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Stories, Dreams and Allegories. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
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page: 9

STORIES

Eighteen‐ninety‐nine

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EIGHTEEN-NINETY-NINE

“Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened unless it die.”

I

IT was a warm night: the stars shone down through the thick soft air of the Northern Transvaal into the dark earth, where a little daub‐and‐wattle house of two rooms lay among the long, grassy slopes.

A light shone through the small window of the house, though it was past midnight. Presently the upper half of the door opened and then the lower, and the tall figure of a woman stepped out into the darkness. She closed the door behind her and walked towards the back of the house where a large round hut stood; beside it lay a pile of stumps and branches quite visible when once the eyes grew accustomed to the darkness. The woman stooped and broke off twigs till she had her apron full, and then returned slowly, and went into the house.

The room to which she returned was a small, bare room, with brown earthen walls and a mud floor; a naked deal table stood in the centre, and a few dark page: 12 wooden chairs, home‐made, with seats of undressed leather, stood round the walls. In the corner opposite the door was an open fireplace, and on the earthen hearth stood an iron three‐foot, on which stood a large black kettle, under which coals were smouldering, though the night was hot and close. Against the wall on the left side of the room hung a gun‐rack with three guns upon it, and below it a large hunting‐watch hung from two nails by its silver chain.

In the corner by the fireplace was a little table with a coffee‐pot upon it and a dish containing cups and saucers covered with water, and above it were a few shelves with crockery and a large Bible; but the dim light of the tallow candle which burnt on the table, with its wick of twisted rag, hardly made the corners visible. Beside the table sat a young woman, her head resting on her folded arms, the light of the tallow candle falling full on her head of pale flaxen hair, a little tumbled, and drawn behind into a large knot. The arms crossed on the table, from which the cotton sleeves had fallen back, were the full, rounded arms of one very young.

The older woman, who had just entered, walked to the fireplace, and kneeling down before it took from her apron the twigs and sticks she had gathered and heaped them under the kettle till a blaze sprang up which illumined the whole room. Then she rose up and sat down on a chair before the fire, but facing page: 13 the table, with her hands crossed on her brown apron.

She was a woman of fifty, spare and broad‐shouldered, with black hair, already slightly streaked with grey; from below high, arched eyebrows, and a high forehead, full dark eyes looked keenly, and a sharply cut aquiline nose gave strength to the face; but the mouth below was somewhat sensitive, and not over‐ full. She crossed and recrossed her knotted hands on her brown apron.

The woman at the table moaned and moved her head from side to side.

“What time is it?” she asked.

The older woman crossed the room to where the hunting‐watch hung on the wall.

It showed a quarter‐past one, she said, and went back to her seat before the fire, and sat watching the figure beside the table, the firelight bathing her strong upright form and sharp aquiline profile.

Nearly fifty years before her parents had left the Cape Colony, and had set out on the long trek north‐ward, and she, a young child, had been brought with them. She had no remembrance of the colonial home. Her first dim memories were of travelling in an ox‐wagon; of dark nights when a fire was lighted in the open air, and people sat round it on the ground, and some faces seemed to stand out more than others in her memory which she thought must be those of page: 14 her father and mother and of an old grandmother; she could remember lying awake in the back of the wagon while it was moving on, and the stars were shining down on her; and she had a vague memory of great wide plains with buck on them, which she thought must have been in the Free State. But the first thing which sprang out sharp and clear from the past was a day when she and another child, a little boy cousin of her own age, were playing among the bushes on the bank of a stream; she remembered how, suddenly, as they looked through the bushes, they saw black men leap out, and mount the ox‐wagon outspanned under the trees; she remembered how they shouted and dragged people along, and stabbed them; she remembered how the blood gushed, and how they, the two young children among the bushes, lay flat on their stomachs and did not move or breathe, with that strange self‐preserving instinct found in the young of animals or men who grow up in the open.

She remembered how black smoke came out at the back of the wagon and then red tongues of flame through the top; and even that some of the branches of the tree under which the wagon stood caught fire. She remembered later, when the black men had gone, and it was dark, that they were very hungry, and crept out to where the wagon had stood, and that they looked about on the ground for any scraps of food they might pick up, and that when they could not page: 15 find any they cried. She remembered nothing clearly after that till some men with large beards and large hats rode up on horseback: it might have been next day or the day after. She remembered how they jumped off their horses and took them up in their arms, and how they cried; but that they, the children, did not cry, they only asked for food. She remembered how one man took a bit of thick, cold roaster‐cake out of his pocket, and gave it to her, and how nice it tasted. And she remembered that the men took them up before them on their horses, and that one man tied her close to him with a large red handkerchief.

In the years that came she learnt to know that that which she remembered so clearly was the great and terrible day when, at Weenen, and in the country round, hundreds of women and children and youths and old men fell before the Zulus, and the assegais of Dingaan’s braves drank blood.

She learnt that on that day all of her house and name, from the grandmother to the baby in arms, fell, and that she only and the boy cousin, who had hidden with her among the bushes, were left of all her kin in that Northern world. She learnt, too, that the man who tied her to him with the red hand‐kerchief took them back to his wagon, and that he and his wife adopted them, and brought them up among their own children.

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She remembered, though less clearly than the day of the fire, how a few years later they trekked away from Natal, and went through great mountain ranges, ranges in and near which lay those places the world was to know later as Laings Nek, and Amajuba, and Ingogo; Elands‐laagte, Nicholson Nek, and Spion Kop. She remembered how at last after many wanderings they settled down near the Witwaters Rand¹, where game was plentiful and wild beasts were dangerous, but there were no natives, and they were far from the English rule.

There the two children grew up among the children of those who had adopted them, and were kindly treated by them as though they were their own; it yet was but natural that these two of the same name and blood should grow up with a peculiar tenderness for each other. And so it came to pass that when they were both eighteen years old they asked consent of the old people, who gave it gladly, that they should marry. For a time the young couple lived on in the house with the old, but after three years they gathered together all their few goods and in their wagon, with their guns and ammunition and a few sheep and cattle, they moved away northwards to found their own home.

For a time they travelled here and travelled there,


¹“Witwaters Rand”—“White water’s ridge,” now known as the Rand, where Johannesburg and the great mines are situated.

page: 17 but at last they settled on a spot where game was plentiful and the soil good, and there among the low undulating slopes, near the bank of a dry sloot, the young man built at last, with his own hands, a little house of two rooms.

On the long slope across the sloot before the house, he ploughed a piece of land and enclosed it, and he built kraals for his stock and so struck root in the land and wandered no more. Those were brave, glad, free days to the young couple. They lived largely on the game which the gun brought down, antelope and wildebeest that wandered even past the doors at night; and now and again a lion was killed: one no farther than the door of the round hut behind the house where the meat and the milk were stored, and two were killed at the kraals. Sometimes, too, traders came with their wagons and in exchange for skins and fine horns sold sugar and coffee and print and tan‐cord, and such things as the little household had need of. The lands yielded richly to them, in maize, and pumpkins, and sweet‐cane, and melons; and they had nothing to wish for. Then in time three little sons were born to them, who grew as strong and vigorous in the free life of the open veld as the young lions in the long grass and scrub near the river four miles away. Those were joyous, free years for the man and woman, in which disease, and carking care, and anxiety played no part.

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Then came a day when their eldest son was ten years old, and the father went out a‐hunting with his Kaffir servants: in the evening they brought him home with a wound eight inches long in his side where a lioness had torn him; they brought back her skin also, as he had shot her at last in the hand‐to‐throat struggle. He lingered for three days and then died. His wife buried him on the low slope to the left of the house; she and her Kaffir servants alone made the grave and put him in it, for there were no white men near. Then she and her sons lived on there; a new root driven deep into the soil and binding them to it through the grave on the hill‐side. She hung her husband’s large hunting‐watch up on the wall, and put three of his guns over it on the rack, and the gun he had in his hand when he met his death she took down and polished up every day; but one gun she always kept loaded at the head of her bed in the inner room. She counted the stock every night and saw that the Kaffirs ploughed the lands, and she saw to the planting and watering of them herself.

Often as the years passed men of the country‐side, and even from far off, heard of the young handsome widow who lived alone with her children and saw to her own stock and lands; and they came a‐courting. But many of them were afraid to say anything when once they had come, and those who had spoken to her, when once she had answered them, never came again. page: 19 About this time too the country‐side began to fill in; and people came and settled as near as eight and ten miles away; and as people increased the game began to vanish, and with the game the lions, so that the one her husband killed was almost the last ever seen there. But there was still game enough for food, and when her eldest son was twelve years old, and she gave him his father’s smallest gun to go out hunting with, he returned home almost every day with meat enough for the household tied behind his saddle. And as time passed she came also to be known through the country‐side as a “wise woman.” People came to her to ask advice about their illnesses, or to ask her to dress old wounds that would not heal; and when they questioned her whether she thought the rains would be early, or the game plentiful that year, she was nearly always right. So they called her a “wise woman” because neither she nor they knew any word in that up‐country speech of theirs for the thing called “genius.” So all things went well till the eldest son was eighteen, and the dark beard was beginning to sprout on his face, and his mother began to think that soon there might be a daughter in the house; for on Saturday evenings, when his work was done, he put on his best clothes and rode off to the next farm eight miles away, where was a young daughter. His mother always saw that he had a freshly ironed shirt waiting for him on his page: 20 bed, when he came home from the kraals on Saturday nights, and she made plans as to how they would build on two rooms for the new daughter. At this time he was training young horses to have them ready to sell when the traders came round: he was a fine rider and it was always his work. One afternoon he mounted a young horse before the door and it bucked and threw him. He had often fallen before, but this time his neck was broken. He lay dead with his head two feet from his mother’s doorstep. They took up his tall, strong body and the next day the neighbours came from the next farm and they buried him beside his father, on the hill‐side, and another root was struck into the soil. Then the three who were left in the little farm‐house lived and worked on as before, for a year and more.

Then a small native war broke out, and the young burghers of the district were called out to help. The second son was very young, but he was the best shot in the district, so he went away with the others. Three months after the men came back, but among the few who did not return was her son. On a hot sunny afternoon, walking through a mealie field which they thought was deserted and where the dried yellow stalks stood thick, an assegai thrown from an unseen hand found him, and he fell there. His comrades took him and buried him under a large thorn tree, and scraped the earth smooth over him, that his grave page: 21 might not be found by others. So he was not laid on the rise to the left of the house with his kindred, but his mother’s heart went often to that thorn tree in the far north. And now again there were only two in the little mud‐house; as there had been years before when the young man and wife first settled there. She and her young lad were always together night and day, and did an that they aid together, as though they were mother and daughter. He was a fair lad, tall and gentle as his father had been before him, not huge and dark as his two elder brothers; but he seemed to ripen towards manhood early. When he was only sixteen the thick white down was already gathering heavy on his upper lip; his mother watched him narrowly, and had many thoughts in her heart. One evening as they sat twisting wicks for the candles together, she said to him, “You will be eighteen on your next birthday, my son, that was your father’s age when he married me.” He said, “Yes,” and they spoke no more then. But later in the evening when they sat before the door she said to him: “We are very lonely here. I often long to hear the feet of a little child about the house, and to see one with your father’s blood in it play before the door as you and your brothers played. Have you ever thought that you are the last of your father’s name and blood left here in the north; that if you died there would be none left?” He said he had thought of it. Then page: 22 she told him she thought it would be well if he went away, to the part of the country where the people lived who had brought her up: several of the sons and daughters who had grown up with her had now grown up children. He might go down and from among them seek out a young girl whom he liked and who liked him; and if he found her, bring her back as a wife. The lad thought very well of his mother’s plan. And when three months were passed, and the ploughing season was over, he rode away one day, on the best blackhorse they had, his Kaffir boy riding behind him on another, and his mother stood at the gable watching them ride away. For three months she heard nothing of him, for trains were not in those days, and letters came rarely and by chance, and neither he nor she could read or write. One afternoon she stood at the gable end as she always stood when her work was done, looking out along the road that came over the rise, and she saw a large tent‐wagon coming along it, and her son walking beside it. She walked to meet it. When she had greeted her son and climbed into the wagon she found there a girl of fifteen with pale flaxen hair and large blue eyes whom he had brought home as his wife. Her father had given her the wagon and oxen as her wedding portion. The older woman’s heart wrapt itself about the girl as though she had been the daughter she had dreamed to bear of her own body, and had never borne.

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The three lived joyfully at the little house as though they were one person. The young wife had been accustomed to live in a larger house, and down south, where they had things they had not here. She had been to school, and learned to read and write, and she could even talk a little English; but she longed for none of the things which she had had; the little brown house was home enough for her.

