face.
"It's good to see you, Lanny," she said.
He smiled: "It's good to see you, Celia."
"You look healthy and happy," she said.
He picked up her cases and led the way to the exit where
he gave the cases to the little boys to be carted away.
"The taxi," he said over his shoulder.
Celia smiled and watched the boys racing the cart down
the sandy road.
"Give me your ticket," he said.
She took out her return ticket, tore off the used part and
gave it to him.
"Wait for me," he said and went to the little office of the
ticket collector.
The collector snatched the ticket from his fingers, looked
at it, and scowled at him.
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"I do the tearing around here," the collector said and spat.
The spittle just missed Lanny's trousers.
Lanny remembered the day of his arrival. The side of his
face burned. It needed great mental effort to keep his hand
from going up to his face and rubbing it. He put out his tongue,
wet his lips, turned, and went back to where Celia waited.
The collector stared after him and cursed fluently under
his breath.
Celia slipped her arm through Lanny's and they set out
down the sandy road Far ahead of them the two little boys with
the pushcart were fast fading into the undulating landscape.
They passed the coffee stall. The girl stared at Celia's clothes,
looked her over from head to toes.
"Well, how's it, Lanny? Tell me everything. Tell me why
you've been such a bad correspondent. But first tell me about
the people and the school."
"It's all right," Lanny said slowly. "The people are
pathetically eager to learn. The children go to day school and
everybody goes to night school."
She took a deep breath and waited for more. It's
wonderful to be out here, she thought. So much space in which
to breathe and live. I should love it here, she decided, but
doubted it very much.40 Be honest, she told herself; you would
like it here if you had your cinemas and trains and taxis and
trams and cafes and dances and parties. Be honest and admit it.
In short, you would like it if you had Cape Town here. … Or,
perhaps, a good job, she thought more seriously. Perhaps you
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could stick it if you thought you were doing something worth
while, as Lanny feels. Bringing education to people who need
it. She smiled suddenly.
You're not being honest, she told herself. You're lying to
yourself. You're trying to rationalize your wish that he should
ask you to stay here. That is the real truth.
She looked at Lanny's face out of the corners of her eyes
and realized that he had not said any more. Just those few
words. That was not like Lanny. Starting this school had been
important to him. In Cape Town he had talked interminably
about it, and besides he was interested in education.
"Schimd sends his greetings," Celia said.
"Thanks. How is he?"
"Still nagging us as always." She smiled, "Remember
Johnny Jones? Well, last month Schimd lost his temper
completely with him. Nobody knows what Johnny had done
but Schimd told him not to come to his classes for a week. You
know how Schimd hops around when he's angry. Well, he
hopped around the whole morning. … "
Lanny smiled. He could see old Schimd.
" … Next day Johnny stayed away from his class. After
the lecture Schimd met him outside and wanted to know why
Johnny had been absent. Johnny said 'You told me not to come,
professor.' You should have seen Schimd, Lanny! He flung his
books away and set about Johnny. It was a lovely boxing
match, Johnny defending himself but being careful not to hit
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the old boy and Schimd stalking him! The whole class stood
around telling Schimd how to knock Johnny out! It reminded
me of the time when he had that boxing match with you in
class. … "
Celia shook with laughter. Lanny grinned.
"What happened?" Lanny asked.
"The same thing that happened with you. Schimd declares
Johnny has the best brain since you left. He swears by you now
that you've left — the old scoundrel."
"He's grand,"41 Lanny said softly.
"Yes, he is," Celia said.
They lapsed into silence. They had reached the summit of
the upward curve of the road. The summer sun was low behind
the western hills, only its last rays still sent shafts of light up
into the sky. The cloud of many-colored dust in their wake had
lost its rainbow character and was fast losing its individuality
in the gathering gloom.
We haven't really got together,42 Celia thought. There's a
barrier between us.
Lanny thought of Sarie. He had to see her tonight. It
would be difficult with Celia around but he had to see her.
"Could we rest a little?" Celia asked. She wasn't tired but
perhaps a cigarette and a little sit-down would bring them
together.43 She hoped it would.
They turned off the sandy road and sat on the grass.
Lanny found cigarettes and matches. They smoked in silence.
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Lanny stared away into space. Celia looked closely at his face.
It was changed. Something about it was changed but it was
impossible to put her finger on it.44 Yet there was a change, of
that she was sure.
Suddenly she thought of another girl. The idea seemed
ridiculous but she kept on thinking about it. And the more she
thought the more feasible it seemed.
She watched his face closely for a few minutes.
"Lanny," she said softly.
He waited in silence.
"You haven't kissed me."
He turned his head and looked at her. She found it hard to
read the expression in his eyes. He leaned toward her and
kissed her lightly on the lips.
There is another girl, Celia told herself.
She drew up her legs, held them together with her hands
and rested her chin on her knees. She stared into space and saw
nothing. She felt quiet and calm and empty— only a tightness
at her heart and throat, nothing else. Only the emptiness and
loneliness. No unhappiness. Just alone. Unable to think or feel.
How can I tell her, Lanny wondered, and sought around
in his mind. But everywhere was a big blank.45 No way of
telling her.
It seemed ages to Celia before thought again returned to
her. She looked at her wrist watch and saw that only minutes
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had slipped by since they had turned off the road. Only
minutes.
She raised her eyes and looked again at Lanny and pain
rushed in on her. She wanted to talk, plead, protest, remind him
of the things they had done together, remind him of the past
and the laughter and happiness they had shared. She felt tears
rising.
She shut her eyes and turned her head away. Hold on,
girl, she told herself. Hold on tight. Tears won't help. Hold on.
You must hold on. Hold on as though your life depended on it.
No scenes. No talking till he talks. She held on hard. … She
opened her eyes and stared away to where the sun had sunk.
Her fingers trembled as she sucked at the cigarette. She flung it
away, took a deep breath, and turned her head to Lanny. Her
eyes shone and she smiled.
"Shall we move on? …" she said jumping up.
They walked along the sandy, narrowing road in the
gathering darkness. The sun had gone completely and gloaming
was fast turning to night. It was an hour of bewitching beauty
when everything was seen in a soft, tender half-light that was
yet clear. The sun had gone but the moon and stars had not
come out yet, day was dead and still lived, night was born but
not yet, there was neither life nor death — just the period in
between. The merging of two extremes into a softly diffused,
unutterable beauty. And they walked along in silence.
"Celia. … " Lanny said earnestly and sought for words to
tell her about Sarie.
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She saw the pain on his face and felt pleased.
"Yes?"
"Celia, I … "
The pain gave her no pleasure now, the momentary touch
of cruelty was gone.
"I know what you want to tell me," she said quietly.
"You want to tell me there's another girl. Am I right?"
He nodded. "I'm sorry, Celia. … " He turned unhappy
eyes to her.
She tried to laugh but the laughter caught in her throat:46
"There's nothing to be sorry about. … These things just
happen, Lanny." Hold on, girl, hold on for all you're worth. …
She turned a smiling face to him. "It's no use pretending it
doesn't hurt, Lanny. You see, we've done so much together.
Shared years and got to know each other so well, and so much
of love is getting to know a person and finding that you have
the same interests and like the same things and enjoy the same
people. And it hurts when it suddenly comes to an end."
"I am sorry, Celia."
"I know. I'm not blaming you. Stop saying you are sorry."
Hold on! Don't start shouting at him. Be calm! "Do you mind
telling me about her? I think I have a right to know."
"We love each other."
"I thought we loved each other."
"I'm sorry, Celia."
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"Is that all?"
"Yes. … Please, let's not talk about it, Celia."
With effort she choked down the urge to shout at him, to
tell him that things didn't end by one person's not wanting to
talk about them.
"At least you can tell me her name," she said bitterly.
"Sarie Villier."
They walked on in silence. And now Stilleveld was
below them, and to the right was the old Jew's store and to the
left, farther away and higher up, was the big house.
From the porch of the store Isaac watched them walk
past. The rumors of Celia's coming had reached him earlier in
the day. All news of the valley reached him sooner or later.
Isaac smiled thoughtfully as his mind played on Lanny and
Sarie and this girl from Cape Town who loved Lanny.
"I think I will visit the celebration tonight," he said and
went in to add another page to his record of the happenings at
Stilleveld.
And now they were near the houses and saw people
moving about their business. Celia touched Lanny's arm. He
looked at her.
"Let's be happy, Lanny, for old time's sake, heh? Don't be
worried and unhappy about me any more. These things just
happen."
"You're so good, Celia, so understanding."
Understanding, she thought bitterly.
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"Then let's be happy. I want you to be happy."
And she talked lightheartedly. Told him the latest news
from Cape Town. And the funny stories that were going the
rounds. And what so and so had said at such and such a time
and who was doing what. And the latest love affairs and who
had gone away and who had married. And by the time they
reached the houses the restraint had slipped from Lanny and
they were talking about old times and old things like two good
friends.
Before they went into the house where a reception
committee waited to welcome Celia, Lanny squeezed her hand
and said with relief and gratitude:
"You're wonderful, Celia."
She looked at him strangely, smiled, and went into the
house. And when the greetings were over and Lanny's mother
had fussed over her between apologies for their poverty and the
preacher had made a speech and the other old women had
talked a lot and cried a little and the young women had stared
with envy and curiosity at her hair and clothes and shoes, she
asked to go to the lavatory.
There she locked herself in, and all her reserve went. She
cried bitterly and long. … And when she returned her eyes
were bright, though slightly red, and her charming smile won
the hearts of the old folk of Stilleveld. They told each other that
she was without side47 and friendly with everybody and that
she would make a good wife for Lanny Swartz. The preacher
beamed.
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Then, later, Celia found herself alone with Lanny's
mother. All the other people had gone, and Lanny had taken his
things over to the preacher's house where he would stay while
she was in Stilleveld.
She looked at the worn woman, old before her time, and
smiled warmly. It must have been a great strain to keep Lanny
at school all these years, to keep him well clad and not in want
of the things a student needed. True, he had made money
teaching the children of rich Indian merchants but that had only
been in later years. She must be proud of him. She saw tears
well up in the old eyes. Impulsively she put her arm round the
old woman's waist.
"I'm stupid," Sister Swartz said, shaking her head
vigorously.
"Not stupid," Celia said. "Just a proud mother."
A frightened look showed in Sister Swartz's face. She had
a feeling of being very young, younger than this girl who
understood her so well.
"You understand," she said. "I am so happy." And then it
all came out in a burst. "I've been so worried about him. For
days he was unhappy and didn't speak to anyone and went for
long walks alone. I thought he was going away because it was
so lonely here and we are all uneducated people. You know,
young people do get lonely, especially if they are different from
the other people who are with them."
"You must have been worried," Celia said.
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The old woman nodded. "Yes. Then yesterday afternoon
he was the same again. Only happier. Happier than I've ever
seen him. Now I understand. It was your coming that did it. It's
all right now, Miss Richards."
"Celia. … "
Sister Swartz smiled happily. With infinite love and
tenderness she repeated the name: "Celia." This girl of Lanny's
was good and understanding beyond all her hopes. She had no
doubt but that they would be very happy. Celia — she fondled
the name in her mind — loved him and was understanding and
did not mind the poverty of his home and his people. That is
the kind of daughter-in-law a mother wants. A good girl who
does not think herself better than other people. For all her fine
clothes, one could see that she was not afraid of work.
"I am happy that it is you," Sister Swartz said, patting
Celia's hand.
Celia clenched her free hand and forced a smile to her
lips. She must not know. Let her go on thinking Lanny loves
me. She must not know. … She does not know about this other
girl, this Sarie Villier. The thought had suddenly struck her. She
held on, then smiled at the old woman.
"I've heard Lanny talk about the Villiers," Celia said,
watching the old woman carefully. "Who are they?"
Lanny's mother smiled. "Oh, they are the white folk who
live in the big house. You must have seen it on your way here
from the station."
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"Yes," Celia said and turned away.
"They were the first white settlers here," the old woman
went on. "They own most of the land. At least, Gert Villier
does. He's the only one left."
"The only one?"
"Yes. He's the last of the Villiers. Of course there's Sarie
Villier, but then, she's not a real Villier. Her father was a
foundling brought up by Old Gert. Old Gert was the father of
the present Gert. So you see, Gert Villier is the last of the real
Villiers."
"And Sarie Villier is white. … "
"Yes, my child, she is white."
Celia made a strange sound in her throat. The old woman
looked at her.
"What is the matter?"
"Nothing. … Do you mind if I go for a little walk on my
own?"
"No, child. But tell me, is anything wrong?"
Celia kept her face away from the old woman.
"Not a thing. Really."
Celia hurried out of the little house and walked down the
High Street trying to think, but there was only confusion in her
mind.
… How could Lanny do such a thing? It was stupid.
Mad. In Cape Town a flirtation was all right. But things were
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different there. It was a big city. There were places where black
and white could meet in the homes of friends. But nothing
really ever came of such flirtations. The couple could go
nowhere together unless it was round District Six. It just
couldn't work. Even in District Six people stared and frowned
and made remarks. But here. … And he loved her. … That
much was clear. He loved a white girl on the highveld. They
couldn't get married. It was impossible. …
She passed a few people and smiled mechanically at
them. Did the girl love him? Really love him, not just the
excitement? Lanny loved her. Of that Celia was sure. That girl
had aroused in him what she had hoped to arouse. There was
no doubt of it. She had seen it with her own eyes; but where to
turn, what to do?
And as she passed the old well in the gloom she became
aware of footsteps beside her. She turned and saw a broad,
hip-swaying, big-bosomed woman beside her.
"I am Fieta. You are Celia, Lanny Swartz's girl from
Cape Town."
"Yes?"
"I know you are worried."
Celia looked closely to make out Fieta's face.
"How do you know?"
"You wouldn't be walking alone on your first night if you
were not."
"You know a lot."
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"I am a woman."
"What does that mean?" Celia asked and thought, Here's
someone who knows about Sarie Villier.
Fieta gave a joyless laugh.
"It means I know how you feel".
They walked along in silence for a while and Celia found
herself turning with Fieta and following the direction Fieta
took. She's going to tell me something, Celia thought. She must
tell me something.
"I work in the big house," Fieta said slowly. "If you want
to see Sarie Villier I can send her out to meet you."
"I don't want to see her," Celia said sharply.
Again Fieta's mirthless laugh rang out. It was followed
by a heavy silence that lasted all the way up the little hill, past
the summit, and till they were near the outhouses.
"Wait here," Fieta said finally and went on alone.
Celia decided to walk back without waiting, took a few
steps back in the direction of Stilleveld, then turned slowly and
went to the spot where Fieta had told her to wait.
Fieta went into the house through the kitchen and pushed
her head into the sitting room.
Gert looked up. His eyes lingered on Fieta. Sarie's eyes
were glued to one of her father's books.
"Well?" Gert asked without relaxing the intent stare.
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"What time will you eat? There's a little do on at
Stilleveld48 and I would like to go."
Sarie looked up. Fieta's eye made a fractional move.
"Is the food ready?" Gert asked.
Sarie was surprised afresh at the way he controlled his
temper with Fieta. She said and asked what she wanted and he
did not roar and yell at her as he had with Mabel.
"It will be soon."
"Then we'll eat as soon as it's ready."
"Thank you, Baas Gert."
Sarie walked into the kitchen a few minutes later.
"There's someone waiting for you beyond the outhouses,"
Fieta said softly.
"Who is it?" Sarie thought, Does she know as well?
"I don't know. It's a woman. I couldn't see well in the
dark."
"White?" Sarie cursed herself as soon as the word was
out. It was a wrong question to ask. It might arouse Fieta's
suspicion.
Fieta shrugged and looked curiously at Sarie.
"Who else could it be?" she asked innocently.
"Why couldn't you tell me inside?"
"She didn't want Baas Gert to know."
"She knows Gert."
"Yes," Fieta lied glibly.
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Probably the Smit girl, Sarie decided, and went out.
Wonder what she wants, her thoughts ran on as she walked in
the direction of the outhouses.
Gert pushed his head round the kitchen door.
"Where are the Kaffir girls?"
Fieta smiled.
"I sent them off. There was nothing more to do. It was a
lesson to show them that they could go early if they worked
well."
"Sarie?" he asked.
"Miss Sarie has gone to the outhouse to look at the stores
and see what's to be ordered."
Gert walked into the kitchen and stood facing Fieta.
"A long time," he said with fierce intensity.
Fieta smiled quietly and walked over to the stove. Gert's
intent stare seemed not to affect her at all.
"You are older," he went on.
"So are you," Fieta flung over her shoulder.
"And fatter," he said studying every line of her body.
"The children did that," she said lightly and laughed.
"Whose are they?"
She shrugged and turned to face him. Her teeth flashed in
a broad, happy, lighthearted grin.
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"Are you jealous?"
He flushed and looked away. She laughed.
"Still the same Gert Villier," she said. "Still looking for
the same thing. All right. I'll answer you. But you're asking
something if you ask whose children they are." She shrugged
slightly. "A man here, a man there, and that's how they
happened. But I am their mother so they are my children."
The tension seemed to leave Gert Villier. He saw her
body again. Fat but comely. His voice sounded gentle when he
spoke again:
"Out of all the lot there is only you and I left now, Fieta.
Only the two of us who still remember the past when the big
house was full of people and there was the sound of laughter
and merrymaking. Do you remember?"
"Yes," Fieta said and watched him curiously.
"Life was good then," he said in his new, gentle voice.
"You knew how to laugh," she said, still watching him.
He took a step forward and looked eagerly at her.
"Come back tonight," he implored, "when Sarie is out
with her dog. She stays out late and then goes straight to bed.
Come back and let us talk about the past, let us remember it."
"Do you want to remember it?" she asked softly.
He stared at her, shook his head as though to clear it, then
nodded vigorously.
"Yes!" he said fiercely. "I want to remember! I tell you I
want to remember! But it'll be different. Everything will be all
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right. Things will be as I wanted them. All right! All right, I tell
you! Everything will be all right!"
"The past is always the same," Fieta said. "Just as it
happened. Always. That will never be changed."
"It will be," he pleaded. "Please come back tonight and
you will see. Please. Will you come back?"
Fieta shook her head.
"Why not?" he pleaded.
The ready smile jumped to Fieta's lips:
"Remember a long time ago, many years now, you met
me once and asked me to come and … and sleep with you? …
Do you remember?"
He nodded, watching her lips.
"I was young then, but I remember it. I said no and I told
you why. Do you remember?"
"And you won't come for the same reason?" he asked
hoarsely.
She nodded.
"But he's mad now," Gert protested fiercely. "He's all
twisted up! He's like an animal. It can't be true! He's not a
person any more. He's a thing! It isn't true, Fieta!"
"It is," she said slowly.
Gert stared dazedly at her.
"But I order him about like an animal! He was kicked
into a mad animal!"
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Fieta's eyes opened wide as she stared at him.
"You know who did it," she said slowly.
"I know," Gert said.
Then his eyes cleared. He realized what he had said.
"You've known all this time," Fieta said slowly.
"What of it?"
"Tell me who did it," Fieta said slowly. "Tell me who did
it and I'll come back and sleep with you and do anything you
want." Her hands clenched and unclenched. Her bosom heaved.
Murder showed in her eyes.49
"No," he said heavily.
Fieta watched him closely and realized that he would not
tell.
"It happened long ago," he said with hopelessness in his
voice. "Forget it."
The urge to hurt surged through her body and raged in
her like a storm.50 Slowly, spitting out the words, she said:
"If she were alive she would not have forgotten. She
would have loved him still, twisted or not."
His fist shot out and caught her on the side of the face.
She dropped to the floor. He raised his foot to kick. And it was
the face of the other Sarie that stared up at him from the floor.
