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´╗┐Title: Cinderella in the South - Twenty-Five South African Tales
Author: Cripps, Arthur Shearly, 1869-1952
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Cinderella in the South - Twenty-Five South African Tales" ***

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CINDERELLA IN THE SOUTH


New York Agents
Longmans, Green & Co.
Fourth Avenue and 30th Street


CINDERELLA IN THE SOUTH

South African Tales

by

ARTHUR SHEARLY CRIPPS

Author of 'Faerylands Forlorn,'
'Lyra Evangelistica,' Etc.



Oxford
B. H. Blackwell, Broad Street
MCMXVIII



To C. H. CRIPPS

FRIEND AND KINSMAN.

Grace me these veld spoils rude with name of thine!
Mine's been the luck not thine these long years now
To tread the veld. What other use had'st thou,
Hunter and Horseman, made of chances mine!
Nor horns nor heads have I to give to thee,
Yet spoils of sorts veld spoils I bring with me.

A. S. C.

Eukeldoorn, Mashonaland.

October 11th, 1917.



CONTENTS

   PROLOGUE

   THE THING THAT HATH BEEN

   NEW LIGHT ON AN OLD CHAMPION

   FUEL OF FIRE

   'LA BELLE DAME'

   THE SCENTED TOWN

   THE PLACE OF PILGRIMAGE

   THE LEPER WINDOWS

   THE BURNT OFFERING

   EIGHTY-EIGHT IN LAVENDER

   DIVINATION

   JULIAN

   THE DOUBLE CABIN

   INTELLIGENCE

   A CREDIT BALANCE

   MAN'S AIRY NOTIONS

   PISGAH

   A LION IN THE WAY

   AS TREES WALKING

   THE BLACK DEATH

   AN OLD-WORLD SCRUPLE

   FOR HIS COUNTRY'S GOOD

   LE ROI EST MORT

   THE RIDING OF THE RED HORSE

   THREE AND AFRICA

   OUR LADY OF THE LAKE

   EPILOGUE



PROLOGUE

[AFRICA AND HER SISTERS.]

Some fifteen years now I have been her guest,
For all this land's hers, tho' she does not reign.
She's but a ward, at what late age she'll gain
Her freedom and her kingdom, it were best
To risk no surmise rash. E'en now she's drest
Sometimes in skins. Give her ground-nuts and grain,
Cattle and thatch'd hut, then she'll not complain,
She's happier-hearted than her Sisters blest.

Her Sisters blest! Of them what shall I say?
I like them better when they keep away,
And toil in their own lands, not loll in hers.
They use her ill. She's not so old as they.
She drudges for them. But her youth confers
A charm on her they've lost these many years.



THE THING THAT HATH BEEN

What's the good of him?' said the bar-tender to me. 'If he could
tell us how the Ruins came he might be worth a forty-pound cheque
every month, or at least a twenty one. But he can't.'

We were discussing the new appointment of a Government Curator at
the Mabgwe Ruins. I approved it, the bar-tender did not. I
pleaded that he was a bit exacting, that the Curator had a very
cold scent to puzzle out, and that he had tried plodding about
from ruins to ruins, moling and sapping and mining, not to speak
of writing to the Rhodesian Press. Afterwards I shouldered my
knapsack, sought counsel with my carriers as to ways and means,
crossed the river and took the Ruins road. A motor-car hurtled
past me when I was within two miles. Its driver had been pointed
out to me as a Jo'burg magnate; his passengers I did not know,
but I was soon to know them. I was the first to reach the Ruins
after all; for their arrival time being one o'clock, and their
halting-place a hotel. Civilization demanded that they should
lunch there.

I drank from the fair water by the temple's western approach, and
sat down to smoke under a tree in the precincts. The big cone of
the main tower was just in sight. I had seen the walls before,
and was in no analytical mood; synthesis was enough for me. I
took in with my delighted eyes a roofless dome worthy to be a
temple of some sort, even if it were not, a blue roof that
bettered mere human aspiration, debris testifying to earthly
incompleteness, a broken column with its memento mori all these
were simmering in my vision and my judgment. I half dozed until
the voices of the lunchers began to interest me. They were doing
the rounds rather hastily, lunch having cut into their time, so
short at its very best.

A Church dignitary from our own territory was with them. He
introduced himself to me, and he also introduced an engineer. He
was a patriotic Rhodesian, that dignitary, and denounced McIver,
who had dared to assign to the Ruins a native origin.

'Such nonsense!' he said. 'Believe me, my dear sir, I know the
natives, and I know the natives never built these walls. Poor
creatures; they want firm handling, don't they? They're always in
want of bossing-up. But as for this display of art, they haven't
it in them, and they never had.'

The engineer did not seem interested in what was said, or in what
I answered. He was a man of few words. He went off to the eastern
wall, whither we followed him. I found him poking about there
with a stick. The Jo'burg charioteer was soon fussing along,
hurrying on tea-time. 'He didn't want to get a dose of fever this
trip,' he said. He had heard about our unhealthy season up north,
and the month was now April. He wanted to be back by sunset. So
it came to pass that his party went off to tea with but side-glances
at the hill-fastness.

'I'm neither a baboon nor a nigger,' said their host, when I
proposed that he should go up. After all, it was good-natured of
him to motor the dignitary out, I considered. He himself affected
no sort of interest in antiquities, and the dignified antiquarian
under his care was so wearily keen. I went to tea with them,
postponing my reveries to camping time and night. It was not
until we were eating guavas at the end of our meal that the
engineer came in. Then the Jo'burger told him to hurry up, and
went off to cherish his car. As to the engineer, his scanty
tea-time was not left in peace. The dignitary lectured him on the
true and patriotic theory of Ophir, on Astarte's worship, and
Solomon's gold. He answered very little, but he hinted that there
were difficulties. His lecturer glowed, and appealed to the
Curator, who had just come in, bent and shaken with fever.
Unhappily, yet happily for me, he trod on one of the curator's
archaeological corns and involved himself in an apology. Before
he was out of the wood I had asked the engineer a question or
two.

'No time to talk now,' he said, 'too much cackle. Come and see me
in the town. Or, if I miss you there, I may see you on the road,
mayn't I? I'm due out your way in three days.'

Soon after he was petroled away. I went to camp in a clearing, to
sup, to smoke, to read my guidebook. At last the night aged, and
the moon rose. My carriers slept. I looked up in the night's
starred face and beheld 'Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance'
there. But would I ever live to trace them by 'the magic hand of
chance,' as Keats called the grace of God? I began again to
mumble the lines of my guide-book, and found them rather bare and
dry. I looked up at the vast tapering walls. Why was there no
script there? After all, that trenchant argument outweighed a
many arguments; it scaled up like Brennus's sword, and made for a
clear issue. I looked at the sleeping carriers. Did they hold the
secret, not in tradition, not in history, but in the fleshy
tables of the heart and brain and aspiration of their race? I
went to sleep and dreamed of men building, building, building.
They were building stone kraals for their sacred trusts of kine,
chipping and carving away at their totem hawks and their
crocodiles, breaking limbs and necks over a sky-high tower, with
stones for their bricks, and no slime to make them mortar. How
they sang over their work, and how it grew! Talk of Troy's walls;
if only Kaffirs would start building a Troy, or a Palace of Art,
or a Spiritual City, how the work would go forward to the music
of them! I could hear all the parts in their melodies the
checking and countering and refrains and responses of them. But,
before I woke, the parts were merged in full chorus. With that
unison music in my ears I rose and knelt and rose again hastily.
Then I ran round to the eastern wall under the zig-zag patterns.
I came only just in time to see the sunrise by so doing.

It was three days after that I caught up Spenser, the Government
engineer.

'I have seen buildings in North Africa,' he told me. 'They
weren't much like those at Mabgwe. In the north, if they built
with stones they built with great slabs. But those granite flakes
at Mabgwe were easy for a primitive people to manage a very
primitive people. Very primitive, or why did they build on sand
when, six inches deeper, they might have founded on bed-rock?
They didn't understand arches, seemingly. They weren't very
careful about bond in building, were they? Nor were they very
careful to break joint outside, much less inside, so far as I can
judge. And the script; where is it? And the graves; where are
they? If they were Semites, why didn't they write? If they were
Semites, why didn't they bury? . . . But it isn't as easy as it
looks, the riddle. There are one or two jagged ends that conical
tower, for instance.'

We camped that evening near a Mission. I admired the oblong
iron-roofed church there. It wasn't my style of art, but it seemed
to me fair of its kind.

'Quite good,' growled my expert friend, and he said no more at
the time. He spoke more freely over a last pipe.

'I'm sorry,' he said, 'not to take more interest in this sort of
thing. Only, after all, it's African-built, and Europeans could
do the thing a bit better, couldn't they? This sort of thing
seems rather a wrong line of advance. If I hadn't seen Mabgwe so
lately I mightn't mind so much.'

They showed us to a hut, a very clean one. 'That's better; that's
ever so much better,' he said. On the wall was a rude frieze in
Bushman painting style, but white, not red. I enlightened him as
to tsenza work, as to how you could use the cool watery roots
like crayons.

'Why, that's surely Jezebel looking out of that grain-bin,' he
hazarded. 'But what are those?'

'The dogs to eat her,' I answered.

They were horrid little whelps with human heads. I told him about
certain night-fears common among natives. 'It was a solid
Christian who dared to paint these,' I surmised.

'If you could only get Africans to believe what Christians
believed in the thirteenth century you might see signs and
wonders yet,' he said.

He has not been our way again since April, but I met him at the
Pro-Cathedral Pageant in January. It was organized by a Pageant
Master, our mutual friend the dignitary. Therein Asia, King
Solomon and Sheba's Queen, were represented. Africa was relegated
to her proper Cinderella and Plantation Chorus part. 'Poor
creatures!' Spenser said, with a grimace, and winked at me.

'Come, and I will show you a thing,' he said to me afterwards; 'a
thing I chanced on in the Christmas holidays. It's ten miles out.
I want to inspan at six sharp to-morrow.'

I was guilty of three omissions next day. I cut a clerical
meeting; I flouted the True Romance in the shape of the Pageant's
second performance; I also missed the bazaar of St. Uriel's
Native Church that was held on the Pageant ground. St. Uriel's
structure had been put out to European contract; it was a very
didactic building, so the Pageant-Master told us. We passed it on
our way out to the kopje country.

'About as sensuously lovely as a Pills' advertisement,' was
Spenser's comment. 'A good pity and terror purge.'

I sighed indulgently.

'It's very popular, I've heard, among the town boys. It's so very
European to native eyes, so extra corrugated and angular.'

We came up at last to that which we sought a huge ellipse and
dome of stones and earth, rising and broadening under our very
eyes. It was on a farm among the granite hills, many miles from
Rosebery. 'It's only a glorified stone cattle-byre, and an
intensified stone Kaffir hut,' Spenser commented. 'It's not even
built the old Mabgwe way. These are only blocks of granite; a few
of them broken, but not one of them dressed. And there's lots of
mud to eke them out.'

'Yet there's hope in the thing. It's not an artistic dead-end
like Saint Uriel's,' I pleaded.

One or two Europeans, very unskilled ones I could see, had
planned this bit of work, and taken part in it. They had made
themselves at charges for it, though African gifts had not been
wanting. They had, so to speak, coaxed their African pack on to
try an old scent. Now the moving European spirit was gone home
for months to England. Before he went the former rains had ruined
some of the work. He had been too ambitious, too scornful of
delay. Forewarned by Africans, he had pressed to a midsummer
disaster. Now he had left Africans in charge. He had trusted them
to go on. One Christian, in particular, he had trusted his fellow
and his master in building. The boy had built at a colonial's
cattle-kraal once. His skill had multiplied as he built on at the
great church, and now he was a master craftsman. Doggedly he was
building up again the rain-ruined bastions. The work was going
with a swing, if a slow one. The scent was no longer a cold one.
The pack were belling and chiming over it, and they were running
with their huntsman out of sight.

'I don't understand this bit of work properly,' Spenser said.
'What's made the dry bones live?'

'Inspiration,' I said reverently. 'Looked at in one way it's Art.
Looked at all ways it's Religion. It's the same sort of thing as
went on, I suppose, when the faith of sun and moon was a power.
Now the faith of Christ is gathering force in the land. The land
isn't an Italy, and our twentieth century isn't that old
thirteenth century; yet look out for the signs and wonders you
spoke of. Likely enough they're to be expected.'

We went to the Pageant Master's lecture on the Mabgwe Ruins that
night, when we had driven back to Rosebery. It was more
interesting to me as a subjective study than an objective display
of learning.

'Poor creatures!' the lecturer said of the natives. 'Don't put
them in a false light. Whatever claims they may have to equable
treatment, they have no claim to be considered romantic. The
ancient romance of this country is the romance of a nobler race
the romance of the Tyrian trader, Tyrian or Sabaean. Allow me but
a trifling emendation, and Matthew Arnold's lines will serve to
indicate that romance.' Substituting 'Zambesians' for 'Iberians,'
he gave us the last lines of 'The Scholar Gipsy.' 'In that era of
Tyre's trade,' he concluded, 'I place the golden age of our
country a golden age which under our own Imperial rule begins
anew.'

'H'm,' said Spenser. 'That live Mashona building-boy's worth many
dead Phoenicians to me, at any rate. As to defining romance, we'd
better agree to differ. 'Do well unto thyself, and all men will
speak well of thee,' he went on, with a tang of bitterness.
'Jew-boys and Arabs mopped up trade when they were living, now they
jump other men's kudos, being dead.'

'Never mind.' I said. 'Art for Art's sake, aspiration for
aspiration's, faith for faith's! And some there be which have no
memorial; who are perished as though they had never been; and are
become as though they had never been born; and their children
after them.'

'Never mind,' it was his turn to say. 'That granite kopje church
is rising, and Magbwe Ruins stand the quick and the dead. These
shall both come up for judgment and get justice. Yes, if they
have to wait for it till the Supreme Court of Alt holds session.'



NEW LIGHT ON AN OLD CHAMPION



We were going on an expedition long before the morning light
came. Our ship was an armed steamer a converted cargo boat. We
had reinforced our naval guns' crews and our Indian ship's guard
by taking officers and native soldiers (askaris) aboard at a
certain bay. We had reinforced our artillery by borrowing a Maxim
from the shore. I had a guest on board that night, a cheerful
padre. How he seemed to relish his craft, and how able I esteemed
him. I was very raw at the work, and he helped me to understand
what my defects were both in nature and grace. He had the
sort of smile, I thought the real, right sort to warm a naval
parishioner's heart. He was very keen on the new sort of thrills
and experiences that he had sought for himself by coming aboard.

We reclined on camp beds high up on the bridge-deck, but we did
not drop asleep when the electric light failed and faded. We
asked each other's ages, and discussed parts of England as we had
known them in more peaceful days; then we assured one another
that we wanted to rise early. We were to steam off on our sudden
raid in the dark. Coffee had been ordered about 5:30; action
might be expected to begin not much later than 6 a.m. We speculated
as to whether it were true that our ship would have to face an
old field gun's fire on the morrow, as well as a Maxim's. I was
eloquent as I told how our four-inch gun might be expected to
shake the ship. After that, in the dimness we talked shop; we had
neither of us possibly had many easy openings for that ravishing
employment lately.

Was it right to pray for our own side's success? I was steadfast
in my scruples as to praying thus, my new-found friend was
inclined to be a little scornful of them. 'Is there a God of the
Germans fighting the English tribal God?' I asked rather
irreverently, and my friend showed that he was shocked. I
apologized. 'Let's leave the Supreme Power out,' I said. 'Let's
consider the action of the saints in this war. Are they supposed
to be scrapping like the gods in Homer English Saint George
against German Saint Michael and so on?' But my friend did not
seem very keen about either Homer or hagiology. He explained that
he was a C.M.S. man, and not a medievalist. The discussion
languished, ere he murmured 'Good night.'

I slept rather fitfully. I was awake long before the ship moved
away on her fierce errand. At last, when she had been steaming
some while, I stole down in the dark to the bathroom. When I came
out of it the grey twilight was beginning. I crept aft and looked
over the bulwark, wondering how far we were away now. The shore
Maxim was in place there with plenty of sand bags about it, but
the officer in charge of it was still stretched abed. His friend
the Intelligence Officer, who had messed with us last night, was
snoring on another bed beside him. I stood looking at a dusky
island in the moonlight, and began praying a favorite prayer of
mine for those times, asking God to let Saint Michael cover our
heads in the day of battle. I muttered the prayer very low, but
it appeared that somebody heard. A slim figure, seemingly in
khaki, that I had not noticed, rose up from a seal; on the sand
bags.

'Are you praying something about battles?' it asked. I started,
and assented clumsily.

'How does one pray about battles nowadays?' the investigator
proceeded. He spoke in the friendliest way, and managed to set
even me at ease. So I told him what I had prayed for.

'It sounds a fair sort of prayer; better than some I've heard,'
he allowed, as he sat down again. 'Some people seem to forget the
last lot of the Books in the Bible when they pray nowadays.' I
heartily agreed.

'I don't believe for one,' he went on, 'that Saint Michael is
passionately interested in wiping out either English or askaris
or Germans. It's surely better to pray about him like you prayed.
I should think the negative work appeals to him more than the
positive, the salvage more than the blotting.'

His voice was clear, and evidently carried. The Maxim's warden
grumbled, and began to sit up in bed.

'Possibly,' this disturber of slumber went on quite
unconcernedly, 'Saint Michael has a clearer notion as to the real
enemy than some clients who invoke him.'

Then the officer in pyjamas accosted me, and the thread of the
other's talk was lost. When I moved off to dress he had already
left his perch among the sand bags. I climbed the ladder, and had
my coffee. Soon after came the scurry to stations. We were coming
into the bay in the glory of that morning under hangings of amber
and rose and feathery grey. The four-inch gun's crew were in
their places. I stood trying to read the Prayer before Action in
its very small print. I murmured what I was doing to my cheery
colleague, so much more enthusiastic than I was about what seemed
to be coming. Then someone came up and spoke to me. It was surely
my friend from the sand bags. I could see him properly now. He
was surely an officer. He stood up slender and shapely in his
khaki, but he was not wearing a single star or a regimental badge
of any kind. Had he forgotten these in the hurry of this eager
morning? With but a few words, he passed on towards the guns'
crews. Soon our four-inch gun was shaking the ship horribly. We
were shelling a trench that ran up a hillside, they said. I sat
under cover of the bulwark near some kneeling riflemen, far from
enjoying myself. Yet no gun roared back in answer to our own. It
seemed to be one-sided enough, this operation of war.

'It's a fearful weapon,' remarked my colleague rather
complacently, as he paced towards the gun platform. One prayed
for those who were naked to its fearsomeness up on the hill
there, and prayed about Saint Michael's intervention to Saint
Michael's Commander-in-Chief. The long-drawn moments slurred by
us. A bell rang as the ship wound her way in slowly. The mournful
cry of him who took the soundings came again and again. Then we
stopped dead anew, and our gun's mouth roared and flamed.

'Such a crowd of askaris; the hill's black with them!' So the
signalman cried to the doctor, as he sped by on a message. I was
interested in watching the gun-layer as he readjusted the dragon
mouth. But what had my friend of the sand-bags to do with the
matter? He moved among the gun's crew, and none said him nay; his
hands were on the gun after the accredited gunlayer's. We shelled
another position, and then another. Afterwards came a lull, and
some of us hurried up to breakfast.

There was much talk there of the possible or probable slaughter
we had effected. Doubtless the store ship that had followed us
and hung behind us had served us well. Those on shore Had surely
been more disposed to hold to their positions, fearing that she
carried troops, and meant to land them. Now she was steaming
slowly away. How many did our bag amount to? The Intelligence
Officer was sanguine, so was my colleague, but the gunnery
officer was rather pessimistic. 'Two or three of those rounds
went just wrong,' he grunted. 'We've struck a bad day.' After
that the porridge and the bacon and the eggs were done with; we
were soon back at our stations. Once more our gun bombarded. Once
more no answer came. Now occurred the cruise of the motor boat;
the best adventure of the day so far, as it seemed to me.

The boat was lowered, and the shore Maxim mounted in it. Sand
bags were piled up in plenty. A Naval Reserve officer, fair-haired
and young faced, sprang in to join the gun's officer. There was
also a British bluejacket ready to go, and there were African
soldiers and sailors, as well as the two engine-men, English and
Goanese. They were to beat up the river, and hunt down canoes,
should any appear.

My heart thrilled as I uttered God-speed to the Maxim warden. I
think he was unmarried, but his fellow officer was both husband
and father; they might have a fiery time in front. Last my
graceful friend, with no stars or badges on his khaki, slipped
into the boat. He seemed to come and go as he liked, and none
refused his services. The boat hummed away from us, past some
rocks, and round a headland into the unseen. Then our ship
traveled on slowly, before she stopped and fired again. She shot
away many rounds that time. I was sick and weary of the firing as
I sat on the deck by the doctor's cabin. My colleague was much
more alert and cheerful. He had secured a shell-case by the naval
commander's bounty. 'They make such splendid trophies,' he told
me. But I did not covet one much. I thought of how such war
trophies were in demand for Christmas decoration vases in a
church by the lakeside. I also thought of the quite possible
horror and havoc of shattered askaris' bodies that those splendid
trophies might be supposed to have wrought. How one thought
besides of the adventurers in that whizzing motor-boat during
that next half-hour. But as it turned out, according to their
disappointed report, not a shot was fired at them.

'We let fly with the Maxim at some natives and one European on
shore,' the gun-worker shouted, as they drew up at the ship's
side. 'We saw some canoes, three of them. Askaris were in them,
and urging the paddlers on. Then, of all times, the Maxim took it
into its head to jam badly. So we didn't get them.' I happened to
catch my friend in khaki's eye as the other lamented. He looked
quite cheerful about things, while the other went on, 'We'd have
sunk the lot, if it hadn't jammed just then.'

The thought flickered into my mind as to whether anybody was
responsible for that singular coincidence. I looked in my
friend's face with some sort of an uneasy question. But he only
smiled. His face was strangely prepossessing, so entirely
fearless, yet not the least truculent. His brown eyes and boy's
lips answered my question with the most engaging of smiles. Those
brown eyes assorted piquantly with his very fair hair. He had
pushed his white helmet far back on his yellow head. Half an hour
later we were in our action stations once more. Our riflemen were
firing at individual askaris (were they all askaris, and not
unhappy villagers?) who could be descried upon the shore. The
signalman, passing by again, snatched a rifle and fired just
beside me. One of the Maxims meanwhile was working away grimly,
the officer's face was set firm as he steadied his coughing
machine. Then it was that I saw my unattached friend step towards
him, and take up his stand behind him. Ping! A bullet came just
over the gun-director's head. 'That was a near shave,' the
warrant officer told me afterwards. 'Someone aimed too high, or
he'd have got him that worked the gun.'

Yet it was a mystery to me why the bullet did not get that
handsome head behind and above him, the head that I reflected had
doubtless helped to draw the fire so high. He who had exposed
himself came to me untouched. 'It looked near,' he allowed to me
smiling. He stayed by us for the rest of that fell morning. He
smiled, and bade me cheer up, when the naval commander went by;
had he not twitted me for sitting safe under the bulwark and
wincing when the four-inch gun roared? He smiled also a little
ironically when my colleague came up, still fondling his trophy
and dilating on its splendor. Then he smiled again and again as
he moved behind him to and fro on the deck, watching him in the
pitiless firing. He smiled moreover when he moved up to the gun;
he was revising the gunlayer's work now and then, so far as I
could make out his movements. He smiled afterwards when the
Intelligence Officer made such sanguine estimates of the
slaughter we had dealt out to forts and trenches. They were
talking together, he and his comrade of the Maxim gun, discussing
whether the bag was really a big one, the former as glib with the
pros as the latter was with the cons. The tall listener smiled
rather wistfully as he heard them. After the last round from the
six-pounder had been fired, before we went to lunch, he came up
and said farewell to me. 'But I shall see you again on board,
shan't I?' I asked. 'We shan't put you off at the Bay till nearly
sunset, shall we?' 'I may be getting off long before then,' he
said, but he did not explain how. My prayer book had fallen on
the deck, and he picked it up and gave it to me. 'Mind you keep
to your own line,' he said. 'I like that prayer in your prayer
book about Saint Michael. Doubtless he's covered not a few
people's heads in this day of battle, not all of them on the one
side. It's likely enough he has unearthly notions about war, as
he's an unearthly being. Perhaps the dragon he makes war on, war
to the death, is neither England nor Germany, but just the
scrapping between them.'

'What do you mean?' I asked, rather puzzled. Yet he only smiled,
he was not very explicit.

'Oh, by the way,' he said. 'They tell me you've promised to build
a mission church to Saint Michael if you get back to the south
safe and sound.' I wondered afterwards who they were that had
told him.

'Yes, I said, 'and if I don't, the building of it's endowed in my
will.'

'Why not take the shell-cases,' he said, 'if they offer you some?
You needn't use them in your church as altar-vases. They'd
make a splendid trophy under Saint Michael's feet, a gleaming,
sleek-barreled serpent of slaughter, just the sort of dragon for
him to tread, and delight in treading. Good-bye.'

He was gone amongst the sailors, just as the steward called me up
to the cold soup. I saw no more of him on the voyage, nor have I
seen him since that September day. The one or two I asked about
him seemed not to know whom I meant. I have often wondered who he
was since then, and have framed a theory. Perhaps you can guess
what it is without my needing to write it down.



FUEL OF FIRE



I was lucky to get a lift. We had risen before the moon took to
her bed, and the sun had left his. We were driving through green
woodlands when the light grew clear around us. A little while ago
their graceful trees had been ruddy or bronze doubtless. Now it
was the turn of the hill-trees on the great kopje that we passed
within a mile, to grow bronzed and to redden. For the month of
November had only just come in. We outspanned in a valley where
the new green of the grass had come already. No doubt a month ago
it had looked very black and fire-scathed. Now the showers had
brought kind healing and amendment. We made our morning Memorial
together (being all of us Christians bound on some sort of a
Christian pilgrimage), and after that we breakfasted and smoked
at ease while the mules grazed close by, and the driver boiled
his pot, and fed it with meal, and stirred and ladled out, and
ate in the fullness of time. My heart was very thankful. How much
better and kindlier one's lot seemed now fallen as it was once
again in this fair ground of a country at peace in Wartime. This
countryside pleased me ever so much better than British East or
German East this Mashonaland. There to north I remembered without
enthusiasm the tropical passions of the elements, I remembered
rather miserably some of the things that a state of war had
meant.

After breakfast, there was no hurry about our inspanning. But
when we had once got off we were soon up level with the farmhouse
on the hill's shoulder. We halted for friendship's sake, and
waited for the cups of coffee that we were assured would be soon
ready. Our host was Dutch-looking, but seemed British; I thought
rather narrowly British in his sympathies. He discussed the War
keenly and thoughtfully with my companion. He had two brothers in
German East, I knew, and he was soon asking me about them. But
our paths up that way had not converged. I could only tell him by
hearsay about the main advance, wherein they had been sharing,
and I had not. As I told, a dark handsome, gentle-voiced woman
brought our coffee out. Soon a shy little girl put her head round
the corner of the stoep, and withdrew' it again. I jumped down to
greet her. Then she agreed to come and shake hands with us both.
Her father colored up, and smiled as he told me of a great
scheme. A lady in town had offered to board this child. So kind,
wasn't it? She was of sturdy English make (her father's father
was an Essex man. I had been told). Her hair and eyes were very
dark; she looked ever so capable.

'Yes, very kind,' I murmured, but I was reflecting that the
lady's kindness might not be so very ill-rewarded. The child
might prove useful and cost little. She might give the sort of
help that is apt to be useful and costly in a country like ours.
'Yes,' said the father smiling, 'and she may get to the day
school that way, the lady says. We couldn't have nearly afforded
to send her into town otherwise. But now she's got her chance of
a regular school.' 'Oh, really,' said my friend. His kind ugly
face looked none too pleasant as he said it, I remember noticing
that.

Then he went to his mules to 'buckle' up a strap somewhere. I was
surprised to hear him cursing something under his breath. It was
not his manner, I thought, to curse straps or mules. We said
good-bye a very cordial one and then drove down towards the main
road. It winds through a vlei towards the town. We had got almost
to the big water-course so banked up in thirsty sand, when he
told me what he was cursing. He repeated his words deliberately:
'Damn it, damn it to hell,' he said. I protested faintly till he
made it clear to me what he was damning, then I recklessly
endorsed his damnation. For he was not cursing Heaven or
humanity; he was cursing that blessed Anglo-Dutch, or rather
Dutch-English, institution of South Africa, the color-bar. He had
been told by one of the managers that should the father apply for
admission to school on behalf of the child we had seen, he would
be certainly refused. The father was really much too poor to send
her away, he told me.

'They're ever so honest and hard-worked. They've put up a great
fight on mealie meal against bad seasons. They've pinched hard
for the child's poor little outfit. He's got into debt for it.
He's a Britisher, and has got two brothers fighting. Very
dubious, dark children have been admitted already, as presumably
Dutch. Dutch and colonials rule the roost here. And to leave
Christianity alone, where does British Imperialism come in? It's
risking spoiling a life, and the life of such a decent kid.'

Thereat he certainly condemned guiltily, as he should not have
condemned, Dutchmen and colonials, their churches, their social
order, and their sanctimony. 'Thank God I was at plebeian
Oxford,' he said, 'and was free to mix with colored men. This is
far more select, this dorp academy, with its elect Principal and
its supermen-managers.' We nearly had a row about his language.

We came over a rolling down towards the commonage. 'They've kept
free from fires here,' I said. 'Yes,' he said, 'but I'm doubtful
if their vigilance pays, if their game's worth the candle. I mean
if such absence of illumination is worth all their watching
about.' 'It saves waste of life.' I said, 'animal and vegetable,
if you can only keep the fires away.' I appealed to the wisdom of
our laws as well as to the argument of mercy which I appealed to
me. 'And you get that sort of thing.' he said, pointing to the
thick brown tufts of unappetizing feed. 'That's been going more
than a year, hasn't it? 'Oh for a wind and a fire,' say I.

We passed over the commonage, which showed very black with recent
fires. 'It looks rather knocked out,' I said. 'Yet not without
hope,' he answered. We were driving back about the same time next
fore-noon. A great fire was rushing wind-driven over that rolling
upland. 'At last,' he said. I sighed. A mile further on we came
into the smiling green vlei. 'This was black a while back,' he
said. 'Doesn't the fire help a bit after all? Who wants that
moldy stuffy old feed, isn't it parabolic of that fusty Dutch-Anglo
dorp and its prejudices? What are they meant for, and it?
'Fuel of fire,' say I.' I smiled indulgently. Since we had got
into town things had happened. We had had our memorial services
for the Dead that last night, and this same morning. It was the
week of All Hallows and All Souls, a time that often tempts me to
homesickness. One is apt to think of hazy, yellow-leaved, dreamy
times in old England just about then not to speak of old familiar
faces. That night of the first Service was very starry, and the
morning of the second Service was brilliantly clear, the rain
seemed to be very far away for the time being. People had come at
night rather well. Not to speak of one of the school managers
having died quite recently, news of one of our police's death out
scouting had leaked through from German East. I preached Paradise
to that attentive congregation in the iron-roofed church that
natives had been so discouraged from attending. I was glad one
straggled into the back seats I had battled for, just to
demonstrate one's principle of barring out the color-bar. It was
all very soul-soothing, thought I, that Memorial Evensong, the
stars outside, and the golden evening brightening in the west of
the hymn, and the lesson about white robes and palms, presumably
of victory or harvest-homing. My friend waited for me outside
under the lamp. 'Very fine,' he said in his grimmest way, 'the
Anglican view of hopeful souls turned promiscuously into a sort
of orchard and rose-garden with plenty of light to gild them, and
rest to wrap them.' I smiled. 'True enough in its way,' I said.
'There's another side doubtless, yet the preaching of that
doesn't appeal to me particularly. I don't want to work on
people's apprehensions. But don't let me stand in your light.
You're a lay reader with a bishop's license. You can preach and
welcome to-morrow morning.' 'Trust me not to refuse,' he said. 'I
don't want to play up to apprehensions exactly. I want to state
what seem to me to be relentless laws of cause and effect, and to
show the only way with any sort of hope in Christ that I happen
by faith to see.' So he had preached that morning. He preached
quite simply on the trying of every man's work, on the burning of
flimsy work, on the saving of the workman, yet so as by fire.
There was a small but select gathering in the Church of Saint
Tertullian; two of the school managers even were there. Surely I
had baited the trap, I thought guiltily as I looked upon them,
by my over-amiabilities of the night before.

Yet that side was true enough, the side I had preached. And was
not this side also true in its way? The preacher seemed at first
to be referring to my own obsession with the words 'resist not
evil,' my following of Tolstoy in my own evangel. He was warm in
his commendation. 'And yet,' he said, 'let us remember a just
God's resistance to evil. He resists and judges righteously,
where we may neither resist nor judge. If we agree not to resist
evil violently for Jesus' sake, yet ought we not to warn people
of their God's unrelenting resistance? While we would not obscure
the fear of our just God by the fear of us unjust men, let us
remember our just God!' He spoke of judgment and of purgation, of
what seemed to be indicated hereafter by the stupidity and
cruelty of people's prejudices in South Africa. He painted quite
luridly the purgation he anticipated as likely for such as would
dare to wreck a child's education, and possibly her life for a
color-scruple. He glowed and kindled. There was no mistaking his
drift. He painted the fires of purgation. He painted, too, their
presumable fuel, much as I believe old preachers limned the
flames of hell and their denizens. 'And it may lengthen out into
hell! Who knows?' he kept interjecting. 'Who knows but that that
prejudiced spirit you play with may be a damned spirit after all,
fuel for the fire that is not quenched, food for the worm that
does not die?'

T could not have preached happily on his lines, but for all that
I acknowledged that the thing might well be of God this bizarre
surprise at his preaching that was glassed in at least two of his
listeners' eyes. Did that sermon do any good? Let me anticipate!
The child came into town as a half-time servant. Somebody's
letter got handed up to the Administrator, and he made a request
to the managers. The child was clearly European by predominance
of race. They spent five hours of their precious time in
discussion. The officials wanted to oblige the Administrator, and
they had their way at last. But whether the child once admitted
will have much of a time, I am inclined to doubt, should she pass
into the Paradise of so select an academy. I heard an ominous
story of the Dutch minister last week, how he had threatened a
hiding to any child of his that spoke to this forlorn little
girl, who seems hard up for playmates. I heard yesterday that one
of my Church magnates had asked that the child should not come up
to play with his own. Yet the Fire of God has been preached, and
I am willing to allow that the thing may have wanted doing rather
badly in my amiable parish. Doesn't any real true Christian Peace
Doctrine mean spiritual fire and sword? Doesn't it mean burning
and fuel of fire as set against the confused noise and garments
rolled in blood of earthly campaigns? Doesn't any real true
Christian Imperialism mean the sword of the Spirit and the fire
of the Gospel against South African Racialism? Perfect love
casteth out fear, but what has Racialism to do with such a
perfect love as will banish the fear of God?

After all, can any reasonable and lively Christian Faith avail to
find any evangelically reasonable destination short of hell for
South African Racialists dying in their Racialism save such place
of purgation as my friend indicated? Yes, of course, God's
prerogative of mercy in Jesus is limitless, but are these
Racialists so merciful to little colored children that they
should obtain mercy without judgment from Jesus' judgment?

And if the purgative fire seem so inevitable, why not warn its
prospective fuel?

Granted the Love of Jesus (Who was certainly what South Africans
would call a Jew Boy, Who was possibly so dark that any dorp
school would have hummed over His admission, Who enrolled Himself
in that House of David one of Whose ancestresses was the Hamitic
Rahab apparently, Who took Ham's curse as well as Japheth's);
granted that that Love is the one and only supreme motive for
Christian Reform, yet for all that, facts are facts, and it may
be kind to tell people into what fires the fires of Racialism
threaten to merge their selves. On the whole, I am glad that our
lay reader preached on that bright morning that over-gloomed
sermon, preaching from my own soothing pulpit to my startled
congregation. They did not seem to know what to make of it. But
the preacher himself seemed quite unrepentant about it. He was
talking to me about it that morning when we drove home again, he
to his farm and I with him, to walk on to my mission. We
outspanned in a very green valley, I remember, and sat long over
roast monkey-nuts that his driver benignantly provided.

'The Lord put a word into my mouth,' my friend said quite firmly
and simply. 'Was there not the cause the cause of a child's
career? Didn't our Savior speak plainly as to the ugly analogy of
the man drowned like a dog with a stone round his neck in the
deep of the sea? Weren't His children in question when Jesus
spoke; wasn't there a Christian child in question when I
preached?'

I thought he made out something of a case for his position as a
preacher of fiery doom. We were sitting on a beautiful green
carpet. The Earth there had come through her bad time. Away
on the hillside a black forbidding patch testified to the
unpleasantness of the remedial stage. Away in the distance was a
beautiful tree-shaded granite hill with much show of brown
foliage and purplish underspaces. Just beside that hill the
flames came driving (through the old last year's feed, I
suppose). His eyes followed mine the way of the flames. 'Hurray!'
he said heartily. 'Now we shan't be so very long surely after
all. Don't you see the green grass on its way? It was a snug
corner, verily, for the old dry stuff. Look, how the flames leap
up in the thick of it! Not very juicy browse nor tasty feed, but
fine fuel for the fire; good for that, anyway. It was a snug
corner, but at last the time was ripe when the fire came driving
straight for it the fire with the wind behind. 'Which things are
a parable,' he said, his ugly sunburnt face twitching curiously,
his eyes quite handsome, nay, even splendid with honest scorn. He
was shaking his fist towards the prim little dorp that we had
left behind over the ridges. 'No doubt but ye are the people,' he
said, 'ye that have made the freedom of England and the franchise
of Jesus of no effect by your tradition your sacrosanct
tradition. What's the good of the frowsy old stuff? It must be
some good; what is it? It isn't very good pasture for sheep or
horses, not to speak of dairy cattle, but it's noble food for
fire, don't you think?

There it lies-up so snug and sheltered and screened the old dead
survival hidden in the prim little corrugated iron-roofed houses,
and the narrow gumtree avenues, and the whitewashed Dutch
tabernacle where they sing "Safe in the Arms of Jesus" (would you
believe it?) But the time will come, it mayn't come in my day or
in yours, but the time will come sure enough, when the Fire will
trek dead straight for this old dead-ripe stuff, the Fire with
the Wind behind. Then God have mercy on them whose work it was!
For their work shall be burnt, aren't we sure of that? But as to
they themselves being the sort to be saved so as by fire can we
be so very sanguine? Meanwhile. . . . . . .

The way he so humbly appealed to me for my opinion on that moot
point, did much to conciliate me. He had not carried me with him
all the while. He seemed to me a bit out of date, too like an
ante-Christian prophet. Yet how my heart went out to him as he
ended up so very abruptly with his 'meanwhile.' His voice broke
queerly, and his eyes shone. 'Meanwhile they may manage to give a
child or two a rough passage. They've got pluck enough for that,
the blighters, haven't they?' He turned away from me with a sort
of a sob. 'The time'll come sure enough, but it's their time now,
and they know it,' he said. 'God pity her!'



