DREAM LIFE AND REAL LIFE
DREAM LIFE AND REAL LIFE
II. The Woman's Rose.
III. "The Policy in Favour of Protection--".
Kopjes - In the karoo are hillocks of stones that rise up singly or in
clusters here and there; presenting sometimes the fantastic appearance of
old ruined castles or giant graves the work of human hands.
Kraal - A sheepfold.
Krantz - A precipice.
Sluit - A deep fissure generally dry in which the superfluous torrents of
water are carried from the karoo plains after thunderstorms.
Stoep - A porch.
I. DREAM LIFE AND REAL LIFE; A LITTLE AFRICAN STORY.
Little Jannita sat alone beside a milk-bush. Before her and behind her
stretched the plain covered with red sand and thorny karoo bushes; and
here and there a milk-bush looking like a bundle of pale green rods tied
together. Not a tree was to be seen anywhere except on the banks of the
river and that was far away and the sun beat on her head. Round her fed
the Angora goats she was herding; pretty things especially the little
ones with white silky curls that touched the ground. But Jannita sat
crying. If an angel should gather up in his cup all the tears that have
been shed I think the bitterest would be those of children.
By and by she was so tired and the sun was so hot she laid her head
against the milk-bush and dropped asleep.
She dreamed a beautiful dream. She thought that when she went back to the
farmhouse in the evening the walls were covered with vines and roses and
the kraals were not made of red stone but of lilac trees full of blossom.
And the fat old Boer smiled at her; and the stick he held across the door
for the goats to jump over was a lily rod with seven blossoms at the end.
When she went to the house her mistress gave her a whole roaster-cake for
her supper and the mistress's daughter had stuck a rose in the cake; and
her mistress's son-in-law said "Thank you!" when she pulled off his boots
and did not kick her.
It was a beautiful dream.
While she lay thus dreaming one of the little kids came and licked her on
her cheek because of the salt from her dried-up tears. And in her dream
she was not a poor indentured child any more living with Boers. It was
her father who kissed her. He said he had only been asleep--that day when
he lay down under the thorn-bush; he had not really died. He felt her
hair and said it was grown long and silky and he said they would go back
to Denmark now. He asked her why her feet were bare and what the marks on
her back were. Then he put her head on his shoulder and picked her up
and carried her away away! She laughed--she could feel her face against
his brown beard. His arms were so strong.
As she lay there dreaming with the ants running over her naked feet and
with her brown curls lying in the sand a Hottentot came up to her. He was
dressed in ragged yellow trousers and a dirty shirt and torn jacket. He
had a red handkerchief round his head and a felt hat above that. His nose
was flat his eyes like slits and the wool on his head was gathered into
little round balls. He came to the milk-bush and looked at the little
girl lying in the hot sun. Then he walked off and caught one of the
fattest little Angora goats and held its mouth fast as he stuck it under
his arm. He looked back to see that she was still sleeping and jumped down
into one of the sluits. He walked down the bed of the sluit a little way
and came to an overhanging bank under which sitting on the red sand were
two men. One was a tiny ragged old bushman four feet high; the other
was an English navvy in a dark blue blouse. They cut the kid's throat
with the navvy's long knife and covered up the blood with sand and buried
the entrails and skin. Then they talked and quarrelled a little; and then
they talked quietly again.
The Hottentot man put a leg of the kid under his coat and left the rest of
the meat for the two in the sluit and walked away.
When little Jannita awoke it was almost sunset. She sat up very
frightened but her goats were all about her. She began to drive them
home. "I do not think there are any lost" she said.
Dirk the Hottentot had brought his flock home already and stood at the
kraal door with his ragged yellow trousers. The fat old Boer put his stick
across the door and let Jannita's goats jump over one by one. He counted
them. When the last jumped over: "Have you been to sleep today?" he said;
"there is one missing."
Then little Jannita knew what was coming and she said in a low voice
"No." And then she felt in her heart that deadly sickness that you feel
when you tell a lie; and again she said "Yes."
"Do you think you will have any supper this evening?" said the Boer.
"No" said Jannita.
"What do you think you will have?"
"I don't know" said Jannita.
"Give me your whip" said the Boer to Dirk the Hottentot.
The moon was all but full that night. Oh but its light was beautiful!
The little girl crept to the door of the outhouse where she slept and
looked at it. When you are hungry and very very sore you do not cry.
