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The Story of an African Farm, vol. 2. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
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CHAPTER IV.

LYNDALL.

SHE was more like a princess, yes, far more like a princess, than the lady who still hung on the wall in Tant' Sannie's bed-room. So Em thought. She leaned back in the little armchair; she wore a grey dressing-gown, and her long hair was combed out and hung to the ground. Em, sitting before her, looked up with mingled respect and admiration.

Lyndall was tired after her long journey, and had come to her room early. Her eyes ran over the familiar objects. Strange to go away for four years, and come back, and find that the candle standing on the dressing-table still cast the page: 26 shadow of an old crone's head in the corner beyond the clothes-horse. Strange that even a shadow should last longer than a man! She looked about among the old familiar objects; all was there, but the old self was gone.

“What are you noticing?” asked Em.

“Nothing and everything. I thought the windows were higher. If I were you, when I get this place I should raise the walls. There is not room to breathe here; one suffocates.”

“Gregory is going to make many alterations,” said Em; and drawing nearer to the grey dressing-gown respectfully. “Do you like him, Lyndall? Is he not handsome?”

“He must have been a fine baby,” said Lyndall, looking at the white dimity curtain that hung above the window.

Em was puzzled.

“There are some men,” said Lyndall, “whom you never can believe were babies at all; and page: 27 others you never see without thinking how very nice they must have looked when they wore socks and pink sashes.”

Em remained silent; then she said with a little dignity,

“When you know him you will love him as I do. When I compare other people with him, they seem so weak and little. Our hearts are so cold, our loves are mixed up with so many other things. But he—no one is worthy of his love. I am not. It is so great and pure.”

“You need not make yourself unhappy upon that point—your poor return for his love, my dear,” said Lyndall. “A man's love is a fire of olive-wood. It leaps higher every moment; it roars, it blazes, it shoots out red flames; it threatens to wrap you round and devour you—you who stand by like an icicle in the glow of its fierce warmth. You are self-reproached at your own chilliness and want of reciprocity. page: 28 The next day, when you go to warm your hands a little, you find a few ashes! 'Tis a long love and cool against a short love and hot; men, at all events, have nothing to complain of.”

“You speak so because you do not know men,” said Em, instantly assuming the dignity of superior knowledge so universally affected by affianced and married women in discussing man's nature with their uncontracted sisters.

“You will know them too some day, and then you will think differently,” said Em, with the condescending magnanimity which superior knowledge can always afford to show to ignorance.

Lyndall's little lip quivered in a manner indicative of intense amusement. She twirled a massive ring upon her forefinger—a ring more suitable for the hand of a man, and noticeable in design—a diamond cross let into gold, with the initials “R.R.” below it.

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“Ah, Lyndall,” Em cried, “perhaps you are engaged yourself—that is why you smile. Yes; I am sure you are. Look at this ring!”

Lyndall drew the hand quickly from her.

“I am not in so great a hurry to put my neck beneath any man's foot; and I do not so greatly admire the crying of babies,” she said, as she closed her eyes half wearily and leaned back in the chair. “There are other women glad of such work.”

Em felt rebuked and ashamed. How could she take Lyndall and show her the white linen and the wreath, and the embroidery? She was quiet for a little while, and then began to talk about Trana, and the old farm-servants, till she saw her companion was weary; then she rose and left her for the night. But after Em was gone Lyndall sat on, watching the old crone's face in the corner, and with a weary look, as page: 30 though the whole world's weight rested on these frail young shoulders.

The next morning, Waldo, starting off before breakfast with a bag of mealies slung over his shoulder to feed the ostriches, heard a light step behind him.

“Wait for me; I am coming with you,” said Lyndall, adding as she came up to him, “If I had not gone to look for you yesterday you would not have come to greet me till now. Do you not like me any longer, Waldo?”

“Yes—but—you are changed.”

It was the old clumsy, hesitating mode of speech.

“You like the pinafores better?” she said quickly. She wore a dress of a simple cotton fabric, but very fashionably made, and on her head was a broad white hat. To Waldo she seemed superbly attired. She saw it. “My dress has changed a little,” she said, “and I also; page: 31 but not to you. Hang the bag over your other shoulder, that I may see your face. You say so little that if one does not look at you you are an uncomprehended cipher.” Waldo changed the bag, and they walked on side by side. “You have improved,” she said. “Do you know that I have sometimes wished to see you while I was away; not often, but still sometimes.”