'LA BELLE DAME'



Inhabiting this country you inhabit the Middle Ages, you dwell in
the wild Marchlands without the pale of Christendom. Here a man
may take to the forest roads in the old spirit of errantry. How
darkly the shadow of witchcraft falls upon the path; we might be
in Lapland or Thessaly! What strange satyr voices the drums have
of nights! I suppose it is the reading about such things long ago
that gives me this sense of having been here before, of having
come back to this country!'

His eyes glistened as he sat over his wine, and smoked Transvaal
tobacco in a calabash pipe. He looked much more as he used to
look twenty years back, I thought. I had deemed him aged almost
out of recognition when first we sat down to dinner. He had come
up to Mashonaland with some learned association on a holiday
trip. His name was Gerald Browne; he had lectured on English
literature these many years in an ancient northern university.

With him came his wife, a very plain and quiet lady, and also an
undergraduate pupil named Drayton.

I was asked to meet them, and to stay in the same house with them
by a certain minor potentate of Rosebery, who had had rooms near
Browne's and mine in years gone by. It was Saturday night, and I
had just come in from the veld, while Browne's party had reached
Rosebery by the morning train. Dinner had gone rather quietly,
and our host had looked bored, I thought. Then, when the ladies
had left us, Browne had kindled up, and we all three had a
glorious hour, voicing the praises of Africa in a sort of
three-man descant or glee. Meanwhile the fourth man, Drayton, a
dark, plump and smiling youth, listened to us with a charming air
of respectful attention. Transvaal tobacco was good, and the talk
was good, though I say it who should not. Drayton's silence
was also good, a very complimentary silence with a distinct
character, as it seemed to me. On Sunday after lunch this youth
came for a walk with me, while the Brownes and our host reclined.

'Mr. Browne's got a sort of call to the Simple Life,' he suddenly
blurted out with a grin. 'It's even money on his selling up at
Oxford and coming out here for good. What's going to happen to
Mrs. Browne, I wonder?'

I laughed, as I thought he expected me to do.

'He seems rather smitten,' I admitted. 'He certainly raved a bit
last night; but, then, so many people do that when they first
come out.'

Drayton looked at me as if he might have said much more. But I
changed the subject; it never occurred to me then that it might
be a thrilling one. I went home later on and sat on the stoep and
talked to my host. Browne had very little to say. He went off for
a sunset walk, and never came to church at night. We sat up in
the moonlight waiting for him afterwards. He came in at last and
joined us on the stoep, but he was very silent. He would not have
any supper. He smoked away furiously till bed-time.

I arranged a riding trip for all three visitors next morning.
They were to off-saddle under some high kopjes about ten miles
from town; they were to have a picnic and an amazing view. I
could not go myself, as I had an appointment to keep. But I sent
two Mashona boys to be their retinue; one of them was Johannes,
my own right hand at home. I solemnly entrusted the strangers and
their steeds to his keeping.

When I came in about sunset that Monday evening they had not
returned. But before the daylight failed, three of them were back
Mrs. Browne, Drayton, and the under-boy. Where were Browne and
Johannes? Mrs. Browne seemed to be a little uneasy, but she
affected to make light of what had happened. She said that her
husband had wanted to see the country beyond, so he had gone on
with the boy. He was sure to be back to-morrow, as he had taken
so little food with him. Drayton said nothing at the time, but
after dinner, when we were smoking on the stoep, he began to
quote to me:

'I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful a faery's child;
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.'

'What do you mean to insinuate?' I said.

'Oh, I don't mean anything libelous. Browne hasn't gone off with
a comely Mashona. But, for all that, I believe he's taken Africa
much too seriously. She has a grim fascination for me, but she
doesn't stop at that with him. She grips him and orders him to
come along.'

'Tell me about today,' I said.

'Browne acknowledged a little to me three days ago,' Drayton
said. 'He told me that this huge Tamburlaine (or rather
Zenocrate) of a country was giving him too heady a welcome. He
said she was still in the Middle Ages, and not only there, but
more than half outside the pale of Christendom, such as it was
then. So she had strange forces at work in her, and used
incantations to allure, in prodigal variety. He talked about
Lapland, and some footling researches he had made into the magic
of the north. He also told me a horrible tale or two of the South
that he had found in the Bodleian. One was a real curdler, I can
tell you. Jerry Browne's own moustache seemed to turn up like a
German's as he imparted it to me. You know he's romantic enough
in his way, though he does lead such a repressed life. You should
see him at home.'

'But do tell me why he's gone off so suddenly,' said I, with some
impatience.

'I can't tell you very much,' said Drayton. 'We rode out, and
Jerry seemed tremendously cheerful quite sportive. Anyone who'd
only known him in Park Crescent would have been much surprised to
watch him and listen to the things he said. Mrs. Browne seemed a
bit puzzled, I thought, at last. Then we came to the kopjes where
there was a consummate view. You could see a long way to the
north across a hugely wide plain. Browne climbed up on the
highest rock with me a sort of flat slab, whereon you might
immolate a hecatomb. He seemed more exhilarated than ever just
then. Soon he slipped away down the rocks and left me smoking my
pipe on high. About five minutes after I observed him making
tracks across the northern plain. He was cantering his dappled
mule for all it was worth; he was carrying nothing so far as I
could see.

'I made haste down. I found that boy you said we could trust. I
gave him two or three picnic rugs and what was left of our food
to carry. I asked him to follow the rideaway, to stick to him,
and to bring him back as soon as ever he could. Then I went to
Mrs. Browne. She was sitting behind some bushes crying. She said
Browne had said such a curious good-bye to her. He had spoken of
riding on to see more of the country he had said he would be back
in the morning. She had tried to dissuade him, but he seemed
hardly to listen. She could scarcely believe that he had really
gone without blankets or food. I reassured her, telling her that
I had sent the boy and that you had said the boy was a good
'un. But if she thinks, or you think, that the old man will come
back tomorrow, I don't.'

Tuesday passed anxiously both for Mrs. Browne and for me. Drayton
was anxious in the wrong way, unless I misjudged him. I seemed to
read triumph in his face as the hours went by and brought no
Browne.

I grew haggard when evening drew on. What was I to do? But about
sunset tidings came. A native, who had traveled into town from
the north, brought me a penciled note from Johannes: 'My father,
I ask you to come to us. Let your horse make haste. The white man
will not turn. He has finished his food. He goes to the hills, he
says. I think that he is mad. Pray for us! Johannes.'

I went to Mrs. Browne at once. I remember I found her sitting
under a flaming hibiscus bush. She looked very pale and washed-out
against it. I told her that her husband wanted to extend his
tour. She burst into tears, and said she could not understand it.
Then I told her that I meant going after him in the morning to
try to hasten his return. She brightened up at that, and fell to
planning what I should take with me. What comforts could she send
Gerald in the comfortless desert without overloading me? I showed
Johannes' note to Drayton after dinner. He whistled, and, to his
credit, looked grave.

'I'm to go after him to-morrow,' I said. 'I've thought over it,
and I think you may as well come too. You may be useful, as
knowing his ways.'

He nodded. 'Rather bad about his running out of skoff, isn't it?'
he asked. 'I wonder if he's out of baccy and just breaking his
heart.' His plump face was pitiful.

'Don't you fret,' I answered. 'It only means he's run out of our
food. They'll surely buy monkey-nuts or sweet-potatoes or rice in
the kraals. He's probably developed a passion for native food by
now, also for native snuff. He'll be able to buy some of that,
surely.'

'Just so,' said Drayton. He began to quote again in a sort of
droning chant as if he were a chorus recording the onsweep of a
tragedy:

'I set her on my pacing steed, And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she lean, and sing A faery's song.

'She found me roots of relish sweet, And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said I love thee true.'

In the morning we got a flying start after all, though Drayton
was in bed when I came back from church. We went away at eight,
and soon found, to our joy, that we were really well mounted. It
was joy, too, to remember what a stubborn mule Browne had for
pacing steed. He had not got away far, we assured ourselves. But
we did not catch him that night.

We asked at kraals as we went along, and struck a hot scent about
three in the afternoon. A white man had passed that morning a
white man riding a dappled mule, with a boy carrying blankets
behind him. Straightway we gave our ponies an off-saddle.

Afterwards we rode on hard in what we deemed to be the right
direction till darkness fell: We sought shelter at a village
then. There was no village gossip, alas! about the passing of a
white man that day! They were good to us, though, those
villagers, and gave us beans and monkey-nuts for supper and
mealies for our ponies. After we had finished eating we spread
out the rush-mat they had lent us and lay down to smoke and
meditate and surmise as to our passionate pilgrim. They had given
us a hut that was old and grimy with fires. Its floor teemed with
life.

Therefore we changed our resting-place and went out to camp under
a rocky eminence. There with a bedrock of austere granite we
slept in peace. At glimmer of dawn we were saddling up. We rode
to another kraal, but the folk there had no news for us.

We were close on the hills now at last. We came to a low river at
the foot of them. We chose a landlocked pool that seemed to be
immune from crocodiles, for a plunge. Next I girded myself for
Sacrifice, and he served me. Then we made a fire and cooked a
huge breakfast in the hungry morning air. Drayton grew quite
lyrical as to the charm of the country before the meal was over.

'Browne's not far wrong about her,' he said; 'but there's reason
in all things.'

That whole day we heard no news and found no spoor or sign. The
hill-country gave us stiff climbing and rocky paths to ride.
Kraals and clusters of gardens places where we might hope to hear
tidings how few they were in that hill-country! We camped
disconsolately at last in a forlorn garden among grey boulders
where stumps of trees were burning. We found no trouble in
building up a good night fire of half-burnt logs. We gave our
ponies their nosebags and ate our own bread and bully rather
silently. Then we surmised with some weariness and gloom over our
pipes. At last we slept under the many eyes of the heavens.

About first cock-crow, when a chill struck through my blanket, I
opened my eyes and looked towards the fire. Someone was sitting
beside it watching me. Now that he saw me stirring he greeted me.

It was Johannes. 'I saw your fire but just now,' he said. 'Our
fire is up there beyond great rocks. The white man has been very
sick. I think he will come home now.'

I sprang to my feet and roused Drayton. He would not get up for a
long time. I suspect he combined breakfast and lunch fairly often
at Oxford. But I roused him mercilessly. I told him the news.

He argued in desperate fashion at first. 'How far's the sick
bed,' he asked.

'Not more than a mile or so,' said I.

'Need we go till morning?' said he.

'Shame!' said I.

At last he sprang up.

As we clambered among the boulders, piloted by Johannes, he
droned away at his chorus part:

'She took me to her elfin grot, And there she wept, and sighed
full sore, And there I shut her wild, sad eyes With kisses four.

'And there she lulled me asleep, And there I dream'd Ah woe
betide! The latest dream I ever dream'd On the cold hill's side.'

We found Browne in a nook among the rocks. A fire was burning
beside him. He seemed to be sleeping.

'He looks as if he'd been sick,' I said. 'We'd better let him
sleep on!'

'Yes; let's go to bed ourselves,' said Drayton, yawning.

So we lay down on opposite sides of the fire. Such a red and
splendid fire that cold cock-crow time!

Browne kept giving sharp little moans in his sleep, just as a dog
will do of nights.

'He's started a nightmare,' said I. 'I wish we could help him to
better dreams. I'd like to see what he sees just now.'

Drayton began to drone from his side of the fire:

'I saw pale kings and princes, too; Pale warriors death-pale were
they all. They cried, "La Belle Dame sans Merci" hath thee in
thrall.

'I saw their starved lips in the gloom With horrid warning gaped
wide, And I awoke and found me here On the cold hill's side.'

I asked a question: 'What will Browne like for breakfast,
Drayton?'

'If he's come back to his civilized tastes, you'd better open
that tin of sausages,' he said. 'You've got some squish, too,
haven't you? Don't give him that bush-tea of yours!'

I was up long before Drayton. I had secured Browne's confidences
before the sun had been risen an hour. 'I've had a sort of
miserable ague,' he said. 'A cold and hot fever has been plaguing
me. Some part of this last night has been savagely horrible. But
I've sweated pounds of my weight away, and my fever's gone.
Strange, isn't it?'

'Quite ordinary in this part of Africa,' I said, sharply and
minimizingly. I handed him a shirt, and he doffed his drenched
one. He did not tell me any more just then. His eyes watched me
in a dazed, miserable way. I asked him to excuse me, and went off
with Johannes to my service. When I came back his eyes were
clearer, they had less of their look of wan-hope.

'Sinister country, this Africa,' he said. 'I was infatuated with
her yesterday. Today I can't understand just what the attraction
was. Her desolate moors seemed to make me drunk. See how she's
served me! I never felt quite so sick as I've done most of this
last day and night. Just before I woke it seemed to me I saw them
in my dreams tens and twenties of her victims; men she's charmed
and led on and on, and demoralized, ruined, killed and buried,
and helped down-hill the way of the bottomless pit. I am better
now; but I'm shaken. How thankful I'll be if only I get out of
her, and can only stop thinking about her after that.'

I listened with grave attention. Then I gave him some bread and
sausages, and he ate away ravenously. How ever many cups of tea
did he drink afterwards?'

The above was all the avowal that Browne made to me. I do not
think that he said nearly as much to Drayton as he did to me.
Drayton plied me with questions that night, and I told him too
much, to my regret.

Months afterwards a copy of an undergraduate paper, containing a
fantasia on the events that I have recorded, reached me. It
comprised much African coloring and some little humor. I wonder
if it reached Browne or Mrs. Browne?

We got Browne home in little over a day. He hurried on,
oftentimes when we wanted to rest. He seemed as anxious to emerge
from the African desert as he had been to explore the deeps of
it. He looked rakish and wretched as he bumped about upon his
mule. His face was livid, and his black beard, that he used to
cut so formally, desperately out of trim. His eyes were strangely
bloodshot.

We reached home safely with our prize by noon on Saturday.
Browne, as I have said, was all for getting on fast, and when we
once started, his stubborn mount went well. It was won to
emulation by the willingness of our ponies, I imagine.

Mrs. Browne was delighted at her Gerald's return. Yet I think it
must have taken some months to restore her confidence in his
sanity. She had had a sore shock. Drayton and I, indeed, were
both discreet in our brief narratives of what had really
happened. But I was heedless enough to forget Johannes. I did not
caution him in time. So Mrs. Browne gathered rather a bizarre
account from him while we were at church on Sunday evening. It is
to her credit that, despite her thrift, she gave the boy a whole
gold sovereign.

The three travelers left by the slow down-train on the Monday
morning. I went to the station with them. I saw Drayton into a
smoking-carriage, and climbed in and sat with him. There was
still ten minutes' grace allowed us.

'Where's Browne, and where's Mrs. Browne?' I asked.

'Along there, ever so far!' he said; 'with Professor Ayres and
the Misses Ayres, and all sorts of good company. But, hullo! Look
there!'

Browne was coming up the platform towards the bookstall, looking
forlorn and sad.

'Ah! what can ail thee, wretched wight, Alone and palely
loitering?' murmured Drayton. 'It's a bad job for me, Jerry's
getting off-color like this. How's he going to train men for
Firsts next June, when he's gone in himself?'

'Oh. he'll pick up as soon as he gets out of Africa, never fear.'
I reassured him.

Browne loitered up to the stall and amassed two month-old English
magazines. Then he stood by the stall, looking on to the
distances near and far behind it. Our feverish contact had not
spoilt much of the landscape there as yet. Beyond a few railway
sheds showed some bushes, as it were, of wild cherry-blossom,
flaunting a true white under the sky's true blue. Spring colors
dressed the woodland behind them red and bronze, and also the two
famous colors of Faeryland. Behind that, again, the view was
spread out widely diverse, certain blue hills standing up very
delicately. Meanwhile in the near foreground some Kaffir herds
helped the picture not a little. They were driving their flock
between the white-blossomed bushes.

Browne stood a long while and watched that landscape. I would
have given something to have read his face all the while, but his
back was turned to us.

At last he began to pace up and down by the bookstall. Then he
stood to gaze again, scouring, as it seemed, the far distance
with eyes straining their utmost. Our eyes followed his.

Did not some ironstone kopjes rise up dimly to the north there?

Assuredly Browne saw those blue peaks and ridges, and remembered
them.

'Do you remember them?' I asked Drayton.

'Don't I just?' he said.

He began again in his chanting chorus tone: he was reading and
transposing from a pocket copy of Theocritus.

'They all call thee a "gipsy," gracious Africa, and "lean" and
"sunburnt," 'tis only I that call thee "honey-pale." Yea, and the
violet is swart, and swart the lettered hyacinth, but yet these
flowers are chosen the first in garlands. . . . Ah, gracious
Africa, thy feet are fashioned like carven ivory, thy voice is
drowsy sweet, and thy ways, I cannot tell of them.'

The engine whistled. Browne roused himself to my intense relief,
and climbed into the train.

'Good-bye,' I called to him as they steamed away.

'Au revoir,' he called back to me.



THE SCENTED TOWN (A TRIPPER'S TALE)



It is now more than two years since I was invalided out of my
country parish one bitter March, and sent on a southern voyage. I
had ten weeks to recruit in, and I passed by the Mediterranean to
the eastern coast of Africa. It was hard to tear myself away from
Zanzibar, but at last I went on southward and struck up into the
wilder country of the central tableland. I meant to take the rail
for Cape Town when my time should be up.

It happened in Easter week that I camped out disconsolately, and
rose anxiously, having lost my way overnight. I had spent Easter
Day in a cathedral, or pro-cathedral, town, and was now on my way
to a certain mission. I had hoped to make it that last night
the third night of the journey but had somehow missed it in the
dark after a big effort. There seemed to be no native village
near, and no passers-by. My carriers were strangers to that
neighborhood, and I was afraid of going far past the house in
benighted wanderings, so I bent my resolution and lay down. I
rose just before the sun did. It was April and the dews were very
heavy.

From a rocky hill above me the baboons were barking. Just below
us was a fair stream with a rich grove of native trees on the
further bank. Some native gardens showed on the slope above. The
white path wound through them, then away among boulders, some of
them very big ones. While I watched the stream I saw a white body
of mist mounting up. Just at that moment the sun showed. As I
looked on the sacred sight I saw somebody coming down the path.
It was the man whose mission station I had been looking for. He
was coming through the long grass in a hurry. Soon he splashed
through the drift. After that he caught sight of me, and rushed
up to our camp, glowing. It was Leonard Reeve. He looked much the
same as he did that day in London three years before--dark, pale,
slight, earnest. I had been to his sendoff and gone down to
Victoria Docks with him. I had written to tell him; I was most
likely coming his way after Easter. He seemed ever so glad to see
me.

'But where were you off to?' I said.

'It's only a mile on that I'm going,' he answered. 'There's a
little chapel on that hill over there with some native villages
near by. I want to have an Easter service there.'

'Let me come,' said I. 'You can be back to breakfast here, can't
you, when we've done?'

He said he could. Even as he nodded I felt a little anxious when
I remembered that we had no meat of any sort left. I took Jack,
my head carrier, aside and asked him to do what he could while we
were gone. Couldn't he buy some eggs for salt, or do something
useful in the way of foraging? He said three words in kitchen
Kaffir that sounded hopeful.

Then I went on with my chill, damp little friend. One of the
coldest ways surely of taking a bath is to tramp through the long
grass (it is very long in that country) when it is drenched with
dew or rain. However it is all right if you are sturdy and in
good heart, and keep going a stirring pace, and never sit down
till you are dry again. My companion did not seem very buoyant,
though he made no complaint and trudged on without flagging. We
had a glorious service in a quaint church of wattles and earth
and grass on a hill-top. One way it looked over a great spread of
village gardens I think there were at least three villages in
sight. The other way it looked on some well-wooded uplands that
the eastern sun lighted tenderly. There were only a few people in
church at the end of the rite, though a great crowd was there at
the outset, and the 'Kyrie' and first two hymns raised the hill
echoes.

There was no sermon. When the unbaptized were gone the tiny
church, that had seemed so thronged and stifling, grew to be
roomy and cool.

That was to me a very beautiful rendering of the Liturgy. Yet I
only understood a word here and there. I could follow the action
of the Divine Pageant throughout, and I would not have had the
mystery and aloofness of the words one whit lessened.

After it was over Reeve took me across to the native teacher's
house, where we found a very shy wife and a very composed baby to
greet us. Meanwhile the husband bustled about and gave us tea. I
liked his laugh and his boyish face, as well as his Biblical
English. He did not stint the tea in his blue pot. Soon we were
on our way back to my camp.

Jack had got a real good fire now in the shelter of the rocks,
and a hearty smell of fish frying reassured me as we drew near.

Reeve, who had seemed a little tired and washed out as we came
away from the church, now brightened up marvelously.

'I declare,' he said, 'it's just like old times. You know the
Tooting Road, where I used to work? It's just like the fried-fish
shop there, next door to the Surrey Arms. If we'd only got the
fog and the trams and a few of the old people here how fine it'd
be!'

We had found a subject that interested us both and lasted most of
the breakfast-time. His enthusiasm struck me as a little too
emphatic. I remarked that I thought he was well out of the
Tooting Road and out under blue sky on an African moorland.

'Look up there!' I said. 'That makes the Tooting Road seem rather
monstrous when one comes to think of it.' I pointed to the many
cattle and sheep and goats coming down to the stream at a
swinging pace through the gleaming woodland.

Two little boys were mounted on bulls; two or three others came
rushing behind. There was a barking of dogs and an ecstasy of
shouting.

'Oh, it's all very well,' he said, and his eyes flashed a little
scornfully.

Afterwards he took me to his home. His church stood out nobly as
we came up the path towards it. Within it was beautifully kept,
but I confess I was disappointed. It was all very neat, but it
suggested the skill of the church-furnishing firm too strongly. I
sighed a little as he showed me four enormous brazen vases of a
too familiar type. I longed for the two or three little red and
black earthen vases that I had seen on his teacher's altar; but I
kept my longing to myself.

He was a marvelous man for method, Leonard Reeve. He seemed to me
to organize classes with real talent anybody who came to the
Mission at all habitually was pigeon-holed as 'Inquirer,'
'Hearer,' 'Catechumen,' 'Under a cloud,' or something else, and
dealt with accordingly. His work, as I watched it day by day, and
evening by evening in church and school and villages and Mission
farm seemed to me well-considered and painstaking. On the other
hand he seemed to me not so happy, and not so very well.

The mail came in on the Monday.

I was to start the following Thursday for the railroad on my way
to my home again. We gloated over the letters and papers that
evening it was really a superb mail. The native boy with the bag
(I remember he was lanky and handsome and wore a rose-and-blue
zephyr) came up just as we stood in the avenue leading to the
house. We were smoking our pipes and arguing. The sun was almost
down.

What were we arguing about? Oh, he was arguing rather recklessly
about the glories of town-work. I retorted with few words, but
strong ones, in favor of work out in the country. Once I pressed
him rather inquisitively and mischievously as to his present work
on the veld. 'How can you hold such views and do it?' I asked him
point-blank. Thereat the fine side of the man showed.

His face flushed and his lips quivered. 'It's my job,' he said,
'and I'm not going to talk against it. I was arguing about
country-work in the abstract over there in England.' Then it was
that the boy came in sight with the letters. Reeve looked up and
watched him with real pleasure and gratitude. He said something
to him in the native language that seemed to amuse the boy very
much. I had thought his manners towards his flock very courteous,
but cold. I noticed a new tenderness now and from this night
forward.

I could read him like a book, this town-lover so I thought. He
had said too much to me, he had avowed to me his want of
affection for his work in so many words, and now he was on the
watch against himself, and burning to render reparation to a very
quick conscience.

He had a big mail, but he was not communicative about it. Indeed
we had not much time for our letters just then. We had Evensong
soon after sunset, then there was a class for catechumens that I
attended. I could not understand much, but it was good to watch
how they listened, all but the vigorous mail-boy, who nodded at
whiles unless I am mistaken. Afterwards we had a meal. It was by
mutual agreement that we read our letters over our bread and tea
and cheese. I read one of my letters with some indignation. It
was a letter from my schoolmaster, who was not very encouraging
on the subject of my locum tenens' industry.

'I thought I had got a first-rate man in Cochrane,' I said aloud.

'Cochrane of Peckham Downs?' asked Reeve, looking up and eyeing
me. 'What about him? Yes, I should say he was in his way quite
first-rate.'

'I'm glad to hear it, but I wish he would find country work more
congenial. My correspondent says he's quite got the hump about
our village.'

Leonard smiled. 'Some villages do tend to give people like
Cochrane and me the hump,' he said. 'But of course yours is
different.' 'Of course it is. Come and see it some day.' His
mouth twitched. 'If I get home-leave in two years' time,' he
said. 'I don't want to spend it in the country, not any of it,
thank you all the same. I like the town much too well.'

'The smell of the shop you named attracts you just like thyme
does me.'

'Yes,' he said, with a rather wry smile and a very real sigh.

Then we went on reading till bed-time. In the morning Lorenzo,
his house-boy, knocked me up just as the sun was rising. 'The
father is very sick,' he said. So he was very bad indeed with
fever, at least so it seemed to me. But I am not used to nursing
that malady. I think his temperature was 103 that day, which may
seem a modest figure to a pioneer, but struck a chance visitor as
none too reassuring. However, I kept my anxieties to myself, and
looked after him quietly. He said there was no need to worry
about a doctor. That night he seemed to be delirious, and talking
at large. I made up my mind I would send for the doctor in the
morning if his symptoms should last. But they did not. He
appeared to be quiet and sensible at sunrise, and his temperature
was a normal one. The morning after that, again, he seemed so
well that I left him with a fairish conscience on my return
journey for England. I want to tell you about that anxious night.
He gave himself away then. I don't think he remembered much
of what he had said next morning. It seemed sad to me his
self-revelation. He said he did not know what in the world to do,
he felt so ill and anxious. He was a Cockney born, and he had
loved his South London work. He really wanted to tackle the job in
front of him here. But the romance was there behind him in that
English city the unique sense of being in the right place the
great adventure the gleam.

Oh! why had he caught the fever? Not this fever, but the malaria
of Imperialism, and felt drawn to go so very far afield. He
didn't abuse the veld, the camping-out, the foot-slogging, the
primitive people. He was a very chivalrous person even in his
delirium.

But he spoke ecstatically of the streets, the tram-roads, the
lights of the town, the smartness of his flock, the delights of
their up-to-date humor.

The tragedy thickened. He told me of her who had promised to
marry him by Eastertide next year. Cecilia was her name.

She was a Londoner, and shared his views. 'Whatever will she
think of this place?' he asked. My eyes wandered to the iron
roof, to the floor-boarded walls, to the candle in a bottle that
fought the draught so bravely. He told me about a letter of hers
he had got by this mail. She had been working as a governess
these last few months at a country rectory in the Berkshire
moors. She found the village, and the neighborhood, and the life
there in general very flat indeed. They bored her; yet she was
keen, he said, on 'the work,' 'the work' as she had known it when
she worked for him in London. 'Whatever will she think of this
place?' he repeated. I looked at the floor, freshly treated with
cow-dung, and thought again for an answer, but I could think of
no very suitable one.

'I'll give you her letter to read,' he said, in a burst of
confidence. 'That puts it far more plainly than I can. My head's
so bad.' He looked worried, and I thought I had better leave him.

'No,' he said; 'do read to me a bit before you go.'

'What shall I read?'

He looked at me meditatively. 'You'll find something to the point
in there,' he said. He reached up to the little candle-box
bookcase over his head, and showed me a little crimson book. It
was an anthology. I should think it might be commendably put on
the 'Index Expurgatorius' of upcountry missionaries.

It was called 'The Cheerful City,' and dwelt on the delights of
civilization and urbanity. Doubtless it may serve a useful
purpose, thought I, in reconciling Londoners to their wen; but,
here, what does it spell for my delirious Cockney save only
desiderium?

I read him two or three selections obediently, but without
enthusiasm. Were they from Herrick and Charles Lamb? I rather
think they were.

Afterwards he asked me for a few verses of the Gospel. I cheered
up.

'What would you like?'

'Oh, that story at the end of St. John. I've often thought of it
since I was so cold and wet; and got to your camp-fire. "The fire
of coals, and fish laid thereon, and bread," that's it.'

I read with a will, but rather sadly.

'That's it,' he said. 'It seems to bring back the fog, and going
to early Service past that coffee-stall, and the smell of that
shop next to the Surrey Arms.'

I thought of his homely comparison after I had left him for the
night. It moved me strangely. I read the letter he had lent me
the letter of Cecilia, who found the Berkshire moors so banal.
Yes, she promised to prove a very undesirable help-meet on the
veld, so far as I could judge. I thought over things generally
that night, and I made up my mind to make a Quixotic offer in the
morning. I would offer to take on Leonard's work. Let him go home
and be happy in his scented town, with his intolerantly urban (or
suburban) Cecilia. He was splendid stuff. He might do much,
surely, in that quaint atmosphere of light and locomotion and
fragrance that his sense of romance demanded. Here Cecilia would
surely be either impossible or a very great nuisance. While, even
without Cecilia, Leonard did not seem well suited in his sphere,
and I judged that he would soon be rotten with fever and wouldn't
last.

As for me, I liked country life much, and roughing it a little. I
had no particular fear of fever. I compared my physique with
Leonard's not without complacency. I thought of the other side,
too: the east country that village of all villages, those
villagers of all villagers.

But that night I was full of over-seas fervor. I remembered
phrases that had rung cut finely at meetings Outpost Duty, the
Church in Greater Britain, The White Man's Burden, In Darkest
Africa, etc., etc. When I fell asleep there seemed to be a
symphony in my ears sounding brass and tinkling cymbals enough
and to spare, but flute-voices of honest pity and sympathy as
well.

In the morning I took Leonard's place in his church. We had the
English Liturgy again. The thatched dome, with much tinier
windows than the windows at home, but much more sun to fill them,
seemed a sort of parable to me that morning. After I had finished
the rite, I stayed on in the church, and spread out two letters
before the Lord, so to speak. One was my schoolmaster's, the
other was that one from Cecilia.

It took me half an hour to feel fairly sure of my answer. But I
felt very sure then just as sure as I had been the night before
but the answer was different.

I thought of my own fold and flock as I read my own friend's
letter. How little the locum tenens seemed to see what I saw in
them! I read Cecilia's letter, and compared 'her view of the
importance of a country cure with my own. After all, I thought,
the latter tended to be an exceptional view in our megalomaniac
days. On the other hand, the locum tenens' view might be rather a
normal one, and so might Cecilia's be. Cecilia's scorn, it was,
that materially helped the answer to come as clearly as it did.
The thought of a Cecilia reigning in that east-country vicarage
seemed no more right than pleasant. It sounds a callous thing to
say, but I left my lonely and convalescent friend with something
of a sigh of relief, and no real misgiving. I felt troubled about
his future certainly, but I saw clearly that I was not meant to
take his place. I hoped to find the man who was meant to take it,
however.

And, by God's help, I believe that I really did find him before
many months were over.

A cousin of mine Richard East had been persuaded by a certain
bishop to accept an urban charge.

I fancy the said bishop had been reared in a rather strait school
of enthusiasts, who regarded work in slums as ideally the best
sphere for clerics of activity. So he had routed my cousin out of
his west-country village, and brought him to a big town--my
cousin, who was an outdoor man from his youth. Curiously enough,
at Cape Town, there was a letter waiting for me from him.
Wouldn't I tell him something about the 'great spaces washed with
sun'? The midland town in general seemed not to have gained his
affections, though he loved his people one by one. 'I want to
clear out,' he wrote, 'for the parish's sake more than for my
own, if only I can find the right place to clear to. I'm not
a townsman, and I think by now the bishop understands my
small-mindedness. I haven't the breadth of a good modern citizen.
I want to go to some Little Peddlington an African village might
suit me. No, directly the right man turns up, I don't doubt the
bishop will want to put him here in my room. Do you know of
anyone likely?' I did know of someone.

I did not write back; I got on my boat and started off for home.
I went down to the east country and set free the locum tenens.
The village had a bridal look for my eyes; the red-thorn tree was
just coming out, the roses would not be long now. I was in time
to be at our yearly May games after all. Next day I went to the
Midland town and saw my cousin; also, I saw his charge. I tried
to look at it with Leonard Reeve's eyes, recalling to my
remembrance that delirious night of his. Yes, though it was not
South London, it had a drab look on a dull June day. There was a
Warwick Arms, if no Surrey Arms. There was a shop with the
authentic fragrance only two or three doors off. I knew that
bishop, and I found him in, and in a listening mood, on the
following day. He wanted to hear about Africa. I described
missions and missionaries to him. Then I told him at some length
about Leonard Reeve.

'Yes, you have drawn the man convincingly,' he said. 'You didn't
invent those touches. I think he's a man after my own heart. I
don't understand you people that bury yourselves in little
rose-covered, immoral, earthy country villages. But I think I do
understand the man that you have described.' I went straight to
the point, and spoke of my cousin's parish. He agreed that my
cousin was a disappointment. 'He's got the same peddling way of
looking at things as you,' he said. 'I thought he'd flourish
after transplantation, but I admit he doesn't seem to. Yes, I
should think a desert and a barbarous people might suit him. I
don't deny that he has vision, but his sense of perspective seems
to be rather ridiculous.' I tried to arrange matters there and
then after that, but his lordship became politic, and seemed a
little afraid that he had said too much to me.

However, the business was on the way to be settled before I
parted from him. It has been settled quite a long while now. My
cousin, Richard East, now tramps the Kaffir paths and ministers
in the hill chapel and in that seven-domed church at the mission
station. I do not think that there is any Cecilia in his case,
nor that there is likely to be one. He personifies the abstract
too passionately to need the love of women.

Africa is personified to him the Cinderella of the continents,
the drudge with a destiny worthy of her charms and her good-temper.
He is writing a monograph on the Song of Solomon, he tells
me. He follows certain scholars in his conjecture that the
Shulamite was given back to a humble shepherd by Solomon, when
she had conquered the latter by the power of her impassioned
chastity. But he has his own theory as well that the true lovers
were both of African blood, that she came from the Ophir-land
south of the Zambesi, and thither returned in peace at last from
the foam of perilous seas. Perhaps his argument is slender; but
it is good for him to believe in it himself, I think, for surely
it helps his work among those that he deems her descendants.

He works on out there, personifying and idealizing. I think he
is as much in love with his country parish as I am with mine in
England. May we both, in our placid and unfashionable ways, dream
our dreams and see our visions! Meanwhile Leonard Reeve reigns
in that midland town, and is treasured by the bishop who was not
deceived when he expected a kindred spirit. He and Cecilia have
chosen a date in this next November for their deferred marriage.

Their choice of month seems to me characteristic. I do not think
they will be disappointed if the day is a little urban in its
murkiness.

It is good for a man to be in love with his charge, is it not?
Next time some fanatic of West-End work, or East-End work, or
foreign mission work gets hold of you and talks excellent sense
about discipline, and offering yourself to your bishop, and
packing up your kit at a week's notice remember this story of
mine!

Is it not well to import something of the precise devotion of
Holy Matrimony into the general self-oblation of Holy Orders?

It is good to think that three of us friends have the very same
sort of feeling Leonard Reeve for the crowds and the fogs and the
odors; my cousin for the rock-sown plains and the little circles
of thatched huts; I for the cornlands and the elm-shaded ridges
and the cottage people.

Yes, to Leonard anything grimy is just as romantic as green
fields to me, or brown veld to my cousin.

Do you know, I was asked to preach Leonard's Institution sermon
last Whit Monday, and I dared to preach it? Cecilia, who was
stately but really pleasant-looking, sat beneath me in the front
pew. Leonard, in his stall, looked oppressed with the weight of
the ceremony.

But his eyes lighted up, I saw, as I gave out my text. It was
from the end of St. John's Gospel. I preached very shortly. I
drew for that poor and earnest-looking congregation the picture
of a dripping missionary as I had seen him. I told of him going
about his business at dawn, cheered by the Easter Feast in front
at the chapel on the hill. I passed up to it by the cheery
camp-fire. I did not forget the smell of breakfast cooking, with
its reminder of home afterwards.

Then I spoke of the charm of the town work that Leonard had been
called to take up once again. I tried to paint it as he dreamed
of it the crowds, the classes, the fog, the scent of the streets.
Then I went higher to the Easter scene, the shore in the morning,
the vision of the altar that dawns on a true man's work however
deep the night of his failure may have been, wheresoever in all
the world he is working.

Leonard looked gratefully at me as I came down the pulpit steps.

While we hurried along from the Service on our way to the station
(Reeve was coming to see me off), I quoted some words to him. We
were just passing that fish-shop.

'Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south; blow upon my garden
that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into
his garden.'

His eyes kindled. 'Yes, old man,' he said; 'I've come into my
garden. How I used to dream of this sort of reek out in Africa!'

I felt a gross materialist as I hurried home to my roses and
red-thorn, leaving him to that visionary garden and those mystical
spices.



THE PLACE OF PILGRIMAGE

I.

'When you have set Thought free for one particular end you cannot
bind her again as you will.' Such is the purport of a certain
historian's dictum, and I have proved the truth of what he says.
Edgar used to go to the Place of Pilgrimage long ago in his
holidays, but I used not to go with him. I did not sympathize
with his veneration overmuch in those times of long ago. But I
respected the desire for hero-worship, and helped him thither
each year that he wanted to visit his shrine. He used to come up
for his long holidays every year from the colony. I had known his
father rather well, and he had not any settled home. His mother
was dead, as well as his father. No one now that knew him need
know what she was like, for he took after his father almost
unmitigatedly. His father was blonde and aggressively Saxon in
appearance. His mother had been Dutch, semi-Dutch, of the colored
Dutch type, as I very well knew. She came from the Western
province, and died when he was but a year old, to be followed
by his father some ten years later, just when he had come
back to South Africa from England. Then I, acting on my own
responsibility, sent him to school in the Eastern Province.
No one seemed to bother, even if they had any inkling of his
mother's parentage; he looked to be so completely his father's
son.

It was in Edgar's schooldays that the Place of Pilgrimage was
inaugurated, and that a big star of hope swam into his ken. I had
told him about Oxford before, but there had then seemed no sort
of path open for him to go up thither. Now, in the midst of his
schooldays, there opened out to him a path that he thought he
might climb. It was then in the next long holiday time that he
took his path, a curious and grateful pilgrim, to the Matopos, to
explore the shrine and to give thanks before it.

He dreamed of being a Rhodes scholar years before it came off
that Rhodes scholarship of his. It came in the fullness of time a
thing of many struggles and prayers, of star-led hopes and paths
steep with uphill climbing.

Then at last it was that I agreed to go with him on his yearly
pilgrimage, in September, the month of his sailing for home. May
used to be a Canterbury month in England, the hawthorn month that
pricked men in their courages and sent them out on the Kentish
road. September had been Edgar's pilgrimage month every year a
spring month in our southern country. The masasa leaves were
taking many tints then in Mashonaland. Speaking generally, the
dominant note of our woodland world was rose-color as we tramped
together to the station. Matabeleland by contrast seemed rather
drab and drouthy, yet she was showing signs of spring. One great
rock stood up very beautiful in a pink lichen garment. It was
hard by the path that led to the last hill-climb, ere you reached
the burial-place. We camped out close beside it, two Mashona boys
who had come to seek their fortunes in Bulawayo, and Edgar and I.