After a year a child came, but, whether it were that the mother was too young, it only opened its eyes for an hour on the world and closed them again. The young mother wept bitterly, but her husband folded his arms about her, and the mother comforted both. “You are young, my children, but we shall yet hear the sound of children’s voices in the house,” she said; and after a little while the young mother was well again and things went on peacefully as before in the little home.

But in the land things were not going on peacefully. That was the time that the flag to escape from which the people had left their old homes in the Colony, and had again left Natal when it followed them there, and had chosen to face the spear of the savage, and the conflict with wild beasts, and death by hunger and thirst in the wilderness rather than live under, had by force and fraud unfurled itself over them again. For the moment a great sullen silence brooded over the land. The people, slow of thought, slow of page: 24 speech, determined in action, and unforgetting; sat still and waited. It was like the silence that rests over the land before an up‐country thunderstorm breaks.

Then words came, “They have not even given us the free government they promised”—then acts—the people rose. Even in that remote country‐side the men began to mount their horses, and with their guns ride away to help. In the little mud‐house the young wife wept much when he said that he too was going. But when his mother helped him pack his saddle‐bags she helped too; and on the day when the men from the next farm went, he rode away also with his gun by his side.

No direct news of the one they had sent away came to the waiting women at the farm‐house; then came fleet reports of the victories of Ingogo and Amajuba. Then came an afternoon after he had been gone two months. They had both been to the gable end to look out at the road, as they did continually amid their work, and they had just come in to drink their afternoon coffee when the Kaffir maid ran in to say she saw someone coming along the road who looked like her master. The women ran out. It was the white horse on which he had ridden away, but they almost doubted if it were he. He rode bending on his saddle, with his chin on his breast and his arm hanging at his side. At first they thought he had page: 25 been wounded, but when they had helped him from his horse and brought him into the house they found it was only a deadly fever which was upon him. He had crept home to them by small stages. Hardly had he any spirit left to tell them of Ingogo, Laings Nek, and Amajuba. For fourteen days he grew worse and on the fifteenth day he died. And the two women buried him where the rest of his kin lay on the hill‐side.

And so it came to pass that on that warm star‐light night the two women were alone in the little mud‐house with the stillness of the veld about them; even their Kaffir servants asleep in their huts beyond the kraals; and the very sheep lying silent in the starlight. They two were alone in the little house, but they knew that before morning they would not be alone, they were awaiting the coming of the dead man’s child.

The young woman with her head on the table groaned. “If only my husband were here still,” she wailed. The old woman rose and stood beside her, passing her hard, work‐worn hand gently over her shoulder as if she were a little child. At last she induced her to go and lie down in the inner room. When she had grown quieter and seemed to have fallen into a light sleep the old woman came to the front room again. It was almost two o’clock and the fire had burned low under the large kettle. She scraped the page: 26 coals together and went out of the front door to fetch more wood, and closed the door behind her. The night air struck cool and fresh upon her face after the close air of the house, the stars seemed to be growing lighter as the night advanced, they shot down their light as from a million polished steel points. She walked to the back of the house where, beyond the round hut that served as a store‐room, the wood‐pile lay. She bent down gathering sticks and chips till her apron was full, then slowly she raised herself and stood still. She looked upwards. It was a wonderful night. The white band of the Milky Way crossed the sky overhead, and from every side stars threw down their light, sharp as barbed spears, from the velvety blue‐black of the sky. The woman raised her hand to her forehead as if pushing the hair farther off it, and stood motionless, looking up. After a long time she dropped her hand and began walking slowly towards the house. Yet once or twice on the way she paused and stood looking up. When she went into the house the woman in the inner room was again moving and moaning. She laid the sticks down before the fire and went into the next room. She bent down over the bed where the younger woman lay, and put her hand upon her. “My daughter,” she said slowly, “be comforted. A wonderful thing has happened to me. As I stood out in the starlight it was as though a voice came down page: 27 to me and spoke. The child which will be born of you to‐night will be a man‐child and he will live to do great things for his land and for his people.”

Before morning there was the sound of a little wail in the mud‐house: and the child who was to do great things for his land and for his people was born.

II

Six years passed; and all was as it had been at the little house among the slopes. Only a new piece of land had been ploughed up and added to the land before the house, so that the ploughed land now almost reached to the ridge.

The young mother had grown stouter, and lost her pink and white; she had become a working‐woman, but she still had the large knot of flaxen hair behind her head and the large wondering eyes. She had many suitors in those six years, but she sent them all away. She said the old woman looked after the farm as well as any man might, and her son would be grown up by and by. The grandmother’s hair was a little more streaked with grey, but it was as thick as ever, and her shoulders as upright; only some of her front teeth had fallen out, which made her lips close more softly.

The great change was that wherever the women went there was the flaxen‐haired child to walk beside them holding on to their skirts or clasping their hands.

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The neighbours said they were ruining the child: they let his hair grow long, like a girl’s, because it curled; and they never let him wear velschoens like other children but always shop boots; and his mother sat up at night to iron his pinafores as if the next day were always a Sunday.

But the women cared nothing for what was said; to them he was not as any other child. He asked them strange questions they could not answer, and he never troubled them by wishing to go and play with the little Kaffirs as other children trouble. When neighbours came over and brought their children with them he ran away and hid in the sloot to play by himself till they were gone. No, he was not like other children!

When the women went to lie down on hot days after dinner sometimes, he would say that he did not want to sleep; but he would not run about and make a noise like other children—he would go and sit outside in the shade of the house, on the front door‐step, quite still, with his little hands resting on his knees, and stare far away at the ploughed lands on the slope, or the shadows nearer; the women would open the bedroom window, and peep out to look at him as he sat there.

The child loved his mother and followed her about to the milk house, and to the kraals; but he loved his grandmother best.

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She told him stories.

When she went to the lands to see how the Kaffirs were ploughing he would run at her side holding her dress; when they had gone a short way he would tug gently at it and say, “Grandmother, tell me things!”

And long before day broke, when it was yet quite dark, he would often creep from the bed where he slept with his mother into his grandmother’s bed in the corner; he would put his arms round her neck and stroke her face till she woke, and then whisper softly, “Tell me stories!” and she would tell them to him in a low voice not to wake the mother, till the cock crowed and it was time to get up and light the candle and the fire.

But what he liked best of all were the hot, still summer nights, when the women put their chairs before the door because it was too warm to go to sleep; and he would sit on the stool at his grandmother’s feet and lean his head against her knees, and she would tell him on and on of the things he liked to hear; and he would watch the stars as they slowly set along the ridge, or the moonlight, casting bright‐edged shadows from the gable as she talked. Often after the mother had got sleepy and gone in to bed the two sat there together.

The stories she told him were always true stories of the things she had seen or of things she had heard. Sometimes they were stories of her own childhood: page: 30 of the day when she and his grandfather hid among the bushes, and saw the wagon burnt; sometimes they were of the long trek from Natal to the Transvaal; sometimes of the things which happened to her and his grandfather when first they came to that spot among the ridges, of how there was no house there nor lands, only two bare grassy slopes when they outspanned their wagon there the first night; she told of a lion she once found when she opened the door in the morning, sitting, with paws crossed, upon the threshold, and how the grandfather jumped out of bed and reopened the door two inches, and shot it through the opening; the skin was kept in the round storehouse still, very old and mangy.

Sometimes she told him of the two uncles who were dead, and of his own father, and of all they had been and done. But sometimes she told him of things much farther off: of the old Colony where she had been born, but which she could not remember, and of the things which happened there in the old days. She told him of how the British had taken the Cape over, and of how the English had hanged their men at the “Slachters Nek” for resisting the English Government, and of how the friends and relations had been made to stand round to see them hanged whether they would or no, and of how the scaffold broke down as they were being hanged, and the people looking on cried aloud, “It is the finger of God! They are page: 31 saved!” but how the British hanged them up again. She told him of the great trek in which her parents had taken part to escape from under the British flag; of the great battles with Moselikatse; and of the murder of Retief and his men by Dingaan, and of Dingaan’s Day. She told him how the British Government followed them into Natal, and of how they trekked north and east to escape from it again; and she told him of the later things, of the fight at Laings Nek, and Ingogo, and Amajuba, where his father had been. Always she told the same story in exactly the same words over and over again, till the child knew them all by heart, and would ask for this and then that.

The story he loved best, and asked for more often than all the others, made his grandmother wonder, because it did not seem to her the story a child would best like; it was not a story of lion‐hunting, or wars, or adventures. Continually when she asked what she should tell him, he said, “About the mountains!”

It was the story of how the Boer women in Natal when the English Commissioner came to annex their country, collected to meet him and pointing toward the Drakens Berg Mountains said, “We go across those mountains to freedom or to death!”

More than once, when she was telling him the story, she saw him stretch out his little arm and raise his hand, as though he were speaking.

One evening as he and his mother were coming page: 32 home from the milking kraals, and it was getting dark, and he was very tired, having romped about shouting among the young calves and kids all the evening, he held her hand tightly.

“Mother,” he said suddenly, “when I am grown up, I am going to Natal.”

“Why, my child!” she asked him; “there are none of our family living there now.”

He waited a little, then said, very slowly, “I am going to go and try to get our land back!”

His mother started; if there were one thing she was more firmly resolved on in her own mind than any other it was that he should never go to the wars. She began to talk quickly of the old white cow who had kicked the pail over as she was milked, and when she got to the house she did not even mention to the grandmother what had happened; it seemed better to forget.

One night in the rainy season when it was damp and chilly they sat round the large fireplace in the front room.

Outside the rain was pouring in torrents and you could hear the water rushing in the great dry sloot before the door. His grandmother, to amuse him, had sprung some dried menlies in the great black pot and sprinkled them with sugar, and now he sat on the stoof at her feet with a large lump of the sticky sweetmeat in his hand, watching the fire. His grandmother page: 33 from above him was watching it also, and his mother in her elbow‐chair on the other side of the fire had her eyes half closed and was nodding already with the warmth of the room and her long day’s work. The child sat so quiet, the hand with the lump of sweetmeat resting on his knee, that his grandmother thought he had gone to sleep too. Suddenly he said without looking up, “Grandmother?”

“Yes.”

He waited rather a long time, then said slowly, “Grandmother, did God make the English too?”

She also waited for a while, then she said, “Yes, my child; He made all things.”

They were silent again, and there was no sound but of the rain falling and the fire cracking and the sloot rushing outside. Then he threw his head backwards on to his grandmother’s knee and looking up into her face, said, “But, grandmother, why did He make them?”

Then she too was silent for a long time. “My child,” at last she said, “we cannot judge the ways of the Almighty. He does that which seems good in His own eyes.”

The child sat up and looked back at the fire. Slowly he tapped his knee with the lump of sweetmeat once or twice; then he began to munch it; and soon the mother started wide awake and said it was time for all to go to bed.

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The next morning his grandmother sat on the front doorstep cutting beans in an iron basin; he sat beside her on the step pretending to cut too, with a short, broken knife. Presently he left off and rested his hands on his knees, looking away at the hedge beyond, with his small forehead knit tight between the eyes.

“Grandmother,” he said suddenly, in a small, almost shrill voice, “do the English want all the lands of all the people?”

The handle of his grandmother’s knife as she cut clinked against the iron side of the basin. “All they can get,” she said.

After a while he made a little movement almost like a sigh, and took up his little knife again and went on cutting.

Some time after that, when a whe an trader came by, his grandmother bought him a spelling‐book and a slate and pencils, and his mother began to teach him to read and write. When she had taught him for a year he knew all she did. Sometimes when she was setting him a copy and left a letter out in a word, he would quietly take the pencil when she set it down and put the letter in, not with any idea of correcting her, but simply because it must be there.

Often at night when the child had gone to bed early, tired out with his long day’s play, and the two women were left in the front room with the tallow candle page: 35 burning on the table between them, then they talked of his future.

Ever since he had been born everything they had earned had been put away in the wagon chest under the grandmother’s bed. When the traders with their wagons came round the women bought nothing except a few groceries and clothes for the child; even before they bought a yard of cotton print for a new apron they talked long and solemnly as to whether the old one might not be made to do by repatching; and they mixed much more dry pumpkin and corn with their coffee than before he was born. It was to earn more money that the large new piece of land had been added to the lands before the house.

They were going to have him educated. First he was to be taught all they could at home, then to be sent away to a great school in the old Colony, and then he was to go over the sea to Europe and come back an advocate or a doctor or a parson. The grandmother had made a long journey to the next town, to find out from the minister just how much it would cost to do it all.

In the evenings when they sat talking it over the mother generally inclined to his becoming a parson. She never told the grandmother why, but the real reason was because parsons do not go to the wars. The grandmother generally favoured his becoming an advocate, because he might become a judge. Some‐ page: 36 times they sat discussing these matters till the candle almost burnt out.