With a groan he shut his eyes to blot out the face. He turned
and hurried to his room.
Slowly Fieta picked herself up.
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Sarie Villier walked up to the shadowy figure and said:
"Is that Lena Smit?"
"My name is Celia Richards. You are Sarie Villier?"
"Yes," Sarie said slowly, and stepped closer to see this
girl from Cape Town more distinctly.
"I wish I could see you clearly," she said quickly.
"So do I," Celia said.
She has a lovely voice, Sarie decided, and wondered if it
would be safe to invite this girl to one of the outbuildings. She
made up her mind.
"Come, we'll go to one of the outbuildings." She turned
and led the way.
"I've got to get back soon," Celia said.
"Is the party for you?" Sarie asked impersonally.
"Yes," Celia said coldly. She did not like the quiet
calmness in the white girl's voice.
Sarie choked down the mounting jealousy that followed
Celia's answer. I wonder what she's going to say, Sarie thought
detachedly.
And now they were at the door of an outhouse. Sarie
pushed the door open and felt along a ledge till she found a box
of matches. She struck a light and lit one of the oil lamps that
hung from a beam.
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"I'm sorry to have to bring you here," Sarie said softly
and turned.
In the light of the lamp the two girls studied each other
closely. And the sacks of corn and maize, old bits of disused
machines, and flotsam and jetsam51 of farming implements,
string, rope, wire, beams for building were all forgotten and
unseen. They saw only each other.
She's not beautiful, Celia thought; too much forehead and
mouth52 and she doesn't know what to do with her hair. But the
thought brought no joy. Lanny loved her. And she's not colorconscious, Celia realized with dismay. Supersensitive to any
manifestation of the color bar, she would have noticed the
slightest hint of it. But it is impossible to find an Afrikander
girl away from the cities without color-consciousness, she told
herself sharply.
"Well?" Sarie asked.
But how could Lanny love this squat peasant girl? Celia
asked herself. That isn't true, she thought. The girl isn't
beautiful but she's not a squat peasant. That was only a bit of
the cat.53
"Well?" Sarie repeated.
Celia noticed the quiet assurance in her voice. She found
a cigarette and lit it. I must be calm with this girl, she decided.
"I came to see you about Lanny."
"I thought so."
"I want you to leave him alone."
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"For you?" Sarie asked softly.
Celia bit her lower lip and looked away. The girl's soft
voice was getting on her nerves.
"No. Not for me but because nothing could ever come of
it. You are white, he's colored. Nothing can ever come of it.
There are lots of white men from whom you could have
chosen. Why did you have to choose him? Leave him alone for
his own sake."
"I didn't choose him," Sarie said slowly.
Celia laughed derisively and shook her head.
"Let's not beat about the bush,"54 she said sharply.
"I didn't choose him," Sarie repeated.
"A woman sees a man," Celia said bluntly. "She likes
what she sees and makes up her mind. That's what you did.
That's what we all do. Later on, in the course of time we fall in
love. Only cheap novelists and romantic idiots believe in love
at first sight."
Sarie smiled. A quiet, private smile.55
"What I said is true. You may believe it or not, just as you
like. Things just happened."
"And what about Lanny?"
"It was the same," Sarie said slowly. She was getting a
little tired of the cleverness of this beautiful girl from Cape
Town. "He tried to fight it, just as I did, but it was no good. But
of course, you are too wise to understand that; it's too simple, a
boy and a girl meeting each other and loving."
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"But you are white!" Celia accused.
With an effort Sarie controlled her mounting anger. You
must understand that this girl is hurt, Sarie, she told herself. It
eased her.
"I'm a woman," she said kindly.
"He loved me," Celia said desperately.
Sarie controlled the impulse to tell her to find another
man and make up her mind about him, as she had with Lanny.
"He told me," she said slowly.
"We knew each other for years, we did things together,
everything. I tell you he loved me before he came here and met
you. This business with you is madness. I understand him,
know what he wants, what's good for him. We shared things!
Do you hear! We shared things!" Celia watched Sarie
desperately.
"He told me," Sarie said softly.
Celia's bosom heaved. Her mouth worked.56
"We shared a bed!" she said fiercely.
"I know." There was infinite kindness in Sarie's voice.
"He told me that too."
Celia turned her back on Sarie. Her shoulders sagged and
slowly her body began to shake with tremulous, hopeless sobs.
The sobbing grew into gasping cries that rent her body. … And
then, after a time, they died down.
Only then did Sarie walk over and put her arm round
Celia's shoulder. For a while Celia resisted the embrace but
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finally she gave in and clung to the strong, sturdy, upright
figure of the white girl.
Slowly, strength and quiet returned to her. Her body
straightened, her shoulders squared. Sarie stepped back and
watched her. Celia wiped her face, found a cigarette, lit it, and
raised her eyes. Again the two girls stared at each other. Sarie
wanted to say that she was sorry but knew it would not help so
she kept quiet.
"I must go," Celia said. "I don't want them to miss me."
Sarie turned down the lamp and followed her out. They
walked some distance in silence.
"I must turn back now," Sarie said. "You keep straight
along."
"Don't tell Lanny I've seen you."
"I won't," Sarie replied. "Good-by."
She watched Celia's fast-moving, slim, straight figure for
a while, then turned and ran back to the big house.
The open, communal fire blazed cheerily. In the shadows
an old man played a concertina. Young girls paraded round the
fire in the cast-off clothes57 of white folk; the clothes were well
washed and artistically patched. Near the fire a tiny group of
unmarried, unambitious young men who had not gone to the
big cities talked about the girls. On the other side of the fire a
group of older women clustered round Sister Swartz, who told
them about Celia's fine clothes. She had helped Celia unpack
and had seen the silks and laces, had fingered them.58 Such fine
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clothes! And now the other old women were fingering the fine
clothes in their minds as she described them.
Suddenly the little clearing in front of the fire was filled
with dancers. The older men had a large paraffin tin of beer
behind a house. They kept retiring to it in little groups, and
returned more cheerful, more erect, more manly each time.
Celia watched it all with a fixed smile. Lanny stood near
her, rebellious, uncomfortable, and unhappy about this
celebration that had been forced on them because the old folk
thought they were in love and would marry. And perhaps Sarie
was waiting.
All the time the fixed smile had been on Celia's lips. All
through the supper that his mother had fussed so much about.
She had endured the warm understanding looks and the little
attentions59 as though everything was what they thought it
was.60 Had smiled and talked and turned to Lanny cheerfully as
they expected her to do. Miserable and unhappy. Weighed
down with pain and longing and fear. Yet she had smiled.
Life is like that, she thought detachedly. People wish for
things and make them happen in their minds.61 It blinds them
and they cannot see what is happening. And you have to lie and
live a lie,62 to pretend and to smile when you want to shout, to
nod and say yes when they murmur nonsense into your ear. But
it is not their fault. It is life's fault. Life plays such mad tricks
on people, twists them up and turns them. And love? Well, love
raises you up and then it drops you down. It is kind and soft
and heart-filling, warm and tender; and then, while you're still
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in heaven, it smacks you in the face and walks away. … But
don't be bitter,63 girl. Sarie Villier said they couldn't help
themselves. If it is that kind of love there is nothing you can
do. But there's nothing they can do either. There'll be trouble as
soon as it's found out. Perhaps he will come back to you then,
lass. … She looked sideways at Lanny and shook her head
slowly. … No, he will not come back; whatever happens, he
will not come back. After Sarie Villier he will not come back.
The old preacher who had hovered over them like a
guardian angel left them and went to the other side of the fire.
They were alone now. Celia touched Lanny's arm.
"Lanny. … What's going to happen? I mean where's it
going to lead to?"
She looked into his eyes and thought, He doesn't care.
"Please, Celia, …" Lanny began slowly.
"All right," Celia interrupted. "We won't talk about it."
Isaac and Young Mako walked down the High Street in
the direction of the fire.
"There's no sense in talking to him, I tell you," Isaac said.
"We must try," Mako said in his surprisingly deep voice.
"It will do no good," Isaac said doubtfully. "A man in
love in the way he is is unreasonable. I've seen both of them,
Mako."
"Swartz is an educated and therefore reasonable man."
"Your theories will come unstuck this time,"64 Isaac said
with certainty.
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Mako shrugged and moved into the circle of the fire. A
smile flitted over his face as he realized how these half-castes
would resent the presence of a black man at their celebration.
He remembered once asking the preacher to bring the whole
community over to the kraal for a celebration there. The
preacher had been horrified at the idea of coloreds mixing with
blacks.
He edged his way toward Lanny and the beautiful girl on
the other side of the fire. People recognized him and Isaac and
began to whisper. The preacher saw Mako and hurried forward,
his cheeks puffed out in anger. The nerve of the black man to
come here at such a time!65 If he had to see Lanny couldn't he
do it some other time?
Mako saw the preacher, smiled, and moved faster.
There was a momentary hush over the gathering. If the
black man had come alone they would have protested and
made loud remarks, but since there was a white man with him
they didn't know how to react.
The preacher reached them in time to see Celia shake the
black man by the hand and smile at him. He was on the point
of making some rude remark when he saw Isaac.
"We thought we would come and greet you and have a
few words with Swartz," Mako said after Lanny had introduced
them.
"I'm glad," Celia replied. "There's a table over there.
Shall we go and sit down? I will try to get you some coffee."
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Mako liked this girl. She was intelligent, a different thing
from just being educated. Behind him, the preacher made a
rumbling noise deep in his throat. Mako swung round and
smiled mockingly.
"Ah! The man of God," he said lightly. "It is good to see
you, old man. But I know you do not like seeing me here." He
turned back to Celia. "You know, Miss Richards, your preacher
thinks because I'm a black man I should not be here and you
should not be offering me coffee. He might throw the mug
away afterwards if I take the coffee."
"Nonsense," Celia said lightly. "The preacher thinks no
such thing, Mr. Mako. If he said so he was probably joking."
The mocking smile was all over Mako's face. His brows
arched questioningly.
"Ask him," he said quietly.
Celia smiled and turned to the preacher. If Mako was
right, here was an opportunity to get at the prejudices of the
preacher and all the others.
"You don't believe in any such nonsense," Celia said
cheerfully, laying her hand on the preacher's arm, "how do
you?"
The old man's cheeks puffed out and a gurgling noise
came from his throat.
"There you are," Celia said, turning to Mako. "He
doesn't. Now come." She led the way to the table, leaving the
preacher choking and spluttering yet bewildered and
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wondering whether he was wrong after all; she was an
educated girl and should know. And if she said it was nonsense
then it must be so.
A body of people crowded round the preacher to know
what the Kaffir meant by coming to their party. They were
outraged and indignant.
"Your beliefs are all nonsense!" the preacher said sharply.
"God made us all!" He stalked away, but with a gnawing
uncertainty in his breast. The girl was educated, she ought to
know, but really, a Kaffir was a Kaffir after all.
"You have shaken the old man," Mako told Celia and
laughed.
"He should be shaken," she said and thought what a nice
person Mako was.
"It would be good to have you here," he went on. "It
would help break down this stupidness." He looked at Lanny as
he spoke.
Isaac watched Celia's face and saw the pain and
unhappiness behind the smile and proud carriage. She loves
him too, he told himself and wondered if he would be justified
in telling Lanny what he knew. It would be a cruel thing to do,
but nothing good could come of this relationship between
Swartz and the Villier girl.
Yet the two-thousand-year-old Jew in him admired it. It
was a break with tradition and convention and the racial
nonsense of the past. It was a revolt against nationalist tyranny,
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an assertion of the basic fact that a person was a person
irrespective of color. That other night Mako had said it was
living on the highest plane, love like this, free of nationalisms
and racialisms. And yet Mako was objecting now.
"If you'll sit down here I'll go and get the coffee," Celia
said and left them.
They sat down and Mako turned to Lanny. Isaac's eyes
flitted curiously from one face to the other — the dark brown
tapering face, small and delicately fashioned as though by the
hand of a sensitive poet, with the cynical understanding twist to
the mouth that suggested the poet had no illusions yet had faith,
and, on the other side, the almost rugged, round, handsome
pale brown face with only the eyes indicating a scholarly
bent.66 Around them people reveled.
"I came to talk to you of a very personal thing," Mako
said slowly. "Now you might say that Finkelberg and I should
mind our own business and you would be right. But we come
because we feel we are your friends and it is the duty of friends
to speak what is in their hearts. So if we say something that
makes you angry, try to remember that. We are your friends,
that is why we say it. And we are thinking of you and your
people. That is why we seem to interfere in what is not our
business."
Isaac saw resistance in Lanny's eyes and thought, He
knows what is coming.
Mako went on:
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"You remember our talk that other night? Well, I thought
of it when I heard about you and the girl. There is nothing
wrong with it. It is no crime. If our country were a free country
where people lived freely and not like slaves it would be only
your business and her business. In a world that is sane I would
wish you luck, and you two, colored boy and white girl, would
be married and would be happy. But it is not so. Here the black
people are like slaves. The white people here fear the very idea
of equality between you and that girl and when they find out,
there will be trouble for you, you know that, and there will be
trouble for her too. It will lead only to unhappiness and pain.
"You see, you cannot protect your love and keep the
outside world away all the time. You live in the world and the
world is going to find you out. And because it is a stupid, mad
world, this in which we live, it is going to hurt you and your
love and your woman. Perhaps in other lands, though they are
very few, where color is not a crime, you would have been
happy. Here you cannot be.
"Do this for your people, for the future. Go away from
here, live in another place and fight till your people are no
longer slaves so that one day in the future if another colored
man loves another white woman they will be free to love
openly and it will not be a crime. That is a good thing to do for
your people.
"And in the fight you will find forgetfulness and your
pain will be less. You see, Swartz, you and I, our generation,
are born to the fight, my friend. For us there is no time for love.
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There is only the fight to live and be men instead of slaves. We
must leave the quiet song in the evening. It is not for us to stop
and listen and be soft. Our hearts must be hard. If they are not
we die, though we be alive. And those who come after us too.
"We must fight for a time when the sun will shine and the
birds will sing and the hearts of our people will be brighter than
the sun and the song of their hearts will be gayer and louder
than that of the birds. We must fight for that time. We must go
forward and fight, my brother, because for us there can be no
rest. Come then, my brother, will you go away?"
Lanny stared away into space. Mako and Isaac watched
him closely. Celia came back with two mugs of coffee and
went away for more. The people had forgotten Mako and Isaac
and were dancing and shouting happily. Only the preacher still
nursed his doubts on the other side of the fire. Celia returned
with two more mugs and went away again. Her instinct told her
that these two were her allies against the white girl. She came
back with a plate of cookies and joined them at the table.
"What do you say, my friend?" Mako urged gently.
"I have nothing to say," Lanny said.
Isaac sighed, sank lower on the seat, took off his glasses,
and rubbed them vigorously.
"You will hate me for this, Swartz," he said slowly. "I had
hoped not to have to tell you." He looked at Celia. "Will you
please go away for a little?"
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"I'd like to stay," Celia said hoarsely, fear gripping at her
heart.
"Let her stay," Lanny said.
Isaac shrugged and sighed again.
"Won't you change your mind and go away?"
"No. What have you to say?"
"I'm sorry, Swartz. … Old Gert Villier was your father.
You are related to Sarie Villier."67 He sighed heavily and
lowered his head.
A thrill of hope shot through Celia.
"That's a lie!" Lanny shouted.
"It's the truth,"68 Isaac said sadly.
Lanny stared at him and unbelief turned into horror and
horror turned into a dazed, tortured, confused unhappiness.
Slowly he got up and walked away from them.
"I must go after him," Celia said anxiously.
Mako laid his hand on her arm.
"No. Leave him alone."
Lanny passed dancing people without seeing them. They
spoke to him but he did not hear.
He found his mother on the other side of the fire with a
group of women. He touched her arm.
"Come with me," he said in a strangled voice.
The old woman looked at his face and was frightened.
"Is anything wrong, son?" she asked anxiously.
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"Come with me," he repeated.
Wordlessly they walked to the house. Anxiety gnawed
the old woman. Lanny struck a match and lit the lamp, then
shut the door and turned to his mother.
"Is it true?" he asked hoarsely. "Was Old Gert Villier my
father?"
The old woman began to sob quietly and an incoherent
jumble of words tumbled from her lips.
"Is it true?" Lanny cried in a frenzy.
"Yes," she said in a small frightened voice, tears
streaming down her face.
Lanny walked out of the little house and kept walking.
He did not know or care where he was going. He just kept
walking, a cruel hammer beating against his brain.
It was thus that Fieta saw him walk into the kitchen of
the big house. She pushed her fist into her mouth to choke
down the involuntary cry and bundled him out of the kitchen.
"Are you mad!" she whispered fiercely, shaking him.
"Gert's in the house."
"I want Sarie," he said.
Fieta realized something was wrong. Lanny Swartz was
not himself. She blessed the tear in her blouse that had delayed
her the extra few minutes;69 but for that she would have gone
five minutes earlier and God alone knew what would have
happened then.
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"You stay here, I'll go and get her, understand! You must
stay here!"
She left him and hurried into the house and into Sarie's
room. Sarie looked up from her book. Fieta went close to her.
"Lanny Swartz is outside," Fieta whispered. "Something
is wrong."
Before she had finished talking Sarie was gone. She
hurried out of the house and found Lanny in the shadows of a
wall where Fieta had pushed him. She took his arm and walked
away from the house. She sensed the tension in him.
"What is the matter, my dear? What is wrong? Tell me."
"I am the son of Old Gert Villier," Lanny said in a hollow
voice.
She understood. Poor Lanny.
"But that doesn't matter, my dear," she said tenderly. "I'm
still not related to you. I haven't a single drop of Villier blood
in me. Do you hear, not a drop. My father was a foundling. He
was not a Villier. It's only the name. I'm not a Villier at all."
Lanny stopped and tried to see her face in the darkness.
"Is that true?" he begged.
"It is true, Lanny."
She reached up and pulled his face down, she placed her
cheek against his and held him thus. She felt the tension
leaving his body. She felt him relax and half-wilt.
"Come, sit down," she said and led him to a grassy
mound.
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They sat down. And suddenly Lanny began to sob. She
gathered him to her bosom and held him there, rocking gently
as a mother does with her baby, till the sobbing died down.
"Everything's all right," she said.
"I thought I'd lost you," he said in a normal voice charged
with relief.
"You'll never lose me," she said with certainty.
"Remember, I'm in your heart."
They clung to each other in the quiet night.
"I'm in your heart," she repeated. "Remember that,
Lanny. I'm in your heart just as you are in mine. Will you
remember always?"
He nodded. She pushed him away and looked at his face.
"Now you must go back," she said. "Don't spoil their
party."
"Celia is here," he said.
"I know," she said. "But you must go back. Don't worry
about anything. Don't worry about Celia or because you are a
Villier." She thought for a while, then went on slowly: "It is
strange to think of you as a Villier, as the last real Villier.
Funny, really you and Gert are half brothers. I wonder if he
knows. … "
"You don't mind?" Lanny asked curiously. He minded
very much.
Sarie laughed in that soft, confiding manner.
"Not at all. Why should I mind?"
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She took his face between her hands and drew it near. In
the light of the moon her eyes were deep and filled with the
wisdom of the ages, filled with the understanding, love, and
compassionate companionship of the ages.
"I would only mind if anything went wrong with you,
Lanny."
A lump rose in Lanny's throat and rendered him
speechless. He took her hands from his face and kissed them
passionately. Mirth bubbled up inside Sarie. Everything was all
right. The fear that had gripped her heart when she had rushed
out of her room was gone. And she felt strong and proud too,
that he should love her so. She was the freest being on the earth
and freedom went to her head.