She leaned her chin on one hand and looked with her great dove's eyes--
the other hand was cut open so she wrapped it in her pinafore. She looked
across the plain at the sand and the low karoo-bushes with the moonlight
Presently there came slowly from far away a wild springbuck. It came
close to the house and stood looking at it in wonder while the moonlight
glinted on its horns and in its great eyes. It stood wondering at the red
brick walls and the girl watched it. Then suddenly as if it scorned it
all it curved its beautiful back and turned; and away it fled over the
bushes and sand like a sheeny streak of white lightning. She stood up to
watch it. So free so free! Away away! She watched till she could see
it no more on the wide plain.
Her heart swelled larger larger larger: she uttered a low cry; and
without waiting pausing thinking she followed on its track. Away away
away! "I--I also!" she said "I--I also!"
When at last her legs began to tremble under her and she stopped to
breathe the house was a speck behind her. She dropped on the earth and
held her panting sides.
She began to think now.
If she stayed on the plain they would trace her footsteps in the morning
and catch her; but if she waded in the water in the bed of the river they
would not be able to find her footmarks; and she would hide there where
the rocks and the kopjes were.
So she stood up and walked towards the river. The water in the river was
low; just a line of silver in the broad bed of sand here and there
broadening into a pool. She stepped into it and bathed her feet in the
delicious cold water. Up and up the stream she walked where it rattled
over the pebbles and past where the farmhouse lay; and where the rocks
were large she leaped from one to the other. The night wind in her face
made her strong--she laughed. She had never felt such night wind before.
So the night smells to the wild bucks because they are free! A free thing
feels as a chained thing never can.
At last she came to a place where the willows grew on each side of the
river and trailed their long branches on the sandy bed. She could not
tell why she could not tell the reason but a feeling of fear came over
On the left bank rose a chain of kopjes and a precipice of rocks. Between
the precipice and the river bank there was a narrow path covered by the
fragments of fallen rock. And upon the summit of the precipice a kippersol
tree grew whose palm-like leaves were clearly cut out against the night
sky. The rocks cast a deep shadow and the willow trees on either side of
the river. She paused looked up and about her and then ran on fearful.
"What was I afraid of? How foolish I have been!" she said when she came
to a place where the trees were not so close together. And she stood still
and looked back and shivered.
At last her steps grew wearier and wearier. She was very sleepy now she
could scarcely lift her feet. She stepped out of the river-bed. She only
saw that the rocks about her were wild as though many little kopjes had
been broken up and strewn upon the ground lay down at the foot of an aloe
and fell asleep.
But in the morning she saw what a glorious place it was. The rocks were
piled on one another and tossed this way and that. Prickly pears grew
among them and there were no less than six kippersol trees scattered here
and there among the broken kopjes. In the rocks there were hundreds of
homes for the conies and from the crevices wild asparagus hung down. She
ran to the river bathed in the clear cold water and tossed it over her
head. She sang aloud. All the songs she knew were sad so she could not
sing them now she was glad she was so free; but she sang the notes
without the words as the cock-o-veets do. Singing and jumping all the
way she went back and took a sharp stone and cut at the root of a
kippersol and got out a large piece as long as her arm and sat to chew
it. Two conies came out on the rock above her head and peeped at her. She
held them out a piece but they did not want it and ran away.
It was very delicious to her. Kippersol is like raw quince when it is
very green; but she liked it. When good food is thrown at you by other
people strange to say it is very bitter; but whatever you find yourself
When she had finished she dug out another piece and went to look for a
pantry to put it in. At the top of a heap of rocks up which she clambered
she found that some large stones stood apart but met at the top making a
"Oh this is my little home!" she said.
At the top and all round it was closed only in the front it was open.
There was a beautiful shelf in the wall for the kippersol and she
scrambled down again. She brought a great bunch of prickly pear and stuck
it in a crevice before the door and hung wild asparagus over it till it
looked as though it grew there. No one could see that there was a room
there for she left only a tiny opening and hung a branch of feathery
asparagus over it. Then she crept in to see how it looked. There was a
glorious soft green light. Then she went out and picked some of those
purple little ground flowers--you know them--those that keep their faces
close to the ground but when you turn them up and look at them they are
deep blue eyes looking into yours! She took them with a little earth and
put them in the crevices between the rocks; and so the room was quite
furnished. Afterwards she went down to the river and brought her arms full
of willow and made a lovely bed; and because the weather was very hot
she lay down to rest upon it.
She went to sleep soon and slept long for she was very weak. Late in the