Nelson Mandela's Prison Door to Auction This Week

发表于 2023-09-23 01:25:57 来源:Return to basics and return to true nature

not actually so, which meant that the civil law still held sway and would certainly claim its vindication to the full.For a moment or two the opposing parties stand confronting each other. The white man, seated on his horse, grips the breech of his gun convulsively, and the veins stand out in cords upon his flushed face as he realises his utter powerlessness. The Kafirs, their naked, muscular frames repulsive with red ochre, stand motionless, their savage countenances wreathed in a sneer of hate and defiance. There are scarcely ten yards between them.The train is laid. It only needs the application of a spark to cause a magnificent flare-up. That spark is applied by the tall barbarian who has first spoken.“Au umlúngu!” he cries in his great, sneering tones. “Go away. We have talked enough with you. Am I not Hlangani, a man of the House of Sarili, the Great Chief, and is not the white dog mine? Go away. Suka!” (“Get out.” Usually only employed toward a dog.)Now whether through pure accident—in other words, the “sheer cussedness” of Fate—or whether it imagines that its master’s last word was a command to itself, the white dog at this juncture gets up, and leaving the protecting shadow of its master begins to slink away over the veldt. This and the swaggering insolence of the Kafir is too much for Carhayes. Up goes his piece: there is a flash and a report. The wretched hound sinks in his tracks without even a yelp, and lies feebly kicking his life away, with the blood welling from a great circular wound behind the shoulder. The poor beast has run down his last buck.(Commonly known as Kreli—the paramount chief of all the Xosa tribes.)The train is fired. Like the crouching leopard crawling nearer for a surer spring the great Kafir, with a sudden glide, advances to the horse’s head, and makes a quick clutch at the bridle. Had he succeeded in seizing it, a rapidly followed up blow from the deadly kerrie would have stretched the rider senseless, if not dead, upon the veldt. But the latter is

his 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.”“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.

Nelson Mandela's Prison Door to Auction This Week

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. Hiscool 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 to

Nelson Mandela's Prison Door to Auction This Week

one 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.“Eanswyth, darling—my darling. What is it? Do not give way so! There is nothing to be alarmed about now—nothing.”His tones had sunk to a murmur of thrilling tenderness. He was showering kisses upon her lips, her brow, her eyes—upon stray tresses of soft hair which escaped beneath her hat. What had become of their attitude of guarded self-control now? Broken down, swept away at one stroke as the swollen mountain stream sweeps away the frail barricade of timber and stones which thought to dam its course—broken down before the passionate outburst of a strong nature awakened to the knowledge of itself—startled into life by the magic touch, by the full force and fury of a consciousness of real love.“You are right,” she said at last. “We must go away from here. I cannot bear that you should be exposed to such frightful peril. O Eustace! Why did we ever meet!”Why, indeed! he thought. And the fierce, wild thrill of exultation which fan through him at the consciousness that her love was his—that for good or for ill she belonged to him—belonged to him absolutely—was dashed by the thought: How was it going to end? His clear-sighted, disciplined nature could not altogether get rid of that consideration. But clear-sighted, disciplined as it was, he could not forego that which constituted the whole joy and sweetness of living. “Sufficient for the day” must be his motto. Let the morrow take care of itself.“Why did we ever meet?” he echoed. “Ah, does not that precisely exemplify what I was saying just now? Life is full of surprises. Surprise Number 1, when I first found you here at all. Number 2, when I awoke to the fact that you were stealing away my very self. And I soon did awake to that consciousness.”“You did?”“I did. And I have been battling hard against it—against myself— against you—and your insidiously enthralling influence ever since.”His tone had become indescribably sweet and winning. If the power

Nelson Mandela's Prison Door to Auction This Week

of the man invariably made itself felt by all with whom he was brought into contact in the affairs of everyday life, how much more was it manifested now as he poured the revelation of his long pent-up love—the love of a strong, self-contained nature which had broken bounds at last— into the ears of this woman whom he had subjugated—yes, subjugated, utterly, completely.And what of her?It was as though all heaven had opened before her eyes. She stood there tightly clasped in that embrace, drinking in the entrancing tenderness of those tones—hungrily devouring the straight glance of those magnetic eyes, glowing into hers. She had yielded—utterly, completely, for she was not one to do things by halves. Ah, the rapture of it!But every medal has its obverse side. Like the stab of a sword it came home to Eanswyth. This wonderful, enthralling, beautiful love which had thrown a mystic glamour as of a radiant Paradise upon her life, had come just a trifle too late.“O Eustace,” she cried, tearing herself away from him, and yet keeping his hands clenched tightly in hers as though she would hold him at arm’s length but could not. “O Eustace! my darling! How is it going to end? How?”The very thought which had passed unspoken through his own mind.“Dearest, think only of the present. For the future—who knows! Did we not agree just now—life is full of surprises?”“Au!”Both started. Eanswyth could not repress a little scream, while even Eustace realised that he was taken at a disadvantage, as he turned to confront the owner of the deep bass voice which had fired off the above ejaculation.