With a half-shy, half-defiant little gesture of complete
abandon she flung herself into his arms. Whatever little
restraint might have existed between them went.
"Now I'm lost in you," she said cheerfully and laughed.
Lanny understood and felt peaceful.
After a while Sarie pushed him away.
"You must go now," she said and sighed.
She sensed his coming protest and put her hand to his
lips.
"All right," he said reluctantly. "At ten?"
"Yes. I'll be waiting. Go now."
When he had gone some distance she turned and went
back to the house. Fieta was there, ready to go but waiting.
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Fieta looked curiously at her. So she knows, Sarie thought. She
shrugged. It didn't matter who knew as long as it didn't harm
Lanny.
"Everything all right?" Fieta asked impersonally, going to
the door.
"Yes. … " Then after a moment's hesitation. "Thank you,
Fieta."
Fieta went out as though she had not heard.
Down in Stilleveld the merrymaking was at its height.
Nobody noticed the tear-stained face of Sister Swartz as she
told the preacher what had happened. They had completely
forgotten the unwanted black man in their midst. Beer flowed
freely. People played, laughed, and danced with an abandon70
that was intensified because it was an escape from the cruel,
hard, hungry monotony of their ordinary days. They waxed
eloquent and were boastful.71 They lived in dreams never to be
fulfilled and rendered more wonderful by that fact. Not big
dreams. Just little dreams. A little bit of money, not much, and
one or two new dresses, and, perhaps, meat three or four times
a week, and bread to give when the children with the swollen
bellies cried. One old woman's dream was to save up three
pounds. She had no special reason for it. It was just that it
would be wonderful to have three pounds, she explained shyly.
Another woman declared solemnly that she would be ready to
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die if she could taste butter. Little dreams they dreamed and
hugged them to their bosoms. …
"Here's Swartz," Mako said and watched Lanny coming
slowly round the fire. Somebody stopped him. They saw him
smile and give away a cigarette. Isaac frowned suddenly.
"Something's wrong," Isaac murmured and rubbed his
glasses.
Deliberately Lanny pulled out his chair and sat down. He
looked at Isaac and nodded slowly.
"You are right, Finkelberg," he said quietly.
Celia put her hand on his arm. He pulled it away.
"I did it for your good," Isaac said staring in front of him
and feeling guilty.
"Thanks," Lanny said dryly.
"Then you will go away?" Mako asked doubtfully.
Lanny smiled.
"No. I will not go away. Thank you for all your trouble
but I will not go away."
"But why not?" Isaac asked sharply.
"You seem to have a knack for finding out things.72
Well, find out."
Isaac flushed and rubbed his glasses harder. Lanny took
the mug of cold coffee in front of him and sipped it.
"I'll get you a warm mug," Celia said anxiously and held
out her hand.
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"This will do."
She bit her lips and lowered her eyes.
"Look, my friend …" Mako said slowly, but Lanny
interrupted him with an angry wave of his arm that spilled
some of the coffee.
"You look for a change, Mako. I'm believing you when
you say you came here with the best of intentions." Lanny
spoke quietly. "Well, I've listened to what you and Finkelberg
had to say. I am grateful to you. Now I want you both to mind
your own business. This is my business and if I want any help
or advice from either you or Finkelberg, I will ask you, but
until I do so I do not want any of your opinions. I grant you
that you know a lot, Mako, but you do not know everything or
understand everything. Try to understand that I don't want any
interference."
Isaac opened his mouth but Mako shook his head and got
up. He looked at Lanny and the cynical twist had gone from his
mouth, the mocking light from his eyes. Only understanding
and a touch of sadness showed in his face.
"I am sorry, Swartz," Mako said slowly. "I hope you will
forgive me, and Finkelberg too." He held out his hand to
Lanny. After some hesitation Lanny took the hand. Mako's grip
was firm. "Then we are friends still?" he asked.
Lanny nodded.
"Yes. We are friends."
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"And me too?" Isaac wanted to know while busy with his
glasses.
"Yes."
"Come, Finkelberg," Mako said. "We will go now. Thank
you for the coffee, Miss Richards. I am glad I have met you."
They walked in silence till they were out of the circle of
revelry. Isaac looked at Mako and shook his head.
"He's mad," Isaac said.
"No, my friend, not mad. He's a human being now. The
love that is between him and that girl has made him human.
The inhibitions caused by oppression have left him. If it were
possible he would become a complete person in a very short
time, but anything might happen between now and then. The
tragedy is not in Swartz and this girl. The tragedy is in this land
and in our times. You must be first a native or a half-caste or a
Jew or an Arab or an Englishman or a Chinaman or a Greek,
that is the tragedy. You cannot be a human being first. That is
the crime of our time, my friend. For that reason Swartz and
this girl who have now become human beings will suffer. This
love of theirs is a symbol of man's attempt to move forward
beyond the chains that bind him."
"But where will it get them?"
Mako shrugged and lit his pipe. His face looked peaceful
in the flame of the match.
"For them, nowhere. Pain, trouble, jail." He shrugged
again. "In the end they will be separated somehow."
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"Swartz may be beaten to death."
"Yes, maybe that. Maybe he'll be lucky and only have to
go to the hospital for some months. So, for them there is
nothing in it. For others there will be a lesson in it, and for
some of them the lesson will be very big. That is all."
"Christ, but you can be cold-blooded!" Isaac exclaimed.
"If there must be war," Mako said and shrugged.
They walked on in silence, the young Jew and the young
Negro. The night was too young for the stars to be really bright
yet. Only the moon shone bright on the dark earth. Isaac kept
turning his eyes to Mako. He wondered what was going on in
that dark head. He felt dissatisfied with the quiet way in which
Mako had accepted their dismissal when Lanny had returned.
But there was something in Mako's attitude, something in
his bearing, in the sadness that had shown in his face that
prevented Isaac from uttering the criticisms he felt. Yet, over
and above the desire to criticize was the desire to understand
why Mako had accepted Lanny's dismissal of them so meekly.
"Why did you accept it so meekly?" Isaac asked.
Mako smiled.
"Accept what, my friend?"
"You know what I mean — when Lanny came back."
Mako laughed softly, a bitter, mirthless laugh.
"And you, my friend, you think you are a student of
people and you ask me that."73
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Isaac took off his glasses and polished them vigorously in
the dark.
"You have not told me why," he murmured.
Mako stopped and turned to look at the fire and the
merrymaking. Faintly the sounds of many voices and many
people drifted up to them.
"Listen to the people," Mako said softly. "They are
happy. They are celebrating. They are singing and dancing and
drinking because they think Swartz and Miss Richards will be
married, but mainly they are doing it because it takes them out
of themselves, frees them for a little while and they can dream.
People are like that. Always they can find something to laugh
about; is it not wonderful, my friend?"
"Yes," Isaac said impatiently, "but what about Swartz?"
There was a long silence, then Mako said:
"Yes. About Swartz. The American poet, Countee
Cullen74 once wrote a poem. It could have been about them,
Finkelberg. Listen:
Locked arm in arm they cross the way,
The black boy and the white,
The golden splendor of the day,
The sable pride of night.
From lowered blinds the dark folk stare,
And here the fair folk talk,
Indignant that these two should dare
In unison to walk.
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Oblivious to look and word
They pass, and see no wonder
That lightning brilliant as a sword
Should blaze the path of thunder.
"It is about two boys but it could be about Swartz and the
girl Sarie." He laughed softly. "The poet is better than the
politician, my friend, his truth is eternal. But let us go on. You
want to understand. I will tell you. You say to yourself, 'If they
love they will get into trouble, and you say they must stop. You
want to put up your hands to the skies and say to the lightning,
'You will burn down this house. Do not come!' You want to put
out your hands and push back the thunder! Can you do it, my
friend?" His voice rose in bitter anger. "You say to me I accept
meekly. Tell me, can you stand in the path of thunder?"
"But there will be trouble, Mako. The school will come
to an end. … What will happen in the valley?''
"Yes, my friend, there will be trouble, the school will
come to an end perhaps. But there will be a lesson in this, I
repeat. For some it will be a very big one. After the storm, my
friend, the earth is wet and fresh, the old and rotten trees are
down. There must be new sowing, new planting, and the new
maize and the new trees must be nursed. So it is with the earth,
my friend, and so with the minds of men. … "
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Long after Mako and Isaac had gone, Celia and Lanny sat
in silence. Through Celia's mind a thought had recurred with
devastating finality: this was the end. She had just witnessed it.
This was a completely new Lanny Swartz who sat with her.
Somebody who was a stranger. He had the old familiar face,
made the old familiar gestures, the old familiar voice sounded
when he spoke, but for all that he was an unapproachable
stranger.
Best end it, she told herself. No sense in torturing
yourself any more. Wipe it out cleanly and neatly. Nothing else
can come of it. But she remembered the things shared; days
and nights, mornings and afternoons, and the joys and laughter
that had peopled them; the friendship the hours had shared with
them; the long walks; the peaceful silences; the dancing; the
crowds; the friends they had known together; and remembering
these things made the clean ending very difficult. One could
not throw away the past like a drawn tooth. Memory plays
strange tricks on the heart. Still, it must end, and so, let that
happen with the minimum of hurt. That is the sensible thing.
"What's your time, Lanny?"
He consulted his watch.
"Half-past eight."
"Do you think we could make the station by nine?
There's a train supposed to pass through then. I want to catch it.
It would be better that way."
"Must you go tonight?"
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"It would be better. Can we do it?"
"It will mean going at a trot and starting immediately."
"I must go. Will you post my things? I'll go and see your
mother and the preacher. I'll tell them I've had a wire to say
father is ill."
"You could go tomorrow."
"No. I'll go tonight. Go and get my handbag, it's on the
bed. My ticket and money are in it. That's all I'll take. Walk
along. I'll be with you in no time. Don't argue, please, this is
best for me — for all of us."
Lanny looked at his watch again and hurried to the house.
Celia walked over to where Lanny's mother and the preacher
stood together. She saw the misery and pain in the old woman's
face but steeled herself. She couldn't stand much more. She had
to catch that train. The preacher looked worried too.
Celia slipped her arm round the old woman's waist. The
old woman bit her lower lip to check the tears, but in spite of
that they flowed freely.
"You know what Lanny found out," she said painfully.
"Yes, I know," Celia said.
"But he's better than many people whose parents were
married in church."
"Don't worry about it."
"He will never forgive me. Celia! I was young then. I
worked in the big house. It was before Swartz's time. I tell you
I was young and foolish then."
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"Don't worry, please. He will forgive you. I know he
will."
"He'll throw it in my face. I'm so ashamed."
"We all make mistakes. Don't worry. You really mustn't
worry. Everything will be all right."
"And you don't mind, Celia?"
"Of course I don't mind and I don't think any the worse of
you for it. These things happen."
"You're a good girl, Celia. … Isn't she?" The old woman
appealed to the preacher.
"Very goodhearted," the preacher responded.
"And you still love him?" the old woman appealed.
Celia steadied herself and nodded.
"Yes. … I still love him. … But that wasn't what I came
to see you about. The young Jew brought me a wire. My father
is very ill. There's a train at nine. I'm catching it. I must hurry.
I'm leaving my things here. Perhaps I can come back; if not
you can send them to me. Now I must go, Lanny's waiting."
She endured their sympathy for a minute or two but
firmly rejected all alternative suggestions they made. At last
they gave up. The old woman took Celia's shoulders and
looked into her face with a sort of desperate courage.
"You are sure you are not leaving because …" She faltered
and her eyes begged the girl to tell the truth.
I'm going because he doesn't love me any more, the cry
trembled on Celia's lips but she choked it down.
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"Of course I'm sure. Don't talk such nonsense. I'll probably
be back soon." She kissed the old woman and hurried away.
On the other side of the fire she began to run. Her heart
pounded furiously. She ran steadily. Up the hill, past the old
store. Far ahead of her she saw the figure of Lanny walking
along in the moonlight. She felt hot, took off her coat, and
flung it over her arm. That was better. The cool night air was
refreshing. She had to reach the station in time. Panic gripped
her as she thought of the possibility of arriving too late for the
train. No. It had to be done. She ran faster. Now it was a little
easier. She was getting her second wind.75 She caught up with
Lanny76 and ran past him calling him to come on. He sprinted
after her and soon they were running side by side. Many an
evening had they run thus to catch a last bus or train from some
distant point of the Cape peninsula. And now they were
running together for the last time to catch the train that would
take her out of his life forever.
She sobbed as she ran but Lanny mistook it for hard
breathing. At one point her sobbing became particularly loud.
He thought she was winded77 and suggested that they rest but
she went on. On. Steadily on they moved. Now the little siding
was in sight but there was no sign of the train.
"We can slow down now," Lanny called. "The train's not
in sight yet."
"Not yet," she called back.
They ran for a little while longer, then slowed down to a
brisk walk.
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"The train only stays in the siding for a minute or so,"
Celia said.
"Yes," Lanny said.
So that's how it ends, Celia thought. Not a really
important word to say.
From a distance the shrill hoot of the train carried faintly
to them.
I shall be out of this soon now, Celia thought.
"Well, Lanny, …" she said and smiled. "This is good-by,
heh? I know you don't like good-bys78 so we'll just shake hands
and you go back, heh?"
"I'm sorry about everything, Celia."
"I know. I wasn't going to tell you but I saw Sarie Villier.
We had a little chat and I know that you are just tied up in each
other.79 Well, I wish you luck, Lanny. … We've had some fine
times together. … Keep the school going. … She's a strong girl.
Lots of character."
The train swept round a curve and slowed down. Celia
gripped Lanny's hand and forced back the tears.
"Good-by, Lanny."
"Good-by, Celia."
She took out a cigarette and lit it hurriedly as she
watched him walk down the sandy track. She pulled hard at the
cigarette. It steadied her nerves. She squared her shoulders,
turned, and walked down the little platform to meet the
oncoming train.
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There was an emptiness, a torturing void to be filled. It
must be filled. She must find someone to fill it. That was life.
She found an empty first-class coupe in the colored
carriage and rang for the steward. By the time he came the train
was far out of Stilleveld. She smiled at the handsome colored
man in the khaki uniform and ordered a bed. Then she sat down
and buried her head in her hands.
"What's going to happen to him?" she whispered. "What's
going to happen?"
The train hooted warningly and entered a tunnel.
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2
IT WAS after ten. Sarie watched the path anxiously. If he were
too late they would have to postpone the visit till another night
and she did not want to do that. Besides, a gallop by the light of
the moon and sharing the same saddle would be wonderful.
She patted the horse's nose.
"You won't mind carrying both of us, will you, Betsy?"
Betsy stamped a front hoof to show approval.
"That's a good girl."
A low whistle drifted to her. There he comes, she
thought, and looked carefully down the path without sighting
him. Strange. She turned her head and looked along the track
that led from the siding to Mako's Kraal. Yes. There he was.
But why was he coming this way?
She called his name. Again the welcome whistle came to
her ears. She laughed and hugged the horse's neck. When
Lanny reached her she held him at arm's length and spoke
sternly:
"Why are you late?"
"Celia decided to go and I had to take her to the station."
"Poor Celia. I'm sorry for her."
"You didn't tell me she saw you."
"She asked me not to."
"She told me herself."
BOOK III, chapter 2
"I thought she would."
He saw the horse and asked:
"Betsy, I presume. What's she here for?"
"She's taking us visiting."
"Both of us?"
"Yes."
"Won't we be too heavy?"
"Don't insult Betsy. She used to pull a cart. Besides, I
asked and she said yes. … And what are you standing there
for? I want to be kissed."
"Then take away your arms."
"You can't want your kisses badly enough."
"I'm afraid of breaking those little arms."
She laughed.
"You fancy yourself, I see."
"Sure."
Suddenly she jumped at him. They struggled, fell, and
rolled over. He pinned her to the ground. After some heaving
she gave in.
"There you are!" he declared, breathless but triumphant.
"You're breathless," she mocked laughing.
"Well you're strong."
"That's what I tried to prove."
He helped her to her feet.
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"Come we'd better go or we'll be too late for visiting."
"Where are we going?"
"You'll find out. Get on."
She got into the saddle and leaned forward. He got on
behind her. She sighed and relaxed.
"Nice to have a cushion," Sarie declared and urged Betsy
forward.
The corn-colored hair caressed his face and her back and
shoulders leaned comfortably and confidingly against his chest.
Occasionally her cheek would brush against his as she turned
to have a look or say a word.
And the wind sang in their ears and life was good and it
was beautiful to be young and to love. Betsy moved lightly and
cheerfully. Life was indeed good.
"We are the riders of the night," Sarie said above the
wind.
"Who are they?"
"Don't you know them?"
"No."
"Well, I'll tell you. But what will you give me?"
"You are mercenary."
"Be that as it may. … Well?"
"A penny."
"Don't talk soft."1
"Three, then."
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"Not enough."
"A sixpence."
"Yes. And what else?"
"Isn't that enough?"
"You're mean."
"A kiss."
"As well as the sixpence?"
"Yes."
"Sold! … Well, the riders of the night are two young
people. A man and a woman. And they ride by night, and
everywhere they go they touch the world with magic and
beauty and tenderness. When their shadow falls on the ugliest
thing, it becomes beautiful,"
"And when it falls on anything beautiful?"
"It becomes more beautiful, silly."
"Yes. Like you."
"You are mad but I like it. … Well, that is the story of the
riders of the night."
"And you want a sixpence and a kiss for that?"
"That's right."
"You're a robber!"
"Do I get paid?"
"No!"
"All right. You'll be sorry."
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Sarie urged Betsy on to a faster pace and began to sway
in the saddle. Lanny, whose feet were not stirruped, found it
hard to keep his balance. Sarie swayed more violently. Betsy
seemed used to the antics. Lanny clung to Sarie, determined
not to give in. She shook herself free of his hold and continued
the rocking movement.
"All right! I'll pay," Lanny cried.
Sarie's laughter rang loud and long.
"I told you. … I'll have the sixpence now and the kiss
later."
"You'll have to wait till we get off."
"Give it now or I'll start again."
"All right!"
After some effort he got his hand into his pocket and
brought out a coin. It felt like a shilling but he handed it over.
"I have no change."
"Keep it, you thief."
Sarie reined Betsy in and tumbled off. She dragged
Lanny off after her and they rolled in a heap on the grass.
"Oh I love you!" she said breathlessly. "I can bully you
and I can torture you and then take your money from you. …
It's so nice. I never thought it could be so nice to treat a man
badly. You wait, this is only the beginning. I'm going to make
you suffer! Now kiss me."
He kissed her tenderly.
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"You are mad," he declared emphatically.
"I know," she said happily. "I can be mad as an idiot, and
then again I can be as wise and tender and understanding as a
mother, and then again I can be like a sister, and then again I
can be just like a friend. Isn't it nice to have so many people
loving you? I love it."
"I love it too," he said. "And I love you, Sarie. Very much
indeed."
She stroked his face in silence, then suddenly jumped up
and ran to Betsy.
"We're nearly there, Lanny. Come, we mustn't play any
more now."
They went on in silence, close to each other, with the
warmth of their companionship over them.2 A gentle, protective
blanket of love.3 And after a while they saw the faint light from
the tiny window of the little shack. Moving on till they were in
front of the shack, they got off and tied Betsy up.
"Is this it?" Lanny asked with a note of doubt in his
voice.
Sarie took his arm.
"It's all right, my dear."
She urged him along and pushed open the door. Three old
people turned their heads and looked up. In spite of the warmth
of the night there was a fire, and Old Tante, Hannah, and
Hannah's old man sat round it. It was not a fire to bring
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cheerfulness like the party fire of Stilleveld. This fire was there
because their blood had run thin4 and they were old.
"Who is it?" Old Tante demanded peevishly.
