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Tales of South Africa
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Tales of South Africa
Publisher Marketing: This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1896 edition. Excerpt: ...smoking his big pipe as usual. Hendrika walked steadily across and up to the firelight. Only the Boer sat there; his servants were already asleep under the wagon. Schalk turned in his chair and looked up at his visitor as she approached. It was not a pleasant face to-night. The man was evidently in a sullen, obstinate fit of temper at the general outlook, and his aspect was discouraging enough. Hendrika broke the silence. " Meneer Oosthuysen," she said, rather hurriedly for her, " I have come to beg some water. My boy is sick and feverish, and my vatje is empty. I have not a drop of water left. I expected my husband back this evening with a fresh supply; he has not arrived, and there are no signs of him. You can help me, can you not? " A curious expression flitted over the impassive countenance of the Boer: it passed like a fleeting shadow, but the firelight just caught it. " Hendrika Van Staden, why should you come to me now? " he said. " All was over between us, you said; and I wanted to see your face no more. I have scarcely enough water for myself and my men for another day. My oxen may not be back, the Lord knows when! In these times one must look after oneself. Your husband will be back by morning, no doubt, and your boy can wait till then. No, I cannot help you. Allemaghte! why should 1, indeed? All my troubles come from you. You have treated me scurvily in the past; my turn has come now!" The last few days of suffering and disaster--for he had already lost heavily among his cattle--seemed to have changed the man's nature. All his evil impulses had come uppermost. Hendrika argued, pleaded, threatened, cast away her pride and implored Oosthuysen, by all the memories of their youth together, to help her, even with a beaker or two of water....