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Undine. Schreiner, Olive, 1855–1920.
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XIV.

ON BOARD SHIP TO SOUTH AFRlCA

ON THAT Wednesday morning the cause of the violent exercise of the former and the joy of the latter was standing on board a steamer bound for South Africa.

Undine was leaning over the side of the ship and turning back no wistful look to the fast receding English shores. Like a great impassioned living creature whose burning, striving heart impels it to wander on forever, the steamer passed over the blue, breezy, swelling sea, leaving its track of foaming bubbles to dance and die in sunshine. The wild free sea-birds, as they dipped their wings into the water and spread them out in the morning light, were glad and full of life.

It was such rest to stand and watch them, it was long before she turned her eyes to the little world on deck. There was motion enough there also, and happiness too for all that might be seen; but Undine looked back longingly at her sea-birds as they floated over the water, as though it might be pleasanter to be among them than among the wiser fowls that trotted on the deck.

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Near her were sitting two Africander girls who had been sent home for their educations, and who were returning sublimely ignorant of everything in general and their own deficiencies in particular, to make a grand sensation in their little up-country town, to be worshipped and sought after by the sterner sex and woefully traduced and servilely copied by the gentler, who would for a short time look up to them as Young Lady's Journals in the flesh and worthy of all imitation from their collars to their walk.

Further off there was a portly dame wearing the stiffest of black silks with the stiffest of necks, who could by no conceivable effort bring her eyes lower than the great gold rings that adorned her short fingers, and who devoutly believed this ball had been launched into space and continued suspended there to serve as a floor whereon might be placed her well-shod feet. Long ago she had done her own ironing, and her own washing too at a pinch when no Kaffir maid was to be got, but her husband had been a lucky emigrant and those days were forgotten now. Her husband, who sat not far from her, looked as though the rolling of the ship were considerably more than he could stand and fervently wished himself in old Africa again: old Africa, to which he would return smaller and wiser after his travels, the truth having been revealed to him dur- during page: 218 ing his wanderings that the world has greater things than a British settler. To his wife no revelation had been made, for the darkness that surrounds the female soul is dense.

A little to the right of this couple was standing a pimply young missionary, biting his nails and staring very hard at a very pretty blonde who was going to the Cape to be married and who filled his bosom with those gentle stirrings to which the sacerdotal breast is strangely prone. She looked not at him, but from under her black silk hat her dove's eyes glanced softly at a group of young Englishmen, birds of a feather, who stood together smoking and chatting. A fish in the hand is worth six at the hook, and more than one bride has come out to her beloved to find herself unwanted; so, if there were any golden fish on board, it might be as well to angle for them. The young gentlemen on whom her eyes were resting now were small game, however—puny, white-faced young Londoners, “raw Englishmen” they would be called out in the colony, where they would no doubt go into stores as clerks or become petty diamond-buyers at the Fields. There were one or two German Jews on deck, smoking cigars and sunning themselves, some going out for the first time and some returning to the Cape: not the little snivelling, weasel-like creatures who come out third class and, as soon as they land, supply themselves with a waggon and a couple of mules page: 219 and become “smouses,” 1 hawking false jewellery and damaged clothing among the Dutch farmers, and growing rich on it; but gentlemen Jews, with their polite foreign manners and their fascinating broken English, who will make you swear round is square and sell you to the devil before your face, and you shall never know it; who will squeeze you to pulp to get your last shilling today, and tomorrow, when your wife is starving and no Christian will help her, will give her ten.

There were men and women of all shapes and qualities to be seen, but nothing so pleasing as two little children with pretty faces who stood near to her. Innocent blue eyes and pink-and-white dimpled faces were surrounded by a maze of fine yellow hair. Presently a very diminutive and equally ugly terrier with a white body and little yellow ears came up, and received from the foot of the smaller of the two an astonishingly lusty kick.

“Oh, Lily, how can you!” said her sister. “It belongs to that lady in the black-silk dress.”