“Perhaps, one day,” the mother would at last say, “he may yet become President!”

Then the grandmother would slowly refold her hands across her apron and say softly, “Who knows?—who knows?”

Often they would get the box out from under the bed (looking carefully across to the corner to see he was fast asleep) and would count out all the money, though each knew to a farthing how much was there; then they would make it into little heaps, so much for this, so much for that, and then they would count on their fingers how many good seasons it would take to make the rest, and how old he would be.

When he was eight and had learnt all his mother could teach him, they sent him to school every day on an adjoining farm six miles off, where the people had a schoolmaster. Every day he rode over on the great white horse his father went to the wars with; his mother was afraid to let him ride alone at first, but his grandmother said he must learn to do everything alone. At four o’clock when he came back one or other of the women was always looking out to see the little figure on the tall horse coming over the ridge.

When he was eleven they gave him his father’s page: 37 smallest gun; and one day not long after he came back with his first small buck. His mother had the skin dressed and bound with red, and she laid it as a mat under the table, and even the horns she did not throw away, and saved them in the round house, because it was his first.

When he was fourteen the schoolmaster said he could teach him no more; that he ought to go to some larger school where they taught Latin and other difficult things; they had not yet money enough and he was not quite old enough to go to the old Colony, so they sent him first to the High‐veld, where his mother’s relations lived and where there were good schools, where they taught the difficult things; he could live with his mother’s relations and come back once a year for the holidays.

They were great times when he came.

His mother made him koekies¹ and sasarties² and nice things every day; and he used to sit on the stoof at her feet and let her play with his hair like when he was quite small. With his grandmother he talked. He tried to explain to her all he was learning, and he read the English newspapers to her (she could neither read in English nor Dutch), translating them. Most of all she liked his Atlas. They would sometimes sit over it for half an hour in the evening tracing


¹Koekies: little cakes.

²Sasarties: meat prepared in a certain way.

page: 38 the different lands and talking of them. On the warm nights he used still to sit outside on the stool at her feet with his head against her knee, and they used to discuss things that were happening in other lands and in South Africa; and sometimes they sat there quite still together.

It was now he who had the most stories to tell; he had seen Krugersdorp, and Johannesburg, and Pretoria; he knew the world; he was at Krugersdorp when Dr. Jameson made his raid. Sometimes he sat for an hour, telling her of things, and she sat quietly listening.

When he was seventeen, nearly eighteen, there was money enough in the box to pay for his going to the Colony and then to Europe; and he came home to spend a few months with them before he went.

He was very handsome now; not tall, and very slight, but with fair hair that curled close to his head, and white hands like a town’s man. All the girls in the country‐side were in love with him. They all wished he would come and see them. But he seldom rode from home except to go to the next farm where he had been at school. There lived little Aletta, who was the daughter of the woman his uncle had loved before he went to the Kaffir war and got killed. She was only fifteen years old, but they had always been great friends. She netted him a purse of green silk. He said he would take it with him to Europe, and page: 39 would show it her when he came back and was an advocate; and he gave her a book with her name written in it, which she was to show to him.

These were the days when the land was full of talk; it was said the English were landing troops in South Africa, and wanted to have war. Often the neighbours from the nearest farms would come to talk about it (there were more farms now, the country was filling in, and the nearest railway station was only a day’s journey off), and they discussed matters. Some said they thought there would be war; others again laughed, and said it would be only Jameson and his white flag again. But the grandmother shook her head, and if they asked her, “Why,” she said, “it will not be the war of a week, nor of a month; if it comes it will be the war of years,” but she would say nothing more.

Yet sometimes when she and her grandson were walking along together in the lands she would talk.

Once she said: “It is as if a great heavy cloud hung just above my head, as though I wished to press it back with my hands and could not. It will be a great war—a great war. Perhaps the English Government will take the land for a time, but they will not keep it. The gold they have fought for will divide them, till they slay one another over it.”

Another day she said: “This land will be a great page: 40 land one day with one people from the sea to the north—but we shall not live to see it.”

He said to her: “But how can that be when we are all of different races?”

She said: “The land will make us one. Were not our fathers of more than one race?”

Another day, when she and he were sitting by the table after dinner, she pointed to a sheet of exercise paper, on which he had been working out a problem and which was covered with algebraical symbols, and said, “In fifteen years’ time the Government of England will not have one piece of land in all South Africa as large as that sheet of paper.”

One night when the milking had been late and she and he were walking down together from the kraals in the starlight she said to him: “If this war comes let no man go to it lightly, thinking he will surely return home, nor let him go expecting victory on the next day. It will come at last, but not at first.” “Sometimes,” she said, “I wake at night and it is as though the whole house were filled with smoke—and I have to get up and go outside to breathe. It is as though I saw my whole land blackened and desolate. But when I look up it is as though a voice cried out to me, ‘Have no fear!’”

They were getting his things ready for him to go away after Christmas. His mother was making him shirts and his grandmother was having a kaross of page: 41 jackals’ skins made that he might take it with him to Europe where it was so cold. But his mother noticed that whenever the grandmother was in the room with him and he was not looking at her, her eyes were always curiously fixed on him as though they were questioning something. The hair was growing white and a little thin over her temples now; but her eyes were as bright as ever, and she could do a day’s work with any man.

One day when the youth was at the kraals helping the Kaffir boys to mend a wall, and the mother was kneading bread in the front room, and the grandmother washing up the breakfast things, the son of the Field‐Cornet came riding over from his father’s farm, which was about twelve miles off. He stopped at the kraal and Jan and he stood talking for some time, then they walked down to the farm‐house, the Kaffir boy leading the horse behind them. Jan stopped at the round store, but the Field‐Cornet’s son went to the front door. The grandmother asked him in, and handed him some coffee, and the mother, her hands still in the dough, asked him how‐things were going at his father’s farm, and if his mother’s young turkeys had come out well, and she asked if he had met Jan at the kraals. He answered the questions slowly, and sipped his coffee. Then he put the cup down on the table; and said suddenly in the same measured voice, staring at the wall in page: 42 front of him, that war had broken out, and his father had sent him round to call out all fighting burghers.

The mother took her hands out of the dough and stood upright beside the trough as though paralysed. Then she cried in a high, hard voice, unlike her own, “Yes, but Jan cannot go! He is hardly eighteen! He’s got to go and be educated in other lands! You can’t take the only son of a widow!”

“Aunt” said the young man slowly, “no one will make him go.”

The grandmother stood resting the knuckles of both hands on the table, her eyes fixed on the young man. “He shall decide himself,” she said.

The mother wiped her hands from the dough and rushed past them and out at the door; the grandmother followed slowly.

They found him in the shade at the back of the house, sitting on a stump; he was cleaning the belt of his new Mauser which lay across his knees.

“Jan,” his mother cried, grasping his shoulder, “you are not going away! You can’t go! You must stay. You can go by Delagoa Bay if there is fighting on the other side! There is plenty of money!”

He looked softly up into her face with his blue eyes. “We have all to be at the Field Cornet’s at nine o’clock to‐morrow morning,” he said. She wept aloud and argued.

His grandmother turned slowly without speaking, page: 43 and went back into the house. When she had given the Field Cornet’s son another cup of coffee, and shaken hands with him, she went into the bedroom and opened the box in which her grandson’s clothes were kept, to see which things he should take with him. After a time the mother came back too. He had kissed her and talked to her until she too had at last said it was right he should go.

All day they were busy. His mother baked him biscuits to take in his bag, and his grandmother made a belt of two strips of leather; she sewed them together herself and put a few sovereigns between the stitchings. She said some of his comrades might need the money if he did not.

The next morning early he was ready. There were two saddle‐bags tied to his saddle and before it was strapped the kaross his grandmother had made; she said it would be useful when he had to sleep on damp ground. When he had greeted them, he rode away towards the rise: and the women stood at the gable of the house to watch him.

When he had gone a little way he turned in his saddle, and they could see he was smiling; he took off his hat and waved it in the air; the early morning sunshine made his hair as yellow as the tassels that hang from the head of ripening mealies. His mother covered her face with the sides of her kappie and wept aloud; but the grandmother shaded her eyes with both her page: 44 hands and stood watching him till the figure passed out of sight over the ridge; and when it was gone and the mother returned to the house crying, she still stood watching the line against the sky.

The two women were very quiet during the next days, they worked hard, and seldom spoke. After eight days there came a long letter from him (there was now a post once a week from the station to the Field Cornet’s). He said he was well and in very good spirits. He had been to Krugersdorp, and Johannesburg, and Pretoria; all the family living there were well and sent greetings. He had joined a corps that was leaving for the front the next day. He sent also a long message to Aletta, asking them to tell her he was sorry to go away without saying good‐bye; and he told his mother how good the biscuits and biltong were she had put into his saddle‐bag; and he sent her a piece of “vier‐kleur” ribbon in the letter, to wear on her breast.

The women talked a great deal for a day or two after this letter came. Eight days after there was a short note from him, written in pencil in the train on his way to the front. He said all was going well, and if he did not write soon they were not to be anxious; he would write as often as he could.

For some days the women discussed that note too.

Then came two weeks without a letter, the two page: 45 women became very silent. Every day they sent the Kaffir boy over to the Field Cornet’s, even on the days when there was no post, to hear if there was any news.

Many reports were flying about the country‐side. Some said that an English armoured train had been taken on the western border; that there had been fighting at Albertina, and in Natal. But nothing seemed quite certain.

Another week passed.... Then the two women became very quiet.

The grandmother, when she saw her daughter‐in‐law left the food untouched on her plate, said there was no need to be anxious; men at the front could not always find paper and pencils to write with and might be far from any post office. Yet night after night she herself would rise from her bed saying she felt the house close, and go and walk up and down outside.

Then one day suddenly all their servants left them except one Kaffir and his wife, whom they had had for years, and the servants from the farms about went also, which was a sign there had been news of much fighting; for the Kaffirs hear things long before the white man knows them.

Three days after, as the women were clearing off the breakfast things, the youngest son of the Field‐Cornet, who was only fifteen and had not gone to the page: 46 war with the others, rode up. He hitched his horse to the post, and came towards the door. The mother stepped forward to meet him and shook hands in the doorway.

“I suppose you have come for the carrot seed I promised your mother? I was not able to send it, as our servants ran away,” she said, as she shook his hand. “There isn’t a letter from Jan, is there?” The lad said no, there was no letter from him, and shook hands with the grandmother. He stood by the table instead of sitting down.

The mother turned to the fireplace to get coals to put under the coffee to rewarm it; but the grandmother stood leaning forward with her eyes fixed on him from across the table. He felt uneasily in his breast pocket.

“Is there no news?” the mother said without looking round, as she bent over the fire.

“Yes, there is news, Aunt.”

She rose quickly and turned towards him, putting down the brazier on the table. He took a letter out of his breast pocket. “Aunt, my father said I must bring this to you. It came inside one to him and they asked him to send one of us over with it.”

The mother took the letter; she held it, examining the address.

“It looks to me like the writing of Sister Annie’s Paul,” she said. “Perhaps there is news of Jan in page: 47 it”—she turned to them with a half‐nervous smile—“they were always such friends.”

“All is as God wills, Aunt,” the young man said, looking down fixedly at the top of his riding‐whip.

But the grandmother leaned forward motionless, watching her daughter‐in‐law as she opened the letter.

She began to read to herself, her lips moving slowly as she deciphered it word by word.

Then a piercing cry rang through the roof of the little mud‐farm‐house.

“He is dead! My boy is dead!”

She flung the letter on the table and ran out at the front door.

Far out across the quiet ploughed lands and over the veld to where the kraals lay the cry rang. The Kaffir woman who sat outside her hut beyond the kraals nursing her baby heard it and came down with her child across her hip to see what was the matter. At the side of the round house she stood motionless and open‐mouthed, watching the woman, who paced up and down behind the house with her apron thrown over her head and her hands folded above it, crying aloud.

In the front room the grandmother, who had not spoken since he came, took up the letter and put it in the lad’s hands. “Read,” she whispered.

And slowly the lad spelled it out.

page: 48

‘MY DEAR AUNT,

‘I hope this letter finds you well. The Commandant has asked me to write it.

