Story of an African Farm | Olive Schreiner | Action & Adventure Fiction, General Fiction | 3/6 2019

chapter one part 13 of the story of an African farm by olive Shriner this LibriVox recording is in the public domain read by Sally McConnell in Betty's Bay South Africa in March 2010 he makes love yes said touch sunny to her Hottentot maid I have been in this house for years and never been up in the loft flat there are women and I go up ladder and I will go up today and see what it is like and put it to lights up there you bring the little letter and stand at the bottom these one would be sorry if you were to fall said the Hottentot maid leering at Bonaparte's pact that lay on the table hold your tongue Jade said her mistress trying to conceal a pleased smile and boo and fetch the letter there was a never-used trapdoor at one end of the sitting room this the Hottentot maid pushed open and setting the letter against it the Boer woman with some danger and difficulty climbed into the loft then the Hottentot maid took the letter away as her husband was mending the wagon house and needed it but the trap door was left open for a little while tain't Sonny poked about among the empty bottles and skins and looked at the bag of peaches that Walder was supposed to have liked so then she sat down near the trapdoor beside a barrel of salt mutton she found that the pieces of meat were much too large and took out her clasped knife to divide them that was always the way when one left things to servants she grumbled to herself but when once she was married to her husband burn apart it would not matter whether a sheep spoiled or no when once his rich aunt with the dropsy was dead she smiled as she dived her hand into the pickle water at that instant her niece entered the room below closely followed by Bonaparte with his head on one side smiling more kishle had sunny spoken at that moment the life of Bern apart blinken's would have run a wholly different course as it was she remained silent and neither noticed the open truck door above their heads sit there my love said Bonaparte motioning Khurana to her aunt's elbow chair and drawing another close up in front of it in which he seated himself there put your feet upon the stove – your aunt has gone out somewhere long have I waited for this auspicious event Khurana who understood not one word of English sat down in the chair and wondered if this was one of the strange customs of other lands that an old gentleman may bring his chair up to yours and sit with his knees touching you she had been five days in burner pots company and feared the old man and disliked his nose how long have I desired this moment said Bonaparte but that age and relative of thine is always costing her unhallowed shadow upon us look into my eyes Khurana burn apart knew that she comprehended not a syllable but he understood that it was the eye that owned the action and not at all the rational word that touches the love chords he saw she changed color all night said Bonaparte I lie awake I see not but thy angelic countenance I opened my arms to receive they where after where though are not there said Bonaparte suiting the action to the words and spreading out his arms and drawing them to his breast oh please I don't understand said Tron I want to go away yes yes said Bonaparte leaning back in his chair to her great relief and pressing his hands on his heart since first their amethyst in countenance was impressed here what have I not suffered what have I not felt oh the pangs unspoken burning is an ardent coal in a fiery and uncontaminated bosom said burn apart bending forward again dear Lord said Khurana to herself how foolish I have been the old man has a pen in his stomach and now as my aunt is art he has come to me to help him she smiled convey at burn apart and pushing past him went to the bedroom quickly returning with a bottle of red drops in her hand they are very good for Bernadette my mother always drinks them she said holding the bottle out the face and the trapdoor was a fiery red like a tiger kept ready to spring hunt Sonny crouched with the shoulder of mutton in her hand exactly beneath her stood burn apart she rose and clasped with both arms the barrel of salt meat what Rose of the desert Nightingale of the colony that worth an amorous lay Wireless the lonesome Knight cried burn apart seizing the hand the hill of unlicensed mace struggle not fly as a stricken fawn into the arms that would embrace thee then hear a stream of cold pickled water heavy with ribs and shoulders descending on his head abruptly terminated his speech half blinded burn apart looked up through the drops that hung from his eyelids and saw the red face that looked down at him with one wild cry he fled as he passed out at the front door a shoulder of mutton well-directed struck the black coat in the small of the back bring the ladder we know mother I will go after him cried the ball woman as burn apart blinken's wildly fled into the fields late in the evening of the same day waldo knelt on the floor of his cabin he bathed the foot of his dog which had been pierced by a thorn the bruises on his own back had had five days to heal in and except a little stiffness in his movements there was nothing remarkable about the boy the troubles of the young are soon over they leave no external mark if you wound the tree in its youth the bark will quickly cover the gash but when the tree is very old peeling the bark off and looking carefully you will see the scar they're still all that is buried is not dead Waldo poured the warm milk over the little swollen foot the slave very quiet with tears in his eyes then there was a tap at the door in an instant dust looked wide-awake and winked the tears art from between his little lids come in said Waldo intent on his work and slowly and cautiously the door opened good evening Waldo my boy said burn apart lincoln's in a mild voice not venturing more than his nerves within the door how are you this evening dass growled and showed his little teeth and tried to rise but his paw hurt him so he whined I am very tired Waldo my boy said burn a pot plaintively dust showed his little white teeth again his master went on with his work without looking round there are some people at whose hands it is best not to look at last he said come in burn a pot stepped cautiously a little way into the room and lift the door open behind him he looked at the boys supper on the table Waldo I've had nothing to eat all day I'm very hungry he said eat said Waldo after a moment bending lower over his dog you won't go and tell her I'm here will you Waldo said burn apart most uneasily you've heard how she used me Waldo I have been badly treated you'll know yourself what it is some day when you can't carry on a little conversation with the lady without having salt meat and pickle water thrown at you well don't look at me do I look as a gentleman should but the boy neither looked up nor answered and burn apart grew more uneasy you wouldn't go and tell her I'm here would you said burn apart whiningly there's no knowing what she would do to me I have such a trust in You Waldo I've always thought you such a promising lad though you mayn't have known it welder eat said the boy I shall say nothing burn apart who knew the truth when another spoke it closed the door carefully put the button then he looked to see that the curtain of the window was closely pulled down and seated himself at the table he was soon munching the cold meat and bread Balder knelt on the floor bathing the foot with hands which the dog licked lovingly only once he glanced at the table and turned away quickly oh yes I don't wonder you can't look at me Waldo said burn apart my condition would touch any heart you see the water was fatty and that has made all the sand stick to me and my hair said burn a pot tenderly touching the little fringe at the back of his head it's all kicked over like a little plank you wouldn't think it was hair at all said burn apart plaintively I had to creep all along the stone walls for fear she'd see me and with nothing on my head but a red handkerchief tied under my chin Waldo and to hide in a sleuth the whole day with not a mouthful of food Waldo and she gave me such a blow just here said burn apart he had cleared the plate of the last morsel when Waldo rose and walked to the door Oh Waldo My dear boy you look in to call her said burn apart rising anxiously I'm going to sleep in the wagon said the boy opening the door oh we can both sleep in this bed this plenty of room do stay my boy please but Waldo stepped out it was such a little whip Waldo said burn apart following him deprecatingly I didn't think it would hurt you so much it was such a little whip I'm sure you didn't take the peaches you aren't going to call her Waldo are you but the boy walked off burn a pot waited till his figure had passed around the front of the wagon house and then slipped out he hid himself round the corner but kept peeping out to see who was coming he felt sure the boy was gone to cool tent sunny his teeth chattered with inward cold as he looked round into the darkness and thought of the snakes that might bite him and the dreadful things that might attack him and the did that might arise out of their graves if he slipped out in the field all night but more than an hour passed and no footstep approached then burn upon me his way back to the cabin he buttoned the door and put the table against it and giving the dog a kick to silence his whining when the foot throbbed he climbed into bed he did not put up the light for fear of the ghost but wore not with the sorrows of the day was soon asleep himself about four o'clock Walder lying between the seats of the horse wegen was awakened by a gentle touch on his head sitting up he aspired Bonaparte looking through one of the windows with a lighted candle in his hand I'm about to depart My dear boy before my enemies arise and I could not leave without coming to bid you farewell said burn apart Waldo looked at him I shall always think of you with the fiction said burn apart and there's that old hat of yours if you could let me have it for a keepsake take it said Waldo I thought you would say so so I brought it with me said burn apart putting it on the Lord bless you my dear boy you haven't a few shillings just a trifle you don't need have you take the two shillings that are in the broken bars may the blessing of my God rest upon you my dear child said Bonaparte may he guide and bless you give me your hand Waldo folded his arms closely and laid on farewell adieu said burn a cot may the blessing of my God