RCEP boosts China-ASEAN trade cooperation

发表于 2023-09-22 14:31:13 来源:Return to basics and return to true nature

obtain an opportunity of talking, with Eanswyth alone; which was not wholly without advantage in that it enabled the latter to keep up her rôle; for if her former sorrowing and heart-wrung condition had now become the hollowest mockery, there was no reason why everybody should be informed thereof, but very much the reverse. He could not see her alone in the house, for it was always full of people, and when it was not, still, the walls were thin. He could not take her for a ride outside the settlement, for in those early days the enemy was daring, and did not always keep at a respectful distance. It would not do to run any more risks. In the next place, all the “talking big,” and indeed the talking at all, that went on, morning, noon, and night, on the well-worn, and threadbare topic was wearisome to him. The thing had become, in fact, a bore of the first water. But the most distasteful side of it all was the notoriety which he himself had, all involuntarily, attained. A man who had been reported slain, and then turned up safe and sound after having been held a prisoner for some weeks by the savage and ordinarily ruthless enemy they were then fighting, was sure to attract considerable attention throughout the frontier community. Friends, neighbours, intimates, people they had never seen or heard of before, would call on the Hostes all day and every day—literally in swarms, as the victim of these attentions put it —in order to see Eustace, and haply, to extract a “yarn” as to his late captivity. If he walked through the township some effusive individual was bound to rush at him with an “I say, Mister, ’scuse me, but we’re told you’re the man that was taken prisoner by old Kreli. Now, do us the favour to step round and have a drink. We don’t see a man who has escaped from them black devils every day.” And then, under pain of being regarded as churlish to a degree, he would find himself compelled to join a group of jovial, but under the circumstances excessively unwelcome, strangers, and proceed to the nearest bar to be cross questioned within an inch of his life, and expected to put away sundry “splits” that he did not want. Or those in charge of operations, offensive and defensive, would make his acquaintance and ask him to dine, always with the object of eliciting useful information. But to these Eustace was very reticent and proved, in fact, a sore disappointment. He had been treated fairly well by his captors. They were savages, smarting under a sense of defeat and loss. They might have put him to death amid cruel torments; instead of which they had given him his liberty. For the said

The chief shook his head with a troubled expression.“Let her go, too!” he said emphatically. “Let her go, too, and that as soon as possible. When the red wave of war is rolling over the land, there is no place where the delicate feet of white women may stand dry. We are friends, Ixeshane. For your sake, and for that of the Inkosikazi, tell Umlilwane to gather together his cattle and to go.”“We are friends, indeed, Ncanduku. But how long can we be so? If war breaks out between our people how can I sit still? I cannot. I must fight—must fight for my own race, and in defence of our property. How, then, can we remain friends?”“In war-time every man must do his duty,” answered the Gaika. “He must obey the word of his chief and fight for his race and colour.”“Truly spoken and well understood. And now a warning for a warning. If I had the ears of your chiefs and amapakati (Councillors) this is what I should say: Do not be drawn into this war. Let the Gcalékas fight out their own quarrel. They stand upon wholly different ground. If they are vanquished—as, of course, they will be in the long run—the Government will show them mercy, will treat them as a conquered people. But you, and the other tribes within the colonial border, are British subjects. Queen Victoria is your chief, not Kreli, not Sandili, not Seyolo, not Ndimba—no man of the House of Gaika or Hlambi, but the White Queen. If you make war upon the Colony the Government will treat you as criminals, not as a conquered people, but as rebels against the Queen, your chief. You will be shown no mercy. Your chiefs will very likely be hung and your fighting men will be sent to the convict prisons for many a long year. That when you are beaten. And how long can you carry on the war? Things are not as they were. The country is not as it was. Think of the number of soldiers that will be sent against you; of the police; of the settlers, who will turn out to a man—all armed with the best breechloaders, mind. And what sort of weapons have you? A few old muzzle loaders more dangerous to the shooter than to his mark. What can you do with these and your assegais against people armed with the best rifles in the world? I am indeed your friend, Ncanduku, and the friend of your race. Let my warning sink deep in your mind, and carry it to the chiefs. Let them bewise in time.”“The words of Ixeshane are always the words of wisdom,” said the Kafir, rising in obedience to the other’s example. “But the young men are turbulent. They will not listen to the counsels of their elders. The cloud grows darker every day. I see no light,” he added, courteously holding the stirrup for Eustace to mount, “Go in peace, Ixeshane, and remember my warning.”And gathering up his assegais the chief disappeared among the trees, following the direction taken by the larger party.Chapter Eleven.