It proceeded from a tall, athletic Kafir, who, barely ten yards off, stood calmly surveying the pair. His grim and massive countenance was wreathed into an amused smile. His nearly naked body was anointed with the usual red ochre, and round the upper part of his left arm he wore a splendid ivory ring. He carried a heavy knob-kerrie and several assegais, one of which he was twisting about in easy, listless fashion in his right hand.At sight of this extremely unwelcome, not to say formidable, apparition, Eustace’s hand instinctively and with a quick movement sought the back of his hip—a movement which a Western man would thoroughly have understood. But he withdrew it—empty. For his eye, familiar with every change of the native countenance, noted that the expression of this man’s face was good-humoured rather than aggressive. And withal it seemed partly familiar to him.“Who are you—and what do you want?” he said shortly. Then as his glance fell upon a bandage wrapped round the barbarian’s shoulder: “Ah. I know you—Hlangani.”“Keep your ‘little gun’ in your pocket, Ixeshane,” said the Kafir, speaking in a tone of good-humoured banter. “I am not the man to be shot at twice. Besides, I am not your enemy. If I were, I could have killed you many times over already, before you saw me; could have killed you both, you and the Inkosikazi.”This was self-evident. Eustace, recognising it, felt rather small. He to be taken thus at a disadvantage, he, who had constituted himself Eanswyth’s special protector against this very man! Yes. He felt decidedly small, but he was not going to show it.“You speak the truth, Hlangani,” he answered calmly. “You are not my enemy. No man of the race of Xosa is. But why do you come here? There is bad blood between you and the owner of this place. Surely the land is wide enough for both. Why should your pathways cross?”“Ha! You say truly, Ixeshane. There is blood between me and the man of whom you speak. Blood—the blood of a chief of the House ofnever did see such an utterly dismal and God-forsaken corner in my life. Looks as if Old Nick had built it out of sheer devilment.”There was reason in what he said. The immense funnel-like hole seemed an extraordinary caprice of Nature. Nothing grew at the bottom but coarse herbage and a few stunted bushes. It seemed absolutely lacking in raison d’être. Occurring at the top of a mountain, it would at once have suggested an ancient crater. Occurring, as it did, in solid ground on the steep slope of a lofty river bank that theory seemed not to hold good. On all sides, save the narrow defile they had come through, it was shut in by lofty wooded heights breaking here and there into a red iron-stone cliff.Their guide resumed his way, advancing in a listening attitude, and with intense caution. The ledge upon which they crept, now on all-fours, widened considerably. The projecting rock overhead jutted out further and further, till it overhung the abyss for a considerable distance. Beneath its shade they were already in semi-gloom. Crawling along, toilsomely, laboriously, one behind the other, each man with all his senses, all his faculties, on the alert, the fact that their guide had stopped came upon them as a surprise. Then, as they joined him, and crouched there side by side—each man’s heart beat quicker, each man’s face slightly changed colour. For the overhanging rock had heightened—the ledge had widened to an area of fifteen or twenty feet. Flooring and rock-roof no longer met. At the bottom of this area, both yawned away from each other in a black horizontal rift.Save through this rift there was no getting any further. Quickly each mind grasped the solution. The cave yawning in front of them was—“Where does that hole lead to, Josane?” said Hoste.“Kwa ’zinyoka,” replied the Gcaléka, impressively.Such creatures are we of the light and air, that it is safe to assert that not even the boldest among us can undertake the most cursory exploration into the bowels of the earth without a consciousness of ever so slight a sobering influence, a kind of misgiving begotten of the idea of

