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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tum Hi Ho Aashiqui 2 Full Song With Lyrics

(Hum tere bin ab reh nahi sakte
 Tere bina kya wajood mera) - 2
 Tujhse juda gar ho jaayenge
 Toh khud se hi ho jaayenge judaa
 Kyunki tum hi ho ab tum hi ho zindagi ab tum hi ho
 Chain bhi mera dard bhi meri aashiqui ab tum hi ho
 Tera mera rishta hai kaisa ek pal door gawara nahi
 Tere liye har roz hai jeete tujh ko diya mera waqt sabhi
 Koi lamha mera na ho tere bina har saans pe naam tera
 Kyunki tum hi ho ab tum hi ho zindagi ab tum hi ho
 Chain bhi mera dard bhi meri aashiqui ab tum hi ho
 Tumhi ho..... tumhi ho.......
 Tere liye hi jiya main khud ko jo yun de diya hai
 Teri wafa ne mujhko sambhala saare ghamon ko dil se nikala
 Tere saath mera hai nasib juda tujhe paake adhura naa raha hmm..
 (Kyunki tum hi ho ab tum hi ho zindagi ab tum hi ho..
 Chain bhi mera dard bhi meri aashiqui ab tum hi ho) - 2

Sunn Raha Hai Na Tu Aashiqui 2 Full Song With Lyrics

Apne karam ki kar adaayein
 Yaara yaaraa yaara.......
 Mujhko iraade de kasamein de waade de
 Meri duaaon ke ishaaron ko sahaare de
 Dil ko thikaane de naye bahaane de
 Khaabon ki baarishon ko mausam ke paimane de
 Apne karam ki kar adaayein
 Kar de idhar bhi tu nigaahein
 (Sun raha hai naa tu ro raha hun main
 Sun raha hai naa tu kyun ro raha hun main) - 2
 Manzilein ruswa hain khoya hai raasta
 Aaye le jaaye itni si iltejaa
 Ye meri zamanat hai tu meri amaanat hai haan
 Apne karam ki kar adayein
 Kar de idhar bhi tu nigaahein
 Sun raha hai naa tu ro raha hoon main
 Sun raha hai naa tu kyun ro raha hun main
 Waqt bhi thehara hai kaise kyun ye huaa
 Kaash tu aise aaye jaise koi duaa
 Tu rooh ki raahat hai tu meri ibaadat hai.....
 Apne karam ki kar adaayein
 Kar de idhar bhi tu nigaahein
 (Sun raha hai naa tu ro raha hoon main
 Sun raha hai naa tu kyun ro raha hun main) - 4

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell (1893-1949)