and my father's God rest on you now and evermore with these words the hidden nose withdrew themselves and the light vanished from the window after a few moments the boy lying in the wagon heard stealthy footsteps as they passed the wagon house and made their way down the road he listened as they grew fainter and fainter and at last died away all together and from that night the footstep of burn apart blinken's was heard no more at the old farm end of chapter 1 part 13 chapter 2 part 1 of the story of an African farm by olive Shriner this LibriVox recording is in the public domain read by Sally McConnell in Betty's Bay South Africa in March 2010 times and seasons Waldo lay on his stomach on the sand since he prayed and howled to God in the fuel house three years had passed they say that in the world to come time is not measured up on months and years neither is it here the soul's life has seasons of its own periods not found in any calendar times that years and months will not scan but which are as difficult and sharply cut from one another as the smoothly arranged years which the Earth's motion yields us to stranger eyes these divisions are not evident but each looking back at the little track his consciousness illuminates sees it cut into distinct portions whose boundaries are the termination of mental states as man differs from man so differ these souls years the most material life is not devoid of them the story of the most spiritual is told in them and it may chance that some looking back see the past cut off after this fashion section one the year of infancy where from the shadowy background of forgetfulness start art pictures of startling clearness disconnected but brightly colored and indelibly printed on the mind much that follows fades but the colors of those baby pictures are permanent there rises perhaps a warm summer's evening we are seated on the doorstep we have yet the taste of the bread and milk in our mouth and the red sunset is reflected in our basin then there is the dark night we're waking with a fear that there is some great being in the room we run from our own bed to another creep closed some large figure and are comforted then there is the remembrance of the pride when on someone's shoulder with our arms around their head we ride to see the little pigs the new little pigs with their curled tails and tie nice nuts where do they come from remembrance have delight in the feel and smell of the first orange we ever see of sorrow which makes us put up our lip and cry hard when one morning we run out to try and catch the dew drops and they melt and wit our little fingers of all mighty and despairing sorrow when we are lost behind the crawls and cannot see the house anywhere and then one picture starts out more vividly than any there has been a thunderstorm the ground as far as the eye can reach is covered with white hail the clouds are gone and overhead a deep blue sky is showing far off a great rainbow rests on the white earth we standing in a window to look feel the cool unspeakably sweet wind blowing in on us and a feeling of longing comes over us and a turrible longing we cannot tell for what we are so small our head only reaches as high as the first three panes we look at the white earth and the rainbow and the blue sky and all we wanted we want we do not know what we cry as though our heart was broken when one lifts our little body from the window we cannot tell what ails us we run away to play so looks the first year Section two now the pictures become continuous and connected material things still rule but the spiritual and intellectual take their places in the dark night when we are afraid we pray and shut our eyes we press our fingers very hard upon the lids and see dark spots moving round and round and we know they are heads and wings of angels sent to take care of us seen dimly in the dark as they move around our bed it is very consoling in the day we learn our letters and are troubled because we cannot see why K in Oh W should be no and PS a LM Psalm they tell us it is so because it is sir we are not satisfied we hate to learn we lack bitter to build little stone houses we can build them as we please and know the reason for them other joys too we have incomparably greater than even the building of stone houses we are run through with a shudder of delight when in the red sand we come on one of those white wax flowers that lie between their two green leaves flat on the sand we hardly dare to pick them but we feel compelled to do so and we smell and smell till the delight becomes almost pain afterwards we pull the green leaves softly into pieces to see the silk threads run across beyond the copy grows some pale green hairy leaved bushes we are so small they meet over our head and we sit among them and kiss them and they love us back it seems as though they were alive one day we sit there and look up at the blue sky and d'arnot our fat little knees and suddenly it strikes us who are we this I what is it we try to look in upon ourselves and our self beats back upon ourselves then we get up in great fear and run home as fast as we can we can't tell anyone were frightened us we never quite lose that feeling of self again section three and then a new time rises we are seven years old we can read now read the Bible best of all we lack the story of Elijah in his cave at Horeb and the still small voice one day a notable one we read on the copy and discover the 5th chapter of Matthew and read it all through it is a new mine then we tuck the Bible under our arm and rush home they didn't know it was wicked to take your things again if someone took them wicked to go to law wicked – we are quite breathless when we get to the house we tell them we have discovered a chapter they never heard of we tell them what it says the old wise people tell us they knew all about it our discovery is a mares nest to them but to us it is very real the 10 commandments and the old thou shalt we have heard about long enough and don't care about it but this new law sets us on fire we will deny our self our little wagon that we have made we give to the little Cather's we keep quiet when they throw sand at us feeling oh so happy we conscientiously put the cracked teacup for ourselves at breakfast and take the burnt roaster cake we save our money and buy three pence worth of tobacco for the Hottentot maid who calls us names we are exotically virtuous at night we are profoundly religious even the ticking watch says eternity eternity hell hell hell and the silence talks of God and the things that shall be occasionally also unpleasantly shrewd questions begin to be asked by someone we know not who who sits somewhere behind our shoulder we get to know him better afterwards now we carry the questions to the grown-up people and they give us answers we are more or less satisfied for the time the grown-up people are very wise and they say it was kind of God to make hell and very loving of him to send men there and besides he couldn't help himself and they are very wise we think so we believe them more or less section 4 then a new time comes of which the leading feature is that the shrewd questions are asked louder we carry them to the grown-up people they answer us and we are not satisfied and now between us and the dear old world of the senses the spirit world begins to keep him and holy clouds at over what are the flowers to us they are fuel waiting for the great burning we look at the walls of the farmhouse and the matter-of-fact sheep crawls and the merry sunshine playing over all and do not see it but we see a great white throne and him that sits on it around him stand a great multitude that no man Columba Harper's harping with their harps a thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands how white are their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb and the music rises higher and RINs the vault of heaven with its unutterable sweetness and we as we listen ever and anon as it sinks on the sweetest lowest note hear a groan of the Damned from below we shudder in the sunlight the torment says Jeremy Taylor whose sermons our father reads aloud in the evening comprises as many torments as the body of man has joints sinews arteries etc being caused by that penetrating and real fire of which this temporal fire is but a painted fire what comparison will there be between burning for a hundred years space and to be burning without intermission as long as God is God we remember the sermon there in the sunlight one comes and asks why we sit there nodding so moodily ah they do not see what we see a moment's time a narrow space divides me from that heavenly place or shuts me up in hell so says Wesley's hymn which we sing evening by evening what matter sunshine and walls men and sheep the things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal they are real the Bible we bear always in our breasts it's pages are our food we learn to repeat it we weep much for in sunshine and in shade in the early morning or the late evening in the field or in the house the devil walks with us he comes to us a real person copper-colored face hid a little on one side for admit asking questions believe me it were better to be followed by three deadly diseases than by him he is never silenced without mercy though the drops of blood stand out on your heart he will put his questions softly he comes up we are only a wee bit child is it good of God to make hell was it kind of him to let no one be forgiven unless Jesus Christ died then he goes off and leaves us writhing presently he comes back do you love him weights a little do you love him you will be lost if you don't we say we try to but do you then he goes off it is nothing to him if we go quite mad with fear at our and wickedness he asks on the questioning devil he cares nothing what he says we long to tell someone that they may share our pain we do not yet know that the cup of affliction is made with such a narrow mouth that only one lip can drink at a time and that each man's cup is made to match his lip one day we try to tell someone then a grave head is shaken solemnly at us we are wicked very wicked they say we ought not to have such thoughts God is good very good we are wicked very wicked that is the comfort we get wicked O Lord do we not know it is it not the sense of our own exceeding wickedness that is drying up our young heart filling it with sand making all life a dustbin for us wicked we know it to file to live to file to die to vile to creep over this God's earth and move among his believing men hell is the one place for him who hates his master and