Commentary | Communication has made positive progress, but the United States still needs to work hard to eliminate "pain points"

发表于 2023-09-23 02:00:36 来源:Return to basics and return to true nature

“Yes, I would not forego that for anything,” she whispered. “But— leave me now, or I shall break down. Quick! I wish it.”One glance, straight into her eyes, and he obeyed. But that glance had said enough—had said more than many words could have done.“By the way, Tom,” said Eustace, joining the pair of wranglers outside. “What about Nteya? You were going to have him run in, you know.”“So! Well, you see, it’s this way: I got on that deal with Reid, first thing, and that drove the other out of my head. I had a job to find Reid, in the first place, but when you hear of a man willing to give a lumping big price for what you want to sell, that man’s worth some hunting for, I can tell you. So I let Nteya slide—until we reach the Gaika location. Then I’ll take it out of him, and a good many more of them too.”Next morning, shortly after sunrise, the contractor arrived to take delivery of the stock. So he and Carhayes were extremely busy, the latter too much so to be able to afford more than an off-hand and hurried farewell to his wife.But the same held not good of his cousin and partner. Indeed one would think that Eustace had no concern whatever in the sale for all the interest he took in it. Far more concerned was he to ensure that Eanswyth had every conceivable thing that might conduce to her comfort and convenience during her journeying to and sojourn in the settlement, than to satisfy himself that Contractor Reid, a canny Scot and a knowing file at a deal, should be allowed no loop-hole for climbing down from or getting behind his bargain.“I say, Milne,” cried Hoste, while the horses were being inspanned. “It’s rather slow work riding by one’s self. Let’s span in my horse as a leader, and drive unicorn. There’s room for my saddle if we tie it on behind—and I can get in the cart with you. More sociable like. See?”But Eustace didn’t see, or rather didn’t want to see. This was clearly

The party in the Cape cart were returning from a drive out to Draaibosch, a roadside inn and canteen some ten or a dozen miles along the King Williamstown road. Two troops of Horse, one of them Brathwaite’s, were encamped there the night before on their way homeward, and a goodly collection of their friends and well-wishers had driven or ridden over to see them start.It was a lovely day, and the scene had been lively enough as the combined troops—numbering upwards of two hundred horsemen, bronzed and war-worn, but “fit” and in the highest of spirits, had struck their camp and filed off upon their homeward way, cheering and being cheered enthusiastically by the lines of spectators. An enthusiasm, however, in no wise shared by groups of Hlambi and Gaika Kafirs from Ndimba’s or Sandili’s locations, who, in all the savagery of their red paint and blankets, hung around the door of the canteen with scowling sneers upon their faces, the while bandying among themselves many a deep-toned remark not exactly expressive of amity or affection towards their white brethren. But for this the latter cared not a jot.“Hey, Johnny!” sang out a trooper, holding out a bundle of assegais towards one of the aforesaid groups as he rode past, “see these? I took ’em from one of Kreli’s chaps, up yonder. Plugged him through with a couple of bullets first.”“Haw! haw!” guffawed another. “You fellows had better behave yourselves or we shall be coming to look you up next. Tell old Sandili that, with our love. Ta-ta, Johnny. So long!”It was poor wit, and those at whom it was directed appreciated it at its proper value. The scowl deepened upon that cloud of dark faces, and a mutter of contempt and defiance rose from more than one throat. Yet in the bottom of their hearts the savages entertained a sufficiently wholesome respect for those hardened, war-worn sharpshooters.Handkerchiefs waved and hats were flourished in the air, and amid uproarious and deafening cheers the mounted corps paced forth, Brathwaite’s Horse leading. And over and above the clamour and tumult of the voices and the shouting. Jack Armitage’s bugle might be heard,wildly emitting a shrill and discordant melody, which common consent, amid roars of laughter, pronounced to be a cross between the National Anthem and “Vat you goed an trek Ferreia.” (A popular old Boer song.)Into the fun and frolic of the occasion Eanswyth entered with zest. She had laughed until she nearly cried over the hundred-and-one comic little incidents inseparable from this scene of universal jollity. Even the boldest flights of wit attempted during the multifold and promiscuous good-byes interchanged had moved her mirth. But it was the light, effervescing, uncontrollable laughter of the heart.The genial, careless jests of the light-hearted crowd, the good humour on every face, found its echo in her. In the unclouded blue of the heavens, the golden sunlit air, there seemed a vibrating chord of joyous melody, a poetry in the sweeping plains, even in the red lines of ochre-smeared savages filing along the narrow tracks leading to or from their respective locations. Her heart sang within her as once more the horses’ heads were turned homeward. Any hour now might bring him. Why, by the time they reached home he might have arrived, or at any rate an express hurried on in advance to announce the arrival of the corps by nightfall.“Rangers arrived?” repeated in reply to Mrs Hoste’s eager question, one of two acquaintances whom they met upon the road when within a mile of the village. “N-no, not yet. They can’t be far off, though. Three or four of their men have come in—Shelton among them.”“Oh, thanks, so much!” cried both the ladies, apparently equally eager. “We had better get on as soon as we can. Good-day.”In the fullness of her joy, the clouded expression and hesitating speech accompanying the information had quite escaped Eanswyth—nor had it struck her friend either. Then laughing and chatting in the highest of spirits, they had driven past the conversing groups upon the stoep of the hotel, as we have seen.The trap had been outspanned, and the horses turned loose into the veldt. The household were about to sit down to dinner. Suddenly the

