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Vrouw Grobelaar and Her Leading Cases Seventeen Short Stories   By: (1879-1926)

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VROUW GROBELAAR

AND HER LEADING CASES

SEVENTEEN SHORT STORIES

BY

PERCEVAL GIBBON

AUTHOR OF SOULS IN BONDAGE

NEW YORK McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO. MCMVI

Copyright, 1906, by McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.

Published, January, 1906

TO MY WIFE

CONTENTS

UNTO THE THIRD GENERATION

THE DREAM FACE

THE AVENGER OF BLOOD

THE HANDS OF THE PITIFUL WOMAN

PIET NAUDE'S TREK

LIKE UNTO LIKE

COUNTING THE COLORS

THE KING OF THE BABOONS

MORDER DRIFT

A GOOD END

VASCO'S SWEETHEART

THE PERUVIAN

TAGALASH

THE HOME KRAAL

THE SACRIFICE

THE COWARD

HER OWN STORY

UNTO THE THIRD GENERATION

The Vrouw Grobelaar, you must know, is a lady of excellent standing, as much by reason of family connections (for she was a Viljoen of the older stock herself, and buried in her time three husbands of estimable parentage) as of her wealth. Her farms extended from the Ringkop on the one side to the Holgaatspruit on the other, which is more than a day's ride; and her stock appears to be of that ideal species which does not take rinderpest. Her Kafirs were born on the place, and will surely die there, for though the old lady is firmly convinced that she rules them with a rod of iron, the truth is she spoils them atrociously; and were it not that there is an excellent headman to her kraals, the niggers would soon grow pot bellied in idleness.

The Vrouw Grobelaar is a lady who commands respect. Her face is a portentous mask of solemnity, and her figure is spacious beyond the average of Dutch ladies, so that certain chairs are tacitly conceded her as a monopoly. The good Vrouw does not read or write, and having never found a need in herself for these arts, is the least thing impatient of those who practice them. The Psalms, however, she appears to know by heart; also other portions of the Bible; and is capable of spitting Scripture at you on the smallest provocation. Indeed she bubbles with morality, and a mention of "the accursed thing" (which would appear to be a genus and not a species, so many articles of human commerce does it embrace) will set her effervescing with mingled blame and exhortation. But if punishment should come in question, as when a Kafir waylaid and slew a chicken of hers, she displays so prolific an invention in excuses, so generous a partiality for mercy, that not the most irate induna that ever laid down a law of his own could find a pretext for using the stick.

She lives in her homestead with some half dozen of nieces, a nephew or two, and a litter of grandchildren, who know the old lady to the core, cozen and blarney her as they please, and love her with a perfect unanimity. I think she sometimes blames herself for her tyrannical usage of these innocents, who nevertheless thrive remarkably on it. You can hardly get on your horse at the door without maiming an infant, and you can't throw a stone in any direction without killing a marriageable damsel. They pervade the old place like an atmosphere; the kraals ring with their voices, and the Kafirs spend lives of mingled misery and delight at their irresponsible hands.

I do not think I need particularize in the matter of these youngsters, save as regards Katje. Katje refuses to be ignored, and she was no more to be overlooked than a tin tack in the sole of your foot. She was the only child of Vrouw Grobelaar's youngest brother, Barend Viljoen, who died while lion hunting in the Fever Country. At the time I am thinking of Katje might have been eighteen. She was like a poppy among the stubble, so delicate in her bodily fabric, and yet so opulent in shape and coloring. She was the nicest child that ever gave a kiss for the asking (you could kiss her as soon as look at her), but she was also the very devil to deal with if she saw fit to take a distaste of you. I saw her once smack a fathom of able bodied youth on both sides of the head with a lusty vigor that constrained the sufferer to howl... Continue reading book >>




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