there we do not want to go this is the comfort we get from the old and once again we try to seek for comfort this time great eyes look at us wonderingly and lovely little lips say if it makes you so unhappy to think of these things why do you not think of something else and forget forget we turn away and shrink into ourselves forget and think of other things Oh God do they not understand that the natural world is but a film through which every pore of which God's awful spirit world is shining through on us we keep us far from others as we can one night a rare clear moonlight night we kneel in the window everyone else is asleep but we kneel reading by the moonlight it is a chapter in the profits telling how the chosen people of God shall be carried on the Gentiles shoulders surely the devil might leave us alone there is not much handle for him there but presently he comes is it right there should be a chosen people to him who his father to all should not all be there how can we answer him we were feeling so good till he came we put our head down on the Bible and blister it with tears then we fold our hands over our head and pray to allow teeth grind together oh that from that spirit world so real and yet so silent that surrounds us one word would come to guide us we are live to learn with this devil and God does not whisper to us suddenly we cease the Bible turning it round and round and say hurriedly it will be God's voice speaking to us his voice as though we heard it we yearn for a token from the inexorably silent one we turn the book put our finger down on a page and bend to read by the moonlight it is God's answer we tremble then 14 years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas and took Titus with me also for an instant our imagination ceases it we are twisting twirling trying to make an allegory the 14 years or 14 months we are Paul and the devil is Barnabas Titus is then a sudden loathing comes to us we are liars and hypocrites we are trying to deceive ourselves what is Paul to us and Jerusalem who are Barnabas and Titus we know not the men before we know we seize the book swing it around our head and fling it with all our mat to the farther end of the room we put down our head again and weep youth and ignorance is there anything else that can weep so it is as though the tears were drops of blood congealed behind the eyelids nothing else is like those tears after a long time we are weak with crying and lie silent and by chance we knock against the wood that stops the broken pin it falls upon our hot stiff face of sweet breath of wind blows we raise our head and with our swollen eyes look out at the beautiful stool world and the sweet night wind blows in upon us early and gentle like a loving breath from the lips of God over us a deep peace comes a calm still joy the tears now flow readily and softly oh the unutterable gladness at last we have founded the peace with God the sense of sins forgiven all dark banished God's voice in the soul a Holy Spirit filling us we feel him we feel him oh Jesus Christ through you through you this joy we press our hands upon our breasts and look upward with a door in gladness soft waves of bliss breakthrough us the peace with God the sense of sins forgiven Methodists and revivalists say the words and the mocking world shoots out its lip and walks by smiling hypocrites there are more fools and fewer hypocrites than with wise world dreams of the hypocrite is rare as icebergs in the tropics The Fool commoners buttercups beside a water fire whether you go this way or that you tread on him you dare not look down at your own reflection in the water but you see one there is no Kent phrase rotten with age but it was the dress of a living body none but at heart it signifies a real bodily or mental condition which some have passed through after hours and nights of frenzied fear of the supernatural desire to appease the power above a fierce quivering excitement in each inch of nerve and blood vessel there comes a time when nature cannot endure longer and the spring long bent recoils we sink down emasculated up creeps the deadly delicious calm I have blotted out as a cloud thy sins and as a thick cloud by trespasses and will remember them no more forever we weep with soft transporting joy a few experienced this many imagine they experience it one here and there lies about it in the main the peace with God a sense of sins forgiven stands for a certain mental and physical reaction its reality those know who have felt it and we on that moonlight night put down our head on the window Oh God we are happy happy thy child forever oh thank you God and we drop asleep next morning the Bible we kiss we are God's forever we go out to work and it goes happily all day happily all night but hardly so happily not happily at all the next day and the next night the devil asks us where is your holy spirit we cannot tell so month by month summer and winter the old life goes on reading praying weeping praying they tell us we become utterly stupid we know it even the multiplication table we learnt with so much care we forget the physical world recedes further and further from us truly we love not the world neither the things that are in it across the bonds of sleep our grief follows us when we wake in the night we are sitting up in bed weeping bitterly or find ourselves outside in the moonlight kriste and walking up and down and wringing our hands and we cannot tell how we came there so past two years as men Rickon them section five then a new time before us there were three courses possible to go mad to die to sleep we take the latter course all nature takes it for us all things take rest in sleep the beasts birds the very flies close their eyes and the streams are still in winter all things take risk then why not the human reason also so the questioning devil in us drops asleep and in that sleep a beautiful dream rises for us though you hear all dreams of men you will hardly find a prettier one than ours it ran so in the center of all things is a mighty heart which having begotten all things loves them and having borne them into life beats with great throbs of love towards them no death for his dear insects no hell for his dear men no burning up for his dear world his own own world that he has made in the end all will be beautiful do not ask us how we make our dream Teli with facts the glory of a dream is this that it despises facts and makes its own our dream saves us from going mad that is enough it's peculiar point of sweetness lay here when the mighty hearts yearning of love became too great for other expression it shaped itself into the sweet Rose of heaven the beloved man God Jesus you Jesus of our dream how we loved you no Bible tells of you as we knew you your sweet hands held ours fast your sweet voice said always I am here my loved one not far off put your arms about me and hold fast we find him in everything in those days when the little weary lamb we drive home drags its feet we seized on it and carry it with its head against our face his little lamb we feel we have got him when the drunken catalyzed by the road in the Sun we draw his blanket over his head and put green branches of milk bush on it his kefir why should the Sun hurt him in the evening when the clouds lift themselves like gates and the red lights shine through them we cry for in such glory he will come and the hands that ache to touch him will hold him and we shall see the beautiful hair and eyes of our God lift up your heads o ye gates and be lifted up ye everlasting doors and our King of glory shall come in the purple flowers the little purple flowers are his eyes looking at us we kiss them and kneel alone on the flat rejoicing over them and the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for him and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as a rose if ever in our tearful joyful ecstasy the poor sleepy half-dead devil should raise his head we laugh at him it is not his honor if there should be a hell after all he matters if your God should be cruel if there should be no god if you should find out is all imagination if we laugh at him when a man sits in the warm sunshine do you ask him for proof of it he feels that is all and we feel that is all we want no proof of our God we feel we feel we do not believe in our God because the Bible tells us of him we believe in the Bible because he tells us of it we feel him we feel him we feel that is all and the poor half swamped devil matters but if the day should come when you do not feel and we laugh and cry him down it will never come never and the poor devil slinks to sleep again with his tail between his legs fierce assertion many times repeated is hard to stand against only time separates the truth from the lie so we dream on one day we go with our Father to town to church the townspeople rustle in their silks and the men in their sleek cloth and settled themselves in their pews and the light shines in through the windows on the artificial flowers in the woman's bonnets we have the same miserable feeling that we have in a shop where all the clocks are very smart we wish our father hadn't brought us to town and we were out on the Karoo then the man in the pulpit begins to preach his text is he that believeth not shall be damned the day before the magistrates o'clock who was an atheist has died in the street struck by lightning the man in the pulpit mentions no name but he talks of the hand of God made visible among us he tells us how when the white stroke fell quivering and naked the soul fled robbed of his earthly filament and play at the footstool of God however his head has been poured out the wrath of the mighty one whose existence it has denied and quivering and terrified it has fled to the everlasting shade we as we listen half start every drop of blood in our body has rushed to our head he lies he lies he lies that man in the pulpit lies will no one stop him have none of them heard did none of them know that when the poor Dark Soul shut his eyes on earth it opened them in the still light of heaven but there is no roof where God's faces that if one could once creep to the footstool of God there is everlasting peace there like the fresh stillness of the early morning while the atheists lay wondering and afraid God bent down and said my child Here I am I whom you have not learned I whom you have not believed him I am here I sent my messenger the white chief flattening to call you home I am here then the poor soul turned to the light its weakness and pain were gone forever have there not known have they not heard who it is