They were at the gate of the first camp now. Waldo threw over a mug of mealies, and they walked on over the dewy ground.

“Have you learnt much?” he asked her simply, remembering how she had once said, “When I come back again I shall know everything that a human being can.”

She laughed.

“Are you thinking of my old boast? Yes; I have learnt something, though hardly what I expected, and not quite so much. In the first place, I have learnt that one of my ancestors page: 32 must have been a very great fool; for they say nothing comes out in a man but one of his forefathers possessed it before him. In the second place, I have discovered that of all cursed places under the sun, where the hungriest soul can hardly pick up a few grains of knowledge, a girls' boarding-school is the worst. They are called finishing schools, and the name tells accurately what they are. They finish everything but imbecility and weakness, and that they cultivate. They are nicely adapted machines for experimenting on the question, ‘Into how little space a human soul can be crushed?’ I have seen some souls so compressed that they would have fitted into a small thimble, and found room to move there, wide room. A woman who has been for many years in one of those places carries the mark of the beast on her till she dies, though she may expand a little afterward, when she breathes in the free world.”

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“Were you miserable?” he asked, looking at her with quick anxiety.

“I?—no. I am never miserable and never happy. I wish I were. But I should have run away from the place on the fourth day, and hired myself to the first Boer-woman whose farm I came to, to make fire under her soap-pot, if I had to live as the rest of the drove did. Can you form an idea, Waldo, of what it must be to be shut up with cackling old women, who are without knowledge of life, without love of the beautiful, without strength, to have your soul cultured by them? It is suffocation only to breathe the air they breathe; but I made them give me room. I told them I should leave, and they knew I came there on my own account; so they gave me a bed-room without the companionship of one of those things that were having their brains slowly diluted and squeezed out of them. I did not learn music, because I had no page: 34 talent; and when the drove made cushions, and hideous flowers that the roses laugh at, and a footstool in six weeks that a machine would have made better in five minutes, I went to my room. With the money saved from such work I bought books and newspapers, and at night I sat up. I read, and epitomized what I read; and I found time to write some plays, and find out how hard it is to make your thoughts look anything but imbecile fools when you paint them with ink and paper. In the holidays I learnt a great deal more. I made acquaintances, saw a few places and many people, and some different ways of living, which is more than any books can show one. On the whole, I am not dissatisfied with my four years. I have not learnt what I expected; but I have learnt something else. What have you been doing?”

“Nothing.”

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“That is not possible. I shall find out by and by.”

They still stepped on side by side over the dewy bushes. Then suddenly she turned on him.

“Don't you wish you were a woman, Waldo?”

“No,” he answered readily.

She laughed.

“I thought not. Even you are too worldly wise for that. I never met a man who did. This is a pretty ring,” she said, holding out her little hand, that the morning sun might make the diamonds sparkle. “Worth fifty pounds at least. I will give it to the first man who tells me he would like to be a woman. There might be one on Robbin Island* who would win it perhaps, but I doubt it even there. It is delightful to be a woman; but every man thanks the Lord devoutly that he isn't one.”


Lunatics at the Cape are sent to Robbin Island.

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She drew her hat to one side to keep the sun out of her eyes as she walked. Waldo looked at her so intently that he stumbled over the bushes. Yes, this was his little Lyndall who had worn the check pinafores; he saw it now, and he walked closer beside her. They reached the next camp.

“Let us wait at this camp and watch the birds,” she said, as an ostrich hen came bounding toward them with velvety wings outstretched, while far away over the bushes the head of the cock was visible as he sat brooding on the eggs.

Lyndall folded her arms on the gate-bar, and Waldo threw his empty bag on the wall and leaned beside her.

“I like these birds,” she said; “they share each other's work, and are companions. Do you take an interest in the position of women, Waldo?”

“No.”

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“I thought not. No one does, unless they are in need of a subject upon which to show their wit. And as for you, from of old you can see nothing that is not separated from you by a few millions of miles, and strewed over with mystery. If women were the inhabitants of Jupiter, of whom you had happened to hear something, you would pore over us and our condition night and day; but because we are before your eyes you never look at us. You care nothing that this is ragged and ugly,” she said, putting her little finger on his sleeve; “but you strive mightily to make an imaginary leaf on an old stick beautiful. I'm sorry you don't care for the position of women; I should have liked us to be friends; and it is the only thing about which I think much or feel much—if, indeed, I have any feeling about anything,” she added, flippantly, readjusting her dainty little arms. “When I was a baby, I fancy my parents left me out in the page: 38 frost one night, and I got nipped internally—it feels so!”

