"One Belt, One Road" on the tip of the tongue丨The fruity fragrance brings "apple" peace to you thousands of miles away

发表于 2023-09-22 06:04:21 来源:Return to basics and return to true nature

“Ho, Sarili—father!” chorused the warriors, launching out into an impromptu song in honour of the might and virtues of their chief. “Sarili— lord! The Great, Great One! The deadly snake! The mighty buffalo bull, scattering the enemy’s hosts with the thunder of his charge! The fierce tiger, lying in wait to spring! Give us thy white enemies that we may devour them alive. Ha—ah!”The last ejaculation was thundered out in a prolonged, unanimous roar, and inspired by the fierce rhythm of the chant, the warriors with one accord formed up into columns, and the dark serried ranks, marching through the night, swelling the wild war-song, beating time with sticks, the quivering rattle of assegai hafts mingling with the thunderous tread of hundreds of feet, and the gleam of the moonlight upon weapons and rolling eyeballs, went to form a picture of indescribable grandeur and awe.Again and again surged forth the weird rhythm:Ho, Sarili, son of Hintza!Great Chief of the House of Gcaléka! Great Father of the children of Xosa! Strong lion, devourer of the whites!Great serpent, striking dead thine enemies! Give us thy white enemiesthat we may hew them into small pieces.Ha - Ah! Great Chief! whose kraals overflow with fatness! Great Chief! whose cornfields wave to feed a people! Warrior of warriors,whom weapons surround like the trees of a forest! We return to thee drunk with the blood of thine enemies. “Há - há - há!”With each wild roar, shouted in unison at the end of each of these impromptu strophes, the barbarians immediately surrounding him would turn to Eustace and flash their blades in his face, brandishing their weapons in pantomimic representation of carving him to pieces. This to one less versed in their habits and character would have been to the last degree terrifying, bound and at their mercy as he was. But it inspired in

treacherous murder.“I cannot talk with you apart, Hlangani,” he answered. “I cannot leave the Inkosikazi standing here alone even for a few minutes.”The piercing glance of the shrewd savage had been scrutinising his face—had been reading it like a book. Upon him the terrible struggle within had not been lost.“Consider, Ixeshane,” he pursued. “What is the gift of a few dozen cows, of two hundred cows, when compared with the happiness of a man’s lifetime? Nothing. Is it to be? Say the word. Is it to be?”The barbarian’s fiery eyes were fixed upon his with deep and terrible meaning. To Eustace it seemed as if the blasting glare of the Arch fiend himself shone forth from their cruel depths.“It is not to be. The ‘word’ is No! Unmistakably and distinctly No. You understand, Hlangani?”“Au! As you will, Ixeshane,” replied the Kafir, with an expressive shrug of his shoulders. “See. You wear a ‘charm’,” referring to a curious coin which Eustace wore hanging from his watch-chain. “If you change your mind send over the ‘charm’ to me at Nteya’s kraal this night—it shall be returned. But after to-night it may be too late. Farewell.”And flinging his blanket over his shoulder the savage turned and strode away into the veldt—Eustace purposely omitting to offer him a little tobacco, lest this ordinary token of good will should be construed into a sort of earnest of the dark and terrible bargain which Hlangani had proposed to him—by mere hints it is true—but still had none the less surely proposed.Chapter Thirteen.”...And the World is Changed.”

