Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the welcome banquet of the second "Belt and Road" International Cooperation Summit Forum

发表于 2023-09-30 06:48:38 来源:Return to basics and return to true nature

wanted to think, to clear his terribly aching and beclouded brain. And while thus lying, seemingly unconscious, his ears caught the subdued hum of his captors’ conversation—caught the whispered burden of their superstitious misgivings, and he resolved to turn them to account.“It is a powerful ‘charm,’” one of them was saying. “We ought to find it—to take it away from him.”“We had better not meddle with it,” was the reply. “Wait and see. It may not be too powerful for Ngcenika, or it may. We shall see.”“Ha! Ngcenika—the great prophetess. Ewa, ewa!” (Yes—yes) exclaimed several.A powerful charm? Ngcenika, the prophetess? What did they mean. Then it dawned upon him as in a flash. The uplifted assegai, the great leaping barbarian, grinning in bloodthirsty glee as the weapon quivered in his sinewy grasp: then the blow—straight at his heart. It all came back lo him now.Yet how had he escaped? The stroke had been straight, strong, and surely directed. He had felt the contact. Checking an impulse to raise his hand to his heart, he expanded his chest ever so slightly. No sharp, pricking pang, as of a stab or cut. He was unwounded. But how?And then as the truth burst upon him, such a thrill of new-born hope radiated throughout his being that he could hardly refrain from leaping to his feet then and there. The silver box—Eanswyth’s gift at parting—this was what had interposed between him and certain death! The silver box —with its contents, the representation of that sweet face, those last lines, tear stained, “warm from her hand and heart,” as she herself had put it— this was what had turned the deadly stroke which should have cleft his heart in twain. What an omen!A “charm,” they had called it—a powerful “charm.” Ha! that must be his cue. Would it prove too potent for Ngcenika? they had conjectured. The name was familiar to him as owned by Kreli’s principal witch-doctress, a shadowy personage withal, and known to few, if any, of the

She made no answer. He had drawn his arm through hers and the strong, reassuring touch seemed to dispel her fears. It seemed to him that she leaned upon him, as though for physical support no less than for mental. Thus they stood, their figures silhouetted in the dull red glow. Thus they stood, the face of the one stormy with conflicting emotions— that of the other calm, restful, safe in that firm protecting companionship. Thus they stood, and to one of these two that isolated position in the midst of a brooding peril represented the sweetest, most ecstatic moment that life had ever afforded. And still upon the distant hilltops, gushing redly upward into the velvety darkness, the war-fires of the savages gleamed and burned.“We had better go in now,” said Eustace, after a while, when the flaming beacons had at length burnt low. “You must be tired to death by this time, and it won’t do to sit out here all night. You must have some rest.”“I will try,” she answered. “Do you know, Eustace, there is a something about you that seems to put everything right. I am not in the least frightened now.”There was a softness in her tone that bordered upon tenderness—a softness that was dangerous indeed to a man in his frame of mind.“Ah! you find that, do you?” he answered, in a strained, harsh, unnatural voice. Then his utterance seemed choked. Their eyes met in the starlight—met in a long, clinging gaze—then their lips. Yet, she belonged to another man, and—a life stood between these two.Thus to that extent Eustace Milne, the cool-headed, the philosophic, had allowed the impulse of his mad passion to overmaster him. But before he could pour forth the unrestrained torrent of words which should part them there and then forever, or bind them more closely for weal or for woe, Eanswyth suddenly wrenched herself from his close embrace. A clatter of rapidly approaching hoofs was borne upon the night.“It’s Tom!” she cried, at the same time fervently blessing the friendly darkness which concealed her burning face. “It must be Tom. What canhe have been doing with himself all this time?”“Rather! It’s Tom, right enough, or what’s left of him!” echoed the loud, well-known voice, as the horseman rode up to the stoep and flung himself from the saddle. “What’s left of him,” he repeated grimly. “Can’t you strike a light, Eanswyth, instead of standing there staring at a man as if he had actually been cut into mince-meat by those infernal brutes, instead of having only had a very narrow escape from that same,” he added testily, striding past her to enter the house, which up till now had been left in darkness for prudential reasons, lest by rendering it more conspicuous the sight might tempt their savage neighbours, in their present ugly humour, to some deed of violence and outrage.A lamp was quickly lighted, and then a half-shriek escaped Eanswyth. For her husband presented a ghastly spectacle. He was hatless, and his thick brown beard was matted with blood, which had streamed down the side of his face from a wound in his head. One of his hands, too, was covered with blood, and his clothes were hacked and cut in several places.“For Heaven’s sake, Eanswyth, don’t stand there screeching like an idiotic schoolgirl, but run and get out some grog, for I want an ‘eye opener’ badly, I can tell you,” he burst forth with an angry stamp of the foot. “Then get some water and clean rag, and bandage me up a bit—for besides the crack on the head you see I’ve got at least half a dozen assegai stabs distributed about my carcase.”Pale and terrified, Eanswyth hurried away, and Carhayes, who had thrown himself on the sofa, proceeded growlingly to give an account of the rough usage he had been subjected to. He must have been stealthily followed, he said, for about half an hour after leaving Nteya’s kraal he had been set upon in the darkness by a party of Kafirs. So sudden was the assault that they had succeeded in snatching his gun away from him before he could use it. A blow on the head with a kerrie—a whack which would have floored a weaker man—he parenthesised grimly and with ill-concealed pride—having failed to knock him off his horse, the savages endeavoured to stab him with their assegais—and in fact had wounded him in several places. Fortunately for him they had not succeeded in

Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the welcome banquet of the second

seizing his bridle, or at any rate in retaining hold of it, or his doom would have been sealed.“The chap who tried it on dropped under my stirrup-iron,” explained Carhayes. “I ‘downed’ him, by the living Jingo! He’ll never kick again, I do believe. That scoundrel Nteya promised I shouldn’t be molested, the living dog! There he was, the old schelm, he and our friend of to-day, Hlangani—and Matanzima, old Sandili’s son, and Sivuléle, and a lot of them, haranguing the rest. They mean war. There couldn’t have been less than six or seven hundred of them—all holding a big war-dance, got up in their feathers and fal-lals. What do you think of that, Eustace? And in I went bang into the very thick of them.”“I knew it would come to this one of these days, Tom,” said Eanswyth, who now reappeared with the necessary refreshment, and water and towels for dressing his wounds.“Of course you did,” retorted her husband, with a savage snarl. “You wouldn’t be a woman if you didn’t, my dear. ‘I told you so,’ ‘I told you so,’—isn’t that a woman’s invariable parrot cry. Instead of ‘telling me so,’ suppose you set to work and see what you can do for a fellow. Eh?”Eustace turned away to conceal the white fury that was blasting him. Why had the Kafirs done things by halves? Why had they not completed their work and rid the earth of a coarse-minded brute who simply encumbered it. From that moment he hated his cousin with a secret and bitter hatred. And this was the life that stood between him and— Paradise.Tom Carhayes was indeed in a vile humour—not on account of the wounds he had received, ugly as some of them were; for he was not lacking in brute courage or endurance. But his wrath burnt hot against the insolent daring of his assailants, who had presumed to attack him, who had, moreover, done so treacherously, had robbed him of his gun, as well as of a number of sheep, and had added insult to injury by laughing in his face when he asked for redress.“I’ll be even with them. I will, by the living Jingo!” he snarled as hesat sipping his brandy and water—while Eanswyth, still pale and agitated from the various and stirring events of the night, bathed his wounds with rather trembling fingers. “I’ll ride into Komgha to-morrow and have the whole lot arrested—especially that lying dog, Nteya. I’ll go with the police myself, if only to see the old scoundrel handcuffed and hauled off to the tronk.”“What on earth induced you to run your head into such a hornet’s nest for the sake of a few sheep?” said Eustace at last, thinking he ought to say something.“Hang it, man!” was the impatient retort. “Do you suppose I was going to let these scoundrels have the laugh of me? I tell you I spoored the sheep slap into Nteya’s kraal.”