‘We had a great fight four days ago, and Jan is dead. The Commandant says I must tell you how it happened. Aunt, there were five of us first in a position on that koppie, but two got killed, and then there were only three of us—Jan, and I, and Uncle Peter’s Frikkie. Aunt, the khakies¹ were coming on all round just like locusts, and the bullets were coming just like hail. It was bare on that side of the koppie where we were, but we had plenty of cartridges. We three took up a position where there were some small stones and we fought, Aunt; we had to. One bullet took off the top of my ear, and Jan got two bullets, one through the flesh in the left leg and one through his arm, but he could still fire his gun. Then we three meant to go to the top of the koppie, but a bullet took Jan right through his chest. We knew he couldn’t go any farther. The khakies were right at the foot of the koppie just coming up. He told us to lay him down, Aunt. We said we would stay by him, but he said we must go. I put my jacket under his head and Frikkie put his over his feet. We threw his gun far away from him that they might see how it was with him. He said he hadn’t much pain,


¹Khakies: soldiers.

page: 49 Aunt. He was full of blood from his arm, but there wasn’t much from his chest, only a little out of the corners of his mouth. He said we must make haste or the khakies would catch us; he said he wasn’t afraid to be left there.

‘Aunt, when we got to the top, it was all full of khakies like the sea on the other side, all among the koppies and on our koppie too. We were surrounded, Aunt; the last I saw of Frikkie he was sitting on a stone with the blood running down his face, but he got under a rock and hid there; some of our men found him next morning and brought him to camp. Aunt, there was a khakie’s horse standing just below where I was, with no one on it. I jumped on and rode. The bullets went this way and the bullets went that, but I rode! Aunt, the khakies were sometimes as near me as that tent‐pole, only the Grace of God saved me. It was dark in the night when I got back to where our people were, because I had to go round all the koppies to get away from the khakies.

‘Aunt, the next day we went to look for him. We found him where we left him; but he was turned over on to his face; they had taken all his things, his belt and his watch, and the pugaree from his hat, even his boots. The little green silk purse he used to carry we found on the ground by him, but nothing in it. I will send it back to you whenever I get an opportunity.

page: 50

‘Aunt, when we turned him over on his back there were four bayonet stabs in his body. The doctor says it was only the first three while he was alive; the last one was through his heart and killed him at once.

‘We gave him Christian burial, Aunt; we took him to the camp.

‘The Commandant was there, and all of the family who are with the Commando were there, and they all said they hoped God would comfort you.’

The old woman leaned forward and grasped the boy’s arm. “Read it over again,” she said, “from where they found him.” He turned back and re‐read slowly. She gazed at the page as though she were reading also. Then, suddenly, she slipped out at the front door.

At the back of the house she found her daughter‐in‐law still walking up and down, and the Kaffir woman with a red handkerchief bound round her head and the child sitting across her hip, sucking from her long, pendulous breast, looking on.

The old woman walked up to her daughter‐in‐law and grasped her firmly by the arm.

“He’s dead! You know, my boy’s dead!” she cried, drawing the apron down with her right hand and disclosing her swollen and bleared face. “Oh, his beautiful hair—Oh, his beautiful hair!”

page: 51

The old woman held her arm tighter with both hands; the younger opened her half‐closed eyes, and looked into the keen, clear eyes fixed on hers, and stood arrested.

The old woman drew her face closer to hers. “You ... do ... not ... know ... what ... has ... happened!” she spoke slowly, her tongue striking her front gum, the jaw moving stiffly, as though partly paralysed. She loosed her left hand and held up the curved work‐worn fingers before her daughter‐in‐law’s face. “Was it not told me ... the night he was born ... here ... at this spot ... that he would do great things ... great things ... for his land and his people?” She bent forward till her lips almost touched the other’s. “Three ... bullet ... wounds ... and four ... bayonet ... stabs!” She raised her left hand high in the air. “Three ... bullet ... wounds ... and four ... bayonet ... stabs! ... Is it given to many to die so for their land and their people!”

The younger woman gazed into her eyes, her own growing larger and larger. She let the old woman lead her by the arm in silence into the house.

The Field‐Cornet’s son was gone, feeling there was nothing more to be done; and the Kaffir woman went back with her baby to her hut beyond the kraals. All day the house was very silent. The Kaffir woman wondered that no smoke rose from the farm‐house page: 52 chimney, and that she was not called to churn, or wash the pots. At three o’clock she went down to the house. As she passed the grated window of the round out‐house she saw the buckets of milk still standing unsifted¹ on the floor as they had been set down at breakfast time, and under the great soap‐pot beside the wood pile the fire had died out. She went round to the front of the house and saw the door and window shutters still closed, as though her mistresses were still sleeping. So she rebuilt the fire under the soap‐pot and went back to her hut.

It was four o’clock when the grandmother came out from the dark inner room where she and her daughter‐in‐law had been lying down; she opened the top of the front door, and lit the fire with twigs, and set the large black kettle over it. When it boiled she made coffee, and poured out two cups and set them on the table with a plate of biscuits, and then called her daughter‐in‐law from the inner room.

The two women sat down one on each side of the table, with their coffee cups before them, and the biscuits between them, but for a time they said nothing, but sat silent, looking out through the open door at the shadow of the house and the afternoon sunshine beyond it. At last the older woman motioned that the younger should drink her coffee. She took a little, and then folding her arms on the


¹ Unsifted: unstrained.

page: 53 table rested her head on them, and sat motionless as if asleep.

The older woman broke up a biscuit into her own cup, and stirred it round and round; and then, without tasting, sat gazing out into the afternoon’s sunshine till it grew cold beside her.

It was five, and the heat was quickly dying; the glorious golden colouring of the later afternoon was creeping over everything when she rose from her chair. She moved to the door and took from behind it two large white calico bags hanging there, and from nails on the wall she took down two large brown cotton kappies. She walked round the table and laid her hand gently on her daughter‐in‐law’s arm. The younger woman raised her head slowly and looked up into her mother‐in‐law’s face; and then, suddenly, she knew that her mother‐in‐law was an old, old, woman. The little shrivelled face that looked down at her was hardly larger than a child’s, the eyelids were half closed and the lips worked at the corners and the bones cut out through the skin in the temples.

“I am going out to sow—the ground will be getting too dry to‐morrow; will you come with me?” she said gently.

The younger woman made a movement with her hand, as though she said “What is the use?” and redropped her hand on the table.

page: 54

“It may go on for long, our burghers must have food,” the old woman said gently.

The younger woman looked into her face, then she rose slowly and taking one of the brown kappies from her hand, put it on, and hung one of the bags over her left arm; the old woman did the same and together they passed out of the door. As the older woman stepped down the younger caught her and saved her from falling.

“Take my arm, mother,” she said.

But the old woman drew her shoulders up. “I only stumbled a little!” she said quickly. “That step has been always too high”; but before she reached the plank over the sloot the shoulders had drooped again, and the neck fallen forward.

The mould in the lands was black and soft; it lay in long ridges, as it had been ploughed up a week before, but the last night’s rain had softened it and made it moist and ready for putting in the seed.

The bags which the women carried on their arms were full of the seed of pumpkins and mealies. They began to walk up the lands, keeping parallel with the low hedge of dried bushes that ran up along the side of the sloot almost up to the top of the ridge. At every few paces they stopped and bent down to press into the earth, now one and then the other kind of seed from their bags. Slowly they walked up and down till they reached the top of the land almost on page: 55 the horizon line; and then they turned, and walked down, sowing as they went. When they had reached the bottom of the land before the farm‐house it was almost sunset, and their bags were nearly empty; but they turned to go up once more. The light of the setting sun cast long, gaunt shadows from their figures across the ploughed land, over the low hedge and the sloot, into the bare veld beyond; shadows that grew longer and longer as they passed slowly on pressing in the seeds ... The seeds! ... that were to lie in the dank, dark, earth, and rot there, seemingly, to die, till their outer covering had split and fallen from them ... and then, when the rains had fallen, and the sun had shone, to come up above the earth again, and high in the clear air to lift their feathery plumes and hang out their pointed leaves and silken tassels! To cover the ground with a mantle of green and gold through which sunlight quivered, over which the insects hung by thousands, carrying yellow pollen on their legs and wings and making the air alive with their hum and stir, while grain and fruit ripened surely ... for the next season’s harvest!

When the sun had set, the two women with their empty bags turned and walked silently home in the dark to the farm‐house.

page: 56

NINETEEN HUNDRED AND ONE

Near one of the camps in the Northern Transvaal are the graves of two women. The older one died first, on the twenty‐third of the month, from hunger and want; the younger woman tended her with ceaseless care and devotion till the end. A week later when the British Superintendent came round to inspect the tents, she was found lying on her blanket on the mud‐floor dead, with the rations of bread and meat she had got four days before untouched on a box beside her. Whether she died of disease, or from inability to eat the food, no one could say. Some who had seen her said she hardly seemed to care to live after the old woman died; they buried them side by side.

There is no stone and no name upon either grave to say who lies there ... our unknown ... our unnamed ... our forgotten dead.

IN THE YEAR NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FOUR

If you look for the little farm‐house among the ridges you will not find it there to‐day.

The English soldiers burnt it down. You can only see where the farm‐house once stood, because the stramonia and weeds grow high and very strong there; and where the ploughed lands were you can only tell, page: 57 because the veld never grows quite the same on land that has once been ploughed. Only a brown patch among the long grass on the ridge shows where the kraals and huts once were.

In a country house in the north of England the owner has upon his wall an old flint‐lock gun. He takes it down to show his friends. It is a small thing he picked up in the war in South Africa, he says. It must be at least eighty years old and is very valuable. He shows how curiously it is constructed; he says it must have been kept in such perfect repair by continual polishing for the steel shines as if it were silver. He does not tell that he took it from the wall of the little mud house before he burnt it down.

It was the grandfather’s gun, which the women had kept polished on the wall.

In a London drawing‐room the descendant of a long line of titled forefathers entertains her guests. It is a fair‐room, and all that money can buy to make life soft and beautiful is there.

On the carpet stands a little dark wooden stoof. When one of her guests notices it, she says it is a small curiosity which her son brought home to her from South Africa when he was out in the war there; and how good it was of him to think of her when he was away in the back country. And when they ask what it is, she says it is a thing Boer women have as a footstool and to keep their feet warm; and she shows page: 58 the hole at the side where they put the coals in, and the little holes at the top where the heat comes out.

And the other woman puts her foot out and rests it on the stool just to try how it feels, and drawls “How f‐u‐n‐n‐y!”

It is grandmother’s stoof, that the child used to sit on.

The wagon chest was found and broken open just before the thatch caught fire, by three private soldiers, and they divided the money between them; one spent his share in drink, another had his stolen from him, but the third sent his home to England to a girl in the East End of London. With part of it she bought a gold brooch and ear‐rings, and the rest she saved to buy a silk wedding‐dress when he came home.

A syndicate of Jews in Johannesburg and London have bought the farm. They purchased it from the English Government, because they think to find gold on it. They have purchased it and paid for it ... but they do not possess it.

Only the men who lie in their quiet graves upon the hill‐side, who lived on it, and loved it, possess it; and the piles of stones above them, from among the long waving grasses, keep watch over the land.

page: 59

The Buddhist Priest’s Wife

page: 61

THE BUDDHIST PRIEST’S WIFE

COVER her up! How still it lies! You can see the outline under the white. You would think she was asleep. Let the sunshine come in; it loved it so. She that had travelled so far, in so many lands, and done so much and seen so much, how she must like rest now! Did she ever love anything absolutely, this woman whom so many men loved, and so many women; who gave so much sympathy and never asked for anything in return! did she ever need a love she could not have? Was she never obliged to unclasp her fingers from anything to which they clung? Was she really so strong as she looked? Did she never wake up in the night crying for that which she could not have? Were thought and travel enough for her? Did she go about for long days with a weight that crushed her to earth? Cover her up! I do not think she would have liked us to look at her. In one way she was alone all her life; she would have liked to be alone now!... Life must have been very page: 62 beautiful to her, or she would not look so young now. Cover her up! Let us go!

Many years ago in a London room, up long flights of stairs, a fire burnt up in a grate. It showed the marks on the walls where pictures had been taken down, and the little blue flowers in the wall‐paper and the blue felt carpet on the floor, and a woman sat by the fire in a chair at one side.

Presently the door opened, and the old woman came in who took care of the entrance hall downstairs.

“Do you not want anything to‐night?” she said.

“No, I am only waiting for a visitor; when they have been, I shall go.”

“Have you got all your things taken away already?”

“Yes, only these I am leaving.”

The old woman went down again, but presently came up with a cup of tea in her hand.

“You must drink that; it’s good for one. Nothing helps one like tea when one’s been packing all day.”

The young woman at the fire did not thank her, but she ran her hand over the old woman’s from the wrist to the fingers.

“I’ll say good‐bye to you when I go out.”

The woman poked the fire, put the last coals on, and went.

When she had gone the young one did not drink the tea, but drew her little silver cigarette case from page: 63 her pocket and lighted a cigarette. For a while she sat smoking by the fire; then she stood up and walked the room.

When she had paced for a while she sat down again beside the fire. She threw the end of her cigarette away into the fire, and then began to walk again with her hands behind her. Then she went back to her seat and lit another cigarette, and paced again. Presently she sat down, and looked into the fire; she pressed the palms of her hands together, and then sat quietly staring into it.