When the morning light came I was up. When the sun rose I had all
but finished my service. There, on his own ground, so to speak,
it seemed easier to pray for the Patron with a sanguine heart,
and to give thanks for him with a clear conscience. Over our
breakfast we sat on and talked, and looked about us. Edgar seemed
to me to be growing in discernment. Once he had seemed so
provocatively cock-sure about his mighty patron. To pray for him
as we had prayed that morning in the language of a race he had
contemned might have sounded to him in years past mere clerical
impertinence. Now he seemed to suffer me rather gladly.

But he said little. We had scant time to spare just then; there
were so many miles to go to the railway. He was to leave for
Oxford that very night. While the carriers were cooking their
breakfast he came with me to the grave and knelt at the head,
looking northwards. I said nothing aloud, nor did he. The rocks
bulked dark in the bright air, the hills wore mystic colors, the
sun shone passionately in a setting of tender blue. Words seemed
a presumption just then, too much of a time or nation or age that
passes. That which may or may not take shape in words remained
the untied power of silent prayer. That morning among the
many-colored hills I looked to sight the faith that can remove such
as these. And I prayed there quietly, in prayer that seemed to
need no words, for Edgar. I asked for him that he might see those
visions without which! people are apt to perish.

II.

He did not write much, and he did not come for five years. When
he came he was not at first communicative. He seemed to take more
interest than he used to do in the Mission, I noticed. He had
always been a hero among the Mashona boys: that was no new thing.
And I was thankful indeed to see that he had not lost his old
artless art of making friends with them. So many things might
have conspired to rob him of it. He stayed but a month in all at
the Mission, and he said little all that time, but his eyes were
full of thought as I talked to him passing on to him hopes,
disappointments, joys of battle unabating and enhanced. He was a
good listener. I did not try to force the pace with him. But for
all that I was eager to know his mind. And it seemed a long while
waiting and waiting, thinking he might be going to speak day
after day. Then at last the time did come for him to speak, but
it was after he had left the Mission.

History repeated itself, and we camped in the old place once
more. The camp-fire shone out, and the moon rose broad and golden
over the grave of pilgrimage. There he lay with his feet to the
north on the height above us the founder and name-giver of our
State. It was strange how his patronage seemed to dominate us. We
said our evensong rather northwards than eastwards; we scanned
the northern horizon as though seeking a sign. The wind blew that
way as we paced to and fro afterwards, and our thoughts went the
way of the wind.

At last I broke the silence. We were resting on a ledge of rock
then, smoking, staring away north-wards among the moonlit kopjes.
There he sat beside me, fair-haired and tall, strong and
rejoicing in his strength, always courteous but strangely dumb.
He was going to-morrow. Would he go without a revealing word?

'So many worlds, so much to do, So little done, such things to
be.'

I paused doubtfully.

He turned to me, and his eyes sparkled as they looked into mine.
'Listen,' he said. Then he told me his heart. Little I knew what
it was. I trembled for my crusade, yet not without hope. I had
preached to him little, but I had prayed for him much. Now I
learned that his heart was as my heart, his desire as my heart's
desire, yet, like wine to water, like sunlight to moonlight. I
sat at his feet, so to speak, and listened on and on.

III

The next morning broke very brightly, yet there were clouds
enough on high to mystify its clear shining. There had been a
thunder-shower on the day before yesterday: our former rains had
sent on an advance-guard. We had finished our service before the
day grew hot, in the prime and cool of the morning. The place had
been kept very sacred all that service-time. No hoot of a motor-car
had scared the sleep of those lonely hills. Afterwards it was
different. People came out in crowds from Bulawayo. There was a
special excursion from the Transvaal, I believe, that arrived on
that day of all days. We had breakfasted by our camp-fire. Then
we came up the hill to the shrine once more, while the boys were
clearing up. 'Listen,' said Edgar. A stout Bulawayo bourgeois was
holding forth on the crankiness of Cecil Rhodes in choosing to be
so lonely. 'He might have considered the town and trade of
Bulawayo' seemed to be the burthen of his song. A pioneer shut
him up rather roughly. 'He knew best,' he said. 'Where would your
town and trade be if he hadn't cleared the path?' Edgar went up
to the old fellow, ruddy, stalwart, more or less spirituous,
indomitably good-humored. 'Tell me about it please, sir the
burial; you were here for it, weren't you?' The old fellow
complied with great goodwill.

Bareheaded we stood looking north while he told us of the great
camping-out, with the many twinkling fires, by the dam some miles
away, on the eve of the entombment. He told, too, of the
concourse of Matabele at the place itself next day, and of the
auspicious climbing of the yoked cattle as they drew the body.
'They never turned. They went straight up,' he said. 'You can see
the track-way up the rock now. It meant luck surely, and we took
it so, both black and white of us.'

Then he told us of him who lay there, in words of rugged
tenderness the hero of the old era who brought on the new era so
fast; he who had tasted the old and knew the old was better,
testifying the same by his choice of a burying-place.

We were grateful, indeed, to that guide. A few yards in front of
us two beaked Afro-Hebrews were arguing as to what the hero's
leavings had been.

'What did he die worth?' was to one of them a subject of earnest
enquiry. A few yards in front of them again, as we passed, some
bar-loungers foregathered. 'He stood no nonsense about niggers,'
one was saying as we went by him. Edgar nudged me. 'We all have
our different views of him,' he said, 'haven't we? He gave us
views and visions. Thank God that he distrusted himself, and sent
us straight to learn where he learned, haply to learn what he
missed learning from Oxford, his Mistress of Vision, so far to
the west and the north.'

'You see, it's this way,' he said, when the place had grown quiet
again in the drowsy noonday. They had gone off then, the
Jo'burgers, three wagonettes and a motor-car crowded with them.
'We must keep the road open to the north, mustn't we?---the way
his feet lie, the way that goes beyond his vision into bigger
visions.'

'I'll try and do something,' I said humbly. 'There are plenty who
want to travel far, or think they do.' I glanced at the three
Mashonas by the fire. One was teaching the other two. They were
spelling out Saint John's Gospel together. 'Is he one of the most
adventurous?' Edgar asked. 'He's very willing,' I muttered. 'You
ask him whether he'd like to go to school down south.'

The boy's face lighted up when Edgar asked him. It was a rounded,
soft-featured Mashona face with large bright eyes. The lips were
not so very thick; the nostrils were cut like an Arab's.

'Tell him I'll pay for him and for another who wants to go,'
Edgar said. 'He's probably got a particular friend. What about
Atiwagoni?' 'He might be keen to go,' I said, 'and he's quicker
than most of them.'

We began to smoke a last pipe silently. The time was drawing near
to strike our camp. We must start for Bulawayo at once if we
would catch Edgar's midnight train easily.

I reached for my wallet, and brought out an Oxford anthology.

I turned over the pages and began to read rather sadly

Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man:
The true gods sigh for the cost and the pain
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a reed with the reeds in the river.

'There's that point of view to consider,' I said. 'I'm fond of
Arcadia and Arcadians, and there's loss entailed if you send
Arcadians on the way of Athens.' Edgar sighed. 'I know what you
mean,' said he; 'and I feel it as you do. But Arcadia's got
Lacedaemon at her throat, a southern state not much troubled with
scruples, neither very philosophic nor very literary. The way has
been opened by him we wot of to Oxford, to the Athens of the
north. It was opened, as men thought, for the benefit of young
Lacedaemonians. The man that was hand-in-glove with Africanders,
with our Lacedaemonians of the south, did that. He imperiled
Lacedaemonian stability by opening the way to northern stars and
their influences to Shelley, Burke, and Mill, and to all manner
of people dangerous to the back-veld views of Lacedaemon. He
opened the way to Tolstoy's rediscovery of the Christian Law,
amongst other northern treasures, didn't he? And I, with the
Arcadian taint in my veins, saw the way open and went northwards.
Now it has come to pass that I remember my own people as Moses
did, and use the wisdom of Oxford as he used the wisdom of Egypt,
to help one's own people towards a promised land. They want
leaders, don't they? Is there not a cause? Is it healthy for
Lacedaemon to go on as she does in Arcadia, setting aside
Arcadia's own happiness?' 'I'll be back again next year,' Edgar
said, 'to compare notes and report progress, should all fall
well. If I forget thee, O my Darien-peak, let my right hand
forget her cunning!' We knelt long at the grave with the feet of
its sleeper laid true north; then we said 'Good-bye' to it.
'Bless him,' Edgar said to me as we turned away.' He opened a
wider way than he knew perchance; God prosper the Great North
Road, the Road to Oxford rather than to Cairo!'



THE LEPER WINDOWS



Its Cathedral was rising at last in a small South African
capital. For many years a pro-Cathedral of corrugated iron had
sufficed. Now the first stage of a noble design in ruddy
sandstone was all but completed.

The new Bishop who had been called to sit in its Cape-oak throne
was complacent of its charms. Chancel and Lady-chapel were
provided; transepts and tower might be expected in due course of
time. The Bishop was long and lean and dark-haired, very closely
shaven. He came from Oxford, yet he was wise enough to obtrude
that fact but seldom on South Africa. He watched and listened
intently and said strangely little; nevertheless, when he did
speak, he seemed to have no lack of things to say. His speech to
the Cathedral Building Committee after a three months' silence
was not without its interest. He spoke well of both design and
execution.

He turned to the shyer subject of the raising of the funds. How
had they attained to such wealth as their secretary announced?
Mainly by means of three fancy fairs and a cafe chantant. Alas!
that it should be so. Yet he did not propose to hold inquests.
Let the dead bury their dead! Let them, however, set their hearts
as the nether millstone against the adding of transept or tower
save only by alms made to God. He went on to ask with whose
memory the Lady-chapel was to be associated. Was it not the fact
that they had associated the chapel of Christ's Mother with the
memory of a visionary statesman? There seemed to be want of
consideration for the great dead shown in their popular decision,
inasmuch as he had not seen his way to accept her Son. Was it not
something of a felony to have stolen the dead man's name--a
felony that had assisted their funds very lavishly? But, likely
enough, the Committee had had some noble thought in mind when
they gave to the dead such reckless honor. The last touches were
now being given to the nave. He wished to make a personal request
of his own. He understood that colored persons and natives were
not to be encouraged to frequent this mother of churches. Their
status within was, to say the least, precarious and hard to
reconcile with due respect for the second chapter of Saint James.
He asked to put in at his own expense five windows after the
likeness of leper windows in England windows that colored persons
and natives might use freely and without reproach. By this means
someone at least of them from without the walls might be made
free of the vision of the services within.

The irony of the speech escaped its hearers for the most part.
After the usual type of debate on such a subject as viewed in
South African Church circles, the request was granted.

Now it happened that Mr. Conyers Smythe, the most prosperous man
in the whole community, was not present at that Committee
meeting. He was a Master of Arts of a South African University,
and a real scholar, not a mere qualifier. He was, moreover, both
sufficiently educated to understand the irony of a critical
friend, and habitually inclined to resent it. He spoke fierily to
certain of his intimates when the Bishop's speech was reported to
him. He went to see him himself next day in the evening time.

His host came and sat with him on the stoep, lighted the lamp to
show him a new book of his, and gave him coffee and a cigar. The
hour was about half-past seven, and the week was Christmas week.
There was a new moon of very dim silver in the West looking
through the rose trellis upon them, and masses of inflammatory
cloud were heaped about her. The host looked at the guest
meditatively as he lighted his pipe.

The guest was fair-haired and well-featured, as well as
magnificently built; but his deep color was not exactly the hue
of health. His eyes had been glowing when he had first come on
the scene, prepared to open battle. But when his host masterfully
gained an armistice they became dull and rather worn eyes, that
seemed not to be seeing good days somehow.

Their possessor only grew eager by flashes now and again as the
Bishop showed him a second new book one that they both deemed
highly delectable turning the passages and discussing various
phases of its general subject the cults of the Greek States.

They had come together, these two, in a very tiny and remote city
each an enthusiast as to this same by-path of erudition.

It was not until he had shown his guest the road on to a large
extent of commonage--commonage of mutual delight that the Bishop
led the way to a spot therein convenient for the desired
engagement. He began to discuss the relations of Xanthos, the
fair god, and Melanthos, the dark god, in Hellenic society.

'That's the trouble here,' he said. 'I hope you won't draw the
line even at my leper windows. They may at least ease the
isolation of our two cults here. I find established so to speak
in this Christian city the cult of Xanthos, tribal god of the
fair-skins at the Cathedral, or for the present the Pro-Cathedral.
Also I find the cult of Melanthos multiplying itself at the tin
temple of Saint Simon the Cyrenian.'

Mr. Smythe's cheeks became more deeply empurpled and his eyes
danced.

'You must know,' went on the Bishop, 'I don't believe in
tribal-gods at this time of day. I believe in Someone bigger. So
it was that leper windows, modeled on those of the Middle Ages,
seemed to me possible easements. There, at least, Lazarus may feel
at home and join in worship, as his forerunners in the Middle
Ages did, at their own wall-slits. Thus at least one step will
be taken towards the supercession of Xanthos. As to the cult
of Melanthos, I hope to help to infuse more of the joy of the
Universal into it, so help me God!!! Yes, let me hear your
objections.'

Mr. Smythe began quite conclusively. Yet there was more
moderation and more argument in his rather indistinct beginning
than in the flowing harangue that followed, when his voice
cleared and his periods found their stride. The speech fell from
level to level. Ere the end it fell to the level of that sort of
invective against natives one hears so often where mean whites
forgather a not very dizzy level, believe me!

Finally, Mr. Smythe vowed to give no penny for the future to
Church purposes, and never to darken the doors of the new
Cathedral, should the concession of those leper windows be
confirmed. He would agree to forfeit a thousand pounds should he
break his word, he said. Thereupon they closed the subject. The
host tried to lead back to the cults of the Greek States, but the
guest was now too rapt and breathless to follow to much purpose.
Soon, by mutual consent, they ended the interview, not without
private friendliness, but with civic war at heart.

This was in Christmas week, and things went much as might have
been expected during the months that followed. The concession had
been granted by the Committee, and the concessionaire thought it
his duty to be grateful for that small mercy and to act upon it.
The malcontent repeated his vow, and it rang throughout the
village-city. A good many of the natives who worshipped at the
tin temple managed to hear of it, and laughed to one another;
they would watch for the darkening of the doors.

The Cathedral was to be dedicated to Saint Mark as a saint who
was martyred in Africa, but lacked a cathedral in the south.

His day was chosen for the hallowing. On the eve some pomp of
Procession, Recession, and Anthems had been prepared, and the
Bishop was to preach. He had been away much of these last months
to north, south, east and west. So custom had not staled his
variety of appeal to the outer circle of citizens or villagers.
They, as well as the devotees, thronged the nave. At the leper
windows there were knots of dark participants in the service.

The windows gave; a few the chance of sight, but they were only
five in number, and it would seem that many had to be content
with very scanty views. It is questionable whether a number of
the smaller folk nurse-boys, kitchen boys and telegraph
messengers got any sort of a glance ere the pageantry was over.

The night was very clear; the autumn wind was somewhat bitter.

The hymn after the Blessing had been reached 'Brief life is here
our portion' and the banners streamed down the central aisle in
glory. The leper windows grew very starry with observation.

One boy who had come late had no chance of a view now. He was the
Bishop's coachman, a lanky Bechuana, and he stood humming the
hymn's air with his back to a window a window near the western
door. Suddenly he started. Somebody was striding up to the porch.
Surely there was no mistaking Mr. Conyers Smythe's fine shoulders
in that figure nor the jaunty carriage of his massive head. Now
he drew near, and the light of the porch-lamp fell upon him.

The coachman caught the arm of his stable-boy, who was standing
next to him a rather Jewish-looking Mashona.

'Look! look!' he cried.

They both watched the churchgoer as he passed up the steps. Then
he was gone from their view.

In the afternoon of the next day, when the triumphal services of
Dedication were over, the Bishop was being driven to a farmhouse
not very far distant. It was not till his mule-cart had almost
reached home again that his driver ventured to question him. He
had seemed rather preoccupied that driver all the dusty journey.
Now he asked a question that was being wildly debated in native
circles that very afternoon. 'My lord, has Mr. Smythe paid all
the thousand pounds yet?'

The Bishop started and stared; then he laughed. 'What do you know
of Mr. Smythe's thousand pounds?' he asked. Then he answered,
'No, Jack; why should he?'

Why indeed? So Mombe, the ox-man to give him his native name was
trying to evade his obligations, was he? Almost bursting with
importance, Jack told his master what Jim and he had seen last
night. The Bishop listened carefully, and asked two or three
questions. Then he told Jack that he might want him and his
stable-boy later on that evening. He felt sure that the story was
no mere willful fiction. When they were home he wrote a letter to
Smythe asking him if he could come over and smoke after dinner.
Then he went off to his sunset Evensong.

Conyers Smythe came about an hour afterwards. The Bishop and he
had had but two bookish evenings together since that rather
bizarre one in Christmas week. They met cordially enough on this
April night.

Smythe was looking far from well. He had been worried about his
wife's health she was away in England. The last news of it had
been rather disquieting. Smythe was glad enough of sympathy; he
was in no truculent mood.

They smoked by the fire in the Bishop's study as the night was
cold. The Bishop had some new books to show and points to debate.

The two began with Greek pagan cults, but passed on to Christian
hagiology, and discussed the legend of St. Mark with a fair
measure of agreement. Then, when the coffee had come in, and they
had I become friends at ease and amity, the Bishop told Smythe
the boys' tale.

Smythe grew curiously white and seemed angry.

Then he laughed. 'Let's have 'em in and hear their yarn!' he
said.

So Jack and Jim were sent for, and, after some slight delay,
appeared. They were well washed and in their Sunday clothes. They
were disposed to be deferential enough, but withal very
confident, both of them. They cast somewhat awed glances at
Smythe in his armchair, but they told their tale clearly on the
whole, in fair Biblical English, Jack first, slowly, and Jim, at
a great pace, after his superior. Smythe appeared to be busily
consulting a reference while Jim was ending. There was a pause.
Then the guest looked up from his book and stated his alibi: 'I
was in my stable, sitting up with a sick horse,' he said. 'I came
away long after the church service was over when the poor beast
died with frothing at the nose. You can ask my stable-boy.'

Jack bowed his head respectfully. 'Your stableboy, Mutenu, has
told me so this evening,' he said. 'But, O master, why should we
lie? Is it not known that people have been seen in two places at
one time'?'

Smythe frowned. He was not anxious to discuss hypotheses with
natives. Then the Bishop told the boys that he had heard enough.
Let them think that although they had spoken truth, they had been
mistaken.

'How do you explain it?' said the Bishop rather eagerly when they
had gone out.

'O,' said Smythe with a rather bitter smile, 'supposing it not to
be a native lie--natives have been known to lie, my lord--it's
the sort of story one reads about in the Middle Ages, the sort of
legend likely to linger. He was seen going into a church on a
certain ill-starred night.'

The Bishop gave a start and interrupted him. 'Do you know what
yesterday evening was? Why, it was Saint Mark's Eve.'

Smythe smiled a queer livid smile. 'Yes, I thought of that all
along, since the boy mentioned the porch,' he said. 'I've just
been looking up the old belief in that new book of yours. I was
seen going in, therefore I must look to go out in these next
twelve months.

A year, a month, a week, a natural day
That Faustus may repent and save his soul!
O lente, lente currite, noctis equi!
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The devil will come, and Faustus will be damn'd.

The Bishop smiled at the quotation, but looked anxiously at his
guest. Was he really taking his subliminal self's choice of date
to heart? He proceeded to recount his own unfaith in thirteen's
black magic, also in the traditional properties of salt and
broken mirrors. He gave instances of disproof in his own unended
career.

But Smythe, though he laughed with him, seemed rather restrained
and silent: the last hour of that evening appeared to hang fire
somehow. Towards the end of it, Smythe talked of his wife. 'She
is at her old home,' he said, and mentioned a village very near
to Oxford.

'I know,' said his host, looking into the wood fire. He was
watching the Cherwell swirl through a narrow archway. He was
conscious of heavenly blue in the white limbo ceiling above him,
and the cushions of his chair had a grassy feel.

'She's gone home,' said Smythe, 'and she's not well, and I've not
been well.'

'You look as if you want rest and change,' said the Bishop
uneasily.

'I think of going a trip to the old country,' said Smythe. 'I was
born out here, and haven't ever seen it. I'd like to see it
once.'

'O, do go,' said his host. 'It is worth going far. Yes, all that
long way.'

Not many minutes after they said good-night.

But the Bishop did not go to bed at once after his guest had
gone. He reached for his Keats, and read, 'The Eve of Saint
Mark'; then he reflected.

'Strange are the uses of leper windows,' he thought. 'How I
should like to know what I may know this time next year, if only
I didn't know I'd better not know it now! Well, be it a sign or a
mock sign, God see him through with it!'

Conyers Smythe started home by the next mail boat save one. The
same boat carried a letter in the Bishop's handwriting to a
pastoral divine in Oxford.

'He's a sick sheep, anyhow,' said the writer, 'and I've a
presentiment that he mayn't last out a year.'

As it befell, Conyers Smythe died rather suddenly in England
before November was over. People remarked on the dreadfulness of
the event. But Mrs. Smythe bore the shock bravely, as if she had
been well prepared to bear it. It seemed that she had known the
truth about his heart-disease in May, almost as soon as he was
told it by the London doctor. Smythe had grown to be intimate in
those last months with two or three English scholars one was an
expert in tribal cults, and the other was that pastoral divine.
It was one or other of these Oxford friends of his who sent on
his last letter to the Bishop in December after he had gone away.
Among other messages, the letter brought this one:

'There was something in that Saint Mark's Eve business I suppose.
But I had had my warnings before of an event that is likely
enough to occur this very week. I am glad indeed that I came home
and saw things from other sides before the end. Perhaps those
crowded-out Kaffirs by your leper windows hurried me up with
their intelligence. I am grateful to them for that. Otherwise I
might have delayed, and never started on the home voyage.

'You must make some allowance for my old point of view, as I was
born into it. But now I want to give both Transepts to the Glory
of God on condition that colored folk and natives shall, have
them to themselves undisturbed. Forgive my narrow-mindedness, but
I'd rather have it so than have all races mixed up together, and
perhaps they'd rather have it so themselves! No, I really don't
think I'm dying in the creed of the tribal god Xanthos, but in
the faith of Someone bigger. I can trust you to befriend me at
some altar of His. . . . I wish I could afford the Tower.'

'Alms!' said the Bishop. 'Thank God they'll not be built now by
bazaars or fancy fairs or even by cafes-chantants. Poor base-born
little churches out here, that one so often hears of, aren't they
only too likely to grow up into the temples of the tribal god?'

Thus the Transepts were destined to be of purer lineage than
Chancel or Nave or Lady-chapel. Only the Leper Windows are their
equals in descent as yet among their fellow-buildings. But there
is good hope of an honorable birth for the yet unborn Tower.



THE BURNT OFFERING A SEQUEL TO 'THE LEPER WINDOWS'



['The Headman made it generally known that he expected all the
men, both Christian and heathen, to subscribe to the funds. One
man refused to give anything, and was taken before the Magistrate
in consequence.' Extract from a South African Church paper,
December 22, 1910.]



The transepts had been built and blessed, the five leper windows
were no longer over-crowded. Xanthos and Melanthos, gods of the
fair and the swart skins, had in a measure met together, and in a
sense kissed each other. Much remained to be achieved in the
matter of mutual good understanding, and much more again in the
supercession of these tribal deities by a Greater.

On the other hand, something had been done to teach the devotees
of Xanthos toleration and a spirit of alms. The Bishop now turned
his attention towards Melanthos more particularly what could he
do to ennoble the aims and methods of his clients? He had made a
journey to England and back not long before the blessing of the
transepts. He regretted leaving his flock at the time. Yet
certain observations he had made just ere he started gave him
much food for thought on the voyage. And when he was home in the
old country he was glad to find time and occasion to observe
afresh, supplementing Africa by Europe, intuitions by research.

The Rev. Charles Topready, a keen missionary, had asked him to
visit him the week before he went homewards. It was the season
when that countryside threshed out its millet-grain in a revel
of rhythmic labor. The Bishop delighted in some of those airs
that the sticks beat time to. He was greedy of fantastic
interpretations as he wrote their voweled refrains down in a
note-book.

'We may have a Harvest Thanksgiving in church, may we not, this
coming Sunday?' he said.

Now Harvest Thanksgivings were as red rags to Topready. 'Why
should we bind upon Africa a burden that irks England?' he
groaned. 'Surely it is a mercy that we can start afresh on the
veld with no tradition of a Feast of Pumpkins.'

The Bishop smiled and smoked and argued by the hour. His point
was that festivals of the soil were serviceable for sons of
the soil. That agricultural festivals were serviceable for
husbandmen, pastoral feasts for shepherds and goat-herds, hunting
commemorations like that of Saint Hubert, for those who hunted.
His knowledge of Greece and Rome, pagan and Christian, of
mediaeval England and modern Brittany helped him with many apt
illustrations. Topready stuck out his chin and kept bravely to
his two points the danger of materialism and the menace to the
spiritual cults and festas of Holy Church as by law established
in the England of to-day.

'All right,' said the Bishop, 'let us have no Harvest
Thanksgiving for the tillage of African earth. That is to say not
this year. But keep an open mind.' Topready promised dubiously.

That struggle and waiving of victory had put the Bishop on his
mettle. He had thought out the subject to some purpose before
they met again.

Here are some pages from his English diary:

Sept. 21. Preached at a Thanksgiving in Essex. 'Happy harvest
fields,' quiet tints in the Vicarage garden. A sun that seemed to
make better use of a short day than an African sun would of a
long one. What a festival Topready might have just about this
time if he only liked. The masasas tinted with copper, crimson;
mauve, and pink, and other leaves showing faery green and gold.

Saint Matthew's Day. The festival of the foolery of riches when
Spring is everywhere and the sun is shining.

Oct. (date illegible). Preached at the blessing of the boats in a
small Sussex harbor the herring season just beginning. What
glorious girls' names some of the boats had that we prayed for
'Diana Elizabeth,' for instance, might have sailed out of the
'Faerie Queene.'

Nov. 1 (All Saints'). Went to church at Saint Paul's in a side
chapel.

Nov. 2 (All Souls'). Went to pray in a cemetery chapel.

Both were misty mornings, but the sun each day came out before we
had done, and broke through the dingy windows in a carnage of
color. How fine a side of death, November, the month of the dead,
presents here. Damp and fog and fall of the leaf doubtless the
sorryness of the bad business of decay and punishment but on the
other hand what bravery of sunlight at times, and what colors for
the sun to shine upon. In Africa it's so different. There the
month is a spring month. The gay side of death as a release from
Africa's plentiful curses and bondages is happily prominent. All
Saints' Day our May Day our Feast of Flora and the Rosa Mystica!
What a day for converts suckled in animism! Let us commemorate
the African Saints with garlands of spring flowers as well as
with palms in their hands. Have written to Topready to suggest a
May-Day Festival with African drums to dance to, if no English
May-pole to plait.

Jan. 21 (St. Agnes' Day). Went to a down church, where they had a
sort of special service. Lambing-time among the South Downs just
coming on. The sacrifice pleaded with one main request in view
the blessing on the flocks. If they had only brought some lambs
in! I hope to live to see some pied African lambs and kids in
church yet.

June 21. Went to Stonehenge on the longest day. Would have camped
out there on the eve if the policeman would have let me. Took
observations as to Flame-Stone. Compared notes with those I took
at Zimbabwe this time last year on my way to Topready's.

June 24 (Saint John). Yes, in African Mission Stations we should
have St. John's Fires or fires corresponding to them about
Christmas time.

Then in Mashonaland, summer is at height. Yes, the other Saint
John's Day, or its Eve, would do. Let us give thanks for the
Light of the World and the Sun of Righteousness symbolized by
things seen and enjoyed. What did Saint Patrick do about the
sacred fire? He kept it going, didn't he? Let us light our
bonfires with a good will this coming Christmastide we who live
by sun-time so often.



Back from England came the Bishop full of the lore of early
missions. He had enriched his zeal for broad-basing the people's
worship on their own everyday earth, and for enlightening things
opaque with effulgences invisible. He saw his way more clearly to
further what he had at heart. Topready had had many letters, and
they had had their effect. But he had not capitulated yet. He
capitulated at a price, as we shall see.

'Church ready by Christmas,' wrote Topready, 'please come and
consecrate.' 'Expect me the day after,' telegraphed the Bishop.
He thought about a bonfire as he rode along on that Saint
Stephen's Day. 'The kopje above the Mission!' he reflected. 'A
magnificent place for a beacon-fire.'

To his delight the new church crowned the very kopje he had been
thinking of. There it stood on the sky-line, its gold of fresh
thatch crowned a huge pole building, and was itself crowned by a
white cross.

'How fine!' said the Bishop to himself, 'but there's no room up
there for a bonfire as well, alas!'

Topready did not look over-cheerful when his leader greeted him
with congratulations on the building of the church.

'It's all very well, or rather it might have been ever so much
better,' he said, as they went in.

In the evening there was much time to talk. They sat on the stony
rise above the house with a wide valley view. The starlight was
brilliant above them eager, perfervid, passionate. They were on
the rocks smoking, the Bishop between Topready and Manners, who
was not a parson, but a policeman.

'It's like this,' said Topready. 'Holy Innocents' is the first
church that has been built since I came here. It was built on a
system.'

He explained roughly how it worked. The native teacher used his
personal and official majesty for what it was worth. The people
on the Mission ground were asked for poles, grass, work, &c.
'These were given,' said Topready, 'or at least "given" is the
word that I understand my predecessor would have chosen. The
headman proclaimed that his will coincided with the will of the
native teacher. They wanted a church built that would compare
favorably with churches erected under the auspices of other
native teachers and other headmen.

'The contributions came in plentifully, sylvan or grassy. People
who never come to church, heathens who do not seem much overjoyed
with the Gospel, gave just as handsomely as Church officers. No
one was paid. The church is cheap and big, and the headman and
native teacher are both unhealthily contented.'

'Well, what's the matter?' said Manners; 'it's the way we do
these little things in Africa. White men don't build churches
from base to spire on ideal principles exactly, do they. Bishop?'

'At least we haven't had a cafe chantant lately,' the Bishop
said.

'Well, don't you be too sure one isn't going on in some outlying
parish while we sit here. As it happens, I know of one advertised
for next month.'

'Be sure of your facts,' said the Bishop.

'Anyhow, before you came, plenty of the society lash used to be
applied to get church-building doles out of Europeans. Moreover,
if you look into it, generally you'll find things at Missions
much as you find them here. These gloriously "given" Mission
churches on Mission lands that the home magazine ecstasizes over
are not given so very freely, to say the least of it. They are
put up by a sort of social pressure immensely effective,'
Topready broke in.

'They say most of the churches this side of the river are built
the one way and I don't like the one way. Archdeacon Maynard used
to advocate the one way, and impress it on his missionaries black
and white. It was he who started the church-rate and debarred
defaulters from Easter Communion. I've stopped that, and I want
to stop the one way.'

The Bishop groaned. 'Archdeacon Maynard's a vice-president of the
Free and Open Churchmen in England. I heard him speak eloquently,
if a little floridly, on the right of the poor to the House of
God.'

Manners chuckled. 'England's some way off,' he said.

Topready spoke from his heart. 'I don't like it. I told the
people that the proper way was for Christians and philo-Christians
to build accordingly as they could spare money and time. But they
said that they were too few. I answered "Then let them wait in the old
church awhile." They said they wanted a new church this year, and that
the heathen should be called to help the faithful as in other places.
They said they ought to have a kraal levy as other places did it saved
a great deal of trouble.  They thought me mad, I think. Azariah, the
teacher, practically told me so.'

The Bishop lit his pipe again.

'We'll think about it,' he said. 'The consecration is fixed for
the day after to-morrow, is it not? It was to be christened Holy
Innocents' Church on Childermas Day, was it not? Will you have it
consecrated on the Eve instead, Saint John's Night? Time Sunset.'

Topready started. 'Rather late, is it not?' he asked.

It was a great concourse that lined the hillside on the morrow
when the sun was going down. The Bishop had spoken that morning
in the old plain church of how he wished them to observe certain
days of prayer and thanksgiving.

He asked them to keep a festival of flocks on Saint Agnes' Day.

He asked them to keep a festival of herds on Saint Luke's Day.

He asked them to keep the feasts of Loaf-Mass in August and
Wood-Mass in September as feasts of Harvest and Forestry.

He asked them to keep a thanksgiving for summer after Christmas
on the night of Saint John, if they and their priest thought
good.

He spoke of how the heathen had worshipped the sun in the grey
northern lands. Then Christians better taught had thanked Christ,
the Light of the World, for the glory of the sun, and lighted
their joy-fires to a better purpose.

Doubtless, some in this land long ago, not only at Zimbabwe, but
on many hills and high places, had honored the strong sun of the
South. He asked them as Christians to be glad for that same sun's
blessings at Christmas time. It seemed to him good for those who
wished it (he gave no law) for those to light their bonfires
to-night and to thank God not only for the summer, but for the Sun
of righteousness. He himself had a mind to light a fire on that
Saint John's Night to the glory of God.

Topready looked thoughtful after church. 'If I adopt your
calendar loyally as far as may be, do you see your way to help me
against the system?' he asked of a sudden. His grey-blue eyes
were full of fight.

The Bishop nodded. He talked with him quietly a little while.

'The pact is made, then?' said Topready. 'No, I don't think we
have sold our convictions, either of us. I don't feel penitent
about my side of the bargain.'

'I feel it's a holy alliance,' said the Bishop, and his face
glowed. 'People will keep this night, and remember what was done
on it, may be, long after we are forgotten.'

That sunset a mighty crowd was there among the rocks. Much dead
wood had been brought. Fathers, mothers, and children in costumes
that ranged from skins to European fashions shouldered or headed
their faggots.' A grim thought obsessed the Bishop as he watched
them. These people, so quiet and yielding as to the selling of
sacrament, and levying of church vote how easily they might be
swayed to more sinister reminiscences of the Middle Ages! If he
and Topready and Azariah and the headman enjoined it, what would
save certain aged heathen neighbors from an auto-da-fe for
alleged witchcraft one of these nights? Were not some of those
old scenes at the stake much like this scene before him? Did not
country people come together much as these, with dark impassive
faces and bundles of firewood? Did not they listen and listen so,
until the time came to pile faggots to the glory of God?

He stood on a rock and looked down on the faces. Topready stood
close beneath him looking cheerful, the native teacher was near
looking dubious, next to him stood the headman with his white
beard, looking amused. Around them the crowd poised and posed
itself among the rocks with innate grace and imposing silence.
Even the babies in the goatskins were quiet.

The Bishop spoke of alms-giving. He said he did not like their
plan of raising a house for Christ. Let people who loved Christ
build churches if they wished to, but let them build churches
according to their power to give! Let them not seek the labor or
money of others, careless how it came! Rather let them worship in
the old and the small, than build a new and great church anyhow!
He, their Bishop, wished to buy their new church from them,
paying back those who had helped to build, giving to each his
due. He asked them, would they sell this church to him, to do
with it as seemed to him good? If, when they built, they had
made, as it were, a false start, let them start again, and this
time so run that they might obtain the Promises of Christ. Would
they sell their church to him?

He waited for an answer.

There was a hush. The eyes that watched him seemed almost
overwhelming in their vigilance.

His eyes went wistfully off to the sky in front of him. What
beaches of gold and weed-tangles of rose-color those were to the
north-west the way of England.

Suddenly the silence was broken.

Azariah spoke out bravely. He had heard the words of his
herdsman, and he knew that he had' gone astray, even like a lost
bull. As for this thatched cattle-byre that they had built, let
him who asked for it have it! Was it not his own?

One after another spoke. Their speeches all had the same import
let the church be handed over to him that asked.

A roar of acclamation worth many speeches went up from the
hill-side Then the Bishop asked those who carried faggots to follow
him to the consecration. His shepherd's staff went before him. An
earthen vessel smoked with incense in front of that again. He
followed up the steep path in his shining robes. Behind him came
blazing grass torches, and behind them again wood-carriers. When
they reached the hill's crown there was some delay in the
gathering dusk. They were stacking the wood for the sacrifice. At
last Topready turned to his chief with a happy face. All was
prepared. The Bishop's voice rang out in one sonorous prayer of
oblation. Then someone handed him a grass torch and he kindled
the thatch above the altar. The church that misbegotten innocent
flamed up toward heaven amber and grey and crimson under the
stars.



EIGHT-EIGHT IN LAVENDER



Andrew Vine came out to Africa this year as a pilgrim, and was
disappointed. He did not go about his pilgrimage in the right way
to my thinking. For to begin with, on his own confession, he put
himself in the hands of a born organizer, who was making up a
party of fellow-travelers.

Of course they were provided with first-class tickets for the
boat, and enjoyed for sixteen days and more, in a same and narrow
scene, an amplitude of the luxuries they were used to, and tired
of. Then, dogged by a diet befitting that state to which it had
pleased Providence to call them, they rode the Great North Road
for some days in a northern express. Vine said that the Victoria
Falls were all right, but that their surroundings were, many of
them, perversely wrong. It was so very stale, the hotel business,
with the moonlight river excursions and the Livingstone trips,
far too much sleeked and smoothed by foresight, and tamed by
taking of thought. If one had only traveled up with pack donkeys,
provisioned with leathery meat and leathery damper! For Vine had
known better times in Africa. He had known pioneer adventures in
his headstrong youth but had fallen out of his Column after three
crowded months. Tempted of fever, he had made a great refusal.
And now in this year, twenty-four years after, the sense of
having seen better days at a tithe of the expense, oppressed him.

However, the tickets had been taken, and the splendidly null
organization of their party had him in its grip. He went back
from the Falls to Bulawayo, and was whisked out to Khami. Only an
hour was allowed him to see the river. At the grave of the
Matopos, he was allowed two hours. There a brooding Presence
grappled with the languors of his pilgrimage. The demoniac
discontent of that savage scene made great play with him, during
the two hours he was there, but two hours are not a very long
time. Soon they were scorching back again with an interval for
tea at a well (or ill) appointed hotel. Vine was disposed to give
up the dreary pilgrimage-game that very night, he told me. But
the born organizer, coming to him after dinner, persuaded him to
play it out. He offered to release him after the next lap the lap
of Great Zimbabwe. When that was once finished to time, he
proposed that the party should have a breather, a short spell of
civilized life at Salisbury, should it so seem good to them. Vine
could be spared for the space of that interlude. Afterwards he
would doubtless take boat with them for a cruise up the East
Coast. He would be sufficiently reinvigorated to rough it out
with them rigorously to the end. The East Coast route might not
entail quite so many hardships. Vine sighed, but he was a man of
his word. He went to Zimbabwe without a murmur. He had longed for
seventy-five miles of the dusty Umvuma post-cart, but alas, the
day was the third of the new month! The railway extension to
Victoria had been opened on the first. The organizer rubbed his
hands as he told them the glad news: 'We can have a dining-car
and sleeping berths now to within sixteen miles odd of the ruins.
We shan't need to fare so ruggedly after all. A lunch at the
"Apes and Peacocks" Hotel is about the worst of it. But we can
take out a Fortnum and Mason's hamper in the road-car that meets
us.'