Commentary | Communication has made positive progress, but the United States still needs to work hard to eliminate

doorway was darkened and a head was thrust in—a black and dusty head, surmounted by the remnant of a ragged hat.“Morrow, missis!” said the owner of this get-up, holding out a scrap of paper folded into a note. Mrs Hoste opened it carelessly—then a sort of gasp escaped her, and her face grew white.“Where—where is your Baas!” she stammered.“La pa,” replied the native boy, pointing down the street.Flurried, and hardly knowing what she was about, Mrs Hoste started to follow the messenger. Eanswyth had gone to her room to remove her hat, fortunately.“Oh, Mr Shelton—is it true?” she cried breathlessly, coming right upon the sender of the missive, who was waiting at no great distance from the house. “Is it really true? Can it be? What awful news! Oh, it will kill her! What shall we do?”“Try and be calm, Mrs Hoste,” said Shelton gravely. “There is no doubt about its truth, I am sorry to say. It is fortunate you had not heard the first report of the affair which arrived here. All four of them were rumoured killed, I’m told. But—No, don’t be alarmed,” he added, hastily interrupting an impending outburst. “Your husband is quite safe, and will be here this evening. But poor Tom is killed—not a doubt about it—Milne too. And, now, will you break it to Mrs Carhayes? It must be done, you know. She may hear it by accident any moment; the whole place is talking about it, and just think what a shock that will be.”“Oh, I can’t. Don’t ask me. It will kill her.”“But, my dear lady, it must be done,” urged Shelton. “It is a most painful and heart-breaking necessity—but it is a necessity.”“Come and help me through with it, Mr Shelton,” pleaded Mrs Hoste piteously. “I shall never manage it alone.”Shelton was in a quandary. He knew Eanswyth fairly well, but hewas by nature a retiring man, a trifle shy even, and to find himself saddled with so delicate and painful a task as the breaking of this news to her, was simply appalling. He was a well-to-do man, with a wife and family of his own, yet it is to be feared that during the three dozen paces which it took them to reach the front door, he almost wished he could change places with poor Tom Carhayes.He wished so altogether as they gained the stoep. For in the doorway stood a tall figure—erect, rigid as a post—with face of a ghastly white, lips livid and trembling.“What does this mean?” gasped Eanswyth. “What ‘bad news’ is it? Please tell me. I can bear it.”She was holding out a scrap of pencilled paper, Shelton’s open note, which Mrs Hoste, in her flurry and horror, had dropped as she went out. It only contained a couple of lines:Dear Mrs Hoste:There is very bad news to tell, which regards Mrs Carhayes. Please follow the bearer at once.Yours truly, Henry Shelton.“Quick—what is it—the ‘bad news’? I can bear it—Quick—you are killing me,” gasped Eanswyth, speaking now in a dry whisper.One look at his accomplice convinced Shelton that he would have to take the whole matter into his own hands.“Try and be brave, Mrs Carhayes,” he said gravely. “It concerns your husband.”“Is he—is he—is it the worst!” she managed to get out.“It is the worst,” he answered simply, deeming it best to get it over as soon as possible.For a minute he seemed to have reason to congratulate himself on this idea. The rigid stony horror depicted on her features relaxed, giving way to a dazed, bewildered expression, as though she had borne the first brunt of the shock, and was calming down.“Tell me!” she gasped at length. “How was it? When? Where?”“It was across the Bashi. They were cut off by the Kafirs, and killed.”“‘They’? Who—who else?”Shelton wished the friendly earth would open beneath his feet then and there.“Mrs Carhayes, pray be calm,” he said unsteadily. “You have heard the worst, remember—the worst, but not all. You cousin shared poor Tom’s fate.”“Eustace?”The word was framed, rather than uttered, by those livid and bloodless lips. Yet the listener caught it and bent his head in assent.She did not cry out; she did not swoon. Yet those who beheld her almost wished she had done both—anything rather than take the blow as she was doing. She stood there in the doorway—her tall form seeming to tower above them—her large eyes sparkling forth from her livid and bloodless countenance—and the awful and set expression of despair imprinted therein was such as the two who witnessed it prayed they might never behold on human countenance again.She had heard the worst—the worst, but not all—her informant had said. Had she? The mockery of it! The first news was terrible; the second —death; black, hopeless, living death. Had heard the worst! Ah, the mockery of it! And as these reflections sank into her dazed brain—driven in, as it were, one after another by the dull blows of a hammer, her lips even shaped the ghost of a smile. Ah, the irony of it!Still she did not faint. She stood there in the doorway, curdling the