“Show me what you feel,” he said. “I have only a few old thoughts, and I think them over and over again; always beginning where I left off. I never get any further. I am weary of them. I am like an old hen that sits on eggs month after month and they never come out.”

“And I,” she said quickly, “am so pressed in upon by new things that, lest they should trip one another up, I have to keep forcing them back. My head swings sometimes. But this one thought stands, never goes—if I might but be one of these born in the future; then perhaps to be born a woman will not be to be born branded.”

Waldo looked at her. It was hard to say whether she were in earnest or mocking.

“I know it is foolish. Wisdom never kicks at the iron walls it can't bring down,” she said.

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“But we are cursed. Waldo, born cursed from the time our mothers bring us into the world till the shrouds are put on us. Do not look at me as though I were talking nonsense. Everything has two sides—the outside that is ridiculous, and the inside that is solemn.”

“I am not laughing,” said the boy solemnly enough; “but what curses you?”

He thought she would not reply to him, she waited so long.

“It is not what is done to us, but what is made of us,” she said at last, “that wrongs us. No man can be really injured but by what modifies himself. We all enter the world little plastic beings, with so much natural force perhaps, but for the rest—blank; and the world tells us what we are to be, and shapes us by the ends it sets before us. To you it says—“Work;” and to us it says—“Seem!” To you it says—As you approximate to man's highest ideal of God, as your arm page: 40 is strong and your knowledge great, and the power to labour is with you, so you shall gain all that human heart desires. To us it says—Strength shall not help you, nor knowledge, nor labour. You shall gain what men gain, but by other means. And so the world makes men and women.

“Look at this little chin of mine, Waldo, with the dimple in it. It is but a small part of my person; but though I had a knowledge of all things under the sun, and the wisdom to use it, and the deep loving heart of an angel, it would not stead me through life like this little chin. I can win money with it, I can win love; I can win power with it, I can win fame. What would knowledge help me? The less a woman has in her head the lighter she is for climbing. I once heard an old man say, that he never saw intellect help a woman so much as a pretty ankle; and it was the truth. They begin to page: 41 shape us to our cursed end,” she said, with her lips drawn in to look as though they smiled, “when we are tiny things in shoes and socks. We sit with our little feet drawn up under us in the window, and look out at the boys in their happy play. We want to go. Then a loving hand is laid on us: ‘Little one, you cannot go,’ they say; ‘your little face will burn, and your nice white dress be spoiled.’ We feel it must be for our good, it is so lovingly said: but we cannot understand; and we kneel still with one little cheek wistfully pressed against the pane. Afterwards we go and thread blue beads, and make a string for our neck; and we go and stand before the glass. We see the complexion we were not to spoil, and the white frock, and we look into our own great eyes. Then the curse begins to act on us. It finishes its work when we are grown women, who no more look out wistfully at a more healthy life; we are page: 42 contented. We fit our sphere as a Chinese-woman's foot fits her shoe exactly, as though God had made both—and yet He knows nothing of either. In some of us the shaping of our end has been quite completed. The parts we are not to use have been quite atrophied, and have even dropped off; but in others, and we are not less to be pitied, they have been weakened and left. We wear the bandages, but our limbs have not grown to them; we know that we are compressed, and chafe against them.

“But what does it help? A little bitterness, a little longing when we are young, a little futile searching for work, a little passionate striving for room for the exercise of our powers,—and then we go with the drove. A woman must march with her regiment. In the end she must be trodden down or go with it; and if she is wise she goes.

“I see in your great eyes what you are page: 43 thinking,” she said, glancing at him; “I always know what the person I am talking to is thinking of. How is this woman who makes such a fuss worse off than I? I will show you by a very little example. We stand here at this gate this morning, both poor, both young, both friendless; there is not much to choose between us. Let us turn away just as we are, to make our way in life. This evening you will come to a farmer's house. The farmer, albeit you come alone on foot, will give you a pipe of tobacco and a cup of coffee and a bed. If he has no dam to build and no child to teach, to-morrow you can go on your way with a friendly greeting of the hand. I, if I come to the same place to-night, will have strange questions asked me, strange glances cast on me. The Boer-wife will shake her head and give me food to eat with the Kaffirs, and a right to sleep with the dogs. That would be the first step in our page: 44 progress—a very little one, but every step to the end would repeat it. We were equals once when we lay new-born babes on our nurses' knees. We will be equals again when they tie up our jaws for the last sleep.”