“Well, they seem to have the laugh of you now, anyhow—of us, rather,” said Eustace drily, as he turned away.Chapter Nine.A Startling Surprise.Nature is rarely sympathetic. The day dawned, fair and lovely, upon the night of terror and brooding peril. A few golden rays, darting horizontally upon the green, undulating slopes of the pleasant Kaffrarian landscape—then the sun shot up from the eastern skyline. Before him the white mist, which had settled down upon the land a couple of hours before dawn, now rolled back in ragged folds, leaving a sheeny carpet of silver dew—a glittering sparkle of diamond drops upon tree and shrub. Bird voices were twittering into life, in many a gladsome and varying note. Little meer-kats, startled by the tread of the horse, sat upon their haunches to listen, ere plunging, with a frisk and a scamper, into the safety of their burrows. A tortoise, his neck distended and motionless, his bright eye dilated with alarm, noiselessly shrank into the armour-plated safety of his shell, just in time to avoid probable decapitation from the falling hoof which sent his protective shell rolling half a dozen yards down the slope. But he now riding abroad thus early, had little attention to giveto any such trivial sights and sounds. His mind was fully occupied.No sleep had fallen to Eustace’s lot that night. Late as it was when they retired to rest, fatiguing and exciting as the events of the day had been, there was no sleep for him. Carhayes, exasperated by the wrongs and rough treatment he had received at the hands of his barbarous neighbours, had withdrawn in a humour that was truly fearful, exacting unceasing attention from his wife and rudely repulsing his cousin’s offer to take Eanswyth’s place, in order that the latter might take some much-needed rest. A proceeding which lashed Eustace into a white heat of silent fury, and in his own mind it is to be feared he defined the other as a selfish, inconsiderate, and utterly irredeemable brute. Which, after all, is mere human nature. It is always the other fellow who is rather worse than a fiend. Were we in his shoes we should be something a little higher than an angel. That of course.Unable to endure the feverish heat of restlessness that was upon him, with the first glimmer of dawn Eustace arose. One of his horses had been kept up in the stable, and having saddled the animal he issued forth. But the horse was a badly broken, vicious brute, and like the human heart was deceitful and desperately wicked, and when to the inherent villainy of his corrupt nature was superadded the tangible grievance of having to exchange a comfortable stable for the fresh, not to say raw, atmosphere of early dawn, he resolved to make himself as disagreeable as possible. He began by trying all he knew to buck the saddle off—but fruitlessly. He might, however, be more successful with the rider. So almost before the latter had deftly swung himself into his seat, down again went the perverse brute’s head, and up went his back. Plunging, rearing, kicking, squealing, the animal managed to waste five minutes and a great deal of superfluous energy, and to incur some roughish treatment into the bargain, for his rider was as firm in the saddle as a bullet in a cartridge, and moreover owned a stout crop and a pair of sharp spurs, and withal was little inclined to stand any nonsense that morning from man or beast.But the tussle did Eustace good, in that it acted with bracing effect upon his nerves, and having reduced the refractory steed to order, he headed for the open veldt, not much caring where he went as long as he

Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the welcome banquet of the second