“The Tail Wags the Dog.”Eustace had plenty to occupy his thoughts during his homeward ride. The emphatic warning of the Gaika chief was not to be set aside lightly. That Ncandúku knew more than he chose to say was evident. He had spoken out very plainly for one of his race, who dearly love veiled hints and beating around the bush. Still there was more behind.Especially did the chief’s perturbation when Eanswyth was referred to strike him as ominous to the last degree. Even in war-time there are few instances of Kafirs seriously maltreating white women, and Eanswyth was well liked by such of her dusky neighbours as she had come in contact with. Yet in the present case so thoroughly hated was her husband that it was conceivable they might even strike at him through her.Why had Carhayes not fallen in with the armed party instead of himself, thought Eustace bitterly. That would have cut the knot of the difficulty in a trice. They would not have spared him so readily. They were Gcalékas, Hlangani’s tribesmen. Hlangani’s wound would have been avenged, and Eanswyth would by this time be free.Very fair and peaceful was the aspect of the farm as the last rise

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brought it full into the horseman’s view. The bleating of sheep, mellowed by distance, as the flocks streamed forth white upon the green of the veldt, and the lowing of cattle, floated upon the rich morning air—together with the sound of voices and laughter from the picturesque group of native huts where the farm servants dwelt. Doves cooed softly, flitting among the sprays of mimosa fringing the mealie lands; and upon the surface of the dam there was a shimmer of silver light. All seemed peaceful—happy—prosperous; yet over all brooded the red cloud of war.Eustace felt his pulses quicken and his heart stir as he strained his eyes upon the house, to catch maybe the flutter of a light dress in the veranda. Many a morning had he thus returned from a ride without so much as a heartstirring. Yet now it was different. The ice had been broken. A new light had been let in—a sweet new light, glowing around his path like a ray of Paradise. They understood each other at last.Yet did they? How would she receive him—how greet him after the disclosure of last night? Would she have thought better of it? For the first time in his life he felt his confidence fail him.“Hallo, Eustace! Thought you had trekked off somewhere for the day,” growled Carhayes, meeting him in the doorway. “Been looking up some of your blanket friends?”“Where are you off to yourself, Tom?” was the reply. For the other was got up in riding boots and breeches, as if for a journey.“To Komgha—I’m going over to lay an information against Nteya. I’ll have the old schelm in the tronk by to-night.”“Not much to be taken by that, is there? Just come this way a minute, will you? I’ve heard something you may as well know.”With a mutter and a growl Carhayes joined him outside. In a few words Eustace conveyed to him Ncanduku’s warning. It was received characteristically—with a shout of scornful laughter.“Gammon, my dear chap. I never funked a nigger yet and I neverwill. And, I say. You’d better take a ride round presently and look after the sheep. I’ve been obliged to put on Josáne’s small boy in Goníwe’s place, and he may not be up to the mark. I daresay I’ll be back before dark.”“Well, the sheep will have to take their chance, Tom. I’m not going out of call of the homestead while Eanswyth is left here alone.”“Bosh!” returned Carhayes. “She don’t mind. Has she not been left alone here scores of times? However, do as you like. I must be off.”They had been walking towards the stable during this conversation. Carhayes led forth his horse, mounted, and rode away. Eustace put up his, and having cut up a couple of bundles of oat-hay—for they were short of hands—took his way to the house.He had warned his cousin and his warning had been scouted. He had struggled with a temptation not to warn him, but now it came to the same thing, and at any rate his own hands were clean. The journey to Komgha was long, and in these times for a man so hated as Tom Carhayes, might not be altogether safe, especially towards dusk. Well, he had been warned.Eustace had purposely taken time over attending to his horse. Even his strong nerves needed a little getting in hand before he should meet Eanswyth that morning; even his pulses beat quicker as he drew near the house. Most men would have been eager to get it over; would have blundered it over. Not so this one. Not without reason had the Kafirs nicknamed him “Ixeshane”—the Deliberate.Eanswyth rose from the table as he entered. Breakfast was over, and Tom Carhayes, with characteristic impulsiveness, had started off upon his journey with a rush, as we have seen. Thus once more these two were alone together, not amid the romantic witchery of the southern night, but in the full broad light of day.Well, and then? Had they not similarly been together alone countless times during the past year? Yes, but now it was different—widely different. The ice had been broken between them.Still, one would hardly have suspected it. Eanswyth was perfectly calm and composed. There was a tired look upon the sweet face, and dark circles under the beautiful eyes as if their owner had slept but little. Otherwise both her tone and manner were free from any trace of confusion.