Waldo looked in wonder at the little quivering face; it was a glimpse into a world of passion and feeling wholly new to him.

“Mark you,” she said, “we have always this advantage over you—we can at any time step into ease and competence, where you must labour patiently for it. A little weeping, a little wheedling, a little self-degradation, a little careful use of our advantages, and then some man will say—‘Come, be my wife!’ With good looks and youth marriage is easy to attain. There are men enough; but a woman who has sold herself, even for a ring and a new name, need hold her skirt aside for no creature in the street. They both earn their bread in one way. page: 45 Marriage for love is the beautifulest external symbol of the union of souls; marriage without it is the uncleanliest traffic that defiles the world.” She ran her little finger savagely along the topmost bar, shaking off the dozen little dewdrops that still hung there. “And they tell us we have men's chivalrous attention!” she cried. “When we ask to be doctors, lawyers, law-makers, anything but ill-paid drudges, they say,—No; but you have men's chivalrous attention; now think of that and be satisfied! What would you do without it?”

The bitter little silvery laugh, so seldom heard, rang out across the bushes. She bit her little teeth together.

“I was coming up in Cobb and Co.'s the other day. At a little wayside hotel we had to change the large coach for a small one. We were ten passengers, eight men and two women. As I sat in the house the gentlemen came and page: 46 whispered to me, ‘There is not room for all in the new coach, take your seat quickly.’ We hurried out, and they gave me the best seat, and covered me with rugs, because it was drizzling. Then the last passenger came running up to the coach—an old woman with a wonderful bonnet, and a black shawl pinned with a yellow pin.

“‘There is no room,’ they said; ‘you must wait till next week's coach takes you up;’ but she climbed on to the step, and held on at the window with both hands.

“‘My son-in-law is ill, and I must go and see him,’ she said.

“‘My good woman,’ said one, ‘I am really exceedingly sorry that your son-in-law is ill; but there is absolutely no room for you here.’

“‘You had better get down,’ said another, ‘or the wheel will catch you.’

“I got up to give her my place.

“‘Oh, no, no!’ they cried, ‘we will not allow that.’

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“‘I will rather kneel,’ said one, and he crouched down at my feet; so the woman came in.

“There were nine of us in that coach, and only one showed chivalrous attention—and that was a woman to a woman.

“I shall be old and ugly, too, one day, and I shall look for men's chivalrous help, but I shall not find it.

“The bees are very attentive to the flowers till their honey is done, and then they fly over them. I don't know if the flowers feel grateful to the bees; they are great fools if they do.”

“But some women,” said Waldo, speaking as though the words forced themselves from him at that moment, “some women have power.”

She lifted her beautiful eyes to his face.

“Power! Did you ever hear of men being asked whether other souls should have power or not? It is born in them. You may dam up page: 48 the fountain of water, and make it a stagnant marsh, or you may let it run free and do its work; but you cannot say whether it shall be there; it is there. And it will act, if not openly for good, then covertly for evil; but it will act. If Goethe had been stolen away a child, and reared in a robber horde in the depths of a German forest, do you think the world would have had ‘Faust’ and ‘Iphegenie?’ But he would have been Goethe still—stronger, wiser than his fellows. At night, round their watch-fire, he would have chanted wild songs of rapine and murder, till the dark faces about him were moved and trembled. His songs would have echoed on from father to son, and nerved the heart and arm—for evil. Do you think if Napoleon had been born a woman that he would have been contented to give small tea-parties and talk small scandal? He would have risen; but the world would not have heard of him as page: 49 it hears of him now—a man great and kingly, with all his sins; he would have left one of those names that stain the leaf of every history—the names of women, who, having power, but being denied the right to exercise it openly, rule in the dark, covertly, and by stealth, through the men whose passions they feed on and by whom they climb.

“Power!” she said, suddenly, smiting her little hand upon the rail. “Yes, we have power; and since we are not to expend it in tunnelling mountains, nor healing diseases, nor making laws, nor money, nor on any extraneous object, we expend it on you. You are our goods, our merchandise, our material for operating on; we buy you, we sell you, we make fools of you, we act the wily old Jew with you, we keep six of you crawling to our little feet, and praying only for a touch of our little hand; and they say truly, there was never an ache or pain or page: 50 broken heart but a woman was at the bottom of it. We are not to study law, nor science, nor art, so we study you. There is never a nerve or fibre in a man's nature but we know it. We keep six of you dancing in the palm of one little hand,” she said, balancing her outstretched arm gracefully, as though tiny beings disported themselves in its palm. “There—we throw you away, and you sink to the devil,” she said, folding her arms composedly. “There was never a man who said one word for woman but he said two for man, and three for the whole human race.”