“No, it doesn't, or I would not have kicked it,” responded the little one; “it belongs to that woman with the plaited hair and the old grey frock.”

“Oh, then it's all right,” answered the elder, complacently.


1“Smouse”—hawker, peddler. Used in English, the word rhymes with “house”; in Afrikaans it rhymes with the English word “dose.”

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Undine stooped down to caress the shabby little creature whom the world ill used because its mistress had not a chin or a silk dress. Even in a morsel of humanity not three feet high, with a baby face and golden curls, must one find the world, the flesh, and the devil full grown?

She looked away from them to the woman with the plaited hair and the grey dress. She was shabby, dreadfully shabby. Her grey skirt had been turned not only inside out but upside down; her loose cloth jacket had once been black but was now brown, and, to judge from its cut, was the last relic of a long-deceased fashion. On her head she wore a great round hat ornamented round the crown by a piece of brown lace which must have been young when the jacket was black. Her black gloves were three sizes too large for her and yet did not conceal the knobby condition of her long thin hands. She had a weak, nervous mouth and sat on the edge of the bench, as though hardly sure she had a right to be there at all. Her hands were crossed in her lap and her eyes looked out across the water. Immense wonderful steel-grey eyes that were strangely out of keeping with the wrinkled wizened face in which they were set.

“I wonder who that woman in the grey dress is,” said a gentleman standing in earshot of Undine to his companion, a military man who boasted an immense pair of moustaches and a most elegant drawl.

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“Woman in grey dress? I saw one just now. Deuced pretty little thing. Tried to get up a conversation; couldn't. Best-looking thing on board.”

“Then she's not the woman I mean,” responded his companion. “She's not your style, would not exactly attract you, but she has marvellous eyes.”

“Who has?” inquired the captain's pretty sister, coming up at that moment. Possessing a pair of eyes as remarkable for their brilliancy as the shabby woman's were for their shadowy deepness, she thought the remark referred to none other than herself.

“I can't say that I admire your taste,” she said when the owner of the grey eyes had been pointed out to her. “A living song they are, you say? You who have so much of the poet's blood should really try and translate them into something intelligible to us poor mortals who see nothing in her but a piece of very shabby gentility. You poets should not absorb all the light that falls on you without reflecting a ray on us.”

“I'm afraid it takes more to make a poet than nature has poured into my mould,” he answered, laughing lightly, as he offered her his arm and walked off with the graceful black-eyed beauty. Undine thought his dancing blue eyes as pleasant to look at as the rippling waves, and stood watching as he passed to and fro, now stopping to throw bonbons to the children or stooping to stroke the yellow- page: 222 and-white terrier they had kicked, then standing to chat with a lady or raising his hat and turning his face against the breeze to let it toss and play with his brown curls. A boy he seemed in his perfect enjoyment of life in spite of his rich brown beard, the only glad childish thing on board. Undine's eyes followed him and she forgot the shabby woman till she went down to her cabin and found that she was to be her companion there.

It was better than having the captain's pretty sister or any of the gay butterflies on board; and truly better she found it when, lying down in her berth, she did not rise from it for weeks. The strain under which she had lived for years, the excitement of the last few weeks, had told on her, and now when it was all past she broke down utterly. After a few days she was well enough to lie still and enjoy the quiet rest, but was weak enough to feel grateful for the silent constant attention of her companion, who sat beside her night and day.

“You are very good to me, very good,” said Undine one day, when the woman sat bathing her head with vinegar and water. “You do everything for me so much better than the stewardess can.”

“I ought to be able to,” said the woman in a low, nervous voice. “I have been nursing for twelve years. I do nothing else.”

All day Undine's occupation was to lie and watch her, for she never went on deck but sat there sew- sewing page: 223 ing at innumerable little white shirts and petticoats, with those great marvellous grey eyes which always seemed looking beyond the object on which they were fixed to something far away.