They stood for some moments watching the receding figure of the Kafir in silence. Eanswyth was the first to break it.“What have you been talking about all this time, Eustace? Is it any new danger that threatens us?”“N-no. Rather the reverse if anything,” and his features cleared up as if to bear out the truth of his words. “I don’t see, though, why you shouldn’t know it. That’s the man we fell foul of in the veldt yesterday— you remember the affair of the white dog?”“Oh!” and Eanswyth turned very pale.“Now don’t be alarmed, dearest. I believe he only loafed round here to try and collect some compensation.”“Is that really all, Eustace?” she went on anxiously. “You seemed very much disturbed, dear. I don’t think I ever saw you look so thoroughly disturbed.”There was no perturbation left in his glance now. He took her face lovingly between his hands and kissed it again and again.“Did you not, my sweet? Well, perhaps there has never existed such ground for it. Perhaps I have never met with so inopportune an interruption. But now, cheer up. We must make the most of this day, for a sort of instinct tells me that it is the last we shall have to ourselves, at any rate for some time to come. And now what shall we do with ourselves? Shall we go back to the house or sit here a little while and talk?”Eanswyth was in favour of the latter plan. And, seated there in the shade of a great acacia, the rich summer morning sped by in a golden dream. The fair panorama of distant hills and wooded kloofs; the radiant sunlight upon the wide sweep of mimosa-dotted plains, shimmering into many a fantastic mirage in the glowing heat; the call of bird voices in the adjacent brake, and the continuous chirrup of crickets; the full, warm glow of the sensuous air, rich, permeating, life-giving; here indeed was a very Eden. Thus the golden morning sped swiftly by.But how was it all to end? That was the black drop clouding the sparkling cup—that was the trail of the serpent across that sunny Eden. And yet not, for it may be that this very rift but served only to enhance the intoxicating, thrilling delights of the present—that this idyl of happiness, unlawful alike in the sight of God or man, was a hundredfold sweetened by the sad vein of undercurrent running through it—even the consciousness that it was not to last. For do we not, in the weak contrariety of our mortal natures, value a thing in exact proportion to the precariousness of our tenure!Come good, come ill, never would either of them forget that day: short, golden, idyllic.“Guess how long we have been sitting here!” said Eanswyth at last, with a rapid glance at her watch. “No—don’t look,” she added hurriedly, “I want you to guess.”“About half an hour, it seems. But I suppose it must be more than that.”“Exactly two hours and ten minutes.”“Two hours and ten minutes of our last peaceful day together—gone. Of our first and our last day together.”“Why do you say our last, dear?” she murmured, toying with his hair. His head lay on her lap, his blue eyes gazing up into her large grey ones.“Because, as I told you, I have a strong inkling that way—at any rate, for some time to come. It is wholly lamentable, but, I’m afraid, inevitable.”She bent her head—her beautiful stately head—drooped her lips to his and kissed them passionately.“Eustace, Eustace, my darling—my very life! Why do I love you like this!”“Because you can’t help it, my sweet one!” he answered, returning her kisses with an ardour equalling her own.“Why did I give way so soon? Why did I give way at all? As you say, because I couldn’t help it—because—in short, because it was you. You drew me out of myself—you forced me to love you, forced me to. Ah-h! and how I love you!”The quiver in her tones would not be entirely suppressed. Even he had hardly suspected the full force of passion latent within this woman, only awaiting the magic touch to blaze forth into bright flame. And his had been the touch which had enkindled it.“You have brought more than a Paradise into my life,” he replied, his glance holding hers as he looked up into her radiant eyes. “Tell me, did you never suspect, all these months, that I only lived when in the halo-influence of your presence?”“I knew it.”“You knew it?”“Of course I did,” she answered with a joyous laugh, taking his face between her hands and kissing it again. “I should have been no woman if I had not. But, I have kept my secret better than you. Yes, my secret. I have been battling against your influence far harder than you have against mine, and you have conquered.” He started, and a look of something like dismay came into his face.“If that is so, you witching enchantress, why did you not lift me out of my torment long ago,” he said. “But the worst is this. Just think what opportunities we have missed, what a long time we have wasted which might have been—Heaven.”“Yet, even then, it may be better as things have turned out. My love —my star—I could die with happiness at this moment. But,” and then to the quiver of joy in her voice succeeded an intonation of sadness, “but—I suppose this world does not contain a more wicked woman than myself. Tell me, Eustace,” she went on, checking whatever remark he might have been about to make, “tell me what you think. Shall we not one day be called upon to suffer in tears and bitterness for this entrancingly happy