darkness and weight—a feeling as though the cavern roof might crush down upon us, and bury us there throughout the aeons of eternity. It is not surprising, therefore, that our three friends—all men of tried courage —should sit down for a few minutes, and contemplate this yawning black hole in dubious silence.It was no reflection on their courage, either. They had just dared and surmounted a peril trying and frightful enough to tax the strongest nerves —and now before them lay the entrance to an unknown inferno; a place bristling with grim and mysterious terrors such as even their stout-hearted guide—the only man who knew what they were—recoiled from braving again. They could hardly believe that the friend and fellow-countrymen, whom all these months they had reckoned among the slain, lay near them within that fearful place, alive, and perchance unharmed. It might be, however, that the cavern before them was but a tunnel, leading to some hidden and inaccessible retreat like the curious crater-like hollow they had just skirted.“Au!” exclaimed Josane, with a dissatisfied shake of the head. “We cannot afford to sleep here. If we intend to go in we must do so at once.”There was reason in this. Their preparations were simple enough— and consisted in seeing that their weapons were in perfect readiness. Eustace, too, had lighted a strong bull’s-eye lantern with a closing slide. Besides this, each man was plentifully supplied with candles, which, however, it was decided, should only be used if a quantity of light became absolutely necessary.Be it remembered not one of the three white men had other than the vaguest idea of the nature of the horrors which this gruesome place might disclose. Whether through motives of superstition or from whatever cause, Josane had hitherto preserved a remarkable silence on the subject. Now he said, significantly:“Hear my words, Amakosi. Tread one behind the other, and look neither to the right nor to the left, nor above. But look where you place your steps, and look carefully. Remember my words, for I know that of which I speak.”They compared their watches. It was just half-past one. They sent a last long look at the sky and the surrounding heights. As they did so there rolled forth upon the heavy air a long, low boom of distant thunder. Then they fell into their places and entered the cavern, the same unspoken thought in each man’s mind—Would they ever behold the fair light of day again?And the distant, muttering thunder peal, hoarse, heavy, sullen, breaking upon the sultry air, at the moment when they left the outer world, struck them as an omen—the menacing voice of outraged Nature booming the knell of those who had the temerity to seek to penetrate her innermost mysteries.

Chapter Forty Four.Inferno.For the first forty yards the roof of the cave was so low that they had to advance in a stooping posture. Then it heightened and the tunnel widened out simultaneously. Eustace led the way, his bull’s-eye lantern strapped around him, throwing a wide disk of yellow light in front. Behind him, but keeping a hand on his shoulder in order to guide him, walked Josane; the other two following in single file.A turn of the way had shut out the light from the entrance. Eustace closing the slide of the lantern for a moment, they were in black, pitchy darkness.A perceptible current of air blew into the cavern. That looked as if there should be an outlet somewhere. Old Josane, while enjoining silence upon the rest of the party, had, from the moment they had entered, struck up a low, weird, crooning song, which sounded like an incantation. Soon a glimmer of light showed just in front.“That is the other way in,” muttered old Josane. “That is the way I came in. The other is the way I came out. Hau!”An opening now became apparent—a steep, rock shaft, reaching away into the outer air. It seemed to take one or more turnings in its upward passage, for the sky was not visible, and the light only travelled down in a dim, chastened glimmer as though it was intercepted in its course. An examination of this extraordinary feature revealed the fact that it was a kind of natural staircase.“This is the way I came in. Ha!” muttered Josane again, with a glare of resentment in his eyes as though recalling to mind some particularly ignominious treatment—as he narrowly scrutinised the slippery, rocky sides of the shaft.“I suppose it’ll be the best way for us to get out,” said Hoste.“Anything rather than that devil of a scramble again.”“The time to talk of getting out is not yet,” rejoined the Kafir drily. “We are not in yet.”They resumed their way. As they penetrated deeper, the cavern suddenly slanted abruptly upwards. This continued for some twenty or thirty yards, when again the floor became level, though ever with a slight upward bend. Great slabs of rock projected from the sides, but the width of the tunnel varied little, ranging between six and ten yards. The same held good of its height.As they advanced they noticed that the current of air was no longer felt. An extraordinary foetid and overpowering atmosphere had taken its place. Similarly the floor and sides of the cavern, which before they reached the outlet had been moist and humid, now became dry and firm.“Hand us your flask, Shelton,” said Hoste. “Upon my soul I feel as if I was going to faint. Faugh!”The odour was becoming more and more sickening with every step. Musky, rank, acreous—it might almost be felt. Each man required a pull at something invigorating, if only to neutralise the inhalation of so pestilential an atmosphere. Smoking was suggested, but this Josane firmly tabooed.“It cannot be,” he said. “It would be madness. Remember my words,Amakosi. Look neither to the right nor to the left—only straight in front of you, where you set down your steps.”Then he resumed his strange wild chant, now sinking it to an awe-struck whisper hardly above his breath. It was a weird, uncanny sight, those four shadowy figures advancing through the thick black darkness, the fiery eye of the lantern darting forth its luminous column in front, while the deep-toned, long-drawn notes of the wild, heathenish rune died away in whispering echoes overhead.“Oh! good Lord! Look at that!”


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