rules for the little moment have I hidden my face from me but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy upon me saith the Lord thy Redeemer we mater on to ourselves till someone pulls us violently by the arm to remind us we are in church we see nothing but our own ideas presently everyone turns to pray there are 600 Souls lifting themselves to the everlasting light behind us sit two pretty ladies one hands her scent bottle softly to the other and the mother pulls down her little girls frock one lady drops her handkerchief a gentleman picks it up she blushes the women in the choir turned softly the leaves of their tuned books to be ready when the praying is done it is as though they thought more of the singing than the everlasting father Oh would it not be more worship of him to sit alone in the kuru and kiss one little purple flower that he had made is it not mockery then the thought comes what dust thou here Elijah we judge what are we better than me rather worse is it any excuse to say I am but a child and must come does God allow any soul to step in between the spirit he made and himself what do we there in that place where all the words are lies against the all-father filled with horror we turn and flee out of the place on the pavement we smacked our foot and swear in our child's soul never again to into those places where men come to sing and pray we are questioned afterwards why was it we went out of the church how can we explain we stand silent then we are pressed further and we try to tell then a head is shaken solemnly at us no one can think it wrong to go to the house of the Lord it is the idle excuse of a wicked boy when will we think seriously of our souls and love going to church we are wicked very wicked and we we slink away and go alone to cry will it be always so whether we hate and doubt or whether we believe in love to our dearest are we to seem always wicked we do not yet know that in the souls search for truth the bitterness lies here the striving cannot always hide itself among the faults sooner or later it will close itself in outward action then it steps in and divides between the soul and what it loves all things on earth have their price and for truth we pay the dearest we barter it for love and sympathy the road to honor is paved with thorns but on the path to truth at every step you set your foot down on your own heart section 6 then at last a new time a time of waking short sharp and not pleasant as wakings often our sleep and dreams exist on this condition that no one wake the dreamer and now life takes us up between her finger and thumb shakes us furiously clop or nodding head is well nigh rolled from our shoulders and she sets us down a little hardly on the bare earth bruised and sawed but preternaturally wide awake we have sit in our days of dreaming injustice and wrong are a seeming pain is a shadow our God he is real he who made all things and he only is love now life takes us by the neck and shows us a few other things new made graves with the red sand flying about them eyes that we love with the worms eating them the evil men walking sleek and fat the whole terrible hurly-burly of the thing called life and she says what do you think of these we dare not say nothing we feel them they are very real but we try to lay our hands about and feel that other thing we felt before in the dark night in the fuel room we cry to our beloved dream God oh let us come near you and lay our head against your feet now in our hour of need be near us but he is not there he's gone away the old questioning Dibble is there we must have been awakened sooner or later the imagination cannot always triumph over reality the desire of the truth we must have been awakened if it was done a little sharply what matter it was done thoroughly and it had to be done section 7 and a new life begins for us a new time a life as cold as that of a man who sits on the pinnacle of an iceberg and sees the glittering crystals all about him the old looks indeed like a long hot delirium peopled with fantasies the new is cold enough now we have no God we have had to the old God that our fathers handed down to us that we hated and never liked the new one that we made for ourselves that we loved but now he has flitted away from us and we see what he was made of the shadow of our highest ideal crowned and throned now we have no God The Fool hath said in his heart there is no God it may be so most things said or written have been the work of fools this thing is certain he is a fool who no man hath said in his heart there is no God it has been said many thousand times in hearts with profound bitterness of earnest faith we do not cry and weep we sit down with cold eyes and look at the world we are not miserable why should we be we eat and drink and sleep all night but the dead are not colder and we say it slowly but without sighing yes we see it now there is no God and we add growing a little colder yet there is no justice the Ox dies and the yoke beneath its master's whip it turns its anguished filled eyes on the sunlight but there is no sign of recompense to be made it the black man is shot like a dog and it goes well with the shooter the innocent are accused and the accuser triumphs if you will take the trouble to scratch the surface anywhere you will see under the skin a sentient being writhing in impotent anguish and we say further and our heart is as the heart of the dead for coldness there is no order all things are driven about by a blind chance what a soul drinks in with its mother's milk will not leave it in a day from our earliest our we have been taught that the thought of the heart the shaping of the rain cloud the amount of wool that grows on a sheep's back the length of a drought and the growing of the corn depend on nothing that moves immutable at the heart of all things but on the changeable will of a changeable being whom our prayers can alter to us from the beginning Nature has been better pour a plastic thing to be toyed with this way or that as man happens to please his deity or not to go to church or not to say his prayers right or not to travel on a Sunday or not was it possible for us in an instant to see nature as she is the flowing vestment of an unchanging reality when a soul breaks free from the arms of a superstition bits of the claws and talons break themselves off in him it is not the work of a day to squeeze them out and so for us the human-like driver and guide being gone all existence as we look out at it with our chilled wandering eyes is an aimless rise and swell of shifting waters in all that weltering chaos we can see no spot so large as a man's hand on which we may plant our foot whether a man believes in a human lack God or no is a small thing whether he looks into the mental and physical world and sees no relation between cause and effect no order but a blind chance sporting this is the mightiest fact that can be recorded in any spiritual existence it for almost a mercy to cut his throat if indeed he does not do it for himself we however do not cut our throats to do so would imply some desire and feeling and we have no desire and no feeling we are only cold we do not wish to live and we do not wish to die one day a snake curls itself from the waist of a heifer woman we take it in our hand swing it round and round and fling it on the ground did everyone looks at us with eyes of admiration we almost laugh is it wonderful to risk that for which we care nothing in truth nothing that is this dirty little world full of confusion and the blue rag stretched overhead for a sky is so low we could touch it with our hand existence is a great pot and the old fate who stirs our ground cares nothing what rises to the top and what goes down and laughs when the bubbles burst and we do not care let it boil about why should we trouble ourselves nevertheless the physical sensations are real hunger hurts and thirst therefore we eat and drink in action pains us therefore we work like galley slaves no one demands it but we set ourselves to build a great dam in red sand beyond the graves in the gray dawn before the she palette art we work at it all day while the young ostriches we tend feed about us we work on through the fiercest heat the people wonder what new spirit has seized us now they do not know we are working for life we bear the greatest stones and feel a satisfaction when we stagger under them and are hurt by a pang that shoots through our chest while we eat our dinner we carry on baskets full of earth as though the devil drove us the kafir servants have a story that at night a witch and two white oxen come to us no wall they say could grow so quickly under one man's hands at night alone in our cabin we sit no more brooding over the far what should we think of now all is emptiness so we take the old arithmetic and the multiplication table with which so much pains we learned long ago and forgot directly we learn now in a few hours and never forget again we take a strange satisfaction in working arithmetic all problems we pause in our building to cover the stones with figures and calculations we save money for a Latin grammar and an algebra and carry them about in our pockets poring over them as over our Bible of old we have thought we were utterly stupid incapable of remembering anything of learning anything now we find that all is easy has a new soul crept into this old body but even our intellectual faculties are changed we Marvel not perceiving that what a man expends in prayer and ecstasy he cannot have over for acquiring knowledge you never shed a tear or create a beautiful image or quiver with emotion but you pay for it at the practical calculating end of your nature you have just so much force when the one channel runs over the other runs dry and now return to nature all these years we have lived beside her and we have never seen her now we open our eyes and look at her the rocks have been to us a blur of brawn we bend over them and the disorganized masses dissolves into a many colored many shaped carefully arranged form of existence here masses of rainbow tinted crystals half fused together these bands of smooth grey and red methodically overlying each other this rock here is covered with a delicate silver tracery in some mineral resembling leaves and branches they're on the flat stone on which we have so often set to weep and pray we look down and see it covered with the fossil footprints of great birds and the beautiful skeleton of a fish we have often tried to picture in our mind what the fossil remains of creatures must be lack and all the while we set on them we