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Chapter 31 "GOLDEN JOYS."

  • The voyage to the Cape was long and tedious. On the whole way out, Guy mad_ut few friends, and talked very little to his fellow passengers. That unhapp_ecognition by Granville Kelmscott the evening he went on board the Ceteway_oisoned the fugitive's mind for the entire passage. He felt himself, in fact,
  • a moral outcast; he slunk away from his kind; he hardly dared to mee_elmscott's eyes for shame, whenever he passed him. But for one thing at leas_e was truly grateful. Though Kelmscott had evidently discovered from th_apers the nature of Guy's crime, and knew his real name well, it was clear h_ad said nothing of any sort on the subject to the other passengers. Only on_an on board was aware of his guilt, Guy believed, and that one man he shunne_ccordingly as far as was possible within the narrow limits of the saloon an_he quarter-deck.
  • Granville Kelmscott, of course, took a very different view of Guy Waring'_osition. He had read in the paper he bought at Plymouth that Guy was th_urderer of Montague Nevitt. Regarding him, therefore, as a criminal of th_eepest dye now flying from justice, he wasn't at all surprised at Guy'_hrinking and shunning him; what astonished him rather was the man'_ccasional and incredible fits of effrontery. How that fellow could ever laug_nd talk at all among the ladies on deck—with the hangman at his back—simpl_ppalled and horrified the proud soul of a Kelmscott. Granville had hard wor_o keep from expressing his horror openly at times. But still, with an effort,
  • he kept his peace. With the picture of his father and Lady Emily now stron_efore his mind, he couldn't find it in his heart to bring his own half-
  • brother, however guilty and criminal the man might be, to the foot of th_allows.
  • So they voyaged on together without once interchanging a single word, all th_ay from Plymouth to the Cape Colony. And the day they landed at Por_lizabeth, it was an infinite relief indeed to Guy to think he could now ge_ell away for ever from that fellow Kelmscott. Not being by any means over-
  • burdened with ready cash, however, Guy determined to waste no time in th_oastwise towns, but to make his way at once boldly up country toward_imberley. The railway ran then only as far as Grahamstown; the rest of hi_ourney to the South African Golconda was accomplished by road, in a two-
  • wheeled cart, drawn by four small horses, which rattled along with a will, u_ill and down dale, over the precarious highways of that semi-civilize_pland.
  • To Guy, just fresh from England and the monotonous sea, there was a certai_xhilaration in this first hasty glimpse of the infinite luxuriance of sub-
  • tropical nature. At times he almost forgot Montague Nevitt and the forgery i_he boundless sense of freedom and novelty given him by those vast wastes o_olling tableland, thickly covered with grass or low thorny acacias, an_tretching illimitably away in low range after range to the blue mountains i_he distance. It was strange indeed to him on the wide plains through whic_hey scurried in wild haste to see the springbok rush away from the doubtfu_rack at the first whirr of their wheels, or the bolder bustard stand and gaz_mong the long grass, with his wary eye turned sideways to look at them. Gu_elt for the moment he had left Europe and its reminiscences now fairly behin_im; in this free new world, he was free once more himself; his shame was cas_side; he could revel like the antelopes in the immensity of a land wher_obody knew him and he knew nobody.
  • What added most of all, however, to this quaint new sense of vastness an_reedom was the occasional appearance of naked blacks, roaming at larg_hrough the burnt-up fields of which till lately they had been undispute_ossessors. Day after day Guy drove on along the uncertain roads, past quee_utlying towns of white wooden houses—Cradock, and Middelburg, and Colesberg,
  • and others—till they crossed at last the boundary of Orange River into th_ree State, and halted for a while in the main street of Philippolis.
  • It was a dreary place; Guy began now to see the other side of South Africa.
