a great height, but becoming involved in the snow-drifts

time:2023-12-07 04:00:28 source:Stately net author:government

There was no more sleep for Wardlaw and myself that night. We made the best barricade we could of the windows, loaded all our weapons, and trusted to Colin to give us early news. Before supper I went over to get Japp to join us, but found that that worthy had sought help from his old protector, the bottle, and was already sound asleep with both door and window open.

a great height, but becoming involved in the snow-drifts

I had made up my mind that death was certain, and yet my heart belied my conviction, and I could not feel the appropriate mood. If anything I was more cheerful since I had heard the drums. It was clearly now beyond the power of me or any man to stop the march of events. My thoughts ran on a native rising, and I kept telling myself how little that was probable. Where were the arms, the leader, the discipline? At any rate such arguments put me to sleep before dawn, and I wakened at eight to find that nothing had happened. The clear morning sunlight, as of old, made Blaauwildebeestefontein the place of a dream. Zeeta brought in my cup of coffee as if this day were just like all others, my pipe tasted as sweet, the fresh air from the Berg blew as fragrantly on my brow. I went over to the store in reasonably good spirits, leaving Wardlaw busy on the penitential Psalms.

a great height, but becoming involved in the snow-drifts

The post-runner had brought the mail as usual, and there was one private letter for me. I opened it with great excitement, for the envelope bore the stamp of the firm. At last Colles had deigned to answer.

a great height, but becoming involved in the snow-drifts

Inside was a sheet of the firm's notepaper, with the signature of Colles across the top. Below some one had pencilled these five words:

'The Blesbok* are changing ground.' *A species of buck.

I looked to see that Japp had not suffocated himself, then shut up the store, and went back to my room to think out this new mystification.

The thing had come from Colles, for it was the private notepaper of the Durban office, and there was Colles' signature. But the pencilling was in a different hand. My deduction from this was that some one wished to send me a message, and that Colles had given that some one a sheet of signed paper to serve as a kind of introduction. I might take it, therefore, that the scribble was Colles' reply to my letter.

Now, my argument continued, if the unknown person saw fit to send me a message, it could not be merely one of warning. Colles must have told him that I was awake to some danger, and as I was in Blaauwildebeestefontein, I must be nearer the heart of things than any one else. The message must therefore be in the nature of some password, which I was to remember when I heard it again.


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