So they went to the ruins. Vine, who, as a pioneer had seen the
'Temple's' torso shaggy in bush and long grass, hardly knew it
again. It had been shaven and shorn rather ruthlessly. Some of
the ruins, he noted ungratefully, were numbered to correspond
with a catalogue. There was, moreover, the glamorous sheen of a
wire fence about the whole place.

A curator participated as guide by special arrangement. A local
celebrity accompanied him; he stood for the faith of Ophir, and
smote the Egyptologist adversary not once nor twice alone. He
confessed to the ladies of the party his conviction that the
theory of an African origin was too inconceivably squalid. He
stood for the gorgeous East, he said, as against Kaffirdom. He
would not insult the culture that they brought with them by
bothering them with detailed arguments.

Meanwhile another local celebrity was employed in bossing up some
restoration work. Primitive walls were receiving trained modern
attention, and medical attendance, regardless of expense.

Vine came to me at Umvuma when the Zimbabwe visitation was over
and done. He was seeing his party off by the Salisbury train
when he caught sight of me on the platform. That night he smoked
and slept by an ox-wagon. Bread was to hand in rather frugal
measure, but there was great plenty of monkey-nuts. There was
also bush-tea, and Vine brought much tobacco. We smoked till long
after the moon set, and that was near midnight. He told me of
disappointments that had come to him through his pilgrimage being
over well-appointed.

'After all,' I said, 'you might try again next year.'

'But a year's a lot at my age. I was forty-five last month, and I
don't mean coming out again.

'So little done, so much to do, So many worlds, such things to
be.'

'Where shall we go to this week?' he went on. 'I've got a week
off from the Cook's combination. You'll give me the one week,
won't you Shall we go to Dhlo-Dhlo or Nanatali or Sinoia Caves?
It's the curse of our Cook's tour that it's mopped up the sacred
places I did want to see in a decent way the Grave, and the
Temple, and the Falls.'

'Yours is the very snobbery of pilgrimage,' I told him sternly.
'There are surely shrines on the veld that have never yet got
into a Chartered Company's guide-book.' I told him of a modest
set of ruins out our way. I couldn't well come with him in any
direction, north, south, or east or west, as he seemed to think I
could. I might get in five days between Sunday and Sunday, if he
chose our own neighborhood. He seemed glad enough to agree.

We cut food down and loads, and we started. We camped within the
precincts of the shrine, hard by a place where a fire-fused
chalice had been dug out. Ours was a fair camping-ground. A ring
of kopjes about it wore the sun's colors. To the east a spruit
was in sight, overhung in that autumn month by the mists of
morning. Within those precincts we dreamed some temple-dreams on
two golden afternoons, and slept temple-sleep on two very shiny
nights.

'My reformed pilgrimage has justified itself,' Vine told me on
the morning that we left, when we were making for my station.

'Wait a bit,' I said. 'We are arriving if all falls well, this
very night at another shrine. We have not done with our Pilgrims'
Way.'

That night we came to the farm-house where the Kents farmed and
missionized. I had expected Vine to like it and them, but I had
not guessed how much attracted he would be. The Kents were not
up-to-date, and they dressed as some people dressed in England
twenty-five years before in the period of their leaving home.

So Mrs. Kent wore on that night a chocolate-brown Liberty costume
of a Burne Jones pattern. Miss Kent was only twenty-two, and wore
rose-color, but the design of her dress was her mother's own.
Kent wore an eighties collar with old-oak plaid and a red tie, I
did not like his taste.

Vine sat and watched them with a reverential sort of gaze. He
asked Kent when they were going home, thoughtfully. But Kent told
him that they did not think of going home again, only up the
coast to Zanzibar, or down to Inhambane, when they wanted change
and holiday. 'That's splendid,' said Vine emphatically. 'Don't go
home. It's not what it used to be. I feel sure you would not like
it.'

After supper we had music, and Kent kept on singing, at Vine's
particular request. I did not take much notice of what he was
singing till Vine came and spoke to me. Then I saw how excited he
was, and I listened with attention.

'Do you remember that?' he said. 'It was the song that Oriel man
used to sing.' Then I recognized 'Our Last Waltz,' and afterwards
'In Sweet September.' I remembered both as the songs of a man
whose wedding we both had attended, in the very year that we went
down.

We shared a hut behind the mission homestead, and shared much
converse before we slept.

'It's purple and gold,' Vine said. 'I came out to find a beastly
ruin.'

'And you find the Victorian Sixth Decade mummified,' I said.

'Don't sneer!'

'Well, pressed in lavender,' I amended.

For early did'st thou leave the world, with powers
Fresh, undiverted to the world without,
Firm to their mark, not spent on other things;
Free from the sick fatigue, the languid doubt,
Which much to have tried, in much been baffled, brings.

'That describes Kent's Hegira, doesn't it? He's stopped where we
two were, when we went down, in ever so many ways.'

'Hurray!' cried Vine, tossing his boot up, 'I came out to find a
beastly ruin, and I've found my lost youth, nothing more nor
less! Bless you!'

But his ecstasy was to culminate on the following morning. Kent
had mounted him on one of his two mules, and piloted him on the
other to see some Bush paintings three miles away.

I grew a little uneasy, they were so long gone, for I knew well
what a lot of country lay between us and my own mission station.
I was due there by sunrise or soon after, on the morrow. Mrs.
Kent was strumming away on the piano old dance tunes that I
remembered barrel-organ melodies of now remote days, days when a
bi-weekly shave sufficed me. I stood in the doorway and beat
time. Whenever were we going to get started at this rate? At last
the mules came cantering up the wagon-road.

'Get a move on,' I shouted to Vine as he pulled up before the
door. But just at that moment Mrs. Kent began on 'The Reign of
the Roses.' Vine, who had kicked a foot out of its stirrup, did
not dismount. He sat drinking in the dance-measure. Louder and
louder she played the air, and, humming it over, he drove his
foot home. Shaking up the reins, he cantered his mule round and
round the sun-dial in front of the door. Round and round he went,
still humming, while those wiry and sun-burnt wrists pounded away
at the dance-music.

'How long is this going on?' I pleaded. I began to see the humor
of the thing when I watched our carriers. They were gaping as at
a new kind of circus. At last Mrs. Kent gave over, not very soon,
however; the melody was evidently a favorite of hers.

'Is there not a cause?' pleaded Vine, when he had dismounted
lingeringly, and was facing my reproaches for his wanton delay.
He muttered something about a merry-go-round. Afterwards he
explained, when we were making up for lost time along the big
vlei.

'It was that night when we got to Goring,' he reminded me, 'when
we went down to Henley in that double-sculler at the end of our
first summer term 1888, the first week in July. There was a
village fair on that night, and we rode round on the horses, ever
so many pennyworths. That was the tune I remembered best of all
the tunes that the steam-organ played. Don't you remember?' And
strange to say, I did.

He played the game with the organizer, rapt though he was by his
memory of the steam-organ, I will say that much for him. He took
the trouble to go all the way up to Salisbury, and to beg him to
have him excused. And he was successful. I don't quite know what
excuse he gave. It was scarcely likely to be so crude as the
excuse I guessed at, 'I want to marry a wife, and therefore I
cannot go.' He unbosomed himself to me engagingly when he came
back from Salisbury. He appealed to my compassionate sympathy.

'Just fancy! Forty-five and no real home!' he said, 'And here
I've come on pilgrimage, and found just what I've unconsciously
craved youth and beauty up-to-date, not this date but the date of
my own unforgotten youth 1888 in lavender, so to speak.'

I wished him luck in his wooing of Miss Kent. If Mrs. Kent had
been a widow, I should have thought her much more suitable. He
gave the bridle-reins a shake, and rode away on an old salted
horse he had bought, walking had grown much too slow for him.

He won Joan Kent, and fixed it up with her late-Victorian parents
to their mutual content.

The wedding date is chosen already it is June 20th a day hallowed
enough, having twice been Jubilee Day. I think Vine would have
preferred May 24th as having been Victoria Day. But Joan objected
to her wedding taking place in Our Lady's May month.



DIVINATION



I have a friend who lives some miles away, among fantastic rocks
and crimson-flowered Kaffir trees. I was over at his homestead
one day in Christmas week last year and found that he was absent.
He was sleeping at a trading-station to east, the boys said, and
would not be back for a day or so. But he had left word with them
to give me supper should I come. So I had time to notice a
change.

Three or four very cool and fresh water-colors adorned his walls.
They were pinned up there under a trophy of harness. Under each
oblong of paper was a title in old English characters. One was
named 'Sundown.' another 'Sun-up' these both showed the homestead
not as it was now in mid-summer, but as I remembered it in late
winter or early spring, with some of the trees in full flower.

The other picture showed a charming group of children variously
colored among the rocks. I feasted my eyes on it for quite a long
while, noting its detail, which bewildered me. Surely no such
scene had been witnessed lately in all South Africa. Yet I knew
the rocks of the scene; they were close by, and the children were
painted some of them with familiar-looking faces. The title
underneath was 'Innocents.'

I did not see my friend for a week or so after that, and when I
did I did not think at first to ask about the pictures. However,
he began to tell the story of them himself. He was talking about
men on the road, a class with which he had a large acquaintance,
having lodged many of them. 'I had one here last week,' he said,
'a white man in clean white ducks. He stopped two nights, and
went outside painting most of the days. He gave me three
pictures. He could paint, couldn't he? I couldn't catch his name,
and he said he wasn't sure where he was going to stop next. But
he went up the Rosebery Road, and seemed to know his way about.
He hadn't got a bag, and he traveled very light just a blanket or
so and a loaf of bread and a cup. I shouldn't think he'd come to
much harm, would he?' I shook my head. 'He could paint, couldn't
he?' he said, glancing up at the pictures. I nodded. 'That's a
fancy picture,' I said; 'that of the children a pretty fancy. I
wonder what it means.' My friend Dick meditated. 'I don't see
much wrong in the painting anyhow,' he said.

The picture was indeed a pretty fancy there were children white
and black in it, and lambs and kids. The white children were
mixed up with the black curiously. One little sturdy Mashona
carried a white child in his arms. A white boy with fair hair,
aged nine or ten, carried a Mashona baby in a goat's skin
strapped to his back. The light of dawn was in the picture a cool
summer dawn. Between the rocks and the red-sprayed trees of our
country was, as it were, a lawn, close-bit by much feeding into a
fair copy of an English lawn. I looked hard at the picture.

'Those two Mashonas are like the children that were burnt in a
kraal this way,' I said pointing. 'I tried to dress their burns
but they both died.' Dick looked up as I pointed, but he said
nothing. He eschews dwelling on painful subjects very often, I
notice. 'Don't you think that they are like?' I asked.

'Kaffir children favor one another,' Dick said sagely. He stood
watching the picture on the faded wall in silence. Then we
dropped the subject. But the mystery of it remained for me.

A week or two after, that mystery multiplied. Dick was expecting
visitors, and he asked me over to meet them. The male visitor was
an official I used to know of old; he was to bring his sister
with him this time, and the sister I did not know. She was a
charming person; one who had been in the country a long time ago
and left it, but had come back again now to be married and to
make a home in Rosebery. She had reached the homestead about
mid-day, the same day that I came over in the late afternoon.

After tea and before dinner we walked down to the cattle-kraal,
all four of us. Then, when Dick and her brother were ahead she
began to question me about that water-color on the wall. I told
her what Dick had told me. 'He told me that himself,' she said,
'but I didn't understand.'

'I thought I knew two of the children,' I said, 'but Kaffir
children seem much alike to our English eyes, don't they? They
seemed to me to resemble two quite little children I used to come
and see. They were badly burnt near here.'

She started.

'Did they get better?' she asked. I shook my head. She started
again. 'Listen,' she said. 'Two children to whom I used to be
nursery-governess were murdered in the "Rebellion" on a farm
close to this very place. They were staying with their mother's
elder sister. Please do try and tell me this. Why are these
portraits, life-like portraits, of those two children in this
picture?'

I stared at her rather stupidly. Then Dick came to us we, were
close up to the cattle-kraal and called us to come and see his
young stock, and talked to us about them.

'I don't think I'll tell the children's mother,' she said to me.
I was then saying good-night to her in the bright moonlight
outside the homestead door some hours afterwards. 'They live in
the colony now, she and her husband. Telling her might reopen
deep wounds. It wouldn't do any good at all probably, would it?'

'That depends,' I said, 'on the mother's point of view. You're
sure about the likeness?' She gave a sort of sob.

'Trust me for that,' she said. 'I was very fond of them of Claude
and Polly.'

This last dry season, by the ordering of God, that mother came
our way herself. She was on a pilgrimage of her own. Dick sent
over a messenger hot-haste to tell me that a lady was at his
place and had asked for me. She wanted me to spare the morning
to-morrow if I possibly could. She would have me come on an
expedition with her and talk over something that she had in her
mind to do. Couldn't I sleep at Dick's homestead that night?

I could. I came over about nine o'clock I suppose, walking in a
fresh south-easter with a half-moon to light me. Dick was smoking
outside in the yard when I came.

'The lady's tired,' he told me. 'She's turned in already. She's
got a lad with her. He's inside. Come in and have some supper.'

The stranger rose up as I came in, and I greeted him. He was a
tall, fair boy, whose face I seemed to know. He told me that he
had driven his mother down, as I sat over my supper. I glanced up
at the wall curiously before I had finished. The picture was not
there.

'I thought it was better out of the way,' Dick said when his
guest had gone to bed. 'I didn't know how she might take it. It's
the mother of those poor little Scotch children come to see the
place. Wants to put up a gravestone or monument or something,
poor lady!'

Then I knew where I had seen the stranger boy's face. It was the
image of his dead brother's face in the picture, the white
piccaninny that carried the Mashona baby. I whistled softly.

'Who painted that picture?' I said. 'I know all yon told me. But
did that chap ever come down the road again? I never asked you.'

'No,' said Dick, 'I don't know to this day any more about him.'

I sat silent.

'She wants you to go over to the place with her to-morrow,' Dick
said. 'You know the place, don't you? It's only about three miles
away up the old wagon road; you've been there, haven't you?'

'Yes,' I said. 'There's a wooden cross where they're buried or
should be. I had it renewed two years ago. Didn't I ever tell you
about it? Haven't you been there yourself lately?'

'No,' said Dick. 'I don't fancy the place somehow. But I was
asking about it only this afternoon. The boys tell me there are
some trees there still; white men's trees.'

'Yes,' I said, 'yellow peach-stocks and one gumtree you get it
against the skyline looking up from the spruit. The old pole and
daub house dropped to pieces long ago. I do hope that cross is
standing all right still. I blame myself for not having seen
about it this last year or two.'

The cross had fallen down and the place looked generally forlorn
when we reached it next day. I was troubled about my companion.
She was fair and tall and quiet. When she did talk on the way she
talked about commonplace subjects. But when she saw the forsaken
place and the displaced cross the veil fell. She clutched her
son's arm hard, and I left them together. I went off with the
Mashona boy and the mules out of the way. I had no inspiration at
the moment what to say or what to do. I did not come back for
half an hour.

She told me on the drive back that she wanted to provide somewhat
of a memorial. 'It's been left too long,' she said. 'But you can
understand how sore I was before and how I shrank from coming.'

She told me that one great grief of hers was that she had no good
likeness of her children as they were at that dreadful time. I
was embarrassed and silent. 'What can I do to help you?' I was
thinking over and over again, 'Shall I show the picture? Yes,
right or wrong, I must.'

I didn't know how to begin to tell her about it. I prayed for
words. Then I began in curt crisp sentences to tell her. 'You may
not like it. You must not be disappointed,' I said. 'Why?' she
asked. But I did not try to explain. I would let the picture
plead its own point of view. When we were back I asked Dick for
it, and I knocked at her room door and gave if to her.

Then I went out and watched a team ploughing, till Dick called me
in.

At lunch the guests were very quiet and subdued, but seemed quite
cheerful. Afterwards, before I started for home, she came and
talked to me alone.

'Is this the scene of the picture?' she asked me, as she led me
across the yard. 'This grass plot between these rocks and those
trees?'

'Yes, it's just here apparently,' I said. 'You see that great
tree there. One can hardly mistake it.'

'I remember the spot long ago,' she said. 'I came down to my
sister's to leave the children with her for a country holiday
just before that time. We were staying at that place we went to
this morning; they called it Happy Valley, and we drove over to
this place where there was a store. It was only a month or two
before the time May Day, I think. I remember my children playing
hide-and-seek here with the piccaninnies; yes, playing other
games too.' Her lips quivered, but she went on quite steadily.

'Those piccaninnies in that picture do you know any of their
faces?'

'Yes,' I said, 'I knew two that were burnt, and did not get
better; two I used to come and see. And Dick says he recognizes
two or three little chaps that have died since he came here to
live after the "Rebellion" was over.'

'And how do you explain it?' she asked gently, 'this vision of
dead children so charmingly colored, so color-blind from a South
African point of view?'

I thought before I spoke.

'It is, I believe, a real Vision,' I said. 'The one who painted
it, whoever he was, saw more than we most of us see. Possibly he
was the seventh son of a seventh son. Very apparently he had a
pure heart. The picture was painted on Innocents' Day. I have
verified the date. You see he has called it "Innocents." It was
painted in the children's old playing-place. He saw them in their
new life with the beauty of things South African like a good
dream about them, and the stupidity of things South African
passed from them like a bad one.'

She did not speak for quite a long time. I feared I had hurt her
somehow. But at last she spoke and reassured me.

'Yes, I think you understand how the picture came to be and what
it means. I used to be dreadfully bitter about the Mashonas. I
try not to be now. Couldn't you build on my account a little
school or a little church in that forlorn place? There are some
villages near by, aren't there? Couldn't you call it for me the
Mission of the Innocents? I'd like to ask my host if he'll give
you the picture for the church should you build it for me. In my
house I should be shy about hanging it. I am afraid people might
scoff at it behind my back in their South African way, and I
couldn't bear that easily. I know in my heart of hearts it's true
that Picture as true as it's beautiful. They're all happy now,
likely enough happy together. They were not likely to have been
happy in the same ways had they grown up in South Africa.'



JULIAN

I. THE SOP



Julian Borne was going to leave the Mission that had been his
home for three years. He was a spruce-looking person with quite
pleasantly colored red hair and a turned-up moustache. A Bishop
had commended him, and a Canon Superintendent had delighted to
honor him. His immediate superior, a weather-beaten Missionary,
had, however, partially dissented from the chorus of approval. He
had discriminated. He credited Julian with fine gifts of
organization, but he submitted that he had proved himself lacking
in qualities of heart far too often. His discrimination had been
received coldly by the Canon Superintendent, and liberally
discounted on the scores of dullness, crankiness, want of vision,
yes jealousy. Now at last something had happened to disturb the
Canon Superintendent in his optimism, in his forecast of Julian's
brilliant usefulness to the Mission.

Julian had suddenly decided to leave his work. He had the offer
of a congenial berth and a rising salary in the Cathedral city.
He put the thing very kindly to the Canon Superintendent. He
would help the Mission of course, wouldn't he just, when he
should climb into the seats of the mighty? He would be a
volunteer henceforward the Cause could count upon him with a
sound commercial position for his jumping-off ground. Yet the
fact remained that he was leaving his work, having loved this
present world.

It was the day of farewell to the surroundings of the last three
years. Julian was to ride into town that afternoon.

He went to lunch with Dick Hunter, the weather-beaten one, and
talked to him as he imagined he wanted to be talked to. He had
always liked his host's Bohemian ways very well, he was only
impatient of his preoccupation with native postulants. There was
his usual fly-swarm of them, that day as other days, about his
threshold, and lunch was late, as usual. At last they began.
Julian had the first two courses to himself for the most part,
while his host was busy once again outside. Then came a third
course. 'I had this for you,' said the host rather pathetically,
as he settled down to his bread and cheese. 'It seemed the right
thing for the farewell banquet of a Mission. It's the food of the
country.'

Sure enough under the cover was a platter of brown millet with a
savory side dish of beans for relish. Julian flushed up. 'No
thanks, I've never tried millet pap yet, and I don't mean to,' he
said.

His host smiled, 'As you will,' said he. 'You won't mind my
having some, will you?' He helped himself sparingly, then he
called the Mashona boy to take the dishes away. Julian the
callous felt a shade remorseful.

'Here, let me try what it's like,' he said. His host took a piece
of the millet-food on a fork, and dipped it in the side dish. He
gave the result to Julian on a plate. 'For old sake's sake,' he
murmured. Julian nibbled away rather delicately. 'It's not so
awful,' he said.

He was riding into Rosebery that afternoon when the incident
recurred to him.

He had a great grip of his subjects whatever they were so long as
they were payable propositions, to use his own phrase.

The textual study of the Bible had been accounted such a
proposition until recently. Bible-words they were now that buzzed
in his ears.

'He it is to whom I shall give the sop when I have dipped it. And
when He had dipped the sop. . .'

The sop, the dipping, yes, he remembered now. He had read the
words in Church two or three evenings ago.

'He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.' He started.
'And after the sop, Satan entered.' He shuddered.

He wished that incident at lunch-time had never occurred. Of
course it was pure chance, but still it was bizarre.

Was it pure chance? 'I'm not so sure,' reflected Julian. 'I wish
Hunter'd mind his own business.'

That farewell banquet at the Mount Pleasant Mission had left an
ill taste behind.



II. THE SYMBOL OF THE SPURNED



Some five years after, Julian Borne came up to Rosebery by the
early train. He awoke at dawn and threw up the window. He was
traveling in a sleeping compartment deluxe. He had appearances to
keep up now.

The sun had tilted up a golden arc and the withered landscape
took a lavish glory.

Julian's eyes fell on some shabby thatched roofs that the blaze
was brightening. 'Mount Pleasant Mission!' he said to himself.
'and to think I wasted three good years of my life there. Three
bob a day with rations and no drinks. Good Lord!' He filled his
pipe as the poverty-stricken homestead passed out of sight. 'Yet
it wasn't all waste,' he went on. 'I got to know the country and
its questions. I got to know how to manage men.' He laughed a
little to himself complacently. 'No, I couldn't manage Hunter.
They told me last week he was nearly dead with blackwater. I
wonder if he's dead by now. Not one head of cattle to bless
himself with, I'll bet, and no banking account ever opened in his
name. He was quite unmanageable.'

'Ah! But I managed some of them. What about the Canon
Superintendent?' A white-haired vision, creasy-chinned and rosy,
passed before his eyes. 'Toad!' he muttered and kicked the
foot-warmer. 'Even so,' he growled. 'Butter for the clergy, palm-oil
for the laity, big stick for the incorruptible!' His face grew
hard as he thought over some contemplated applications. His face
was little changed in five years save for the wrinkles about the
eyes.

The train drew up at the platform. Julian found a good many
acquaintances as he passed along it. But he was not disposed to
make himself too cheap. Some got a wintry nod, others a summer
smile. One high official who represented big interests got two
minutes' talk and a drink. Then Julian jumped into his mule-cart,
and drove away. He reflected with satisfaction on the quantity
and quality of the greetings that morning. Meanwhile his Cape-boy
coachman whipped up the mules and took him along the main street
in style.

Julian had not been in Rosebery for six months now. He had made
great strides in those months the most momentous of his life.
From being a coming man he had reached the summit of arrival. He
had arrived without a doubt. His company's shares had risen
super-excellently. He had made a big coup at the end of last
year. The fullness of time had now brought to him the prospect of
another. As he whirled on into Suburbia, he fell to considering
relative prosperities. He set names to the houses he was passing.
No, he wouldn't change with any one of their owners. Not one
stood better just now. Not one was more the man of the moment. He
could give points and a beating to how many!

He drove through a gate and up a drive. He was at home again. His
house had been enlarged and re-decorated since he was last there.
It looked solidly prosperous. Its second floor shouted 'money'
in a country where most houses could boast no first floor.
Its critics might have called its colors harrowing and its
architecture the reverse of inspired, but Julian cared not a
jot for that sort of up-in-the-air criticism. He sat down to
breakfast with a thankful heart, and made himself quite amiable
to Tommy Bates.

Tommy Bates was five years older than Julian, and had acted as
his Secretary these two years past. He had small eyes set in a
rather big pasty face. His goatee beard was trim, but scarcely
pleasing.

Julian got through his letters at breakfast and after, breakfast
with Tommy's help. Amongst the letters was one from Mount
Pleasant Mission enclosing a card. 'Hunter's mad,' said Julian
crossly. He tore up the envelope viciously, but he did not tear
up the card it contained. He placed that in his pocket-book
carefully. Tommy looked at him in interrogation, but Julian was
not communicative.

After they had discussed a business letter or two, and had a
drink together, Julian started for the Club. He made himself
agreeable to one or two, and got a deal of pleasure out of
snubbing another. Then he gathered some important news from a
business acquaintance. It was great news. He wanted time to think
over it. He sent off two or three wires to labor agents and one
to a Native Commissioner.

He must have boys at any cost, and quickly, to develop certain
properties. He

"... turned an easy wheel
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel."

Then he interviewed an agent in an office, and did some very
delicate work indeed in the drafting of a prospectus. He had
earned a drink by then. His brain interested him he was inclined
to self-analysis of a sort its chiaroscuro of limelight effects
and faint nuances indicated rather than expressed. It was good to
be alive to-day, and to pull as many strings as he was pulling.

He did not stop at one drink; over the second, the expert made a
proposition to him. It dazzled him, but he would not give an
answer just then. To-morrow morning would do.

After that he lunched at the Club with Sir Charles Guestling who
was just back from England, and had brought a younger brother out
with him to see the country. It would have been a pleasanter
lunch without that brother, Julian thought at the time. The
brother said nothing offensive, indeed he hardly opened his
mouth, but his eyes embarrassed Julian strangely. He had curious
blue-grey eyes that contrasted with his black hair, and he would
fix Julian with these eyes just as he and Sir Charles were deep
in shares and options and the scarcity of labor. Perhaps it was
that Julian was overwrought with anxieties of success. The eyes
seemed to him clairvoyant, he imagined that they saw more than
they ought to see, when they looked him over, as he made some
highly technical statement. It was extraordinary that a
conventional man about town like Sir Charles should have such a
brother.

After lunch Julian relaxed.

He gave himself the indulgence of a call on Mrs. Puce.

He had put her husband on to a good thing or two a year ago now.
They had been great friends, he and the wife.

To-day he was a little anxious as to how she would receive him.
Things had altered since they last met. 'He had got engaged a
business-like engagement.

But she was very gracious in her welcome. Moreover she was more
decorous this afternoon than he remembered her a few months back.
He told her about his contemplated coup.

'I'll consult planchette for you,' said she. 'Yes, and I'll let
you know to-night.'

She was a pretty woman with rather too high a color. But she grew
pale enough now.

'I forgot, though, it's against my principles,' she said. 'I've
given up lots of things. I'm much more particular.' Something
roused Julian. He spoke masterfully.

'Just this once,' he said, 'Let me know to-night. I may know of
something gilt-edged that I won't keep to myself if I hear to-night
without fail. No, I won't be refused. I want proof of good-will.'

It was a sunny afternoon, with none of that southeast wind which
is the bane of our winter. Julian told his coachman to drive him
up to his new farm. The homestead was about five miles out of
town in the Mount Pleasant direction.

Julian drew out the draft of the prospectus, and began to work
hard at its revision. They had stopped at the house ere he thrust
pencil and paper into his pocket. He stepped out of El Dorado let
himself down, not without a jar, on to more humdrum earth.

The farm-house was an iron shanty newly hammered together. The
bailiff a full-bearded Colonial stood in the front doorway.
Julian gave him a perfunctory handshake. He talked farming
business to him quickly. He was tired, and eager to be through
with it.

They were almost through with it in half an hour. They smoked
their pipes and had coffee on the stoep together.

'About that Mission Church,' said the Bailiff, 'You know the
notice is just up that you gave them last year. The boy that used
to teach there is gone, and the kraal's moving. The building
still stands empty. They don't use it now.'

Julian frowned.

'Let's have a look at it,' he said. 'We can drive round that way
when Bob's inspanned. Meanwhile let's have a drink.'

The Church was very small wattle and daub. It had done three
years' service.

'No value,' pronounced Julian. He was rather angry with such a
mere shed for wasting his valuable time.

'That grass wants burning,' he muttered. 'If you set a light to
it and the Church catches, I shouldn't think there'll be any harm
done.'

'Right,' said the bailiff. Julian stepped inside the building.

'Nothing left,' he said. 'Nothing but this box. You'd better keep
it. They can have it if they send for it.'

'What's inside?'

There were some red and black candlesticks and vases packed away
in the box works of art in their way, but that way was not
Julian's.

'Cheap and nasty,' was his comment. 'Ah! What's that?'

'It was on the Communion Table,' said the bailiff.

Julian took up a clay cross and regarded it curiously.

'A cross with a snake on it!' he exclaimed.

'One of the boys said it meant the Brazen Serpent,' said the
bailiff.

'Holy Moses!' laughed Julian. 'Well I'm going to jump this, it's
quite a curiosity. You may give the boy five bob from me if he
asks what we've done with it.'

'Right,' said the bailiff, and went off with the box to the cart.

Julian looked at the twisted symbol with an intent fascination.
'As Moses lifted up the Serpent in the Wilderness,' he murmured
to himself. 'Even so shall the Son of Man be lifted up. How well
I remember preaching outside a kraal, on a boulder under a
flowering kaffir tree, on that very text. I liked preaching that
day more than I did most days. It wasn't half bad. That's Christ
all over that reptile that Worm and no man! The Worm that I tread
on with impunity that's Christ! I expect Hunter might say it
would be better for me if the Worm would turn and bite better for
my eternal interests. Perhaps the Worm will, one of these fine
days. It's a rather clammy notion! The notion would be rather a
nuisance, if I believed in the Worm.'



III. THIS NIGHT



As he drove along the veld twenty minutes after, Julian looked
back at the burning Church. 'What would the Canon Superintendent
say?' he muttered with a grin. A fantastic shape started up from
the grass in front of him. The mules shied at it, and broke into
a gallop. 'Pull up!' he shouted. At last the mules were pulled
up. He sprang out and walked back along the road. The figure
stood stock-still by the road-side, as if waiting to greet him.

When he came near, it came towards him, the figure of an old
native with a ragged grey beard, all hunched up in a blanket.

'Tom.' called Julian to him in his shrill voice, 'You've got to
come down to town tonight. No, you swine, to-morrow won't do.
Tonight before sunset, or there'll be trouble. You know what I
want you to do, what you did last Christmas.' The drive back to
town was uneventful.

Julian sat on his stoep half an hour before dinner, smoking and
pondering. He was anxious about that plunge he meant to make
to-morrow. His philosophy of life, so largely commercial, found room
for a cult or two of superstition. He had consulted Mrs. Puce's
oracle time and time again. He had had recourse to his boy Jim's
father, Tom Nyoka, twice before. He had got him to use for him a
rude and illegal form of divination. He had been helped by it
before, at least so he opined. He might be helped again. He sat
looking at the sun dropping smoothly in a cloudless sky. As he
watched, Jim came out to him to tell him that his father was in
the kitchen. 'I'll come directly, Jim,' he said.

The piccanin was sent off to get water, the kitchen door was
safely locked. The throwing of the bones began, while Julian
watched with understanding eyes. His hard grip of his subjects,
generally, extended to this remote ritual.

To-night the answer seemed to be inconclusive, but as they sought
the answer, a clear sign appeared as it were by the way, and
unsought. Julian was watching haggardly. He snarled a question at
Jim. His cook-boy's big round eyes showed very big and very round
just now. He was watching with painful intentness.

'Yes,' he answered his master, 'Yes, sir, it is so.'

Julian whistled and turned away moodily, with his hands in his
pockets, staring into space.

The old man the diviner was talking at large as he gathered the
fingers of wood with their rude traceries together. Julian paid
little heed to his words and gesticulations when he awoke from
his day-dream.

'Give him some skoff and a bit of meat, Jim,' he said. 'Tell him
I'll give him ten bob when I've got change.'

The old man was clamoring to him to make up his money to a
sovereign, but Julian paid no heed to what he said. He swung out
of the hut and off to wash for dinner, still brooding moodily.

At dinner. Tommy Bates found Julian the reverse of good company.
He did not keep his gloom to himself, and he snapped at any
excuse for snapping. Tommy left as the sweets came in, with an
excuse about meeting some friends at 8:30.

'Don't be late,' said Julian peremptorily. 'I want you here at
eleven sharp. I want to see about tomorrow's letters before I go
to bed.'

At 8:30 a pink note came in with the coffee. Mrs. Puce had sent
it down. It contained but a few lines:

DEAR JULIAN,

I'm so sorry, but I couldn't make head nor tail of the answer.
What I was told clearly was that you were likely to be in some
trouble to-night about midnight. I don't know what sort of
trouble, but somebody who lives at the back of your house may
have something to do with it. Do take care of yourself. I trust
you to do that for my sake. I think you are sensible enough to do
it, now you are forewarned. Come up to-morrow to breakfast and
reassure me,

Yours, in ever so much of a shudder,

CELIA.

Julian turned rather green as he read. 'I don't like it,' he
growled, 'Two signs, and independent ones. The one sign death. I
saw it myself when the bones were thrown. The other sign danger.
And Celia hasn't the sort of conscience that would let her invent
it. I don't know what to set about doing. But I must do something
or other.' He began to reflect. He started from the unsubstantial
grounds of twofold superstition, and tried to be practical in his
own defense.

'About midnight,' he thought, 'Well, I can trust Jim. And I can't
trust the other two boys that inhabit my back kitchen. Piet has
some of his own to get back for what I did last Christmas, and
the other boy I simply don't know. He was only sent to me to-day.
I'll tell Jim to go over to the location and take the other two
with him, and look after them for all of to-night. Tommy should
be back by eleven. We two ought to be able to look after
ourselves. Likely enough it's all moonshine this back-of-the-house
business.' He pitied himself for his anxieties, and took an
extra drink to dispel them. He went to the kitchen. Jim and the
new piccanin were just discussing the movements of somebody as he
arrived.

'When was it?' asked Jim.

'Just when the sun set,' the piccanin answered.

'Where?' asked Jim.

Then Julian cut them short, heedless of what they were saying.

'Lock up at once, and go over to the location. Mind, Jim, you
must look after the other two and see they don't come back here.
I don't want any boys on the place to-night. D'you hear?' Julian
proceeded to enlarge on the bigness of reward or punishment in
certain eventualities.

Julian went to his study, and put on his slippers. He called Jim
to light the wood-fire before he left. The night seemed a bitter
one, or was it that he had taken a chill? He took up a local
paper when Jim was gone. 'It's been a busy day,' he reflected, as
he straightened it out. 'Fancy my not looking at a paper of any
sort till this time of night.'

He searched the columns impatiently.

'No news to speak of,' he thought. But then he cried out as his
eye caught an out-of-the-way corner. 'Why, Hunter's dead!' The
news seemed to take his breath like a body-blow. 'A good man!' he
said to himself. 'The man who gave me the sop when he had dipped
it. The best of that Church gang! A man who called me an apostate
straight out more than once! The man who sent me that weird card
this morning! Yes and he sent me a quaint souvenir, a sort of
"Memento Mori," once before, last Christmas, just when my boom
came off. I haven't forgotten the words yet. I will say to my
soul, "Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take
thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." And God said unto him,
"Thou fool, this night."

'This night,' he muttered. 'I wish this night were well over.'

IV. VICISTI GALILAEE!



Julian was in a strange fit of tension when he heard Tommy Bates'
steps coming up the garden path. They were very uncertain steps.

Julian threw open his study door as the secretary reeled into the
hall. He had longed for company this last grey craven hour or
two, and this was all the company he was to enjoy for to-night at
least!

Humming and lurching and stinking of whisky as Tommy was, there
was not much comfort to be sought from him.

Julian swore at him sonorously then he hustled him off to bed.
Soon he was snoring. Julian had somehow shuffled away his fear in
his coercion of Tommy.

'I'll get my blankets and pillow out of my room, and lie down in
Tommy's. I feel I can sleep now,' he thought.

He went into his room heedlessly in the dark and trod on
something or somebody, just as he was striking a match.

It was the big black snake that lived in the ant-hill at the back
of the house whose movements Jim and the piccanin had been
discussing. The snake dealt with Julian.

Julian staggered about looking for crystals and a lancet. They
were locked up safely and perhaps Jim, or perhaps Tommy had the
key.

Tommy would not wake to any purpose. Just as Julian was shaking
him, the clock in the study a clock Julian had won in his
sprinting days chimed twelve very melodiously. Everything seemed
to be locked up. Had Jim the key of the spirit cupboard or Tommy?
Julian was growing drowsy in his struggles against the current of
fortune. Hadn't he better give in, and let himself be carried
down? Almost before he knew it, he was lying on the sofa in his
study where the lamp with the red shade was burning so cosily.
Likely enough his eye caught a quaint ornament on his study table
at the juncture the figure of the Serpent on the Cross.

It may be too, that some sort of startled respect came to him for
the Worm that had turned at last, not vindictively, but in the
interests of the Commonweal.

Probability points to this one fact at least, that Julian fumbled
for something in his pocket-book ere he resigned himself finally
to the growing torpor.

A card was found on the study floor when morning came; they found
the pocket-book itself on the conch beside him.

The card was the one that had come at his last breakfast-time
from Dick Hunter, the card that he had reserved rather indignantly
for future consideration.

On the one side of it was a color-process reproduction, very good
of its kind Christ in Glory the Rex Tremendoe Majestatis and also
the Fons Pietatis of the Dies Ira with tears in His Eyes and
thorns on His Brows as He judged just judgment. On the other side
were four lines from Browning, faithfully transcribed save for
the change of a name. They were written in the shaking writing of
a sick man, in Hunter's round, unformed hand:

'For the main criminal I have no hope
Except in such a suddenness of fate
So may the truth be by one blow flashed out.
And Julian see one instant and be saved.'

There is no question as to the suddenness of the stroke of fate
that ended Julian's career in South Africa. There is an open
question as to the illuminative force of that blow, and we must
wait for the answer.



THE DOUBLE CABIN



We had been close to a certain line of fire together, and yet we
had not seen much fighting. That is to say, we were taking part
in a campaign together that was for the time being an affair of
patrols near a certain border an affair that flashed into fire
now and then as between man and man. As between sun and man the
firing was fairly continuous for eight hours of most days. Were
we not within a hundred miles or so of the equator? In that
climatic struggle (so much the more constant of the two for us
Northerners) I on my noncombatant job came off lightly, he, as a
combatant, suffered. He was down with malaria time and time
again. He had it on him that night when he put me up at his place
a night when the old year was almost out. He was then inhabiting
a border outpost a clean little camp tucked away behind a native
village. It was none too airy, I thought, with its heavy curtains
of cactus hedging. He seemed a little better that next morning,
when I said prayers, and afterwards rehearsed a certain Rite. He
stayed to the end of my ministrations. After breakfast I started
again on my journey, a round that took me far from the centre of
our small world. When I touched that centre again I heard his
news, which was not so very reassuring. He had gone down with
blackwater, and been carried into a small hospital. There, having
almost gone out, he had rallied enough to be put on board a ship
crossing the lake. So he came to a greater hospital. It was
thither that I followed him up. He had had another crisis, I
found, but he was better again by the time I got to him. Then he
improved a little, and seemed to be convalescing. Then malaria
chose to interfere with the running of her sister fever's course.
This seemed extraordinarily meddlesome, and made things hazardous
still, though they were as well as one expected, when the time of
my going on leave came.