  • Though he had left England in autumn, it was spring-time at the Cape, and th_inter drought had parched up all the grass, leaving the bare red dust in th_oads or streets as dry and desolate as the sand of the desert. The tow_tself consisted of some sixty melancholy and distressful houses, bare,
  • square, and flat-roofed, standing unenclosed along a dismal high-road, an_ith that congenitally shabby look, in spite of their newness, which seems t_elong by nature to all southern buildings. Some stagnant pools alone remaine_o attest the presence after rain of a roaring brook, the pits in whose dried-
  • up channel they now occupied; over their tops hung the faded foliage of a fe_ust-laden trees, struggling hard for life with the energy of despair agains_epressing circumstances. It was a picture that gave Guy a sudden attack o_essimism; if THIS was the El Dorado towards which he was going, he earnestl_ished himself back again once more, forgery or no forgery, among the breez_reen fields of dear old England.
  • On to Fauresmith he travelled with less comfort than before in a rickety bugg_f most primitive construction, designed to meet the needs of rough mountai_oads, and as innocent of springs as Guy himself of the murder of Montagu_evitt. It was a wretched drive. The drought had now broken; the wet seaso_ad begun; rain fell heavily. A piercing cold wind blew down from the neare_ountains; and Guy began to feel still more acutely than ever that Sout_frica was by no means an earthly paradise. As he drove on and on this feelin_eepened upon him. Huge blocks of stone obstructed the rough road, intersecte_s it was by deep cart-wheel ruts, down which the rain-water now flowed i_mpromptu torrents. The Dutch driver, too, anxious to show the mettle of hi_oarse-limbed steeds, persisted in dashing over the hummocky ground at _reak-neck pace, while Guy balanced himself with difficulty on the narro_eat, hanging on to his portmanteau for dear life among the jerks and jolts,
  • till his ringers were numbed with cold and exposure.
  • They held out against it all, before the pelting rain, till man and beast wer_ell-nigh exhausted. At last, about three-quarters of the way to Fauresmith,
  • on the bleak bare hill-tops, sleety snow began to fall in big flakes, and th_arking of a dog to be heard in the distance. The Boer driver pricked up hi_ars at the sound.
  • "That must a house be," he remarked in his Dutch pigeon-English to Guy; an_uy felt in his soul that the most miserable and filthy of Kaffir huts woul_ust then be a welcome sight to his weary eyes. He would have given _overeign, indeed, from the scanty store he possessed, for a night's lodgin_n a convenient dog-kennel. He was agreeably surprised, therefore, to find i_as a comfortable farmhouse, where the lights in the casement beamed forth _heery welcome on the wet and draggled wayfarers from real glass windows. Th_armer within received them hospitably. Business was brisk to-day. Anothe_raveller, he said, had just gone on towards Fauresmith.
  • "A young man like yourself, fresh from England," the farmer observed, scannin_uy closely. "He's off for the diamond diggings. I think to Dutoitspan."
  • Guy rested the right there, thinking nothing of the stranger, and went on nex_ay more quietly to Fauresmith. Thence to the diamond fields, the countr_ecame at each step more sombre and more monotonous than ever. In th_fternoon they rested at Jacobsdal, another dusty, dreary, comfortless place,
  • consisting of about five and twenty bankrupt houses scattered in bare clump_ver a scorched-up desert. Then on again next day, over a drearier and eve_rearier expanse of landscape. It was ghastly. It was horrible. At last, o_he top of a dismal hill range, looking down on a deep dale, the drive_alted. In the vast flat below, a dull dense fog seemed to envelop the worl_ith inscrutable mists. The driver pointed to it with his demonstrative whip.
  • "Down yonder," he said encouragingly, as he put the skid on his wheel, "dow_onder's the diamond fields—that's Dutoitspan before you."
  • "What makes it so grey?" Guy asked, looking in front of him with a sinkin_eart. This first view of his future home was by no means encouraging.
  • "Oh, the sand make it be like that," the driver answered unconcernedly.
  • "Diamond fields all make up of fine red sand; and diggers pile it about aroun_heir own claims. Then the wind comes and blow, and make sandstorm alway_round Dutoitspan."
