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MARIE.

;V BY H. RIDER HAGGARD.

ÜBLISHED BT. SPECIAL AEKASGEMEST.

'AN EPISODE IN THE LIFE OF THE • LATE ALLAN QUARTERMAIN.

COPTBIGHT. . "J CHAPTER " Vll.—(Continued.) f . While the Jew talked (I think he was j, a Jew) I was opening the sail-cloth, h Within was a piece of linen which had been «, foiled to keep out water, addressed in some o red pigment to myself or my father. This, b too, 1 opened, not without difficulty, for e it was carefully sewn up, and found within b it a letter-packet, also addressed to myseli - tor my lather, in the. hand-writing of Mane. r ' Great heaven! How my heart jumped at , >&4 sight! Galling to Hans to make the feiuous comfortable and give him food, i » went into my own room, and there read & the letter, which ran thus: , 1; •'Alt dkar Axxax,—l do not know whether the other letters 1 have written to t Ivou have ever come to your hands, or t indeed if this one will. Still, I send it on r, chance by a wandering Portuguese hah- J Wed who is going to Delagoa Hay, about . fcO miles, I believe, from the place where g 1 now write, near the Crocodile River. Sly father has named it r M«urf<*tj». 8 ►after our old home. If. those letters y ■ cached you. you will have learned of the t [terrible things we went through on our 1; .journey; the attacks by the Kaffirs in the Zoutpinsberg. region, who destroyed one , of our parties-altogether, and so forth. , 3f not, all that- story must wait, for it is j 100 lons to tell now, and, indeed, 1 have l but, little paper, and not much pencil, IV j. '•will be enough to say, therefore, that to g he number of 55 white people, men, wo- x xnen, and children, we trekked at the be- : "inning of the summer season, when the :'.«rass was commencing to grow, from the 3 Lvdenburs district— awful journey over , mountains and , through flooded rivers. . After manv delavs, some of them months j) long, we reached tins place, about eight s veeks ago, for I write to you at the begin- j. King of June, if wc have kept correct ac- -j count of the time, of which I am not cerJain. _ ,'• "It is a beautiful place to look at, a flat c country of rich veld, with big trees grow- { ing on* it, and about two miles from the } ••teat river that is called the Crocodile. { : Here, rinding good water, my father and « liernan Pereira, who now rules him.in all ( things, determined to settle, although some t of the others wished to push on nearer to ~ Delagoa Bay. Them was a great quar- , lei about it, but in the end my father, or { rather Hernan, had his will, as the oxen , > ere worn out and many had already died 1 from the bites of a poisonous fly which is \ vailed the tsetse. So we lotted < out the ] land; of which, there is enough for hun- ; dreds, and began to build rude houses. ] "Then trouble, came upon us. The Kaffirs stole most of our horses, although , they had not dared to i attack us, ; and ex- ■<•'■ cept two belonging {to Hernan the 1 rest <;■* died of the sickness., the last of them but ; yesterday.• The l oxen, too, have all died \ of the tsetse bites or other illnesses. But ; the worst is that • although; this country looks so healthy,! it is poisoned ; with fever, • which comes up, I think, in the mists from the 5 river. Already out of the thirty-five of us ten are dead, two men, three women, and five children, while more are sick. Asyet my ? father and I and my cousin Pereira ; have, by God's mercy, kept ■ quite well; but although we are all very strong, how long this wilt continue I can- : v-Jnot-- tell. Fortunately Iwe ? have plenty of Ammunition and the place ': is thick with - - jjame, so that* those of -the men who remain strong can- kill all the food- we want, even ; shooting -On-ifoot,^ and we women have , made a- great quantity of bihong by salting flesh and drying it in the sun. So we : ,-shall not actually starve for a -long time, even if the game goes away. v - • ;; : "But, dear Allan, • unless help comes 4 to us I think that we shall die every one, :.""■; for God alone knows the miseries that we , suffer and > the horrible sights of sickness and death' that are around us. At this "■ moment 'there lies by me a little" girl who - T is dying of fever. " " Oh, Allan, if-you ? can help us, do so !■■ Because of our sick it is impossible for us to get to Delagoa * Bay, and i. if we j did ,y we have no money to jbuy anything there, '. for all that we bad with us was lost in ..•a waggon in a, flooded river. It was a _ ■ great sum,.for it included Hernan's rich fortune which he brought from the Cape ,with him in gold. Nor can we move any- . where ; else,'.•;• for we r have ;, no cattle or horses. ; We"-have sent to Delagoa Bay, •where we hear these are to be had, to try j.to buy - them on 'i credit: but my. cousui Heman's-"relations, of ' whom he used' to. v- talk so much> are dead or gone away, and - •no y : one K will trust, us. With the ' neigh-f-y bouring Kaffirs, S too," who have plenty of ■ ■cattle, we have '■ quarrelled \ since,; unfortunately, my cousin and some of the other . ; , /Boers tried :to take certain beasts of theirs j • ;without- payment. So we are 'quite help- [ less, and can only wait for death. ' "Allan, my father says that he asked sour father i to, collect some moneys that / fvere owing !to him. If It were : possible or . you :or other friends to come to Beiagoa in a ship jTrith,. that morey/ I think i that it might serve to buy -some o-eu, . enough for a few 7\-;ggor .."-Then perhaps .. t we might trek ,back ar.rj fall in with a ; ,party -of Boers •" who, we ' believe, have :, crossed J the - Quathlamba - mountains into ! Natal. :Or perhaps■; we might get, to the j bay and find a ship to -. take vis .anywhere • "from- this : horrible \ place. -If you could 5 : -:. come, -;, the natives > would girds ; you to vhere we are. .