flood of sunshine upon our lives now?”“That is an odd question, and a thoroughly characteristic one,” he replied slowly. “Unfortunately all the events of life, as well as the laws of Nature, go to bear out the opinions of the theologians. Everything must be paid for, and from this rule there is no escape. Everything, therefore, resolves itself into a mere question of price—e.g., Is the debt incurred worth the huge compound interest likely to be exacted upon it in the far or near future? Now apply this to the present case. Do you follow me?”“Perfectly. If our love is wrong—wicked—we shall be called upon to suffer for it sooner or later?”“That is precisely my meaning. I will go further. The term ‘poetic justice’ is, I firmly believe, more than a mere idiom. 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. Now, Eanswyth, what do you say to that?”“I say, amen. I say that the future can take care of itself, that I defy it —no—wait!—not that. But I say that if this delirious, entrancing happiness is wrong, I would rather brave torments a thousand-fold, than yield up one iota of it,” she answered, her eyes beaming into his, and with a sort of proud, defiant ring in her voice, as if throwing down the gage to all power, human or divine, to come between them.“I say the same—my life!” was his reply.Thus the bargain was sealed—ratified. Thus was the glove hurled down for Fate to take up, if it would. The time was coming when she— when both—would remember those defiant, those deliberate words.Not to-day, however, should any forebodings of the Future be suffered to cloud the Present. They fled, all too quickly, those short, golden hours. They melted one by one, merged into the dim glories of the past. Would the time come when those blissful hours should be conjured forth by the strong yearnings of a breaking heart, conjured forth to be lived through again and again, in the day of black and hopeless despair,when to the radiant enchantment of the Present should have succeeded the woe of a never-ending and rayless night?But the day was with them now—idyllic, blissful—never to be forgotten as long as they two should live. Alas, that it fled!Tom Carhayes returned that evening in high good humour. He was accompanied by another man, a neighbouring settler of the name of Hoste, a pleasant, cheery fellow, who was a frequent visitor at Anta’s Kloof.“Well, Mrs Carhayes,” cried the latter, flinging his right leg over his horse’s neck and sliding to the ground side-saddle fashion, “your husband has been pretty well selling up the establishment to-day. What do you think of that? Hallo, Milne. How ’do?”“I’ve made a good shot this time,” assented Carhayes, “I’ve sold off nearly three thousand of the sheep to Reid, the contractor, at a pound a head all round. What do you think of that, Eustace? And a hundred and thirty cattle, too, heifers and slaughter stock.”“H’m! Well, you know best,” said Eustace. “But why this wholesale clearance, Tom?”“Why? Why, man, haven’t you heard? No, of course he hasn’t. War! That’s why. War, by the living Jingo! It’s begun. Our fellows are over the Kei already, peppering the niggers like two o’clock.”“Or being peppered by them—which so far seems to be the more likely side of the question,” struck in Hoste. “A report came into Komgha to-day that there had been a fight, and the Police had been licked. Anyhow, a lot more have been moved across the river.”“Wait till we get among them,” chuckled Carhayes. “Eh, Hoste? We’ll pay off some old scores on Jack Kafir’s hide. By the Lord, won’t we?”“Ja. That’s so. By-the-by, Mrs Carhayes, I mustn’t forget my errand. The wife has picked up a cottage in Komgha, and particularly wants you

to join her. She was lucky in getting it, for by now every hole or shanty in the village is full up. There are more waggons than houses as it is, and a lot of fellows are in tents. They are going to make a big laager of the place.”Eanswyth looked startled. “Are things as bad as all that?” she said.“They just are,” answered Hoste. “You can’t go on staying here. It isn’t safe—is it, Carhayes? Everyone round here is trekking, or have already trekked. I met George Payne in Komgha to-day. Even he had cleared out from Fountains Gap, and there’s no fellow laughs at the scare like he does.”“Hoste is right, Eanswyth,” said Carhayes. “So you’d better roll up your traps and go back with him to-morrow. I can’t go with you, because Reid is coming over to take delivery of the stock. Eustace might drive you over, if he don’t mind.”Eustace did not mind—of that we may be sure. But although no glance passed between Eanswyth and himself, both were thinking the same thing. To the mind of each came back the words of that morning: “A sort of instinct tells me it is the last day we shall have to ourselves for some time to come!” And it would be.They sat down to supper. Tom Carhayes was in tremendous spirits that evening. He breathed threatenings and slaughter against the whole of the Xosa race, chuckling gleefully over the old scores he was going to pay off upon it in the persons of its fighting men. In fact, he was as delighted over the certainty of an outbreak as if he held half a dozen fat contracts for the supply of the troops and levies.“I’ll keep a tally-stick, by Jove; and every nigger I pot I’ll cut a nick,” he said. “There’ll be a good few notches at the end of the war! It was a first-class stroke of luck doing that deal with Reid, wasn’t it, Eustace? We shall have our hands entirely free for whatever fun turns up.”Eustace agreed. He had reasons of his own for wanting to keep his hands free during the next few months—possibly, however, they were of