She might have been any age between twenty and forty, for in spite of the wrinkles in her sallow face there was something more of the girl than the woman about her.

She never spoke unless spoken to, till one day Undine had scribbled half a dozen lines of rhyme in which she told what she felt when there had been rain in the night and she went out to see the roses knocking their faces together and sending down a second shower into the face of the moist sweet earth. She was looking radiantly happy, for it is as thrilling as a lover's hot kiss to have fixed on paper something that has looked beautiful to us.

“Are you going to some one?” asked the woman suddenly.

“Going to some one?” repeated Undine inquiringly.

“Yes. I beg your pardon,” said the woman, seeming terribly abashed and speaking more nervously than usual. “I hope you will forgive me. But I meant—you looked so happy—and I—I thought you must be going to some one.”

“No, I have no one to go to,” said Undine. “Are you going to friends?”

“Yes,” said the woman.

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Undine leaned back wearily on her pillows. So it was only she who was utterly alone; even this queer grey woman had friends.

“Where are the friends you are going to?” she asked presently.

The woman waited for a long time, then she said, suddenly, “I have one; I am going to him.” And then, after a short pause, “He is dead.” And a smile as sad as the last red light that burns on the highest crag of a mountain passed over the worn face and the great grey eyes.

Undine asked no more questions. Some great sorrow has shaken her reason, she thought.

The next day the woman sat at her interminable sewing and, Undine, who lay reading felt as a generous child does who is eating something sweet and cannot understand that it could be less sweet to another. “Would you like me to read aloud to you a little? You must grow so tired of sitting here always and sewing,” she said.

“Thank you,” said the woman in a tone that was as far away as the look in her eyes. “Long ago I used to like books; they said it was that made me so stupid.”

“How could that be?” asked Undine, resting her cheek on her hand and looking at her.

“I don't know, but I never could learn, and I used to sit in the window in the moonlight reading the books I liked; and they said it was that made page: 225 me so stupid; but I don't think it was; I would have been stupid anyhow.”

Then she remembered the work which had dropped from her hands while she spoke and she stitched on faster than ever.

“Reading makes no one stupid. They must be strange to say so,” said Undine.

“I don't know. You see, I could only remember poems and tales, I couldn't do sums or remember the tables; I was very stupid, but I understood some of them; Shelley was the name of one man I used to like, but I did not understand him; I only felt sorry for him. It was wicked, I know, but I used to wish I could have seen him. I used to like him.” She spoke this in the low tone peculiar to her, and more as though she were speaking to herself than to anyone else.

“I don't think he was wicked,” said Undine. “It is so long ago, perhaps I have forgotten.”

“I don't know, but I thought he and his wife went away from each other, and I thought he loved another woman; but I forget.”

“He did love another woman, but I don't think that that's any reason for not liking him. It's always right to love, love as much as we can, and as long as we can, and as strong as we can,” said Undine, emphatically, raising herself on her elbow and watching the busy fingers as they moved to and fro.

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The exertion tired her, so presently she lay down again, forgot all about the book, and was following her roving fancies, when the woman laid her hand softly on her arm.

“Do you really believe it?” she said. “Say it again.”

“Say what?” asked Undine, looking into the grey eyes which for the first time were really looking at her.

“That it is not wrong,” she whispered.

“Not wrong to do what? Not wrong to love? How can it be? It is not wrong to feel warm or to feel strong, and we can as little help loving as feeling either.”

“But if it hurts other people,” said the woman slowly.

“Then it must be silent as the dead are, who they say live, yet we never hear them.”

The woman sat with her hands folded in her lap. Undine lay and watched her wonderingly.

Suddenly, with the abruptness which was at all times common to her, she drew from her bosom an old gold locket that was tied to a black-velvet string, and put in into Undine's hand.

“Look at it,” she said. “I never felt so before—but I would like to tell you. I never felt so before—but I would like to tell.”