have been so blinded by thinking and feeling that we have never seen the world the flat plain has been to us a reach of monotonous rid we look at it and every handful of sand starts into life that wonderful people the ants we learn to know see them make war and peace play and work and build their huge palaces and that smaller people we make acquaintance with who live in the flowers the beater fly has been fuss a mere blur of yellow we find its heart composed of a hundred perfect flowers the homes of the tiny black people with red stripes who move in an art in that little yellow city every Bluebell has its inhabitant every day the Karoo shows us a new wonder sleeping in its teeming bosom on our way to work we pause and stand to see the ground spider make it strep bury itself in the sand and then wait for the falling in of its enemy further on walks a horned beetle and near him starts open the door of a spider who peeps art carefully and quickly pulls it down again on a kuru bush a green fly is laying her silver eggs we carry them home and see the shells pierced the spotted grub come out turned to a green fly and flit away we are not satisfied with what nature shows us and we'll see something for ourselves under the white hen we put a dozen eggs and break one daily to see the white spot where into the chicken we are not excited or enthusiastic about it but a man is not to lay his throat open he must think of something so we plant seeds in rows on our dam wall and pull one up daily to see how it goes with them Aladin buried her wonderful stone and a golden palace sprang up at her feet we do far more we put a brown seed in the earth and a living thing starts at starts upwards why no more than Allah Dean can we say starts upwards and does not desist till it is higher than our heads sparkling with Dew in the early morning glittering with yellow blossoms shaking brown seeds with little embryo soles onto the ground we look at it solemnly from the time it consists of two leaves peeping above the ground and a soft white root till we have to raise our faces to look at it but we find no reason for that upward starting we look into dead ducks and lambs in the evening we carry them home spread newspapers on the floor and lie working with them till midnight with a startled feeling near akin to ecstasy we open the lump of flesh called a heart and find little dolls and strings inside we feel them and to put the heart away but every now and then returned to look and to feel them again why we like them so we can hardly tell a gander drowns itself in our dam we take it out and open it on the bank and kneel looking at it above are the organs divided by delicate tissues below are the intestines artistically curved in a spiral form and each tear covered by a delicate network of blood vessels standing out red against the faint blue background each branch of the blood vessels is comprised of a trunk bifurcating andrey bifurcating into the most delicate hair like threads symmetrically arranged we are struck with its singular beauty and over and here we dropped from our kneeling into a sitting posture this also we remark of that same exact shape and outline is our thorn tree seen against the sky in midwinter of that shape also is delicate metallic tracery between our rocks in that exact path does our water flow when without a furrow we lead it from the dam so shaped are the antlers of the horned beetle how are these things related that such deep union should exist between them or is it chance or are they not all the fine branches of one trunk whose sap flows through us all that would explain it we nod over the ganders inside this thing we call existence is it not as something which has its roots far down below in the dark and its branches stretching out into the immensity above which we among the branches cannot see not a chance jumble a living thing a one the thought gives us intense satisfaction we cannot tell why we nod over the gander then start up suddenly look into the blue sky throw the dead Gander and the refuse into the dam and go to work again and so it comes to pass in time that the earth ceases for us to be a weltering chaos we walk in the Great Hall of life looking up and around reverentially nothing is despicable all is meaningful nothing is small all is part of a whole whose beginning and end we know not the life that throbs in us is a pulsation from it too mighty for our comprehension not too small and so it comes to pass at last that whereas the sky was at first a small blue rag stretched over us and so low that our hands might touch it pressing down on us it raises itself into an immeasurable blue arch over our heads and we begin to live again end of chapter 2 part 1 chapter 2 part 2 of the story of an African farm by Alice Rana this LibriVox recording is in the public domain read by Sally McConnell in Betty's Bay South Africa in March 2010 Waldo's stranger Waldo lay on his stomach on the red sand the small ostriches he herded wandered about him picking at the food he had cut wood pebbles and dry sticks on his right and laid the graves to his left the damn in his hand was a large wooden post covered with carvings at which he worked dass lay before him basking in the winter sunshine and now and again casting an expectant glance at the corner of the nearest ostrich camp the scrubby thorn trees under which they lay yielded no shade but none was needed in that glorious June weather when in the hottest part of the afternoon the Sun was but pleasantly warm and the boy carved on not looking up yet conscious of the brown serene earth about him and the intensely blue sky above presently at the corner of the camp M appeared bearing a covered saucer in one hand and in the other a jug with a cup in the top she was grown into a premature little old woman of sixteen ridiculously fat the jug and saucer she put down on the ground before the dog and his master and dropped down beside them herself panting and out of breath Waldo as I came at the camp's I met someone on horseback I do believe it must be the new man that is coming the new man was an Englishman to whom the Boer woman had hired half the farm hmm said Waldo he's quite young SID him holding her side and he has brown hair and beard curling close to his face and such dark blue eyes and whether I was so ashamed I was looking back to see you know and he appeared just to be looking back to and we looked right into each other's faces and he got red and I got so red I believe he is the new man yes said Waldo hi miss guna perhaps he's bought us lettuce from the post from Linda you know she can't stay at school much longer she must come back soon and the new man will have to stay with us till his house is built i must get his room ready goodbye she tripped off again and Waldo carved on it his post das lay with his nose close to the cupboard salsa and smelt that someone had made nice little fat cakes that afternoon both were so intent on their occupation that not till a horse's hooves speak beside them in the sand did they look up to see a rider drawing in his steed he was certainly not the stranger whom Emmet described a dark somewhat French looking little man of 28 rather start with heavy cloudy eyes and pointed moustaches his horse was a fiery creature well caparison a highly finished saddlebag hung from the saddle the man's hands were gloved and he presented the appearance and appearance rare on that farm of a well-dressed gentleman in an uncommon ly melodious voice he inquired whether he might be allowed to remain there for an hour Waldo directed him to the farmhouse but the stranger declined he would merely rest under the trees and give his horse water he removed the saddle and Waldo led the animal away to the dam when he returned the stranger had settled himself under the trees with his back against the saddle the boy offered him of the cakes he declined but took a draught from the jug and Waldo laid down not far off and fell to work again it mattered nothing if cold eyes saw it it was not his sheep shearing machine with material loves as with human we go mad once love art and have done we never get up the true enthusiasm a second time this was but a thing he had made labored over loved and liked nothing more not his machine the stranger forced himself lower down in the saddle and yawned it was a drowsy afternoon and he objected to travel in these out-of-the-world parts he act bitter a civilized life were at every hour of the day a man may look for his glass of wine and his easy-chair and paper wear at night he may lock himself into his room with his books and a bottle of brandy and taste Joy's mental and physical the world said of him the all-knowing omnipotent world whom no locks can bar who has the cat-like propensity of seeing mist in the dark the world said that better than the books he loved the brandy and better than books or brandy that Whichard had been better had he loved less but for the world he cared nothing he smiled blandly in his teeth all life was a dream if wine and philosophy and women keep the dream from becoming a nightmare so much the better it is all they're fit for all they can be used for there was another side to his life and thought but of that the world knew nothing and said nothing as the way of the wise world is the stranger looked from beneath his sleepy eyelids at the brown earth that stretched away beautiful in spite of itself in that June sunshine looked at the graves the gables of the farmhouse showing over the stone walls of the camps at the clownish fellow at his feet and yawned but he had drunker behinds T and must say something your father's place I presume he inquired sleepily no how many a servant Dutch people yes and you lack the life the boy hesitated on days like these and why on these the boy waited they are very beautiful the stranger looked at him it seemed that as the fellows dark eyes looked across the brown earth they kindled with an intense satisfaction then they look back at the carving what had that creature so coarse clad and garnished to do with the subtle joys of the weather himself white handed and delicate he might hear the music with shimmering sunshine and solitude play on the finely strung cords of nature but that feller was not the ear in that great body too gross for such delicate mutterings presently he said may I see what you work at the fellow hand on his wooden post it was by no means lovely the men and birds were almost grotesque in their labored resemblance to nature and all signs of patient thought the stranger turned the thing over on his knee where did you learn this work I taught myself