a different nature to those entertained by his cousin.“We can move the rest of the stock to Swaanepoel’s Hoek,” went on Carhayes. “Bentley will be only too glad to look after it for a consideration. Then for some real sport! Eustace, pass the grog to Hoste.”“That your Somerset East farm?” said the latter, filling his glass.“Yes. Not a bad place, either; only too stony.”“You’re a jolly lucky fellow to have a Somerset East farm to send your stock to,” rejoined Hoste. “I wish I had, I know. The few sheep I have left are hardly worth looking after. There are safe to be a lot of Dutchmen in laager with brandt-zick flocks, and ours will be covered with it by the time it’s all over. Same thing with cattle. Red water and lung sickness will clear them all out too.”“Well, we’ll lift a lot from old Kreli to make up for it,” said Carhayes. “By the way, Eustace. Talking of Kreli—he’s been summoned to meet the Governor and won’t go.”“H’m. Small wonder if he won’t. What was the upshot of his father, Hintza, being summoned to meet the Governor?”“Oh, you’re always harping on that old string,” said Carhayes impatiently. “Hang it all—as if a lot of red-blanket niggers are to be treated like civilised beings! It’s ridiculous, man. They’ve got to do as they are told, or they must be made to.”“That’s all very pretty, Tom. But the ‘making’ hasn’t begun yet. By the time it’s ended, we shall have a longish bill to pay—and a good many vacant chairs at various household tables. Fair play is fair play—even between our exalted selves and ‘a lot of red-blanket niggers.’”“Milne is right, Carhayes,” struck in Hoste. “Milne is right so far. Kafirs have got long memories, and I, for one, don’t blame old Kreli for snapping his fingers at the Governor. But I don’t agree with him that we haven’t treated him fairly on the whole. Hang it, what have they got to“Let your friends proceed on their way, Ncandúku,” said Eustace suddenly, and in a low tone. “I would speak with you alone.”The chief assented, and at a word from him the Gcalékas rose to their feet and gathered up their weapons. With a respectful salute to the white man they filed off into the bush, and soon the faint rattle of assegai hafts and the deep bass hum of their voices faded into silence.“Now we are alone,” began Eustace after a pause. “We are friends, Ncandúku, and can talk freely. If there is trouble between the Gcalékas and the Fingoes, surely Kreli is able to take care of his own interests. Why, then, should the Gaikas have lighted the war-fires, have danced the war-dance? The quarrel is not theirs.”“The wrongs of the Paramount Chief are the wrongs of the whole Xosa race,” answered the Kafir. “See now. We love not your brother, Umlilwane. Yet, tell him to collect his flocks and his herds and to leave, to depart into a quieter country, and that speedily; for the land will soon be dead.” (Native idiom for war.)“And what if he refuses?”“Then he, too, will soon be dead.”For some minutes Eustace kept silence. The Kafir’s remark had added fuel to the fire which was burning within his heart. It seemed a direct answer to lurid unspoken thoughts which had been surging through his mind at the time of his surprise by the at first hostile party.“Umlilwane is an obstinate man,” he said at length. “What if he laughs at the warning?”“When a man sits inside his house and laughs while his house is burning, what happens to him, Ixeshane?”“He stands a fair chance of being burnt too. But listen, Ncanduku. You have no quarrel against the Inkosikazi. (Literally Chieftainess. In this instance ‘lady.’) Surely not a man of the House of Gaika would harm her!”

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

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.


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