Like to tell! Yes, we all like it. It is not only the purple dove in the deep shade of the bush, it is page: 227 not only the poet in his rhapsodies, talking to stones and trees, but the coldest hardest sinner among us who passes through life without giving a sign. We all like to tell, but, alas! too often find no comprehender, and walk through life dumb and mute with our burden.

Undine opened the old gold locket. In it there was the face of a young girl, a pretty, weak, sensitive face, with a setting of abundant brown curls and great, timid, fawn-like eyes.

Opposite was the face of a man—a dark, handsome, sensual face with bold black eyes.

Undine lay looking at the pictures, while the woman talked on in a low dreamy voice, so softly that a times she could hardly hear her.

“I was always stupid,” she said. “I think that must have been the reason why no one ever loved me. They sent me to school when I was quite a little child to see if it would do me any good, but I used to get so frightened I could never remember when we had to come up and say our lessons, and so I always stayed in the classes with the little girls. I think they used to like me, the very little ones; I could dress their dolls and even help them with their lessons a little. You see, I was not stupid to them, but to the big girls, and they could not bear me, but they used to let me darn their stockings for them and, when any of them got into a scrape, then they used to come to me and say, “Don't page: 228 say it's not you if the teachers ask, because you are sure not to get a prize anyhow.” And I used to say yes, because I thought it would make them love me; but it never did, it only made the teachers hate me. One of them I thought liked me, she always talked so softly to me; but one day when I was shut up all alone in the dark room that opened out of the schoolroom, I heard some of the teachers talking. I think they had forgotten me and I heard them say I was the stupidest girl in the school and that they could not think how she could like me. “I do not like her,” she said, “I feel sorry for her, she is such a poor thing; but there is not a girl in the school I care less about.” Then I lay down and cried. I had been so happy when I thought she loved me, and when I came out the girls all laughed at me because I had been crying, and said I was afraid of the dark; and I was not afraid at all, I liked it, but I did so want some one to help me, some one bigger and cleverer than I was.

“Afterwards, when I grew a great girl, I left off trying to make people love me, because it was no use.

“I used to get away from the others whenever I had time and sit and read all by myself. I had not many books, only some books of poetry and a tale called The Wide Wide World, and some other little books that I forget, but I read them over and over till I could repeat them by heart. I don't know how page: 229 it was I could remember such things and not my lessons. I know I tried to learn them, but somehow I never could.

“When I was grown and wore long dresses my mother died, and my father a little time after, so I had to go away from school, and I had nothing and no one to go to except one aunt. She had a beautiful little house close to the sea, with a balcony and a flower garden in front, with little white gravelled paths, and she and her three little children lived there alone. I thought I would be so happy there and make her love me, and I thought I would not read my books any more, because they said it was that made me so stupid that no one could like me.

“When I came there she gave me a pretty little green-and-white room all to myself, and she told me I should only have to teach the eldest two children and help her a little with her needlework; but I would make her love me if I worked very hard and tried to do everything I could for her. So I used to get up very early and help the nurse to dress the children and the cook to get the breakfast, and I used to work all day and late in the evening. When the children were in bed I used to get out the needlework; and when she used to ask me if I was not tired yet, I used to say no, though sometimes I was so tired when I went up to my room I used just to lie across the foot of my bed and cry for tiredness till I went to sleep. I knew it was very page: 230 wicked of me, but somehow it seemed as though she would like me better if I said I was never tired. After a little time she sent the nurse away and I had to go and sleep with the children and look after them all day and take them for walks, and she never asked me if I was tired any more, however late I sat working. You see it was all my own fault. She believed what I told her, but it seemed so hard that she should not care about me a little bit. If she had sometimes looked at me as she looked at the children, I don't think I should ever have felt tired.

“At last one day she told me she was expecting visitors; a friend of hers and her husband and child were coming to board with us for six months, because she was very delicate and wanted to be near the sea.