Commentary | Communication has made positive progress, but the United States still needs to work hard to eliminate

very heart’s blood of the lookers on with that dreadful shadow of a smile. Then, without a word, she turned and walked to her room.“Oh! I must go to her!” cried Mrs Hoste eagerly. “Oh, this is too fearful.”“If you take my advice—it’s better not! Not at present, at any rate,” answered Shelton. “Leave her to get over the first shock alone. And what a shock it is. Bereaved of husband and cousin at one stroke. And the cousin was almost like a brother, wasn’t he?”“Yes,” and the recollection of her recent suspicions swept in with a rush upon the speaker’s mind, deepening her flurry and distress. “Yes. That is—I mean—Yes, I believe she was very fond of him. But how bravely she took it.”“Rather too bravely,” answered the other with a grave shake of the head. “I only hope the strain may not be too much for her—affect her brain, I mean. Mrs Carhayes has more than the average share of strong-mindedness, yet she strikes me as being a woman of extraordinarily strong feeling. The shock must have been frightful, and although she didn’t scream or faint, the expression of her face was one that I devoutly hope never to see upon any face again. And now, good-bye for the present. I’ll call around later and hear how she’s getting on. Poor thing!”The sun of her life had set—had gone down into black night—yet the warm rays of the summer sunshine glanced through the open window of her room, glowing down upon the wide veldt outside and upon the distant sparkle of the blue sea. Never again would laughter issue from those lips —yet the sound of light-hearted chat and peals of mirth was ever and anon borne from without. The droning hum of insects in the afternoon air —the clink of horse-hoofs, the deep-toned conversation of natives passing near the window—all these familiar sounds of everyday life found a faint and far-away echo in her benumbed brain. What, though one heart was broken—the world went on just the same.Stay! Was it but a few minutes ago that she passed out through thatdoor trilling the cheerful fragments of the airiest of songs—but a few minutes since she picked up that fatal scrap of paper, and then stood face to face with those who brought her news which had laid her life in ruins! Only a few minutes! Why, it seemed years—centuries—aeons. Was it a former state of existence that upon which she now looked back as across a great and yawning gulf? Was she now dead—and was this the place of torment? The fire that burned forever and ever! How should she quench the fire in her heart and brain?There was a very stoniness about her grief as if the blow had petrified her. She did not fling herself upon the couch in her agony of despair. No tears did she shed—better if she had. For long after she had gained her room and locked herself in alone she stood—stood upright— and finally when she sought a chair it was mechanically, as with the movement of a sleep walker. Her heart was broken—her life was ended. He had gone from her—it only remained for her to go to him.And then, darting in across her tortured brain, in fiery characters, came the recollection of his own words—spoken that first and last blissful morning at Anta’s Kloof. “If we are doing wrong through love for each other we shall have to expiate it at some future time. We shall be made to suffer through each other,” and to this she had responded “Amen.” How soon had those words come true. The judgment had fallen. He had gone from her, but she could not go to him. Their love, unlawful in this world, could never be ratified in another. And then, indeed, there fell upon her the gloom of outer darkness. There was no hope.Chapter Twenty Six.“And the Summer’s Night is a Winter’s Day.”For Eanswyth Carhayes the sun of life had indeed set.The first numbing shock of the fearful news over, a period of even greater agony supervened. He who had succeeded in setting free the wholly unsuspected volcanic fires of her strong and passionate nature— him, her first and only love—she would never see again in life. If she had