and these zigzag lines represent a mountain the stranger looked it has some meaning has it not the boy muttered confusedly only things the questioner looked down at him the huge unwieldy figure in size a man's in right of its childlike features and curling hair a child's and it hurt him it attracted him and it hurt him it was something between pity and sympathy how long have you worked at this nine months from his pocket the stranger drew his pocketbook and took something from it he could fasten the post to his horse in some way and throw it away in the sand when at a safe distance will you take this for the carving the boy glanced at the five-pound note and shook his head no I cannot you think it is worth more asked the stranger with a little sneer he pointed with his thumb to a grave no it is for him and who is there asked the stranger my father the man silently returned the note to his pocketbook and gave the carving to the boy and drawing his hat over his eyes composed himself to sleep not being able to do so after a while he glanced over the fill his shoulder to watch him work the boy carved litters into the back if said the stranger with his melodious voice rich with the sweetness that never showed itself in the clouded eyes for sweetness will linger on in the voice long after it has died out in the eyes if for such a purpose why write that upon it the boy glanced round at him but made no answer he had almost forgotten his presence you surely believe said the stranger that someday sooner or later these graves will open and those Bawra uncles with their wives will walk about here in the red sand with the very fleshy legs with which they went to sleep then why say he sleeps forever you believe he will stand up again do you ask the boy lifting for an instant his heavy eyes to the strangers face off taken aback the stranger laughed It was as though a curious little tadpole which he held under his glass should suddenly lift its tail and begin to question him I know he laughed his short thick love I am a man who believes nothing hopes nothing fears nothing feels nothing I am beyond the pale of humanity no criterion of what you should be who lives here among your ostriches and bushes the next moment the stranger was surprised by a sudden movement on the part of the fellow which brought him closer to the stranger's feet soon after he raised his carving and laid it across the man's knee yes I will tell you he muttered I will tell you all about it he put his finger on the gratest little mannequin at the bottom ah that man who believed napping hopes nothing felt nothing how he loved him and with eager finger the fellow moved upwards explaining fantastic figures and mountains to the crowning bird from whose wing dropped a feather at the end he spoke with broken breath short words like one who uttered things of mighty import the stranger watched more the face than the carving and there was now and then a show of white teeth beneath the moustaches as he listened I think he said blandly when the boy had done that I partly understand you it is something after this fashion is it not he smiled in certain valleys there was a hunter he touched the greatest little figure at the bottom day by day he went to hunt for wild fowl in the woods and a chance that one he stood on the shores of a large lake while he stood waiting in the rushes for the coming of the birds a great shadow fell on him and in the water he saw a reflection he looked up to the sky but the thing was gone then a burning desire came over him to see once again that reflection in the water and all day he watched and waited but night came and it had not returned then he went home with his empty bag Moody and silent his comrades came questioning about him to know the reason but he answered them nothing he sat alone and brooded then his friend came to him and to him he spoke I have seen today he said that which I never saw before a vast white bird with silver wings outstretched sailing in the everlasting blue and now it is as though a great fire burnt within my breast it was but a sheen a shimmer a reflection in the water but now I desire nothing more on earth than to hold her his friend laughed it was but a beam playing on the water or the shadow of your own head tomorrow you will forget her he said but tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow the hunter walked alone he sought in the forest and in the woods by the lakes and among the rushes but he could not find her he shot no more wild fowl what were they to him what ails him said his comrades he is mad said one no but he is worse said another he would see that which none of us have seen and make himself a wonder come let us force where his company said or so the hunter walked alone one night as he wandered in the shade very hot sore and weeping an old man stood before him grander and taller than the sons of men who are you Oscar hunter I am wisdom answered the old man but some men call me knowledge all my life I have grown in these valleys but no man sees me till he has saw road much the eyes must be washed with tears that ought to behold me and according as a man has suffered I speak and the hunter cried oh you have lived here so long tell me what is that great wild bird I have seen sailing in the blue they would have me believe she is a dream the shadow of my own head the old man smiled her name is truth he whos once seen her never wrists again till death he desires her and the hunter cried oh tell me where may I find her but the man said you have not suffered enough and went then the hunter took from his breast the shuttle of imagination and wound on it the thread of his wishes and all night he set and were the net in the morning he spread the golden net open on the ground and into it he threw a few grains of credulity which his father had lived him and which he kept in his breast pocket they were like white puff balls and when you trod on him a bran dust flew out then he sat by to see what would happen the first that came into the net was a snow-white bird with doves eyes and he sang a beautiful song a human God a human God a human God it's saying the second that came was black and mystical with dark lovely eyes that looked into the depths of your soul and he sang only this immortality and the hunter took them both in his arms for he said they are surely the beautiful family of truth then came another green and gold who sang in a shrill voice like one crying in the marketplace reward after death reward after death and he said you are not so fair but you are fair too and he took it and others came brightly-colored sing Pleasant songs till the grains were finished and the hunter gathered all his birds together and built a strong iron cage called a new Creed and put all his birds in it then the people came about dancing and singing oh happy hunter they cried Oh wonderful men Oh delightful birds Oh lovely songs no one asked where the birds had come from nor how they had been caught but they danced and sang before them and the hunter too was glad for he said surely truth is among them in time she will melt her feathers and I shall see her snow-white form but the time passed and the people sang and danced but the Hunter's heart grew heavy he crept alone as of old to weep the terrible desire had awakened again in his breast one day as he sat alone weeping it chanced that wisdom met him he told the old man what he had done and wisdom smiled sadly many men he said have spread that knit for truth but they have never found her on the grains of credulity she will not feed in the net of wishes her feet cannot be held in the air of these valleys she will not breathe the birds you have caught are of the brood of lies lovely and beautiful but still lies truth knows them not and the hunter cried out in bitterness and must I then sit still to be devoured of this great burning and the old man said listen and in that you had suffered much and wept much I will tell you what I know he who sets out to search for truth must leave these valleys of superstition for ever taking with him not one shred that has belonged to them alone he must wander down into the land of absolute negation and denial he must abide there he must resist temptation when the light breaks he must arise and follow it into the country of dry sunshine the mountains of stern reality will rise before him he must climb them beyond them truth and he will hold her fast he will hold her in his hands the hunter cried wisdom shook his head he will never see her never hold her the time is not yet then there is no hope cried the hunter there is this said wisdom some men have climbed on those mountains circle above circle of bear Rock they have scaled and wandering there in those high regions some have chanced to pick up on the ground one white silver feather dropped from the wing of truth and it shall come to pass said the old man raising himself prophetically and pointing with his finger to the sky it shall come to pass that when enough of those silver feathers shall have been gathered by the hands of men and shall have been woven into a cord and the cord into a net that in that net truth may be captured nothing but truth can hold truth the hunter arose I will go he said but wisdom detained him mark you well who leaves these valleys never returns to them though he should weep tears of blood seven days and nights upon the confines he can never put his foot across them lift they are left forever upon the road which he would travel there is no reward offered who goes goes freely for the great love that is in him the work is his reward I go said the hunter but upon the mountains tell me which path shall I take I am the child of the accumulative knowledge of Ages said the man I can walk only where many men have trodden on these mountains few feet have passed each man strikes out a path for himself he goes at his own peril my voice he hears no more I may follow after him but I cannot go before him then knowledge vanished and the hunter turned he went to his cage and with his hands broke down the bars and the jagged iron tore his flesh it is sometimes easier to build when to break one by one he took his plumed birds and let them fly but when he came to his dock plumed bird he held it and looked into its beautiful eyes and the bird uttered its deep low cry immortality and he said quickly I cannot part with it it is not heavy it eats no food I will hide it in my breast I will take it with me and he buried it there and covered it over with his cloak but the thing he had hidden grew heavier heavier heavier till it lay on his breast like lid he could