How glad I was to get off! My Good-byes were hurried when once
the brown envelope had come. I saw him on the hospital stoep
(baraza, did they call it in that alien part of Africa?) just as
I was rushing down to the station. He had lost his blue color,
but still looked rather flickery.

'If you go to Bulawayo, you'll remember, won't you?' he said.
'You've got the plan?'

He had given me an elaborate little drawing of two streets that
converged. His bungalow stood upon an island betwixt their
confluence and the shading that he had marked waste ground. The
pink paper was in my breast pocket, but, knowing my way with
papers, I had already learned those streets' names.

'All right,' I said. 'But I'm not likely to go that way. And the
time's so short. I'll try though.'

His face lit, and his eyes gleamed. 'Do try,' he said.

'Don't build on it,' I entreated him. 'I'll try to write to her
anyway.'

Then he looked downcast indeed; he had fallen from such a
confident height. But he said 'Goodbye' like a real friend.

I forgot him almost completely for the next four days or so.
There were excitements, seeing somebody at headquarters, wiring
business wires, writing friendly letters against time, steering a
forlorn small native and a more forlorn small dog, who were
sharing my fortunes, down to the coast. At last I was there, and
discussing shipping news with new-found keenness. My prospects of
getting off with speed looked black for a bit; then came the
flash of a fresh idea. As there was no ship for the African port
I knew, why not book for the unknown? There were transports
returning to a port beyond, I had heard. True, the cost of
railway traveling thence was hard to forecast, resources were of
a modest sort, and there were three of us to find fares for.

Yet ways and means began to show their forms out of the mist
soon. I chose to sail almost at once by the untried road, and I
wrote to friends', telling them how I had chosen. I wrote to my
friend in hospital, among others. I was going the Bulawayo way
after all, and I might do what he wanted quite unbelievably
easily. Who would have thought it when we parted? I scribbled
down the great news against time. (I had an importunate proof to
correct before sailing; proofs are apt to take hours, I find, and
my sailing hour was near.) He might be expected to have my
scribble handed to him on the hospital stoep about three days
after. So I calculated. I flattered myself that I knew the ins
and outs of our despatches and mail deliveries, also that I had
allowed in my calculation for censorial delay. It was pleasant to
think how pleased he might be expected to be. I well-wished him
with a prayer. Then I started down the glaring white road for the
wharf. I had dismissed him from my mind, I regret to say, for
another three days or more.

I traveled down from that east coast fighting-base on a transport
that had brought up mules and horses. She had naturally enough,
shipped a goodly crew of flies with them. The mules and horses
had gone their ways, but the flies had by no means all gone with
them. Now with no quadrupeds to be their prime care, those that
remained were apt to obtrude themselves upon us. I deprecated at
heart the ruthless warfare that marine authority waged upon them.
But for all that I found my afternoon slumbers often distracted
by the survivors. On the first and second afternoons of that
voyage I awoke not long after I dropped off. I awoke, and thought
about nothing in particular. On the third afternoon my waking
thoughts took a very definite shape.

I was in a cabin or stateroom that two officers had shared going
up doubtless of the veterinary profession. Now on this return
journey I had the place to myself. I lay in my bunk with my boots
off, and observed the empty couch beside me.

It was my friend that I thought of my friend as I had taken leave
of him, reclining on the hospital stoep, straining with eager
eyes at mine. It was his breathless voice that I remembered. It
was saying over and over, 'You will go and see her, won't you?
I'll be with you in spirit in this your trek for her and home.'

Surely he was on that couch in the cabin now beside me, and
surely he was saying the same thing over and over again, just as
regularly and restlessly as if he were yonder electric fan
curveting with the same sort of panting iteration.

And yet, don't mistake me, I don't pretend to have seen anything
or heard anything extraordinary in the ordinary way of seeing or
hearing. Only I was dead sure that he was there with the same old
entreaty. Afterwards I lighted a pipe, went above, talked to the
skipper's wife, read, investigated my boy's and also my dog's
welfare rather perfunctorily, settled down to saying an evening
Office, made an end more or less of that, just as night came on,
and then again took time to think over things. I remembered that
he would have possibly got my letter, the letter which announced
my sailing in this ship of the Archangel Line, just about the
very time that he had seemed so near me. It was natural enough,
then, that his eager mind should have embarked with me on the
'Saint Raphael.' He knew now that I was going home, contrary to
previous expectation, by the very way he had desired, the way to
see his wife and tell her his news.

That night, when I said my prayers, I took but a corner of that
couch for my elbows. I gave him room, so to speak, with odd
scrupulous courtesy, just as if he were lying there in the body.
For I knew he was there, there by his own subtle means of
transport. That night the wind rose, and for the next three days
about, we were on the downgrade as regards weather. Our captain
opined that there had been a hurricane of sorts to south-east,
out Madagascar way. We were in the troughs of a mighty swell that
grew in might till the third morn of its reign was over. In the
mad tilting of my cabin floor, and the scuffling of my cabin
accessories, that last morning, the unseen and unheard presence
that I was now growing used to, reclined unperturbed. Elsewhere I
would forget it lightly enough, as soon as ever I left the cabin,
at the saloon table, where plate and cup fretted themselves up
and down against the table frames, in the skipper's basket lounge
chair wherein I read contrasted romances, East End and Zulu, on
the deck where I groped from hold-by to hold-by, longing to
change grey sky and green sea-trenches for sunshine and blue
levels of sea and sky. The weather calmed and brightened, but the
presence was unaffected. It remained to my perception eager and
sanguine, no less, no more, than it had seemed at first.

At last the Bluff loomed to south-east. Soon a game of pitch-and-toss
precluded our access to harbor. At last we transshipped, all
three of us, boy and dog and I, to a steam-launch, and were soon
ashore. No, I won't say four of us. The presence did not make
itself felt as taking a share in that scramble of ours. I was
rather surprised at missing its company, when I found time to
think about it.  I was standing at ease in the Base Office then.
Soon I was on my way back again to the station where I had left
my convoy. The boy was mounting guard over dog and gear. Yes,
everything seemed all right. I turned towards the ticket office.
As I waited for our tickets I evolved a sort of rationale of my
consciousness of that presence. He who had accompanied me was
very weak, distinctly convalescent. He could but make himself
felt clinically, so to speak. When at length I was aboard the
train I had opportunity to test my surmises. There were six
sleeping berths in the Jo'burg second class compartment (there
was no third class, worse luck, on that train) wherein I found
myself. On one side slept the dark Theosophist who was to lend me
'The Star of the East' next morning. Under him slept the
Norwegian recruit bound for Potchefstroom. Under him again a
fresh-colored, wizened little Colonist. On my side slept an
Africander recruit for Potchefstroom (God love him! I hope he was
better than his looks and conversation). I was bedded over him.
Above me on the sixth sleeping ledge was only a certain amount of
luggage. So we had arranged, and so my eyes assured me. But I
became firmly conscious that the presence was reclining there.

Next night I was able to travel on third class from Johannesburg
without missing my train's connection. I had the carriage to
myself (not without misgivings, for the guard had cleared a
native out, and other compartments seemed likely to be rather
crowded). I lay down somewhat prayerlessly. The last light seemed
to have not long faded on the white mine-banks. I woke in the
chill of the dawn. The train was nearing Mafeking. The presence I
had been too tired to think much about last night, was assuredly
there on the other side of the carriage. Yet there was only my
bag to be seen on the seat, my bag that I had set there to search
for a towel.

The next night we drew near to Bulawayo. I had a Jew for
traveling companion then. He was to get off about midnight at
Francistown. I dropped off to sleep somehow. I don't know exactly
how the trick was done, I was so excited at nearing my own
country. When I awoke the Jew was gone, and the seat opposite me
was empty, empty save for the presence which reclined there. I
gave it a share of my attention amongst other persons and
matters. I was far too full of plans and anticipations now to
sleep. Yet I fought for sleep that next hour or two. Then, as the
cocks had crowed undoubtedly, I lighted a pipe. Afterwards I
stole out in the faint light to shave. When I returned, I was
confronted by an old acquaintance a detective. He wanted
information about me, naturally enough, as it was war-time. He
sat himself down on the seat whereon the presence was. I had
squirmed when he shook hands with me so heartily (I had twisted
my hand, slipping on a warship's deck). I was disposed to squirm
once again. When he sat down rudely on that seat which I knew to
be occupied, I forgot myself at once, and drew him to a seat
beside me. 'Can't you see what's there?' I said hastily. Of
course he could not see, and thought me a little mad. Then, when
I explained that the seat had been kept, he looked suspicious, If
only he had enjoyed the same perceptiveness as myself, what pages
he might have filled in that expensive-looking note book. I
chuckled to myself as I thought of his description his, who had
crossed the Rhodesian border with me at Plumtree on such special
service. What would that note book make of him? The note book's
master looked at me hard. Doubtless I aroused certain unnecessary
alarums and excursions in the imagination of a useful and already
overworked official. But I had given him nothing tangible in the
way of incrimination. He looked at me as one who much desired to
keep me under observation, but he said 'Goodbye!'

The house answered the pink paper's description. It was on
the verge of some waste ground. But I had expected a more
prosperous-looking place.

It had a long row of white palings that lacked repainting. The
house itself looked rather poverty-stricken. I had hurried over
my breakfast at the station, then I had asked my way, and found
it. I knocked once and again. That wife, whom I had never seen
before, came slowly to the door. He had shown me her portrait
more than once, and I remembered it. It certainly had not
flattered her. She was dressed in black. Her face would have been
fresh under her bright hair, but the eyes were drawn, and the
lips quivered that spoke to me, quivered in a pitiful fashion. I
told her how I came from her husband. I embarked on a longish
rigmarole as to the luck that brought me her way after all,
against expectations. She listened without saying a word. Then I
told her about him, and she listened patiently. 'I seem to have
felt him with me on my way,' I said. 'He was so keen that I
should bring you his love,' I said. Then she burst out crying.
'It is all very interesting,' she sobbed. 'But I have got later
news than yours.'

I shuddered. 'Was there a relapse, then?' I said.

'I suppose there must have been,' she murmured, steadying
herself. 'He came to me just at sunrise,' she said, 'this
sunrise, this very morning. I saw him so plainly coming into the
room just after I had opened my eyes. He always said he was sure
he would be able to come, by God's mercy, if it should come to
that . . .' Her voice shook, and I knew what 'that' meant.

No doubt they had loved one another very dearly, no doubt he had
been able, so strong was his affection, to follow my journey
towards her, while he was still in life. Then, at the moment of
the great change, he had doubtless gathered strength to come to
her and manifest himself. Such things have surely happened
before, and are likely to happen again whilst our lives linger in
the midst of death, and love is love.

'It is just on church-time,' she said, 'all but eight o'clock. I
was getting ready to go when you knocked. You won't mind my going
now, will you? You won't mind my saying Good-bye?'

So we said 'Good-bye' outside the church door, our ways went so
far together. Then I went off by the station road; my train was
to go on in another hour or so.

When I got into an empty carriage I was conscious of some sense
of forlornness. I had lost my traveling companion. Yet I was glad
somehow to think that the strain of his interest in my journey
was at an end. I gave thanks for that new rest of his.

As for her I am glad to remember where it was that she parted
from me so graciously. That church was a poor, corrugated iron
structure, but I looked in and saw a gladsome light burning
before its altar. Her eyes were on that light, I think, as she
knelt down. Truly a sanctuary of God seemed the place of places
to leave her in. They were so desperately fond of one another,
and he was so devoted to his religion, as well as to her. If in
God's sanctuary the Psalmist found most satisfaction as to his
own riddle of the ungodly's vitality, I feel sure she found some
comfortable answer to her own contrasted problem the mortality of
one so dear to her and to his Lord.



INTELLIGENCE



I was staying with an Intelligence Officer on a certain island.
Our people had but just succeeded in occupying it with a force of
occupation. It was a very green and richly tropical island with
the faults of its qualities, I should say. Most of its German
tenants were prisoners now, a few had escaped in canoes. Their
sergeant of askaris, a stout fellow, had passed the word of 'no
surrender.' But for all that very few native soldiers seemed to
be in the bush now. Most seemed to have surrendered, or to have
transformed themselves into civilians.

I had reached my host's lodging just before sundown on Saturday
night. We dined simply, as far as courses went, but our
conversation came easily and took many turns. There seemed to be
something in the air that night. There were three of us at the
table, my host and Hunter and I. Hunter was a naval man who had
walked up with me, and was staying the night. He was very fresh
and pleasant to look at; he seemed old for his years, which were
few; he had a range of interests as well as powers of expression.
Did he seem just a little conscious of his tender age? Was he not
a bit too anxious to profess disillusion? Yes, he was cynical
about Belgians, also about France, also about the Foreign Office.
I suffered him thus far with a certain guilty gladness. But the
Intelligence Officer demurred grimly. He was a patriot and a
fighting man. They had switched a maxim on to him years before,
but he was still going hardily, albeit he limped. He had fought
in an irregular white corps in the present campaign; he had
raised an irregular black corps; our adversaries were said to
have priced his head. He had charming manners; he had befriended
me nobly not once nor twice. He was a man surely of extraordinary
dash and resource. I had no sort of reason to doubt the great
stories I had heard of him, of his coolness under fire and in
tight places. I had seen every reason to believe them. For all
that, my affection for him was mixed with another feeling. He was
very tall. His face wore a sort of perennial fever-flush. He was
very dark. His eyes were fine and fierce, too; he wore a strange
he-goat-tuft on his chin. I found myself chuckling privately that
evening over a bizarre fancy of mine. I had remembered a certain
mediaeval print of a famous character. Yes, there certainly was a
likeness.

We discussed Intelligence Work a branch of War Service as to
which I am apt to be prejudiced. To my indefensible delight.
Hunter excelled himself at giving my own views voice over the
pudding. Never did I hear an indictment more sweeping. He spoke
of the reading of people's letters, the bluffing of unhappy
natives. He hinted darkly at dark methods of persuasion. He
hammered in the debasing futility of the whole spy system, our
own and the other side's. He ended with schoolboy personalities
about people he had met, some of our host's own agents. His
remarks about them were unworthy of the eloquence that had gone
before. Our host took it all in very kindly part. He was a man of
deeds rather than of words.

'I never thought I'd come so low as I did to-day,' he admitted.
'You heard of the German who got away with his wife and kids in
canoes. I was turning over one of the kids' money-boxes. Just
five rupees or so in it. But I'll try to get it back to the
youngster. I never thought to come quite so low.'

I tackled him about a horrid practice he had admitted having
recourse to. 'Torture, or torture-witchcraft possibly! It seems a
hopeful way of eliciting true intelligence, not to speak of
playing the game in any sort of British sense.' He hung his head
penitently. He pleaded that this expedient had saved an execution
only the other day. There had been none after all. Had there
been, as had looked likely at one time, an innocent man would
have died.

'Oh, why not be without reproach as well as without fear?' I
pleaded.

'How am I to get truth from them? It's a usage of their own.' He
was pleading back.

'Not that way.' I was inflexible in my scorn and horror, for I
knew that I was right.

By this time we had about finished dinner. Soon we were outside
Hunter in a deck-chair, I on a box, my host on a looted camp-stool.
We smoked on under the stars.

We spoke of looting. The naval man scintillated about the conduct
of the army at a raid on a neighboring town. I was with him most
of the way.

'So they cleared away with their swags for fear of enemy
reinforcements. And they had a report printed that the natives
had looted the place. That put the lid on it,' he said. But then
came purgatory for me. The Native Question cropped up. Our host
was away just then, conferring about chits that his spies had
brought in. Hunter fairly coruscated with cynicism, when it came
to the Native Question. He had expressed very different views
upon it the last time that I had met him (the day before at
lunchtime). Now he expressed himself cured of any sneaking wish
to treat natives with kindness rather than kiboko. His boy, to
whom he had granted leave of absence, had not come back to his
day, and the whole fabric of Native sympathies, so far as he was
concerned, had crashed to the ground. Henceforth he would know
how to treat natives, the way to have no trouble with them. Any
other way was not worth while. I objected, but my objections were
as little rocks over which his periods broke in foam.

They enhanced the effect. Our host came back and laughed a
little, till he saw how little I was enjoying it. Then he rotted
the orator on his lordly oblivion of one fact. Were there not
limits to his experience of Africa? He himself avowed his
sympathies with the African. If he had a hobby, it was natives.
He wanted to win their trust for a great many reasons. It was
worth while having it. He told a certain story and the talk
diverged. It was quite sympathetic talk, from my point of view
thenceforward, up till bed-time. We slept in that big room
within, all three of us. I had brought next to no kit, and
I had noted with some awe my naval friend's scorn of the
ill-provided in the course of the evening. He had described how
a Belgian he had shared a room with, lacked certain accessories
of civilization. So I was in the mood now to feel my own
deficiency. But the censor was not so very observant, and he
seemed sleepy. Soon he was sleeping.

My host and I exchanged a few undertones. Tomorrow was
Whitsunday. I wanted to have Service very early. 'That'll be all
right,' he said. Soon he put our hurricane lamp out, but I was
not to win sleep for quite a long while. In the early morning,
moreover, something happened. Some red-ant skirmishers were
about, and I had a hot time in my bed on the floor. I' might well
have felt more grateful than I did feel. Yes, had I only known
what battalions would have engaged me, had they decided to attack
before dawn! At dawn I was to see for myself what were the
numbers of their host. Meanwhile, their scouts gave me trouble,
if only a moderate amount. A cock crowed close by. Then another
and another. The dawn was not so very far then surely. The
thunder that had boomed when I first awoke, boomed louder. A
rushing mighty wind seized upon the shanty where we slept, a very
airy shanty. The fact that the Day that came was Pentecost,
recurred to me. Then the storm broke in fury. The rain smashed
down, and the lightning forked and flickered. The roar and tumult
raged and swelled and thudded overhead. My host awakened.

'It's near,' he said. 'Too near for me,' I murmured, as I ducked
involuntarily when a perfervid flash came.

'Look at the Navy!' he said. I looked.

The cynic slept like a child. His face was very calm and
intensely optimistic. 'He told me he had slept through big guns'
fire on his ship,' I said admiringly. 'He has great powers.'

A curious lingering flash came. It played round the sleeper's
head. A huge peal seemed to come almost with it, the last huge
peal ere that brief passionate storm withdrew.

Then the sleeper began to talk.

He talked too well too well for me to mix his actual phrases up
with this secular story.

The Intelligence man began to laugh. The thing struck him as
funny. But suddenly I caught familiar words, and I put my finger
on my lips. My host's black eyes looked into mine, and I saw, as
I had never seen before, how much there was in them. First they
kindled, and then they grew soft, and he turned his head away.
The sleeper had been repeating the end of the fifth chapter of S.
Matthew the bit about the God (whose sons we Christians are) that
makes His sun to shine, and His rain to fall so impartially.

He said the words very clearly, as articulately as if he were a
child saying repetition. What made our host's eyes melt so
curiously was what came after.

The sleeper said a sort of child's prayer about sun and rain, and
just and unjust, and good and evil, praying quite simply to God
to bless everybody and to do the best for them English and
Germans, black men and white.

'Yes, and my boy,' he said, as if that petition furnished a sort
of limit to the mercy he invoked. 'And the mtoto,' he added a
minute after.

'What's his name?' he asked innocently. He had forgotten the name
of his boy's apprentice, and his forgetfulness was on his mind.

The strain was a bit too much for us when it came to that
question.

We laughed rather hysterically. Then we pulled ourselves
together, but we had not disturbed him. He spoke no more save for
two or three detached words proper names I think. But he breathed
long breaths peacefully.

The dawn was quite near on its way now. A dove called from the
wood to its mate. Surely it desired to tell it that morning came.

'We've got some fresh Intelligence,' my host said gravely.

'Pentecostal Illumination, rather,' I said.

'Did you happen to remember what the Day was?'

He nodded. 'We'd better not sit up talking,' he told me. 'It
might seem to spoil it somehow. We'd better try to get a little
sleep. Come over here out of the ants.'

So we shifted my mattress.

After our Pentecostal Service, and our breakfast, we compared
notes, we two alone.

Once more Hunter had talked a lot at table. It was somehow a
little hard completely to identify the Hunter of breakfast time
with the Hunter of cock-crow. 'Our friend was rather angelical,
only rather,' my host said.

'He was cynical about your cynical business,' I said. He laughed.
'Have you forgotten what he said about missionaries?' he asked.

I smiled ruefully. 'It certainly wasn't up to his level,' I said,
'his cock-crow level.'

'I've got a theory,' said my chin-tufted friend (I have made up
my mind to recall Don Quixote in future when I think of him
rather than that mediaeval print). 'The subliminal self of the
Navy was revealed by that Pentecostal flash. Pentecost was in the
air. We saw the real lieutenant in his sleeping sub-consciousness.
It's a pity the real self isn't top-dog in ordinary life; it's under-dog
for the present, worse luck!'

'But in sleep he's a child still, and a good child at that,' I
said.

'Yes, or he couldn't have responded to that Pentecostal
suggestion. You or I wouldn't have responded; anyhow, not so
readily.'

He sighed. 'It's a wicked world,' he said smiling, 'and we learn
many tricks of our respective trades.'

'Speak for yourself and your own trade,' I said sternly. Then I
begged him to give up that unmentionable way of obtaining
intelligence.

'Let's try to live up to the cock-crow level,' I said. 'We two
have seen what we have seen, and heard what we have heard. We
have received unexpected Intelligence. We have got some hints as
to self and soul, truth and falsehood.'

'Yes, I'll allow that,' he admitted.



A CREDIT BALANCE



The siding was on such soil as recalled South Devon; flanking the
name-board there were a few pepper-trees with dry, fern-like
foliage, and bunches of red berries just then, the month being
March. Alfred Home drew up before that name-board in scorching
sunshine, wiped his face, and looked at his watch. Was he in
time?

He had heard nothing of the train yet, and it was not to be seen
approaching. His watch told him that it had been due for ten
minutes now. Surely it could not have gone! No, there it was. Its
whistle sounded, and soon it came winding through the sparse
woodlands. He gave a sigh of relief, and squatted down to wait
for it. Soon it drew up at Pepper-tree Siding.

He climbed on to a third-class carriage, which carried natives
and colored people, also one European in lonely majesty. This
last stood smoking a cigarette in an amber or mock-amber
mouthpiece. He was a boy not long out of his teens, a boy with a
dazzling complexion if, indeed, he were not a girl in a boy's
grey suit. He introduced himself, as he ushered his fellow-traveler
into a compartment. 'I'm the only one here,' he said. 'I've been
alone since Mafeking. I'm George Donald, and I'm just out from
Derry.' Home accepted the cigarette that was offered him.
Then he wiped his face again a dark, fiercely-burnt face. He
was a man over forty; he looked more than his age, or as if he
had had very hard times. 'Going far?' he asked. 'Not much further
now,' the boy said cheerfully. 'My station's fifty miles beyond
Gwelo. I'm about sick of it. I traveled second class on the boat.
But they never sent any money for expenses, so I've had to pig it
on this train.' Home smiled. 'Ever been out before?' he asked.
Donald shook his head. Then he indulged in many confidences. 'I'm
going to be partner in a trading concern,' he said. 'Soldana's is
the name of the place.' He went on to describe the voyage out,
with free criticisms of the food and of fellow-passengers. They
had had a concert or two on board, and he had recited at the
second-class concert last week. 'What did you recite?' Home asked
him. 'Oh, I gave them "Sir Galahad." I had to grind it up, with
lots more of Tennyson, for an exam. You know it?' Home nodded.
His lips moved. 'How ever does it go?' he said a moment after. 'I
only remember tags of lines here and there "And star-like mingles
with the stars." That's authentic, isn't it?' The boy repeated
the stanza whence those words came. 'Would you like any more?' he
asked. Home grinned. 'May as well have it through, if it's all
the same to you,' he said. So the boy began at the beginning, and
continued, and made an end, Home watching him all the while. His
eyes had satire in them as he watched, but they had also
admiration. Two or three hours after, they drew up at another
siding, and Home got together his belongings. He handed them to a
Bechuana boy who stood waiting for them outside on the step. Then
he settled himself down again, for the engine was waiting to take
water. He wrote a few words on a half-sheet and handed it to
Donald. 'That's my address,' he said. 'Do write or look me up at
my store, if I can be of any use at any time.' The reciter of
'Sir Galahad' shook his hand warmly, promising that he would do
so. Then Home scrambled out into the noontide heat. Soon the slow
train woke up again, and lumbered on.

It was much more than three years after when Donald came to
Home's store. He looked fagged and weary as he came up the
wagon-road, having done his thirty miles that day. He had a knapsack
on his back, but that was not heavy. Home was sitting on a case
under his verandah. The sun had just set, and he had closed the
store for the day, just before the traveler showed in sight. Now
that he drew near, he knew him at once. 'Hullo! I've often
thought about you,' was his greeting. 'But what have you been
doing with yourself?' The boy's face he looked boyish still,
though no longer girlish was worn. He was very pale, and had blue
marks under his eyes. 'I've had a hell of a time,' he muttered.
'Well, come and have some skoff,' Home said. 'After that you can
tell me about it all.' The boy ate but languidly, though he
emptied cup after cup. He said hardly anything; he looked down on
his luck. The zest was gone out of his talk, as the rose-pink out
of his cheeks, since they last met.

Home tried to say something cheerful. 'Do you know, if you'd come
this day week I don't think you'd have found me here. I've sold
this store. I'm meaning to go home, and to settle down there.'
The boy congratulated him rather listlessly. Then he spoke with a
sparkle of his old keenness. 'I wish I were going home,' he said.

'Why don't you?'

'I haven't a shilling,' the boy said; 'only minus shillings, only
debts.' Home tried to say something pleasant about luck turning,
but it came out flatly. After supper the boy told a story, but he
did not seem to tell it candidly by any manner of means. The
partnership he had gone to had been dissolved a year ago. He had
been trading, backed up by a Jew, this last cold weather. He had
had horrible luck; his store had been burnt down in August. It
was November now. He had been knocking about in a certain town
for a month or two. Then he had taken to the road. Some people
had been kind to him as he came along; others hadn't.

'What do you owe?' Home asked him abruptly. 'Oh, a pound or two,'
he answered, coloring. 'It's more than that, isn't it?' Home said
gently. The boy denied its being more than that. Then all of a
sudden he owned up. 'One Jew, they were partners, said it was
twenty-five; the other said he'd take fifteen. It wasn't really
more than fifteen, honor bright.'

'So you owe him fifteen,' Home said. 'Do you mean to pay him?'

'Not unless I'm forced,' the boy said savagely. He spoke in quite
an open way now. 'I'd rather pay him out than pay him back, the .. .'
Home changed the subject.

Just before they went to bed he recalled their brief journey
together so long ago now. He reached a newish Tennyson down from
his candle-box bookshelf. 'Do you mind saying that piece over
again that piece you said in the train?' Home spoke shyly.

The boy flushed up before he answered. 'I've forgotten it,' he
said.

'Well, read it, then, won't you, please? I've got it here.' The
boy started to read the lines. He read rather badly that night,
so Home thought to himself. He stuck in one place. 'Here, you'd
better go on,' he said hoarsely. So Home finished the poem to the
last line of it:

Until I find the Holy Grail.

'Do you know?' he said, when he had ended, 'I owe you a debt.
You've got a big balance to draw on so far as I'm concerned. I
bucked up a bit, beginning from that day when we met in the
train. I'd been thinking of giving up whisky, and other things,
before that day. But you gave me what I wanted a start. "Now or
never," I said, having seen you coming out so fresh as you did
yes, and heard you recite. I won't describe you as you were then;
you may or may not remember what you were like. That bit in the
poem about riding in lonely places through the dark caught my
fancy. I used to think of you who had gone away in the train
northwards. I thought of you trading on the Mashonaland veld, and
passing unscathed and unafraid over it by night and day you that
had nothing to be ashamed of. Thinking so helped to buck me up.
I've done better since that train journey than I ever did before
out here. Now I'm doing quite well, else it wouldn't be likely
I'd be thinking of going home, as I am.'

The boy looked up at him wretchedly. 'It all went wrong nearly
from the first,' he said, 'so far as I was concerned.'

'Yet all the while you helped me,' Home said. 'So I owe you a
debt, and I mean to pay my debts, whatever you mean to do about
yours. Come on, now. Take this bed. I'm sleeping in the store.'

Thus it came about that in the morning Home, having slept upon
his resolve, brought out some money. He stacked it on the table
impressively. 'I'm glad I slept upon it,' he said. 'I thought
last night that I'd give you the money to go home this year. I'd
made up my mind almost to go next year instead of this.'

The boy's eyes lighted up. Gratitude looked out of them. Then
they changed. It seemed that gloomy Fear had taken Gratitude's
place at the double window. Donald stammered a bit; then he spoke
out. 'I'd like to lie to you, like I did last night; but I can't
somehow. No, I'm going to tell you utter' truth. I'd like you to
give me the money well enough in one way. But if you did I know
what I'd do. You don't know how gone-in I am. If I ever got as
far as Capetown I'd drink out what was left there, or I'd blow it
some way. But I'd never get so far as Capetown; I'll be honest
with you. Yet thanks all the same. You meant kindly.'

'That's all right,' Home said kindly enough. 'Thanks for being
straight. I thought over that first plan of mine last night. I
wasn't long in chucking it for a second.' The boy listened
languidly. 'I was going second,' Home went on; 'I was going
second if I'd gone alone. Now let's both go together! Supposing I
square the Jew for you probably you understated his account a bit
(I've allowed for that) I may have enough for two thirds and
something to spare. You won't mind my going too, and my keeping
the bag, will you?'

'Mind?' the other said. 'I shouldn't think I'd mind, seeing it's
a one-and-only sort of chance. But I don't see why you should
give it me.'

'It's only paying you something on account,' Home said.
'Remember, there'll be a credit balance still after the journey's
over, but you'll give me a little time to pay off that, won't
you?'

So they went together in the following week by a slow train, the
same sort of slow train as had carried them of old one that
stopped at Peppertree Siding.

'I'd like to refund you,' the boy said while they waited there.
He was beginning to get a little of his own back by then, Home
thought; Home was beginning to suffer him as an inseparable much
more gladly. 'I've written some things that might sell,' Donald
murmured; 'things I wrote when I was traveling in lonely places
among the hills, or in the bush-veld, or by the river that held
me up for three days.'

'What sort of things? "Sir Galahad" sort of things?' Home asked
with a twinkle.

The boy shuddered. 'No, just the other sort of things,' he
answered. 'Not seeing everything right because one feels right,
but seeing everything devilish because one feels devilish.'

'Hadn't you better, perhaps, burn the lot?' Home said. 'Don't
talk about a refund to me. Why, man, I tell you I owe you quite a
lot. Make yourself easy; you've a big credit balance to draw on.'



MAN'S AIRY NOTIONS



It is quaint how a catch of a song or a phrase of a lyric will
haunt one along the lonely miles of a walk, up hill and down dale
of one's pilgrimage. Hood found a phrase of a lyric dogging him
down the first stages of his home-road last year. He thought
little of the circumstance at the time, but afterwards he
remembered it, and wondered why the thing had befallen so. The
lines of the phrase had by that time gained meaning for him, more
meaning than he had suspected to be in them, when he said them
over to himself:

'In a wife's lap, as in a grave,
Man's airy notions mix with earth.' *

* From 'The Splendid Spur,' by Q.

He remembered saying them over and over to himself along one
long, sandy, thirsty stretch. Then again, when he sat down by the
drift in huge content waiting for his kettle to boil; then again
on a certain melodramatic night as he paddled in the rain a night
he is not likely to forget.

He had been a missionary in South-Eastern Africa for ten or
fifteen years, I forget which, and his leave that came every five
years was once more due. He started for the railhead, some forty
odd miles from his home, going by way of the post-town, and
calling there for his share of the last mail.

Yes, it was all right. Nothing near at hand in Africa, or far
overseas in England, barred his home-road as far as he could
learn. On the other hand, at least two Southern letters bade him
go back and prosper, and a new welcome had come forward to him
from the North in a writing that he remembered. It was posted in
an Upper River village not many miles from Oxford, and it was a
bidding to a meeting of Oxford contemporaries arranged for the
coming July. They had met on about that same day (the birthday of
the host) five years before.

Hood remembered that day of meeting, as he sat by the drift,
reading his letter, and waiting for the kettle to boil. He
remembered walking out from the city of the spires, and the way
the house looked as he came to it by a path through water-meadows.
What gardens and green shades and coolness of comfort, he
remembered, and linked with that time and that place. He
dreamed a dream with the smell of new-turned hay in it, then
awoke to find himself repeating that mellifluous tag of his about
man's airy notions. The kettle had boiled.

The letter of invitation was written in high spirits. It was
sanguine as to the completeness of their numbers when they should
meet. All but one was likely to be there if only Hood would come
all but one who had fallen out of the ranks. Hood was, somehow, I
think, more overcast by the thought of the one exception, than
rejoiced by the prospect of such a noble muster. Yet, as he
strode along the road, pondering the letter, his longing for
England seemed to grow amazingly. His stride lengthened as his
satisfaction deepened. Twenty miles gave him little trouble that
March forenoon and afternoon. He crossed the wide river in a
crazily perilous ferry-boat, forded a narrow one, and supped with
great content on his bread and cheese.

Meanwhile his carriers fell heartily to hungry men's rations of
bully beef and millet-meal. The rains had been heavy those two or
three days in that last week, as the rivers testified. Now the
clouds were closing up again, and the carriers shook their heads.
Their road was a lonely one. A kraal was some six miles ahead,
the railhead inn was almost nine. When they had gone on for about
a mile of their road, the rain began to come down heavily, just
as the night began. On and on they splashed through the pools and
currents of the wagon-way. Then the rain slackened. A red,
elusive light shone ahead in the dip of a hollow. It seemed a
wandering fire to Hood's eyes as the road twisted suddenly. But
no it was a humdrum wagon-fire of logs. They clustered round it,
chilly and dripping, his carriers and he. A voice called out to
them from the folds of a buck-sail above. A Mashona boy was
crouching in shelter there. He told them that his master was
asleep on the wagon. Hood tried a greeting to this master, but it
gained no answer. He began to take counsel with his comrades, as
they squatted by the fire. 'Wouldn't it be fine to sleep under
the wagon? Who wanted to tramp through a black night with perhaps
a pouring roof of sky above, and certainly a soaked mud floor
beneath?'

The carriers and he agreed to risk the storm (threatening even
now in the distance). Night-prayers were said by that gladsome
fire. Still, the larger of the two muffled shapes above made no
sign. Afterwards Hood's bed was made by the stretching out of a
strip of sailcloth. A blanket was laid over it, and a knapsack
crowned it as a pillow. Hood began to settle himself in with huge
content, a pipe between his teeth. One carrier wriggled himself
up beside him. The two others laid themselves at his feet. By
this time the thunder was rolling up relentlessly, and the
flashes shone green and sinister. The storm was not long in
breaking over them. The rain swished in from the west the way of
Hood's right side. He wrapped his head in his five-shilling
blanket; its cotton-waste was not very waterproof. He had a few
more draws at his pipe in the dark. Pools were filling under him.
He put his pipe down. He made haste for the frontiers of sleep.
He must have got some way in that direction, for he soon found
himself in his bath on the threshold of a dream. Of course, he
should have hardened his heart hygienically. He should have risen
and stridden on with his retainers the miles that remained. But
he had his vein of weakness and sloth; he took the fury of that
night lying down.

At whiles he was across the drift of Lethe in the darkness, but
never for long together. Once he woke uneasily with a start and
saw a flash. The crash followed as in one beat, and the rain was
like the rain in King Lear. He was broadly awake now. Two
carriers were nestling near him. He felt fearfully for his pipe,
and almost mourned for it as washed away. He found it, and turned
over with a happy sigh. 'Man's airy notions!' 'as in a grave,'
'mix with earth' he hummed himself to sleep with that brave
sing-song.

The dawn had come ere he had roused himself again. It was good to
find that the rain was over and the night gone, and that the fire
was blazing. His carriers were chafing their hands and feet. His
sleeping host bulked still as a molded shape in the buck-sail.
Had he moved at all since last night? The big black-and-white and
red-and-white oxen were tethered still. Would their wardens ever
wake up and see them fed? The carriers tied up his packs, and
moved forward with a swing. Still there was no sign from the
buck-sail, boy and master alike were still within, though the sun
had climbed over the hills. Hood shrugged his shoulders, and
moved off down the west road. He left that little mystery, as he
had left bigger riddles in Africa, utterly unsolved.

Soon they dried themselves at a hospitable hut-fire in a village.
It was Lady Day. Hood noted the seasonable blue-and-white of his
blanket as he hung it on a rafter. He made the morning Offering
behind that vaporous screen. Then they ate their food, and
drugged themselves belatedly with quinine against those perils of
the night.

Hood for one felt cheerily defiant, if somewhat stiff from long
bathing. 'This is life,' he thought as the sun came out, and they
strode mile after mile down the valley. Afterwards came the
shining drift, and the last climb up to the Station.

When Hood reached Capetown, he found a letter awaiting him. His
chosen traveling companion an explorer was delayed up-country.
Hood was sorry to get that letter. Then the possibilities of a
lonely journey struck him. He revived the remembrances of
long-room life as an under-schoolboy. He took an open berth for a
three weeks' voyage. Whereas, in the English public school he had
gone to, Gentiles had been many and Jews the exception, the
balance was now redressed.

It was a good time on the whole that he had on this voyage, but
he was glad indeed to be out of the boat and in England once
more, his own South-country England! The spring and early summer
were kind to Hood, then July came and brought the gathering in
Berkshire. All the old forgatherers of five years ago were there,
all but that one they had left behind in Africa. He had gone to
sleep there, three long years ago in the past.

'How I do miss Hunter!' confided the explorer to Hood. 'They seem
to have aged a lot, some of the others,' he explained forlornly.

Hood stared at him as he steered their boat down the river. He
reflected.

'I think you're right,' he said. 'But you haven't aged a bit. Nor
have I. Nor has our host so very much. That's how the dividing
line comes in. The others are all married, much married, and like
their little comforts.'

'You're right there,' said the explorer, disconsolately. 'A
bread-and-cheese lunch in a bar parlor and a twenty-mile walk
didn't suit Warner. He used not to be like that. If only he'd
kept out in Africa after the war.'

'Warner's better than somebody we both know,' grumbled Hood.
'Having a car of his own hasn't made him any younger.'

'Never mind,' the explorer said, 'there's two of us out in Africa
yet, and not likely to marry. There used to be three, usedn't
there?'

'I do wish we had one to spare,' said Hood. 'It'd be rather a
tragedy for the other one if one of us two deserted. But you'll
try not, won't you, and I'll try too.'

While they stayed with their bachelor host, friends of his,
married and single alike, were very kind to them. The rector, who
had only come last year, asked them to make themselves at home in
his garden. It had a blaze of civilization in its front borders,
now, but at the back of the house it was rather wild and very
shady. The rector's youngest sister, Perpetua, kept house for
him, a girl whose English coloring took a pretty and subdued
form; Hood and the explorer were much interested in her romance.
The curate, Warner said, was her continual worshipper. He was a
keen sort of curate that.

