China plays an important role in the BRICS cooperation mechanism (International Forum)

发表于 2023-09-23 00:33:39 来源:Return to basics and return to true nature

elective. Besides, they were under orders to return straight home, which was practically disbandment. So, while not forbidding the undertaking, he pointed out to those concerned that it might involve serious risk to themselves; in a word, was rather a crack-brained idea.“Just what I said,” remarked Payne laconically, lighting his pipe.“Then why do you go, old chap?” asked one of the bystanders with a laugh.“That’s just what I don’t know myself,” was the reply, delivered so tranquilly and deliberately as to evoke a general roar.The camp had been pitched upon high ground overlooking the valley of the Bashi, which ran beneath between rugged bush-clad banks. So the troop set forth on its homeward way, while our four friends, turning their horses’ heads in the opposite direction, struck downward into the thick bush along the river bank.Chapter Twenty Two.“We are Four Fools.”For upwards of two hours they forced their way through the thick scrub, but success did not crown their efforts—did not even wait upon the same. Once or twice a rustle and a scamper in front announced that something had got up and broken away, but whatever it was, owing to the thickness of the bush and the celerity with which it made itself scarce, not one of the hunters could determine—being unable so much as to catch a glimpse of the quarry. At length, wearied with their failure to obtain sport under abnormal difficulties, they gained the edge of the river, and there, upon a patch of smooth greensward beneath the cool shade of a cliff, they decided to off-saddle and have a snack.“By Jove!” exclaimed Hoste, looking complacently around. “This is a lovely spot for a picnic. But wouldn’t John Kafir have us in a hole just, if he were to come upon us now?”

phenomenon—one the like of which we might not witness again in a lifetime. We may as well see it out.”If Eanswyth had been rather alarmed heretofore, the other’s perfect unconcern went far to reassure her. The wild, unearthly chorus echoing through the darkness—the glare of the fires, the distant, but thundrous clamour of the savage orgy, conveyed no terrors to this strong-nerved and philosophical companion of hers. He only saw in them a strange and deeply interesting experience. Seated there in the starlight, some of that unconcern communicated itself to her. A restful calm came upon her. This man beside her was as a very tower of strength. And then came over her a consciousness—not for the first time, but stronger than she had ever felt it—of how necessary his presence was to her. His calm, strong judgment had kept matters straight for a long time past. He had been the one to pour oil on the troubled waters; to allay or avert the evils which her husband’s ungovernable temper and ill-judged violence had thickly gathered around them. Now, as he sat there beside her calmly contemplating the sufficiently appalling manifestations of that night— manifestations that would otherwise have driven her wild with terror—she was conscious of feeling hardly any fear.And what of Eustace himself? Lucky, indeed, that his judgment was strong, his brain habitually clear and unclouded. For at that moment his mind could only be compared to the seething, misty rush of a whirlpool. He could see her face in the starlight—even the lustrous glow of the great eyes—could mark the clear outline or the delicate profile turned half away from him. He was alone with her in the sweet, soft African night—alone with her—her sole protector, amid the brooding peril that threatened. A silence had fallen between them. His love—his concealed and hopeless love for her overcame him. He could not command words—not even voice, for the molten, raging fires of passion which consumed him as he sat there. His hand clenched the arm of his cane chair—a jagged nail, which protruded, lacerating it nearly to the bone—still he felt nothing of physical pain—mind triumphed.Yes, the anguish of his mind was so intense as to be akin to physical pain. Why could they not be thus together always? They could, but for one life. One life only, between him and such bliss that the whole worldshould be a bright and golden paradise! One life! A legion of fiends seemed to wrestle within the man’s raging soul. “One life!” they echoed in jibbering, gnashing chorus. “One life!” they seemed to shriek aloud in his brain. “What more easily snapped than the cord of a life?”The tumultuous thunder of the fierce war-dance sounded louder and louder upon the night—the glare of the distant fires reddened, and then glowed forth afresh. What if Tom Carhayes had come upon the spoor of his missing sheep—and in his blind rage had followed it right into Nteya’s location? Might he not as well walk straight into a den of lions? The savage Gaikas, wound up to the highest pitch of bloodthirsty excitement, would at such a time be hardly less dangerous than so many beasts of prey. Even at that very moment the cord of that one life might be snapped.Suddenly a great tongue of flame shot up into the night, then another and another. From a hilltop the red and threatening beacons flashed forth their message of hate and defiance. The distant tumult of the savage orgy had ceased. A weird and brooding silence lay upon the surrounding country.“Oh, what does it mean? What does it all mean?” cried Eanswyth starting up from her chair. Her face was white with fear—her dilated eyes, gazing forth upon the gushing fires, were wild and horror-stricken. Eustace, standing there at her side, could hardly restrain himself from throwing his arms around her and pouring out a passionate storm of comforting, loving words. Yet she belonged to another man—was bound to him until death should them part. But what if death had already parted them? What if she were so bound no longer? he thought with a fierce, wild yearning that had in it something of the murderer’s fell purpose, as he strained his gaze upon the wild signals of savage hostility.“Don’t be frightened, Eanswyth,” he said reassuringly, but in a voice from which even he could not banish every trace of emotion. “You shall come to no harm to-night, dear, take my word for it. To-morrow, though, we must take you to some safer place than this is likely to prove for the next few days.”