"OFF THERE to the right--somewhere--is a large island," said Whitney." It's rather a mystery--"
"What island is it?" Rainsford asked.
"The old charts call it `Ship-Trap Island,"' Whitney replied." A suggestive name, isn't it? Sailors have a curious dread of the place. I don't know why. Some superstition--"
"Can't see it," remarked Rainsford, trying to peer through the dank tropical night that was palpable as it pressed its thick warm blackness in upon the yacht.
"You've good eyes," said Whitney, with a laugh," and I've seen you pick off a moose moving in the brown fall bush at four hundred yards, but even you can't see four miles or so through a moonless Caribbean night."
"Nor four yards," admitted Rainsford. "Ugh! It's like moist black velvet."
"It will be light enough in Rio," promised Whitney. "We should make it in a few days. I hope the jaguar guns have come from Purdey's. We should have some good hunting up the Amazon. Great sport, hunting."
"The best sport in the world," agreed Rainsford.
"For the hunter," amended Whitney. "Not for the jaguar."
"Don't talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "You're a big-game hunter, not a philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?"
"Perhaps the jaguar does," observed Whitney.
"Bah! They've no understanding."
"Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear. The fear of pain and the fear of death."
"Nonsense," laughed Rainsford. "This hot weather is making you soft, Whitney. Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes--the hunters and the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters. Do you think we've passed that island yet?"
"I can't tell in the dark. I hope so."
"Why? " asked Rainsford.
"The place has a reputation--a bad one."
"Cannibals?" suggested Rainsford.
"Hardly. Even cannibals wouldn't live in such a God-forsaken place. But it's gotten into sailor lore, somehow. Didn't you notice that the crew's nerves seemed a bit jumpy today?"
"They were a bit strange, now you mention it. Even Captain Nielsen--"
"Yes, even that tough-minded old Swede, who'd go up to the devil himself and ask him for a light. Those fishy blue eyes held a look I never saw there before. All I could get out of him was `This place has an evil name among seafaring men, sir.' Then he said to me, very gravely, `Don't you feel anything?'--as if the air about us was actually poisonous. Now, you mustn't laugh when I tell you this--I did feel something like a sudden chill.
"There was no breeze. The sea was as flat as a plate-glass window. We were drawing near the island then. What I felt was a--a mental chill; a sort of sudden dread."
"Pure imagination," said Rainsford.
"One superstitious sailor can taint the whole ship's company with his fear."
"Maybe. But sometimes I think sailors have an extra sense that tells them when they are in danger. Sometimes I think evil is a tangible thing--with wave lengths, just as sound and light have. An evil place can, so to speak, broadcast vibrations of evil. Anyhow, I'm glad we're getting out of this zone. Well, I think I'll turn in now, Rainsford."
"I'm not sleepy," said Rainsford. "I'm going to smoke another pipe up on the afterdeck."
"Good night, then, Rainsford. See you at breakfast."
"Right. Good night, Whitney."
There was no sound in the night as Rainsford sat there but the muffled throb of the engine that drove the yacht swiftly through the darkness, and the swish and ripple of the wash of the propeller.
Rainsford, reclining in a steamer chair, indolently puffed on his favorite brier. The sensuous drowsiness of the night was on him." It's so dark," he thought, "that I could sleep without closing my eyes; the night would be my eyelids--"
An abrupt sound startled him. Off to the right he heard it, and his ears, expert in such matters, could not be mistaken. Again he heard the sound, and again. Somewhere, off in the blackness, someone had fired a gun three times.
Rainsford sprang up and moved quickly to the rail, mystified. He strained his eyes in the direction from which the reports had come, but it was like trying to see through a blanket. He leaped upon the rail and balanced himself there, to get greater elevation; his pipe, striking a rope, was knocked from his mouth. He lunged for it; a short, hoarse cry came from his lips as he realized he had reached too far and had lost his balance. The cry was pinched off short as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea dosed over his head.
He struggled up to the surface and tried to cry out, but the wash from the speeding yacht slapped him in the face and the salt water in his open mouth made him gag and strangle. Desperately he struck out with strong strokes after the receding lights of the yacht, but he stopped before he had swum fifty feet. A certain coolheadedness had come to him; it was not the first time he had been in a tight place. There was a chance that his cries could be heard by someone aboard the yacht, but that chance was slender and grew more slender as the yacht raced on. He wrestled himself out of his clothes and shouted with all his power. The lights of the yacht became faint and ever-vanishing fireflies; then they were blotted out entirely by the night.
Rainsford remembered the shots. They had come from the right, and doggedly he swam in that direction, swimming with slow, deliberate strokes, conserving his strength. For a seemingly endless time he fought the sea. He began to count his strokes; he could do possibly a hundred more and then--
Rainsford heard a sound. It came out of the darkness, a high screaming sound, the sound of an animal in an extremity of anguish and terror.
He did not recognize the animal that made the sound; he did not try to; with fresh vitality he swam toward the sound. He heard it again; then it was cut short by another noise, crisp, staccato.
"Pistol shot," muttered Rainsford, swimming on.
Ten minutes of determined effort brought another sound to his ears--the most welcome he had ever heard--the muttering and growling of the sea breaking on a rocky shore. He was almost on the rocks before he saw them; on a night less calm he would have been shattered against them. With his remaining strength he dragged himself from the swirling waters. Jagged crags appeared to jut up into the opaqueness; he forced himself upward, hand over hand. Gasping, his hands raw, he reached a flat place at the top. Dense jungle came down to the very edge of the cliffs. What perils that tangle of trees and underbrush might hold for him did not concern Rainsford just then. All he knew was that he was safe from his enemy, the sea, and that utter weariness was on him. He flung himself down at the jungle edge and tumbled headlong into the deepest sleep of his life.
When he opened his eyes he knew from the position of the sun that it was late in the afternoon. Sleep had given him new vigor; a sharp hunger was picking at him. He looked about him, almost cheerfully.
"Where there are pistol shots, there are men. Where there are men, there is food," he thought. But what kind of men, he wondered, in so forbidding a place? An unbroken front of snarled and ragged jungle fringed the shore.
He saw no sign of a trail through the closely knit web of weeds and trees; it was easier to go along the shore, and Rainsford floundered along by the water. Not far from where he landed, he stopped.
Some wounded thing--by the evidence, a large animal--had thrashed about in the underbrush; the jungle weeds were crushed down and the moss was lacerated; one patch of weeds was stained crimson. A small, glittering object not far away caught Rainsford's eye and he picked it up. It was an empty cartridge.
"A twenty-two," he remarked. "That's odd. It must have been a fairly large animal too. The hunter had his nerve with him to tackle it with a light gun. It's clear that the brute put up a fight. I suppose the first three shots I heard was when the hunter flushed his quarry and wounded it. The last shot was when he trailed it here and finished it."
He examined the ground closely and found what he had hoped to find--the print of hunting boots. They pointed along the cliff in the direction he had been going. Eagerly he hurried along, now slipping on a rotten log or a loose stone, but making headway; night was beginning to settle down on the island.
Bleak darkness was blacking out the sea and jungle when Rainsford sighted the lights. He came upon them as he turned a crook in the coast line; and his first thought was that be had come upon a village, for there were many lights. But as he forged along he saw to his great astonishment that all the lights were in one enormous building--a lofty structure with pointed towers plunging upward into the gloom. His eyes made out the shadowy outlines of a palatial chateau; it was set on a high bluff, and on three sides of it cliffs dived down to where the sea licked greedy lips in the shadows.
"Mirage," thought Rainsford. But it was no mirage, he found, when he opened the tall spiked iron gate. The stone steps were real enough; the massive door with a leering gargoyle for a knocker was real enough; yet above it all hung an air of unreality.
He lifted the knocker, and it creaked up stiffly, as if it had never before been used. He let it fall, and it startled him with its booming loudness. He thought he heard steps within; the door remained closed. Again Rainsford lifted the heavy knocker, and let it fall. The door opened then--opened as suddenly as if it were on a spring--and Rainsford stood blinking in the river of glaring gold light that poured out. The first thing Rainsford's eyes discerned was the largest man Rainsford had ever seen--a gigantic creature, solidly made and black bearded to the waist. In his hand the man held a long-barreled revolver, and he was pointing it straight at Rainsford's heart.
Out of the snarl of beard two small eyes regarded Rainsford.
"Don't be alarmed," said Rainsford, with a smile which he hoped was disarming. "I'm no robber. I fell off a yacht. My name is Sanger Rainsford of New York City."
The menacing look in the eyes did not change. The revolver pointing as rigidly as if the giant were a statue. He gave no sign that he understood Rainsford's words, or that he had even heard them. He was dressed in uniform--a black uniform trimmed with gray astrakhan.
"I'm Sanger Rainsford of New York," Rainsford began again. "I fell off a yacht. I am hungry."
The man's only answer was to raise with his thumb the hammer of his revolver. Then Rainsford saw the man's free hand go to his forehead in a military salute, and he saw him click his heels together and stand at attention. Another man was coming down the broad marble steps, an erect, slender man in evening clothes. He advanced to Rainsford and held out his hand.
In a cultivated voice marked by a slight accent that gave it added precision and deliberateness, he said, "It is a very great pleasure and honor to welcome Mr. Sanger Rainsford, the celebrated hunter, to my home."
Automatically Rainsford shook the man's hand.
"I've read your book about hunting snow leopards in Tibet, you see," explained the man. "I am General Zaroff."
Rainsford's first impression was that the man was singularly handsome; his second was that there was an original, almost bizarre quality about the general's face. He was a tall man past middle age, for his hair was a vivid white; but his thick eyebrows and pointed military mustache were as black as the night from which Rainsford had come. His eyes, too, were black and very bright. He had high cheekbones, a sharpcut nose, a spare, dark face--the face of a man used to giving orders, the face of an aristocrat. Turning to the giant in uniform, the general made a sign. The giant put away his pistol, saluted, withdrew.
"Ivan is an incredibly strong fellow," remarked the general, "but he has the misfortune to be deaf and dumb. A simple fellow, but, I'm afraid, like all his race, a bit of a savage."
"Is he Russian?"
"He is a Cossack," said the general, and his smile showed red lips and pointed teeth. "So am I."
"Come," he said, "we shouldn't be chatting here. We can talk later. Now you want clothes, food, rest. You shall have them. This is a most-restful spot."
Ivan had reappeared, and the general spoke to him with lips that moved but gave forth no sound.
"Follow Ivan, if you please, Mr. Rainsford," said the general. "I was about to have my dinner when you came. I'll wait for you. You'll find that my clothes will fit you, I think."
It was to a huge, beam-ceilinged bedroom with a canopied bed big enough for six men that Rainsford followed the silent giant. Ivan laid out an evening suit, and Rainsford, as he put it on, noticed that it came from a London tailor who ordinarily cut and sewed for none below the rank of duke.
The dining room to which Ivan conducted him was in many ways remarkable. There was a medieval magnificence about it; it suggested a baronial hall of feudal times with its oaken panels, its high ceiling, its vast refectory tables where twoscore men could sit down to eat. About the hall were mounted heads of many animals--lions, tigers, elephants, moose, bears; larger or more perfect specimens Rainsford had never seen. At the great table the general was sitting, alone.