Then there was, a sound of feet on the stairs and someone knocked at the door.

She rose and threw the end into the fire and said without moving, “Come in.”

The door opened and a man stood there in evening dress. He had a great‐coat on, open in front.

“May I come in? I couldn’t get rid of this downstairs; I didn’t see where to leave it!” He took his coat off. “How are you? This is a real bird’s nest!”

She motioned to a chair.

“I hope you did not mind my asking you to come?”

“Oh no, I am delighted. I only found your note at my club twenty minutes ago.”

He sat down on a chair before the fire.

“So you really are going to India? How delightful! But what are you to do there? I think it was page: 64 Grey told me six weeks ago you were going, but regarded it as one of those mythical stories which don’t deserve credence. Yet I’m sure I don’t know! Why, nothing would surprise me.”

He looked at her in a half‐amused, half‐interested way.

“What a long time it is since we met! Six months, eight?”

“Seven,” she said.

“I really thought you were trying to avoid me. What have you been doing with yourself all this time?”

“Oh, been busy. Won’t you have a cigarette?”

She held out the little case to him.

“Won’t you take one yourself? I know you object to smoking with men, but you can make an exception in my case!”

“Thank you.” She lit her own and passed him the matches.

“But really what have you been doing with yourself all this time? You’ve entirely disappeared from civilised life. When I was down at the Grahams’ in the spring, they said you were coming down there, and then at the last moment cried off. We were all quite disappointed. What is taking you to India now? Going to preach the doctrine of social and intellectual equality to the Hindu women and incite them to revolt? Marry some old Buddhist Priest, build a little cottage on the top of the Himalayas and live page: 65 there, discuss philosophy and meditate? I believe that’s what you’d like. I really shouldn’t wonder if I heard you’d done it!”

She laughed and took out her cigarette case.

She smoked slowly.

“I’ve been here a long time, four years, and I want change. I was glad to see how well you succeeded in that election,” she said. “You were much interested in it, were you not?”

“Oh, yes. We had a stiff fight. It tells in my favour, you know, though it was not exactly a personal matter. But it was a great worry.”

“Don’t you think,” she said, “you were wrong in sending that letter to the papers? It would have strengthened your position to have remained silent.”

“Yes, perhaps so; I think so now, but I did it under advice. However, we’ve won, so it’s all right.” He leaned back in the chair.

“Are you pretty fit?”

“Oh, yes; pretty well; bored, you know. One doesn’t know what all this working and striving is for sometimes.”

“Where are you going for your holiday this year?”

“Oh, Scotland, I suppose; I always do; the old quarters.”

“Why don’t you go to Norway? It would be more change for you and rest you more. Did you get a book on sport in Norway?”

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“Did you send it me? How kind of you! I read it with much interest. I was almost inclined to start off there and then. I suppose it is the kind of vis inertiæ that creeps over one as one grows older that sends one back to the old place. A change would be much better.”

“There’s a list at the end of the book” she said, “of exactly the things one needs to take. I thought it would save trouble; you could just give it to your man, and let him get them all. Have you still got him?”

“Oh, yes. He’s as faithful to me as a dog. I think nothing would induce him to leave me. He won’t allow me to go out hunting since I sprained my foot last autumn. I have to do it surreptitiously. He thinks I can’t keep my seat with a sprained ankle; but he’s a very good fellow; takes care of me like a mother.” He smoked quietly with the firelight glowing on his black coat. “But what are you going to India for? Do you know anyone there?”

“No,” she said. “I think it will be so splendid. I’ve always been a great deal interested in the East. It’s a complex, interesting life.”

He turned and looked at her.

“Going to seek for more experience, you’ll say, I suppose. I never knew a woman throw herself away as you do; a woman with your brilliant parts and attractions, to let the whole of life slip through your page: 67 hands, and make nothing of it. You ought to be the most successful woman in London. Oh, yes; I know what you are going to say: ‘You don’t care.’ That’s just it; you don’t. You are always going to get experience, going to get everything, and you never do. You are always going to write when you know enough, and you are never satisfied that you do. You ought to be making your two thousand a year, but you don’t care. That’s just it! Living, burying yourself here with a lot of old frumps. You will never do anything. You could have everything and you let it slip.”

“Oh, my life is very full,” she said. “There are only two things that are absolute realities, love and knowledge, and you can’t escape them.”

She had thrown her cigarette end away and was looking into the fire, smiling.

“I’ve let these rooms to a woman friend of mine.” She glanced round the room, smiling. “She doesn’t know I’m going to leave these things here for her. She’ll like them because they were mine. The world’s very beautiful, I think—delicious.”

“Oh, yes. But what do you do with it? What do you make of it? You ought to settle down and marry like other women, not go wandering about the world to India and China and Italy, and God knows where. You are simply making a mess of your life. You’re always surrounding yourself with all sorts page: 68 of extraordinary people. If I hear any man or woman is a great friend of yours, I always say: ‘What’s the matter? Lost his money? Lost his character? Got an incurable disease?’ I believe the only way in which anyone becomes interesting to you is by having some complaint of mind or body. I believe you worship rags. To come and shut yourself up in a place like this away from everybody and everything! It’s a mistake; it’s idiotic, you know.”

“I’m very happy,” she said. “You see,” she said, leaning forwards towards the fire with her hands on her knees, “what matters is that something should need you. It isn’t a question of love. What’s the use of being near a thing if other people could serve it as well as you can. If they could serve it better, it’s pure selfishness. It’s the need of one thing for another that makes the organic bond of union. You love mountains and horses, but they don’t need you; so what’s the use of saying anything about it! I suppose the most absolutely delicious thing in life is to feel a thing needs you, and to give at the moment it needs. Things that don’t need you, you must love from a distance.”

“Oh, but a woman like you ought to marry, ought to have children. You go squandering yourself on every old beggar or forlorn female or escaped criminal you meet; it may be very nice for them, but it’s a mistake from your point of view.”

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He touched the ash gently with the tip of his little finger and let it fall.

“I intend to marry. It’s a curious thing,” he said, resuming his pose with an elbow on one knee and his head bent forward on one side, so that she saw the brown hair with its close curls a little tinged with grey at the sides, “that when a man reaches a certain age he wants to marry. He doesn’t fall in love; it’s not that he definitely plans anything; but he has a feeling that he ought to have a home and a wife and children. I suppose it is the same kind of feeling that makes a bird build nests at certain times of the year. It’s not love; it’s something else. When I was a young man I used to despise men for getting married; wondered what they did it for; they had everything to lose and nothing to gain. But when a man gets to be six‐and‐thirty his feeling changes. It’s not love, passion, he wants; it’s a home; it’s a wife and children. He may have a house and servants; it isn’t the same thing. I should have thought a woman would have felt it too.”

She was quiet for a minute, holding a cigarette between her fingers; then she said slowly:

“Yes, at times a woman has a curious longing to have a child, especially when she gets near to thirty or over it. It’s something distinct from love for any definite person. But it’s a thing one has to get over. For a woman, marriage is much more serious than for page: 70 a man. She might pass her life without meeting a man whom she could possibly love, and, if she met him, it might not be right or possible. Marriage has become very complex now it has become so largely intellectual. Won’t you have another?”

She held out the case to him. “You can light it from mine.” She bent forward for him to light it.

“You are a man who ought to marry. You’ve no absorbing mental work with which the woman would interfere; it would complete you.” She sat back, smoking serenely.

“Yes,” he said, “but life is too busy; I never find time to look for one, and I haven’t a fancy for the pink‐and‐white prettiness so common and that some men like so. I need something else. If I am to have a wife I shall have to go to America to look for one.”

“Yes, an American would suit you best.”

“Yes,” he said, “I don’t want a woman to look after; she must be self‐sustaining and she mustn’t bore you. You know what I mean. Life is too full of cares to have a helpless child added to them.”

“Yes,” she said, standing up and leaning with her elbow against the fireplace. “The kind of woman you want would be young and strong; she need not be excessively beautiful, but she must be at‐ page: 71 tractive; she must have energy, but not too strongly marked an individuality; she must be largely neutral; she need not give you too passionate or too deep a devotion, but she must second you in a thoroughly rational manner. She must have the same aims and tastes that you have. No woman has the right to marry a man if she has to bend herself out of shape for him. She might wish to, but she could never be to him with all her passionate endeavour what the other woman could be to him without trying. Character will dominate over all and will come out at last.”

She looked down into the fire.

“When you marry you mustn’t marry a woman who flatters you too much. It is always a sign of falseness somewhere. If a woman absolutely loves you as herself, she will criticise and understand you as herself. Two people who are to live through life together must be able to look into each other’s eyes and speak the truth. That helps one through life. You would find many such women in America,” she said: “women who would help you to succeed, who would not drag you down.”

“Yes, that’s my idea. But how am I to obtain the ideal woman?”

“Go and look for her. Go to America instead of Scotland this year. It is perfectly right. A man has a right to look for what he needs. With a woman it page: 72 is different. That’s one of the radical differences between men and women.”

She looked downwards into the fire.

“It’s a law of her nature and of sex relationship.’ There’s nothing arbitrary or conventional about it any more than there is in her having to bear her child while the male does not. Intellectually we may both be alike. I suppose if fifty men and fifty women had to solve a mathematical problem, they would all do it in the same way; the more abstract and intellectual, the more alike we are. The nearer you approach to the personal and sexual, the more different we are. If I were to represent men’s and women’s natures,” she said, “by a diagram, I would take two circular discs; the right side of each I should paint bright red; then I would shade the red away till in a spot on the left edge it became blue in the one and green in the other. That spot represents sex, and the nearer you come to it, the more the two discs differ in colour. Well then, if you turn them so that the red sides touch, they seem to be exactly alike, but if you turn them so that the green and blue paint form their point of contact, they will seem to be entirely unlike. That’s why you notice the brutal, sensual men invariably believe women are entirely different from men, another species of creature; and very cultured, intellectual men sometimes believe we are exactly alike. You see, sex love in its substance page: 73 may be the same in both of us; in the form of its expression it must differ. It is not man’s fault; it is nature’s. If a man loves a woman, he has a right to try to make her love him because he can do it openly, directly, without bending. There need be no subtlety, no indirectness. With a woman it’s not so; she can take no love that is not laid openly, simply, at her feet. Nature ordains that she should never show what she feels; the woman who had told a man she loved him would have put between them a barrier once and for ever that could not be crossed; and if she subtly drew him towards her, using the woman’s means—silence, finesse, the dropped handkerchief, the surprise visit, the gentle assertion she had not thought to see him when she had come a long way to meet him, then she would be damned; she would hold the love, but she would have desecrated it by subtlety; it would have no value. Therefore she must always go with her arms folded sexually; only the love which lays itself down at her feet and implores of her to accept it is love she can ever rightly take up. That is the true difference between a man and a woman. You may seek for love because you can do it openly; we cannot because we must do it subtly. A woman should always walk with her arms folded. Of course friendship is different. You are on a perfect equality with man then; you can ask him to come and see you as I asked you. That’s the beauty page: 74 of the intellect and intellectual life to a woman, that she drops her shackles a little; and that is why she shrinks from sex so. If she were dying perhaps, or doing something equal to death, she might .... Death means so much more to a woman than a man; when you knew you were dying, to look round on the world and feel the bond of sex that has broken and crushed you all your life gone, nothing but the human left, no woman any more, to meet everything on perfectly even ground. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t go to America and look for a wife perfectly deliberately. You will have to tell no lies. Look till you find a woman that you absolutely love, that you have not the smallest doubt suits you apart from love, and then ask her to marry you. You must have children; the life of an old childless man is very sad.”

“Yes, I should like to have children. I often feel now, what is it all for, this work, this striving, and’no one to leave it to? It’s a blank, suppose I succeed ...?”

“Suppose you get your title?”

“Yes; what is it all worth to me if I’ve no one to leave it to? That’s my feeling. It’s really very strange to be sitting and talking like this to you. But you are so different from other women. If all women were like you, all your theories of the equality of men and women would work. You’re the only woman with whom I never realise that she is a woman.”

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“Yes,” she said.

She stood looking down into the fire.

“How long will you stay in India?”

“Oh, I’m not coming back.”