China plays an important role in the BRICS cooperation mechanism (International Forum)

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 inseizing 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 he

China plays an important role in the BRICS cooperation mechanism (International Forum)

sat 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

China plays an important role in the BRICS cooperation mechanism (International Forum)

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 fallen

from 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.“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, foreven the latter won’t always open his Billingsgate upon you until he has fairly assimilated the gin with which your ill-judged dole ‘to save him from starving’ has warmed his gullet. But this brute would willingly kick you into smithereens, while you were in the very act of feeding him.”Eanswyth laughed.“What strange ideas you have got, Eustace. Now I wonder to how many people any such notion as that would have occurred.”“Have I? I am often told so, so I suppose I must have. But the grand majority of people never think themselves, consequently when they happen upon anybody who does they gaze upon him with unmitigated astonishment as a strange and startling product of some unknown state of existence.”“Thank you,” retorted Eanswyth with a laugh. “That’s a little hard on me. As I made the remark, of course I am included in the grand majority which doesn’t think.”“I have a very great mind to treat that observation with the silence it deserves. It is a ridiculous observation. Isn’t it?”“Perhaps it is,” she acquiesced softly, in a tone that was half a sigh, not so much on account of the actual burden of the conversation, as an involuntary outburst of the dangerous, because too tender, undercurrent of her thoughts. And of those two walking there side by side in the radiant sunshine—outwardly so tranquilly, so peacefully, inwardly so blissfully—it was hard to say which was the most fully alive to the peril of the situation. Each was conscious of the mass of molten fires raging within the thin eggshell crust; each was rigidly on guard; the one with the feminine instinct of self-preservation superadded to the sense of rectitude of a strong character; the other striving to rely upon the necessity of caution and patience enjoined by a far-seeing and habitually self-contained nature. So far, both forces were evenly matched—so far both could play into each other’s hands, for mutual aid, mutual support against each other. Had there been aught of selfishness—of the mere unholy desire of possession—in this man’s love, things would have been otherwise. His

cool brain and consummate judgment would have given him immeasurably the advantage—in fact, the key of the whole situation. But it was not so. As we have said, that love was chivalrously pure—even noble—would have been rather elevating but for the circumstance that its indulgence meant the discounting of another man’s life.Thus they walked, side by side, in the soft and sensuous sunshine. A shimmer of heat rose from the ground. Far away over the rolling plains a few cattle and horses, dotted here and there grazing, constituted the only sign of life, and the range of wooded hills against the sky line loomed purple and misty in the golden summer haze. If ever a land seemed to enjoy the blessings of peace assuredly it was this fair land here spread out around them.They had reached another of the ostrich camps, wherein were domiciled some eight or ten pairs of eighteen-month-old birds, which not having yet learned the extent of their power, were as tame and docile as the four-year-old male was savage and combative. Eustace had scattered the contents of his colander among them, and now the two were leaning over the gate, listlessly watching the birds feed.“Talking of people never thinking,” continued Eustace, “I don’t so much wonder at that. They haven’t time, I suppose, and so lose the faculty. They have enough to do to steer ahead in their own narrow little groves. But what does astonish me is that if you state an obvious fact— so obvious as to amount to a platitude—it seems to burst upon them as a kind of wild surprise, as a kind of practical joke on wheels, ready to start away down-hill and drag them with it to utter crash unless they edge away from it as far as possible. You see them turn and stare at each other, and open an amazed and gaping mouth into which you might insert a pumpkin without them being in the least aware of it.”“As for instance?” queried Eanswyth, with a smile.“Well—as for instance. I wonder what the effect would be upon an ordinary dozen of sane people were I suddenly to propound the perfectly obvious truism that life is full of surprises. I don’t wonder, at least, for I ought to know by this time. They would start by scouting the idea; ten toone they would deny the premise, and retort that life was just what we chose to make it; which is a fallacy, in that it assumes that any one atom in the human scheme is absolutely independent—firstly, of the rest of the crowd; secondly, of circumstances—in fact, is competent to boss the former and direct the latter. Which, in the words of the immortal Euclid, is absurd.”“Yet if any man is thus competent, it is yourself, Eustace.”“No,” he said, shaking his head meditatively. “You are mistaken. I am certainly not independent of the action of anyone who may elect to do me a good or an ill turn. He, she, or it, has me at a disadvantage all round, for I possess the gift of foresight in a degree so limited as to be practically nil. As for circumstances—so far from pretending to direct them I am the mere creature of them. So are we all.”“What has started you upon this train of thought?” she asked suddenly.“Several things. But I’ll give you an instance of what I was saying just now. This morning I was surprised and surrounded by a gang of Kafirs, all armed to the teeth. Nearly all of them were on the very verge of shying their assegais bang through me, and if Ncanduku—you know him— Nteya’s brother—hadn’t appeared on the scene just in the very nick of time, I should have been a dead man. As it was, we sat down, had an indaba and a friendly smoke, and parted on the best of terms. Now, wasn’t I helplessly, abjectly, the creature of circumstances—first in being molested at all—second in Ncandúku’s lucky arrival?”“Eustace! And you never told me this!”“I told Tom—just as he was starting—and he laughed. He didn’t seem to think much of it. To tell the truth, neither did I. Why—what’s the matter, Eanswyth?”Her face was deathly white. Her eyes, wide open, were dilated with horror; then they filled with tears. The next moment she was sobbing wildly—locked in his close embrace.


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