was moving. And now as the sun rose, flooding the air with a mellow warmth, a great elation came upon him. He still seemed to feel the pressure of those lips to his, the instinctive clinging to him in the hour of fear. He had yielded to the weird enchantment of the moment, when they two were alone in the hush of the soft, sensuous night—alone almost in the very world itself. His better judgment had failed him at the critical time —and for once his better judgment had been at fault all along—for once passion was truer than judgment. She had returned his kiss.Then had come that horribly inopportune interruption. But was it inopportune? Thinking things over now he was inclined to decide that it was not. On the contrary, the ice must be broken gently at first, and this is just the result which that interruption had brought about. Again, the rough and bitter words which had followed upon it could only, to one of Eanswyth’s temperament, throw out in more vivid contrast the nectar sweetness of that cup of which she had just tasted. He had not seen her since, but he soon would. He would play his cards with a master hand. By no bungling would he risk the game.It was characteristic of the man that he could thus reason—could thus scheme and plot—that side by side with the strong whirl of his passion, he could calculate chances, map out a plan. And there was nothing sordid or gross in his thoughts of her. His love for Eanswyth was pure, even noble—elevating, perfect—but for the fact that she was bound by an indissoluble tie to another man.Ah, but—there lay the gulf; there rose the great and invincible barrier. Yet, why invincible?The serpent was abroad in Eden that morning. With the most sweet recollection of but a few hours back fresh in his heart, there rested within Eustace’s mind a perfect glow of radiant peace. Many a word, many a tone, hardly understood at the time, came back to him now with startling clearness. For a year they had dwelt beneath the same roof, for nearly that period, for quite that period, as he was forced to own to himself, he had striven hard to conquer the hopeless, the unlawful love, which he plainly foresaw would sooner or later grow too strong for him. But now it had overwhelmed him, and—she had returned it. The scales had fallenfrom his eyes at last—from both their eyes. What a very paradise was opening out its golden glories before them. Ah, but—the barrier between them—and that barrier the life of another!Yet what is held upon more desperately frail tenure than a life? What is more easily snapped than the cord of a life? It might have been done during the past night. By no more than a hair’s-breadth had Carhayes escaped. The savages might on the next occasion strike more true. Yes, assuredly, the serpent was abroad in that Eden now—his trail a trail of blood. There was something of the murderer in Eustace Milne at that moment.Mechanically still he rode on. He was skirting a high rounded spur. Rising from a bushy valley not many miles in front were several threads of blue smoke, and the faint sound of voices, with now and then the yelp of a dog, was borne upon the silent morning air. He had travelled some distance and now not far in front lay the outlying kraals of Nteya’s location.A set, ruthless look came over his fine face. Here were tools enough ready to his hand. Not a man among those clans of fierce and truculent barbarians but hated his cousin with a hatred begotten of years of friction. On the other hand he himself was on the best of terms with them and their rulers. A little finessing—a lavish reward, and—well, so far he shrank from deliberate and cold-blooded murder. And as though to cast off temptation before it should become too strong for him, he wrenched round his horse with a sudden jerk and rode down into a wild and bushy kloof which ran round the spur of the hill.“Never mind!” he exclaimed half aloud. “Never mind! We shall have a big war on our hands directly. Hurrah for war, and its glorious chances!— Pincher, you fool, what the deuce is the matter with you?”For the horse had suddenly stopped short. With his ears cocked forward he stood, snorting violently, trembling and backing. Then with a frantic plunge he endeavoured to turn and bolt. But his master’s hand and his master’s will were strong enough to defeat this effort. At the same time his master’s eye became alive to the cause of alarm.

Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the welcome banquet of the second

Issuing from the shade of the mimosa trees, seeming to rise out of the tangle of long, coarse herbage, were a number of red, sinuous forms. The ochre-smeared bodies, the gleaming assegai blades, the brawny, muscular limbs still bedecked with the barbarous and fantastic adornments of the night’s martial orgy, the savage and threatening aspect of the grim, scowling countenances looked formidable enough, not merely to scare the horse, but to strike dismay into the heart of the rider, remembering the critical state of the times.“Stop!” cried one of the Kafirs peremptorily. “Come no farther, white man!”With a rapid movement two of them advanced as if to seize his bridle.“Stop yourselves!” cried Eustace decisively, covering the pair with a revolver.So determined was his mien, and withal so cool and commanding, that the savages paused irresolute. A quick ejaculation rose from the whole party. There was a flash and a glitter. A score of assegais were poised ready for a fling. Assailants and assailed were barely a dozen yards apart. It was a critical moment for Eustace Milne. His life hung upon a hair.Suddenly every weapon was lowered—in obedience to a word spoken by a tall Kafir who at that moment emerged from the bush. Then Eustace knew the crisis was past. He, too, lowered his weapon.“What does this mean, Ncandúku?” he said, addressing the new arrival. “Why do your people make war upon me? We are not at war.”“Au!” ejaculated several of the Kafirs, bringing their hands to their faces as if to hide the sarcastic grin evoked by this remark. He addressed shrugged his shoulders.“Fear nothing, Ixeshane,” (The Deliberate) he replied, with a half-amused smile. “No harm will be done you. Fear nothing.”