She had been kind to him till quite recently. Now she was
uninterested, or seemed so.

The Good-bye of the reunion came round, but the explorer and Hood
went not with the others. The married guests went off to their
home comforts, but these two stayed on for at least a week more.
They became fast friends with both Perpetua and the curate, but
they found it best for social joy not to mix them.

Perpetua shared a sailing expedition with the strangers. Therein
they explored much of the Evenlode, the hay-harvest breeze
favoring them. Another day she went with them afoot to the
Hinkseys. Certain moot points of poetic identification were
hardly settled by that trip, so another followed. They came home
by Cumner both days.

'She would do for Africa,' confided the explorer to Hood one
night. The village band had been playing, and they had thought no
scorn of it. The groups under the dreaming garden trees, and the
full moon, and the white evening-star' had been memorable that
evening.

'She might do for Africa,' said Hood doubtfully, 'but I wouldn't
let her go and spoil her complexion.'

'If you were the curate?' asked the explorer with a smile.

'What's he to do with it?' said Hood impatiently. 'Didn't he
almost promise he'd sail with me in two months' time? I want him
for work.'

'That's too bad,' said the explorer; 'cut that labor-agent
business. Let him stay at home and marry Perpetua. There's a
family living waiting for him across the river. Won't they be
happy just?'

'I don't know,' said Hood, thinking fast.

Next morning the explorer had a touch of fever. The village
doctor dropped in as an anxious friend. He mustered up his
courage to prescribe two grains of quinine. His patient smiled,
and promised to take them with additions. Then he went to sleep,
and left Hood to escort Perpetua to Bab-lock-hythe. She was
adventurous that afternoon. 'She has outgrown the curate,' Hood
thought. The explorer's words recurred to him: 'She might do for
Africa.' 'Not if I know it,' he answered them in his own mind.

His interest in her grew that day, and the next day, when the
explorer was convalescent. The day after that he said 'Good-bye,'
and escorted the convalescent to Oxford.

'Good luck!' said the explorer as they parted near the Martyrs'
Memorial, each bound for his own college. 'Let's stick to our own
way of life, we two. Don't let's get middle-aged just yet, like
Warner and Davies. And, mind, drop that agency rot, and leave the
curate to Perpetua. They're just the age she twenty, he twenty-five.
You, who're forty-one, have pity!'

That evening Hood smoked his pipe in a college garden. One who
had taught him years ago was there. Hood was fairly candid as to
his real thoughts when he talked to him. He was telling the tale
of that rainy night, as the summer twilight darkened, 'I'm just
forty,' he said. 'It seems as if I could hold my own a bit with
younger men, D.G.!'

His friend looked at him thoughtfully. 'It's fictitious youth, he
said. 'Supposing you were to try marrying and settling down.
Supposing you were to try deserting your perennially youthful
bride the Great Adventure, or the High Romance, or the New
Jerusalem, or whatsoever you call her. Supposing you settle down
with an earthly bride say, a sweet-and-twenty one! Supposing you
had to toe the line of four-meals-a-day in a country vicarage.
You would know your age then.'

Hood looked uninterested and aloof. But he recurred to the
subject again later on, and he asked whether a certain living in
the near neighborhood had been filled.

'No,' said his friend; do you want it?'

Hood flushed up. 'It's the sort of place I'd like to settle down
in,' he said, 'if I were coming home. But why should I come?'

His friend made no answer at once. The same sort of wistful look
came into his eyes that Hood had noticed in the explorer's eyes
that afternoon.

'Why should you not?' he said at last. 'Yet I for one would like
you not to renounce the perpetually juvenile lady. I'm not in a
hurry to see the last of your glad, perennial youth.'

That night Hood lay in his friend's spare room, looking out over
the Gardens. He was reading in bed a college list. It had pencil
notes of the deaths or careers of some contemporaries. Rousing
himself from his researches, he sprang up and put the book away.
He leaned down to the window-shelf. What was that book with the
stained red cover! He remembered a romance that had come out in
his college days of twenty years ago, a book by one who had had
his own rooms before him. He took it back to bed with him, and
turned over the pages. At last he found the lyric he sought. One
of its verses held the tag he had remembered so often, but had
forgotten, and wanted that evening, wanted to confirm his own
halting decision:

'In a wife's lap, as in a grave,
Man's airy notions mix with earth.'

He put down the book and switched off the electric light. He lay
a long while in the moonlight, thinking himself far away to
earthen walls and guttering candles. He thought of the chill
penury of lack of blankets that he had known in winter. Also of
the sun's summer glare on white wagon-roads and Kaffir paths.
What wonder that wayfarers' eyes amass many wrinkles around them?
Yet how young one had kept after all; and at what speed one would
age here with electric light and sheets and a stately dinner to
tempt one! 'Man's airy notions.' Yes, he had got some very airy
notions still, whereof the earth was not worthy. Getting old
didn't matter, of course, so much; but he wanted to stick to
doing his own work (his Lord's work) in his own way. He didn't
want to leave like-minded friends in the lurch either. Nor did he
see his way to hug the shore at home with Perpetua, while the
curate braved the 'foam of perilous seas.' Would he ever have the
heart to watch her fresh face spoiling in Africa? Could he bear
to see it wizened and withered in the Tropic of Capricorn? No!

He was soon asleep.

His first waking knowledge was of his friend's asking him the
question, 'Are you going to apply for that living?' He had his
'No!' ready from that last night.

'I'm glad,' his friend said. '"Fly our paths, our feverish
contact fly!" I'd like you to take my advice and be happy yes,
and useful as well as youthful.'

'All right,' smiled Hood from his pillow. 'I mean sailing next
month.'

He went to his home in Kent that same day, and rejoiced in the
Weald. His sister and he made a pilgrimage to Canterbury before
the month was over, from Sevenoaks by way of the Downs.

'This was where Marlowe went to school,' she reminded him. 'I
think he might have been almost as great as Shakespeare, don't
you?'

'I don't know,' Hood answered. 'He was a different sort. I can't
imagine him settled down in middle age at Canterbury like
Shakespeare at Stratford. "His raptures were all air and fire."
His airy notions refused to mix with earth somehow.'

The conversation was not very important, but it showed the
continuing trend of Hood's purpose. He hardened his heart and
went to the Upper River no more ere his sailing from Southampton,
nor did he press the curate to sail with him. The latter wrote
him a very dubious letter. He would make no promises about work
in Africa now. Hood gathered that Perpetua was relenting.

The explorer sailed with him, to his joy, instead of the curate.
They went up from Capetown in continuing amity together. At last
they parted far upcountry. Hood went on his lonely way, not
without some retrospects and some doubts as to his decision.

At a roadside station a well-tried comrade came to greet him.
This friend had married last year, and his wife was donkey-riding
and foot-faring with him. They were but just back from many miles
in very wild country. Seven carriers were with them.

'Heavy loads!' said Hood, shaking his head. 'So you carry chairs
and a table into the Veld?'

'Home comforts,' growled his fellow-missionary. 'Why not be
comfortable? And why, too, didn't you bring a wife back? Some one
said.'

Hood smiled, and the missionary's wife smiled back at him. 'He's
better as he is, dear,' said she to her grunting husband. 'He's a
foot-slogging free-lance. We're the household heavy cavalry. He's
different.'

'Wait and see if he remains so,' rejoined her husband solemnly.
Then the train screamed and went off.

Soon Hood was landing at his own rail-head and receiving the
greetings of many brown people. They seemed glad to see him as he
straggled back so forlornly to them up the platform, and out of
the station. His holiday was done.

But he was soon forlorn no longer. They had so many delights and
anxieties to share with him his traveling comrades. Soon they
were striding away far up the remembered road together. They were
through the drift. How low it was now in this droughty time. Then
they wound along the valley. Hood peered curiously among the
ruddy-leaved bushes as they came round the shoulder of a hill.
Was the silent teamster still outspanned there? No, he was not
there to make them welcome, or to sleep away the tyranny of their
presence. He had fled their 4 greetings, fled their speech and
smiles.' Never mind. If the road was lonely, Spring was in the
land. How the trees and the bushes glowed! 'Surely no man ever in
a land of exile found more of a warmth of welcome home!' he
thought to himself.

It was on Christmas Day (last Christmas Day) that, Hood tells me,
a momentous letter came to hand. It was from Berkshire, and he
did not read it till the time came for him to turn towards his
veld-home. He had held Christmas services in various places.

He was now looking forward to a rest and to supper-time. He was
sitting outside a wayside school as he read that letter. Some
Mashona children had brought him clay figures as Christmas
presents. They graced the grey rock beside him one big figure and
a little figure or two in clay skirts, also a quaint version of a
perambulator. They showed up rather drably against the glory of
Western sun and blue sky.

The letter announced Perpetua's plighted troth. It was from the
curate. He added that they were both looking forward to settling
down shortly in the family living. They might be married in April
or in June. Hood smiled and lit his pipe resignedly.

'So his airy notions of Africa are mixed with earth,' he thought,
'honest Berkshire earth, hurst sand, or down chalk, I suppose.
No, I'm forgetting. That rectory's across the river in Bucks or
Oxon, I forget which. Anyhow the earth's got the better of the
air, and it's arranged that Africa's not to see him.' His eyes
fell upon the clay family grouped beside him. 'It's good
Perpetua's having a home and a family in prospect,' he thought.
'One understands that there's a good deal to be said for such
things when Christmas comes round, at any rate.'

Some words came into his head, words of his favorite poet weren't
they? 'I hope I shall never marry; the roaring wind is my wife,
and the stars through the window-panes are my children: the
mighty abstract idea of beauty I have in all things stifles the
more divided and minute domestic happiness.' He looked at those
clay grotesques rather tenderly. He was thinking of a story in a
life of St. Francis he had read only yesterday, how he had made
him figures of snow and called them in irony his wife and
children and servants. 'Here is thy wife, these are thy sons and
daughters, the other two are thy servant and thy handmaid; and
for all these thou art bound to provide. But if the care of so
many trouble thee, be thou careful to serve one Lord alone.'

He said over to himself those unforgotten words, sadly rather
than scornfully this time:

'In a wife's lap, as in a grave,
Man's airy notions mix with earth.'

He shouldered his knapsack. Then he commended the clay figures to
their donors; he asked them if they would mind looking after
them. He was very grateful; he would have them kept in the school
to remind him of things that earthy little family of his own.

Then airily and fierily he splashed away down the path for home.
Through the marshland he went, and down towards the stream. He
forded the wagon-torn drift eagerly, climbed up out of it, and
strode away beyond.

How young and fresh he felt as he went away again on his campaign
with earth and water! How air and fire subdued their sister
elements to themselves!



PISGAH



We had been going sixteen days on the home course to England, and
I had come to know him fairly well. He was a seaman who had
sailed the self-same mail-boat for some years past. I remembered
him on a brighter trip in summer-time when I was a good deal
younger and took the languors of the voyage less slumberously.
Now it was winter-time on the home-side of the Line, and I was
sailing under a cloud of news grave and stern. So I was rather
prone to see most things as much alike in a sort of dream of
neutral colors. My seafaring friend had helped me in the sultry
nights further south, had shown me a sleeping place high up among
the ropes, had called me in the grey dawn, or warned me when
lightning flashed and it seemed that a downpour threatened.
Afterwards we had passed Madeira, a cheering vista with its white
walls and red roofs and purple bougainvillea, and settled down
into wintry weather and storm-vexed seas. Now the last night up
the Channel had come, and the weather was calmer. We had seen the
scowling Ushant coast in the sun and shower of an icy mid-day. So
we were looking for a light to show very soon now an English
light, a Dorset light and the pulse of our chill quickened to
racing rhythm. 'How many voyages have you made before this one?'
I asked my friend as we leant over a rail together. He mentioned
an astonishing number. 'You must know a lot about the things that
I want to know' I said, 'the going to and fro of people, their
starting out and their coming back again. Doesn't it all seem
pretty stale to you by now?' 'No,' he said; 'it's my living, and
besides that it interests me watching the game. It's an
interesting bit of the game that I see, don't you think, sir,
coming to the fringes of two Promised Lands, and not tackling the
job of settling down in either? I've got interests, though, in
both of them.' He was silent, and we both filled our pipes again.
This friend of mine interested me: his reading tastes had
surprised me: he borrowed Mr. Masefield's works and Miss Olive
Schreiner's, but I had not often found him communicative till
that last night before reaching home. 'I'm better where I am
earning a sure living,' he went on. 'I've got a boy put to school
at Southampton; no, not mine I'm not married. But he's staying at
school a long while. I don't particularly want him to go out to
South Africa, speaking for myself. His father didn't do
particularly well there as people reckon, but yet I don't know.
He enjoyed his life in his own way, I think. I saw enough of him
to understand that, and the boy seems bound to go back there:
bound or tied's the very word. He was born up the country, and
carried on a Kaffir woman's back in her goatskin, and knew more
Kaffir than English, and wore veld-schoen when he came back on
the boat with me.' 'When was that?' I asked. 'When his father,
Walter Holmes, came aboard seven years ago come this next March.
That was the second time his father traveled with me. He came on
before, fifteen years earlier, when first he traveled to Africa,
and I remembered him well enough. I was on the old boat. I've
only served on the two boats all my time.' 'What did he go out to
do?' I asked. 'Oh! he went up to join the pioneers at Kimberley.
A counter-jumper he'd been, and he'd got his head all stuffed
full. It was 1890, one of Rhodes' big years, the year they went
north. It would have done you good to hear him talk. He was so
keen, and his eyes glowed. Just like the water glows near the
keel in the tropics.' 'That must have been a time,' I said; 'I've
only read about it. It was before I saw the country.' The sailor
grinned and spat. 'I reckon there hadn't been better days for
young fellows to live in,' he said, 'not since Queen Elizabeth's
reign. It came just between the two Jubilees the time. Kimberley
and Rhodesia and the native wars and the Raid, and the big war
looming on ahead for by and by. I reckon it was something like it
was in Drake's and Hawkins' and Sir Walter's days.' That was a
new view to me. But it sounded likely enough to hear him bring it
out, who believed in it so evidently. 'It was all Ophir and El
Dorado,' he went on; 'I used to hear lots of it from people to
and fro. I'd see them going out to Africa and all the excitement
after the lagging times along the coast, when they came with the
dawn into Table Bay. I'd see them coming back, too, greedy enough
to see Portland Light then, like that stout party over there.' He
pointed to a paunchy miner who was flinging his leather cap up.
'He's seen it,' he said; 'yes, look there! One! Two! Three!
'Four!'

My own eyes glowed and my heart hopped up and down. Yonder was a
verity of England once more after years of absence. People came
along to our corner of the deck and questioned and stared and
laughed to one another. 'But I want to hear the end of that
story,' I said, and I enticed him away with me past the wheel-house
to a place far out of the talk and the tramping up and down.
'How used the people to come back, did you say?' I asked him.
'Oh! some had done fairly well,' he said, 'and some were
broken, but it was good to see how slow they found the boat go,
getting back again, and how they hung on the lights.' 'Yet they
didn't stay long in England some of them?' I hazarded. 'No,' he
said; 'I'd see some coming back, and hear of lots more. The same
thing over again it would seem when we came into Table Bay, only
they were a bit older.' 'But some didn't come home to England,
did they?' I wanted him to tell me. 'No,' he said; 'you're right
there no doubt. This friend of mine named Holmes took a long time
coming. But I heard from him sometimes when he was up country. He
found the business of settling Canaan rough, I gathered. I think
I'm glad I heard about it from a distance. It mightn't have
suited me.' 'And he got married up there, did you say?' 'Yes, his
girl came out on this ship when he'd been out seven years or so.
He used to write to me sometimes, and he arranged about the boat
she came by. She was full of the farm she was going to; he had
written about it. She seemed to think that it was a regular
Kentish homestead. She wrote afterwards and thanked me for
looking after her on the voyage, and said she had found two huts
on a kopje when she got there. All their cattle died when her boy
was about six years old. Then she died. Holmes had a lot of
trouble that year. So he sold up and came on board the year
after. Waited for my boat, worse luck, and contracted enteric in
Cape Town. I thought we should lose him off Cape Verde. But it
wasn't a clammy night the night we passed the wind blew fresh and
we got him by. How he longed for home, for settling down in Kent.
Rhodesia was all very well when one was young, he had said. She
hadn't treated him so very well, but she had taught him to value
things at home. I thought we might land him home after all, when
we were a whole day or so past Cape Verde. But that night a
change came and he was gone. We dropped him over at sunrise, only
four or five hours after, so as not to cast a gloom over the
passengers, you understand.' 'And you took on his child?' I
asked. 'Yes, and wanted him to settle down in the south country.
No, not Africa Kent I mean. I thought I'd settle down with him in
the better of my two countries. For it is the better. I who've
looked down at both, like Moses on the mountain, have found out
that much. But it doesn't look a bit now as if he'll believe
in my advice.' 'And if he goes out, you'll follow him?' I
questioned. He smiled. 'I think I'll be simple enough for it,' he
said; 'I seem to want to renew my youth. I somehow used to be
sorry I missed my chance to follow his father up. Now that
generation's about gone the generation of King Solomon's Mines.
It doesn't seem like putting myself forward so much if the boy
himself asks me to come up with him, does it, sir?' 'And you want
to go.' 'Well if you look over Moses' Moabitish mountain long
enough, at a promised land, so to speak, you may get a hankering
to go in,' he said. 'It's not a better country. It's not a
heavenly; I don't make any mistake about that. But it's a country
that people have thought big things about, if they have carried
them out badly. I seem to have seen something of the right and
the wrong of it all these nights coming north to Southampton
Water or south into Table Bay.' 'And what's the conclusion of the
whole matter?' I said. We were almost alone on the deck now.
(There was just one lonely, lanky passenger strolling up and
down. I guessed that the rest were in bed, or going to bed or
having a last drink below. We went down the deck together and
took our stand behind that forsaken watcher of the shore-light.
He stood at gaze, pulling deeply from his pipe and drinking in
the four-a-time flashes with owlish contentment.) 'Oh! the
conclusion's what Solomon said right enough,' he muttered. 'Fear
and keep, and keep and fear. Perhaps he'd been out and visited
the men on his mines up-country.' He paused. I seemed to hear the
jingling of bar-glasses in a back-veld canteen as he did so. The
thud of drums, too, from Kaffir villages seemed to bear down on
us. The Channel breeze came to me as it were heavily laden with
the sounding challenges of the South. 'I suppose,' I said, 'it
makes a big difference when one loses the northern star. Those
southern skies painted with unnumbered sparks are all very well,
but one lacks the pole-star of honor one steered by in England.'
'Yes,' he said, 'It's there I reckon the Southern Cross comes in,
and people going south make a mistake not to notice it. When
one's out of sight of the old compass-point of English opinion
one feels the want of believing, if one's to make any sort
of a show. It's a bad look-out if, when one lives under the
Southern Cross, one can't understand it. Fear God and keep His
Commandments. Do you think God would have put that cluster of
stars to south if the South did not need it most?'



A LION IN THE WAY*

* This tale may seem obscure, I suppose, if read in modern
English. It may be interpreted in the light of two ideas:

(1) The African idea about leanthropy or transmutation of man
into lion, an idea likely to linger on, I should think.

(2) An idea prevalent as it seems in our Europe of old '. . . the
idea that when a witch in animal form is wounded, say by a blow
or a shot, the natural wound will appear on the human body when
the witch returns to her own person.'

But I have topsy-turvied (2) in my tale. A.S.C.

I saw the lion with my own eyes, his shaggy head haloed by the
rising moon. The Mashona who was with me had far sharper eyes
than mine. He saw a dark scar across its brow. He would know that
lion again, he told me. It was not a gun-shot wound it carried.
Surely it was the caress of a brother lion.

The trader's road led down from the half-deserted kraal to the
drift. It forked into two wagon ways with a huge rock to part
them. There on the rock stood the lion expectant. That may not be
a heraldic term, but it is a true description of him as I saw
him. We watched him from the height above for what seemed a
longish time.

Then in haste I stole back to the desolate kraal that I might
find Trooper No. 2. Had he not the chance of his life now to
shoot a lion? I found him in the kraal, angry with himself and
swearing at his Black Watch boy who suffered him silently. While
he swore at him I gave him some idea of what I was thinking, as
to his need of humility. Had I not seen him run ten minutes
before? All this took time. When at last his flow of words dried
up and he came with me, we were too late. The lion was no longer
against the sky-line. He had taken cover in the bush below. We
heard him there once or twice, but we saw him no more. This is
how these things came about.

I had traveled into that forlorn country the day before, looking
for Carrot. He had been a pioneer and a reputed hero, not so many
years gone past. Now he was an Ishmael, receding and receding
before the tide of civilization. Like the eagle in Byron's lines
on Kirke White, he might blame himself, or at any rate credit
himself, for the turn things had taken. He had winged the shaft
that was draining his life, or at least his livelihood. He had
helped to bring on a native war that had expedited matters. He
had helped to wind it up in a very few months.

So now the abomination of civilization, as he deemed it, was set
up in high places of the land. It was increasingly hard for him
to be a law to himself anywhere within the land's limits. He had
retired further and further yet again into the fastnesses of the
hill-country. Yet civilization had a graceless way of looking him
up.

He was just by the Portuguese border when I visited him. I knew
him of old, and I wanted him to let his eldest son come to
school. He had told me a year ago to ask again.

I went through a frowning gorge of rocks to the part-deserted
kraal, and found him sitting at his beer with three native
courtiers. He was a tall West-countryman, with a ragged dark
beard. His khaki was badly stained, and his hair was poking
through his hat. He spoke the tongue of this southern country
most volubly. He also reinforced it with ne'er-do-well words from
Europe that did her no particular credit. Just as I came up a
quarrel was in full swing. A free fight followed. Carrot broke a
black earthen pot over the head of one of those three. Out came
his swarthy wife that he had paid many cattle for, with his baby
in a goat-skin at her back; also his other children, aged about
eight, six, five, and four.

There was much confused crying and protesting. But Carrot
dominated the scene in the end. The courtiers retired crying
'Shame!' and under protest. The most truculent of them was
bleeding freely from his broken head. I followed him to their
hamlet far down among the rocks and bandaged him. I camped
outside the Carrot homestead that night and the next day, and
learned something of the family's way of life.

Carrot was shooting big buck sable and roan without a license, I
gathered. He was trading cattle for most of the venison that he
amassed. He had by now a goodly herd feeding in a green vlei near
the border. By and by he would sell them, he thought, and set
himself up in a wayside public-house. That was to say, if an
ungrateful Government could be squared somehow. He chuckled at my
protests. He had many tales in the speech of North Devon to tell
me.

Many of them concerned the police, and were not altogether
unkindly, though disparaging. To Carrot, who could both ride and
find his way about the veld, the police seemed often deficient as
pathfinders and horsemen. The story he told about the five
European members of a police camp delighted me. One had got lost.
He who went out to look for him had got lost also. There was an
epidemic or something of the sort just then among the native
police, who, as a rule, piloted the troopers about and did
nurses' work at need. One after another of the remaining three
Europeans was engulfed in this exhaustive search. Then a grass
fire effaced the empty police camp. Carrot ended with a
speculation as to whether they were still looking for one another
or whether they had begun to miss their camp yet.

He was good in a feudal way, I gathered a severely feudal way to
his retainers. He threw pots but seldom. His eldest child he
seemed to worship in some sort of pagan fashion of his own.

The boy might have sat for a child Dionysos with his leopard-skin,
and his arm of golden copper thrown about his father's pot of
beer; black and big that pot should be painted.

No, his father wouldn't let him come away with me; at least, not
this year. He graciously hesitated twice or thrice. But he ended
with the same proposal each time a drink and a postponement of
decision. I wanted neither. I would not go on wasting my days on
postponements, and I meant to start with dawn on the second
morning. But at sunset the night before there had been a
surprise.

Just as the sun went down a strange native appeared in hot haste
and told a tale.

Two ma-Johnnies were coming down the wagon road with five or six,
native police and camp-followers. The Government was looking up
Carrot once again. He had had two pots of beer that afternoon, or
most of them, and was not quite himself, otherwise he might have
gone his way at his ease.

But as it was, a ghastly row woke the echoes, what with the
children crying, and the father singing and swearing, and the
mother scolding, as they tied up their bundles. Carrot kept
untying his in good humor, and searching for patent medicines and
a safety razor that could not be found. Then after he had started
he came back at least twice to give me a parting word. Meanwhile
the western glow began to be rivaled by an eastern glow. The moon
was brimming over the horizon. The Philistines of civilization
were almost riding into the kraal before Carrot had really gone.
My Adullamite friend was slow indeed with his farewells. Would he
ever be through with them? 'Good-bye!' he said. He was enjoying
the emergency hugely now that he was sobered. 'You'd better walk
down the road and meet 'em. Do remind 'em not to lose their mules
this time. No, I won't worry you to see me off. They might ask
questions. You must honor and obey the King and those who are set
in authority. But you won't want to give me away exactly. So
good-bye till next time!'

A hundred yards from Carrot's dwelling I met Troopers 1 and 2
Trooper No. I dusty and disheveled and livid with fever a lanky,
dark man; Trooper No. 2 trim and ruddy. The former could hardly
sit his mule as he trotted up to me. 'Have you seen Carrot?' he
asked in a sort of groan. I said 'Good evening,' and passed on.
Promptly he gasped to two native police to bring me along, and
went his way forward to explore the ruinous kraal. He felt
doubtful whether I was or was not Carrot, he told me afterwards.
He went for the three Carrot huts at once and began to search
them. There were no finds there. Then he questioned me sharply.
Two of his black watch knew me by sight, and I was soon set free
to go my ways. Then he gave clear decisive orders to No. 2 to
ride for all he was worth to the drift. 'The river's the border,'
he said; 'it's his old game to dodge across it. If he's taken his
kids with him he can't cross anywhere. It's a big river, and
there's only the one drift so far as I know. Go for the drift,
man, and we'll have him yet!'

So Trooper No. 2, with the glory-thirst upon him, bustled off
with one black boy and four black men in red and blue.

After he was safely out of the way Trooper No. I fainted. It had
been hard for him to keep going so long as he had. I spread a
blanket for him and made him a pillow. He was not long in coming
round. Meanwhile the great moon had climbed a little. The light
of the sunset was losing its brilliance as hers grew splendid.

The sound of two shots came sharply to us. A minute or so after
No. 2's mule was galloping wildly past us through rocks and
ruins. A native trooper rushed for it, but missed its bridle.
Soon after that Trooper No. 2 galloped up on his feet. I should
judge from the pace he showed that he was a real sprinter. I had
noted him before as a trim little man and ruddy, and a sort of
personification of self-respect. Now he was blue and demoralized.

'Have you caught my mule?' he panted anxiously.

'Have you stopped our man?' Trooper No. 1 asked him coldly, his
face set very hard.

'There's a lion in the way,' gasped Trooper No. 2, quoting
Scripture, whether he knew it or not. 'I got off my mule, I fired
two shots. Then my mule bolted.'

'And you bolted,' said No. 1 with a sneer. He took no further
notice of him, but called the Black Watch corporal and gave him
his orders. 'Take three men,' he said. 'Get to the drift. Run for
your lives. Leave the path and go through the bush if there's
really a lion.' The four Black Watch were off almost as soon as
he had spoken.

Trooper No. 2 began to explain matters at length to his senior.
But the latter did not suffer him at all gladly. Then it was that
I started down the drift road, asking No. 2's boy if he would
show me the place where they had seen the lion. I asked him if he
thought it was wounded. He answered me disdainfully. He showed me
how Trooper No. 2 shot the panic way the way to heaven.

Then we came in sight of the lion standing, haloed by the disc of
the moon. As I have told you, I tried to give No. 2 a chance to
wipe out his stain. I went back to fetch him; he was taking
things hardly, doubtless, and I ought to try and do him a good
turn. He came, but the lion did not stand still to await him. Why
was I so glad he escaped? I don't think it was only because I was
afraid. Yet glad I was. So we gave him up, and tramped back to
the kraal.

Soon after we were back one of the pursuers returned. He had seen
Carrot splash through the drift. He took his time and went at it
leisurely, I gathered, with his piccanin astride upon his
shoulders. On the other side a crowd of natives had received him
in triumph. They jeered at the police and shook their spears and
knobkerries. Carrot was safely across the border and among his
friends.

'It's a lost trip,' said No. 1, and looked No. 2 up and down, as
we sat by the camp fire. No. 2 looked injured and ashamed at one
and the same time. He was not a hero on principle, I should
think, and he had not risen to this occasion. Some people seem to
hold that Britishers are heroes on principle all along our
frontiers, and rise to all occasions. I can testify that this
is not the truth, for I know my own deficiencies. As to No. 2,
there is some sort of mitigating explanation of his conduct to
be yet recounted. But no, even when I have allowed for this,
I am not disposed to write him down heroically efficient or
journalistically British not on that night at least. Just as
a Colenso now and then slips into our big campaigns, so the
monotony of our frontier triumphs gets diversified, I fear, and
not so very seldom. No. 2. is by no means the only man of the
diversifying type I seem to have met. I refuse to admire No. 2 as
he was that night, though I would excuse him.

For the hero of that night, let us look away from him. What a
splendid night it was in the late autumn in the very end of May!
Stars seemed to fall in profusion. But the steady ranks that were
left showed no thinning to my dazzled eyes. I had much time to
watch them, I remember.

Ours was a gloomy camp among the ruins under the stars. One
trooper was convalescent and irritable as well as disappointed.
The other was shaken and sulky with little to say. There were
great pauses in the talk. I thought how I congratulated Carrot,
the cheerful and irresponsible, on his escape. Assuredly his
would-be captors would have seemed to him dull dogs. Of course he
would have thoroughly deserved ordinary boredom. But theirs was
like a London fog. So it fell about that I had much time to give
heed to the Black Watch as they chattered over their fire hard
by. One was telling tales of lions, tales where the terror was
glamorous and ghostly. A hint of a surmise floated to me. It
recalled a type of mediaeval tale that had once entranced me. But
I said nothing to those young white men beside me whose frowning
faces were a study, and a pitiful one. I was intensely sorry for
them both. I just smoked my pipe, and made ready to go to bed
betimes. I was soon asleep, to dream of holy water and silver
bullets and to wake and rise as the cock was crowing (for the
second cock-crow I suppose) away down the hillside; I said an
added prayer of eager devotion, feeling myself to be a postulant
in great need of its answer. I made for the rock of vantage. I
found the lion's spoor in the growing light, and followed it
slowly and timorously into the bush and beyond. There had been a
shower yesterday about noon, and it was easy enough to follow it.
It led down and then up again. I guessed it might be leading me
to Carrot's huts and the troopers once more. But, no, it dipped
far down to that other group of huts wedged amongst the rocks,
where Carrot's boon comrades lived, where I had bandaged the hurt
head, where I had heard but just now the cock crowing. Two huts I
could see to be empty. It did not lead to either of these. It led
straight to the other wherein the embers of a fire shone red.
There was no lion within. I looked for the spoor of the lion's
exit. There was none.

The retainer who had had his head broken by Carrot lay curled in
his blanket by the fire. He was sleeping an exhausted man's
sleep. It was hard work waking him. At last he sat up, a squat
patriarch with grizzled bushy beard and shrewd watchful eyes. He
was huddled in a queer parti-colored blanket purple and brown and
orange and grey. I tried to testify to him with zeal against
blackness of witchcraft. I told him with zest of the Light. He
looked blank enough. Afterwards I spoke of Carrot's escape. His
eyes underwent a change as I watched. The Light which lighteth
every man that cometh into the world, showed in them, as it
seemed to me. He was genuinely glad that his baas was out of the
wood. So clear an affection for the man whose mark he was wearing
touched me. I half emptied my tobacco bag into his hand ere I
said Good-bye in the roaring south-easter, under the saffron
streamered dawn.

I surmised that Carrot owed his escape largely to a real hero
ready to face fire at need, whom we white men had not recognized.

A new feeling of pity for Trooper No. 2 took me. Haply he had
miscalculated things as he pursued his unsanctified way. Haply he
a modern, had been handicapped from his lack of equipment, lack
of such discarded kit as I had dreamed about. Quite conceivably
he had wrestled last night, not only against flesh and blood, but
against principalities and powers unknown.



AS TREES WALKING



It was in the spring of last year that I started for a holiday
journey towards some ruins about a hundred miles away. I had
suffered much in the cold weather from fever and broken rest, so
I longed to renew my strength before the heats of summer should
be fully come.

I started on a bright and calm September morning by the main
southward track, hoping to reach a friend's Mission Station on
the eve of the third day.

I reached it then, but I had provoked my enemies by walking in
the chilly hours, and walking to weariness. I was feverish and
spent ere I reached Greenwood's Mission House.

It stood under a towering granite kopje some ten miles only from
the ruins. I had never entered it before. When I last visited
Greenwood, quite two years ago, he had been working on a town
station. He was a dark, lean, rather ascetic-looking person, not
very talkative. I remembered the days when I had fought shy of
him; we had seemed to disagree on so many subjects, and he had
seemed to resent disagreement so intensely. But he had written me
two or three most friendly letters of late, and that nigh?, when
I came to his door so sick and sorry, he seemed to be kindness
itself. I soon revived by his fireside, ate my supper, and smoked
and talked with him to my great content. We were speaking about
roughing it, and told many camp-fire and roadside tales. As I
told and listened, I seemed to be my old self of a year ago once
more, tough and dogged, and rather sinfully contemptuous of
mosquitoes and malaria. Yet I had but a poor night after all, and
the yawning and shuddering chills came on with vigor at Church in
the early morning. I went back to my blankets after an aguish
breakfast, and Greenwood dosed me and told me to go to sleep. He
spoke with authority, and I obeyed. I did not wake up till the
early afternoon. I seemed to have lost much weight in those last
steaming hours, and also, to my joy, the fever.

'I hope I'll sleep well to-night and get an early start to-morrow
after all,' I said to Greenwood. He looked at me rather intently
with his resolute grey eyes.

'The fever is gone for the time,' he said, 'but I don't like the
look of your eyes at all. If I were you, I'd change your room
to-night and sleep in the Hospital.'

'Where's that?' I asked.

'Oh, not very far; half a mile at most. It's Saint Lucy's little
hospice on the hill there across the valley.'

Afterwards, when I went out and sat on the sunny stoep with him,
he showed me the place. I could see a grove of trees standing up
on a near ridge and two or three thatched buildings in among
them; yes, and a white cross surmounting one of these.

'It looks lonely over there,' I pleaded.

'Oh, I'll come with you,' he said. 'I want to tell you the story
of the place before we blow our candle out; it may help the
cure.' So when sundown was near, he and three of his native
retainers started with me for the Hospice of Saint Lucy, carrying
goodly packs every one. I was rather dubious about that
expedition.

'I hope it's warm there,' grumbled I to myself. 'If Greenwood's
as strong as a horse, I am not so just now. I wish he'd camp at
home in peace.'

However, I tried to look interested as they made ready for us to
go and delighted, as we started away.

Just as we went across the narrow valley the sun went down behind
St. Lucy's hill, and bells or gongs answered one another from
either side.

'So you have a bell up there at the Hospital,' I said.

'There's more than you expect to see at the Hospital,' said
Greenwood mysteriously.

So there was. It wasn't a Hospital at all in our wonted modern
sense, but a rather ornate round Church. Outside, it was plain
enough, but within it gave me a sense of studied charm and even
costliness. No drug-covered or dispenser's table was admitted
within its doors, though both were to be found in one of its
neighbor buildings. The main building housed aids to recovery,
but they were of another type. Over the Altar was a life-sized
picture of Saint Lucy, golden-haired and blue grey-eyed, with
great splendor of shapeliness and stature, and real English
apple-blossom cheeks. She came along a rocky path through an
African forest; she was smiling, and had a far-shining lantern in
her hand. You could single out the trees in the forest, there was
the crimson-flowered tree yet leafless, and the wild fig-tree in
full leaf and cluster, and the wild orange-tree; the wild acacias
and the cactus trees were growing among the stones above. Far off
in the distance, at the back of the picture, there were dim
cliffs and pale sands and waves breaking in the bright star-light.

The time was meant to be cock-crow. At least it seemed so, for a
red cock was perched on a tree-pole in the foreground of the
picture, crowing with a will. In the sky were many stars. The
quarter over the sea whence the Saint came was of excelling
brightness. There the morning star hung in a haze of glory.

The Altar itself was of granite slabs and masses. Before it burnt
a purple-glass lamp, hung by chains of native smithy-work, rather
incongruously heavy, I thought. But who was I to cavil at this
jewel of a shrine in our wilderness?

'Where are we to sleep?' I asked.

'Here, before the Altar,' said Greenwood solemnly.

Even as he spoke his house-boy came in with hushed feet, and
began to spread out our rush mats and many-colored blankets. Then
we went into the dispensary hut, and had our supper and many
pipes together, while the native boys chatted and chewed roasted
monkey-nuts in the hut beside us. I felt very hungry and happy
and healthy generally that night, and we sat at our table long,
and then smoked far into the hours of darkness. But, though he
told me many tales, Greenwood would not tell me the tale of the
place, however much I begged him to do so. That was kept for the
Shrine itself. That was not as other tales.

We kept up a good fire, for the night was a cold one.

The talk turned on pilgrimages at last; we spoke of many Shrines,
of old-time ones and of others in the heyday of their youth
still. Greenwood talked well on that subject. Was the aura of his
own Saint in the air of that dispensary? He talked with a
passionate faith about more than one Shrine, that left me almost
breathless.

Then we argued about the Pilgrims' Way in Kent, as to where it
was that most pilgrims forded the Medway, and about certain
homely Kentish legends.

Suddenly he rose and went to the door. He looked out on the
mighty vista of sable earth and spangled sky.

'The moon is just going down and you ought to be sleeping,' he
said. 'And remember there is my tale still to tell.'

So we went to the Church. We had one candle between us there.
Moreover, the purple lamp was burning, its quaint cup of wire-gauze
averted doom from many self-immolant flies. We knelt beneath it,
and he said the Prayers of the Shrine, then our own prayers
followed then he began to tell:

'I was coming back from England twenty months ago and I chose to
come by the East Coast. It is a beautiful way to come. I saw
Zanzibar, where there are many hopes and memories. I slept two
nights far out of the city there, in a grove of palm trees. Then
the boat came back from the mainland and I went aboard again.

'We started for a four days' voyage or so, to Beira. She came
aboard at Zanzibar, I think. Some one told me this, when I asked
about her afterwards. But I was never really conscious of her
presence till the second night of our voyaging. Then we met at a
Concert in the Third Class, that I had strolled down the deck to
patronize. To my shame I was traveling second, while she was in
the crowded family of the third. I went and spoke to her.

'A child had had a bad fall from some steps, and she was
mothering him. It was a lovely and pleasant thing to see how she
did it.

'He should wake up without much pain,' she said, with a smile, at
last. She handed the boy to his own admiring mother. Then she
turned to me, for I had been asking after him.

'She began to talk about our common work. "I want to climb on a
new boat at Chinde, and go the way of the Lakes," she said.

'Are you going to teach?' I asked.

'"I hope I may teach at whiles," she said, "But I am sent first
of all to heal."

'She told me about her hopes for her work.

'"They tell me I have healing hands," she said. "I have a seed-grain of
faith, I think, and that is the secret of them."