Hannah's eyes flitted from Sarie to Lanny in a quick,
all-embracive look that missed nothing. Her old man was too
old and tired to bother. He looked, then dropped his head to his
chest again and dozed off.
"It's I," Sarie said softly, "Sarie."
"Sarie is dead," Old Tante said with a cunning smile.
"I'm the foundling's child," Sarie explained. "I was here
today. Remember?"
Old Tante tried to remember, then shook her head and
turned to Hannah.
"Is it true?"
"Yes. She came this morning. She gave you coffee."
"Is she good?" Old Tante wanted to know after mumbling
a few words.
"She is good," Hannah said.
"Come here, child," Old Tante commanded.
Sarie went forward and knelt in front of the old woman
as she had done earlier in the day. And again the old woman's
hands ran over her face and hair.
"Yes," Old Tante said slowly. "I remember. You are Sarie,
the foundling's daughter. The other Sarie did not give in to
them so Gert killed her. … "
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"I brought you a visitor, Old Tante."
"Who is it?"
"My young man, Old Tante. He is called Lanny Swartz."
"Swartz. … " Old Tante said slowly. The leathery old face
creased into the semblance of a frown. "Swartz. … No. Never
heard the name. … Don't know any Swartz. … Come here,
young man. … Come close. … I can hear. Only my eyes. …
Come close. … Well, speak up, young man!"
"How are you, Old Tante?"
Old Tante moved her head impatiently.
"Come where I can feel you, young man. Are you
dumb?"
Sarie pushed Lanny down till he knelt in front of the old
woman. Old Tante ran the gnarled old fingers over Lanny's face
and hair. She gasped and pulled away sharply.
"Go 'way! Go 'way!" she said sharply. "You're a Villier!
Go 'way!"
Sarie took the old woman's shoulders.
"He's Lanny Swartz, Tante, a colored man. … My young
man. He does not like Gert, do you hear? He does not like
Gert."
"He's a Villier," the old woman said tearfully. "I know.
All the Villiers came out of my body. They are all evil and he's
one of them. I know them. Take him away."
"Listen to me," old Hannah said.
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"You know I always do," Old Tante said in the voice of a
child.
"Listen then. You are wrong about this young man. It is
as the daughter of the foundling said. He is colored and he is a
good young man. You must not be afraid of him."
"But the face and the hair, Hannah," Old Tante appealed.
"That is the work of God," Hannah said calmly.
"Sometimes He makes people to look alike."
"Then he is not a Villier?"
"No. You must be friends with him. He is not a Villier.
He is good and will protect you when the Kaffirs come."
"Will you?" she asked eagerly of Lanny.
"I will," he said.
"You will tell them I have been good, not like the
others?"
"Yes. I will tell them."
Old Tante folded her arms and buried her head on her
chest.
"Coffee!" she demanded without moving. A smile passed
over old Hannah's face. She shook her head.
"No coffee. You will not sleep if you drink it."
Old Tante puffed out the sunken cheeks and looked
cunning.
"But I must give my visitors some."
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"I will give them. You must sleep now. And you too,"
Hannah said turning to her old man.
Without a word the old man got up and tottered out of the
room. Without a word Old Tante allowed herself to be put to
bed. She turned on her side, nestled well under the manycolored quilt, and went to sleep.
Hannah took down the oil lamp and led the way into the
little kitchen.
"I will make the coffee," Sarie said.
Hannah eased herself into her old chair and watched first
the one, then the other as Sarie made the coffee and Lanny
helped her. Her wise old eyes intercepted every look that
passed between them, noticed every time they brushed against
each other, noticed that it was impossible for them to hide the
love in their eyes. She shook her head slowly and sighed.
Sarie poured the coffee and they all settled round the
table.
"Today," Hannah said slowly, "you asked me who Sam
Du Plessis is. I did not want to tell you. Now, if you wish, I
will tell you."
"What's all this, Sarie?" Lanny asked.
Sarie put down her mug and looked at him.
"There was another Sarie who came here a long time ago.
She's dead now. She died almost thirty years ago. It seems that
Gert was in love with her; and I think my father was also in
love with her — that's probably why he named me Sarie. Well,
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from what I can understand, Gert's father, Old Gert, wanted
Sarie for Gert, and so he married my father off to my mother,
but Sarie was in love with someone called Sam Du Plessis.
"Old Tante seems to have been the only one in favor of
this Sam Du Plessis. And there is some mystery about him,
that's why I wanted to find out. Old Tante hints that Gert has
killed him, but then she says Gert killed Sarie, and my father,
who knew all about that, told me Sarie died from fever."
Hannah pushed the empty mug away from her, folded her
arms, and leaned forward on the table.
"I know about Sam Du Plessis," she said. "We were still
at the big house then. The master was still alive. The master,
you understand, was the son of old missus, the father of the
present Baas Gert.
"Sam Du Plessis was a young man. He came from the
cities with much money." She looked at Lanny to judge his
height. "He was not as tall as you. A little bit shorter, perhaps.
Darker too. But very handsome. More handsome than you. I
was there when Miss Sarie first met him. It was at the store, but
then it was kept by an Indian, now it is a Jew.
"There was laughter in the heart of Sam Du Plessis and it
was to be seen in his eyes and in the sound of his voice. He was
broader than you, and strong and he loved singing.
"He spoke to Miss Sarie in the store that first time but she
turned her back and would not speak to him." Hannah smiled
as her memory brought the picture back.
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Sarie's hand found Lanny's. The two hands remained
clasped.
"When she turned her back he began to tell stories. They
were such funny stories. Miss Sarie could not help herself. She
laughed. They met again and again at the store, and after some
time I could see the light in her eyes when we went to the store
and how bright it was when we were near it and I knew.
"Then Sam Du Plessis went away to the cities and the
unhappiness of Miss Sarie was great and it grew bigger every
day. But soon there was a letter for her at the store and the light
came back into her eyes and again there was laughter in her
heart and she could not hide it. She told me he would get
money and come back and buy a farm. You know Mako's
Kraal, my old home; on the other side there is land with water,
that was the land he was to buy. There they were to live.
"Then another letter came to say he was coming back
with the money. … All these things Miss Sarie told me for she
trusted me not to tell the others. And I kept quiet. It was the
only thing I did not tell the old missus. … Miss Sarie went out
to meet him. And when she came back it was like a mad
person. … And then she was sick. … And then she died."
"And Sam Du Plessis?" Lanny asked.
Hannah stared away into space.
"They call him Mad Sam," she said heavily.
The blood drained from Sarie's face. Her fingers, dug into
Lanny's flesh.
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"Mad Sam!" Lanny said slowly.
"Gert did it. … " Sarie gasped.
"No one knows," Hannah said. "No one has seen it.
Maybe only Miss Sarie. Maybe that killed her. I think so too. …
But no one knows."
"I'm afraid," Sarie cried and clung to Lanny's arm.
"I fear too," Hannah said heavily.
Lanny put his arm round Sarie and held her to him.
"Don't be afraid, my dear."
"But I am afraid, Lanny. I'm afraid for you, my dear. I
know it's Gert. I understand so many things now."
"I know, my dear, but you must be calm. We'll find a
way."
"Oh Lanny! What will happen if he finds out?" She
covered her face with her hands to blot out the dreadful vision.
"You must go away," Hannah said. Lanny looked at
Sarie.
"We must go away," she said desperately. "Wherever you
go, I'm going too, Lanny."
"But it is the same all over the land," Hannah said.
"Oh God!" Sarie cried. "Is there nowhere where we can
be left in peace to be happy?" A frantic note crept into her
voice. "We're doing no harm to anybody. Ail we want is to be
left alone to be happy!"
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"Listen, Sarie," Lanny said softly. "Be calm and listen.
Nothing has happened yet. Listen: Do you mind being very
poor, perhaps?"
"You know I don't, Lanny." She spoke more calmly. The
awful vision had passed.
"Do you mind going short of food and things for some
time? It won't be for long."
"I don't care if it's forever."
Lanny controlled the eagerness in his voice.
"You won't understand the language."
"I can learn it."
"Then listen, Sarie, my dear. It's the only way out. Last
year I went to Portuguese East Africa with a football team. I
made some friends there. There is no color bar against educated
people there. It's only against the uneducated natives. We can
go there."
"Yes, Lanny!" It was a cry of hope torn from Sarie's soul.
"Of course there'll be difficulties. I can't get a permit to
go, and you can't apply for a permit without letting Gert know.
And besides, it takes so long."
Sarie's face fell.
"But I know somebody in Cape Town," Lanny went on,
"who knows how to get in. He's a friend of mine and will do
anything for me. I'll wire him first thing in the morning."
"And money?" Hannah asked, suppressed hope in her
voice.
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"I will borrow some from people in Cape Town," Lanny
said.
"I can get twenty pounds," Sarie said, suppressing the
voice of her conscience.
"Good. That will help. Now pack as many things as you
can, Sarie. And be careful. No one must know. I think it would
be best if we traveled by night. Tomorrow night. The nineo'clock train for Cape Town. We'll separate before we get to the
siding and we'll have to travel separately until we get to Cape
Town. From there things will be easier."
A silence that lasted many seconds fell on the little
kitchen. Sarie put her hand against Lanny's cheek and turned
his face till they looked into each other's eyes.
"You are sure you want to do this, Lanny?"
Lanny smiled.
"I should be asking you that, Sarie. You're giving up
everything."
She shook her head.
"No, Lanny, it is you who are giving up everything. They
say that love is everything to a woman but only a part of a
man's life. It is everything to me."
"And you're everything to me, Sarie."
"And will everything really be all right when we get
there?"
"Yes, my dear. We'll be able to go everywhere together
and do everything together."
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"Lie in the sun together?"
"Yes."
"Walk arm in arm down the streets?"
"Yes."
"Go into cafés together?"
"Yes, my dear, we'll go together everywhere."
"And be together all the time?"
"Except when I'm working, of course. I know enough
Portuguese to make myself understood but I'll have to study up
a lot to be able to teach in it."
"I'll learn it too!"
"Of course you will."
"Oh it's wonderful, Lanny!"
"We're not there yet."
"We'll get there, won't we, Hannah?"
Hannah smiled and nodded.
"You will get there, but you must be careful."
Sarie kissed the old native woman impulsively and then
hugged Lanny.
"Now you must go," Hannah said gently. "I am old and
tired. Do not fear. No one will know from me where you have
gone, not even if they hang me up."
Hannah led them round the house and watched them
mount Betsy and ride away.
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"Good night, my children," she called. "God be with
you."
While they rode, Lanny explained again everything Sarie
had to do, when she had to meet him and where. She listened
carefully and made him repeat what she was not certain about.
And in her heart was a song. She was going with her
man. Away from all this hate and bitterness. And they would
walk together in public and be normal and happy and free. No
hiding. No fear that someone might find out and harm Lanny.
Everything was going to be all right. And she would be able to
look after him. Wash his clothes, mend his socks, see to his
food, and keep his home clean and happy. And on Sundays they
would lie in the sun and listen to the birds. And of an evening5
they would walk in the lighted streets without being afraid of
being seen. And suddenly it dawned on her how much fear
there had been in their lives. Whether they had known it or not,
fear had controlled and dominated them. It had made them
shun the paths trod by other men. It had made them seek quiet,
secret places where they could share their love in safety.
Soon all that would be over. Their love would come out
into the open of daylight and sunshine and no one would be
able to harm it. It would be right and normal and natural. Free.
She wasn't worried about Cape Town. Lanny knew a girl
there who could put her up. From Cape Town things would be
easier. It was just tomorrow that had to go by and then
everything would be all right.
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She leaned against his chest and Betsy was a cloud on
which they traveled and a warm, contented glow spread from
her breast to every part of her body.
She smiled when she thought he had not made physical
love to her. She leaned back till her lips were close to his ear.
"You have not loved me," she said.
His free arm tightened about her.
"We are not married yet," he said.
"Marriage is a form," she said and marveled afresh at her
lack of shyness with him. "You know it as well as I do, Lanny,
we are as married as it is possible for any two people to be,
with or without form."
"You're a strange child, Sarie. I thought you'd be uneasy
about it."
"Why?"
"Virgins are."
"How do you know?"
"I know."
"Rake!"
"That's not true."
"Well, how do you know then?"
"I read it in a book."
"Sorry, I'm not a book virgin."
"I hate you."
"Then don't hold me so tight."
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Betsy came to a stop. They got off and walked some
distance holding hands. And the moon was high and the night
enchanted. A time for love. They sank to the warm, welcoming
earth, and under the stars and the moon on the soft grass in the
open they said with their bodies what was too deep and strong
for human language.
And as she lay spent and uplifted in his arms she
whispered:
"I feel holy, Lanny."
And he whispered:
"Love is holy, my dear."
"Beautiful and holy," she murmured and closed her eyes.
… O earth! Tell thy stupid children to love. Tell them for
they are in need of telling. In need of the simple things. In need
of sympathy and understanding and brotherliness. In need of a
love stronger and bigger than country and race, a love that
embraces all countries and all races, the ultimate love of man
for man. And teach them too, O earth, an anger, just and
righteous, that offers peace only to men of good will. Tell them
all hearts are sacred, all hearts can ache. … Tell them. … Tell
them while one man and one woman cannot love in safety
there is security for none.6 … Tell them. …
A thin cloud passed over the moon. Sarie stirred and
opened her eyes.
"I love you, Lanny," she said.
"I love you," he said.
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They got up and walked on till they got to the spot where
they had met that first night that seemed so far away now, the
spot overlooking the two valleys.
"We won't come here again," Sarie said.
"Not till the land is free," Lanny said.
"Will it ever be, though?"
"All things must change, my dear. You can't keep a whole
people down against their will forever."
"I hope it is soon. … I suppose, really, I'm a bad
European, going against white tradition. I believe that's what
Gert calls it."
"I'm afraid you are a bad European, but you're a
wonderful person."
"And I'm so happy being a bad European and a good
person, Lanny. I don't really like white prestige. It means I can't
do so many things. I did so want to go to the celebration
tonight."
"Where we are going white prestige will be thrown into
the dustbin and we'll go to many parties."
"I know. Oh, come soon, tomorrow!"
"Now you'd better go, my dear. Remember, I'll meet you
where I met you tonight. I think it's safe for Sam to help you
with the cases. Don't be late. The train only stops a short while.
And don't forget to bring the money. It will make things
easier."
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"Don't worry, Lanny. I won't forget anything, I promise,
and I'll be on time. We'll catch that train. Don't you worry,7 my
dear. Rest well."
"And be careful, Sarie."
"Oh my darling, do you think I'm going to be careless
with our future?"
"I'm sorry, my dear. Good night."
They clung to each other. Sarie shivered involuntarily.
"What's the matter?"
"I'm afraid of going to that house, Lanny! The picture of
Gert hurting Sam keeps coming into my mind."
"Don't let it, Sarie! It's only tonight."
"There's the whole of tomorrow, Lanny."
"I know. But you must be strong, my dear."
She shut her eyes and strained against him. He held her
tight and stroked her corn-colored hair.
"It's all right now," she said quietly. "I'll be strong."
She kissed him tenderly, broke away, grabbed Betsy's
reins, and hurried away to the big house.
Lanny thought over the plans for a little while make sure
everything was in order. They could not afford to make a
mistake. Everything had to go smoothly. He hurried down to
Stilleveld.
All of Stilleveld was in darkness. Only their light still
burned. His mother was probably waiting up for him. She
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thought he was angry with her because of Old Gert. Poor
mother. He went into the kitchen.
She sat there, tense and anxious, facing the door with her
back against a sharp edge of the table. Unhappiness gripped
him as he looked at her. How long had she been sitting there,
waiting? Waiting. With fear and pain in her heart. And now she
was waiting for him to speak. To abuse her.
He gathered her to his bosom and held her tight. All the
pent-up pain and shame of the evening stirred up and welled
out. She opened her mouth to speak but only tortured cries of
pain came out.
He held her tight while the sobbing and crying went on,
not saying a word. Best to let her cry it out. Afterwards they
could speak, afterwards he would tell her there was nothing to
cry about. Meanwhile, cry, dear old mother, it will ease your
heart. It will make you feel better. My arms are strong. They
can hold you up. They are the arms of your son.
Gradually the crying died down. He held her away from
him and looked at her face.
"Feeling better?"
She nodded mutely.
"Good! You sit down there while I make us a cup of
coffee."
"I'll do it," she volunteered eagerly.
"No you won't. You sit down."
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The water was boiling. He made the coffee and poured it.
He carried two mugs to the table and sat beside her.
"Now listen, ma. When I asked you earlier this evening
about the past, I looked angry, I know. But I wasn't angry with
you. I was angry that a stranger should come and tell me. It
was all wrong, though. Who the devil am I to go getting angry8
because of my mother's past? It would be a nasty world if
mothers had to tell their children all about their past. It's none
of my business. You've been a good mother to me, given me a
better education than any child from such a position could
expect. That's all there is to it."
"You see, son. … " the old woman began anxiously.
"No, mother dear. It's your business. I'm only your child.
You don't have to explain to me. You are my mother. I love
you. You have been good to me. And that is all there is to it."
Relief, pride, and love showed in the old woman's face.
"You are a good son, Lanny. And Celia is good too. I'm
sure she made you understand."
"Yes," Lanny said, thinking of Sarie. "She makes me see
so many things. She's wonderful."
"Not a side to her, son."
"No. She's simple and sweet and understands so well."
"And you are going to get married?"
Lanny lit a cigarette and smiled.
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"Do you know, mother, of all the plans we've made the
only thing we've left out has been marriage. But don't worry.
We will get married."
"Soon?"
"Very soon, mother."
"I'm so happy."
"So am I. … Listen, mother, I'm going to Cape Town
tomorrow night. I may be away for a little while. No matter
what you hear while I'm away, don't worry. You'll understand
later on. I'll let you know later."
"Are you going for long, son?"
"Don't you worry. I'll let you know."
The old woman looked curious but just nodded.
"All right, son."
"Now you go to bed, it's very late, mother. I'll do a bit of
packing."
"All right. Good night, son. … Oh I nearly forgot. Fieta
has been here a number of times tonight. She says she has an
important message for you. She says it doesn't matter what
time it is you are to go and knock on their door. She sounded as
though it was really something important, Lanny."
"Thank you, ma. I'll find out about it. Now you go along
to bed."
He kissed the furrowed forehead. The old woman went
into her room.
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Lanny walked thoughtfully round the table. What could
Fieta want to tell him? It couldn't be a message from Sarie
because he had left Sarie just a little while ago. Still, it would
be best to find out. He crushed out his cigarette and hurried out
and across the High Street. The house was in darkness. He
tapped lightly on the door. Almost at once he heard the scrape
of a match and saw a light appear. Apparently Fieta had been
staying up for him.
In a little while she opened the door and came out. She
was fully dressed. She shut the door carefully behind her.
"I've been waiting all night," she said angrily.
"I'm sorry," Lanny said. "What's the message?"
"There's no message but I've got some news for you. I
went back to the big house to find Sam after the party and
heard Gert and Viljoen talking. They didn't see me. Viljoen was
telling Gert something funny was going on and Gert should
watch Sarie."
"Yes?"
"That's all. I thought you'd like to know."
"Nothing more definite?"
"Not as far as I know."
"Thank you."
"Don't thank me. Thank your stars I was there to hear it
and warn you. I don't know why I'm doing it."
"Will you please warn Sarie to be careful tomorrow
morning?"
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"I hope you know what you're doing."
"Don't worry. We know."
"I'm not worrying. It's your business.
"Right. Thank you, Fieta. Good night and don't forget to
warn her."
"I won't. Good night."