: "But it is too much to hope, that you 1 iwitt come, or that if you do' coma *yr»r.-. ? ; will find as still alive. ■,■ ,'..,'* y ! -'■!' • "Allan, my Nearest, 1 cs;e mo?& i thing to say, though:X must, say it shortly, 3 , for the paper is noai'lj', fipvhed. [ i ao iir>t , know, supposing that 5* und ' well,, whether you still o*re for inc.;'- v 'ho left you so long ago— : ' : 7.flt»eis?;ye : .«« -ad , Wears— my heart is vhera it was, ta _ fvhere I promised it t*oold remain, iii ». four- keeping. Of course, ; Hernan has Pressed me to marry him, and my {father lias wished it. But I have always said no, and now, in our'wretchedness, there ;is no more talk of marriage :at present, i which is the one good thing that lias.' haplpened to me.. And, Allan, before so very 'long I shall be of age, if Hive". 1 dare say v you no longer think of marriage with me, ;...'' who, perhaps, are already married to some- . one else, especially as "now I and all of us are no better than wandering beggars. Yet I have thought. it right to tell you : ,these things, which you may like to" know. ;"-:" Oh, why did God ever put it into my ■ ■"''* father's heart to leave the Cape Colony * : just 4 because he hated the British Government and Hernan Pereira and others persuaded him? I know not, but, poor man j hd is sorry, enough now. It is pitiful :l>> 1 *?ee him; 'at times' I think that he is £oing -mad. '_-■*-' *- " The paper is done, and the messenger is going; also the sick child is dying and I must attend to her. "Will this letter ever come to your hands, I wonder? I am sending with it the little money I have to pay for its delivery—about four ; pounds English. If not, there is an end. If it does, and you cannot come or send ' others, at least pray for us. I dream of you by night and think of you by day, lor how much I love yon I cannot tell. "In life or death lam " Your Marie.*' Such was this awful letter. I still have it: it lies before me. those ragged sheets if paper covered with faint pencil writing that is blotted here and there with ear marks, some of them the tears of • JMarie wrote, some of them the tears fcf.me who read. I wonder if there exists 4, more piteous memorial of the terrible ' jufferings of the trek-Boers, and especially >f such of them as forced their way into She poisonous veldt around Delagoa, as lid this" Marais expedition and those under he .command. of : Triechard. Better, like : Jnany of their people, to have perished at '•• fence" by the spears 0* Umzilikazi and Hher savages ; than to endure these lin- ':-'■'■'■ gering tortures of fever and starvation. As I finished reading this fetter my father, : who ,'"'. had ~ been \ out visiting some pf bis mission Kaffirs, entered the house, and I went into the. sittingroom to. meet x-V ■ turn.* r.; \- .- • •'>:.'a-v;n;* w^ri;::^^,'-'■■■'■■ s ; -V---.''•.',• ■:' :: ■-■-;:■.. ■;?■: :: '■■■.-,■■.■;: ;< .■ ■/:'-■