"You'll have a cocktail, Mr. Rainsford," he suggested. The cocktail was surpassingly good; and, Rainsford noted, the table apointments were of the finest--the linen, the crystal, the silver, the china.
They were eating borsch, the rich, red soup with whipped cream so dear to Russian palates. Half apologetically General Zaroff said, "We do our best to preserve the amenities of civilization here. Please forgive any lapses. We are well off the beaten track, you know. Do you think the champagne has suffered from its long ocean trip?"
"Not in the least," declared Rainsford. He was finding the general a most thoughtful and affable host, a truecosmopolite. But there was one small trait of the general's that made Rainsford uncomfortable. Whenever he looked up from his plate he found the general studying him, appraising him narrowly.
"Perhaps," said General Zaroff, "you were surprised that I recognized your name. You see, I read all books on hunting published in English, French, and Russian. I have but one passion in my life, Mr. Rainsford, and it is the hunt."
"You have some wonderful heads here," said Rainsford as he ate a particularly well-cooked filet mignon. " That Cape buffalo is the largest I ever saw."
"Oh, that fellow. Yes, he was a monster."
"Did he charge you?"
"Hurled me against a tree," said the general. "Fractured my skull. But I got the brute."
"I've always thought," said Rainsford, "that the Cape buffalo is the most dangerous of all big game."
For a moment the general did not reply; he was smiling his curious red-lipped smile. Then he said slowly, "No. You are wrong, sir. The Cape buffalo is not the most dangerous big game." He sipped his wine. "Here in my preserve on this island," he said in the same slow tone, "I hunt more dangerous game."
Rainsford expressed his surprise. "Is there big game on this island?"
The general nodded. "The biggest."
"Oh, it isn't here naturally, of course. I have to stock the island."
"What have you imported, general?" Rainsford asked. "Tigers?"
The general smiled. "No," he said. "Hunting tigers ceased to interest me some years ago. I exhausted their possibilities, you see. No thrill left in tigers, no real danger. I live for danger, Mr. Rainsford."
The general took from his pocket a gold cigarette case and offered his guest a long black cigarette with a silver tip; it was perfumed and gave off a smell like incense.
"We will have some capital hunting, you and I," said the general. "I shall be most glad to have your society."
"But what game--" began Rainsford.
"I'll tell you," said the general. "You will be amused, I know. I think I may say, in all modesty, that I have done a rare thing. I have invented a new sensation. May I pour you another glass of port?"
"Thank you, general."
The general filled both glasses, and said, "God makes some men poets. Some He makes kings, some beggars. Me He made a hunter. My hand was made for the trigger, my father said. He was a very rich man with a quarter of a million acres in the Crimea, and he was an ardent sportsman. When I was only five years old he gave me a little gun, specially made in Moscow for me, to shoot sparrows with. When I shot some of his prize turkeys with it, he did not punish me; he complimented me on my marksmanship. I killed my first bear in the Caucasus when I was ten. My whole life has been one prolonged hunt. I went into the army--it was expected of noblemen's sons--and for a time commanded a division of Cossack cavalry, but my real interest was always the hunt. I have hunted every kind of game in every land. It would be impossible for me to tell you how many animals I have killed."
The general puffed at his cigarette.
"After the debacle in Russia I left the country, for it was imprudent for an officer of the Czar to stay there. Many noble Russians lost everything. I, luckily, had invested heavily in American securities, so I shall never have to open a tearoom in Monte Carlo or drive a taxi in Paris. Naturally, I continued to hunt--grizzlies in your Rockies, crocodiles in the Ganges, rhinoceroses in East Africa. It was in Africa that the Cape buffalo hit me and laid me up for six months. As soon as I recovered I started for the Amazon to hunt jaguars, for I had heard they were unusually cunning. They weren't." The Cossack sighed. "They were no match at all for a hunter with his wits about him, and a high-powered rifle. I was bitterly disappointed. I was lying in my tent with a splitting headache one night when a terrible thought pushed its way into my mind. Hunting was beginning to bore me! And hunting, remember, had been my life. I have heard that in America businessmen often go to pieces when they give up the business that has been their life."
"Yes, that's so," said Rainsford.
The general smiled. "I had no wish to go to pieces," he said. "I must do something. Now, mine is an analytical mind, Mr. Rainsford. Doubtless that is why I enjoy the problems of the chase."
"No doubt, General Zaroff."
"So," continued the general, "I asked myself why the hunt no longer fascinated me. You are much younger than I am, Mr. Rainsford, and have not hunted as much, but you perhaps can guess the answer."
"What was it?"
"Simply this: hunting had ceased to be what you call 'a sporting proposition.' It had become too easy. I always got my quarry. Always. There is no greater bore than perfection."
The general lit a fresh cigarette.
"No animal had a chance with me any more. That is no boast; it is a mathematical certainty. The animal had nothing but his legs and his instinct. Instinct is no match for reason. When I thought of this it was a tragic moment for me, I can tell you."
Rainsford leaned across the table, absorbed in what his host was saying.
"It came to me as an inspiration what I must do," the general went on.
"And that was?"
The general smiled the quiet smile of one who has faced an obstacle and surmounted it with success. "I had to invent a new animal to hunt," he said.
"A new animal? You're joking."
"Not at all," said the general. "I never joke about hunting. I needed a new animal. I found one. So I bought this island built this house, and here I do my hunting. The island is perfect for my purposes--there are jungles with a maze of traits in them, hills, swamps--"
"But the animal, General Zaroff?"
"Oh," said the general, "it supplies me with the most exciting hunting in the world. No other hunting compares with it for an instant. Every day I hunt, and I never grow bored now, for I have a quarry with which I can match my wits."
Rainsford's bewilderment showed in his face.
"I wanted the ideal animal to hunt," explained the general. "So I said, `What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?' And the answer was, of course, `It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason."'
"But no animal can reason," objected Rainsford.
"My dear fellow," said the general, "there is one that can."
"But you can't mean--" gasped Rainsford.
"And why not?"
"I can't believe you are serious, General Zaroff. This is a grisly joke."
"Why should I not be serious? I am speaking of hunting."
"Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder."
The general laughed with entire good nature. He regarded Rainsford quizzically. "I refuse to believe that so modern and civilized a young man as you seem to be harbors romantic ideas about the value of human life. Surely your experiences in the war--"
"Did not make me condone cold-blooded murder," finished Rainsford stiffly.
Laughter shook the general. "How extraordinarily droll you are!" he said. "One does not expect nowadays to find a young man of the educated class, even in America, with such a naïve, and, if I may say so, mid-Victorian point of view. It's like finding a snuffbox in a limousine. Ah, well, doubtless you had Puritan ancestors. So many Americans appear to have had. I'll wager you'll forget your notions when you go hunting with me. You've a genuine new thrill in store for you, Mr. Rainsford."
"Thank you, I'm a hunter, not a murderer."
"Dear me," said the general, quite unruffled, "again that unpleasant word. But I think I can show you that your scruples are quite ill founded."
"Life is for the strong, to be lived by the strong, and, if needs be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world were put here to give the strong pleasure. I am strong. Why should I not use my gift? If I wish to hunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum of the earth: sailors from tramp ships--lassars, blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--a thoroughbred horse or hound is worth more than a score of them."
"But they are men," said Rainsford hotly.
"Precisely," said the general. "That is why I use them. It gives me pleasure. They can reason, after a fashion. So they are dangerous."
"But where do you get them?"
The general's left eyelid fluttered down in a wink. "This island is called Ship Trap," he answered. "Sometimes an angry god of the high seas sends them to me. Sometimes, when Providence is not so kind, I help Providence a bit. Come to the window with me."
Rainsford went to the window and looked out toward the sea.
"Watch! Out there!" exclaimed the general, pointing into the night. Rainsford's eyes saw only blackness, and then, as the general pressed a button, far out to sea Rainsford saw the flash of lights.
The general chuckled. "They indicate a channel," he said, "where there's none; giant rocks with razor edges crouch like a sea monster with wide-open jaws. They can crush a ship as easily as I crush this nut." He dropped a walnut on the hardwood floor and brought his heel grinding down on it. "Oh, yes," he said, casually, as if in answer to a question, "I have electricity. We try to be civilized here."
"Civilized? And you shoot down men?"
A trace of anger was in the general's black eyes, but it was there for but a second; and he said, in his most pleasant manner, "Dear me, what a righteous young man you are! I assure you I do not do the thing you suggest. That would be barbarous. I treat these visitors with every consideration. They get plenty of good food and exercise. They get into splendid physical condition. You shall see for yourself tomorrow."
"What do you mean?"
"We'll visit my training school," smiled the general. "It's in the cellar. I have about a dozen pupils down there now. They're from the Spanish bark San Lucar that had the bad luck to go on the rocks out there. A very inferior lot, I regret to say. Poor specimens and more accustomed to the deck than to the jungle." He raised his hand, and Ivan, who served as waiter, brought thick Turkish coffee. Rainsford, with an effort, held his tongue in check.
"It's a game, you see," pursued the general blandly. "I suggest to one of them that we go hunting. I give him a supply of food and an excellent hunting knife. I give him three hours' start. I am to follow, armed only with a pistol of the smallest caliber and range. If my quarry eludes me for three whole days, he wins the game. If I find him "--the general smiled--" he loses."
"Suppose he refuses to be hunted?"
"Oh," said the general, "I give him his option, of course. He need not play that game if he doesn't wish to. If he does not wish to hunt, I turn him over to Ivan. Ivan once had the honor of serving as official knouterto the Great White Czar, and he has his own ideas of sport. Invariably, Mr. Rainsford, invariably they choose the hunt."
"And if they win?"
The smile on the general's face widened. "To date I have not lost," he said. Then he added, hastily: "I don't wish you to think me a braggart, Mr. Rainsford. Many of them afford only the most elementary sort of problem. Occasionally I strike a tartar. One almost did win. I eventually had to use the dogs."
"The dogs?"
"This way, please. I'll show you."
The general steered Rainsford to a window. The lights from the windows sent a flickering illumination that made grotesque patterns on the courtyard below, and Rainsford could see moving about there a dozen or so huge black shapes; as they turned toward him, their eyes glittered greenly.
"A rather good lot, I think," observed the general. "They are let out at seven every night. If anyone should try to get into my house--or out of it--something extremely regrettable would occur to him." He hummed a snatch of song from the Folies Bergere.
"And now," said the general, "I want to show you my new collection of heads. Will you come with me to the library?"
"I hope," said Rainsford, "that you will excuse me tonight, General Zaroff. I'm really not feeling well."
"Ah, indeed?" the general inquired solicitously. "Well, I suppose that's only natural, after your long swim. You need a good, restful night's sleep. Tomorrow you'll feel like a new man, I'll wager. Then we'll hunt, eh? I've one rather promising prospect--" Rainsford was hurrying from the room.
"Sorry you can't go with me tonight," called the general. "I expect rather fair sport--a big, strong, black. He looks resourceful--Well, good night, Mr. Rainsford; I hope you have a good night's rest."