Commentary | Communication has made positive progress, but the United States still needs to work hard to eliminate

sinned in yielding to a love that was unlawful, surely she was expiating it now. The punishment seemed greater than she could bear.She made no outcry—no wild demonstrations of grief. Her sorrow was too real, too sacred, for any such commonplace manifestations. But when she emerged from her first retirement, it was as a walking ghost. There was something about that strained and unnatural calm, something which overawed those who saw it. She was as one walking outside the world and its incidents. They feared for her brain.As the days slipped by, people wondered. It seemed strange that poor Tom Carhayes should have the faculty of inspiring such intense affection in anybody. No one suspected anything more than the most ordinary of easy-going attachment to exist between him and his wife, yet that the latter was now a broken-hearted woman was but too sadly obvious. Well, there must have been far more in the poor fellow than he had generally been credited with, said the popular voice, and after all, those outside are not of necessity the best judges as to the precise relationship existing between two people. So sympathy for Eanswyth was widespread and unfeigned.Yet amid all her heart-torture, all her aching and hopeless sorrow, poor Tom’s fate hardly obtruded itself. In fact, had she been capable of a thorough and candid self-analysis she would have been forced to admit that it was rather a matter for gratulation than otherwise, for under cover of it she was enabled to indulge her heart-broken grief to the uttermost. Apart from this, horrible as it may seem, her predominating feeling toward her dead husband was that of intense bitterness and resentment. He it was who had led the others into peril. That aggressive fool-hardiness of his, which had caused her many and many a long hour of uneasiness and apprehension, had betrayed him to a barbarous death, and with it that other. The cruel irony of it, too, would burst upon her. He had avenged himself in his very death—had broken her heart.Had Tom Carhayes been the only one to fall, it is probable that Eanswyth would have mourned him with genuine—we do not say with durable—regret. It is possible that she might have been afflicted with acute remorse at the part she had played. But now all thoughts of any