  • Guy groaned inwardly. This was certainly NOT the El Dorado of his fancy. The_escended the hill, at the same break-neck pace as before, and entered th_iserable mushroom town of diamond-grubbers. Amidst the huts in the digging_reat heaps of red earth lay piled up everywhere. Dust and sand rose high o_he hot breeze into the stifling air. As they reached the encampment—fo_utoitspan then was little more than a camp—the blinding mists of solid re_articles drove so thick in their eyes that Guy could hardly see a few yard_efore him. Their clothes and faces were literally encrusted in thick coats o_ust. The fine red mist seemed to pervade everything. It filled their eyes,
  • their nostrils, their ears, their mouths. They breathed solid dust. The ai_as laden deep with it.
  • And THIS was the diamond fields! This was the Golconda where Guy was to fin_ix thousand pounds ready made to recover his losses and to repay Cyril. Oh,
  • horrible, horrible. His heart sank low at it.
  • And still they went on, and on, and on, and on, through the mist of dust t_he place for out-spanning. Guy only shared the common fate of all new-comer_o "the fields" in feeling much distressed and really ill. The very horses i_he cart snorted and sneezed and showed their high displeasure by trying ever_ow and then to jib and turn back again. Here and there, on either side, t_ight and left, where the gloom permitted it, Guy made out dimly a few roun_r oblong tents, with occasional rude huts of corrugated iron. A few uncertai_igures lounged vaguely in the background. On closer inspection they proved t_e much-grimed and half-naked natives, resting their weary limbs on piles o_ry dust after their toil in the diggings.
  • It was an unearthly scene. Guy's heart sank lower and lower still at ever_tep the horses took into that howling wilderness.
  • At last the driver drew up with a jolt in front of a long low hut o_orrugated iron, somewhat larger than the rest, but no less dull and dreary.
  • "The hotel," he said briefly; and Guy jumped out to secure himself a night'_odging or so at this place of entertainment, till he could negotiate for _ut and a decent claim, and commence his digging.
  • At the bar of the primitive saloon where he found himself landed, a man in _rey tweed suit was already seated. He was drinking something fizzy from _all soda-water glass. With a sudden start of horror Guy recognised him a_nce. Oh, great heavens, what was this? It was Granville Kelmscott!
  • Then Granville, too, was bound for the diamond fields like himself. What a_ncredible coincidence! How strange! How inexplicable! That rich man's son,
  • the pampered heir to Tilgate! what could HE be doing here, in this out-of-the-
  • way spot, this last resort of poor broken-down men, this miserable haunt o_retched gambling money-grubbers?
  • Here curiosity, surely, must have drawn him to the spot. He couldn't have com_o DIG! Guy gazed in amazement at that grey tweed suit. He must be staying fo_ day or two in search of adventure. No more than just that! He couldn't mea_o STOP here.
  • As he gazed and stood open-mouthed in the shadow of the door, Granvill_elmscott, who hadn't seen him enter, laid down his glass, wiped his lips wit_usto, and continued his conversation with the complacent barman.
  • "Yes, I want a hut here," he said, "and to buy a good claim. I've been lookin_ver the kopje down by Watson's spare land, and I think I've seen a lot that'_ikely to suit me."
  • Guy sould hardly restrain his astonishment and surprise. He had come, then, t_ig! Oh, incredible! impossible!
  • But at any rate this settled his own immediate movements. Guy's mind was mad_p at once. If Granville Kelmscott was going to dig at Dutoitspan—why, clearl_utoitspan was no place for HIM. He could never stand the continual presenc_f the one man in South Africa who knew his deadly secret. Come what might h_ust leave the neighbourhood without a moment's delay. He must strike out a_nce for the far interior. As he paused, Granville Kelmscott turned round an_aw him. Their eyes met with a start. Each was equally astonished. The_ranville rose slowly from his seat, and murmured in a low voice, as h_egarded him fixedly—
  • "You here again, Mr. Billington! This is once too often. I hardly expecte_HIS. There's no room here for both of us."
  • And he strode from the saloon, with a very black brow, leaving Guy for th_oment alone with the barman.