'I saw her only for a few moments. I will try to tell you or
rather to show you what she looked like, when I have ended my
story. She enlightened me not a little. I saw how lame a thing my
own journey was my leisurely dawdling back to my work. This girl
came as it were on wings, with power in her heart and will, that
would take no denial but God's. Her few words as we walked up and
down the well-deck were words that burnt and shone in the cold
dark. I am talking about things as I saw them just then. As a
matter of fact, I believe it was a blazing night with a moon at
the full, and stars dropping over one another. I remember that I
slept on deck afterwards. I had a sort of Midsummer South African
Christmas picnic feeling (up till cock-crow, when the fever that
had dogged me that month came again). It was really a consummate
night. But as she talked, she made it seem cold and dark, her
words were so radiantly kind.

'T think we talked about Saint Vincent of Paris mostly, and of
men that had carried in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus;
and of the imitation of Jesus in India and Africa. Then she said
"Good night!" and was gone.

'Next day that return of fever blurred my new visions of the
Light. Yet I was to see her again. An hour before we came off
Chinde, she asked leave to come up on to our second-class deck
and to bid me "Good-bye."

'I was lying in a deck-chair, my hat tilted over my eyes, under
the morning sun. She was suddenly beside me and speaking to me.
She gave me a watchword out of that confident ending of Saint
Mark, to which, some people, who have their misgivings, attach so
little credit. It was this, "They shall lay hands on the sick and
they shall recover." Then she prayed for me, lifting up her
healing hands. And she held out to me a tiny flask that I might
anneal myself, "For that is your own office," she said.

'My head had defied sleep, but now sleep came apace. It seemed to
me it came breathing about me with the light gusts of wind. I
slept, nor did I know when she said "Good-bye."

'When I awoke the sun was westering. Some passengers had
trans-shipped for Chinde four hours or more ago, a man told me.
She was gone, and I was well. No, not well in one way, but mending.
That is all or almost all of my tale.'

He had told it reverently. Towards the end of the telling, he
himself seemed to wander as he told.

'What was she like?' I asked after a silence.

'She was much like that picture of Saint Lucy,' he said.

'I found a man in the third class, who had taken a really fine
photo of her, not a little snapshot. I had helped him with a
sketch of the voyage he was writing for some magazine, and he was
pleased enough to print me another copy. I sent it home that
month. A friend painted me that panel. I suggested that the name
of the Saint should be Lucy, it was on Saint Lucy's day she had
said "Good-bye." The picture came a day or two before this
Midsummer. He has done wondrously well, I think, if you remember
that he never saw her.'

'How do you know that he never saw her?' I asked.

'Yes, you may well say that,' he said. 'I sometimes think that he
had seen her, even as I. He has painted something of her light
and spirit. Look how she threads' that forest by night!' He held
the candle near, then he pulled it away.

'Forgive me! How can you see her duly by this light? You must
have a real session before her in the morning.'

I awoke early, but not too early, as it seemed to me. Dawn was
growing very bright, and spring seemed to be in the air that came
from the doorway. I sprang up and looked out. Light that was
already almost flame kindled the east. The leaves of the grove
about me had their spring colors on. There was quite enough
illumination to show how brilliant and tender they were ruddy and
green and mauve, and bronze that was almost gold. Day was coming
fast and so was Spring. I turned within and lit the candles on
the Altar. The purple lamp was burning low. I knelt down, and saw
Dawn and Spring, aye, and Summer too, in that picture. Eastern
light was streaming from that lantern Saint Lucy held. It was of
coral and silver set with pearls. Eastern light was in her happy
face. You could see even in that cock-crow dusk in the forest,
how the fig-tree and all the trees were stirring for Spring and
Summer. I took note now that Saint Lucy's wreath was of orchard
leaves and blossoms. I lifted up my thanksgiving there and then,
as the first sunbeams shone about me, for the rest and the light
that I had found, found at last for good as I hope in sultry and
weary Africa.

Soon we were kneeling at the morning Sacrifice, then we went out
and broke our fast in the sunshine, sitting on rocks by the wood
fire. How hungry I was in that hill's pure air!

When he had done, Greenwood showed me some of the workings of the
Shrine. A young mother, filleted and stately, brought her baby to
him. Almost naked but roped with beads, the boy hung in the pied
sheep-skin at her back. Greenwood folded a handkerchief that he
had brought from the Altar about his dusky head. It was of faded
blue and silver. Then he said prayers to the Father and to
Christ, and again to both of them, for the prayers of Saint Lucy
and that other.

'It is not good to drug children so young, is it? He asked the
question as though defending himself.

'I think this may soothe him better than a powder.'

He told me how he had found that kerchief wrapped about his own
head on a certain sunny day when he lay sick aboard ship. 'It was
hers,' he said, 'handkerchiefs and aprons are Bible remedies.'

Other pilgrims or patients came to him after that mother with her
child. He persuaded three or four of them to carry letters to the
doctor in the town. But he prayed for these too, and signed them
with oil from the Shrine lamp, ere he trusted them to his
friend's salves or surgery. By and by came three young men with a
boy. He was stricken and mad, they said. He had come home from
work in a distant town last month. Now he would stay speechless
for hours. He would wander far by day, and brood over the fire by
night.

'Let him stay if he will,' Greenwood said. 'Let him wait in peace
here, and eat and sleep his fill, if he so desires. If he shall
sleep in the Holy Place a few nights, who can say what wonder
Christ may do?'

The boy seemed to be an old friend of his, and stayed quietly by
him. His companions started off joyously down the hill, one of
them playing on the marimba. 'This is Merrie England come again,'
said I. 'Did not an unburnt Lollard upbraid the bagpipe din or
other music of pilgrims long ago? Wasn't that "lewd losel" told
by the Kentish Archbishop how useful such music might be say if a
pilgrim struck his toe on a stone?'

'There are many pilgrims at this Shrine,' said Greenwood smiling.
'I am glad about it. I think she would be glad if she knew.'

'Where is she?' I asked. 'Doesn't she know?'

'I have tried hard to track her,' he said. 'Not a trace have I
found. I have asked our missions, I have asked the White Fathers.
I have asked Africans and Scots and Dutch and Portuguese. But she
has gone on her way out of sight.'

'She has done some work here,' I said.

'Yes,' he said, 'Angel or Saint, Faith Healer or Revenante from
Paradise, she has worked wonders here. Do you know, there is a
simple native cure I have ever so much faith in? It comes from
the root of a tree. Have not some men and women the same sort of
virtue in their wills and hands that trees have in their roots? I
seem to see men and women such as Father John of Kronstadt and
this my Saint Lucy of the Ship even as trees walking.

The outstanding virtue of my patroness was surely in her blossom,
and in the fruit that blossom can yet bring forth. "As the apple-tree among
the trees of the wood" I found her. I sat down under her shadow for
those moments of time. And now, and all my days of grace, will her fruit
be sweet to my taste.'



THE BLACK DEATH



This is a story of a voyage home. The boat was one of the finest
on the line and we were not overcrowded. We had wonderful weather
that trip, brilliant sunshine relieved by a fresh little breeze
that kept its place, doing its duty without taking too much upon
itself, or making itself obnoxious. In the third-class we were
quiet on the whole, and what is called well-behaved, though
neither with millennial serenity nor millennial sobriety.

A red-cheeked gentleman took a red-cheeked married lady and her
child under his vigilant protection. Two or three Rhodesians and
Jo'burgers enriched the bar with faithful fondness. Cards and
sweeps on the run of the boat and the selling of sweep-tickets
these all stimulated the circulation of savings. Hues of language
vied with hues of sunset not seldom of an eventide.

Life was not so very thrilling on that voyage, the treading of
'border-land dim 'twixt vice and virtue' is apt to be rather a
dull business.

There was no such incident as that which stirred us on another
voyage the taking of a carving knife to the purser by a drunkard.
On the other hand there was no unusual battle-noise of spiritual
combat such as may have quickened the pulses of one or two of the
boats the year of the English Mission.

We were middling, and dull at that, on the "Sluys Castle," till
we reached Madeira. Then the description I have given of our
voyage ceases to apply. The two or three days after that were
exciting enough to one or two passengers at any rate.

James Carraway had come down from Kimberley, he told me. He
was a spare, slight man, with a red moustache. He sought me
occasionally of an eventide, and confided to me views of life
in general, and of some of his fellow-passengers in particular.
I remember one night especially, when the Southern Cross
was in full view and the water about the keel splotched with
phosphorescence. Carraway had a big grievance that night. He
commented acridly on a colored woman that I had espied on board.
She was not very easily visible herself, but one or two faintly
colored children played often about the deck, and she herself
might now and then be seen nursing a baby. I had seen her on a
bench sometimes when I had gone to the library to change a book.
I had seen her more rarely in the sunshine on deck, nursing the
aforesaid baby.

'One man's brought a Kaffir wife on board,' growled Carraway.

I said, 'I thought she might be a nurse.'

'No, she's his wife,' contended Carraway. 'It's cheek of him
bringing her on board with the third-class passengers.'

I said, 'Which is her husband?'

'He's been pointed out to me,' he said. 'The other white men seem
rather to avoid him. I don't know what your opinion on this point
may be,' he said. 'I consider that a man who marries a Kaffir
sinks to her status.'

I said nothing. He did not like my silence much, I gathered. He
was not so very cordial afterwards. He was a man with many
grievances Carraway.

When we were drawing close to Madeira, two nights before, on the
Sunday, Carraway touched the subject again.

The parson had preached incidentally on the advisability of being
white--white all round. I thought he played to his gallery a bit,
in what he said.

'An excellent sermon,' said Carraway. 'Did you hear how he got at
that josser with the Kaffir wife? That parson's a white man.'

I said nothing.

'What God hath divided let no man unite,' said Carraway,
improving the occasion. 'I don't uphold Kaffirs. The white man
must always be top dog,' etc., etc.

Carraway grew greasily fluent on rather well-worn lines. I smoked
my pipe and made no comment. By-and-bye he tired of his
monologue.

He gave me no further confidences till the night after we left
Madeira.

Then he came to me suddenly about eleven o'clock as I stood on
the well-deck, smoking a pipe before turning in.

'Come and have a walk,' he said, in a breathless sort of way.

We climbed some steps and paced the upper deck towards the
wheel-house. There were few electric lights burning now. After
a turn or two he drew up under one of them, and looked round to
see whether anyone listened.

'Don't give me away for God's sake,' he said. He held up a hand
towards the light pathetically. 'It's showing,' he said. 'God
knows why. God knows what I've done to bring it.'

I said nothing, but looked at him and considered him carefully.
He certainly did not seem to be drunk.

Then I examined the hand he gave me.

'I don't see anything particular,' I said. 'What's wrong?'

'Good Lord! The nails.'

But the nails looked to me pink and healthy.

'Tell me,' I said, 'What you think's wrong.'

Yet he could not tell me that night. He tried to tell me. He was
just like a little boy in most awful trepidation, trying to
confess some big transgression. He gasped and spluttered, but he
never got it out that night. I couldn't make head nor tail of
what he said. After he was gone to bed it is true I put two and
two together and guessed something. But I was fairly puzzled at
the time.

'You're a bit upset to-night,' I said. 'You're not quite
yourself, it's the sea I suppose, or something. Come to bed and
get a good night.' His teeth chattered as he came down the
ladder. I got him down to his cabin.

'Thanks!' he said. 'Good night! I may come all right in the
morning. Anyhow I'll have a bath and try.'

He said it so naively that I could not help laughing.

'Yes, have a sea-water-bath, a jolly good idea,' I said. 'You'll
have to be up early. There's only one and there's a run on it
before breakfast. Goodnight!'

I saw him again in the morning outside the bathroom. He came out
in his pink-and-white pyjamas; the pink was aggressive and fought
with the tint of his moustache. He looked very blue and wretched.

'Well,' I asked, 'Have you slept it off whatever it was?'

'No,' he said, 'let me tell you about it.' He began to gasp and
splutter.

Just then another postulant came up, making for the bath-room
door.

'Afterwards!' I said, 'After breakfast.' And I vanished into the
bath-room. It was probably Carraway, I thought, that had left a
little collection of soaps in that bath-room. He had brought a
bucket of fresh water with him apparently to give them a fair
trial. There was yellow soap, a pumice stone, and carbolic soap,
and scented soap. 'I'll keep them for him,' I thought. 'Somebody
may jump them if I leave them here. I wonder why in the world
he's so distrait.' I had my suspicions as to the reason, and I
laughed softly to myself.

After breakfast he invited me back to the bathroom; there was no
run on it then.

'It's quiet,' he said. Then after many gasps and splutters he
enlightened me. His nails were turning color, he told me.

'Anyone would think I had Kaffir blood in me,' he said.

Also his skin was giving him grave cause for solicitude. I did
not resist the temptation to take him rather seriously. I
administered philosophic consolation. I reminded him of Dumas and
other serviceable colored people. I rather enjoyed his misery;
poetic justice seemed to me to need some satisfaction. He, the
negrophobe, who was so ultra-keen on drawing the line was now
enjoying imaginative experiences on the far side of it.

'It seems then,' I remarked, 'That you are now a person of
color.'

He nearly fainted. He did not swear. He seemed to have lost all
his old truculence. He began to whimper like a child.

'After all, I never shared your prejudices.' I said. 'Cheer up,
old man, I won't drop you like a hot potato even if you have a
touch of the tar brush.'

He cried as if his heart would break. I saw I had gone too far.
If was like dancing on a trodden worm.

'Carraway,' I said, 'It's a pure delusion. Your nails are all
right, and so's your skin. You're dreaming, man. You've got
nerves or indigestion, or something. It's something inside you
that's wrong. There's nothing outside for anyone to see.'

His eyes gleamed. He shook my hand feebly. Then he held up his
own hand to the light.

'It's there,' he said wearily, after a while. 'You want to be
kind, but you can't make black white. That's what I've always
said. It's the Will of God, and there's nothing to gain by
fighting it. Black will be black, and white will be white till
crack of doom.'

I told him sternly that I was going to fetch the doctor to him.
He sprang at me and gripped my arm.

'I trusted you,' he said. 'I needn't have told you. You
promised.'

So I had like a simpleton.

'Only give me two days,' he said, 'then I'll go to the doctor
myself, if nothing works in all that time.'

So I said I would respect my promise loyally for those two days.

'I only told you,' he said, 'because my head was splitting with
keeping it in. It's awful to me. I thought you were a negrophile
and wouldn't think so much of it as other fellows. But for God's
sake don't give me away to them. There's lots of things to try
yet. By the way, ask that parson to pray for one afflicted and
distressed in mind, body, and estate.'

He did try many sorts of things, poor fellow. He was in and out
of that bath-room a good share of both days. He also tried drugs
and patent medicines. I saw his cabin littered with them. He
would sneak into meals those two days when people had almost
finished, and gobble his food furtively.

I caught him once or twice smoking his pipe in the bath-room or
the bath-room passage. He would not venture amid the crowd on
deck. Only when many of the passengers were in bed would he come
up with me, and take my arm and walk up and down. That was on the
Wednesday night.

Wednesday night came, then Thursday morning. Thursday forenoon
was long, and Thursday afternoon longer.

At last the sun was low, and I began to count the hours to the
time when I might consult the doctor.

I secured an interview with Carraway in the bathroom soon after
sunset.

'Any better?' I asked for about the twentieth time.

He shook his head dejectedly.

'All right. We must go to the doctor to-morrow morning. But, O
Carraway, do go to him to-night, don't be afraid. It's only
imagination. Do go.'

'I'll see,' he said in a dazed, dreary sort of way, 'I'll see,
but I want to play the last card I have in my hand before I go.
It's a trump card perhaps.'

'On my honor,' I said, 'You're tormenting yourself for nothing.
You're as white as ever you were.'

Then I said 'Good-night.' I stopped for a moment outside the
door, and heard him begin splashing and scrubbing. The thing was
getting on my own nerves.

I went off up on deck, and smoked hard, then I read, and wrote
letters, and smoked again, and went to bed very late. I had
steered clear of the bathroom and all Carraway's haunts so far as
I could. Yes, and I had gone over to the second class, and I had
asked the parson to do as he wanted. I had asked him the day
before. Now I asked him over again.

The steward handed me a letter when he brought me my coffee in
the morning. I opened it and read:

DEAR SIR, Perhaps my negrophoby is wrong. Anyhow, it's real to
me. I had and have it, and see no way to get rid of it properly
here on earth. Now God has touched me, me the negrophobe, and
colored me. And to me the thing seems very hard to bear.
Therefore I am trying the sea to-night.

'In the bath-room there never seemed to be enough water. I want
to try a bath with plenty of water. But I am afraid it may be
with me as it would have been with Macbeth or Lady Macbeth. Those
red hands of murder could not be washed white by the ocean, they
could only "the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green
one red." What if I cannot be decolorized by any sea? What if my
flesh only pollutes the sea, when I plunge, and makes all black?
God help me!!! You are a negrophile and don't half understand.

'Yours truly,

'J. CARRAWAY.'

I questioned the steward. He had found the letter in my place at
table.

Sure enough there was a third-class passenger missing. I suppose
Carraway had slipped off quietly in the moonlight to try his
desperate experiment. It was a cruel business his monomania.

If I had broken my promise and called the doctor earlier, could
he have been cured? Or would he have lingered in an asylum
shuddering over the fictitious glooming of his nails and skin,
shaking in a long ague of negrophoby.

Anyhow, I'm sorry I didn't do more for him, didn't walk him round
the deck the last night at least, and try my best to cheer him.
Yes, I blame myself badly for not doing that.

May God who allowed his delusion pardon that last maneuver of
his! I do not think Carraway had any clear wish to take his own
life.

I can imagine the scene so convincingly Carraway pausing,
hesitating, then plunging into the moon-blanched water from the
dizzy height above, eager to find which the multitudinous seas
would do would they change his imagined color, or would they
suddenly darken, matching in their tints his own discoloration?



AN OLD-WORLD SCRUPLE



'If you come back, which Heaven ordain, you'll be all the more
use to the priesthood,' the Superintendent of Missions said. 'Go
and serve with our fearless and faithful, approach as an acolyte
the altar of freedom. Supposing you don't see your way to go, I
would remind you of a certain passage about "Curse ye Meroz!" I
need not insult your knowledge of the Scriptures by finishing my
quotation.'

Osborne listened respectfully, but his eyes were looking far
away, with dreams of the veld in them.

The Superintendent's preaching of a sort of Christian Jehad
appealed to him infinitesimally.

There was a silence. He knocked his pipe out, and offered the
Superintendent a sundowner.

'I'm glad to have had your opinion,' he said. 'I take it you
don't want me just now as a candidate for ordination?'

The Superintendent flushed and hesitated.

'You mustn't put it like that,' he said almost irritably. 'The
decision rests with you, of course. Of course we want men now and
want them badly. Yet I wouldn't press my recruiting needs just
now. It doesn't seem to me the right time to do so. Afterwards. . . . '

He gulped and spluttered as the big words rushed so fast to his
lips.

He was enlarging on the big days for God's priesthood, when the
war, please God, should be over. Big days, that is to say, if the
only sort of fit and proper issue should be reached, as doubtless
it would be before long.

'You mean a complete knock-out for the other side?' his hearer
interpolated crudely.

'I mean a supreme vindication of our holy cause,' amended the
Superintendent with conviction.

Then they changed the subject.

Afterwards, when they smoked late on the lamp-lit stoep,
conversation was apt to flag a little. The layman's eyes would
grow abstracted in the intervals of his ceremonious hospitality.
The Superintendent watched his face intently once or twice. The
man was a mystery to him. He had an uneasy sense that he had not
taken his measure, and had been responsible for some sort of a
misfit more than once in conversation. Why was he not more like
ordinary people? Probably because he had lived a lonely life on
the veld much too long. The Superintendent was conscious of a
profound distrust of the untamed veld, its influence and its
inhabitants. Yet his natural kindliness, reinforced assuredly by
his grace of orders and Christian sense of duty, strove quite
heroically against that distrust.

David Osborne walked over to see me next week, but he did not
find me at home; I was camping with a native teacher's wagon some
twenty miles away.

He slept at my place, and came on after me. A thirty miles' tramp
or so it meant to overtake me, but he did not shrink from it. He
wanted to think out things, and he liked foot-slogging on a big
scale as a stimulus to thought. I was on a high ledge above the
windings of the Sawi River when he found me a ledge with a great
view of the Wedza hills. The sun was going down then, and their
blue was just dying into purple. I got him some tea, and he drank
and ate like a veldsman one who had broken his journey but little
since he broke his morning fast. He told me the Superintendent's
point of view, which I have already chronicled. 'It provides a
certain amount of excuse,' Osborne said, 'for what I want to do.
That's about all I can say for it.'

'Then you want to go?' I asked.

'I want a change,' he said, 'and adventures and all that. As to
any war's being a holy war, that's Greek to me.' I smiled. I
understood what he meant.

I had only just come back from a limited experience of war as a
non-combatant. 'Why don't you say outright what you think?' he
pressed me. 'The Superintendent does do that apparently, I'll say
that much for him. Isn't Saint Telemachus still your bright
particular star of Christian sainthood in wartime? And isn't
Tolstoy still in your eyes a sort of forlorn hope the most
hopeful of modern war-time philosophers? Or have you changed all
that?'

I looked him straight in the eyes, considering.

'I have changed,' I said. He looked at me hopefully. He hadn't
seen me since I had come back from the war. 'So the holy war's
all right?' he asked. 'And the acolyte to the altar of freedom
and all that sort of thing? I attach some importance to your
opinion, remember, so don't say more than you mean. Having seen
war, which do you plump for? Tolstoy, Saint Telemachus, or the
Superintendent? Speak now, and kiss the Book on it.'

I would have liked to laugh, but I did not dare. He was in such
desperate earnest. I answered: 'I have changed for the worse from
the Superintendent's point of view. I am not the same as I was. I
am more so.'

He went to the war. But he went with a share of Reuben's curse
upon him. He wrote to me quite frankly from his East African
camps about the things that appealed to him, and the other
things. His experience seemed to bear out my own, for the most
part. He considered that some deplorable things had been done on
both sides, and also some very fine things. But as to the
efficacy of the machine guns he ministered to, in promoting the
Kingdom of God, he was under no illusions. He was possibly
disposed to exaggerate things, e.g., the vitiating influence of
war upon life about one. He was certainly disposed, I think, to
exaggerate his own coarsening, as a not very reputable campaign
proceeded. He harped somewhat morbidly on one particular strain
in his letters. How much better, he surmised, it would be for
Christianity and civilization if he and others like him should
never return to resume their places in Christian society! Some
verses that he sent me when he was under orders to join a rather
hazardous expedition, have, I believe, a certain sincerity in
their ruggedness. They are not very cheerful, are they?

They have a note attached to them. N.B. We had Church parade this
morning, and the lesson was about Nebuchadnezzar's going into
retreat.



LYCANTHROPY.



They drove him forth as beast and not as man
Till seven times had pass'd. At last he came
Back to his Babylon, but not the same.
Nay! For he now had learn'd of Lips on high,
Herded with cattle, 'neath a dewy sky,
How patience cannot fail where passion can.
But we, war's wehr-wolves, we than wolves more
fain.

(Grace-harden'd, deaf to Gospel, blind to Rood),
Fain to seek night-long horrors of the wood
Where the blood-trail is red, the blood-scent hot,
Shall we return in time? God, were it not
Best for Thy world we should not come again?

But he was to come again, for all his reluctance and shrinking
from a return. He was to come through that campaign all right,
and back to our part of Africa that he loved so dearly.

'We shall have him back, I hope, before the end of this month,'
the Superintendent of Missions told me. 'The Bishop seems willing
to ordain him before Christmas. He's not likely to need a long
diaconate, is he? Our Bishop agrees with me that he's had just
the kind of training for his priesthood that was most to be
desired.' I nodded dubiously.

We were sitting in the Superintendent's well-ordered study, which
he preferred to call his office. Its big window took a discreet
peep at the veld, but it was not the untamed veld, only Rosebery
Commonage. I searched in my pockets, and after uneasy gropings,
unearthed a crumpled letter begrimed and tobacco-dusty. 'This
doesn't look much like his coming up for ordination,' I said. I
read an extract: 'Please give that Chinde boy in the College at
Cape Town a message from me. I was glad to hear from you how well
he was doing. I always liked that boy extraordinarily, and I
think I had a sort of glimmer of his pastoral destiny quite
early, soon after he came our way as a straying sheep. Now, from
what you say, he bids fair to be a quite respectable candidate
for the native ministry. Will you please offer him two or three
more years at the College to enable him to qualify, should that
be his own wish. I am quite prepared to be at charges for him.
It's a happy augury that his baptismal name happens to be
Solomon, even as it was rather a tragic one that mine happened to
be David. I don't see my way to building up God's House on the
old farm now, either literally or metaphorically, in the way a
priest should.

I look on your boy at Cape Town as a likely substitute.
Vicariously I hope to offer by his hands, since mine are now too
stained to offer to my own satisfaction. I'll do David's part,
please God, and help him to build up the House, in both senses,
the house I might have built with my own hands, had they been
otherwise occupied than they have been these last months. I am
quite resigned now. It is all for the best, doubtless.'

'What does he mean?' The Superintendent's rather assured face
grew quite indeterminate and puzzled.

'What he says, probably,' I hazarded. 'He's got a scruple an
old-world scruple.'

I picked up the Superintendent's khaki-covered Bible, and turned
over hastily the red, blue, and white edges.

'Here's the passage,' I said. 'Listen to what his namesake, the
other David, said: "But God said unto me, 'Thou shalt not build
an house for My Name, because thou hast been a man of war, and
hast shed blood."'

'Oh, that text!' said the Superintendent not very reverentially.
'I don't think that it's particularly relevant.'

'Isn't it what he thinks that matters?' I asked. 'No, make your
mind up to it. When he followed your own advice and went off to
the war, he decided. He decided to remain a layman to the end of
his earthly days. Some of us have got our scruples. His took
shape that way.'

'I don't see why,' said the Superintendent rather piteously. He
was genuinely disappointed. I liked him for the unconscious
tribute he was paying to him whom we discussed.

'Be consoled,' I said with a twinkle. 'His farm promises to be a
real lay centre of Christian influence. May we not rest assured
of that? Trust him to encourage native industries and native
ideas; Trust him to believe in the veld. Trust him to read to his
veld-dwellers the Sermon on the Mount; trust him to live it
rather. Trust him to deprecate, by example, as well as precept,
excessive care for food and raiment. Our missions are apt to be
rather over-ecclesiastical, aren't they? Far too much of an urban
and Europeanized type, don't you think? Be consoled, his lay
settlement may be trusted to teach us a lot. God grant that his
native priest-designate he has chosen to be his Solomon, may soon
come along! Be consoled!'

The Superintendent looked slightly aghast. 'I don't see where the
consolation comes in,' he groaned.



FOR HIS COUNTRY'S GOOD



Percy Benson opened his eyes and looked around him. He was lying
in a tiny grass-hut. How did he get there? He thought for a while
slowly; his head was very hot and heavy.

Of course! This must be one of the hoppers' houses, and he had
got back into Kent or East Sussex somehow. Where had he been
lately? Not in Kent, or even in England. He could remember only
a confused medley of traveling by land and water, and a huge
home-sickness. Never mind, all's well that ends well. Here he was
back in Kent surely, and in a hoppers' house. What time of year
was it? That rather puzzled him. For was not that a mass of
cherry-blossom not twenty yards from the tiny doorway? Why should
they put up a hoppers' house before September? Why in the world
should they put it up when cherries were in flower?

Never mind, he was in Kent; he would sleep ever so much better
now for knowing that. He put the cup of water that he found
beside him to his lips. Then he closed his eyes and slept anew.
When he woke again, hours after, a big man in flannel shirt and
wide-brimmed grey hat was standing by a wood fire outside the
doorway. It seemed to be just growing dark. The man was cooking
something in a pan over the fire. As he turned, Benson knew his
face. This was his old school and City friend John Haslar. He had
not seen him for years he could not remember how many.

'Hullo, Jack!' he said.

'Hullo!' said John with a start. 'That's much better. You've
slept well this last time! How do you feel now?'

'Oh, better, much better,' said Benson. 'But I've had it badly.
Influenza, isn't it?'

John looked at him with a question in his eyes, but did not
answer. 'I think you'll do now,' he said. 'You must take some
nourishment and your medicine, and then try to sleep again. I'm
your man for a talk in the morning, if only you get a good night.
I didn't come eighty miles to see you for nothing, I can tell
you.'

Benson felt weak and weary, and did as he was told. Just as he
closed his eyes he said, 'I'm glad to be back in Kent ever so
glad.' He sighed a little sigh of relief. 'I can't think where
I've been all this time. I am really back again, am I not?' He
did not wait for an answer, but fell asleep.

He woke up once in the night, and saw John sitting by the fire
and smoking his pipe.

"This is a hoppers' house, isn't it?" he began.

John turned round and looked at him with interest and pity. 'It
looks very much like it,' he said.

Benson gave a contented sigh, and turned over on his side again.

When he awoke in the morning his strength was really beginning to
come again. He was hungry for breakfast. He caught sight of a
dark, tall form by the fire on waking. But a minute or two after
it was gone, and John was back again.

'Ready for breakfast?' he asked.

Benson was soon at his porridge, and debating as to whether he
should finish with eggs or chops.

'You'd better have what you really care for,' said John, and
stepped outside and gave a call.

'Who's that gypsy-looking fellow?' asked Benson.

'Oh, he helps me,' said John. 'He's all right.' He went out of
the hut and received a dish from somebody as he spoke.

It was after breakfast that Benson made a request. 'I believe I
know where I am,' he said. 'Though I'm not quite sure, because my
head's still dizzy. I believe I'm back again in High Wood, just
near Hawkenbury, not two miles from my old home. What do you
think?'

'I don't think I know that country,' said John, looking
uncomfortable. 'And I'm sure I've never been here before.'

'I remember,' Percy Benson said, 'there used to be a little
grocer's shop down in Hawkenbury Street, where they sold mixed
biscuits, with lots of pink and white and yellow sugar, and
glass-stoppered ginger-beer. I haven't forgotten the taste,
though it's years ago. Do you think you could go down there, or
send somebody, and get me a bottle of ginger-beer and a pound of
biscuits. They're just what I'd fancy.'

John looked doubtful. 'I know a place that isn't so very far off,
where they keep groceries,' he said. 'But I don't know whether
they keep ginger-beer in glass-stoppered bottles, or if they keep
that particular sort of biscuits. However, we'll try.'

Benson slept a good deal that day. He talked between whiles
rather feverishly about the place, and how glad he was to be back
there again. John said very little, but that seemed not to
matter. Benson was glad enough to ramble on and on. He did not
appear to take much notice whether you answered his questions or
not. He was ecstatic rather than curious.

The biscuits came and were a fair success.

'Not quite so good as they used to be, but very good,' said
Benson. 'I like these sugar ones immensely; the ones with the
pink sugar are the pick.' But the ginger-beer was not of the
time-honored brand. It was drinkable enough, but it had a cork
tied, instead of a long cool mouth with a glass stopper.

'I must walk down and do some shopping for myself to-morrow,'
Benson said. 'What a summer we're having. Did you ever see such
blue sky as we've had yesterday and to-day?'

Next morning he was much better, and could get up and walk about
a little. John looked uncomfortable at times, as they sat over
their breakfast by the fire under the great trees. He was trying
to make up his mind to tell his friend where he was, and to
recall what had happened to him. He could see that, now the
fever-mists were melting, he was likely to be remembering for
himself before long. But how could he break things to him easily
without giving him a dire shock in his worn-out state?

Then to him pondering, the crisis came of itself.

Suddenly out of the woodland stepped a party of natives with
monkey-nuts, sweet potatoes, and other wares, very cheery and
smiling.

Benson started and his eyes grew troubled. 'Is this Africa?' he
said. 'Then I'm not home after all not home after all.'

'You're in Africa,' said John. 'You came up here about three
months ago, so they told me.'

'I remember,' said Benson. 'There was some money trouble in the
City some bad trouble. Then I had to leave my little place in
Kent near Seven-oaks, just as I was getting it to rights.' He
looked miserable as he thought over things, this sallow little
City man.

Meanwhile John traded some monkey-nuts and sweet potatoes for
salt, and sent the traffickers away.

Afterwards Benson began to talk out of the bitterness of his
soul, and John lit his pipe and listened gravely. He talked about
his little estate near Sevenoaks, the cottages and the farm, the
Elizabethan manor-house, the school and church, the timber and
the planting of the new trees. 'I was just getting the place into
shape,' he said. And then he nearly broke down and cried as he
told about the trouble in the City, and how a family council had
been called, and he had agreed to go to this country for his
country's good, and to keep away. 'Oh this farm, as they call
it,' he said 'these thousands of acres of grass and rocks with a
tin shanty to die of fever in! How wretched I've been here! But
we aren't on the farm still, are we? This seems a bit better. It
regularly took me in, this place. I did really think I was in
Kent again.'

John knocked out his pipe solemnly, and was just going to try and
say something comforting.

But Benson began again. 'And how did you get here you, the only
friend I've got in this wretched country?'

John told him that he had come down to see him, when he did,
without knowing how ill he was. He had had a letter from him, at
his store up in Rosebery last month, and for old sakes' sake he
had driven down when he had a chance to come away. When he
reached the farm he had found Benson lying at his homestead
unconscious from fever. The natives who were waiting on him
seemed to think him in danger. They said he had been sick for
days. John had gone to bed early that night of his coming to the
farm a glorious moonlit night. But long before dawn he had been
roused by a Kaffir boy with the news that Benson had risen and
rushed out. They tracked his wanderings to that beautiful stretch
of woodland, and managed to house him in a garden-hut of grass,
close by a clearing among the trees. Either John or his native
boy kept watch over him day and night then. But when he awoke
with that happy fancy of being at home, John kept away the native
boy, and put away, as far as he could, all the distinctive signs
of Africa. That dream of being at home might be a real help in
tiding his friend over a very wretched time. There he camped
under the two great trees with the wild white-flowered bush so
like an English cherry-tree in full September bloom about him,
and wondered what the issue of that comfortable delusion of
Benson's would be. It could not be expected to last anyhow, now
that he was coming back to sense and strength.

Benson writhed as John finished his story. He went on with the
tale of his own black loneliness and grey home-sickness. The
glory of Kent and the charm of High Wood seemed to be gone like
the shadows of a dream already. What good had they done him after
all?

John felt miserable as he heard him out. 'Look here!' he said,
'I've been doing well at the store, and I've got a good many
cattle that I'd like to run on this farm, if we can come to
terms; and I'll try and drive down every month or other month,
and stay with you for a bit and see how they're getting on.'

Percy Benson's face grew bright again at that saying. He was very
weak, and prone to sudden ups and downs.

'Oh, do promise you'll come every month,' he said. 'Weeks are so
long, and the one mail-day a week comes always terribly slowly.
Do promise.'

John promised faithfully.

Next day they went back to the homestead, a dull little iron
building on a rather feverish site. 'If I were you,' said John,
'I'd build where you have been lying sick. I don't like the look
of this other place at all.'

'Yes, I shall build in High Wood; I want to call it so now.
It's a magical place, I think: I shall always feel something is
home-like when I'm there.'

Life was growing brighter to him. His fever-fancy had opened his
eyes a little to the charm of the new country it was, at least,
here and there, not unlike the old country.

'I think I shall fancy this place more now,' he said to John on
the morning they parted. 'But, oh, if you could only have seen
that little place of mine five miles from Sevenoaks!'

'Look here!' said John. 'You've got a bigger estate here than
ever you had there, and you can find the same sort of interests
in it. Study your Kaffir tenants, and help them with ideas about
stock and ploughing and church and school. Your neighbors don't.
Well, more simpletons and arrant wasters, they! Believe me,
you'll find the new life much more like the old life in Kent, if
you do. Then study tree-planting, and look after this grand old
native timber. Expect me next month, on the 23rd.'

He went away and left Benson lonely. But the real blackness of
his loneliness was gone. The planning of the new homestead would
keep him busy for a long while now. Was not healing virtue
exuding from that soil, which the happy dreams of his recovery
had consecrated? His fever had given him a new point of view, or
rather given him back his old Kentish point of view delight in
God's own country sights and scenes, care for his tenants, and
hope.



LE ROI EST MORT



The railway had almost crept up to Alexandra Then--the seventy-three
miles of its sandy pilgrimage were all but complete. In three
months or so it would be open to those who could afford their
penny a mile no, but I am forgetting, on the privileged group
to which it belongs no European may travel third-class.

I did not welcome that railway with any warmth. The district
that it tapped had seemed to me a camping-ground of refuge, as
civilization pressed on. That district was a haven for the
Kaffir-trader, a haven for the transport-rider, a haven too for
the foot-slogging missionary, like myself. We have our faults,
all three doubtless, and deserve the spurning of civilization's
iron feet, when our time comes, doubtless. On the other hand our
displacement is a matter for some sympathy, it is likely to hurt
like other displacements. Also we are prone to note that the
admirable iron feet of our displacer are not unmixed with baser
clay.

I came to Shumba Siding last Eastertide, on my way to Alexandra.
Charles Miller was there in charge of the line, and he offered me
a thirty-one mile ride in to within two miles of town if I would
only wait for a construction train. I declined in my stupid
sentimentality. For one thing I hate breaking up a plan of
combined foot-travel; it seems to me hard on one's native
fellow-travelers, on whom one is apt to call for big efforts. To
ride on ahead, and leave them struggling alone with the sandy
monster of a road for any long distance, seems vile desertion,
and I was by no means sure that the invitation to board the train
included them. Moreover, this might be my last journey in, on the
old road, under the old order.

So I declined, but I lunched with Charles Miller Before I went
on. Marvell was there, the Kaffir store-keeper from ten miles
away. He had much to tell me of his wonderful good luck. The
big firm that were putting up the new Store at Alexandra, that
rail-head terminus designate, had asked him to manage it.

He could marry now on his prospects. He had wanted to see me, and
had waylaid me on my road. The bride was due by coach to-morrow.
He hoped to get a Special License when once she had arrived.
Would I marry them on Monday?

We had a good lunch with healths afterwards, but they let me
drink them in tea. Miller proposed the health of the bridegroom,
to whom the railway, or ever it came, had brought luck. Might his
luck last while the rails lasted, and grow heavier when they
should be replaced by heavier metals! Might he never make less in
a year than that railway had cost per mile! 'Three thousand five
hundred will take some making,' Marvell sighed to me. He
acknowledged the toast and proposed the Railway's prosperity. He
grew rather florid to my thinking, about the benefit to the
District how Kaffir gardens were to be displaced by up-to-date
farming, how tourists were to pour in athirst to explore its
ruins. He discoursed of the blessedness of ranching, and of
chrome and asbestos syndicates. He said that we were in at the
death alike of malaria, of blackwater, and horse-sickness. Then I
spoke up for the other side. I asked them to remember the old Era
in silence, and if they must drink, to drink to the transport-road
and the transport-riders, and to all pioneers, and old hands
going and gone, to the big native district and its dependencies,
so rich in cattle and so rich in grain, to God's Eden of a
country, and the people that He Himself had chosen to set there
to dress it, and to keep it before our coming. My toast fell
rather flat, I noticed. They both looked rather bored.