r '"WhyT'Alian, what is the matter wivo you?" he \ asked/ noting "my tear-stained *!*"gave him the letter, for I could not speak, and with difficulty he deciphered

" Merciful God, what dreadful news . he said when he had finished. .' 1 hose poor people! those poor, misguided people. What can be done for them?- ." I know one tiling that can be done, father, or at any rate can bd attempted. 1 can try to reach them." .„ "Are you mad?" he asked. How is it possible for you, one man, to get to Delagoa Bar, buy cattle, and rescue these folk." who probably are now all dead. "The first two things ate possible enough, father. Some ship will take me to the bay. You have Marais's money, and 1 have that five hundred pounds which my old aunt in England left me last year. Thank heaven '.owing to my absence itoin commando, it still lies untouched in the bank 'at Port Elizabeth. This is about eight hundred pounds in all, whica would buy a great many cattle and other things. As for the third', it is not in our hands, is it? It may be that they cannot be rescued, it may be that they arc dead. I can onlv go to see." , "But. Allan, Allan, you are my only son, and if you go it it probable that 1 shall never see you more." "I have been through some dangers latelv. father, and am still alive and well. Moreover, if Marie is dead''--I Paused, then went on passionately—;' Do fivt tr> to stop me, for I tell you, father, will not be stopped. Think of the words in that letter and what a shameless.hound 1 should be if 1 sat here quiet while Mario is dying yonder. Would yon ■ have done so if Marie had been ray mother. ( " No," answered the old gentleman, i should not. Go, and God be. withi you. Allan and me also, for I never expect to see you again." And be turned Ins head aside for a while. Then we went into matters. The smous was summoned and asked about, the ship which brought the letter It seemed that she was ™ Enghsh-o*nea

W Twen^fu^oursrAndPort.pabeUr was oile hundred and eighteen: mdes away, and the Seven Stars might leave earlier if he had completed net ' <?**„ and wind and «^W£*KK&ta were no mail 'watch. It tvas four o'cloX the afternoon, ,nd from a lour oYloek in the afternoon, and hom a eaten da we had which gave the tides at Port Elizabeth and other South Ato^ hours, it did not seem *<$***** gj Seven Stars world sail, if she kept toner date before about eight on the morrow One hundred and twenty miles to be horned in, »y, fourteen b*» W™g country with some lulls Well, on ti»e other hand, the roads were *>**.*»* a ™ drv, with no flooded rivers to cross, ah though there might be one to swim, and & was a full moon. It could be donebarelv, and now 1 was glad indeed that Hernan Pereira had not won my swift mare in that shooting match. s , . 1 called to Hans, who was loafing about outside, and said quietly _ " I ride to Port Elizabeth, and must be there by eight o'clock .to-morrow mom-