“I was half sorry and half glad when I heard it. It would give me more work, but then I always fancied, before I saw people, that perhaps they would like me and not find me so dull as all the others had. By and by they came. She was a pretty woman and used to sit in the parlour all day, making wax flowers and baskets. My aunt used to sit and talk with her, but she never took any notice of me, even when I put fresh flowers on her table or brought her pretty seaweeds for her baskets; and her husband I was very frightened of. I could not bear him. He used to sit in an armchair on the balcony just before the schoolroom window all day, and I page: 231 used to feel as if I could not teach the children anything, especially when he looked in. I was so afraid of him, I wondered how anyone could love him, till one day when I saw him sitting there with his little girl on his knee. Her head was on his shoulder and both his arms were about her, and he looked down at her with such a look in his face, and he was so strong, that I ran away to my room that the children might not see me. For I could not help crying; I wished so I was that little girl.

“After that, early in the mornings, when I used to walk on the beach with the children and his little girl, he would often meet us when he was coming back from his bath and stand and talk to his little girl and sometimes to me. I wondered he did not mind being seen talking to me by the other gentlemen who went past us, because I always had my aunt's baby and looked like a nurse girl. I thought it was very kind of him, but I did not like him and I was afraid of him. I went round another way when I saw him coming. He always talked so kindly to me. He said my arms were not strong enough to carry such a big baby, and he asked me if I was not tired. No one else ever did.

“One day he had brought a beautiful painting of a woman and hung it up in the parlour. I was passing the door with a cup of arrowroot for the baby, when he called me to come in and look at it. It was a very pretty picture.

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“‘Do you know why I bought it?’ he said. ‘Because it was like you.’

“I could not think how anyone could think such a beautiful face was like mine, so I looked at the picture again. Then I felt him take my hand softly in both his, and when I looked up into his face it seemed to have just the look that had been there when he looked at his little girl.

“I pulled my hands out of his and ran away to the children's room and knelt down by my bed and cried, I was so happy. I never thought anyone would look at me like that, and all the day I was so glad; I never felt tired or miserable. In the evening two or three gentlemen came to play whist with him, and my aunt told me to make some eggflip for them. He had showed me how to make them before and I could make them very nicely, but this evening he came into the dining-room just as I had finished, because he said he was afraid I would not do it right. We were all alone, and as he went out of the room he put his arm so softly round me and kissed my mouth. It seemed as if there were a great river running past my ears, and I sat down and put my head on the table. I did not think there was any wrong in it; I did not think at all. It was all so strange, and I was so happy. I did not think that day or for many days after. I had no time to think. You see, I was working, working all the time with the children or at housework, from early page: 233 in the morning when all the other people were in bed till late in the evening, and at night I was so tired I could not undress. I went to sleep in my clothes. I only know that I was happy. They say when people are idle and have nothing to do they sin, but I think people do more sins when they have no time to think, because you can love without time, you see. One Sunday evening I had time to think. They had all gone to church and the little ones I was taking care of were asleep, and I could sit at the foot of the bed and think. I saw that his love for me was not like his love for his little girl, else why did he never kiss me when even the children were by? There must be something wrong in it. So I thought I would ask him to go away very soon. I did not love him; I hardly knew if I liked him, except just when I was talking to him; but I knew it would be very hard to lose him. You see, nothing else had ever loved me like that.

“Just as I was thinking so, I saw him standing in the door. He had gone with the others to church; I don't know how it was he came back. He came into the room and stooped down over me and asked me what I was thinking of. Then I told him, and he said I was a foolish little girl and told me there was nothing wrong in his loving me; he said some kinds of love between men and women were wrong, of course, but he only loved me as if I were his little girl. I was his little sunshine, he said, and page: 234 he did not show his love to me before others because his wife was so queer; she did not like him to have a friend, even a man, though she did not care for him at all, he said. He had never had anyone to love him, and he longed so to have some one who cared for him utterly; he asked me if I would not. Then I felt as if I had been quite wrong to think it was not right to love him, and when he asked me to kiss him I did, though I never had before. Then I loved him better, and I felt quite glad and happy till the next day. I was dusting the parlour, and I heard his wife talking to him in the other room.