“I have put your breakfast to the kitchen fire to keep warm, Eustace,” she said. “Well, what adventures have you met with in the veldt this morning?”“First of all, how good of you. Secondly—leaving my adventures in abeyance for the present—did you succeed in getting any rest?”He was looking straight at her. There was a latent caress in his glance—in his tone.“Not much,” she answered, leaving the room for a moment in order to fetch the hot dish above referred to. “It was a trying sort of a night for us all, wasn’t it?” she resumed as she returned. “And now Tom must needs go rushing off again on a fool’s errand.”“Never mind Tom. A little blood-letting seems good for him rather than otherwise,” said Eustace, with a dash of bitterness. “About yourself. I don’t believe you have closed your eyes this night through. If you won’t take care of yourself, other people must do so for you. Presently I am going to sling the hammock under the trees and you shall have a right royal siesta.”His hand had prisoned hers as she stood over him arranging the plates and dishes. A faint colour came into her face, and she made a movement to withdraw it. The attempt, however, was a feeble one.“I think we are a pair of very foolish people,” she said, with a laugh whose sadness almost conveyed the idea of a sob.“Perhaps so,” he rejoined, pressing the hand he held to his cheek a moment, ere releasing it. “What would life be worth without its foolishness?”

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For a few moments neither spoke. Eanswyth was busying herself arranging some of the things in the room, adjusting an ornament here, dusting one there. Eustace ate his breakfast in silence, tried to, rather, for it seemed to him at times as if he could not eat at all. The attempt seemed to choke him. His thoughts, his feelings, were in a whirl. Here were they two alone together, with the whole day before them, and yet there seemed to have arisen something in the nature of a barrier between them.A barrier, however, which it would not be difficult to overthrow, his unerring judgment told him; yet he fought hard with himself not to lose his self-control. He noted the refined grace of every movement as she busied herself about the room—the thoroughbred poise of the stately head, the sheen of light upon the rich hair. All this ought to belong to him—did belong to him. Yet he fought hard with himself, for he read in that brave, beautiful face an appeal, mute but eloquent—an appeal to him to spare her.A rap at the door startled him—startled them both. What if it was some neighbour who had ridden over to pay them a visit, thought Eustace with dismay—some confounded bore who would be likely to remain the best part of the day? But it was only old Josáne, the cattle-herd. His master had told him to look in presently and ask for some tobacco, which he had been promised.“I’ll go round to the storeroom and get it for him,” said Eanswyth. “You go on with your breakfast, Eustace.”“No, I’ll go. I’ve done anyhow. Besides, I want to speak to him.”Followed by the old Kafir, Eustace unlocked the storeroom—a dark, cool chamber forming part of an outbuilding. The carcase of a sheep, freshly killed that morning, dangled from a beam. Piles of reims, emitting a salt, rancid odour—kegs of sheep-dip, huge rolls of Boer tobacco, bundles of yoke-skeys, and a dozen other things requisite to the details of farm work were stowed around or disposed on shelves. On one side was a grindstone and a carpenter’s bench. Eustace cut off a liberal length from one of the rolls of tobacco and gave it to the old Kafir. Then he filledhis own pipe.“Josane?”“Nkose!”“You are no fool, Josane. You have lived a good many years, and your head is nearly as snow-sprinkled as the summit of the Great Winterberg in the autumn. What do you thing of last night’s performance over yonder?”The old man’s shrewd countenance melted into a slight smile and he shook his head.“The Gaikas are fools,” he replied. “They have no quarrel with the English, yet they are clamouring for war. Their country is fertile and well watered, yet they want to throw it away with both hands. They are mad.”“Will they fight, Josane?”“Au! Who can say for certain,” said the old man with an expressive shrug of the shoulders. “Yet, was ever such a thing seen? The dog wags his tail. But in this case it is the tail that wags the dog.”“How so, Josane?”“The chiefs of the Gaikas do not wish for war. The old men do not wish for it. But the young men—the boys—are eager for it. The women taunt them, they say; tell them they have forgotten how to be warriors. So the boys and the women clamour for war, and the chiefs and the old men give way. Thus the tail wags the dog. Hau!”“And what about the Gcalékas?”“The Gcalékas? It is this way, Nkose. If you shut up two bulls alone in the same kraal, if you put two scorpions into a mealie stamp, how long will it be before they fight? So it is with the Gcalékas and the Fingoes. The land is not large enough for both. The Gcalékas are ready for war.”