Lanny turned and hurried back across the street. Fieta
watched him enter the house, pursed her lips, shrugged, and
went in.
Lanny tiptoed into the bedroom and brought his suitcase
out. He would take only that one. Early in the morning he
would leave it at the store. That would prevent people's
noticing. He packed all that he intended taking, strapped the
suitcase, and pushed it under the table. He remembered there
was a pair of pajamas at the preacher's. Well, best to leave that.
Let him have it. It would save the trouble of making up another
explanation.
He stood thinking for a little while. There was nothing
further to do just now. Nothing further till morning. Best get
some rest. He stretched himself on the bed on the floor, but
sleep would not come. He had half-expected that. That's why
he had not turned out the lamp. He lit a cigarette and thought of
Sarie. As always, he could not get a clear picture in his mind of
her outward, physical being. All he could see was a roundfaced girl with corn-colored hair and understanding eyes. The
rest, the breath and the music of her voice and the heart of
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Sarie, he felt deep in his heart. It would always be so, for
something beyond his understanding bound him to her.
He got up and went to the little table where he kept his
school material. He took pen, paper, and ink, walked to the
table in the center of the kitchen, drew the lamp toward him,
sat down, and began to write. It was a letter to Sarie. His first
letter to Sarie. …
In the big house Sarie folded the last dress and packed it
neatly into her case. Now there was tomorrow only. Only
tomorrow and then days of laughter and love and happiness.
Oh there would be days of darkness too, but the darkness
would be that of joint struggle for bread and home and the little
comforts and possessions that made a home better than any
other place on earth. And it would be their home. And if there
were to be days of hunger, well, they would share them. They
were both young. They could work. All they wanted was a
chance. Only a chance to be left alone as people. The rest they
would do. They would share hardships and joys, illness and
good health.
If it were only a room, she would make it a place of joy
to come to after his day's work.
Now her packing was completely over. She hadn't
forgotten anything. She wondered what he was doing now. She
stood on tiptoe and blew out the lamp. She opened the window,
pulled up a chair, and sat in the darkened room, looking out on
the beautiful night. Waiting for the new day.
"Oh hurry!" she whispered softly.
350
3
THE long, painful day seemed unending. Minute followed
minute with torturing slowness. The morning sun seemed late
coming up and lazily unwilling to move westward. Shadows
would not move. The hands of the clock crept at a snail's pace.
The day was long, weary and unyielding in its unwillingness to
go.1
For Sarie it was fortunate that Gert went into the fields
early. It was easier to bear the day and do the ordinary things.
But in spite of that it was a long, wearing, anxious day that was
made worse tenfold by Fieta's warning.
And then, at last, with horrible slowness, noon came on.
Soon Gert would be back for a meal. She would have to get
hold of herself and betray nothing.
"Don't look at the clock," she told herself over and over
again. But her eyes would stray to the clock; would watch the
slowness of the minutes; would count them in their weary,
unhurried journey.
Looking out of a window for the thousandth time she saw
a colored boy go to the kitchen door. Her heart raced. She was
sure it was a message for her. It was all she could do to keep
herself from running out to the boy. She waited in an agony of
suspense,2 watching the door. Fieta must come through that.
Now! Now! The door opened and Fieta stood there.
Sarie held out her hand. Fieta smiled.
BOOK III, chapter 3
"It's addressed to me but you can have it."
She pushed the envelope into Sarie's hand and, with a
mixture of pity, regret, and compassion, walked out.
Sarie went to her room. Now that she had the letter she
felt calm. It would be easier now. She would be able to face
Gert now. Calmly, unhurriedly, she tore the envelope open,
pulled out the folded sheets, unfolded them, and read.
After the first few lines a film of tears blurred the letter.
"Thank you, my dear," she whispered in a warm voice
charged with love.3 She brushed the tears aside and began the
letter again.
BELOVED SARIE,
Tomorrow is going to be a very difficult day for you. You will
have to control yourself and the day will move with the slowness of a
year. It will be hard. So I am writing you this, my first letter, to tell
you that I understand and that I am with you every minute of this
long day, and because I know this letter will ease the strain a bit.
You will get it at noon, my dear, the halfway point of the long
day. The day will be easier after this, I know. I know because you are
strong and you have given me strength so that I can now give you
strength in turn.
Don't let the hours frighten you, my darling. Like everything
else, they must and will come to an end and then it will be our time.
Remember that. And remember, too, what our time will mean.
Remember?
We will walk arm in arm down the streets, in the open, for
everyone to see us; we will sit in cafes together; we will lie in the
sunshine, among people, free and happy and in love and it will be
natural and normal and the right thing. Remember? And we will
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build a little home and only the two of us will live in it. We will have
our meals together; of an evening we'll go for walks together.
Remember? And although things may be hard to begin with and we
have to learn the language, later it will be beautiful. There will be
sunshine and laughter and happiness. Remember?
When things are straining remember these things, my dear.
Tomorrow is our day, my dear, so remember? And please, will you
marry me when we get there?
I love you with all my heart.
Your
LANNY
"I remember," Sarie murmured and read the letter again
and again and again.
After that the day moved more easily. And every time she
felt the strain, she went into her room and bolted the door and
took out the letter and read it. …
And then the long day ended and it was time to leave.
She had spoken to Sam earlier in the day and now he was
outside her window, waiting for her to hand the cases out. She
passed them through to him and gave him her coat to keep.
Then she shut the window, turned out the lamp, and walked
into the sitting room. Gert was there. He watched her curiously
but said nothing. Without a word she went through to the
kitchen and out of the house.
Fieta gazed long and steadily at the door after Sarie had
gone out.
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Outside, Sam helped her with her coat. She took one case
from him and they set out. Her heart sang as she walked. Sam
hobbled along beside her, a bright, unnatural light in his eyes.
Sarie could feel the pounding of her heart. By morning
they would be in Cape Town. And by evening, Lanny had said,
everything should be arranged and they would leave. And after
that? … After that came life! Life, fresh and free. Without
fears.
She saw Lanny, waved, and ran. She dropped the case
and fell in his arms. After a few minutes he said:
"We haven't much time."
Sarie picked up the case she had dropped. Lanny turned
to Sam.
"Thank you very much, Sam." He held out his hand for
the case.
"It's a long stretch," Sam said quietly. "I'll come along
with you."
"All right. Thanks again. Well, we'd better hurry."
They set off along the sandy track, Lanny and Sarie
walking side by side. Sam brought up the rear.
"Is it really true, Lanny?" Sarie asked with a catch in her
voice.
Lanny transferred his case to his left hand; his right
found her left hand.
"It is true, Sarie."
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BOOK III, chapter 3
"Yes. I know it is. When your letter came I remembered.
It made the day easier. Thank you, Lanny."
"And what about my question?"
"Whenever you like, Lanny."
The moon crept behind a thunderous black cloud and the
land was suddenly cast in darkness. Far ahead of them the dark
shadows of a huge old tree loomed.
"Are we halfway yet?" Sarie asked.
"A little over," Lanny said. "We are doing well. We still
have half an hour."
"Just half an hour," Sarie said. "Oh I'm so eager, Lanny!"
The moon crept out on the other side of the dark cloud
and the land was bathed in light again. A figure stepped into the
path ahead of them from under the tree. Another joined it. Two
horses stood in the shadow of the tree.
Sarie gripped Lanny's arm. Sam fell back and crouched
behind a few bushes. Lanny felt a spasm of shivering shoot
through his body.4 It shook him, then left him calm and cold,
calmer than he had ever been, with a razor-edge sharpness to
his brain.
"It's Gert!" Sarie whispered. "Gert and Viljoen!"
"You are right!" Gert said harshly and stepped forward.
They must not hurt Lanny! The thought shot through her
mind and banished all her fears. She would fight for him, do
anything for him.
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BOOK III, chapter 3
"Aren't you ashamed," Viljoen said bitterly, following
Gert.
"I've nothing to be ashamed of," Sarie said passionately.
"I love him."
"A black bastard!" Viljoen spat out.
"Yes," Sarie said. "A black bastard and I love him
because he's a better man than either of you!" She saw that they
kept coming on and tried to step in front of Lanny, but he held
her back.
"We'll see about that," Gert said. "Viljoen! Get your horse
and round up some others. Tell them to bring their guns.
Hurry!"
Viljoen hurried to his horse and rode away in the
direction of the siding.
"So I've caught up with you, Swartz," Gert said.
"Please, Gert," Sarie begged. "Leave us alone. Or let him
go alone! Do what you like with me but let him go! Please!
I love him, do you hear! I love him!"
"Quiet!" Gert barked. "I'll deal with you later. Take the
horse and go to the house and wait for me there."
"I won't!" Sarie cried.
"Go, Sarie," Lanny said softly, keeping his eyes on, Gert.
"Go up to the house and wait, my dear. Don't worry. He's not
strong enough to do anything to me. At heart he's a coward and
a bully. Strong enough when anybody's frightened of him. I'm
not. Go, my dear. I'll come and see you. Only, leave the horse."
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BOOK III, chapter 3
"Take the horse!" Gert bellowed.
"Leave it," Lanny said softly. "Go now. Quickly."
"You will come?" Sarie sobbed.
"I will come. Hurry."
She turned and ran back, stumbling and crying. Lanny
kept his eyes on Gert.
"I'm going to break your neck," Gert spat out.
"Come and do it," Lanny said.
They circled each other slowly.
"You'll lick my shoes when I've done with you," Gert
promised.
"You can't frighten me."
Gert feinted. Lanny's right fist shot out and cracked
squarely against his nose. Blood covered the lower part of
Gert's face.
"How's that, brother!" Lanny said with hate. "You didn't
know I'm your brother, did you? Well, I'm your father's son
too."
Lanny felt elated. The years of repression, of enduring
insults, were being avenged.
Gert roared and came forward again. Again Lanny's fist
cracked against his nose. A clot of blood hung over his mouth.
"Bastard!" he roared and moved forward, ignoring the
blows that tore his skin. He grabbed once, missed. Grabbed
again. His big hand closed round Lanny's neck. The other big
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BOOK III, chapter 3
hand came too, and the neck was caught in a vise. He
squeezed. The blows still rained on him but they were losing
their sting. In desperation Lanny tripped him. They fell to the
ground but not for a moment did the fingers on Lanny's throat
relax.
Gert brought his face close to Lanny's. He could see the
pain in those eyes.
"I'm not going to kill you," Gert said. "No. I'm not going
to kill you. I'm going to squeeze some more. Squeeze till you
are weak and then I'm going to kick you. Do you hear, Mister
Swartz?"
Lanny was helpless. He could feel great drums beating in
his ears.
"Yes," Gert gloated. "I'm going to kick you and kick you
till you are like Sam. They call him Mad Sam. But he was like
you. Thought he was good enough for a white woman. Just like
you, educated and well dressed and with a clever tongue, and I
made him what he is today. My slave! He was stronger than
you! I kicked him and now he moves like an animal. That's
what's going to happen to you, Mister Swartz!"
The light was going, everything was becoming dark.
Lanny struggled desperately to move the fingers from his
throat but they were like iron bands. Gert laughed gloatingly.
From the side of the sandy track, a little distance away,
Mad Sam arose and hobbled forward.
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"You shouldn't have boasted," he moaned. "You should
have kept quiet. You shouldn't have boasted."
He hobbled forward heavily, a desperate sadness on his
face. Gert did not see Sam or hear him till it was too late. Sam's
good arm went round Gert's neck and locked it in a vise.
"You shouldn't have boasted," Mad Sam moaned.
Slowly the pressure increased. Gert released Lanny's
throat and struggled frantically with Sam. But the pressure kept
increasing. Lanny lay still for a little while, then crawled away
from the struggling mass. He stumbled toward the horse, fell,
picked himself up, and went forward till he leaned against the
tree. He turned and looked at the sprawled forms. He saw
Gert's hand go to his back pocket and the flash of a knife.
He tried to shout. No sound came from his throat. He was
too weak to move. The knife rose and fell. Once. Twice. Three
times. Then it clattered from Gert's hand and lay in the
moonlight. Red blood on steel. Then, slowly, Sam got up,
staggered a few paces, and fell again to move no more.
Painfully Lanny walked to the two bodies and looked at
them. Both were dead. The thirty-year-old tragedy had worked
itself out.
He tried to think clearly. Viljoen and the men he had gone
to fetch would arrive soon. Sarie was up at the house. She was
tortured with worry.
He staggered to the horse and got on. He was feeling
better. He urged the horse on. Far behind him he saw a cluster
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of figures on horseback. That was Viljoen coming back. He
urged the horse on to greater speed. He knew they would get
him sooner or later. And Sarie was waiting too. Along the way
he passed Fieta hurrying down the track. She cursed bitterly.
The horse galloped round the big house and came to a
halt. Lanny jumped off. He hurried into the kitchen and
through, then stopped suddenly. Sarie faced him across the
dining room with a rifle to her shoulder, ready to shoot.
She dropped the rifle and clung to him.
"I thought it was Gert," she whimpered. "I was going to
kill him."
"Gert is dead," he said.
"I'm glad," she said simply.
"Sam too," he said. "Viljoen and the others are on their
way. They'll get me. But you'll be all right. I must hurry. Give
me that rifle. I'll fight them off as long as I can."
"I'm going with you," she said calmly.
"You can't, my dear. There'll be shooting."
"I must go with you, Lanny. Can't you understand?" She
spoke patiently, like one who had accepted the inevitability of
death.
"No, Sarie".
Without a word she left the room and came back with
rifles and ammunition. Quickly she loaded the rifles.
"I can hear them coming," she said. "If they get you
they'll do to you what they did to Sam. We must fight them,
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BOOK III, chapter 3
Lanny, together. Remember, you said we would be together
always, good or bad."
She went to the window and looked out. The group of
men rode into the yard. She pointed to the other window.
Hesitantly Lanny took a rifle and stepped to it.
The voice of Viljoen carried through the night:
"We know you are there, Swartz! Come out with your
hands up and you will be tried for murder! If not, we'll come in
and get you and God help you! And you, Sarie Villier! Come
out! You've shamed your people enough!"
Sarie took aim and fired. While the men scattered Lanny
blew out the lamp.
There was a long silence. …
Then the voices of the guns spoke. …
Down in Stilleveld the colored community gathered
fearfully in a bunch and listened to the shots that rent the air.
No one knew what it was all about till Fieta came, carrying the
body of Mad Sam down the High Street. And above the sound
of their voices, questioning, carried the voices of the guns.
With Fieta was the young Jew Isaac and the black man
Mako. Fieta carried Sam into her mother's house and laid him
gently on the bed. Her eyes were hard and bitter. The people
crowded into the little room."
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"It is Lanny Swartz," Fieta said bitterly. "He and Sarie
Villier are in love. They were running away. They're up there,
fighting."
Sister Swartz collapsed in a heap. The rest were stunned
into paralyzed silence.
The preacher went down on his knees. The others
followed him. Only Young Mako and Isaac and Fieta remained
standing.
… Above the silence carried the voice of the guns. …
The voice of Young Mako mingled with the voices of the guns.
"They loved. That is all they did. … They harmed no one.
They were drawn together because they were people of a kind.5
… Two young people of a kind. … And now there are the guns.
… This is indeed slavery. … It is not enough to go on your
knees, preacher, and to call to your God. … Listen to the guns.
… Up there they are fighting side by side because it is a crime
to love. … We must do something. … What are we to do?"
Suddenly the voices of the guns stopped. Silence hung
over the valley.
362
EPILOGUE
THE Eastern Post of the next day carried a story on
its front page in bold black letters.1 It told how a
young colored teacher, one Lanny Swartz, had run
amok,2 killed a prominent farmer, Mr. Gert Villier,
and then been chased into the house of Mr. Villier.
Alone in the house was Miss Sarie Villier. He
had found a gun, shot her, and then turned the gun
on his pursuers. In the ensuing battle three other
people had been killed before Swartz had finally
been shot down.
Most of the story had been told to the reporter
by Mr. Viljoen, assistant to the late Mr. Villier. Mr.
Viljoen, who had led the pursuers, had received
wounds in the arm and shoulder.
The story ended with a strong protest against
educating black people.
Swiss Cottage
London
January, 1946
КОММЕНТАРИЙ
1. Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed but man… – первым
эпиграфом взяты слова из философской лирической
драмы
английского
поэта-романтика
Шелли
«Освобождённый Прометей» (акт III, сцена IV).
2. nationless – говоря о далёком будущем, Шелли мечтал о том,
чтобы между нациями исчезли различия
3. sport – здесь развлечение
4. to be addicted (to) – зд. предпочитать
5. consequential – зд. разумный
6. the Pigmentocraсy – неологизм, буквально: Пигментократия,
аристократия Южной Африки, чьи права определяются
цветом кожи
7. Missionary College – колледж, организованный и содержащийся на средства миссионерских обществ
8. Bantu – банту, семейство языков южной части Африки;
народности, говорящие на языках банту, смешанного
происхождения, но главным образом это негры.
9. Cis-Kei – Цискейская территория, находится в восточной
части Капской провинции
10. F. R. S. = Fellow of the Royal Society – член Королевского
общества (содействия успехам естествознания)
BOOK I, Chapter 1
1. his cases were looked after – зд. его чемоданы были сданы в
багаж (букв. за его чемоданами присматривали, о них
заботились)
BOOK I, chapter 1
2. the Colored Boy's High School – средняя школа для детей
«цветных». (Дети «цветных» имеют право учиться
только в особых школах для «цветных», число которых
очень незначительно, так что большинство туземцев
неграмотно.)
3. It was a pity Celia couldn't understand because he did want
her to. – глагол did, употреблённый в утвердительной
конструкции,
придаёт
эмфатическое
звучание
предложению; после частицы to опущен глагол
understand.
4. with his cases booked through – за провоз чемоданов уплачено до самого места назначения. (Здесь мы имеем
пример употребления предлога with с абсолютной
конструкцией, в которой предлог указывает на
самостоятельность оборота.)
5. gang – зд. компания; братва (студ. жаргон, амер.)
6. District Six – один из районов Кейптауна, где живут
«цветные», своего рода «цветное» гетто
7. Fatty's had become an institution in his life – посещение
ресторанчика Фатти стало необходимостью, привычкой
(Fatty – «Толстяк», прозвище хозяина ресторанчика)
8. coon shows – негритянские театры варьете (от racoon – енот,
шустрый зверёк с тёмным мехом в светлую полоску)
9. when he felt like – когда ему хотелось
10. always game with her straight wiry form – стройная, гибкая,
... всегда готовая (отправиться с ним в горы и т. д.)
11. her people – разг. её родители
12. the Karroo – готтент. одно из безводных южноафриканских
плоскогорий
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BOOK I, chapter 1
13. the upper crust of Cape Town's colored community – сливки
кейптаунского «цветного» общества (crust – корка
батона, the upper crust – букв. самая верхняя корка)
14. baas – голл. хозяин (ср. англ. boss)
15. a background round her – зд. её окружение
16. Reluctantly he let go of her hand.– Он неохотно отпустил её
руку.
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BOOK I, Chapter 2
1. siding – зд. небольшая станция
2. won another grant – зд. снова получил стипендию
3. an arts degree – степень бакалавра искусств (первая учёная
степень, существовавшая в старину во всех западных
университетах, ныне сохранившаяся в английских
университетах)
4. highveld – голл. хайвельд, холмистая местность (ср. англ.
high field – холмистая степь)
5. the haunting poetry of Totius – зд. стихи, которые постоянно
приходят на ум; Тотиус – писательский псевдоним
Якоба дю Тойта (Jacob Daniel du Toit, 1877-1953),
теолога, поэта и пастора Реформаторской церкви
Южной
Африки,
который
обосновал
идею
африканерского национализма (см. ниже комментарий
7), утверждая, что Бог преднамеренно обрёк буров на
страдания и лишения, чтобы пройдя через все
испытания бурский народ смог выработать своё
национальное самосознание.