-'"AUemaclite!" exclaimed Hans, who t lad been that road several times. € "You will go with me, and from Port v Elizabeth on to Delagoa Bay. Saddle the e mare and roan horse, and put a headstall c m the chestnut to lead with you as a c spare. Give them all a feed, but no water, a SVe start in half an hour." Then I added c certain directions as to the guns we would t take. saddle-bags, clothes, blankets, i and c ather details, and bade him start about the a business.'-.://'- ' _ , ~ ... * Hans never hesitated. He had been. with r me through my recent campaign, and was I accustomed to sudden orders. Moreover, J I think that if I had told him 1 was riding ] to the moon, beyond his customary excla- < mation of '* Alleraachte!" he would have « made no " f objection to accompanying me ' thither. * , . ' -'■ ' .'-'•■■'■ ' ■ '.'' The next half-hour was a busy time for me. Henri Jlarais's money had to . be. got out of the strong box and arranged in a belt of buck's hide that I had strapped ] about me. A letter had to be written by j mv; father to the manager of the iort . Elizabeth bank, identifying me as the , owner of the sum lodged there in my name. , \ meal must be eaten and some food prepared for us to carry. -The horses' shoes j, had to be seen to, and a few clothes packed . in the saddle-bags. Also there were other things which I have" forgotten. let within five-and-thii-tv minutes the long, lean mare , stood before the door. 'Behind her, with a tall crane's feather in his hat, was Hans, mounted on the roan stallion, and leading the chestnut, a four-year-old which I had bought as a foal ■on the mart as part of the bargain. Having been coin fed from a colt it was a very sound and well-grown horse, though not the equal of its mother inspeed. ':■-' i "■"' ': ,- , . In the passage my poor old father, who was quite bewildered by the rapidity and urgent nature of this business, embraced me. i ' : .■■ '..■ , „ , ■- , "God bless vou, my dear boy, he said. "I have had little time to think; but 1 prav that this may be all for the best, and that we may meet again in the world. But if not, remember what I have- taught you, J and if 1 survive yon, for my part J. shall remember that you died trying to do your duty. Oh, what trouble ha* the bbnd madness: of ' HtarV SM. ■: bought upon us all! Well' I'w" 1 ' ■<* "-''in '" iat it would be so. Good-bye,*V«i, >fr» boy, y good-bye; my prayers will follow you, and for the rest— i Well I am old, and what docs it matter if my grey, hails come with sc-now to the ■grave?""- . ■-■ ■ . . ■'*• -.'s , . ■■ I kissed him bacK, and *\*h an aching heart sprang into the saddle. In five more minutes the,station was out of sight.,.; ' Thirteen and a-half hours later I pulled i,ft , v r-n.' <bvs quay of s Bid* lsj?.fh*i lit. ;ust, ',- 'vj? •:' in time to .<a»"--?li Gapi-aus, hioharaL •'*»?. *.e «a& enterißt-i his boat to. »'m out' to? ii V ivevfcn Stars, ' oPiw!'u'-,i' tie ,■ . ,*i • •ras'tWas fcrtjidy being fcwtttjt ah mi as I -*!.d in id? 'Aihausted state, I explained nttwttars and persuaded, him to wait till »he next tir* ~ Then, thanking God for ~M mare's we<! r!&9 roan had been left foundered .tferfrV miles , away, and Hans was following «'i> the chestnut, but- not yet up —I dragged the poor.be-.st tc. in inn at hand. There eho lay dc nd di>:l. Well, she had done her wort - ■ <rt j;. re was no other horse in the com. ' ;. .-ittfc could have caught that boat. An hour or so late? Hans came- m flogging the chestnut, and here I may add that both, it and the roan • recovered. Indeed, I rode them for many years; until they were quite, old. When 1 had eaten, or "tried to eat something and rested awhile, I went to, the bank, succeeded in explaining the state of. the case to the manager, and alter some difficulty, for gold was not very plentiful in Port. Elizabeth; procured three hundred pounds in (sovereigns. For the other two he gave. me ! a bill upon some agent in Delagoa, Bay", together with a letter of recommendation to him and the Portuguese governor, who, it appealed, was in debt to their establishment. By an afterthought, however, al- . though I "kept the letters, I returned him the bill and spent the £200 in purchasing a great variety of goods which I will not enumerate, that I knew would be useful for trading .purposes among the east coast Kaffirs. Indeed, I practically cleared out the Port Elizabeth stores, and barely had time, with the help of Hans and the storekeepers, to pack and ship the goods before the Seven Stars put out to sea. , Within-twenty-four hours from the time I; had left the Mission station, Hans and I saw behind us Port Elizabeth fading into the distance, and in front a waste of stormy waters. * (To be continued daily.)

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/NZH19111019.2.6

Bibliographic details

MARIE., New Zealand Herald, Volume XLVIII, Issue 14815, 19 October 1911

Word Count
2,982

MARIE. New Zealand Herald, Volume XLVIII, Issue 14815, 19 October 1911

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