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“And Kreli?”“The Great Chief is in one of his red moods,” answered Josane, in a different tone to that which he had employed when speaking of the Gaikas. “He has a powerful witch-doctress. I know her. Was I not ‘smelt out’ by her? Was I not ‘eaten up’ at her ‘word’? The toad! The impostor! The jackal cat! The slimy fish! I know her. Ha!”(Eaten up: Idiom for the total sequestration of a person’s possessions.)The old man’s eyes glared and his tone rose to one of fierce excitement at the recollection of his wrongs. Eustace, accustomed to study his fellow-men, took careful note of the circumstance. Strange things happened. It might serve him in good stead one day.“The Gcalékas will fight,” went on Josane. “Perhaps they are fighting now. Perhaps the Baas will have some news to bring when he returns from Komgha. The telegraph is quick, but the voice of the bird in the air is quicker,” he added with a meaning smile, which convinced his listener that he knew a great deal more than he chose to say.“The fire stick is even now in the thatch,” went on the Kafir, after a few more puffs at his pipe. “There is a herald from the Great Chief among the Gaika kraals.”“Hlangani?”“Hlangani. The Gaikas are listening to his ‘word,’ and are lighting the war-fires. If he can obtain the ear of Sandili, his work is done. Whau, Ixeshane,” he went on, slipping into the familiar name in his excitement. “You English are very weak people. You ought to arrest Matanzima, and several others, and send a strong Resident to Sandili, who should always keep his ear.”“We can’t do that, Josane. There are wheels within wheels and a power behind the throne. Well, we shall see what happens,” he went on, rising as a hint to the other to depart.

He did not choose, for reasons of his own, to ask Josane direct how imminent the danger might be. To do so would be ever so slightly to impair his own prestige. But in his own judgment he decided that the sooner they set their affairs in order against the coming storm the better.Chapter Twelve.“Ah, Love, but a Day!”Pondering over what the old Kafir had said, Eustace busied himself over two or three odd jobs. Then, returning to the storeroom, he filled up a large measure of mealies and went to the house.“I’m going down to the ostrich camp, Eanswyth. Do you feel inclined to stroll that far, or are you too tired?”“Yes and no. I think it will do me good.”Flinging on a wide straw hat she joined him in the doorway. The ostrich camp was only a couple of hundred yards from the house, and at sight of them the great birds came shambling down to the fence, the truculent male having laid aside his aggressive ferocity for the occasion, as he condescended, with sullen and lordly air, to allow himself to be fed, though even then the quarrelsome disposition of the creature would find vent every now and again in a savage hiss, accompanied by a sudden and treacherous kick aimed at his timid consort whenever the latter ventured within the very outskirts of the mealies thrown down. But no sooner had the last grain disappeared than the worst instincts of the aggressive bully were all to the fore again, and the huge biped, rearing himself up to his full height, his jetty coat and snowy wing-feathers making a brave show, challenged his benefactors forthwith, rolling his fiery eyes as though longing to behold them in front of him with no protecting fence between.“Of all the ungracious, not to say ungrateful, scoundrels disfiguring God’s earth, I believe a cock ostrich is the very worst,” remarked Eustace. “He is, if possible, worse in that line than the British loafer, fordown from the dark vault above, and the sullen redness of the war-fires flashing from the distant heights shed a dull, threatening glow upon those two, standing there locked in each other’s embrace. Then once more the wild, weird war-cry of the savage hosts swelled forth upon the night. It was an awesome and fearful background to this picture of renewed life and bliss.Such a reunion can best be left to the imagination, for it will bear no detailment.