“Not coming back! That’s impossible. You will be breaking the hearts of half the people here if you don’t. I never knew a woman who had such power of entrapping men’s hearts as you have in spite of that philosophy of yours. I don’t know,” he smiled, “that I should not have fallen into the snare myself—three years ago I almost thought I should—if you hadn’t always attacked me so incontinently and persistently on all and every point and on each and every occasion. A man doesn’t like pain. A succession of slaps damps him. But it doesn’t seem to have that effect on other men .... There was that fellow down in the country when I was there last year, perfectly ridiculous. You know his name...” He moved his fingers to try and remember it—“big, yellow moustache, a major, gone to the east coast of Africa now; the ladies unearthed it that he was always carrying about a photograph of yours in his pocket; and he used to take out little scraps of things you printed and show them to people mysteriously. He almost had a duel with a man one night after dinner because he mentioned you; he seemed to think there was something incongruous between your name and—”

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“I do not like to talk of any man who has loved me,” she said. “However small and poor his nature may be, he has given me his best. There is nothing ridiculous in love. I think a woman should feel that all the love men have given her which she has not been able to return is a kind of crown set up above her which she is always trying to grow tall enough to wear. I can’t bear to think that all the love that has been given me has been wasted on something unworthy of it. Men have been very beautiful and greatly honoured me. I am grateful to them. If a man tells you he loves you,” she said, looking into the fire, “with his breast uncovered before you for you to strike him if you will, the least you can do is to put out your hand and cover it up from other people’s eyes. If I were a deer,” she said, “and a stag got hurt following me, even though I could not have him for a companion, I would stand still and scrape the sand with my foot over the place where his blood had fallen; the rest of the herd should never know he had been hurt there following me. I would cover the blood up, if I were a deer,” she said, and then she was silent.

Presently she sat down in her chair and said, with her hand before her: “Yet, you know, I have not the ordinary feeling about love. I think the one who is loved confers the benefit on the one who loves, it’s been so great and beautiful that it should be loved. page: 77 I think the man should be grateful to the woman or the woman to the man whom they have been able to love, whether they have been loved back or whether circumstances have divided them or not.” She stroked her knee softly with her hand.

“Well, really, I must go now.” He pulled out his watch. “It’s so fascinating sitting here talking that I could stay all night, but I’ve still two engagements.” He rose; she rose also and stood before him looking up at him for a moment.

“How well you look! I think you have found the secret of perpetual youth. You don’t look a day older than when I first saw you just four years ago. You always look as if you were on fire and being burnt up, but you never are, you know.”

He looked down at her with a kind of amused face as one does at an interesting child or a big Newfoundland dog.

“When shall we see you back?”

“Oh, not at all!”

“Not at all! Oh, we must have you back; you belong here, you know. You’ll get tired of your Buddhist and come back to us.”

“You didn’t mind my asking you to come and say good‐bye?” she said in a childish manner unlike her determinateness when she discussed anything impersonal. “I wanted to say good‐bye to everyone. If one hasn’t said good‐bye one feels restless and feels page: 78 one would have to come back. If one has said goodbye to all one’s friends, then one knows it is all ended.”

“Oh, this isn’t a final farewell! You must come in ten years’ time and we’ll compare notes—you about your Buddhist Priest, I about my fair ideal American; and we’ll see who succeeded best.”

She laughed.

“I shall always see your movements chronicled in the newspapers, so we shall not be quite sundered; and you will hear of me perhaps.”

“Yes, I hope you will be very successful.”

She was looking at him, with her eyes wide open, from head to foot. He turned to the chair where his coat hung.

“Can’t I help you put it on?”

“Oh, no, thank you.”

He put it on.

“Button the throat,” she said, “the room is warm.”

He turned to her in his great‐coat and with his gloves. They were standing near the door.

“Well, good‐bye. I hope you will have a very pleasant time.”

He stood looking down upon her, wrapped in his great‐coat.

She put up one hand a little in the air. “I want to ask you something,” she said quickly.

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“Well, what is it?”

“Will you please kiss me?”

For a moment he looked down at her, then he bent over her.

In after years he could never tell certainly, but he always thought she put up her hand and rested it on the crown of his head, with a curious soft caress, something like a mother’s touch when her child is asleep and she does not want to wake it. Then he looked round, and she was gone. The door had closed noiselessly. For a moment he stood motionless, then he walked to the fireplace and looked down into the fender at a little cigarette end lying there, then he walked quickly back to the door and opened it. The stairs were in darkness and silence. He rang the bell violently. The old woman came up. He asked her where the lady was. She said she had gone out, she had a cab waiting. He asked when she would be back. The old woman said, “Not at all”; she had left. He asked where she had gone. The woman said she did not know; she had left orders that all her letters should be kept for six or eight months till she wrote and sent her address. He asked whether she had no idea where he might find her. The woman said no. He walked up to a space in the wall where a picture had hung and stood staring at it as though the picture were still hanging there. He drew his mouth as though he were emitting a long whistle, page: 80 but no sound came. He gave the old woman ten shillings and went downstairs.

That was eight years ago.

How beautiful life must have been to it that it looks so young still!

page: 81

On the Banks of a Full River

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ON THE BANKS OF A FULL RIVER

IT was in the year 18—, the year of the great rains.

I, a young girl of sixteen, was going home from the South where I had been at school.

We travelled in a Cobb & Co.’s coach, nine passengers inside and four out; and all day and night it rained. We did in two days the journey we should have done in one; and when they changed horses they gave us no time to sleep. Night and day we travelled. On the evening of the ninth day we stopped on the banks of a full river. The greasy, coffee‐coloured water flowed level with the banks, and the heads of half‐drowned willow trees showed themselves on either side. We should not be able to cross that night, it might be not for days.

We looked out through the pouring rain. Beside us was a little mud house, the only habitation within thirty miles. It was square, with a divided door and one small window. The man to whom it belonged came out to meet us; he lived there alone and sold liquor to the passers‐by. It was arranged between him and the driver we should stay there for the night. page: 84 We alighted from the coach and streamed into the house; we found it consisted of one small room. I and the woman who was my only female travelling companion stood before the fire drying our clothes which had got damp in the passage from the coach to the house; the men stood round the table drinking bad brandy and whisky in cups and glasses, while the driver went out to see to his horses. There was nothing to be had to eat but some stale biscuits from a tin and some leathery roaster‐cake. Some one brought up the one chair the room contained and an empty soap box, and the woman and I sat down before the fire. By and by the driver came in, and the night darkened down quickly. The men still stood smoking and drinking round the table. The rain was falling less heavily. After a while the men conferred together and they decided, with that gentleness which rough men travelling alone with women always show, that they should all find shelter in the coach and the hut be left to us alone. The owner put the large stump of an uprooted willow tree upon the fire and in half an hour the men stumbled out; we could hear them swearing and grumbling in the rain on the way to the coach; and for an hour we caught broken peals of ribald laughter or obscene songs through the sound of the falling rain; then gradually all became quiet.

The room in which they left us had a bare mud page: 85 floor on which was only a white sheepskin that lay before the fire; on the brown mud wall there was a rack with two guns and a pistol, and in the centre of the room stood the table with empty bottles and glasses, and in the corner was a stretcher with one band broken and a thin mattress and three dirty blankets. There was no place in which one might lie down. The firelight flickered over the walls; the three inches of tallow candle they had left in a black bottle on the table had burnt itself out.

I grew tired of sitting on the soap box and slipped down and crouched on the white sheepskin before the fire. The woman sat in the chair on the right, her head so far back that the firelight did not shine on it. One could hardly tell whether she was awake or asleep.

She was a tall, slight woman dressed in black, and might have been any age between thirty and forty‐five. She had been very kind to me all the way; in the night when, without my knowing it, I grew sleepy and my head dropped, she laid it on her shoulder and I woke with it there in the morning. When it was cold she made me put on her great fur cloak, such as women from England have, and we talked of the scenery we passed through and of books, and we were friends, though neither of us had asked any question or knew anything of the other.

The rain still fell heavily, and far off one could page: 86 hear the rush of the river. I stared into the fire till the blaze from the glowing coals almost scorched my eyelashes.

Suddenly I turned to my companion.

“Life is very wicked; it is very unjust,” I said.

I raised myself on my knees.

She looked down at me and leaned forward. She had seemed almost asleep. She did not speak.

“It is very cruel; it is very unjust!” I said. “It is no use trying! Some people have everything and some people have nothing; and things are not as they should be!”

She put out her hand and I felt it on my head for a moment. Then she drew it back.

I was young, and I was suffering my first surprise at my first shattered ideal.

The woman raised herself and looked down at me. I laid my clenched fists upon my knees.

“I have found no balancing interrelation between the material and mental world,” she said. “If you go with love in your heart to fetch a cup of water for your friend, there is no relation between the intensity of the love and the cup’s fracture; if that is what you mean by justice in life, then there is none. But, in the emotional and intellectual spheres, human nature has a deep power of working out compensations; what is taken from us on the one hand works itself back to us on the other. There is nothing mysterious page: 87 in this, just as there is nothing mysterious in one scale of a balance going down and another up when you move matter from one to the other, though it might seem so to a little baby. There are times, thinking over life,” she said, “I have almost seemed to see the terms in which this balancing process might be stated so as to be clearly grasped intellectually. I think it is there.”

I sat looking into the fire. My heart was very bitter. I had had my first ideal shattered, my great plan for what was beautiful broken. I was beating my wings against the bars of the inevitable in life as young things do, battering the wings but not hurting the bars.

“Yes, but you do not know,” I said. And after a while I told her my story. It was a long story, and seemed to me then the only one in the world. There is no need I should repeat it fully:

Three years before I had gone to school on a farm in the South; it was a mixed school where boys and girls were taught together. There was one boy three years older than I. He and I were always at the head of the school. He worked hard at first to get up to me because he could not bear a girl should stand higher; but afterwards we became great friends.


(Note by S.C.C.S.—There is evidently a page or so missing here; the narrative would introduce the other girl and begin the delineation of her character in her attitude towards the lad; the delineation page: 88 is, however, clear enough in the passages immediately following. Apparently they had been having, were having, school holidays when the tale continues.)

... taught him to make flutes of reeds; sometimes she sat in the fork of the apple trees and he lay below and she threw down fruit to him; sometimes she brought her books to him and asked him questions, and she said he was so wonderful when he could explain; and the one thing he had never needed was praise. Then the holidays came to an end. We had brought much work to do that he might pass the last examination; but, when I came to look for him, he was walking laughing with her, and I hid the books under my arm. The last day of the holidays she came to me and said he was not going back to school. Her father had offered him £20 a month to oversee the wine farming. They could have got anyone else for five, she said, but her father had done it because she asked him. “All this is mine,” she said. “There is no one else to inherit it; my father lets me do what I like with it and I want him to have it.” I talked with him once. He seemed a little sorry, but he could not refuse £20. I did not go back to school for the next quarter; I came straight home; I was on my journey up. I sat beside the fire and told the story.

“You see,” I said, when I had finished it, “he is lost, his beautiful possibilities are dead; she will page: 89 drag him down, down. It would have been better if she had killed him!” And I laid my clenched hands on my knees. It would have been easy for me to have killed myself, I so hated that girl as I stood there.

The woman said: “Are you quite just? Are you sure it is she who has dragged him down?”

“I hate her, oh, I hate her so!” I said. “I would have forgiven her if she had killed him, but not for this.”

(Note by S.C.C.S.—A gap occurs here.)

“... study more. You see,” I said, “I don’t mind that he hates me, but I mind that he will never do anything more; he will marry and settle down. She has killed him. It is as if she were a soft greasy snake, and she had crept over him, and put her tooth into his body and the poison has crept in and in and he is dead, he is asleep for ever.”

She said: “Can other people ever poison us?”

I said: “They can! But I could wake him. That is the terrible thing. If I could tell him what she was, if I could have had one half‐hour’s talk with him (and he had sought it), I could make him fling her off as a man flings off a toad when he wakes and sees it sitting on him. That’s the terrible thing! That’s why I’ve asked my friends to get me home at once because I dare not stay there. If once I were to page: 90 talk against her to him, then my soul would be lost, as hers is now. You see I can’t,” I said. “I must go away where I can never see him any more and leave him to her!”

I looked up, but the woman was sitting motionless on the chair and the firelight was dancing on the guns in the rack.

“You see,” I said, “people say she is a clever woman; she is strong; they say she can have every‐thing; it’s the poor, weak, gentle, little women that need looking after, that must be taken care of. It’s a lie; it’s we that are weak! If the snake once thinks it wrong to use its poison fangs and begins to develop feet, and makes a noise with them as it comes on, is it stronger? It’s higher, of course, higher! What is that higher? It is weakness. Is there anything so strong as the snake when it creeps on noiselessly with its fangs and its silent glide? The horse, the elephant, the lion, are nothing to it. Take this from it and what has it left? It has not the speed, the claws, the thick skin of the others! A snake without its poison bag, who gives notice when it is coming,” I laughed,—“every creature can put his foot on its head and crush out its poor unused poison bag that it has never used. It will never be a lion or an elephant for all its feet. A woman with intellect and strength and the ideal of acting strictly by other women—haugh! She is dirt beneath everyone’s feet. There is nothing page: 91 so weak on the earth. She will never be a man! Life gave women subtlety and lying and meanness and flattery that they might defend themselves. They have all things if they will use their tools.”