She watched the bird pecking up the last yellow grains; but Waldo looked only at her.

When she spoke again it was very measuredly.

“They bring weighty arguments against us when we ask for the perfect freedom of women,” she said; “but, when you come up to the objections, they are like pumpkin-devils, with page: 51 candles inside, hollow, and can't bite. They say that women do not wish for the sphere and freedom we ask for them, and would not use it!

“If the bird does like its cage, and does like its sugar and will not leave it, why keep the door so very carefully shut? Why not open it, only a little? Do they know, there is many a bird will not break its wings against the bars, but would fly if the doors were open.

“Then they say again, ‘If women have the liberty you ask for, they will be found in positions for which they have not talent!’ If two men climb one ladder, did you ever see the weakest anywhere but at the foot? The surest sign of fitness is success. The weakest never wins but where there is handicapping. Nature, left to herself, will as beautifully apportion a man's work to his capacities as long ages ago she graduated the colours on the bird's breast. If we are not fit you give us to no purpose the page: 52 right to labour; the work will fall out of our hands into those that are abler.”

She talked more quickly and eagerly as she went on, as one talks of that over which they have brooded long, and which lies near their hearts.

Waldo watched her intently.

“They say women have one great and noble work left them, and they do it ill.—That is true; they do it execrably. It is the work that demands the broadest culture, and they have not even the narrowest. The lawyer may see no deeper than his law books, and the chemist see no further than the windows of his laboratory, and they may do their work well. But the woman who does woman's work needs a many-sided, multiform culture; the heights and depths of human life must strike an answering chord in her; she must have knowledge of men and things in many states, a wide catholicity page: 53 of sympathy, the strength that springs from knowledge, and the magnanimity which springs from strength. We bear the world, and we make it. The souls of little children are marvellously delicate and tender things, and keep for ever the shadow that first falls on them, and that is the mother's or at best a woman's. There was never a great man who had not a great mother—it is hardly an exaggeration. The first six years of our life make us; all that is added later is veneer; and yet some say, if a woman can cook a dinner or dress herself she has culture enough.

“The mightiest and noblest of human work is given to us, and we do it ill. Send an untutored navvie to work into an artist's studio, and see what you will find there! And yet, thank God, we have this work,” she added quickly: “it is the one window through which we see into the great world of earnest labour. The meanest girl who page: 54 dances and dresses becomes something higher when her children look up into her face and ask her questions. It is the only education we have and which they cannot take from us.”

“And they say,” she went on, “that we complain of woman's being compelled to look upon marriage as a profession; but that she is free to enter upon it or leave it, as she pleases.

“Yes—and a cat set afloat in a pond is free to sit in the tub till it dies, it is under no obligation to wet its feet; and a drowning man may catch at a straw or not, just as he likes—it is a glorious liberty! Let any man think for five minutes of what old maidenhood means to a woman—and then let him be silent. Is it easy to bear through life a name that in itself signifies defeat? to dwell, as nine out of ten unmarried women must, under the finger of another woman? Is it easy to look forward to an old age without honour, without the reward page: 55 of useful labour, without love? I wonder how many men there are who would give up everything that is dear in life for the sake of maintaining a high purity.”

She laughed, a little laugh that was clear without being pleasant. “And then, when they have no other argument against us, they say—‘Go on; but when you have made women what you wish, and her children inherit her culture, you will defeat yourself. Man will gradually become extinct from excess of intellect, the passions which replenish the race will die.’ Fools!” she said, curling her pretty lip; “a Hottentot sits at the road-side, and feeds on a rotten bone he has found there, and takes out his bottle of Cape-smoke and swills at it, and grunts with satisfaction; and the cultured child of the nineteenth century sits in his arm-chair, and sips choice wines with the lip of a connoisseur, and tastes delicate dishes with a page: 56 delicate palate, and with a satisfaction of which the Hottentot knows nothing. Heavy jaw and sloping forehead—all have gone with increasing intellect; but the animal appetites are there still—refined, discriminative, but immeasurably intensified. Fools! Before men forgave or worshipped, while they were weak on their hind legs, did they not eat and drink and fight for wives? When all the latter additions to humanity have vanished, will not the foundation on which they are built remain?”