“Why did you draw my very heart out of me like this, Eustace, my life?” she said at last, raising her head. “When they told me you were dead I knew it would not be long before I joined you. I could not have endured this living death much longer.”There were those who pronounced Eanswyth Carhayes to be the most beautiful woman they had ever beheld—who had started with amazement at such an apparition on an out-of-the-way Kaffrarian farm. A grand creature, they declared, but a trifle too cold. They would have marvelled that they had ever passed such a verdict could they but have seen her now, her splendid eyes burning into those of her lover in the starlight as she went on:“You are longing to ask what I am doing here in this place all alone and at such a time. This. I came here as to a sanctuary: a sacred spot which enshrined all the dearest memories of you. Here in silence and in solitude I could conjure up visions of you—could see you walking beside me as on that last day we spent together. Here I could kneel and kiss the floor, the very earth which your feet had trod; and—O Eustace, my very life, it was a riven and a shattered heart I offered up daily—hourly—at the shrine of your dear memory.”Her tones thrilled upon his ear. Never had life held such a delirious, intoxicating moment. To the cool, philosophical, strong-nerved man it seemed as if his very senses were slipping away from him under the thrilling love-tones of this stately, beautiful creature nestling within his arms. Again their lips met—met as they had met that first time—met as if they were never again to part.

“Inkose!”The sudden sonorous interruption caused Eanswyth to start as if she had been shot, and well it might. Her lover, however, had passed through too many strange and stirring experiences of late to be otherwise than slightly and momentarily disconcerted.A dark figure stood at the lowest step of the stoep, one hand raised in the air, after the dignified and graceful manner of native salutation.“Greeting, Josane,” he replied.“Now do mine eyes behold a goodly sight,” went on the old Kafir with animation, speaking in the pleasing figurative hyperbole of his race. “My father and friend is safe home once more. We have mourned him as dead and he is alive again. He has returned to gladden our hearts and delight our eyes. It is good—it is good.”“How did you know I had returned, Josane?”Had there been light enough they would have detected the most whimsical smile come over the old Kafir’s face as he replied:“Am I not the Inkosikazi’s watch-dog? What sort of a watch-dog is it that permits a footstep to approach from outside without his knowledge?”“You are, indeed, a man, Josane—a man among men, and trust to those who trust you,” replied Eustace, in that tone of thorough friendship and regard which had enabled him to win so effectually the confidence of the natives.The old cattle-herd’s face beamed with gratification, which, however, was quickly dashed with anxiety.“Look yonder,” he said. “There is trouble in the Gaika location to-night. Take the Inkosikazi and leave—this very night. I know what I say.” Then, marking the other’s hesitation, “I know what I say,” he repeated impressively. “Am I not the Inkosikazi’s watch-dog? Am I not her eyes and ears? Even now there is one approaching from Nteya’s kraal.”He had struck a listening attitude. Eustace, his recent experiences fresh in his mind, felt depressed and anxious, gazing expectantly into the darkness, his hand upon the butt of his revolver.“Halt! Who comes there?” he cried in the Xosa tongue.“A friend, Ixeshane!” came the prompt reply, as a dark form stepped into view.Now that life was worth living again, Eanswyth felt all her old apprehensions return; but she had every confidence in her lover’s judgment and the fidelity of her trusted old retainer.“Hau, Ixeshane! You are here; it is good,” said the new arrival in the most matter-of-fact way, as though he were not wondering to distraction how it was that the man who had been reported slain in the Bomvana country by the hostile Gcalékas, should be standing there alive and well before him. “I am here to warn the Inkosikazi. She must leave, and at once. The fire-tongues of the Amaxosa are speaking to each other; the war-cry of the Ama Ngqika is cleaving the night.”“We have seen and heard that before, Ncanduku,” answered Eustace, recognising the new arrival at once. “Yet your people would not harm us. Are we not friends?”The Kafir shook his head.“Who can be called friends in war-time?” he said. “There are strangers in our midst—strangers from another land. Who can answer for them? I am Ncanduku, the brother of Nteya. The chief will not have his friends harmed at the hands of strangers. But they must go. Look yonder, and lose no time. Get your horses and take the Inkosikazi, and leave at once, for the Ama Ngqika have responded to the call of their brethren and the Paramount Chief, and have risen to arms. The land is dead.”There was no need to follow the direction of the Kafir’s indication. A dull, red glare, some distance off, shone forth upon the night; then another and another. Signal fires? No. These shone from no prominent