We were silent for a moment; then she said: “Do you think any strong, intellectual woman ever really wanted to be a weak one? Is it not better to have half‐developed hands and feet, and be trodden on? Does it matter so much what one has as what one is?”

And she said after a time: “Does one really ever gain anything by subtlety? Is it not seeming?”

I said: “Oh, it is such a terrible thing to be a woman. You can do nothing for those you love. You must wait, crush out, kill, in yourself. The old passive women who took indirect means, they are happy.”

She said: “Do you think so?”

Then she said after a time: “I knew two women in England; one was older, and the younger lived with her; she was her cousin. The younger was what the world calls a strong, intellectual woman; she painted. The other was what the world calls a gentle, womanly woman; she had married, when she was young, a rich man, and had three children. She had a very beautiful home, and she always pictured herself to herself as the central image in it, the most beautiful of all. The younger woman knew an artist who worked at the same studio; she loved him as only page: 92 people can love who love the work and the objects of others, not only their persons. Every day she went to his studio and criticised his work; when he was satisfied, she was not; she wanted something better; she had a greater dream for his future than she ever told him. They were very near to each other. She never spoke of love to him: what need is there to talk of love to a man, when he knows his work is more to you than your own; and you love your own?”

“And then?” I said.

“After two years he came to the house where she lived with her older cousin. At first the woman took little notice of him; then she used to have glasses of jelly ready for him when he came, and let him lie on the sofa in her great room in the garden. He took her to his studio: she stood still a long time before one picture, and said, ‘Oh, please don’t speak to me; it makes me feel like a beautiful summer’s day to look at it’; and the young woman had told him to burn it; it was unworthy of him. She said she wanted her picture painted with her little baby, and he painted her as a madonna with her child in her arms with their cheeks touching. I do not think he cared for her then. He simply painted her. She gave the picture to her husband, and asked the young man to come to her house oftener.”

“And then?”

“Then one day she talked of him to the younger page: 93 woman. I do not say she told the younger woman she loved him; that would have been wrong in a married woman; but she knew the nature of the younger woman; she spoke so that she implied that she liked him. When she wanted to go for a drive she did not say to the younger woman, ‘You stay at home. I want to go this afternoon.’ She said, ‘You go, dear, I don’t mind staying at all; I’m sure you’ll enjoy it more than I do’; and then the younger woman stayed. And that night it was moonlight and the younger woman was walking in agony on a terrace that ran beside the house. It was terrible another woman should love the man she loved; in a moment all the lovely beauty was gone ...”

I said, “I hate that woman!”

... “and then the older woman and the man came out and stood under a great tree to hear the nightingales sing, and she talked of the younger woman, and the young man said, ‘Yes, she is too restlessly energetic,’ and so they talked. The elder knew that the younger was there, and the younger knew she knew it. Then she went into the house. You see her love was broken. She thought what was best to be done. You can’t cope with such women, you can’t touch them, you must leave them. The day you touch them you sink to their level; you don’t only lose your love, you degrade it: it was white as far as she was concerned. So she thought the thing out; page: 94 and that night she packed her things; the next day she left. She did not say good‐bye to the man. She came out to Africa; for many years she lived here. After a while, seven or eight years, she married a man who was dying of consumption and took care of his two children when he was dead. She had a happy life. It was nice to take care of the children. She had plenty to do.”

The woman sat still.

“And the other woman?” I asked.

“She lived on in her beautiful house with her husband and children and was very happy. The young artist never understood why his friend left; he came often to the house; and lay on the great sofa, and the woman gave him jelly and soups to strengthen him for his work. He never worked much, but he always came to see her; they were very intimate friends till her husband died,”

(Note by S.C.C.S.—The page numbered 16 by Olive ends here; what follows is on page numbered 18.)

“... Need you envy a man for holding dust in his hand? What is the use of possessing a man if you hold him and possess him through flattery? Is a man worth having who desires it?”

I said, “Yes, but she had what she desired. When her husband died she could have him always with her; the last little restraint was gone; she could wait page: 95 on him and help him. That is what we women want when we love a man.”

She sat still, twirling the ...

(Note by S.C.C.S.—Here ends page 18. What follows is on page numbered 20 by Olive.)

I said, “What?”

She said, “Pity her, she married him.”

We sat still in the firelight.

I said at last: “Did those two women ever meet again?”

She said: “Yes, once, after years. The elder woman came out to South Africa and they met once.”

I sat looking into the fire.

page: 97

The Wax Doll and the Stepmother

page: 99

THE WAX DOLL AND THE STEPMOTHER

ROLLY was a small boy five years old who wore knickerbockers. He had great brown eyes and curls that hung over his forehead; but Nina, his sister, who was a year older, had yellow hair and a white face. She was so thin that when Rolly tried hard he could lift her off the ground.

They had no mother, but their Papa was kind to them, and one day when he came from town he brought a beautiful wax doll for Nina. She had many dolls, but none like this one. Its hair was real; you could curl and comb it as much as you pleased; it had real eyelashes, and fingers and toes of wax, and the best of all was it had little teeth. You could see them always, for its mouth was never shut.

Nurse Bromage, who looked after the children, said it was quite too good to play with, and put the doll away on the top shelf. Nina cried; she loved the doll so much, with its little teeth. But Nurse Bromage did not care; for, you see, she was a cross old thing and didn’t mind if other people weren’t page: 100 happy, if only she was. But sometimes she went to visit her cousin in the country, and then Jennie the housemaid used to let them play with it as much as they pleased. One day when they were playing with her one of the tucks in the doll’s flannel petticoat got loosened. Nina kissed her and Rolly told her they didn’t mean to do it; and so they thought it was all right.

A little time after that Nurse Bromage told them that when their Papa came home the next day he was going to bring them a new Mamma. The children clapped their hands when they heard that.

“Then we will have a Mamma too!” they said, “like the other children!”

“Yes,” said Nina. “Perhaps she will come and kiss us when we are in bed, like the pretty lady kisses the little girl in the picture in Papa’s bedroom!”

But Nurse Bromage knit up her forehead and shook her head.

“All the house will belong to your new Mamma,” she said, “and all the things in it. She will not like you at all, because if it were not for you she would get all your Papa’s things when he dies; but now you will have to get some.”

Then Nina and Rolly were quite unhappy. They went and sat on a little box behind the door where they always sat when Nurse Bromage scolded them.

page: 101

“We’ll tell the new Mamma that we don’t want any of Papa’s things,” said Nina. “Won’t we, Rolly?”

“We’ll tell her just as soon as she comes,” said Rolly. “But perhaps she looks like Nurse Bromage!”

“Oh dear!” said Nina, and hung her head. Her neck was so thin that when she hung it, it always seemed as though it might break off.

The next day when the carriage came the servants and the two children went into the great hall to meet their Papa and the lady. Nina had on a white dress with a blue sash; and Rolly had a black velvet suit with three pockets, one in the jacket and two in the trousers.

“I think she’ll think I’m quite a big boy, when she sees me in this,” said Rolly.

When the carriage stopped their Papa helped out the lady. She was very beautiful; tall, with red cheeks, and lips like cherries, and black hair shining like a crow’s wing. She had on a silk dress with a black rustling train, and that made her grander still. She was very beautiful, but she had not a happy face. No one had ever taught her that it was not money and fine houses and fine clothes that could make a person happy; and so her heart felt all over as though it were pricked by little pins. So the hearts of all people feel, when they want more than they have got and are not full of love.

page: 102

“She isn’t like Nurse Bromage. She’s just like your best wax‐doll,” Rolly whispered; but Nina was so afraid she did not lift her face.

When their new Mamma came into the hall, “These are my little children,” the Papa said. But she did not look at them; she only bent down and touched Rolly’s forehead with her lips. Nina she did not kiss at all.

“Rolly, I can’t tell her she can have all Papa’s things! Oh! I am so afraid of her,” said Nina, when they went up the long stairs holding each other’s hands.

I’m not frightened,” said Rolly, “I’m a man and you are only a woman, you know. But I don’t like her. Why didn’t she kiss you?”

“Oh, Rolly, I love her!” said Nina, with tears in her eyes.

That evening Nurse Bromage brought them to sit in the parlour for a little while. Their Papa gave them some nuts to crack, but the beautiful lady never spoke to them; she sat with her screen before the fire.

page: 103

“You see, Nina,” said Rolly, when they were lying in their little beds in the dark, “it is quite true; she does hate us. And I don’t love her; not a bit. I’d like to take my big drum and beat it at her bedroom door when she’s asleep!”

“Oh, you mustn’t say so, Rolly!” said Nina.

But Rolly didn’t care, and soon went to sleep and so did she. But the cough soon woke her up again, and she lay alone in the dark, and a beautiful thought came to her. She wished it would be morning soon that she might tell Rolly. She folded her little hands together, and pressed the palms. For all that she couldn’t tell him when the morning came, for Nurse Bromage was by, and no one could say anything nice while she was there. After breakfast she taught them their letters. When Nina called B, D, she whipped her hands with a little rod tied with a red string; but she didn’t whip Rolly because he was her favourite.

By and by, when it was afternoon, Nurse Bromage went to sleep on the sofa. Then Nina called Rolly behind the door.

“What is it?” said Rolly, coming close and lifting his ear.

“You know my wax doll, Rolly; my best wax doll?” said Nina.

“Yes,” said Rolly.

“I want to give it to her, Rolly. Do you think she’ll like it?”

“Who?”

“Our new Mamma.”

“Oh, yes!” said Rolly, “of course she will. I don’t believe she ever saw one like it in her life before!”

page: 104

“And you’ll take it to her, Rolly? You are not afraid, are you?”

“I should think not,” said Rolly, sticking his hands into his knickerbocker pockets, and swelling himself out. “I’ll take it.”

“Let us go and fetch it before Nurse wakes,” said Nina. But Rolly paused, shaking his head and looking very sagacious.

“She’ll find out and she’ll whip you, Nina!”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Nina, a little sorrowfully. “You know she will whatever I do.”

So they went to the next room. Rolly pulled the chair, and Nina put the footstool on; and he climbed up, while she held fast. When he had got the doll he came down quickly; and they took a beautiful piece of white paper with a silver edge, that came with the china tea‐service, to wrap it in.

“Isn’t she lovely?” said Nina, as she laid it in the paper and smoothed out the little soft curls.

“She just is!” said Rolly. “Aren’t you sorry to give her away?”

“No,” said Nina; but when she looked at the little teeth her lip trembled. She gave it to Rolly to hold while she went for a piece of string. They neither of them knew how to tie a bow; but Rolly said he didn’t think it mattered, because their new Mamma could untie a knot by herself, he guessed.

“You must tell her I’m sorry the one tuck is out,” page: 105 said Nina, “and I would have mended it only I don’t know how to work.”

Rolly put the doll under his arm, and Nina went with him to the door of the long passage.

“You are not afraid, are you?”

“Oh, no!” said Rolly; but his heart beat so that the doll against his breast went up and down, up and down.

He walked up the long passage to the door of the new Mamma’s bedroom. He gave a little knock with his forefinger, but no one answered. He thought there could be no one inside, so gave a very brave one with his fist.

The new Mamma said, “Who is there?”

“I,” said Rolly; and he pushed open the door, and walked in.

It was almost dinner‐time, and there were going to be visitors that evening. The lady was sitting before the glass dressing. She had on a black velvet dress, and the sleeves were wide open to show her arms, as white as the snow, and covered with bracelets.

Rolly walked in and stood before her looking at her.

“What do you want?” she asked.

He was such a wee boy when he stood so close beside her, and she was a grand, beautiful woman.

“I’ve brought this for you,” said Rolly, “and you may keep it for your own. It’s Nina sends it to you.”

page: 106

He put the parcel down in her lap, and folded his hands behind him.

“And who is Nina?” asked the lady.

“Why, Nina is Nina, to be sure! My sister,” said Rolly. “And she says you mustn’t mind the one tuck being out, because she would have mended it if she could.”

The lady unrolled the parcel and looked at the doll.

“You see,” he said, picking up the doll’s dress and showing the petticoat, “that’s the tuck; but it’s all that’s the matter with her. Isn’t it lovely?” said Rolly, sticking his hands in his pockets and watching to see what effect it would have upon her.

“You didn’t notice the teeth, I suppose, did you?” said Rolly, eyeing her critically. “It’s real teeth, and the hair too. You can put oil on if you like.”

“Who told Nina to send it?” asked the lady.

“Why, no one,” said Rolly; “she thought of it last night when she was in bed.”

“What made her want to send it to me?”