The slight emphasis on the “you” did not escape Eustace’s quick ear, coming as it did so close upon his recent train of thought.“Why should I fear?” he said. “I see before me Ncandúku, the brother of Nteya, my friend—both my friends, both chiefs of the House of Gaika. I see before me, I say, Ncandúku, my friend, whom I know. I see before me also a number of men, fully armed, whom I do not know.”“Hau!” exclaimed the whole body of Kafirs, who, bending forwards, had been eagerly taking in every word of this address.“These armed men,” he continued, “have just threatened my life. Yet, I fear nothing. Look!”He raised the revolver, which he now held by the barrel. In a twinkling he threw open the breech and emptied the cartridges into his hand. Another emphatic murmur rose from the Kafirs at this strange move.“Look!” he went on, holding out the empty weapon towards them in one hand, and the half dozen cartridges in the other. “You are more than twenty men—armed. I am but one man—unarmed. Do I fear anything?”Again a hum went round the party—this time of admiration—respect. Eustace had played a bold—a foolhardy stroke. But he knew his men.“Whau, Ixeshane!” exclaimed Ncanduku. “You are a bold man. It is good that I have seen you this morning. Now, if you are going home, nobody will interfere with you.”“I am in no hurry, Ncandúku,” replied Eustace, who, for purposes of his own, chose to ignore this hint. “It is a long while since I have seen you, and many things have happened in that time. We will sit down and hold a little indaba.” (Talk.)So saying, he dismounted, and flinging his bridle over a bush, he walked at least a dozen yards from the horse and deliberately seated himself in the shade, thus completely placing himself in the power of the savages. He was joined by Ncandúku and two or three more. The othera case of “two’s company, three’s a crowd.”Equally clearly was it a case wherein the third might be excused for omitting to apply the maxim.“There’s a goodish weight in the trap already,” he replied dubiously. But Eanswyth struck in:“We can make room for you, Mr Hoste. Certainly. And if we have the additional pull of your horse it will neutralise the additional weight.”Eustace said nothing. If Eanswyth’s mood had undergone something of a change since last night, that was only natural, he allowed. The arrangement was not to his liking. But then, of most arrangements in this tiresome world the same held good. With which reflection, being a philosopher, he consoled himself.There was not much sign of the disturbed state of the country during the first part of the drive. But later, as they drew nearer the settlement, an abandoned homestead—standing silent and deserted, its kraals empty and the place devoid of life, or a trek of sheep and cattle raising a cloud of dust in the distance, together with a waggon or two loaded with the families and household goods of those, like themselves, hastening from their more or less isolated positions to seek safety in numbers, spoke eloquently and with meaning. Now and again a small group of Kafirs would pass them on the road, and although unarmed, save for their ordinary kerries, there seemed a world of grim meaning in each dark face, a menace in the bold stare which did duty for the ordinarily civil, good-humoured greeting, as if the savages knew that their time was coming now.It was a splendid day, sunny and radiant. But there was an oppressiveness in the atmosphere which portended a change, and ever and anon came a low boom of thunder. An inky cloud was rising behind the Kabousie Heights, spreading wider and wider over the plains of Kafirland. A lurid haze subdued the sunshine, as the rumble of the approaching storm drew nearer and nearer, and the blue electric flashes played around the misty hilltops where the ill-omened war-fires had