6. Pringle – Томас Прингл (1789-1834), шотландский поэт, сын
фермера; в 1819 г. издал первый сборник своих стихов;
затем, не от хорошей жизни, перебрался со всем
семейством в Южную Африку, и остался там на 7 лет; в
своей лирике «отец южноафриканской поэзии» честно
описывал природу и жизнь туземцев, чем отличался от
прочих романтиков — выдумщиков; вернувшись на
родину, стал работать в Обществе противников
рабовладения.
7. the Afrikander – африканеры, или буры (голл. крестьяне),
потомки голландцев, захвативших в XVII веке земли
BOOK I, chapter 2
туземцев Южной Африки; в их руках сосредоточено
фермерское товарное хозяйство, обрабатываемое
неграми-батраками; такова в этом романе и ферма
Вильеров.
8. Bloemfontein, Johannesburg – Блумфонтейн, Йоганнесбург,
города Южно-Африканской Республики
9. to snap one's fingers – щёлкнуть пальцами (жест, который в
некоторых странах принят для привлечения внимания
или выражения эмоции)
10. Afrikaans – африкаанс, голландский язык, подвергшийся
известным изменениям со времён переселения
голландцев в Южную Африку; на африкаанс говорят и
африканеры, и туземцы («цветные» и негры)
11. his spell of English – период, когда он слышал вокруг себя
английскую речь
12. township – истор. церковный приход; совр. посёлок, бедный
пригород
13. There was room. – Было просторно (отсутствие артикля
перед room указывает на то, что это слово употреблено
в значении «пространство, место»)
14. Breathing space. – зд. Как легко дышится.
15. he could do with a cup of coffee – ему хотелось выпить хоть
чашечку кофе
16. pused his lips – зд. сжал губы
17. a city bushy – зд. бушмен, вырядившийся в городское платье;
bushy – презрительная кличка бушменов
18. Eurafricans – еврафриканцы; так предпочитают называть
себя мулаты
19. half-caste – англ., уничижительное, «цветной», человек, чьи
родители разных рас; caste – каста, наследственная
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BOOK I, chapter 2
социальная группа, или группа людей с одинаковым
социальным или профессиональным статусом
20. the National Liberation League – Лига национального
освобождения (негров)
21. the-Non-European United Front – Неевропейский Единый
Фронт, организация для защиты прав «цветного» населения
22. Where you from? – разг. = Where are you from?
23. the man shot at him – зд. закричал, резко окликнул
24. Haven't seen you around. – разг., зд. Никогда мне на глаза не
попадался (букв. Никогда не встречал тебя в наших
краях).
25. any fancy titles – эпитет fancy, зд. заумный, дурацкий и
проч., выбран белым для того, чтобы показать
презрение к Ланни, к его интеллигентности.
26. The landing of Van Rebeck – Ван Ребек, голландский моряк,
который вместе с голландскими же купцами высадился
в 1652 г. на берегу Столовой Бухты и основал там
стоянку для кораблей.
27. Voortrekkers – переселенцы-пионеры, голл. первопроходцы;
в 1836 году голландские поселенцы отправились на
север из Капской колонии в поисках новых пастбищ
для скота, и там вступили в борьбу за землю с воинами
зулусов (Zulu impis), могущественного племени кафров
юго-восточной Африки (тех зулусов покорили в 1879
году англичаны); это массовое переселение известно
как "Великий путь" ("Die Groot Trek"), в результате его
белым удалось освоить внутренние районы Южной
Африки.
28. Bitterness renders one impotent. – букв. Злоба лишает
человека сил. (Абрахамс часто употребляет слова bitter,
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BOOK I, chapter 2
bitterly, bitterness. Так, в описании битвы зулусов с теми
самыми «первопроходцами», см. комментарий 27,
находим: The bitterness of that fight... ожесточённость
этой битвы. И ещё, чуть раньше: The man said bitterly
(белый, оскорбивший Ланни): bitterly – зд. злобно,
свирепо. А ещё, в начале главы 3 части II: Protesting
bitterly, but refusing to relinquish her last lingering hold on
sleep. . . отчаянно протестуя... .)
29. But these cases were a different proposition. – зд. А вот
чемоданы — другое дело.
30. His shirt felt wet between his shoulder blades and under his
armpits. His arms felt as though they would come out of
their sockets. – Рубашка на спине и подмышками
взмокла от пота (felt не переводится). Руки, казалось
(felt as though), выворачивались из суставов.
(В подобных случаях значение глагола to feel можно
передать либо словом «быть» (зд. «быть наощупь»),
либо «казаться».)
31. nondescript buildings – невзрачные строения
32. he was too excited to more than just notice it – от волнения
он почти не заметил её (зд. случай употребления splitinfinitive – «расщеплённого инфинитива»; помимо
обстоятельства к глаголу (just) само это обстоятельство
характеризуется сравнением more than... .)
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BOOK I, Chapter 3
1. Не was not like a son any more... – Он больше уже не дитя,
не ребёнок... (зд. неопределённый артикль говорит об
употреблении слова son в качестве видового понятия в
значении «ребёнок, дитя»).
2. Listen to me talking here and so much to do. – разг. Эка я тут
с тобою разболталась, а ведь у меня ещё куча дел.
3. Something that dug into roots. – Что-то, что живёт глубоко в
душе. Корни, истоки. (ср. Боб Марлей часто поёт про
свои «три эР»: Roots, Rock, Reggae — Корни, Рок,
Реггей, в дополнение (или в противовес!?)
общепринятым «the three R's» грамотности:
Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic — чтение, письмо, счёт (см.
BOOK II, Chapter 3, комментарий 12).
4. Bad habits that girl was getting into. – инверсия помогает
сделать предложение эмоциональным (ср. с прямым
порядком слов: That girl was getting into bad habits)
5. How the girls would fall over themselves to get him! – зд. Как
девчонки будут из кожи вон лезть, чтобы заполучить
его!
6. offered their daughters for consideration – предлагали своих
дочек в невесты (букв. предлагали своих дочерей его
вниманию)
7. Mabel's eating was the bane of her life. – слово eating – зд.
аппетит; bane of her life – зд. крест её жизни
8. she was on the shortish side with strong peasant thighs – она
была скорее небольшого роста, с крепкими бёдрами
крестьянки (to be on the ... side – фразеологический
оборот, характерный для английского языка)
BOOK I, chapter 3
9. Everybody here picking on me! – разг. Все придираются
здесь ко мне! (эллипсис – пропуск глагола-связки)
10. you have a way with you – фиг. ты умеешь подойти к людям
11. it makes for bad feeling – и это всех раздражает, вызывает
дурные чувства
12. to send word – оповестить
13. to keep one's head – сохранять хладнокровие; владеть собой;
держать себя в руках
14. Jean Toomer – Джин Тумер (1894-1967), негритянский поэт
и писатель США, видный деятель «Гарлемского
ренессанса» (Harlem Renaissance, или New Negro
Movement); литературную деятельность начал в 1918 г.;
в 1928 г. выпустил первый сборник очерков, рассказов,
стихов (см. ещё BOOK III, Chapter 1, комментарий 74).
15. carried on with her work – продолжала работать
16. the one well = the only well
17. nondescript skin – зд. плохая кожа
18. The old man was tall and shadowy and stooping. –
повторение соединительного союза (полисиндетон)
является
стилистическим
приёмом,
который
желательно сохранять при переводе; наиболее трудно
подыскать русский эквивалент к слову shadowy –
можно, например, прибегнуть к сравнению: как тень,
как призрак.
19. to go the rounds – зд. передавать из уст в уста
20. the Good Book – Библия
21. the color bar
Африки
банту на
границу,
– «цветной барьер». (Колонизаторы Южной
оружием остановили продвижение негровзапад, и установили так называемую расовую
за пределами которой негры не имели права
373
BOOK I, chapter 3
селиться. «Цветным барьером» называют также законы,
на основании которых неевропейцы лишены
возможности заниматься квалифицированным трудом,
получать высшее образование, состоять в одних
профсоюзах с белыми и т. д.)
22. Most of them had matriculated. – зд. Большинство из них
получило среднее образование.
23. They turned and carried on up the hillside. – Повернувшись,
они продолжали подыматься на холм.
24. Kraal – южноафр. голл. (от португ. corral) крааль,
южноафриканская деревушка или группа хижин,
огороженных частоколом.
25. Kaffirs – кафры, негритянское племя, говорящее на одном из
языков банту
26. do not mix with the natives – не якшайся с туземцами (Как
результат политики сегрегации, между «цветными» и
«чёрными»
образовалась
неприязнь,
которая
искусственно
поддерживалась
и
разжигалась
колонизаторами; «цветные» не называли себя
«туземцами», относя это название только к «чёрным»)
27. oh rot – зд. вульг. вздор
28. Mako laughed deep in his throat. – Мако засмеялся низким,
гортанным смехом.
29. fading footfalls – зд. замирающие, затихающие звуки шагов
374
BOOK I, Chapter 4
1. doubled up with laughter – скорчилась (букв. согнулась) от
смеха
2. a group of men surreptitiously drank beer – несколько
мужчин украдкой пили пиво. (На праздниках туземцы
обычно пьют напиток, напоминающий вкусом пиво;
однако законом им запрещается варить и пить пиво, и
за это на них налагаются штрафы.)
3. What do you want to see me about? – Для чего вы хотите
меня видеть? Зачем вы звали меня? (Характерное для
английской вопросительной конструкции отнесение
предлога на конец предложения.)
4. we don't like the way things are run – нам не нравится, как
идут дела (как управляются с делами)
5. the wind wheezed out of his body – дыхание со свистом
вырывалось у него из груди
6. played her torch – направила электрический фонарик;
осветила электрическим фонариком
7. to help him dust – наблюдаемая в английском языке утрата to
перед инфинитивом, стоящим после глагола help
8. many thoughts raced through his brain – множество мыслей
проносилось
в
eгo
голове
(метафорическое
употребление глагола to race)
9. A furious jumble of unassorted thoughts.– Неистовая
путаница неясных мыслей.
10. And over him, and the big house and the two valleys, hung
the night. A long night. Dark and painfully austere and
impersonal. And so quiet. More quiet than quiet itself.
And this quiet was intensified by the lost and hopeless
BOOK I, chapter 4
noises of the little creatures of the veld. – А над ним, и
над этим большим домом, и над этими обеими
долинами нависла ночь. Долгая ночь. Тёмная и
тягостно суровая, и равнодушная. И такая тихая. Тише,
чем сама тишина. И эта тишина становилась ещё
глубже от едва уловимых звуков, издаваемых всякими
мелкими тварями — обитателями вельда. (Автор здесь
прибегает к различным стилистическим приёмам,
чтобы добиться большей выразительности: к
полисиндетону (многократному повторению союза
and), инверсии (обстоятельственные слова + сказуемое
+ подлежащее: and over him... hung the night.), и проч.)
11. But there was no calming the furious pounding of his heart
and the awful throb in his brain. – Он никак не мог
успокоить ни неистового биения сердца, ни стука
(крови) в мозгу.
12. the bitter fire went out of his body – можно сказать: огонь
злобы погас в нём
13. That you, Lanny? – разг. = Is that you, Lanny?
376
BOOK II, Chapter 1
1. He pleaded with his hands. – Он умоляюще сложил руки.
(см. ниже на этой же странице his sad, wise eyes
pleaded with his son – … умоляли сына.)
2. and feeling better than the black people – зд. считает себя
выше чернокожих
3. and in your own mind – зд. мысленно
4. with your mind – зд. мысленно
5. to work himself into an anger – разжечь в себе гнев
(неопределённый артикль конкретизирует абстрактное
существительное, имеется в виду a state of anger –
состояние гнева)
6. staring away to where the Sun was sliding into obscurity – не
отрываясь, смотрел туда, где заходящее солнце соскальзывало во мрак (метафора)
7. Outside, night drew near, seeming to run a race from east to
west with the sunrays on the horizon as the winning
posts. – За окном, точно состязаясь с кем-то, быстро
бежала ночь — с востока на запад, — и солнечные лучи
на горизонте вытянулись, словно столбы на финише.
(Абрахамс описывая ночь, прибегает к олицетворению
и сравнивает приближение ночи со скачками.)
8. his mind was still on his father – он всё ещё думал об отце
9. The tune was strange, and outlandish, foreign to the
orthodox European musical scale. – Мелодия была
странная,
необычная,
чуждая
общепринятому
европейскому музыкальному ладу.
10. But it was the haunting loneliness, the resigned desolation in
the voice that he listened to. – He к голосу он
BOOK II, chapter 1
прислушивался, а к навязчивым нотам одиночества и
внутренней опустошённости (звучащим в этом голосе).
(Для достижения эмфазы автор прибегает к
конструкции с it, которая выделяет существительные,
являющиеся дополнением к глаголу to listen.)
11. the old man saw the kindly understanding in Isaac's eyes –
определённый
артикль
перед
абстрактным
существительным understanding употреблён здесь
потому, что in Isaac's eyes является ограничительным
определением
12. drummed a tattoo – букв. забарабанили барабанную дробь
(широко распространённая в восточных языках форма
удвоения смыслового слова, как, например, вглядеться
взглядом, осветить светом, и т. п.)
13. do warm them, Mrs. Snyder – пожалуйста, подогрейте их,
миссис Снайдер
14. I'm sure he's the handiwork of "white superiority". –
Сдаётся мне, что его увечье — это дело рук какихнибудь белых господ ("white superiority" –
«превосходство белых»)
15. It's very schooled. – (Трудно что-либо понять по лицу
Шварца —) он хорошо им владеет.
378
BOOK II, Chapter 2
1. Then I've only got a week to go. – зд. Тогда мне нужно
потерпеть только одну неделю.
2. they used to be quite a clan – некогда это был целый клан
3. Isaac watched Lanny speculatively, carefully, to make sure of
striking just the right note. – Исаак внимательно
наблюдал за Ланни, раздумывая, как взять верный тон.
4. There are whispers that the line isn't really near its end. –
Болтают, что в действительности род Вильеров не
прекращается (с Гертом).
5. Lanny's facial structure – зд. черты лица Ланни
6. His skin was smooth and tightly drawn except for the single
furrow that ran across his wide forehead. – Кожа у него
была ровная, гладкая, и только широкий лоб был
прорезан морщиной.
7. they're fencing – зд. они прощупывают друг друга (букв.
обмениваются уколами, как в фехтовании)
8. It is normal for people to give their religion some familiar
personification...
–
Естественно,
что
люди
олицетворяют свою религию в каком-либо знакомом им
образе.
9. surely there's colored nationalism – безусловно, у «цветных»
есть национальное чувство. (Под словом nationalism
здесь надо понимать не страшное слово «национализм»,
а хорошее словосочетание «национальное чувство».)
10. he felt himself on the defensive – зд. он был настороже,
словно ожидая нападения (to be on the defensive –
обороняться, защищаться)
BOOK II, chapter 2
11. There is not the tribalism and traditional past of my people
or of the white people in them. – У них нет ни того
племенного единства, ни тех традиций, которые
присущи моему народу или белым. (Употребление
определённого артикля после конструкции there is
обусловлено его указательной функцией; в подобных
случаях значение определённого артикля можно
раскрыть словами «присущий», «свойственный», «тот,
который наиболее характерен».)
12. you cannot deny the group feeling – зд. но вы же не можете
отрицать, что люди одного племени объединены
чувством своей общности (group – зд. племя)
13. marginal men – «пограничные люди»; так Мако называет
«цветных», как бы живущих между белыми и
«чёрными»: белые их не признают за равных, а сами
они, отравленные расистской пропагандой, не считают
«чёрных» равными себе. Цитата 'Only ghosts can live
between two fires' – из стихотворения The Conflict:
… Move then with new desires,
For where we used to build and love
Is no man’s land, and only ghosts can live
Between two fires.
Автор – знаменитый ирландский британский
поэт и писатель Сесил Дей-Льюис (Cecil Day-Lewis,
1904-1972); литературный псевдоним Николас Блейк;
увлекался левыми идеями, что помогло ему разорвать
традиционную связь классического детективного
романа с обязательным изображением высшего
общества; произведения его полны литературных
аллюзий, и сам псевдоним – в том числе.
380
BOOK II, chapter 2
14. with his mouth slightly open, his face screwed up in
concentration – от напряжения у него приоткрылся рот
и лицо сморщилось
15. but embarrassment made him hold his peace – из-за
застенчивости он хранил молчание
16. and suddenly it dawned on Lanny – зд. Ланни вдруг ощутил
... (вдруг понял)
17. The hushed stillness of death in the air. – Кругом немое
безмолвие смерти.
18. the coloreds – зд. случай полной субстантивации причастия,
получившего и определённый артикль и признак
множественного числа — конечное 's'. (ср. the wounded,
the unemployed) Форма the coloreds характерна для
Южной Африки; в Англии обычно говорят the coloured
people.
19. Nationalism is a fact whether you accept it or not. – см.
комментарий 9, выше в этой же главе.
20. Lines etched in the fog of his brain. – метафора, Словно
возникая из тумана сознания, строчки ожили в памяти
Ланни.
21. to dig past the names – проникнуть глубже названий
381
BOOK II, Chapter 3
1. but refusing to relinquish her last, lingering hold on sleep –
отчаянно цепляясь за последние, ускользающие
остатки сна
2. Mabel yelled herself into wakefulness – Мабель вскрикнула
— и проснулась
3. she stood cornered – она стояла, словно загнанная (в угол)
4. Together they climbed the little hill and veered to the left.
Behind them the morning sun climbed... The sun had
climbed till it stood right overhead and slightly to the
north. – обратите внимание на стилистическое
повторение глагола to climb.
5. it's not easy to tell with Lanny. You don't know what he
thinks or what he feels. – Трудно определить, что
думает или чувствует Ланни.
6. She wondered if this Celia girl was really beautiful. –
Интересно, действительно ли эта Селия так уж красива
(this Celia girl – пренебрежительное, эта самая Селия).
7. The sun had the Midas touch. – У солнца словно была рука
Мидаса. (Мидас – персонаж греческой мифологии, царь
Фригии, известный своим богатством; ценя выше всего
золото, Мидас испросил у богов дар превращать в
золото всё, к чему бы он ни прикасался.)
8. my missus no let me come nearly... You laugh me... –
ломаный английский (так Мабель разговаривает)
9. her face worked – лицо у неё меняло выражение
10. kopje ['kopi] – южноафр. холмик
BOOK II, chapter 3
11. Fieta looked at the man to see whether he was pulling her leg.
– идиома, Файита всматривалась в человека,
раздумывая, не дурачит ли он её.
12. the three R's – общепринятое и несколько шутливое
выражение, относящееся к обучению чтению, письму и
арифметике (= Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic).
13. the past put on flesh again and walked through her brain –
прошлое вновь ожило и проходило перед нею
383
BOOK II, Chapter 4
1. Briefly, it lifted Lanny's face from the uniformity of the
surrounding gloom. – На мгновенье спичка (свет
спички) выхватила лицо Ланни из окружавшей их
сплошной тьмы; зд. the uniformity можно передать
определением «сплошная»
2. Не pulled at his cigarette. – Он попыхивал сигаретой.
3. to be cocky – быть самоуверенным, дерзким; задирать нос
(букв. петушиться)
4. There was a peculiar rhythm about the sounds. They were
spaced evenly, but each foot seemed to hesitate just
before making contact with the earth. – У звуков этих
был особый ритм. Каждый из них доходил через
одинаковый промежуток времени; но Ланни казалось,
что ноги словно сомневаются, касаться ли им земли.