The bed was good, and the pajamas of the softest silk, and he was tired in every fiber of his being, but nevertheless Rainsford could not quiet his brain with the opiate of sleep. He lay, eyes wide open. Once he thought he heard stealthy steps in the corridor outside his room. He sought to throw open the door; it would not open. He went to the window and looked out. His room was high up in one of the towers. The lights of the chateau were out now, and it was dark and silent; but there was a fragment of sallow moon, and by its wan light he could see, dimly, the courtyard. There, weaving in and out in the pattern of shadow, were black, noiseless forms; the hounds heard him at the window and looked up, expectantly, with their green eyes. Rainsford went back to the bed and lay down. By many methods he tried to put himself to sleep. He had achieved a doze when, just as morning began to come, he heard, far off in the jungle, the faint report of a pistol.
General Zaroff did not appear until luncheon. He was dressed faultlessly in the tweeds of a country squire. He was solicitous about the state of Rainsford's health.
"As for me," sighed the general, "I do not feel so well. I am worried, Mr. Rainsford. Last night I detected traces of my old complaint."
To Rainsford's questioning glance the general said, "Ennui. Boredom."
Then, taking a second helping of crêpes Suzette, the general explained: "The hunting was not good last night. The fellow lost his head. He made a straight trail that offered no problems at all. That's the trouble with these sailors; they have dull brains to begin with, and they do not know how to get about in the woods. They do excessively stupid and obvious things. It's most annoying. Will you have another glass ofChablis, Mr. Rainsford?"
"General," said Rainsford firmly, "I wish to leave this island at once."
The general raised his thickets of eyebrows; he seemed hurt. "But, my dear fellow," the general protested, "you've only just come. You've had no hunting--"
"I wish to go today," said Rainsford. He saw the dead black eyes of the general on him, studying him. General Zaroff's face suddenly brightened.
He filled Rainsford's glass with venerable Chablis from a dusty bottle.
"Tonight," said the general, "we will hunt--you and I."
Rainsford shook his head. "No, general," he said. "I will not hunt."
The general shrugged his shoulders and delicately ate a hothouse grape. "As you wish, my friend," he said. "The choice rests entirely with you. But may I not venture to suggest that you will find my idea of sport more diverting than Ivan's?"
He nodded toward the corner to where the giant stood, scowling, his thick arms crossed on his hogshead of chest.
"You don't mean--" cried Rainsford.
"My dear fellow," said the general, "have I not told you I always mean what I say about hunting? This is really an inspiration. I drink to a foeman worthy of my steel--at last." The general raised his glass, but Rainsford sat staring at him.
"You'll find this game worth playing," the general said enthusiastically." Your brain against mine. Your woodcraft against mine. Your strength and stamina against mine. Outdoor chess! And the stake is not without value, eh?"
"And if I win--" began Rainsford huskily.
"I'll cheerfully acknowledge myself defeat if I do not find you by midnight of the third day," said General Zaroff. "My sloop will place you on the mainland near a town." The general read what Rainsford was thinking.
"Oh, you can trust me," said the Cossack. "I will give you my word as a gentleman and a sportsman. Of course you, in turn, must agree to say nothing of your visit here."
"I'll agree to nothing of the kind," said Rainsford.
"Oh," said the general, "in that case--But why discuss that now? Three days hence we can discuss it over a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, unless--"
The general sipped his wine.