She was silent then for a while, and said somewhat dreamily, more as though speaking to herself than to him,—

“They ask, What will you gain, even if man does not become extinct?—you will have brought justice and equality on to the earth, and sent love from it. When men and women are equals they will love no more. Your highly-cultured women will not be lovable, will not love.

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“Do they see nothing, understand nothing? It is Tant' Sannie who buries husbands one after another, and folds her hands resignedly,—‘The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, and blessed be the name of the Lord,’— and she looks for another. It is the hard-headed, deep thinker who, when the wife who has thought and worked with him goes, can find no rest, and lingers near her till he finds sleep beside her.

“A great soul draws and is drawn with a more fierce intensity than any small one. By every inch we grow in intellectual height our love strikes down its roots deeper, and spreads out its arms wider. It is for love's sake yet more than for any other that we look for that new time.” She had leaned her head against the stones, and watched with her sad, soft eyes the retreating bird. “Then when that time comes,” she said lowly, “when love is no more bought or sold, when it is not a means of making bread, page: 58 when each woman's life is filled with earnest, independent labour, then love will come to her, a strange, sudden sweetness breaking in upon her earnest work; not sought for, but found. Then, but not now—”

Waldo waited for her to finish the sentence, but she seemed to have forgotten him.

“Lyndall,” he said, putting his hand upon her—she started—“if you think that that new time will be so great, so good, you who speak so easily—”

She interrupted him.

“Speak! speak!” she said, “the difficulty is not to speak; the difficulty is to keep silence.”

“But why do you not try to bring that time?” he said with pitiful simplicity. “When you speak I believe all you say; other people would listen to you also.”

“I am not so sure of that,” she said with a smile.

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Then over the small face came the weary look it had worn last night as it watched the shadow in the corner, Ah, so weary!

“I, Waldo, I?” she said. “I will do nothing good for myself, nothing for the world, till some one wakes me. I am asleep, swathed, shut up in self; till I have been delivered I will deliver no one.”

He looked at her wondering, but she was not looking at him.

“To see the good and the beautiful,” she said, “and to have no strength to live it, is only to be Moses on the mountain of Nebo, with the land at your feet and no power to enter. It would be better not to see it. Come,” she said, looking up into his face, and seeing its uncomprehending expression, “let us go, it is getting late. Doss is anxious for his breakfast also,” she added, wheeling round and calling to the dog, who was endeavouring to unearth a mole, an page: 60 occupation to which he had been zealously addicted from the third month, but in which he had never on any single occasion proved successful.

Waldo shouldered his bag, and Lyndall walked on before in silence, with the dog close to her side. Perhaps she thought of the narrowness of the limits within which a human soul may speak and be understood by its nearest of mental kin, of how soon it reaches that solitary land of the individual experience, in which no fellow footfall is ever heard. Whatever her thoughts may have been, she was soon interrupted. Waldo came close to her, and standing still, produced with awkwardness from his breast-pocket a small carved box.

“I made it for you,” he said, holding it out.

“I like it,” she said, examining it carefully.

The workmanship was better than that of the grave-post. The flowers that covered it were delicate, and here and there small conical pro- protuberances page: 61 tuberances were let in among them. She turned it round critically. Waldo bent over it lovingly.

“There is one strange thing about it,” he said earnestly, putting a finger on one little pyramid. “I made it without these, and I felt something was wrong; I tried many changes, and at last I let these in, and then it was right. But why was it? They are not beautiful in themselves.”

“They relieve the monotony of the smooth leaves, I suppose.”

He shook his head as over a weighty matter.

“The sky is monotonous,” he said, “when it is blue, and yet it is beautiful. I have thought of that often; but it is not monotony and it is not variety makes beauty. What is it? The sky, and your face, and this box—the same thing is in them all, only more in the sky and in your face. But what is it?”

She smiled.

“So you are at your old work still. Why, page: 62 why, why? What is the reason? It is enough for me,” she said, “if I find out what is beautiful and what is ugly, what is real and what is not. Why it is there, and over the final cause of things in general, I don't trouble myself; there must be one, but what is it to me? If I howl to all eternity I shall never get hold of it; and if I did I might be no better off. But you Germans are born with an aptitude for burrowing; you can't help yourselves. You must sniff after reasons, just as that dog must after moles. He knows perfectly well he will never catch it, but he's under the imperative necessity of digging for it.”