5. Blake – Вильям Блейк (1757-1827), английский поэт,
художник и печатник, предшественник романтизма, или
романтик, но с критическим взглядом на мир;
цитируемое стихотворение — «Вступление» к
сборнику стихов Блейка «Песни невинности» (Songs of
Innocence, 1789), которые были созданы им как видение
идеала:
Шёл я с дудочкой весною,
Занималася заря —
Мальчик в тучке надо мною
Улыбнулся, говоря:
«Песню мне сыграй про агнца!»
Я сыграл — развеселил!
«Ты сыграй-ка это снова!»
Я сыграл — он слёзы лил.
BOOK II, chapter 4
«Дудочку оставь и спой мне
То, что прежде ты играл».
И пока я пел ту песню,
Он смеялся и рыдал.
«Выйдет книга неплохая —
Песни эти пусть прочтут», —
Молвил мальчик, исчезая...
Сразу взялся я за труд:
Для письма сломил тростинку,
Бросил в воду горсть земли —
Записал все песни детям,
Чтобы слушать их могли!
Пересказ С. Степанова
6. I took it for granted – я принял это как нечто само собой
разумеющееся
385
BOOK II, Chapter 5
1. Morning broke with a heaviness in the home of Sister Swartz.
– В домике сестры Шварц с самого утра навис какой-то
гнёт.
2. Mabel had changed... into a lifeless, listless, laughterless
woman. – Абрахамс создаёт звуковой образ
монотонности, подчёркивая с помощью аллитерации
превращение весёлой девушки в унылую женщину.
3. Like to tell me about it? – разг., эллипсис = Would you like to
tell me about it?
4. I'd much rather not – разг. мне бы очень не хотелось
5. It grew in volume. – зд. Крики становились слышнее
(volume – зд. сила, полнота звука.)
6. he lurched from side to side, an old dog's bone in his belt – он
шатался из стороны в сторону, и за поясом у него была
старая обглоданная собакой кость
7. hawks of death – букв. ястребы смерти; в русском трудно
сохранить этот образ, но можно сказать «призраки
смерти».
8. That bundle of washing fair knocked me out. – Эта куча
грязного белья совсем меня доконала. (зд. fair = диал.
fairly)
9. And pleading, mute and helpless, was there too. – И мольба,
немая и безпомощная, выражалась в них (в глазах)
равным образом.
10. lost look – зд. безпомощное выражение, выражение
растерянности
11. tears welled up in her eyes – её глаза наполнились слезами
BOOK II, Chapter 6
1. an Anglican missionary doctor – доктор из миссии англиканской церкви (миссионерское благотворительное
общество)
2. only the discerning – только особо наблюдательные
3. One or two had done remarkably well. – Двое или трое
сделали замечательные успехи.
4. The parents of these children went hungry that their children
with the good brains might eat well, worked hard and
stinted themselves in all sorts of ways for they saw a son
or a daughter as a great person. – Родители этих детей
голодали, чтобы получше накормить своих детей, у
которых такие хорошие головы. Они трудились до
изнеможения и урезывали себя во всём ради своих
сыновей или дочек, в которых они уже видели важных
людей.
5. some even hinted, with malice, that she had her eyes on the
teacher – некоторые даже намекали со злобой, что она
имеет виды на учителя
6. Fieta roamed the open at night. – Ночами Файита бродила по
вельду (глагол здесь становится объектным: the open –
открытое пространство)
7. Не strolled slowly up the High Street, feeling empty, dried
up, the unalive husk of a human being. No feeling. No
thought. Moving, living, following the human behaviour
pattern by instinct. – Он медленно брел по главной
улице, опустошённый, скучный — неживая оболочка
человека. Ни чувства. Ни мысли. Двигался, жил, делал
всё, что полагалось (the human behaviour pattern) просто
так, по инерции (by instinct). (Выражение the human
BOOK II, chapter 6
behaviour pattern интересно с точки зрения
грамматики – в качестве определения взяты
прилагательное + существительное).
8. A dull deadness with a streak of yearning in it. – Всё мертво,
и серо, и иногда — приступы тоски. И далее: Being
unable to cry or laugh and not caring very much but caring
like hell underneath. Unhappiness. A misused word
translated into reality. – He можешь ни плакать, ни
смеяться; делаешь вид, что ничто тебя не трогает, а на
самом деле вся душа у тебя разрывается на части.
Несчастье. Вот когда это слово, которым мы так часто
злоупотребляем
(a
misused
word),
стало
действительностью. (В этих предложениях автор
постоянно применяет аллитерацию: dull, deadness; cry,
caring; underneath, unhappiness)
9. she is your kind – зд. она твоей породы
10. Half-caste and half-caste belong. Black and white don't. –
Метис метису ровня, а чёрный белому — нет.
11. she was there, deep in his mind, eating into his flesh and
torturing his brain – в нём она была, в его сердце,
глубоко вошла в его кровь и плоть, и мысли о ней
мучили его.
12. Why is it so hard... to get at another person? – Почему так
трудно... понять другого человека?
13. The ghost of a smile passed over her face. – Лёгкая улыбка
(букв. тень улыбки) скользнула по её лицу.
14. not wise in books – (я) мало читал
15. Mad Sam's eyes danced brightly. – зд. В глазах сумасшедшего Сэма плясали искорки.
16. he felt the soft green grass with the fingers of his brain –
метафора, мысленно осязал мягкую зелёную траву
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1. the grave restored its dead – метафора, прошлое воскресло,
мёртвые встали из могил
2. Transvaal – одна из четырёх провинций тогдашнего ЮжноАфриканского Союза
3. Below the house ran a little stream, and at one beautiful
place a cluster of willows dipped their fingers into the
running water. – в первой части предложения
применена инверсия — отнесение подлежащего на
последнее место, как на наиболее эффективное; во
второй части ивы погружают свои пальцы в воду —
олицетворение.
4. and they had listened to the gruff old voice of the sea as it
groaned and cursed and threatened – одно из
возможных значений: и они слушали вечное (old)
ворчанье моря, и его стоны, и проклятья, и угрозы
5. Only once had he been angry.– Только однажды он рассердился (зд. only, поставленное в самом начале
предложения, требует инверсии.)
6. squatter – захватчик пустующих земель или жилищ,
зд. издольщик-арендатор
7. the only one who will put up with my temper – только он
один умеет ладить со мной (to put up with – терпеть,
мириться)
8. the shadowy patches of darkness and light – и тёмные тени и
пятна света
9. he ... eased himself down – он ... опустился (на камень),
букв. он … позволил себе расслабиться и присесть.
10. Restraint slipped from him. – Замкнутость исчезла.
BOOK II, chapter 7
11. walk into me and start trouble – набросится на меня и затеет
какие-нибудь неприятности
12. Lanny relaxed and felt his body easing into the earth, which
softened, yielded, and welcomed him – всё тело Ланни
расслабилось (relaxed) и приникло к земле (easing into
the earth), и земля стала мягкой; она словно поддалась
под его тяжестью (yielded) и нежно приветствовала его
(welcomed him)
13. she couldn't help herself – она ничего не могла с собой
поделать
14. head over heels in love – идиома, по уши влюблена
15. But there is another kind ... without looks or anything else
mattering. – Но есть и другая любовь,.. и для неё не
имеет значения ни внешность, ни что-либо другое.
16. with her hands cupping her chin – опершись подбородком на
руки
17. the urge to move was on her – на неё нашло желание уехать
18. То wipe Sam and the pain of Sam from her brain. – Выбросить из головы Сэма и связанные с ним страдания.
19. she eased him into a chair – она усадила его на стул
20. he said thickly – сказал он хрипло (невнятно)
21. Not a person I can see but someone I can feel. – обратите
внимание на пропуск союзного слова whom
(дополнения) в обоих придаточных: ... whom I can see,
... whom I can feel.
22. her very first beau – зд. со своим первым возлюбленным
(на своём первом любовном свидании)
23. "When did you first love me?" The voice was small and
eager. – Когда ты полюбил меня? — (спросила она) И
голос её был тихим и взволнованным.
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24. The words penetrated at last. – Слова, наконец, дошли (до
Файиты; то есть, она, наконец-то, поняла.)
25. Come on. Up with you. – разг. Быстрей. Поднимайся.
26. the ugly and the narrow and the mean and the unkind –
безобразие и тупость, и подлость, и злоба. (Наличие
определённого артикля перед прилагательными —
признак их субстантивации.)
27. Forgotten was the cardinal sin of their land, the sin condemned by everyone, from the church downward to the
Labor party: the free and equal mixture of colors. –
Забыли они, что заключая свободный и равный брак —
брак между белым и «цветным» — они совершают то,
что в их стране считается страшнейшим грехом,
грехом, который осуждается всеми — от церкви до
лейбористской партии.
28. miscegenation – метизация
29. he cupped the flaming match – заслоняя ладонью горящую
спичку (пламя спички)
30. Her eyes danced with mischief. – Злые огоньки заплясали
у неё в глазах.
31. till the possessively jealous woman gave place to the
understanding woman – и ревнивое собственническое
чувство ушло из её сердца и сменилось пониманием
32. Portuguese East Africa – португальская колония в Восточной
Африке, имеется в виду Мозамбик
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BOOK III, Chapter 1
Мирной картиной утра начинается III-я часть книги,
озаглавленная "HATE" (ср. глава 5 из II-й части книги,
озаглавленной "LOVE", начинается так: Morning broke
with a fairness in the home of Sister Swartz.)
1. Morning broke quiet and hushed, subdued as if holding its
breath. Sunrays filtered in wherever they could, driving
out darkness and choking the shadows, and a strange
haze that was not mist hung over the valley. – Утро
проснулось мирное, спокойное и тихое — точно оно
затаило дыхание. Солнечные лучи пробивались
повсюду, рассеивая мрак ночи, и странная дымка, вовсе
непохожая на туман, повисла над долиной. (Здесь у
автора стилистический приём подбора слов, близких по
значению: quiet, hushed, subdued,..; darkness, shadows,
haze, mist,..)
2. adjusting his reversed collar – надевая свой воротник
(воротник, застегивающийся сзади, с прикреплённым к
нему чёрным нагрудником — знак священнического
сана англиканской церкви)
3. a booming greeting – шумное приветствие
4. That he would be abused and probably kicked he expected. –
Что его обругают и, может быть, прибьют — к этому он
был готов. (При переводе инверсию надо пытаться
сохранять.)
5. putting the finishing touches – делая последние штрихи
(букв. отшлифовывая свой рисунок)
6. on the latest layer – на самом верхнем (свежем) слое
BOOK III, chapter 1
7. she traced a series of varied but balancing patterns – она
чертила множество разнообразных, симметрично
расположенных узоров.
8. gathering him to her bosom – прижимая его к груди
9. Such a fine, upright man her son had grown into. –
зд. инверсия придаёт фразе особую эмоциональность
(ср. нормальная структура предложения: Her son had
grown into such a fine, upright man.)
10. Educated people have to have their thoughts to themselves
sometimes. – Образованные люди не всегда должны
делиться своими сокровенными мыслями.
11. She tried not to think of Mabel but it was no use. The
thought had cheated her. Misery showed in her eyes. –
Она пробовала не думать о Мабель, но всё было
безполезно. Мысль о ней стала навязчивой, без конца
возникала. В глазах сестры Шварц появилось
страдание.
12. she poked the fire – она помешала угли в очаге кочергой
13. I thought you had that Cape Town look in your eyes. –
зд. Я так и подумала, что у тебя Кейптаун на уме.
14. I'm not leaving her again. – разг. Я больше не собираюсь
уезжать отсюда (форма Continuous глагола to leave
имеет здесь значение будущего времени)
15. avoided the old woman's work of art – стараясь не наступить
на узоры, сделанные старухой
16. Doubt and recognition battled in the eyes of the older one. –
Сомнение и уверенность чередовались в выражении
глаз той, что была постарше.
17. the Fieta of many years ago – прежняя Файита (обратите
внимание на употребление определённого артикля
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BOOK III, chapter 1
перед именем собственным – та самая Файита, какой
она была ещё в те, в прежние годы.)
18. not a patch on that other Sarie; not much of a figure either;
just homely – ничто в сравнении с той, другой Сари, и
фигура неважная — какая-то простушка
19. I do the hiring for the house. – Я нанимаю прислугу для дома
20. The ghost of a smile remained on Fieta's lips. – Чуть
заметная улыбка (букв. тень улыбки) ещё оставалась на
губах Файиты.
21. I come after miss Sarie. – зд. Главная — мисс Сари, а за
ней — я.
22. And clean work it must be. – инверсия, эмфатическое
приказание (ср. нормальная структура: It must be clean
work.)
23. and hugged her madness tenderly – тихо радуясь своему
безумию; не желая расстаться со своим безумием
24. The world was a beautifully friendly place. Friendly green
and brown and blue and gold. – Мир был прекрасен и
дружествен. Всё улыбалось ей: и зелёная трава, и бурая
земля, и голубое небо, и золотое солнце.
25. now contemplated the fast-running stream – и теперь
размышлял, как бы переправиться через быстро
бегущий ручей (то есть: заранее не оценил, но
отступать уже поздно)
26. The old woman cupped her ear. – Старуха приставила ладонь
к уху. (ср. в BOOK II, Chapter 7, комментарии 16 и 29 –
этот же глагол употребляется в другом значении.)
27. old Voortrekker chest – старинный сундук, оставшийся ещё
от времён первых переселенцев (см. BOOK I, Chapter 2,
комментарий 27)
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28. I work for old missus when I was a child. She look after me.
Now I look after her. – зд. старая негритянка
неправильно употребляет английские грамматические
формы.
29. brushed Sarie's help aside – отклонила помощь Сари;
оттолкнула руку Сари
30. They've beaten you! – Они сломили тебя!
31. I thought you were the one outsider who could fight them. –
Я считала тебя единственной — из всех тех, кто для
них чужие, — кто способен потягаться с ними самими.
32. A young arm shot up and fingers snapped. – Кто-то из детей
поднял руку и щёлкнул пальцами.
33. so let's take it as read – примем так, как оно есть
34. I'm choked with news – разг. новостей у меня целая куча
(букв. задыхаюсь от новостей, новостей полон рот)
35. about five-ish – примерно около пяти
36. he could have wired and put her off – можно было бы
послать телеграмму, чтобы она не приезжала
37. the brains behind the conspiracy – главный заговорщик,
душа заговора (букв. мозг заговора)
38. he felt bitterness well up in his heart – он почувствовал, как
злоба снова переполняет его сердце (автор часто
употребляет well up, когда описывает то, как некое
чувство возникает у человека.)
39. Не tried to remember her voice, but that, too, was only a
sound meaning peace. – Он пытался вспомнить её
голос, но вспомнил только, что он — как музыка,
которая успокаивает и умиротворяет.
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40. I should love it here, she decided, but doubted it very much. –
Мне бы тут понравилось, решила она, но сразу же
усомнилась.
41. he's grand – разг. он молодчина
42. we haven't really got together – мы не можем найти общий
язык (букв. что-то нам не легко друг с другом)
43. sit-down would bring them together – если они посидят
рядом, это, может быть, разсеет отчуждённость
44. but it was impossible to put her finger on it – разг. никак
было не понять, в чём же дело
45. But everywhere was a big blank. – фиг. Ничего не приходило
на ум.
46. the laughter caught in her throat – фиг. смех застрял у неё в
горле
47. she was without side – разг. она ничуть не гордая
48. there's a little do on at Stilleveld – в Стиллевельде (сегодня)
вечеринка
49. Murder showed in her eyes. – фразу невозможно сказать порусски, исходя только из значений слов – необходимо
раскрытие авторской мысли; один из возможных
вариантов: Глаза её вспыхнули ненавистью.
50. The urge to hurt surged through her body and raged in her
like a storm. – Желание уязвить его разлилось огнём по
её телу, забушевало в ней.
51. and flotsam and jetsam – всякая всячина; остатки, обломки,
хлам; безделушки (букв. обломки кораблекрушения)
52. too much forehead and mouth – и лоб, и рот слишком велики
53. That was only a bit of the cat. – идиома, Это я только от
злости.
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54. let's not beat about the bush – идиома, не будем ходить
вокруг да около, не нужно притворяться
55. smiled...a private smile – улыбнулась … своим мыслям
56. Her mouth worked. – Губы её дрожали.
57. in the cast-off clothes – в старых, поношенных платьях (их
белых хозяек)
58. had fingered them – пощупала их
59. the attentions – зд. знаки внимания (обратите внимание на
определённый
артикль
перед
абстрактным
существительным и на окончание множественного
числа – то и другое придаёт слову attention конкретное
значение.)
60. as though everything was what they thought it was – как
будто в действительности всё обстояло именно так, как
это им и казалось
61. People wish for things and make them happen in their minds.
– Люди мысленно принимают желаемое за
действительное.
62. and live a lie – превращать свою жизнь в ложь (глагол to live
употреблён как объектный, то есть, с прямым
дополнением.)
63. don't be bitter – не злобствуй
64. your theories will come unstuck this time – ваши теории на
этот раз не оправдаются
65. The nerve of the black man to come here at such a time! –
Какова наглость у этого негра — заявиться сюда в такое
время!
66. the almost rugged, round, handsome pale brown face with
only the eyes indicating a scholarly bent – светлокоричневое лицо, с резкими чертами, круглое,
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BOOK III, chapter 1
красивое, на котором только
склонности к научным занятиям
глаза
говорили
о
67. You are related to Sarie Villier. – Вы с Сари Вильер кровные
родственники.
68. it is the truth – обратите внимание, что слово truth обычно
употребляется с определённым артиклем
69. she blessed the tear in her blouse that had delayed her the
extra few minutes – слава богу, что она задержалась
дома на несколько минут из-за этой дырки в блузе
70. and danced with an abandon – танцевали, полностью
отдаваясь пляске
71. They waxed eloquent and were boastful. – зд. У них
развязались языки, и они размечтались.
72. You seem to have a knack for finding out things. – идиома,
Похоже, что у вас дар разгадывать тайны.
73. And you, my friend, you think you are a student of people
and you ask me that. – А вы, друг мой, думаете, что
знаете людей, а сами спрашиваете меня об этом.
74. Countee Cullen – Каунти Каллен (1903-1946), негритянский
поэт и писатель, настоящее имя Countee LeRoy Porter;
он и Ленгстон Хьюз были лидерами «Гарлемского
ренессанса» (см. комментарий 14, BOOK I, Chapter 3);
издал несколько сборников своих стихов; составил
антологию негритянской поэзии "Carolliny Dask" (1927)
75. She was getting her second wind. – фиг. К ней пришло
второе дыхание.
76. she caught up with Lanny – она догнала Ланни, она
поравнялась с Ланни
77. he thought she was winded – он думал, что она задыхается от
быстрого бега
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78. I know you don't like good-byes – я знаю, ты не любишь
прощаний (признак множественного числа 's'
(good-byes) говорит о субстантивации этого слова.)
79. you are just tied up in each other – вы интересуетесь только
друг другом, живёте только друг для друга
(букв. «завязаны» друг с другом, «зациклились» друг
на друге)
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BOOK III, Chapter 2
1. Don't talk soft. – зд. Не говори глупостей.
2. with the warmth of their companionship over them –
согретые теплом своей близости
3. A gentle, protective blanket of love. – метафора, Окутанные
мягким покровом любви.
4. because their blood had run thin – фиг. потому что кровь их
уже не грела (букв. еле пульсировала)
5. and of an evening – зд. предлог of означает, что действие
будет происходить не в какой-то определённый вечер, а
вообще, обычно.
