- CHAPTER XXXIII. THE JOURNEY.
|<< chapter 32||< chapter 1||chapter 34 >||chapter 37 >>|
To Toby's great joy, he found a goods train would be going as far as Umtali on the morrow, so he decided to journey by it that distance, and then trek across country to Geegi, which would be quicker for him than going all the way round by Salisbury, and would possess the added advantage of a continual move, instead of considerable cause for exasperating waits. Now that the truth had been unexpectedly revealed to him, his whole soul was impatient to return with the least possible delay.
To tell Bobbie of his infinite regret and sorrow, and hear that she forgave him, seemed the only aim his life contained at the moment. That she would forgive him he did not doubt, but he longed to pour into her ears the tale of all his misery and hopelessness and unspeakable longing for her. And then he thought of the story Blake had related of her bravery, and his soul overflowed with love and admiration.
Blake spent the next morning with him, as the train did not depart until mid-day, and Toby could not help thinking him changed, without quite knowing in what particular. Certainly it was a change for the better, though it consisted very largely in | | 288 reticence. All Toby's manœuvring could not get any details from him concerning Van Tyl's attempt upon Sir James Fortescue. It was the one subject he would not talk about, putting him off persistently with the assertion: "Miss Glynn tell you better than I can."
Subsequently he went to the station to see him off, and laughingly presented Toby with a chair to sit on in the guard's van.
"You'll get jolly sick of sitting on just an that offers for this sort of a journey," he said. "Of course, you've brought some food?"
"I've got a loaf of bread, a tin of meat, and a bottle of whisky," Toby told him.
"Not much of a commissariat, but I dare say guard will share with you. It is going to be blazing hot. I don't envy you the trip."
"I shall not have time to remember the heat It's so wonderful to be going back at all. I hardly knew how I ached for everything before. I was afraid to think of it."
"Well, let me know how you get on some day."
"Right you are, and good luck to you in East Africa. Good-bye!"
The whistle sounded, and once more a train moved slowly out of the station, and Toby waved his hand gaily to Blake, standing as still and thoughtful as he himself had done when his little Portuguese friend steamed away into the blackness ahead. Only now the train moved into broad, enveloping sunlight, under a rain-washed sky of intensest blue. Thus is it ever upon the journey of life. For one a wall of blackness, for another radiant sunshine, irrespective | | 289 of persons, irrespective of merit or demerit. Yet it may be that, viewed from the other side of the curtain--the side of the finished design--the blackness of this side adds a beauty and a lustre richer than the result of the sunshine space. It is well to keep in one's mind that distant goal of finished perfection, towards which all light and darkness, sunshine and shadow, are tending; then will it seem of less moment in this present whether our little individual share of work is in gay colours or in drab, so it, as well as may be, helps to complete the finished design.
As Blake had surmised, the guard proved a good fellow, and was pleased to have Toby's company, gladly sharing with him what food he possessed, and the time sped pleasantly. After they left the swamps, the line wound through a luxuriant jungle, and Toby watched eagerly for signs of big game, being rewarded about sunset with the sight of a small troop of elephants apparently in quest of an evening drink. As he had surmised would be the case, he had not had time to remember either the heat or slowness of their speed. All his thoughts were centred upon Bobbie and upon the wonderful change in his life since he met Blake. The very fact of her message comforted him already with her forgiveness, and he let himself build ravishing castles of their future together. He wondered if she would care to live in Cape Town. He would deeply regret leaving Rhodesia himself, but he believed he could win for her a better home there, and in that case he would willingly go. He would ask his uncle to get him a billet, and work hard to become prosperous for her sake.| | 290
But at the back of his mind was a slight hope that she would not wish it. He knew that he loved Rhodesia and the veldt life, and would be like a fish out of water leading a conventional, everyday life in Cape Town. Perhaps Bobbie would feel the same. If so, he would bestir himself with might and main to make a home for her in Rhodesia, and he spent hours turning over in his mind how he might best succeed.
Perhaps, if Ken and Bay won the disputed claim, he could get his father to find some capital and enable him to go into partnership with them. They were sure to want money from somewhere. Only he hated the mere idea of a mine--the endless worry and discomfort, and the horror of having to go underground. No, Bobbie would never want that. Somehow she would help him to think of a better plan.
So they came finally to Umtali, and Toby alighted with a gay heart, and set off into the little town to buy a few necessaries for his trek across veldt. It was not a part of the country he knew, so he met no friends or acquaintances, and at the hotel his thoughts filled him with so much gladness he felt no inclination to trouble to talk to strangers, but rather chose to sit apart and look on and dream. There were some, however, who looked with interest at him. The new air he had acquired at Cape Town, which gave him that touch of the man of the world, became him equally well in Rhodesia. Before, some of the habitues of the hotel would probably have broken in upon his solitude, perceiving him to be, for the most part, a light-hearted boy. Now they respected his aloofness and silence, and asked among themselves | | 291 who he was. For, when he stood up, his six-foot-two and fine shoulders gave him a commanding air, and his handsome face was full of distinction. Thus no news of the country were handed on to him, and no friendly fellow-traveller told him the event of which they had all been talking for the last few weeks, namely, Sir James Fortescue's engagement. Toby bought his few necessaries and a satchel to pack them in, and presently, with one native carrier, started away across country, feeling as if he could sing for very gladness every step of the way, to be once more upon the veldt, heading for his precious store and his shady hut, and, as he truly believed, for the consummation of his life's dream.
|<< chapter 32||< chapter 1||chapter 34 >||chapter 37 >>|