Soon I pressed on, with fifteen miles or so to cover before our
camping-place would be reached.

I had gone some ten miles before the construction train passed
me, and my carriers pressed through bushes and long grass for a
nearer view of it.

With three or four white men on the engine, a Black Watch or two
and a few other natives on the trucks, it snorted along through
the woodland. As the night deepened and the moon rose, we came
close to the last coach-stable, and were soon encamped.

The old Basuto near by gave me a drink of fairish water, but
water was far away, I was told. My boys straggled away wearily,
and came back at last, having seemingly missed the dipping-place.
They had brought something between a liquid and a solid. Boiled,
it was no doubt wholesome enough, but its taste was not such as
to tempt to excess.

That night I dreamed, with a tag of Marvell's speech buzzing in
my head (I had garrisoned it with quinine before I slept). That
tag rang out in boastful refrain like the natives' curfew-bell of
Alexandra, a bell not always very punctually rung. 'We are in at
the death of malaria, of black-water, and of horse-sickness.'

So clanged the bell, the bell in the market tower, the tower of
the dismantled pioneer fort. And it seemed to me that I saw
Malaria a lean yellow ague-shaken shape with a Cape-boy sort of
face, steal away out of the town past the new Railway Station,
and across the river. He went, like a frightened Kaffir dog with
a jackal-like yelp, far away into the Veld. I am not sure whether
he did not become canine on the way, at least cynocephalous. I
followed him. I went far in that following, over country that I
remember as very difficult, there were so many stumps of trees
about. Moreover, it had abundance of black-jacks to stud one's
socks with. 'He is going through dry places seeking rest,' I
thought. 'Soon he will return.' And sure enough we were to return
by-and by. And a jackal pack of seven, that I was somehow
expecting to come, came with us. We saw the lights of Alexandra
soon, but the people had gone to bed, it seemed. There was no one
about anywhere. Then the leading jackal fed foul and lapped long
at a great black drain. Afterwards he howled under a window of
the Hospital, and leaped through it, straddling his legs. Then I
awoke.

I married Marvell on the following Monday, and partook of his
wedding-lunch. He made a far more florescent speech than that
earlier one, it compared with it as the nuptial champagne with
Miller's bottled beer.

'The old Pioneer is now dead,' he told us, 'as dead as the Dodo
or the Great Auk. No longer need we take Quinine to be "our grim
chamberlain to usher us and draw" . . .' (here his memory of Hood
failed him). 'No more need we shiver in our Kaffir blankets at
Kaffir Stores 'fifty miles from the dead-ends of rail-less
post-towns. "Le roi est mort." Malaria is dead or dying so far
as Alexandra is concerned. We Alexandrians are now becoming
wholesome Englishmen in a wholesome White Man's country. Long
live the railway, and may it perforate the Alexandra District!'
'Amen,' said the best-man fervently. But I said nothing.

I admired Marvell. It was just like him to press a guinea on me for
my Mission, though I told him there was no fee of any kind, and
that I was ever so glad to be there. The remembrance of my dream
stung me. I said something for conscience sake. 'Civilization has
its perils,' I said dully, 'immature civilization. The period
between no-drains and the up-to-date drainage system wants some
living through.' 'That's all right,' Marvell declared. 'I'll watch
it. I didn't go through Bloemfontein in the War for nothing.'

'Le roi est mort: vive le roi! 'Alack! If Malaria slackened hold,
enteric tightened its clutch. People were found to say that the
latter state of Alexandra was worse than the former. Marvell and
Rose Marvell both got enteric. But, thank God, the uneasy
misgivings engendered by that eight-devil dream of mine about
Alexandra were not justified! They both won through. They are
going back to England for a change next month (the hay-making
month at home), they tell me.

'God made the country, and man made the town, and the devil made
the little railway-swollen, transitional, Alexandra-sort-of-town.'
So Marvell wrote to me by last mail. He is not so keen now on
the transition stage of civilization for his wife's residence.
He is thinking of a pioneer place in Northern Rhodesia, either
that or London. If the perils of the old regime in Alexandra are
diminished, the perils of the new regime appear to have a knack
of growing.



THE RIDING OF THE RED HORSE

I



Isaka rubbed his eyes, but he did not unroll himself yet out of
his blankets. He was lying in the darkness with a round of white
walls dimly seen about him. Through a hole in the grass roof, a
star met his fixed gaze. The cocks had but just crowed the second
time, and the light was but just winning way in the east. The
night was holding out steadily so far.

Was it he, Isaka, who had awakened, or some other? He was not
very clear. Strange alike looked the happiness behind, and the
hope before him. He was not sure of himself in that twilight of
his senses. It seemed scarcely believable his title to either
gift of heaven to memory or to expectation.

Surely but slowly his brain cleared, his doubt grew faint as that
star was growing, his outlook bright as the one pane in the wall,
looking east. He sprang up with one of the best wills in the
world; he was far too happy to be drowsy any longer. Soon he was
washing himself, and dressing himself in white, with real zest.
Last night had been a joy-night indeed, and the morning promised
brilliantly. It was doubtless he himself who had both reached and
enjoyed the night's happenings, he also who now stood firm on the
threshold of the morning, having reached that also. Isaka, who
had been Kadona, was a native of an African village with a far
glimpse on fair days of Kilimanjaro. Being born where he was, and
dwelling where he did, he belonged to a certain Central European
Power. Certain manifestations of that Power had made him uneasy
from his goat-herding boyhood onwards.

He had walked warily, and kept an unscored back, but he gathered
that fellow subjects were not always so fortunate. At last the
claims on his attendance of a Government School had become
importunate. Suddenly he took his fate into his hands, bade his
family farewell (was not his mother dead these two years?), and
made for a track through the forest. Since he must go to school,
he would choose his own schoolmaster, and he chose one that he
knew. This teacher, as it happened, stood for another European
Power further west. He was fast ageing now, he could remember the
days before Europe divided up with such appetite so much of
Africa. He had been traveling on some teaching errand, and had
fallen sick and lain nearly a whole month at Kadona's village.
Kadona had brought him many gifts milk and ground-nuts and honey.
The sick man for his part had not been thankless. As for gifts,
he had given a knife and salt and soap and matches, but he had
also shown fellow-feeling, which meant much more. Their
friendship, signed and sealed outwardly by what they gave, was
underlain by affection of a promising sort. So Kadona went to
this teacher's mission, as to a city of refuge, traveling through
a bush country, and sleeping in huts of a strange speaking tribe
two or three nights of his way. He came to his host as man and
friend, and his trust was not abused. Afterwards his host, known
better, revealed new uses, he could doctor a little, he could
teach more than a little, he also held keys of certain joys and
wonders.

By and by Kadona was illuminated to some extent by his friend. He
was allowed to exchange his name when the approved fullness of
time was come, on a day of benevolent mysteries. Henceforth he
was Isaka. He had changed his name six months before the eventful
morning I have chronicled changed it at the season he had come to
reckon the years by the good time of Christmas.

Now this last night had been a brilliant one in the church that
he had learned to care for. There had been much glow of candles
and splendor of psalms and anthem. He had been taught to make
himself ready with light, so to speak, in view of the greatest
illumination on earth the Sacred Banquet of the morning. The
words of the anthem had rung in his ears like a trumpet in the
night, they had peopled and painted his dream. 'And I saw and
behold a white horse: . . . and He went forth conquering and to
conquer.' This morning was the Banquet morning. It was no marvel
that Kadona had been wonder-stricken at his awaking. The sense of
moving in a vision was hard to escape from, it seemed to him. He
moved towards the church like a man in a dream, and his feet felt
for the steps. Was it he who had been herding goats but a few
years ago, who had seen what he had seen on nights and at dances,
who had felt so naked and helpless before a harsh Government not
so very long ago? It did seem that it was he, and he was very
grateful. He stole into the church soft-footed, and glided
towards the blazing altar. Then he waited, trying to remember
what it was best to remember at such an hour. Had he repentance,
faith, gratitude, and love? He had so much of the last two surely
as to make some amends for defects of the others, or at least he
thought so. Yes, there was no mistaking his thanks, he thought to
himself. He remembered his night's dream afterwards when the bell
rang, and the Rider on the White Horse drew so near. Then he
lifted up his heart that he might meet Him on His way, tried to
open his heart as wide as it would go for the conquering Presence
to ride into it.



II.



The scene was a mission station once more, but a different sort
of interest appeared to be paramount in this busy station, other
than plain Evangelism. This was a Lutheran Mission, used now
in time of war as a collecting centre for the rice of the
countryside. The foreboding of Isaka's teacher had come but too
true. When Isaka had been telling him (on the day after the great
day) his dream of the White Horse and his Rider, he had read to
him the story of other horses and other riders out of Saint
John's Vision. And his face had grown troubled as he added, 'We
have proved what the riding of the black horse means here in this
mission of ours. Do you remember years ago how the rains were
short here, and how the people went hungry afterwards? And now
there are clouds in the sky clouds not of rain. Will the Red
Horse be ridden, as some prophesy? I seem to see him with the bit
in his teeth spurred by his rider our way. Pray, Isaka, I beseech
you, that the Red Horse and his rider be turned in their road.'
And he told Isaka something of what he meant, also something of
what that riding might mean to them all. And he would have Isaka
pray, and his schoolmates pray also. And they prayed, but for all
that this mad rider came galloping, the rider of whom Saint John
wrote, 'And there went out another horse that was red; and power
was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth,
and that they should kill one another: . . .'

It was nearly a year now since that morning Isaka remembered so
well, when the White Horse was ridden his way. Once again when
awaked.

Isaka, Kadona, was not sure if he was dreaming, but this time the
main reason for doubt was that things seemed too bad rather than
too good to be true, things that had come or were coming, upon
the earth. Nearly a year ago now the news of the riding of the
Red Horse had come. Europe was in a horrible temper, and Africans
must do as usually, not what they wanted to do, but what Europe
bade. Isaka's English teacher must leave his school or his
liberty, he must either run away or stay fast in the Government's
hands a Government that was fighting England. He chose to remain,
hoping to help Isaka and others, but he had very little power on
earth left to him. For a little while he was allowed to stay in
his old home, and the school began to be broken up only little by
little. Then the pace quickened; some were drafted off as
porters, some as soldiers, some were allowed to stay and
cultivate for the Government. Its local officials' tempers
had apparently not improved with its troubles. None on this
alien mission within its borders were liable to be accounted
trustworthy, all were liable to suspicion. Yet Isaka worked on
happily for a while. When his teacher was moved to a place of
internment he was allowed to keep one body servant. He invited
Isaka to come, and Isaka came right willingly. He might have been
passed by, and the choice lain among others, but his teacher
asked him as the first choice of all, if he would come with him?
Was it likely that he would refuse?

Then suspicion fell upon Isaka in a day of rebuke and blasphemy.
Probably he was to blame, probably he said more than he should
have said, probably he did not recognize how well off he was.
Anyhow the blow fell, and he was to be envied no longer, as he
had been.

He was beaten rather mercilessly, and taken to be a Government
porter in a district far away. The tears came into his teacher's
eyes when he bade Isaka farewell; his own captivity was
wearisome, he was beginning to feel his age now; also this boy
had been as a son to him.

It was all like an evil dream, this war, so fecund of death and
parting among friends, this riding of the Red Horse that had
haunted Isaka's visions of the night. The light was just coming
when he awaked from them at the German Mission Station. He was
loath and slow to unroll himself from his one torn blanket and to
step out of it. But someone kicked him angrily, and then needs
must. He had come on these last days ever so many miles, and
carried a full load. He struggled up stiffly, and crept to the
little fire that two of his fellows were heaping and lighting
while they chattered together. They were tribesmen of a district
far from his own. One was telling a story of how their white
masters with native soldiers had raided, a village. The other,
whose village it was, full-stopped the story with grunts or
deprecations. There had been some throats cut. Folk had been
bidden to lie down, so the teller said; they had lain down as for
the lash, but they had been paid in cold steel. Isaka listened
dazedly. The end of his Christian era seemed to have come as
suddenly and unexplainedly as the end of his Pagan era. His
teacher had preached 'love,' 'love,' 'love,' with Pauline
iteration, and not a little self-repetition. His teacher had
taught that war was an unclean thing haunting the heathen world,
and lurking in the blackness of Pagan villages. His teacher had
deprecated violence; it was his rule never to strike, nor ever to
rule by such fear as cast out love.

Now, an askari (a native soldier) came up to the three, and he
was storming furiously. He laid on his lash right and left. Isaka
did not escape. They were to carry their loads at once, it was
said, by forced marches to a rice mill at the lakeside. In
another five minutes the big train of porters took the road, and
spread itself like a serpent up the trackway. Isaka was the
twentieth or the twenty-first in their advance. I do not think
that his illness which was to show itself in a day or two, was
really manifest on that day. Yet he went very heavily. Such
maladies were certainly upon him as a poet has diagnosed, 'blank
misgivings of a Creature moving about in worlds half realized.'
The ridings of Red and White Horses had so fast succeeded one
another in Isaka's circle, and had brought such different worlds
and atmospheres in their respective wakes!



The Riding of the Red Horse 253



III



Three days after, they were at the rice mill, and a July day was
breaking. Isaka lay and listened to the lapping of the lake water
lapping of the water in the greatest of African lakes. He was
lying beside a creek that was papyrus-fringed with curtains of
feathery green. A cloud of lake flies hung dark in the distance.
The soft lake haze redeemed landscape and waterscape now from
overclarity of outline the besetting blemish, as some might
think, of its mid-day. Isaka was really ill that morning. He
could hardly stir hand or foot. An askari came and looked at him,
and said something to his German officer. The latter came and
laid his hand not unkindly on his brow, found what the heat of
his body was, and gave him some drug out of their scanty store.
The great war with their fellow Christians was pinching them
sorely in the matter of medicines these sturdy patriots of
Central Europe. They were keeping their flag flying in a feverish
land where febrifuges meant much indeed. Isaka was let lie, and
he brooded over his dream the old dream that had come back so
intrusively last night into such alien surroundings. For he in
the province of the red-mounted rider had dreamed that He on the
White Horse came as an invader, the light of daybreak in His
looks, the faith of conquest in His eyes.

Now, a friend happened upon Isaka that morning, one who had been
reared upon the self-same mission-crowned hill whither Isaka's
homesick mood harked back. How they spoke of old days together,
and warmed their chilled hearts again! Surely Isaka's dream had
heralded a measure of restored joy for him that morning, if
nothing better and more lasting. He spoke of his dream, and of
how it came first as the prelude of that Banquet, and of how his
heart had danced on that Banquet morning, and the sun had danced
in his sight at the sunrise. His friend was allowed to stay by
him, for the transport officer was kindly, and they talked on and
on. Isaka knew now that they thought his sickness a great one.
Suddenly came a wild stir among porters and native soldiers. One
of the English lake ships had shown round the point to northward,
and was heading fast for the bay. The one German hurried down
among the transport crowd, bidding them make haste and take
cover. His friend left Isaka. He was one of the few soldiers who
were to line the trench in a banana grove ready to dispute a
landing. But Isaka was bestowed in some long grass; there was
little time to carry him far. The ship rang and slowed down, then
she crept like a lean black panther into the place that suited
her spring. Soon she rang again, and stopped dead. There was a
ghastly pause of stillness. Crash! Her twelve-pounder spoke.
Crash! and crash! again, five times over. The rice mill showed a
gaping wound by now. Then two boats were lowered, the Indian
Ship's Guard and the British officers crowded into them, and the
African sailors pulled for the shore. Isaka crawled to a hummock,
and peered out to see what was happening. The shell fire had made
him pant and shake, his lips were full of prayers remembered and
half-remembered. The boats came nearer, they were almost up to
the log-built pier now. Had they been left alone till they had
come further, there might have been hope for the ambush of a
great bag, while the Indians were bunched together on the landing
place. But those in the banana grove trench were eager, they
would not hold their fire. The rifles cracked, the bullets
thrashed up the water, men crouched down in the drifting boats
with oars and rifles waving rather helplessly. It looked as
though they were likely to pay toll, wide though the shots had
gone as yet. Then the oarsmen pulled themselves together, and
rowed back for the ship's protection. There was not even an oar
or a boat hit after all.

Isaka stared eagerly at the fight. He showed himself. A minute
after the ship's shrapnel burst near him, putting death's fear
upon his weakness. Someone had said that the ambush was in the
grass rather than in the banana grove, the ambush that was
screened so well. Was there just will and time left to invoke the
Rider on the White Horse of that unforgotten and abiding vision?
I think there was. Then the shrapnel burst over Isaka. He was
blotted, as his fellow Christians of the ship and her guns might
have expressed it. The twelve-pounder (or was it the four-inch?)
crashed again and again. The Maxim coughed and spat in a
paroxysm. The Rider on the Red Horse rode on relentlessly.



THREE AND AFRICA



We all three went a common way with rather a bad grace, and
Africa in a measure dominated our movements, or at least our
proposed destinations. I think she tightened her grip on all our
three affections by that journey, she made us more of her slaves
she has ever a hankering after the slave-trade, has she not?
In her shrewdness she gained a grip on us by very diverse
expedients. Me the restless, so feverishly tired of her, she
exercised in fresh fields. One result was, that I found out in
those trial-grounds ever so many reasons why flight from Africa
would be unthinkable for me. While as to him, my friend, whose
doom of exile from her she had herself done much to bring about,
I am sure that she dazzled him on that his road to the railway
(his Via Dolorosa,) making assurance much more sure that he must
leave his heart with her. As to her, my other friend, who had
taken Africa so complacently and so very much for granted, Africa
made revelations to her at each stage of a journey that was
rousing in itself, for it brought her away from her western
station to a very different countryside. And if these revelations
were not prone to stimulate affection, I am quite mistaken. I
could make out a strong case against Africa, on the grounds of
that journey, as capricious, inconsiderate, and so on. Yet before
I have done, I want to indicate pleas of extenuation.

We were going with a donkey-wagon, he and I, the wagon wherein
she, my other friend, was riding. He had been in the Civil
Service, and suffered much from fever; yet he was leaving the
Service for other reasons as well as that particular one. He was
traveling cross-country to his exit station, prolonging thus his
pangs of farewell; he was making himself useful by escorting her
on her desolate road. Moreover, I was making myself courteous by
adding my own escort. I was under no delusion as to my being
useful.

The donkeys were none too fat; they looked as if they had not
been used well, and were far on in life. With their driver I
differed as to beating them, but I will allow that they were dear
to him on the whole, and that he made progress in by no means
easy places. Indeed the road had been against us for many days
before the day on which I left the wagon; and I as wagon
conductor was to blame for the choice of it. I should have
yielded myself patiently to go the mighty round that the main
roads went. I had come almost due east at a venture, and when I
had lost my first stake by being disappointed of the by-road I
sought, I went on gambler-fashion. I had seen already how the
wagon stuck in a big river's sand-bed. How many times we had dug
out, how the whip and the driver's voice had plied, how we had
filled up the ruts with sods and grass-tufts, striving to gain
purchase for the wheels! And yet I was obstinately sanguine when
I heard a tale of an ancient trading road. It would be wondrously
direct, if one could win through by it. So along it, by my own
decision, we went. That first night that we turned off by it, we
stuck long in the waning light, trying to pull through a neck in
the hills. It was grievously cumbered with boulders, and we were
long in trying. Yet at last the driver rallied his team, and we
slept on the right side of the pass, clear of the granite, ready
for an early inspan next day. Then on the morrow we but crawled
along, till at last we stuck fast in a spruit's spongy floor.
That time we were not to pull out before we slept. Darkness drew
in on the struggles of the dead-beat donkeys. We outspanned and
went on with the struggle soon after sunrise, putting shoulders
to wheels in wild earnest. At last we were through, but we had
been delayed far into another day. That noon and afternoon the
disused road traveled through bush-veld. It had been ridden over
so little in the last few years, that there was much wood-cutting
now to be done.

Our voorlooper was no scraggy piccanin, he was brawny and
bearded, an expert Mashona woodman. Now the woods bowed beneath
his sturdy stroke. But his labors took time. One shrank in shame
from the reckoning of miles covered on those days. Sunday came to
our rescue, and we lay encamped in the granite-country, very
grateful for our rest. On the Monday, its results showed. We
trekked gallantly for hours and hours, we pulled out of a swamp
at the first attempt; we even essayed a dreaded ford before we
outspanned. But we did not win our stake. Not till we had knocked
under, and outspanned once more did we struggle through. The lady
of the wagon waded barefoot to lighten it, she even helped to
coax a wheel up the further bank. At last we were saved from
relapse. But that night our travelers' joy flickered and faded.
We stuck grimly at a crossing; stuck at a mean little stream;
there we found odds against us, both rocks and also deep mire. So
we camped, leaving our wagon jammed in the stream's bed.

Now I would tell you about that night and the next morning. We
got the lady's mattress out of the wagon. She could not well
sleep on it, where it was. There were many midges and mosquitoes
about then, for March was the time of the year; so we made her
bed on some high ground, close but not too close to our camp-fire.
After supper we sat about the fire long, the branch-heaped
blaze was comfortable after our chilly paddling. The wisdom or
folly that we puffed and inhaled and toasted and sucked and
munched over the fire is the making of my story. It is its best
excuse for a yawning lack of plot.

Delia Moore, lady mission-worker, roasted monkey-nuts for us.
When they were at last ready, we all three munched at them. But
meanwhile Richard Anson and I smoked Shangaan tobacco, and Miss
Moore ate sweets out of a screw-topped bottle.

Anson spoke about the charms of Mashonaland. He had been
quartered in many parts of her those last ten years; his
admiration had been consistent, it had also stood the test of her
feverish dealings with him. He said that she was the only country
worth inhabiting in a cursed world, that she was God's own
country. Then I fanned his flame with my own home-sick talk. The
wind was blowing chillily north-westward that night on the other
side of our ant-hill shelter. A kindred wind was blowing just as
steadfastly in my own soul. I had had my contrarieties lately,
both of hard times and pastoral reverses; but, and that seemed to
matter more, I was beginning to feel my age, its untimely growth
as my work grew. Had I not done my share by now? I painted scenes
in south-eastern England for my private view frequently now,
scenes in cool greens and sober blues and restful grey scenes of
weald and down-land, of hop-garden and country rectory. Over this
last my fancy played and kindled ruddily in tiles and roses.

When I found words for these scenes they proved so many
battlefields, for Dick gave battle to my panegyrics impartially,
as I filed them up before him. He seemed to be very hard hit that
night, savagely bludgeoned by his doom of banishment. He said
that he hoped to come back someday. Anyhow, he said, would I try
to remember that he had chosen his burial-place a place where two
rivers commingled some two hundred miles north of where we were
camping? I promised to try. It seemed to me a pity that we Could
not interchange health and abiding-places he so ague-wrung, so
plainly doomed to go, yet withal so keen to stay. I, on the other
hand, full of home lust, England-amorous, yet so robust, so
lacking in any decent excuse to give over my job and go in that
green old age of mine. Then, at last, Delia Moore chimed or
rather clashed in, when she had roasted her monkey-nuts and found
a dish for them. She said that we were both wrong, we were both
so clearly called to do just what we were doing, he to go his
way, and I to stay on. But, contended she, her own move was a
more than doubtful one; she had been made into a rolling stone,
against her own judgment, by church despotism; the odds were
against her gathering moss to any reasonable extent. 'O,' she
appealed to me, 'look after my west-country work, whatever else
you do. My going east bids you in honor to stay.' I allowed her
plea with a nod. It was not till some while afterwards that I
propounded Africa's apology, as I had guessed it. Dick had been
talking, rather bitterly as well as floridly, about sighting the
cold Northern Star and losing the Southern Cross. I lay back and
gloated over the starry picture overhead through a crisscross
picture-mount of ragged grass. I left the confutation of the
scoffer to Miss Moore. There was an edge on many of her remarks
that night, and I could trust her to deal with him. But what she
said I have forgotten. Only I remember that he gave her best at
last. Then, and not till then, I broke silence, submitting
subjects for inquiry.

'Are not countries and subcontinents like men born under stars
What star was South Africa herself born under? Not the Lyre
surely, her poetry is comparatively so negligible. Not the
Plough, nor yet Aquarius, for she is not blest with overmuch
irrigation, nor brilliant at agriculture. Neither was it the
Northern Star surely; constancy does not easily beset her. No, it
was the Southern Cross. Take the cross as a symbol inclusive of
more than Christian symbolism. Take it as a symbol signifying
peine forte et dure. Is it not peculiarly characteristic of
Africa to deal with us as she is doing? Does she not truly follow
her star in banishing you, and shifting you, and detaining me'?

'That's all very well,' said Dick truculently, 'but I want to
know what WE are going to do. Are we going to take it lying
down?'

I sniffed. 'I suppose we had better,' I said. 'And if we want a
decent handbook of procedure I am told that the Imitatio Christi
is excellent.'

'Promise me you'll not leave the Station, so help you, at least
not till I come back.' Miss Moore plunged for a particular
shallow just when I was floating in gay generalities.

'Let me have till to-morrow,' I asked. Then I spoke in Africa's
defense, setting out her case as well as I could. 'She's
emphatically a feminine continent,' I said. 'I learned only the
other day from a modern novelist that a woman's possibly at the
height of her power with a man, just when her contact with him is
but one of hope and memory. Surely that is true enough of some
women and some men. Isn't Africa one of such women, and Dick one
of such men? She knows her own business, and sends him to a
distance, bidding him consecrate "a night of memories and sighs"
to her. It's a doom that tends to bitterness on his part now. But
trust him by and by to taste the bitter-sweet of it. It's the
same sort of thing that I wrote raw verses about after I left
Oxford behind: "Not until you go from her will she come to you"
you know the sort of thing.'

Dick grunted. Miss Moore complimented me on my preaching. My
lucidities, I feared, were missing fire.

A donkey saved the situation, one of the two that were not
harnessed up for the night, there being no trek-gear for them.
With a grassy mouth he was chewing at Miss Moore's pillow-slip.
After many and shrill cries, it was rescued, but not before it
had taken stains of a deep green color. After such a misfortune
had been properly keened for, we sat down by the fire again.

'Go on,' Dick said. 'Let's have your peroration.'

'Well, as to Miss Moore Africa has shaken her up by shifting her,
and by giving her a lesson in local values, just as the donkey
has done about linen or calico, I forget which.'

That started the keening again.

'O,' said the mourner, 'my poor pillow-slip! But I'd give it by
the dozen to get back just to the one place the same old Mission.
You will promise to stop there till I come back, at any rate?'

Worn out by continual dropping-fire, I promised, starry Heaven
being my helper. 'Let's go to bed after that,' I pleaded. 'I've
soared in an airy disquisition and I've come to earth in a gross
sort of pledge.'

'No, you're to go on,' Dick told me.

'What about yourself?'

'O, I'm led out on a string. I'm given trotting exercise by
Africa within her own confines. I'm kept hanging about on her
veld, while she delays my donkeys. Meanwhile she shows me
out-of-the-way holes and corners where there's nobody to do the
work she wants done. She appeals to my shame and pity, she has made
a study of weak spots of mine. Has she not method? I meant to leave
the wagon last week, but I'm lucky if I get off tomorrow. What
with bad roads, spongy crossings, and indifferent donkeys, she's
landed me in a pledge to-night a pledge to keep me hanging on.
I'm in honor bound now to try to turn her night into day, just
like a cock in one of her kraals. While all the time I want to be
flitting North like one of her swallows this month of all months
in the year.'

In the morning I renewed my pledge at a rock's altar a rock that
lichen had stained bright orange. I professed resignation, as did
the other two beside me. Then after breakfast, we shook hands. I
gave Dick a motto about Africa:

She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For 'ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

I gave Delia a prayer to say for her westward return. 'Turn our
captivity ... as the rivers in the south.' Then I knelt by the
grey flat stone and prayed audibly, 'Give me a blessing; for Thou
hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water.'

Soon I was striding away. There was little time to reach home by
the hour when home wanted me. Pity and shame, pity pointing east
and west, while shame spurns and aspires these two beams seem to
make up my own Cyrenian's burden the burden of the Southern Cross
for me. On the other hand, regret and adoration seem to supply
the same office for Dick, if I may judge by his letters. As for
Miss Moore, by far the most deserving of us three admittedly,
doubtless her faith is firmly rooted wherever she is, and her
sympathy spreads east or west, whichever way her duty calls her.
Nevertheless she would be still glad should the Voice call and
the Wind blow westward again, at least that is my own conviction.
In our several ways we three are devoted to Africa: one way or
another the Southern Cross is the constellation ascendant in each
of our three careers.



OUR LADY OF THE LAKE



We had been dining on the bridge of H.M.S. Kampala the captain,
the two ship's officers, the gunnery lieutenant and he who writes
this story. We had come in as it grew dark that August evening,
and anchored some few miles out from the German's great place.
For that great place a big gun, rumored or real, commanded
respect.

I suppose our main object on that patrol trip of ours was the
stopping of rice-running, the preservation of our lake blockade.
We had had some firing a few days ago at presumptive stores,
also at a dhow and lighter dimly descried (they were in the
papyrus-fringed labyrinth of a boat-passage). But of late we had
been lying up for the most part off a lonely island. Perhaps they
would think we were out of the way, perhaps not. We should see
what we should see.' I suppose that the gunnery lieutenant was
almost as sanguine of adventure as I was of humdrum peace in this
after-dinner hour on the darkened bridge. Adventure, or at least
what seemed to be its promising prelude arrived quite suddenly.

There was a sudden announcement to our captain about a light
being seen, a brief one-sided discussion, the whistle blowing for
'Stations,' the rattle of arms as the Indian ship's-guard fell
in. These all affected me with strange twinges of futile protest.
Surely there was a time for all things, and this was the time for
coffee and tobacco, not for disconcerting risks and detestable
noises. I wanted never to hear our four-inch gun again by
day. The idea of its shaking the peace of night to bits was
preposterous. Yet a light was reported ahead, a moving light on
the lake itself. 'You haven't much time, Craig,' I heard the
lieutenant cry to our captain. The engine-room bells rang
ominously, there was much puffing and spouting, then we were off.
I stole into a safe sort of corner, as corners went, by the
doctor's cabin. I edged out of the way of the Indian riflemen who
were sorting themselves, making ready for action. We were running
along somewhither. I didn't know much about our bearings, but I
had misgivings as to whether that big gun of the Germans was not
getting nearer. 'I've been thinking it may be a lure to draw us
on,' hazarded the Eurasian doctor by and by. That was just what
I'd been thinking. I was glad when the tension ceased suddenly,
not so many minutes after it had started. The light had vanished;
we were out of the hunt somehow it seemed; our captain meant
to wait till morning, then possibly he would show us a thing.
Meanwhile there were some hours to morning. We had had no
night-firing after all. Nor did there seem to be much prospect
of any. One might as well go to bed in the dark without delay.

Morning came and we hunted around, but drew blank. Then we
started away to look for a supposed dhow in likely covers of
creeks or inlets, but we drew these blank also. What was the
vanished light? That of the resurrected German steam-tug?
Possibly. Possibly it was not that of a dhow after all. Anyhow it
was gone out of our ken. 'There's dirty work in there of night,
Craig,' the gunnery-lieutenant had said with a stern eye on that
German harbor. He spoke as a partisan. Was it such very dirty
work if they did run a little food across to feed their own
people? Anyhow their dirty work, whatever it was, had seemingly
baffled our immaculate patrol under our white ensign, for that
time at any rate.

I don't think there is anything strange about this story as it
stands up to this point, do you? There may have been a dhow ahead
of us that night in August, and it may have been its light that
our watchman spied. Also it may have put out its light all of a
sudden, and so we may have lost it in the darkness. That simple
explanation sounds probable enough, doesn't it, when you come to
think of it?

Nevertheless in the following week, a more romantic explanation
was tendered to me it concerned a gramophone.

'That was the last tune before the light was seen,' a bluejacket
told me solemnly. 'It's a good tune, you perhaps know it, sir,
"Ave Maris Stella"'? We had fraternized over recollections of
Hastings, that was his birth-place. I told him how I had been
into his church there, which was not mine, Saint Mary's, Star of
the Sea. I recalled the blue-circled chancel and its glittering
stars with admiration. Now he was confidential about what had
happened a few nights before. He seemed to regard the putting-on
of that particular gramophone record at that particular moment as
significant. I was sympathetic, but I only grasped his point
vaguely. 'You mean,' I said. 'I mean that She may have meant it,'
he said rather confusedly. 'She may have meant us luck. If we'd
only gone in straight where Her light showed, we might have found
our luck.' 'You mean we might have captured Muanza, I suppose,' I
said rather skeptically. 'Well, we might have killed a lot of
Germans, sir, and done a lot of good. But our captain's too
cautious altogether.'

'It's possible,' I said. 'She may have meant to give us the tip,'
he went on. 'I don't think it's likely, but you may be right,' I
said with some detachment. The notion of Our Lady illuminating
the lake that she might give us the tip to kill Germans was not
so very convincing. I'm afraid I choked off the surmiser a bit
with my Tolstoyite incredulity. He drew in his horns there and
then; he confided none of his views to me again on similar
subjects. He was to die at sea a year or so after. They had got
him on to a ship from an island hospital, but he never reached
the South African port they had shipped him for. I am glad now to
think of his faith in Our Lady, Our Lady good at need.

It was before he went down to the coast, that we advanced and
took a great island renowned for its rice commerce. Then the day
came only a month or so after that our troops marched into
Muanza. The main body of its German defenders had steamed away
down that land-locked sound of theirs a little while before. We
had not stormed the place from the lake after all, we had arrived
by a back-door road among the kopjes. Yet there we were at last.
It seemed curious to be in the place that I had peered at
apprehensively on patrol. How mysterious its lights and its
harbor had looked from a darkened bridge or a deck of old. Now I
went to and fro in the glaring Boma square, climbed the road
among the rocks to the Fort Hospital with the tower and its dummy
guns, patrolled the palm-tree promenade where no band played, but
lake-water provided placid music much more to my taste than that
of drums and brass.

It was in the church above the bay, the church of the White
Fathers, that I came upon my sequel, or at least what looks like
the earthly sequel of my story. Afterwards, of course, I may hear
much more. The White Father I had gone to see, took me into the
church one morning and showed me Our Lady's altar. Over it was an
altar-piece of familiar design I think it represented Our Lady of
Good Counsel, but I am not sure. In front votive candles blazed,
in very creditable profusion for those hard times surely. A
silver star with about two-inch points caught my eye. There were
other stars hung there too, much less conspicuous ones. There
were also two or three little models of dhows or boats set on a
ledge before that altar. I pointed to the silver star, and my
guide answered my mute question: 'A gift to Our Lady, Star of
this lake and these lake-shores,' he said. 'It was one night in
August of last year that it happened, the miracle or whatever you
wish to call it.' 'Did Our Lady appear on the lake?' I asked
keenly, for memories began to stir in me. 'No, not quite that,'
said the White Father. He had a brown beard, and a very white
face, and he spoke clear-cut English. 'There was a light seen
over the water.' Then it was that the surmise about the
gramophone recurred to me. 'Do you really think,' I asked, 'that
there was a light to be seen? If so, what was there strange about
it?' 'Well, it was a miracle of sorts,' he said. 'I didn't
believe about it at first, for I didn't see reason for it. They
said it was a light given to lure the English within range. That
was the talk of some of our Catholics in the town, but it wasn't
good talk. I argued against it.' He paused. Then I told him,
smilingly, the story of the gramophone. 'It's a parallel story,'
I said. 'Our Lady was indeed divided against herself that night
in her clients' estimation.' 'It shows the absurdity of war
between Catholics,' he murmured. 'Yes, of war between so-called
Christian nations,' I agreed. In an impulse I shook his hand.
'But there was a light,' I said: 'I saw it.' 'So did I,' he said.
'Was it the light of a dhow?' I wondered. 'No,' he said,
surprisingly, 'the dhow was on the other side of your ship.' He
pointed to the votive star. 'That star commemorates this sight of
a light, or rather of a star,' he said. 'I veritably believe that
the star light was Our Lady of the Lake's work. Yet she did not
in the least mean to show the English where to land and slaughter
us, nor on the other hand to lure them on to a fiery doom. Our
Lady wants the salvage of men's lives not their destruction.
Guess what happened that night.'

I was puzzled. I took the star into my hand and looked it over.
It only had 'Muanza' graved upon it, 'Muanza' and the date of
that August evening. No, I gave it up. So he told me his version
of events. 'There was a dhow beating round the corner of an
island. The Goanese skipper had no idea that you were there. It
was a near thing. He was lucky, wasn't he, that the alarm of the
light seen by your watch came just then? He was running almost
straight for your war-ship. But you started off on a course that
took you far out of his way, started off on a light's chase or
rather a star's chase. He is a very pious man, that Goanese
skipper; he was here for two Masses this morning. He has a great
devotion to Our Lady, as I believe, and he knows how to pray. He
vowed a silver star to Our Lady Our Lady of the Lake, if she
would but bring him through with his ship safe. He made a fair
voyage after all. But he thanked the star that led you off from
him for it, say rather Her who kindled that star. He is a man of
prayer, the sort of prayer that invites miracles.' I was very
silent. I knelt before the statue a little. Then I said 'Good-bye.'
When I had said it I looked at two of the stars (that were not
silver) curiously. Were they not Belgian officers' stars, and
were they not likely to have a tragical history? 'Ask the silver
star-man, please,' I said, 'to pray for God's miracle of peace.
It does seem to me as if his prayers might do a lot of good. I'd
give Our Lady of the Lake a whole Southern-Crossful of stars
should peace come before the year's out.' Did he forget to ask
that star-man for his prayers?



EPILOGUE



[AFRICA AND HER GODMOTHER.]

With shoes of crystal peace and glee
Christmas his clients proves:
They're misfits for those masters pale
And their white lady-loves;
But O they fit black boys and girls
Who clean their knives and stoves!

I slipt from out the white men's church,
The northern chants rang cold,
And with the preacher's war-time words
My heart it would not hold,
Gay hymns and I alike had grown
In exile grave and old.

I said 'I'll wander from the town
This cheerless Christmas Day.'
A church stood up beside my road,
And I turn'd in to pray.
Buff-brick its walls were, and its roof
Of ridg'd unlovely grey.

I enter'd in, and joy was there
The Mass had just begun.
They filled the place from screen to door
The children of the sun.
Me seem'd that southern sun was glass'd
In eyes of ev'ryone.

The server-men had lawn and lace
And crimson pageantry,
And boys were in their best, and girls
Wore kerchiefs bright to see.
Me seem'd those bare brown feet were shod
With crystal peace and glee.

The incense-smoke it skein 'd and spir'd,
The vowell'd hymns rang clear,
A shrill bell rung by a brown hand
Said Christ was very near.
Me seem'd a sun-tann'd Angel stoopt
And caroll'd in mine ear.

I Bless God for this our Christmas Ball
About our Christmas Board!
Our Church that faery Godmother
Her child hath not ignor'd,
And Africa, with heart in sky,
Is dancing to the Lord.

The Old World's and the New World's drudge
Whom few would praise before
Now from the kitchen hath been claim 'd,
The stable and the store,
Christ claims her heart to dance with his
Where Europe's danced of yore.'

With shoes of crystal peace and glee
Christmas his clients proves:
They're misfits for those masters pale
And their white lady-loves;
But O they fit black boys and girls
Who clean their knives and stoves!





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