Then a businesslike air animated him. "Ivan," he said to Rainsford, "will supply you with hunting clothes, food, a knife. I suggest you wear moccasins; they leave a poorer trail. I suggest, too, that you avoid the big swamp in the southeast corner of the island. We call it Death Swamp. There's quicksand there. One foolish fellow tried it. The deplorable part of it was that Lazarus followed him. You can imagine my feelings, Mr. Rainsford. I loved Lazarus; he was the finest hound in my pack. Well, I must beg you to excuse me now. I always' take a siesta after lunch. You'll hardly have time for a nap, I fear. You'll want to start, no doubt. I shall not follow till dusk. Hunting at night is so much more exciting than by day, don't you think? Au revoir, Mr. Rainsford, au revoir." General Zaroff, with a deep, courtly bow, strolled from the room.
From another door came Ivan. Under one arm he carried khaki hunting clothes, a haversack of food, a leather sheath containing a long-bladed hunting knife; his right hand rested on a cocked revolver thrust in the crimson sash about his waist.

Rainsford had fought his way through the bush for two hours. "I must keep my nerve. I must keep my nerve," he said through tight teeth.
He had not been entirely clearheaded when the chateau gates snapped shut behind him. His whole idea at first was to put distance between himself and General Zaroff; and, to this end, he had plunged along, spurred on by the sharp rowers of something very like panic. Now he had got a grip on himself, had stopped, and was taking stock of himself and the situation. He saw that straight flight was futile; inevitably it would bring him face to face with the sea. He was in a picture with a frame of water, and his operations, clearly, must take place within that frame.