not move with it he could not leave those valleys with it then again he took it out and looked at it oh my beautiful my heart's own he cried may I not keep you he opened his hands sadly go he said it may happen that in truths song one note is like yours but I shall never hear it sadly he opened his hand and the bird flew from him forever then from the shuttle of imagination he took the thread of his wishes and threw it on the ground and the empty shuttle he put into his breast for the thread was made in those valleys but the shuttle came from an unknown country he turned to go but now the people came about him howling fool hound demented lunatic they cried how dare do you break your cage and let the birds fly the hunter spoke but they would not hear him truth who is she can you eat her can you drink her who has ever seen her your birds were real all could hear them sing o fool file reptile atheist they cried you pollute the air come let us take up stones and stone him cried some what affair is it of ours said others did the idiot go and went away but the wrists gathered up stones and mud and threw at him at last when he was bruised and cut the hunter crept away into the woods and it was evening about him every word the stranger spoke the fellow's eyes flashed back on him yes and yes and yes the stranger smiled it was almost worth the trouble of exerting oneself even on a lazy afternoon to win those passionate flashers more thirsty and desiring than the love glances of a woman he wandered on and on said the stranger and the shade grew deeper he was on the Border's now of the land where it was always night then he stepped into it and there was no lack there with his hands he groped but each branch as he touch it broke off and the earth was covered with cinders at every step his foot sank in and a fine cloud of impalpable ashes flew up into his face and it was dark so he sat down upon a stone and buried his face in his hands to wait in that land of negation and denial till the light came and it was night in his heart also then from the marshes to his right and left cold mists arose and closed about him a fine imperceptible rain fell in the dark and great drops gathered on his hair and clothes his heart beat slowly and Alumnus script through all his limbs then looking up to Mary wisp lights came dancing he lifted his head to look at them Neera Neera they came so warm so bright they danced like stars of fire they stood before him at last from the center of the radiating flame in one looked out a woman's face laughing dimpled with streaming yellow hair in the centre of the other were Mary laughing ripples like the bubbles on a glass of wine they dumped before him who are you asked the hunter who alone could come to me in my solitude and darkness we are the twins Cinci ality they cried ah father's name is human nature and I'm his name is exes we are as old as the hills and rivers as old as the first man but we never die they laughed oh let me wrap my arms about you cried the first they are soft and warm your heart is frozen now but I will make it beat don't come to me I will pour my hot life into you sip a second your brain is numb and your limbs are dead now but they shall live with a fierce free life oh let me pour it in oh funnel s they cried and live with us nobler hearts than yours have sat here in this darkness to wait and they have come to us and we to them and they have never left us liver or else is a delusion but we are real we are real truth is a shadow the valley of superstition is a farce the earth is of ashes the trees all rotten but we feel us we live you cannot doubt us feel us how warm we are oh come to us come with us nearer and nearer around his hip they hovered and the cold rocks melted on his forehead the bright light shot into his eyes dazzling him and the frozen blood began to run and he said yes why should I die here in this awful darkness they are warm they loved my frozen blood and he stretched out his hands to take them then in a moment there arose before him the image of the thing he had loved and his hands dropped to his side oh come to us they cried but he buried his face you dazzle my eyes he cried you make my heart warm but you cannot give me what I desire I will wait here wait till I die go he covered his face with his hands and would not listen and when he looked up again they were too twinkling stars that vanished in the distance and the long long night rolled on all the leaves the valley of superstition passed through that dark land but some go through it in a few days some linger there for months some for years and some die there the boy had crept closer his hot breath almost touched the stranger's hand a mystic wonder filled his eyes at last for the hunter a faint light played along the horizon and he rose to follow it and he reached that light at last and stepped into the broad sunshine then before him rose the old mighty mountains of dry effects and realities the clear sunshine played on them and the tops were lost in the clouds at the foot many paths ran up an exultant cry burst from the hunter he chose the straightest and began to climb the rocks and ridges resounded with his song they had exaggerated after all it was not so high and nor was the road so steep a few days a few weeks a few months at most and then the top not one feather only would he pick up he would gather all that other men had found weave the net capture truth hold her fast touch her with his hands clasp her he laughed in the merry sunshine and sang loud victory was very near nevertheless after a while the paths grew steeper he needed all his breath for climbing and the singing died away on the right and lift hers huge rocks devoid of like enormous and in the lava like earth chasms yawned here and there he saw a sheen of white bones now to the path began to grow less and less mocked then it became a mere trace with the foot mark here and there then it ceased altogether he sang no more but struck forth apart for himself until he reached a mighty wall of rock smooth and without break stretching as far as the eye could see I will rare a stare against it and once this wall is climbed I shall be almost there he said bravely and worked with his shuttle of imagination he dug out stones but half of them would not fit and half a month's work would roll down because those below were ill chosen but the hunter worked on saying always to himself once this wall is climbed I shall be almost there this great work ended at last he came out upon the top and he looked about him far below rolled the white mist over the valleys of superstition and above him tarred the mountains they had seemed low before they were of an immeasurable hack gnaw from crown to foundation surrounded by walls of rock that rose tear above tear in mighty circles upon them played the eternal sunshine he uttered a wild cry he barred himself onto the earth and when he rose his face was white in absolute silence he walked on he was very silent now in those high regions the rarefied air is hard to breathe by those born in the valleys every breath he drew hurt him and the blood oozed out from the tips of his fingers before the next wall of rock he began to work the hatch of this seemed infinite and he said nothing the sound of his tool rang night and day upon the iron rocks into which he cut steps years passed over him yet he worked on but the wall towered up always above him to heaven sometimes he prayed that a little moss all I can match spring up on those bare walls to be a companion to him but it never came the stranger watched the Boyles face and the years rolled on he counted them by the steps he had cut a few for a year only a few he sang no more he said no more I will do this all that he only worked and at night when the Twilight settled down they looked out at him from the holes and crevices in the rocks strange wild faces stop your work you lonely man and speak to us they cried my salvation is in work if I should stop but for one moment you would creep down upon me he replied and they put out their long necks further look down into the crevice at your feet they said see what lie their white bones as brave and strong a man as you climbed to these rocks and looked up he saw there was no use in striving he would never hold truth never see her never find her so he lay down here for he was very tired he went to sleep forever he put himself to sleep sleep is very tranquil you are not lonely when you're asleep neither do your hands ache nor your heart and the hunter laughed between his teeth have I turned from my heart all that was dearest have I wandered alone in the land of night have I resisted temptation have I dwelt where the voice of my kind is never heard and labored alone to lie down and be food for you ye are peas he laughed fiercely and the echoes of despair shrunk away for the laugh of a brave strong heart is as a death blow to them nevertheless they crept out again and looked at him do you know that your hair is white they said that your hands begin to tremble like a child's do you see that the point of your shuttle is gone it is cracked already if you should ever climb the stair they said it'll be your last you will never climb another and he answered I know it and worked on the old sudden hands cut the stones ill and jaggedly for the fingers were stiff and bent the beauty and the strength of the man was gone at last an old Wizards shrunken face looked out above the rocks it saw the eternal mountains rise with walls to the white clouds but it's work was done the old hunter folded his tired hands and lay down by the precipice where he'd worked away his life it was a sleeping time at last below him over the valleys rolled the thick white mist once it broke and through the gap the dying eyes looked down on the trees and fields of their childhood from afar seemed born to him the cries of his own wild birds and he heard the noise of people singing as they danced and he thought he heard among them the voices of his old comrades and he saw far off the sunlight on his early home and great tears gathered in the hunters eyes they who died there do not die he cried then the missus rolled together again and he turned his eyes away I have thought he said for long years I have labored but I have not found her I have not rested I have not repined and I have not seen her now my strength is gone where I lie down worn out other men will stand young and fresh by the steps that I have cut they will climb by the stairs that I have built they will mount they will never know the name of the man who made them at the clumsy work they will laugh