such thing faded completely from her mind, obliterated by the one overwhelming, stunning stroke which had left her life in shadow until it should end.Then the Rangers had returned, and from the two surviving actors in the terrible tragedy—Payne and Hoste, to wit—she learned the full particulars. It was even as she had suspected—Tom’s rashness from first to last. The insane idea of bushbuck hunting in a small party in an enemy’s country, then venturing across the river right into what was nothing more nor less than a not very cunningly baited trap—all was due to his truculent fool-hardiness. But Eustace, knowing that her very life was bound up in his—how could he have allowed himself to be so easily led away? And this was the bitterest side of it.To the philosophic and somewhat cynical Payne this interview was an uncomfortable one, while Hoste subsequently pronounced it to be the most trying thing he had ever gone through in his life.“Is there absolutely no hope?” Eanswyth had said, in a hard, forced voice.The two men looked at each other.“Absolutely none, Mrs Carhayes,” said Payne. “It would be sham kindness to tell you anything different. Escape was an impossibility, you see. Both their horses were killed and they themselves were surrounded. Hoste and I only got through by the skin of our teeth. If our horses had ‘gone under’ earlier it would have been all up with us, too.”“But the—but they were not found, were they? They may have been taken prisoners.”Again the two men looked at each other. Neither liked to give utterance to what was passing through his mind. Better a hundredfold the unfortunate men were dead and at rest than helpless captives in the hands of exasperated and merciless savages.“Kafirs never do take prisoners,” said Payne after a pause. “At least,husband.The fact was that where her strongest, deepest feelings were concerned, Eanswyth, like most other women, was a bad actress. The awful poignancy of her suffering had been too real—the subsequent and blissful revulsion too overpowering—for her to be able to counterfeit the one or dissemble the other, with anything like a satisfactory result. Those who had witnessed the former, now shook their heads, feeling convinced that they had then mistaken the object of it. They began to look at Eanswyth ever so little, askance.But why need she care if they did? She was independent, young and beautiful. She loved passionately, and her love was abundantly returned. A great and absorbing interest has a tendency to dwarf all minor worries. She did not, in fact, care.Eustace, thanks to his cool and cautious temperament, was a better actor; so good, indeed, that to those who watched them it seemed that the affection was mainly, if not entirely, on one side. Sometimes he would warn her.“For your own sake, dearest,” he would say on such rare occasions when they were alone together. “For your own sake try and keep up appearances a little longer; at any rate until we are out of this infernal back-biting, gossipy little hole. Remember, you are supposed to be plunged in an abyss of woe, and here you are looking as absurdly happy as a bird which has just escaped from a cage.”“Oh, darling, you are right as usual,” she would reply, trying to look serious. “But what am I to do? No wonder people think I have no heart.”“And they think right for once, for you have given it away—to me. Do keep up appearances, that’s all. It won’t be for much longer.”Eustace had secured a couple of rooms for his own use in one of the neighbouring cottages. The time not spent with Eanswyth was got through strolling about the camp, or now and then taking a short ride out into the veldt when the entourage was reported safe. But this, in

deference to Eanswyth’s fears, he did but seldom.“Why on earth don’t you go to the front again, Milne?” this or that friend or acquaintance would inquire. “You must find it properly slow hanging on in this hole. I know I do. Why, you could easily get a command of Fingo or Hottentot levies, or, for the matter of that, it oughtn’t to be difficult for a fellow with your record to raise a command on your own account.”“The fact is I’ve had enough of going to the front,” Eustace would reply. “When I was there I used often to wonder what business it was of mine anyway, and when the Kafirs made a prisoner of me, my first thought was that it served me devilish well right. I give you my word it was. And I tell you what it is. When a man has got up every day for nearly a month, not knowing whether he’d go to bed between his blankets that night or pinned down to a black ants’ nest, he’s in no particular hurry to go and expose himself to a repetition of the process. It tells upon the nerves, don’t you know.”“By Jove, I believe you,” replied the other. “I never knew Jack Kafir was such a cruel devil before, at least not to white men. Well, if I’d gone through what you have, I believe I’d give the front a wide berth, too. As it is, I’m off in a day or two, I hope.”“I trust you may meet with better luck,” said Eustace.One day a considerable force of mounted burghers started for the Transkei—a good typical force—hardened, seasoned frontiersmen all, well mounted, well armed; in fact, a thoroughly serviceable looking corps all round. There was the usual complement of spectators seeing them off —the usual amount of cheering and hat-waving. On the outskirts of the crowd was a sprinkling of natives, representing divers races and colours.“Au!” exclaimed a tall Gaika, as the crowd dispersed. “That will be a hard stone for Kreli to try and crush. If it was the Amapolise (Police) he could knock them to pieces with a stick. Mere boys!”“What’s that you say, Johnny?” said a hard-fisted individual, turningthreateningly upon the speaker.“Nothing. I only made a remark to my comrade,” replied the man in his own language.“Did you?” said the other walking up to the Kafir and looking him straight in the eye. “Then just keep your damned remarks to yourself, Johnny, or we shall quarrel. D’you hear?”But the Kafir never quailed, never moved. He was a tall, powerful native and carried his head grandly. The white man, though shorter, looked tough and wiry as whip cord. The crowd, which had been scattering, gathered round the pair with the celerity of a mob of London street-cads round a fallen cab-horse.“What’s the row? A cheeky nigger? Give him fits, Mister! Knock him into the middle of next week!” were some of the cries that burst from the group of angry and excited men.“I have committed no offence,” said the Kafir. “I made a remark to a comrade, saying what a fine lot of men those were.”“Oh, yes? Very likely!” shouted several ironically.“See here now. You get out of this,” said the first man. “Do you hear, get out. Don’t say another word—or—”He did not finish. Stung by a contemptuous look in the Kafir’s eyes, he dashed his fist full into his face.It was a crushing blow—but the native did not fall. Like lightning he aimed a blow at his assailant’s head with his heavy kerrie—a blow which would have shattered the skull like an egg shell. But the other threw up his arm in time, receiving nearly the full force of the blow on that member, which dropped to his side completely paralysed. Without attempting to follow up his success the savage sprang back, whirling his kerrie round his head. The crowd, taken by surprise, scattered before him.Only for a moment, though. Like a pack of hounds pressed back by a