"I'll give him a trail to follow," muttered Rainsford, and he struck off from the rude path he had been following into the trackless wilderness. He executed a series of intricate loops; he doubled on his trail again and again, recalling all the lore of the fox hunt, and all the dodges of the fox. Night found him leg-weary, with hands and face lashed by the branches, on a thickly wooded ridge. He knew it would be insane to blunder on through the dark, even if he had the strength. His need for rest was imperative and he thought, "I have played the fox, now I must play the cat of the fable." A big tree with a thick trunk and outspread branches was near by, and, taking care to leave not the slightest mark, he climbed up into the crotch, and, stretching out on one of the broad limbs, after a fashion, rested. Rest brought him new confidence and almost a feeling of security. Even so zealous a hunter as General Zaroff could not trace him there, he told himself; only the devil himself could follow that complicated trail through the jungle after dark. But perhaps the general was a devil--
An apprehensive night crawled slowly by like a wounded snake and sleep did not visit Rainsford, although the silence of a dead world was on the jungle. Toward morning when a dingy gray was varnishing the sky, the cry of some startled bird focused Rainsford's attention in that direction. Something was coming through the bush, coming slowly, carefully, coming by the same winding way Rainsford had come. He flattened himself down on the limb and, through a screen of leaves almost as thick as tapestry, he watched. . . . That which was approaching was a man.