when the stones role they will curse me but they will mount and on my work they will climb and by my stare they will find her and through me and no man liveth to himself and no man dieth to himself the tears rolled from beneath the shriveled eyelids if truth had appeared above him in the clouds now he could not have seen her the mists of death was in his eyes my soul hears they're glad stip coming he said and they shall mount they shall mount he raised his shriveled hand to his eyes then slowly from the white sky above through the still air came something falling falling falling softly it fluttered down and dropped onto the breast of the dying man he felt it with his hands it was a feather he died holding it the boy had shaded his eyes with his hand on the wood of the carving great drops fell the stranger must have laughed at him or remained silent he did so how did you know it the boy whispered at last it is not written there not on that word how did you know it certainly said the stranger the whole of the story is not written here but it is suggested and the attribute of all true art the highest and the lowest is this that it says more than it says and takes you away from itself it is a little door that opens into an infinite hall where you may find what you please men thinking to detract say people read more in this or that work of genius than was ever written in it not perceiving that they pay the highest compliment if we pick up the finger and nail of a real man we can decipher a whole story could almost reconstruct the creature again from head to foot but half the body of a mumbo jumbo idle leaves us utterly in the dark as to what the rest was like we see what we see but nothing more there is nothing so universally intelligible as truth it has a thousand meanings and suggests a thousand more he turned over the wooden thing there a man should carve it into matter with the least possible manipulative skill it will yet find interpreters it is the soul that looks out with burning eyes through the most gross fleshly filament whosoever should portray truly the life and death of a little flower its birth sucking in of nourishment reproduction of its kind withering and vanishing would have shaped a symbol of all existence all true facts of nature the mind are related your little carving represents some mental facts as they rarely are therefore 50 different true stories might be read from it what your work wants is not truth but beauty of external form the other half of art he leaned almost gently towards the boy skill may come in time but you'll have to work hard the love of beauty in the desire for it must be born in a man the skill to reproduce it he must make he must work hard all my life I have longed to see you the boy said the stranger broke off the end of his cigar and littered the boy lifted the heavy wood from the strangers knee and drew yet nearer him in the doglike manner of his drawing near there was something superb Lee ridiculous unless one chance to view it in another light presently the stranger said whistling do something for me the boy started up no stay where you are I don't want you to go anywhere I want you to talk to me tell me what you have been doing all your life the boy slumped down again would that the man had asked him to root up bushes with his hands for his horse to feed on water run to the far end of the plain for the fossils that lay there all together the flowers that grew on the hills at the edge of the plain he would have run and been back quickly but now I have never done anything he said then tell me of that nothing I like to know what other folks have been doing whose word I can believe it is interesting what was the first thing you ever wanted very much the boy waited to remember then began hesitatingly but soon the words flowed in the smallest past we find an inexhaustible mine when once we begin to dig it it a confused disordered story the little made large and the large small and nothing showing its inward meaning it is not till the past has receded many steps but before the clearest eyes it falls into co-ordinate pictures it is not till the eye we tell off has ceased to exist that it takes its place among other objective realities and finds its true niche in the picture the present and the near past is a confusion whose meaning flashes on us as its links away into the distance the stranger lit one cigar from the end of another and puffed and listened with half-closed eyes I will remember more to tell you if you like I said the fellow he spoke with that extreme gravity common to all very young things who feel deeply it is not till 20 that we learned to be in deadly earnest and to laugh the stranger nodded while the fellow sought for something more to relate he would tell all to this man of his all that he knew all that he had felt his most innermost sorest thought suddenly the stranger turned upon him boy he said you are happy to be here Waldo looked at him was his delightful one ridiculing him here with this brown earth and these low hills while the real wonderful world lay all beyond fortunate to be here the stranger read his glance yes he said here with the Carew bushes and red sand do you wonder what I mean to all who have been born in the old faith there comes a time of danger when the old slips from us and we have not yet planted our feet on the new we hear the voice from Sinai thundering no mourn the small still voice of reason is not yet heard we have proved the religion of our mothers fed on us to be a delusion in our bewilderment we see no rule by which to guide our steps there by day and yet every day we must step somewhere the stranger leaned forward and spoke more quickly we have never once been taught by word or act to distinguish between religion and the moral laws on which it has artfully fastened itself and from which it has sucked its vitality when we have dragged down the weeds and creepers that covered the solid wall and have found them to be rotten wood we imagine the wall itself to be rotten wood too we find it is solid and standing only when we fall headlong against it we have been taught that all right and wrong originated in the will of an irresponsible being it is some time before we see how the inexorable 'thou shalt and shalt not are carved into the nature of things this is the time of danger his dark misty eyes looked into the boys in the end experience will inevitably teach us at the laws for a wise and Noble life have a foundation infinitely deeper than the theatre of any being God or man even in the groundwork of human nature she will teach us that whoso sheddeth man's blood though by man his blood be not shed there no man avenge and no Hill await yet every drop shall blister on his soul and eat in the name of the Dead she will teach the two so takes a love not lawfully his own gathers a flower with a poison on its petals that whoso revenge's strikes with a sword that has two edges one for his adversary one for himself that who lives to himself is dead though the ground is not yet on him that who wrongs another clouds his own son and that who sins in secret stands accused and condemned to die before the one judge who deals eternal justice his own all-knowing self experience will teach us this and reason will show us why it must be sir but at first the world swings before our eyes and no voice cries out this is the way walk ye in it you are happy to be here boy when the suspense fills you with pain you build stone walls and dig earth for relief others have stood where you stand today and have felt as you feel and another relief has been offered them and they have taken it when the day has come when they have seen the path in which they might walk they have not the strength to follow it habits have fastened on them from which nothing but death can freedom which cling closer than his second hurtle sanctimony to a priest which feed on the intellect like a worm sapping energy hope creative power all that makes a man higher than a beast leaving only the power to yearn to regret and to sink lower in the abyss boy he said and the listener was not more unsmiling now than the speaker you are happy to be here stay where you are if you ever pray let it be only the one old prayer lead us not into temptation live on here quietly the time may yet come when you will be that which other men have hoped to be and never will be now the stranger rose shook the dust from his sleeve and ashamed of his own earnestness looked across the bushes for his horse we should have been on our way already he said we shall have a long ride in the dark tonight Waldo hastened to fetch the animal but he returned bleeding it slowly the sooner it came the sooner would its rider be gone the stranger was opening his saddlebag in which were a bracht French novel and an old brown volume he took the last and held it up to the boy it may be of some help to you he said carelessly it was a gospel to me when I first fell on it you must not expect too much but it may give you Center round which to hang your ideas instead of letting them lie about in a confusion that makes the headache we of this generation are not destined to eat and be satisfied as our fathers were we must be content to go hungry he smiled his automaton smile and re buttoned the bag Waldo thrust the book into his breast and while he saddled the horse the stranger made inquiries as to the nature of the road and the distance to the next farm when the bags were fixed Waldo took up his wooden post and began to fasten it onto the saddle tying it with a little blue cotton handkerchief from his neck the stranger looked on in silence when it was done the boy hill disturbed for him to mount what is your name he inquired and gloving his right hand when he was in the saddle the boy replied well I trust we shall meet again someday sooner or later he shook hands with the unloved hand then drew on the glove and touched his horse and rode slowly away the boy stood to watch him once when the stranger had gone half across the plain he looked back poor devil he said smiling and stroking his Nastasha then he looked to see if the little blue handkerchief was still safely knotted poor devil he smiled and then he sighed wearily very warily and Waldo waited till the moving speck had disappeared on the horizon then he stooped and kissed passionately Ruth mark in the sand then he called his young birds together and put his book under his arm and walked him along the stone wall there was a rare beauty to him in the sunshine that evening end of chapter 2 part 2

Michael Martin

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