height, but from the plain itself. Then Eustace took in the situation in a moment. The savages were beginning to fire the deserted homesteads of the settlers.“Inspan the buggy quickly, Josane,” he said. “And, Ncandúku, come inside for a moment. I will find basela (Best rendered by the familiar term ‘backshish’) for you and Nteya.” But the voice which had conveyed such timely warning responded not. The messenger had disappeared.The whole condition of affairs was patent to Eustace’s mind. Nteya, though a chief whose status was not far inferior to that of Sandili himself, was not all-powerful. Those of his tribesmen who came from a distance, and were not of his own clan, would be slow to give implicit obedience to his “word,” their instincts for slaughter and pillage once fairly let loose, and so he had sent to warn Eanswyth. Besides, it was probable that there were Gcalékas among them. Ncanduku’s words, “strangers from another land,” seemed to point that way. He put it to Josane while harnessing the horses. The old man emitted a dry laugh.“There are about six hundred of the Gcaléka fighting men in Nteya’s location to-night,” he replied. “Every farmhouse in the land will be burned before the morning. Whau, Ixeshane! Is there any time to lose now?”Eustace realised that assuredly there was not. But inspanning a pair of horses was, to his experienced hand, the work of a very few minutes indeed.“Who is their chief?” he asked, tugging at the last strap. “Sigcau?”“No. Ukiva.”An involuntary exclamation of concern escaped Eustace. For the chief named had evinced a marked hostility towards himself during his recent captivity; indeed, this man’s influence had more than once almost turned the scale in favour of his death. No wonder he felt anxious.Eanswyth had gone into the house to put a few things together, having, with an effort, overcome her reluctance to let him out of her sightduring the few minutes required for inspanning. Now she reappeared. “I am ready, Eustace,” she said.He helped her to her seat and was beside her in a moment.“Let go, Josane!” he cried. And the Kafir, standing away from the horses’ heads, uttered a sonorous farewell.“What will become of him, dear?” said Eanswyth, as they started off at a brisk pace.“He is going to stay here and try and save the house. I’m afraid he won’t be able to, though. They are bound to burn it along with the others. And now take the reins a moment, dearest. I left my horse hitched up somewhere here, because I wanted to come upon you unawares. I’ll just take off the saddle and tie it on behind.”“But what about the horse? Why not take him with us?”“Josane will look after him. I won’t take him along now, because— well, it’s just on the cards we might have to make a push for it, and a led horse is a nuisance. Ah—there he is,” as a low whinnying was heard on their left front and duly responded to by the pair in harness.In less than two minutes he had the saddle secured at the back of the buggy and was beside her again. It is to be feared Eustace drove very badly that night. Had the inquiry been made, candour would have compelled him to admit that he had never driven so badly in his life.Eanswyth, for her part, was quite overcome with the thrilling, intoxicating happiness of the hour. But what an hour! They were fleeing through the night—fleeing for their lives—their way lighted by the terrible signal beacons of the savage foe—by the glare of flaming homesteads fired by his ravaging and vengeful hand. But then, he who was dead is alive again, and is beside her—they two fleeing together through the night.“Darling,” she whispered at last, nestling up closer to him. “Why did they try to kill me by telling me you were dead?”


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