It was General Zaroff. He made his way along with his eyes fixed in utmost concentration on the ground before him. He paused, almost beneath the tree, dropped to his knees and studied the ground. Rainsford's impulse was to hurl himself down like a panther, but he saw that the general's right hand held something metallic--a small automatic pistol.

The hunter shook his head several times, as if he were puzzled. Then he straightened up and took from his case one of his black cigarettes; its pungent incenselike smoke floated up to Rainsford's nostrils.
Rainsford held his breath. The general's eyes had left the ground and were traveling inch by inch up the tree. Rainsford froze there, every muscle tensed for a spring. But the sharp eyes of the hunter stopped before they reached the limb where Rainsford lay; a smile spread over his brown face. Very deliberately he blew a smoke ring into the air; then he turned his back on the tree and walked carelessly away, back along the trail he had come. The swish of the underbrush against his hunting boots grew fainter and fainter.
The pent-up air burst hotly from Rainsford's lungs. His first thought made him feel sick and numb. The general could follow a trail through the woods at night; he could follow an extremely difficult trail; he must have uncanny powers; only by the merest chance had the Cossack failed to see his quarry.
Rainsford's second thought was even more terrible. It sent a shudder of cold horror through his whole being. Why had the general smiled? Why had he turned back?
Rainsford did not want to believe what his reason told him was true, but the truth was as evident as the sun that had by now pushed through the morning mists. The general was playing with him! The general was saving him for another day's sport! The Cossack was the cat; he was the mouse. Then it was that Rainsford knew the full meaning of terror.

"I will not lose my nerve. I will not."
He slid down from the tree, and struck off again into the woods. His face was set and he forced the machinery of his mind to function. Three hundred yards from his hiding place he stopped where a huge dead tree leaned precariously on a smaller, living one. Throwing off his sack of food, Rainsford took his knife from its sheath and began to work with all his energy.
The job was finished at last, and he threw himself down behind a fallen log a hundred feet away. He did not have to wait long. The cat was coming again to play with the mouse.

Following the trail with the sureness of a bloodhound came General Zaroff. Nothing escaped those searching black eyes, no crushed blade of grass, no bent twig, no mark, no matter how faint, in the moss. So intent was the Cossack on his stalking that he was upon the thing Rainsford had made before he saw it. His foot touched the protruding bough that was the trigger. Even as he touched it, the general sensed his danger and leaped back with the agility of an ape. But he was not quite quick enough; the dead tree, delicately adjusted to rest on the cut living one, crashed down and struck the general a glancing blow on the shoulder as it fell; but for his alertness, he must have been smashed beneath it. He staggered, but he did not fall; nor did he drop his revolver. He stood there, rubbing his injured shoulder, and Rainsford, with fear again gripping his heart, heard the general's mocking laugh ring through the jungle.