6. Tell them while one man and one woman cannot love in
safety there is security for none... – Скажи им, что никто
не может чувствовать себя в безопасности, пока
мужчины и женщины не вольны любить друг друга.
7. don't you worry – разг. будь уверен
8. who the devil am I to go getting angry – разг. да что я, чёрт
возьми, такое, чтоб сердиться
BOOK III, Chapter 3
1. The day was long, weary and unyielding in its unwillingness
to go. – День был долгий, тягучий и не хотел кончаться.
2. in an agony of suspense – в мучительном, напряжённом
ожидании
3. a warm voice charged with love – голосом нежным и полным
любви
4. Lanny felt a spasm of shivering shoot through his body. –
метафорическое употребление глагола to shoot, часто
встречающееся у автора (ср. the thought shot through her
mind).
5. they were people of a kind – они были людьми одного
склада, одной породы
EPILOGUE
1. in bold black letters – жирным шрифтом
2. had run amok – сошёл с ума; пришёл в ярость; перестал
владеть собой (букв. бежал, словно одержимый амоком)
Бывшее ПРЕДИСЛОВИЕ,
хотя его настоящее место — ПОСЛЕСЛОВИЕ
Роман «Тропою грома» был написан два десятилетия
назад — в 1948 году. Тогда его автор — Питер Абрахамс,
молодой южно-африканский писатель (он родился в 1919 году)
не мог ещё, разумеется, предугадать, что в недалеком будущем
бурно, стремительно и вместе с тем драматично начнёт
происходить освобождение «чёрного континента» и образование
независимых, суверенных африканских государств. В этой
ранней книге Абрахамса нет изображения больших
общественных событий и освободительной борьбы, нет образов
героев-борцов. Но картина сегрегации, бесправия и нищеты
«цветных» и «чёрных», их унижения белыми господами так в
ней выразительна, что не может не вызвать у читателя мысли об
исторической
неизбежности,
закономерности
грозного
восстания против колониальной системы. Во многих ныне
свободных африканских странах жизнь, правдиво описанная
Абрахамсом, уже отошла или отходит в прошлое. В других же
— Южно-Африканской Республике, Южной Родезии —
по-прежнему господствуют порядки, издавна установленные
завоевателями Южной Африки, по-прежнему малейшее
нарушение
апартеида
приравнивается
к
уголовному
преступлению.
Завоевание Южной Африки европейцами началось с
середины XVII века, когда голландские купцы и матросы
высадились в так называемой Столовой Бухте. Проникая в глубь
страны, колонизаторы присваивали плодородные и богатые
рудами
земли
коренного
африканского
населения.
Предисловие 1971
Многочисленные племена негров мужественно защищали свою
свободу и свои владения, но их стрелы и копья были бессильны
против огнестрельного оружия захватчиков. Потомки первых
колонизаторов стали называться бурами. В начале XIX века
новые пришельцы — англичане — силой вытеснили буров из
основанной ими Капской колонии и те, продвигаясь в глубь
континента, истребляя или порабощая африканцев, образовали
свои республики — Трансвааль и Оранжевое Свободное
Государство. В результате англо-бурской войны 1899-1902 гг.
Англия овладела и этими республиками. Вместе с ранее
захваченными территориями они вошли в Южно-Африканский
Союз, — созданный в 1910 году английский доминион. В нём
укрепилась система жесточайшего подавления коренного
населения: у негров было окончательно отнято право на
владение землёй, на квалифицированный труд, на общение с
белыми. Несколько больше прав было предоставлено
«цветному» населению, т.е. мулатам. Но и права «цветных» без
конца ущемлялись и ограничивались. Так, в 1925 году был
принят закон о цветном барьере, закрывший африканцам доступ
к квалифицированному труду.
Действие романа «Тропою грома» происходит в ЮжноАфриканском Союзе, в одной из захолустных его деревушек,
населённой «цветными» и расположенной невдалеке от
Кейптауна. Там, в Кейптауне, герой книги Ланни Шварц на
деньги своих односельчан получил образование, добился
учительского диплома: «цветным» предоставлялось право
учиться, хотя образование не уравнивало их с белыми и не
освобождало от обязанности селиться только в «цветных» гетто.
Перед Ланни открылась возможность стать учителем в
кейптаунской школе для «цветных» мальчиков и таким образом
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приобщиться к «верхушке цветного общества». Создание этой
«верхушки» — одно из средств сегрегации, отделения
«цветной» интеллигенции от её одноплеменников, подкупа и
привлечения некоторых из её рядов на сторону белых
правителей в качестве послушных слуг. Образованный
«цветной» опасен для колонизаторов: он потенциальный враг,
участник и организатор национально-освободительной борьбы.
Упоминание об этой борьбе есть в романе Абрахамса: Ланни,
живя в Кейптауне, не раз бывал участником демонстраций,
устраиваемых в знак протеста против расовой дискриминации.
Но Ланни не политический борец: он избирает для себя путь
просветителя своего народа, возвращается в Стиллевельд, чтобы
учить грамоте маленьких и взрослых жителей своей родной
деревушки. Но и эта скромная деятельность героя романа
вызывает ярость местных баасов: они понимают, что даже крохи
знаний смогут вселить в умы забитых людей сомнение в
незыблемости господства белых над «цветными». Оттого так
грубы оскорбления и страшны угрозы по адресу Ланни,
исходящие из уст помещика Герта Вильера, потомка буров.
В Стиллевельде — поголовная неграмотность, и это
типичная черта действительности Южно-Африканского Союза.
Неграмотен даже деревенский священник: вместо подписи он
может только поставить крест. Но он мечтает, чтобы его народ
научился читать и писать, и потому рад возвращению Ланни.
Однако этот духовный пастырь, являющий собой пример
забитости и покорности, заражён пропагандой расовой
дискриминации: благоговея перед белыми, он в то же время
считает, что негры — существа низшей породы даже по
сравнению с мулатами, и не разрешает жителям Стиллевельда
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посещать негритянскую школу соседнего крааля, в которой
учительствует Мако.
Создав привлекательные образы Ланни и Мако, Абрахамс
нанёс удар по расовым теориям о духовной неполноценности
«цветных». Его молодые герои богато одарены. Вместе со своим
другом, еврейским юношей Исааком Финкельбергом, они
обсуждают жгучие проблемы африканской жизни, пытаются
определить пути к иному, более человеческому существованию.
У Ланни поэтическая натура; на него глубоко действует красота
природы, стихов. Он охвачен стремлением к счастью. Мако
суше, рационалистичнее. Но именно ему Абрахамс придаёт
черты человека, способного найти для своего народа новый
путь.
В романе раскрыта история любви Ланни и белой девушки
Сари Вильер, закончившаяся трагической гибелью юных
влюблённых. Их история была не единичной в округе: ей
предшествовала другая. За много лет до встречи Ланни и Сари
белая девушка из семьи Вильеров, тоже носившая имя Сари,
полюбила «цветного» Сэма Дю-Плесси. Белые жестоко
искалечили Сэма, осмелившегося попрать законы апартеида и
почувствовать себя человеком. А Сари с горя умерла. Эта
рассказанная Абрахамсом человеческая трагедия обнажила
крайнюю жестокость всей системы отношений «европейцев»
(так называют себя белые) к «цветным» расам. Ланни и Сари,
отдаваясь своей любви, как бы опрокидывают эту систему. Они
ничего не хотят знать о неравенстве рас. Каждый видит и в себе
и в другом человека. Каждый уверен в своём праве на любовь и
счастье. Мако, тщетно предостерегавший своего друга о
грозящей ему опасности, понял, как внутренне изменился
Ланни: постоянно напряжённо ждавший оскорблений со
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стороны «европейцев», Ланни в любви к нему белой девушки
почувствовал подтверждение своего человеческого достоинства.
Влюблённые идут тропою грома — в их борьбе и смерти Мако
слышит его раскаты. Он верит — гроза очистит воздух и землю,
прояснит умы людей. И он не утешает жителей Стиллевельда, в
страхе преклонивших колени при звуке выстрелов, оборвавших
жизнь Ланни и Сари. Он говорит: «Мы должны делать что-то.
Но что?»
Такими словами заканчивается роман Абрахамса,
познакомивший советских читателей с этим автором.
Почувствуем ли мы неудовлетворённость от того, что его Мако
не ответил на свой вопрос? Домыслим ли за писателя этот образ
и увидим в нём будущего сознательного борца за свободу? Или
же обратимся к другим книгам Абрахамса — «Шахтёру» (Mine
Boy, 1945), «Завоеванию» (Wild Conquest, 1950), «Расскажи о
свободе» (Tell Freedom, 1954) и особенно к «Венку Майклу
Удомо» (Wreath for Udomo, 1956)? В последнем романе
Абрахамс, живущий теперь на Ямайке, пророчески описал
успехи и трудности борьбы африканских народов и рассказал о
больших подвигах и роковых ошибках героя книги Майкла
Удомо, понявшего необходимость солидарности африканских
стран, но затем изменившего этой солидарности.
Книги Абрахамса, одного из первых писателей,
развернувших перед нами картину жизни и борьбы народов
«чёрного континента», даже вызывая в читателе желание
поспорить с их автором, служат оружием в этой борьбе против
сил реакции.
Е. Корнилова
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Прошло вот уже 25 с небольшим лет с тех пор, как в 1986
году Пол Саймон записал вместе с музыкантами из Южной
Африки виниловую пластинку, — и про неё можно сказать без
всяких обиняков и экивоков — гениальную пластинку под
названием “Graceland”.
Тогда ещё не существовало понятия World Music
(устоялось это словосочетание чуть позже, а уже через несколько
лет всё это течение превратилось в ещё один коммерческий
«сливной бачок», вроде киношного «арт-хауса»). Недоуменные
поклонницы задавались недоуменным вопросом — мол, как же
ты, Павел Иванович, дошёл до жизни такой, что после «Миссис
Робинзон», «Звучащей тишины», «Боксёра», «Моста над бурными
водами» и проч., и проч., распеваешь с неграми «матросский
свинг» под гармошку и барабаны?!! На что наш орденоносец и
рекордсмен, крутя мысочком правого кеда, потупясь, отвечал:
«Да, понимаете ли, подсунули кассету доброжелатели — на, мол,
послушай… ну, я и послушал… и не смог удержаться от «свежего
ветра» их бантустанской музыки, и даже больше — сам
отправился к ним, в провинцию Наталь, чтобы вместе попеть да
поиграть.»
Но после всяких там просто-поклонниц активность начали
проявлять и разные поклонники, навроде судебно-политических
приставов, что в Вашингтоне состоят на зарплате у дяди Сэма
Обамыча — мол, как же так, Вы, такой честный Павел Иванович,
а апартеид не уважаете, на стадионах песенки про свободу
Нельсону Манделе распеваете,… вот и улики на VHS и DVD: Paul
Simon – The African Concert, Zimbabwe, 1989; Paul Simon – Concert
in the Park, New York, 1991; Classic Albums – Paul Simon
“Graceland”; и проч. Да и пластиночка Ваша одноимённая сразу
взбудоражила аж 5 миллионов проигрывателей в домах у
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добропорядочных граждан по всему миру, которые восприняли её
название — «Земля обетованная», или «Земля всеобщей
благодати», — как неприкрытый сарказм… Нехорошо это, не
по-буржуински! Мы ж к Вам со всем нашим расположеньем — и
печенья, и варенья…
Тут уж ему нечего было сказать, и оставалось только молча
крутить мысочком левого кеда.
Но… Всё это красивые сказки, запечатлённые в разных
документальных фильмах о нашем герое и его «инновационной»
пластинке. Глядя же на те весёлые времена с высоты
сегодняшнего, 2000-такого-то года, можно заметить и некие
подковёрные потоки, даже целые течения. Тогда, в 1988-м году,
этого самого Грейсланда занесла «нелёгкая» в Москву, в Летний
театр, что в бывшем Парке бывших Культуры и Отдыха им.
Горького. Ох, и дали они жару! — воспоминания свежи до сих
пор… Но на протяжении всех 25-и лет я нет-нет да и задамся
недоуменным вопросом, вроде тех поклонниц: «Как же это так…
Такая здоровенная ТОЛПА музыкантов — африканские плясуны
и певуны, гитаристы, барабанщики и трубачи, а ещё и прочие
аккордеонисты из Южной Америки, да во главе с Ним Самим,… а
ещё и Мириам Макеба,… а ещё и Хью Масекела,… — и всего-то
за 3 рубля (ТРИ РУБЛЯ), да целых 2 концерта за вик-энд (это так
у них, на сленге «инноваторов», выходные называются), да ещё и
в сопровождении салюта из 240 орудий (а не из 240 китайских
пшикалок, что нынче так полюбились русскоговорящим
обезьянам),… Да, уж! И как же всё это стало возможно, за
такие-то деньги, а?…»
А вот и возможно!… Помните, как через несколько лет
после «выпуска на свободу» этого самого Грейсланда грохнули
Советский Союз? В 1991-м. Шуму потом было много в мире по
этому поводу. Сегодня ту комбинацию принято называть «Самое
большОе и цЫничное за всю мировую историю ограбление
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страны и её среднего класса, за исключением Исхода евреев из
Египта». Проект-91 известен ещё под названием «Горбачёв», и
запустили его мировые процентщики не абы зачем, а чтобы не
сдохнуть самим, да ещё и походя подкормиться мертвечинкой.
Уже задним числом все вспоминают, что весьма тяжело жилось
буржуинам в 1980-х, случалось даже, что их знаменитые дядьки
Доу с Джонсом падали с перепою на 500 и больше пунктов за
день. Вот и придумали ихние племяннички спасительный ход в
стиле МЧС: взяли, да запустили в Кремль бывшего прицепщика
комбайновых тележек, который пообещал им всё «прИнять» и
«углУбить». И честно прИнялся за углУбливание обещанного:
стал бороться с табачными бунтами, потом — с зубной пастой,
дальше — с безалкогольными свадьбами, с украинским мирным
атомом, с афганским синдромом и с Аллой тогда-ещёНЕ-борисовной Пугачовинской. И публика, привыкшая смотреть
в рот Райкину да Жванецкому, его с радостью поддержала…
Дальнейшее — уже история.
Зато на фоне «Нашего Великого ограбления» совсем
«ти-ихо» и «незаме-етно» была грохнута и Южно-Африканская
Республика: с ней тоже необходимо было разобраться, ведь в
конце 1980-х это была растущая экономика — страна даже стала
занимать места в середине первой десятки. Рецепт был тот же:
отнять и переделить! Хоть всё там и пожиже — не то, что у здесь
нас, — но алмазов, золота, урана, зулусов и проч. вполне хватит,
чтобы спокойно встретить старость. И пока чернобыльский
стронций носился по Европам, шимоновский грейсланд обнял
необъятное — целый мир. В любом закоулке у любого мусорного
бака можно было услышать флюгельгорн Масекелы, щёлканье
Макебы, гитарку Фири и хоровое завывание «Fre-E-E-E Nelson
Mandela, bring Him back home to Soweto — tomO-O-Orrow!» …
(А, между прочим, как поэтично вышло! — разом убрали с
политической карты Мира и Советы, и Соуэто.)
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И… Зубастых рейдеров напустили на промышленность, а
воинственных зулусов напустили на фермеров, на тех, кто из
буров да англичан. Зато «расцвёл» мелкий бизнись по причине
отсутствия налогообложения — какое же может быть обложение,
если частным лицам запрещено было вести банковские счета в
безналичной форме! Мало кому удавалось донести сейф с
зарплатой или с выручкой от банка до дома…
Всё это и многое что другое ожило и сложилось в
целостную мозаику после всех помпезных юбилейных торжеств в
2012 году (см., например, на DVD «По следам Paul Simon’s
“Graceland”… Under African Skies – 25th Anniversary»). На волне
«растущего самосознания мирового еврейства» в фильме
передвигается — то есть, еле-еле ходит, — уже не американский
поп-рок-фолк идол Пол Саймон, а гордый потомок венгерских
эмигрантов Павел Шимон. Он всегда называет «моими южноафриканскими братьями» ставших всемирно знаменитыми —
через его же «божественное вдохновение» — плясунов и певунов
из далёкого городка Ледисмит в бантустане КваЗулу, но это
никоим образом не меняет расклад при раздаче, ведь наш герой
жаловался уже в конце 1960-х, что ему приходится платить одних
только налогов в размере 600 тысяч (ТОГДАШНИХ!!!) амер. у.е.
А посмотрите концерт «Hard Rock Calling – Paul Simon’s
“Graceland” 25th Anniversary, Hyde Park, London, 2012» — здесь у
него только талита да пейсов из-под шляпы и не хватает!
Вот и приходится предположить, что команда, если так
можно выразиться, “Graceland Globe Trotters” была запущена в
мир с сугубой целью. Как говаривал Винни-Пух:, «Это ж-ж-ж —
неспроста!» И при таком варианте сценария уже и не важно
почём продавать билеты на концерты — будущий гешефт покроет
и перелёты, и кормёжку ТОЛПЫ музыкантов.
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Правда остаётся непрояснённым один напрашивающийся
недоуменный вопрос недоуменных новых поклонниц: «А сам-то
Павел Иванович в 1986-м году был кто: «засланный казачок», или
же его просто использовали «в тёмную»?!!»
И приходится нам лишь ожидать, что какой-нибудь
современный «Питер Абрахамс» возьмётся «за перо» мемуариста.
Итак, исполнилось уже 40 лет тем мыслям, что изложила
нам выше Е. Корнилова по прочтении книги 1948 года того,
настоящего Питера Абрахамса.
Сам автор оказался безсилен в поиске ответов на поднятые
им же вопросы, разве что он через поэтические цитаты и аллюзии
выстроил убедительную череду свободолюбивых поэтов.
Однако подъём в дальнейшем освободительной борьбы
народов во всём мире позволял Е. Корниловой и проч. критикам в
1971-м году смотреть с советским оптимизмом на будущее таких
расово неоднородных государств, как ЮАР, тем более, что и
доморощенные идеологи придумали красивую фразу «Единая
нация — советский народ». Но всё, что произошло и с Советским
Союзом, и с ЮАР за последующие 40 лет, выводит на роль
главного героя книги дуэт старого и молодого евреев
Финкельбергов. Похожим образом обстоят дела в драме Рихарда
Вагнера «Кольцо нибелунга», где, казалось бы, основные
перипетии происходят с семейством богов и родом Вельзунгов —
это Вотан, Фрикка, Фрейя, Брюнгильда, Зигмунд, Зиглинда,
Зигфрид. Но вот лейтмотив всей драмы задают в прологе, в
«Золоте Рейна» вроде бы второстепенные персонажи: нибелунг
Альберих и бог огня Логе. Альберих своим примером показывает,
к чему приводит отказ от человеческих чувств ради золота, а Логе
всем даёт советы, а сам остаётся в стороне и наблюдает, что из
этого выйдет…
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А вышло то, что и вышло. Блейк, Прингл, Шелли,
«гарлемские Возрожденцы», Тотиус и прочие «прогрессивные»
литераторы — многие из них вошли в контекст культуры только в
конце XX века, подготовив почву сначала для Нельсона Манделы,
а затем и для «феномена Обамы». Только вот школы при этом
лучше не стали, и даже напротив… А лидируют сегодня в
области образования — Финляндия, Сингапур, Корея, Гонконг,
Япония,… По логике вещей, по логике Мако, Селии, молодого
Финкельберга — за этими странами и будущее. Но по логике
Ланни, Файиты, Сари, Мабель, старого Финкельберга — это ещё
Тётушка надвое сказала…
Современная же страна, которую принято называть РФ,
делает всё, чтобы походить на гибрид США и ЮАР.
Единственное, что мешает полному сходству — здесь чуть
больше снега.
Скан-и-OCR-редактор
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