“‘I'm not a fool, or quite blind either,’ she said. ‘I understand your small games by this time. I know very well why you bought that picture, and the meaning of your pleasant looks. Oh, yes, I am not such a fool as you take me for, nor she, either, with her flowers and her seaweeds and her pretty innocent little face.’

“I went out of the room then, because I did not want to hear more; but suddenly, I don't know why, the thought came to me that they were talking about me. I asked him that evening, and he said: ‘You must not mind her; she would be jealous of your aunt if you were not here. It is only her nature.’ I felt very unhappy after that whenever I had time to think and was alone, but when I was near him I was quite happy, and I got to love his little page: 235 child so. I had it near me all day long, but I could not bear to see him play with it. I did not feel jealous of anything else, but when I used to see him kiss her, I got a sick feeling at my heart. He always called me his little girl and his little sunshine when we were alone, and at last it seemed to me as if he were the only real thing in the world; all the other people seemed like dreams. I liked so to go and put his room neat; it was so nice to touch the brushes he used every morning and to fold up his clothes and put them away, and it was so nice to touch his great-coat when I passed through the hall. One day I picked up a torn likeness of his on the floor, and I put it in my mother's locket by mine, and that was nice, too.

“One afternoon, when all the others were out on the beach and I was left at home to get tea ready, he came in. I was kneeling on the pantry dresser, filling a glass pot with jam, when I looked round and saw him standing behind me. He came up and lifted me down in his arms and carried me into the dining-room. Then he sat down with me in the great armchair and held me very close to him, and asked me if I loved him, utterly, better than anything else in the world. When I said yes, he put his face down close to mine and said very softly. ‘Then you must come away with me, far away, to another land where you and I can be alone with each other till we die, and we will make each other happy, page: 236 so happy.’ He told me he loved nothing in the world but me; and when I looked up at him it seemed as though his eyelids were wet. I lay quite still for a minute and then I tried to jump up and run away, but he did not let me go.

“‘How can you leave your wife and your little child?’ I asked him, and then I crept close to him again and told him that I loved him. I don't know what else I said; I don't think I even knew then.

“But after that day I loved him with another kind of love, not like the love I loved him with before; and I could not bear to be in the same room with him when there were other people, because it seemed as though they must see in my face how much I loved him. And every day he begged me to go away with him, but I always said, ‘No, no, no.’ It would have been wrong of me to go, but I did not care about that, I was so wicked; I could not bear that he should be selfish and leave his wife and his little child. If he had asked me to do anything I would have done it, I would not have cared; but I did not like him to be wicked.

“So many weeks went on and sometimes I used to get miserable and ask him to go away. Then he used to hold me in his arms and kiss me, and I forgot everything. You see, I was working, working all the day and at night I was tired, so tired. Sometimes when I was with the children on the page: 237 beach in the morning I was so sleepy that I went to sleep sitting on the sand.

“At last one day they all went away to see a great show in the next town. They went for two or three days, and I was left to take care of the house. It seemed so dreadful to have to think of being there alone for two whole days and never seeing him once. I cried, and in the afternoon I fell asleep on the sofa wrapped in his great-coat, and did not wake till next morning. Then I put the house in order and got a great heap of his stockings to darn. When I went to bed that night I was not very tired.

“I lay thinking and thinking, and I cannot tell how it was, I seemed to see so suddenly all at once how wicked I had been, and how wicked I had made him. It was just like being in hell to think of it all. I felt as if I should go mad, and at last I got up and lit the candle and sat down and wrote to him. I don't know just what I wrote, but I know that I told him I had been very wicked; it had been all one great lie; I had tried to look and act as though I did not care for him, and I had made him do wrong. I told him I would never speak to him again or touch his hand, and that I would go away, but I would always love him. I must have said something more, for I wrote many sheets, but I don't know what it was. Perhaps it was the same thing over and over.