gleamed two nights before. Even so, in like fashion, the brooding cloud of war swept down upon the land, darker and darker.Chapter Fourteen.A Curtain Secret.The settlement of Komgha—called after an infinitesimal stream of that name—was, like most frontier townships, an utterly insignificant place. It consisted of a few straggling blocks of houses plumped down apparently without rhyme or reason in the middle of the veldt, which here was open and undulating. It boasted a few stores and canteens, a couple of institutions termed by courtesy “hotels,” an exceedingly ugly church, and a well-kept cricket ground. To the eastward rose the Kei Hills, the only picturesque element about the place, prominent among these the flat, table-topped summit of Moordenaar’s Kop, (Dutch, “Murderer’s Peak”) a tragical spot so named on account of the surprise and massacre of a party of officers who had incautiously ventured up there in small force during one of the previous wars. The village was virtually the headquarters of the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police, the substantial square barracks, which harboured the artillery troop of that useful force, crowning the hill nearly a mile away, and there was generally another troop or two quartered around the place. The main road from King Williamstown to the Transkeian territories ran through the village.At the period of our story, however, there was no lack of life or stir about the normally sleepy little place, for it was in process of transformation into a huge laager or armed camp. Waggons were coming in from several directions—laden mostly with the families and household goods of fleeing settlers, and the sharp crack of whips and the harsh yells of their drivers rose high above the general turmoil. Men were bustling to and fro, bent upon nothing in particular and looking as though each and all carried the fate of a nation in his pockets, or standing, in knots at street corners, discussing the situation, each perchance with a little less knowledge than his neighbour. All sorts of wild rumours were in the air, the least of which was that every white in the Transkei had been massacred, and that Kreli was marching upon Komgha at the head of the whole Gcaléka army.

Mrs Hoste, with her two young daughters, were at the door as the party drove up. They received Eanswyth very cordially.“At last—at last! Why, we have been looking out for you for the last hour. I declare, I began to think you had stayed too long at Anta’s Kloof, and the Kafirs had taken you prisoner or something. How do you do, Mr Milne? But—come in. We are going to have a dreadful storm in a minute. Mercy on us! What a flash!”The blue, steely gleam was followed by a roll of thunder, long, loud, reverberating. There was a patter upon the zinc roof. A few raindrops, nearly as large as saucers, splashed around, and then, almost before the two men could get into their waterproof coats, the rain descended with a roar and a rush, in such a deluge that they could hardly see to outspan the trap.“Allamaghtaag! but that’s a fine rain,” cried Hoste, with a farmer’s appreciation, as he swung himself free of his dripping mackintosh in the little veranda.“Especially for those who are under canvas,” said Eustace with a significant glance at a group of tents pitched upon the plain just outside the village. For the surrounding veldt had been turned into something like a sea, and a miniature torrent roared down every depression in the ground.“Well, Mr Milne,” cried Mrs Hoste, from the head of the table, as the two men entered. “Its past three o’clock and dinner has been ready since half-past one. We quite expected you then.”“Which, being interpreted, means that I must prepare for the worst,” was the rejoinder. “Never mind. I dare say we shan’t starve. Well, and what’s the latest absurdity in the way of news?”“Just what I was going to ask you. You’re hand-in-glove with all the Kafir chiefs. You ought to be able to give us all the news.”Eustace smiled to himself. He could tell them a few things that wouldastonish them considerably, if he chose. But he did not choose.“We’ll loaf round the village presently,” said Hoste. “Likely enough we’ll hear something then.”“Likely enough it’ll be about as reliable as usual,” said Eustace. “What was the last report? Kreli and the Gcaléka army encamped at the Kei Drift—be here in two hours?”“It’s all very well to laugh,” said Mrs Hoste. “But what if we were attacked some fine night?”“There isn’t the ghost of a chance of it. Especially with all these wondrous fortifications about.”“I wish I thought you were serious. It would be a relief to me if I could think so.”“Pray do think so, Mrs Hoste. There is no sort of chance of this place being attacked; so make your mind easy.”“What do you think of our crib, Milne?” struck in Hoste.“It seems snug enough. Not palatial, but good enough for all purposes. You were lucky to light upon it.”“Rather. There isn’t so much as the corner of a rat hole to be had in the whole place now. But, it’s knocked off raining,” as a bright gleam of sunlight shot into the room. “Only a thunder-shower. We seem to have done dinner. Let’s go out and pick up the latest lie. By the way, you don’t want to go home again to-night, Milne? We can give you a shake-down on the sofa.”“The fact is I don’t. To-morrow will do just as well, and then I suppose I’ll have to trek with the stock down to Swaanepoel’s Hoek, while Tom, thirsting for death or glory, fills up that tally slick he was telling us about last night.”“But don’t you intend to volunteer for the front, like the rest?” asked


Copyright © 2016 Powered by Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the welcome banquet of the second "Belt and Road" International Cooperation Summit Forum,Return to basics and return to true nature   sitemap