stag at bay they gave way but to close up again. In a trice the man’s kerrie was struck from his grasp, and he was thrown down, beaten, kicked, and very roughly handled.“Tie up the schelm!”“Give him six dozen well-laid on!” “Six dozen without counting!” “Cheeky brute!” were some of the shouts that accompanied each kick and blow dealt or aimed at the prostrate Kafir, who altogether seemed to be having a pretty bad time of it.“That’s a damned shame!” exclaimed a voice behind them.All started and turned their heads, some astonished—all angry— some perhaps a little ashamed of themselves—towards the owner of the voice, a horseman who sat calmly in his saddle some twenty yards away —an expression of strong disgust upon his features.“What have you got to say to it anyhow, I’d like to know?” cried the man who had just struck the native.“What I said before—that it’s a damned shame,” replied Eustace Milne unhesitatingly.“What’s a shame, Mister?” sneered another. “That one o’ your precious black kids is getting a hidin’ for his infernal cheek?”“That it should take twenty men to give it him, and that, too, when he’s down.”“I tell you what it is, friend,” said the first speaker furiously. “It may take rather less than twenty to give you one, and that, too, when you’re up!” which sally provoked a blatant guffaw from several of the hearers.“I’m not much afraid of that,” answered Eustace tranquilly. “But now, seeing that British love of fair play has been about vindicated by a score of Englishmen kicking a prostrate Kafir, how would it be to let him get up and go?”The keen, biting sarcasm told. The group, which mainly consisted of the low element, actually did begin to look a trifle ashamed of itself. The better element composing it gave way and took itself off, as Eustace deliberately walked his horse up to the fallen native. There were a few muttered jeers about “the nigger’s friend” and getting into the Assembly on the strength of “blanket votes,” (The native franchise, derisively so termed) and so forth, but none offered any active opposition except one, however, and that was the man who had originated the disturbance.“Look here,” he shouted savagely. “I don’t know who you are and I don’t care. But if you don’t take yourself off out of this mighty quick, I’ll just about knock you into a jelly; you see if I don’t.”“Ja, that’s right. Serve him as you did the nigger!” yelled the bystanders, a lot of rowdy hobbledehoys and a contingent of town loafers whom the prospect of an easy-going, devil-may-care life in the veldt had drawn from the more sober avocations of bricklaying and waggon-building within the Colony, and who, it may be added, distinguished themselves at the seat of hostilities by such a line of drunken mutinous insubordination as rendered them an occasion of perennial detestation and disgust to their respective commanders. These now closed up around their bullying, swash-bucklering champion, relieving their ardently martial spirits by hooting and cat’s calls. It was only one man against a crowd. They felt perfectly safe.“Who sold his mate to the blanked niggers!” they yelled. “Ought to be tarred and feathered. Come on, boys; let’s do it. Who’s for tarring and feathering the Kafir spy?”All cordially welcomed this spicy proposal, but curiously enough, no one appeared anxious to begin, for they still kept some paces behind the original aggressor. That worthy, however, seemed to have plenty of fight in him, for he advanced upon Eustace unhesitatingly.“Come now. Are you going to clear?” he shouted. “You’re not? All right. I’ll soon make you.”A stirrup-iron, wielded by a clever hand, is a terribly formidable


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