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“It seemed to me as though the morning would never come and I would go mad before it came. He had called me his little angel and his sunshine and I had been like a devil to him, making him sin, and now it was done and could never be undone.

“The next day they came. I thought he had got tired of me, for when he came into the dining-room where I was standing he hardly said good-day to me or looked at me. He took the letter from my hand and we never were together again. I told my aunt that evening that I was going away. She was very angry and said I was mad and very ungrateful, but that she would be glad when I was gone. Then I went into the nursery and wrote to the teacher of the school I had been to, and asked her if she would let me come and teach the little ones. I would not want money if only she would let me come at once. When I had done I sat thinking and it seemed to me as though I must go and tell his wife everything; it was sin, nothing else mattered, and it seemed as though if we told everything that it would be less. So I got up, but when I got to the door of her room I thought how angry he would be and so I went back. By and by, I went again; but now the light was out, and when I stood close by the door I could hear her breathing and his. I listened for a little time and then I went back again to my room. The next morning when I looked out at the window I saw him walking on the road that led to the beach, page: 239 and I never saw him any more. I got an answer from my old teacher and I started that day, but I did not stay with her long. Perhaps I was very foolish, but it seemed to me as though, if I worked very hard all my life for other people and at work I did not like, it might make it right for him a little bit. I was very foolish, but I could not help thinking it would be of use, a little use. I always hated so to see blood and people that were in pain; so I got them to let me help in a great hospital, and I learnt to be a nurse. I used to feel faint at first, and as though I wanted to run away, when I saw anything dreadful, but I used to think it was helping, and then I felt strong. I never heard of him any more, I thought he was tired of me before I went away, and that he would soon forget me. I thought so for twelve years and I never heard his name. But the other night I was sitting up with another old nurse. She was telling about a gentleman with whom she had gone out to South Africa. I was stirring the gruel before the fire and I did not listen to what she said till I heard a name; it was his name. Then I asked her to tell me all she could about him. She told me that he had some disease and the doctors said he must take a long voyage; but it did him no good. At last when they got to a little town in Africa they saw that he was dying. He did not like his wife to come near him or do anything for him, and all the day and all the night he lay groaning. page: 240 At last one night just before the light came they saw that he was going. He lay quite still, but at last he opened his eyes and looked all round the room.

“Come to me, come to me,” he said.

“They asked him if he wanted his wife, but he said, ‘No, no; my darling, my little sunshine, once, just once, darling.’ He did not say anything more. And so now I am going to him,” said the grey woman, very quietly.

When Undine turned to put the locket in her hand, tears were in her own eyes; but on the woman's face was only that strange smile, sadder than any tears.

The voyage was almost ended. That night they would be in Table Bay.

Undine sat with her companion on the deck.

“Do you stay here or go on to Algoa Bay?” 1 she asked her.

“I must stay here,” the woman answered. “I must earn money to take me on. I never worked for money before.”

“It is not very hard to live without it,” said Undine.

“No, I never wanted it till now,” said the woman, “and a lady whom I had taken care of paid my passage and my dog's. I don't know what made her so kind to me.”

A little while after, Undine got up and went down to their cabin. She got her little bag from under


1Port Elizabeth.

page: 241 her pillow and took out her purse. It was not heavy; there were only ten pounds in it, the price of a brooch her grandmother had left her. She counted out five and quickly pulled out the small black portmanteau that contained the woman's work and slipped them into it; then she went up on deck again.

The woman was gone, and she sat there by herself watching the captain's pretty sister as she walked up and down with her hand on the arm of the handsome boy-man. He was not chatting with the other ladies this morning, nor playing with the children, but he carried her great white hat in his hand and looked down at the little black head beside him.

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