“Well,” said Rolly, drawing confidentially nearer, “you mustn’t tell, of course; but Nina, she said if she gave it you, perhaps you’d kiss her, like the lady in the picture kisses the little girl, you know, when she’s in bed.”

The lady looked down at the doll. “Go and tell Nina, that I say ‘thank you.’”

page: 107

“It’s a beautiful doll,” said Rolly, fearing she had not enough admired it, “and the boots are red. Good‐bye!”

When he got to the door he looked back. “I’ll tell her you don’t mind about the petticoat, eh?”

“Yes,” said the lady, so Rolly went.

That evening the children sat on their hassocks before the fire. Nurse Bromage had taken the light out and gone downstairs to get some of the nice things that were over from the big people’s dinner; so they drew their little hassocks as close together as they could and sat looking at the fire.

“She said ‘thank you,’” said Rolly; “she must have liked it!”

“Oh no, I think she’s angry,” said Nina.

Rolly could see two large tears on her face, so he rubbed her cheeks with his coat sleeve. It was rather rough, but it did her good.

“I don’t believe she could be so bad as not to like your doll,” he said; and they sat still looking at the fire.

Then the door opened softly.

“There she comes!” said Rolly, looking round—“I knew she would.”

But the little girl sat quite huddled up with fear, and quite cold. The lady came in; you could see in the firelight how beautiful she was, with her diamonds sparkling, and her velvet dress and her black hair.

page: 108

“This is Nina!” said Rolly. “Here she sits!”

The lady did not speak. She brought the rocking‐chair from the corner and put it before the fire and sat down.

“Come!” she said; and she lifted the little girl up with her strong white hands and sat her on her knee. She held the thin little face fast and kissed the mouth six times, very softly.

“My dear little daughter,” she said, and laid the head down on her breast.

Rolly, on his hassock before the fire, stroked his little knees for gladness, and his round eyes were just as bright as the coals.

The new Mamma called him to come and stand at her side. She put her arm quite tight round him.

“You are just like the wax doll, and much prettier too,” he said, looking up at her. “Nina and I, we like you very much. But I didn’t like you first.”

“Why not?”

“Because—a—because—a—because—you didn’t kiss her. But I like you now,” he said, edging suddenly nearer to her, and taking hold of her face with one hand to turn it to him. “And you know, New Mamma, we didn’t want any of Papa’s things. You can have them all. I’ll take care of Nina,” he added, drawing himself up; “I’m nearly a big man already. I can climb into bed right from the ground by myself, and button my clothes too!”

page: 109

“You dear little boy!” said the lady, and she kissed him on his eyes, and on his forehead, and on the brown curls that hung down.

Then Rolly put his head down on her shoulder, and rubbed his curls softly against her neck.

“It’s so nice and happy; just like a birthday! Isn’t it, Nina?” he said.

But Nina only pressed the lady’s waist with all her little strength.

“And you won’t let Nurse Bromage s‐col‐d Nina for giving you her doll; will you, my New Mamma?” said Rolly. “Poor Nina, you know!”

“No one shall hurt her now,” said the lady, “she is my little daughter.”

“Yes; and I’ll be your big son too, if you like!” said Rolly, looking up, “and take care of you!”

“So you shall, my darling.”

“Yes,” said Rolly, very much excited, “and—I—I’ll always get you—canary seed—for your bird—and—I—I’ll build you a house of shells—and—and—”

“You shall do it all for me, just to‐morrow,” said the lady. “Where are your little beds? I shall carry Nina, and you shall show me. I want to undress you both.”

“Will you kiss us when we have our nightgowns on?”

“Yes.”

Rolly put his mouth close to her ear.

page: 110

“Will you lie with us a little while?”

“Yes.”

“Close?”

“Yes.”

“Oh! it’s just like a birthday,” said Rolly—“only it’s much nicer!”

page: 111

The Adventures of Master Towser

page: 113

THE ADVENTURES OF MASTER TOWSER

I—HIS SORROW

SMALL TOWSER sat with his tail in a puddle of mud. The puddle was small, but so was his tail. His nose was turned down to the paving‐stones; there were two drops running down towards the tip of it, but they weren’t raindrops, though the afternoon was sad and cloudy enough—they came from his eyes. Presently, out of the swell gate of the house over the way came a most respectable‐looking dog, of a very comfortable appearance, and as big as eight Towsers, for he was a mastiff.

“Why don’t you take your tail out of the puddle?” asked the comfortable‐looking dog.

Towser gave it a feeble little splutter in the mud: he didn’t know why he let it hang there, except that he was miserable.

“Starve you over at your house?” inquired the comfortable dog.

“No,” said Towser, “there are dishes of bones and nice little bits of fat in the kitchen.”

“Other dogs bite you?”

“No.” Towser shook his head.

page: 114

“Have to sleep out in the cold?”

“No, I’ve got a house,” said Towser.

“You’re a nice gentlemanly‐looking little dog; you oughtn’t to be unhappy. What’s the matter?” asked the comfortable‐looking dog.

“I’m not any good,” said Towser.

The big dog didn’t comprehend.

“I want someone to love me,” said Towser; “I want to help somebody; I want to be of use.”

“Love!” said the big dog. “Did you ever smell it?”

“No,” said Towser.

“Or see anybody eat it?”

“No.”

“Or sleep on it?”

“No.”

“Then what use is it?” said the big dog; and he went away.

Shortly after that Towser got up off the stone, and took his little tail out of the mud. He shook his little ears and let the two drops run off his nose.

“I’ll go and seek for someone that needs me,” said Towser; and so he started on his travels.

II—HIS SEARCH

“I must look as pleasant as I can,” said Towser, as he went down the street; and he perked up his little ears. He really was a pretty terrier, with long page: 115 silky hair. Presently he saw a boy walking on the pavement. He was ragged, he looked as if he hadn’t had any dinner or breakfast either. Towser’s heart ached for him. He looked very lonely.

“I’m sure he would like a nice little dog like me to be a companion to him,” said Towser. “Yes, he wants me; I won’t trouble him for food, because everyone gives me something when I go to the back doors, because of my big eyes.”

So Towser began dancing a little dance of affection, shaking his ears and looking from under them with his round eyes. This proceeding was meant to say, “I want to love you.”

“Doggy, Doggy, Doggy!” said the little solitary boy, standing still and holding out his fingers; “Doggy, Doggy, Doggy.”

So Towser came close up, just curling into a ball with excitement. He didn’t know whether he should lick the little boy’s hands first or his feet.

“There!” said the little boy. He gave Towser a powerful kick on the tip of his black nose.

When he looked back, Towser was standing quite still, with a great singing in his ears. Then the little lonely boy laughed.

When the singing had left off, Towser trotted away down the street. He wasn’t so ready to caper now. He saw several little lonely boys as he passed, but he didn’t think they wanted him.

page: 116

At last he got to the outskirts of the town. There was a bonny little house with roses and creepers all round. He went to the back door and put his fore‐feet on the step, and looked in to see if there was anybody wanted him. A lady lay on a sofa in one corner; she had not walked for ten years, and her eyes were heavy with pain.

“Dear little creature, where do you come from?” she said.

Towser made a motion with his fore‐feet, to explain that he would come in if he were invited.

The lady said, “Come in,” and he sat down on the rug before her and the lady felt his ears.

“Beautiful ears,” she said, “come!”

Towser jumped up on to the sofa beside her.

“I never saw such large eyes,” said the lady. “Dear little dog, if I can I shall keep you for my own,” and she made a place for him on her chest.

He lay with his paw close to her chin, and looked as loving as he could. Presently he licked her chin, and she said he had a soft little tongue. When her lunch came she fed him with brandy and egg out of a spoon. He didn’t like it, it burnt his throat, but he drank it.

“She wants me awfully, I can just see that,” said Towser, “and I’ll stay with her as long as I live.”

The lady had him taken to her bedroom that night, and a nice little rug laid for him across the foot of page: 117 her bed. In the night, when she woke to cough, he walked up to her face and licked it, and she covered him with the blankets till there was just the tip of his black nose sticking out.

“The big, comfortable dog said love was nothing, but it’s something,” said Towser, “and it’s nice ”; and he put his little muzzle against her cheek. Next day he danced before her, and tried to catch his tail when she looked sad.

“Oh, I’m a dear, nice, happy little dog; she does love me so. She couldn’t live without me; I’m such a comfort to her,” said Towser. He wished he’d been six months younger, then he’d have six months more to live.

So weeks passed.

One afternoon a lady came in.

“I’ve brought Nola home,” she said, “so much better for her change to the sea‐side; here she is.” And the lady put down on the floor the most snow‐white terrier (Towser was brown), all soft with curls, and with little sleepy eyes.

“She looks better,” said the lady—“dear Nola.”

Nola climbed quietly up on the sofa and curled herself up in a little nest and shut her eyes.

Towser stood looking on. He thought he would jump on the sofa, too.

“Down, Towser, down!” said the lady.

Then Towser went and got behind the crimson page: 118 curtain, with only his nose and two bright eyes peeping out. At last tea‐time came, and there was a dish of milk put down on the floor. Nola got off the sofa and went to drink some; Towser came out, and put his little black muzzle in too. As soon as the curly white one saw it, she lifted her pink nose, and got quietly back on the sofa.

“Nola won’t drink with Towser,” said the lady; “take him to the kitchen and give him a nice basin of milk with plenty of cream on it.”

Then Nola got off the sofa again; but Towser wouldn’t go to the kitchen. He got behind the curtain and looked out with his great saucers of eyes.

“It’ll be bed‐time soon, and I am sure she is wanting me badly to lick her chin. I’m sure she is wishing it was bed‐time,” said Towser.

“Make a comfortable bed for Towser in the kitchen, and be sure it’s nice and soft,” said the lady.

Towser wouldn’t get into the bed; he sat on the stone looking at the fire. He wondered if a coal had got into his heart. He felt so wicked.

“I wonder what is the matter with Towser,” said the lady the next day; “he used to be such a nice little dog, always so lively.”

Then Towser got up, and began dancing about after his tail, and then he got on the sofa, and began playing with the lady’s fingers and rings. Then the page: 119 white curly one opened her eyes slowly and got oil the sofa.

“Nola, Nola, come here! Down, Towser, down!” said the lady.

Then Towser went out in the garden and sat in the gravelled path looking up at the sun. I don’t know how he felt.

“Towser’s such a nice little dog” said the lady one day; “quite the nicest little dog I’ve ever seen. I wish I could get someone to take him away; some‐one who would be kind to him.”

Now Towser, didn’t wait to be given away to a very kind person. I fancy he had a pain at his heart. He put his tail close between his hind legs, and went out at the back door.

III—HIS REWARD

Towser sat alone in a wood. He leaned his head on a stone at his side. He was thinking; you could see that by his big, round eyes.

“I made somebody happy, that’s a great comfort,” said he (for all that there were tears running down his nose). “I must be happy; I must think I once made somebody happy ”—here his little chest swelled out immensely. “It doesn’t matter if you’re not loved if only you’ve made somebody happy. Yes, I won’t want to be loved any more, I’ll just try to page: 120 help people, and then I’ll be happy too. You mustn’t want to be loved; just to be good.”

So he took his head off the stone and went trotting away through the wood. Presently he saw a country boy before him carrying a flitch of bacon; not long after from the bushes at the path‐side burst a gipsy‐looking fellow.

After a minute, the rough fellow said to the boy, “Give me your bacon.”

Said the boy, “No.”

The man said, “I can make you; there is nobody near.”

He took hold of the bacon; the boy began to struggle. He knelt upon the boy. Then every hair upon Towser’s little body stood on end, and his tail was stiffened out. He forgot he was Towser, he forgot he wanted to be loved, he forgot everything, and flew at the trousers of the gipsy man. Then the gipsy man thought there was someone coming, ran away, and left the boy and the bacon.

Towser stood in the middle of the path barking furiously. He was in great excitement.

Slowly the country fellow got up; his face was purple with rage. He cut a little stick from the bush growing by; it wasn’t thicker than his finger; Towser’s backbone was not thicker either.

“So, you stand here barking at me, do you?” said the country fellow. “Why don’t you go after page: 121 your master? You want to bite me! do you? do you? do you?”

Towser thought his little backbone would be broken, and when the stick hit his little skull it was terribly sore. The country fellow held him fast with one hand; he was so small he wasn’t much to hold, and beat him on his little fore‐feet, and in his eye; then he took up his bacon, and walked away.

Towser went into the brushwood close by, and sat down on his tail and lifted his nose to the sky. The one eye was shut up, but the other was wide open, and the water running out of it.

If he ever went home and became a comfortable, respectable dog, I don’t know; the last I saw of him he was sitting there in that wood.

Eastbourne, March 1882.
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