“But he might find it.”

Might!—but he never has and never will. Life is too short to run after mights; we must have certainties.”

She tucked the box under her arm and was about to walk on, when Gregory Rose, with page: 63 shining spurs, an ostrich feather in his hat, and a silver-headed whip, careered past. He bowed gallantly as he went by. They waited till the dust of the horse's hoofs had laid itself.

“There,” said Lyndall, “goes a true woman—one born for the sphere that some women have to fill without being born for it. How happy he would be sewing frills into his little girl's frocks, and how pretty he would look sitting in a parlour, with a rough man making love to him! Don't you think so?”

“I shall not stay here when he is master,” Waldo answered, not able to connect any kind of beauty with Gregory Rose.

“I should imagine not. The rule of a woman is tyranny; but the rule of a man-woman grinds fine. Where are you going?”

“Anywhere.”

“What to do?”

“See—see everything.”

page: 64

“You will be disappointed.”

“And were you?”

“Yes; and you will be more so. I want some things that men and the world give, you do not. If you have a few yards of earth to stand on, and a bit of blue over you, and something that you cannot see to dream about, you have all that you need, all that you know how to use. But I like to see real men. Let them be as disagreeable as they please, they are more interesting to me than flowers, or trees, or stars, or any other thing under the sun. Sometimes,” she added, walking on, and shaking the dust daintily from her skirts, “when I am not too busy trying to find a new way of doing my hair that will show my little neck to better advantage, or over other work of that kind, sometimes it amuses me intensely to trace out the resemblance between one man and another: to see how Tant' Sannie and I, you and Bonaparte, St. Simon on his page: 65 pillow, and the Emperor dining off larks' tongues, are one and the same compound, merely mixed in different proportions. What is microscopic in one is largely developed in another; what is a rudimentary fold in me is a great active organ in you; but all things are in all men, and one soul is the model of all. We shall find nothing new in human nature after we have once carefully dissected and analyzed the one being we ever shall truly know—ourself. The Kaffir girl threw some coffee on my arm in bed this morning; I felt displeased, but said nothing. Tant' Sannie would have thrown the saucer at her and sworn for an hour; but the feeling would be the same irritated displeasure. If a huge animated stomach like Bonaparte were put under a glass by a skilful mental microscopist, even he would be found to have an embryonic doubling somewhere indicative of a heart, and rudimentary buddings that might have become conscience page: 66 and sincerity:—Let me take your arm Waldo. How full you are of mealie dust.—No, never mind. It will brush off.—And sometimes what is more amusing still than tracing the likeness between man and man, is to trace the analogy there always is between the progress and development of one individual and of a whole nation; or, again, between a single nation and the entire human race. It is pleasant when it dawns on you that the one is just the other written out in large letters; and very odd to find all the little follies and virtues, and developments and retrogressions, written out in the big world's book that you find in your little internal self. It is the most amusing thing I know of; but of course, being a woman, I have not often time for such amusements. Professional duties always first, you know. It takes a great deal of time and thought always to look perfectly exquisite even for a pretty page: 67 woman. Is the old buggy still in existence, Waldo?”

“Yes; but the harness is broken.”

“Well, I wish you would mend it. You must teach me to drive. I must learn something while I am here. I got the Hottentot girl to show me how to make ‘sar-sar-ties’ this morning; and Tant' Sannie is going to teach me to make ‘kapjes.’ I will come and sit with you this afternoon while you mend the harness.”

“Thank you.”

“No, don't thank me; I come for my own pleasure. I never find any one I can talk to. Women bore me, and men, I talk so to—‘Going to the ball this evening? Nice little dog that of yours. Pretty little ears. So fond of pointer pups!’ And they think me fascinating, charming! Men are like the earth, and we are the moon; we turn always one side to them, and page: 68 they think there is no other, because they don't see it—but there is.”

They had reached the house now.

“Tell me when you set to work,” she said, and walked toward the door.

Waldo stood to look after her, and Doss stood at his side, a look of painful uncertainty depicted on his small countenance, and one little foot poised in the air. Should he stay with his master or go? He looked at the figure with the wide straw hat moving toward the house, and he looked up at his master; then he put down the little paw and went. Waldo watched them both in at the door and then walked away alone. He was satisfied that at least his dog was with her.

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