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The Story of an African Farm, vol. 1. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
page: 244


And then a new time rises. We are seven years old. We can read now—read the Bible. Best of all we like the story of Elijah in his cave at Horeb, and the still small voice.

One day, a notable one, we read on the page: 245 “kopje,” and discover the fifth chapter of Matthew, and read it all through. Then we tuck the Bible under our arm and rush home. They didn't know it was wicked to take your things again if some one took them, wicked to go to law, wicked to—! We are quite breathless when we get to the house; we tell them we have discovered a chapter they never heard of; we tell them what it says. The old wise people tell us they knew all about it. Our discovery is a mare's-nest to them; but to us it is very real. The ten commandments and the old “Thou shalt” we have heard about long enough and don't care about it; but this new law sets us on fire. We will deny ourself. Our little waggon that we have made, we give to the little Kaffirs. We keep quiet when they throw sand at us (feeling, oh, so happy). We conscientiously put the cracked tea-cup for ourselves at breakfast, and take the burnt roaster-cake. We save our money, and buy threepence of tobacco page: 246 for the Hottentot maid who calls us names. We are exotically virtuous. At night we are profoundly religious; even the ticking watch says, “Eternity, eternity! hell, hell, hell!” and the silence talks of God.

Occasionally, also, unpleasantly shrewd questions begin to be asked by something, we know not what, in ourselves. We get to know him better afterward. We carry the questions to the grown-up people. They give us answers; we are more or less satisfied for the time. The grown-up people are very wise, and they say it was kind of God to make hell, and very loving of Him to send men there; and besides, He couldn't help Himself, and they are very wise, we think, so we believe them.