"Rainsford," called the general, "if you are within sound of my voice, as I suppose you are, let me congratulate you. Not many men know how to make a Malay mancatcher. Luckily for me I, too, have hunted in Malacca. You are proving interesting, Mr. Rainsford. I am going now to have my wound dressed; it's only a slight one. But I shall be back. I shall be back."

When the general, nursing his bruised shoulder, had gone, Rainsford took up his flight again. It was flight now, a desperate, hopeless flight, that carried him on for some hours. Dusk came, then darkness, and still he pressed on. The ground grew softer under his moccasins; the vegetation grew ranker, denser; insects bit him savagely.

Then, as he stepped forward, his foot sank into the ooze. He tried to wrench it back, but the muck sucked viciously at his foot as if it were a giant leech. With a violent effort, he tore his feet loose. He knew where he was now. Death Swamp and its quicksand.

His hands were tight closed as if his nerve were something tangible that someone in the darkness was trying to tear from his grip. The softness of the earth had given him an idea. He stepped back from the quicksand a dozen feet or so and, like some huge prehistoric beaver, he began to dig.

Rainsford had dug himself in in France when a second's delay meant death. That had been a placid pastime compared to his digging now. The pit grew deeper; when it was above his shoulders, he climbed out and from some hard saplings cut stakes and sharpened them to a fine point. These stakes he planted in the bottom of the pit with the points sticking up. With flying fingers he wove a rough carpet of weeds and branches and with it he covered the mouth of the pit. Then, wet with sweat and aching with tiredness, he crouched behind the stump of a lightning-charred tree.

He knew his pursuer was coming; he heard the padding sound of feet on the soft earth, and the night breeze brought him the perfume of the general's cigarette. It seemed to Rainsford that the general was coming with unusual swiftness; he was not feeling his way along, foot by foot. Rainsford, crouching there, could not see the general, nor could he see the pit. He lived a year in a minute. Then he felt an impulse to cry aloud with joy, for he heard the sharp crackle of the breaking branches as the cover of the pit gave way; he heard the sharp scream of pain as the pointed stakes found their mark. He leaped up from his place of concealment. Then he cowered back. Three feet from the pit a man was standing, with an electric torch in his hand.

"You've done well, Rainsford," the voice of the general called. "Your Burmese tiger pit has claimed one of my best dogs. Again you score. I think, Mr. Rainsford, I'll see what you can do against my whole pack. I'm going home for a rest now. Thank you for a most amusing evening."
At daybreak Rainsford, lying near the swamp, was awakened by a sound that made him know that he had new things to learn about fear. It was a distant sound, faint and wavering, but he knew it. It was the baying of a pack of hounds.

Rainsford knew he could do one of two things. He could stay where he was and wait. That was suicide. He could flee. That was postponing the inevitable. For a moment he stood there, thinking. An idea that held a wild chance came to him, and, tightening his belt, he headed away from the swamp.
The baying of the hounds drew nearer, then still nearer, nearer, ever nearer. On a ridge Rainsford climbed a tree. Down a watercourse, not a quarter of a mile away, he could see the bush moving. Straining his eyes, he saw the lean figure of General Zaroff; just ahead of him Rainsford made out another figure whose wide shoulders surged through the tall jungle weeds; it was the giant Ivan, and he seemed pulled forward by some unseen force; Rainsford knew that Ivan must be holding the pack in leash.

They would be on him any minute now. His mind worked frantically. He thought of a native trick he had learned in Uganda. He slid down the tree. He caught hold of a springy young sapling and to it he fastened his hunting knife, with the blade pointing down the trail; with a bit of wild grapevine he tied back the sapling. Then he ran for his life. The hounds raised their voices as they hit the fresh scent. Rainsford knew now how an animal at bay feels.
He had to stop to get his breath. The baying of the hounds stopped abruptly, and Rainsford's heart stopped too. They must have reached the knife.
He shinned excitedly up a tree and looked back. His pursuers had stopped. But the hope that was in Rainsford's brain when he climbed died, for he saw in the shallow valley that General Zaroff was still on his feet. But Ivan was not. The knife, driven by the recoil of the springing tree, had not wholly failed.
Rainsford had hardly tumbled to the ground when the pack took up the cry again.

"Nerve, nerve, nerve!" he panted, as he dashed along. A blue gap showed between the trees dead ahead. Ever nearer drew the hounds. Rainsford forced himself on toward that gap. He reached it. It was the shore of the sea. Across a cove he could see the gloomy gray stone of the chateau. Twenty feet below him the sea rumbled and hissed. Rainsford hesitated. He heard the hounds. Then he leaped far out into the sea. . . .
When the general and his pack reached the place by the sea, the Cossack stopped. For some minutes he stood regarding the blue-green expanse of water. He shrugged his shoulders. Then he sat down, took a drink of brandy from a silver flask, lit a cigarette, and hummed a bit from Madame Butterfly.
General Zaroff had an exceedingly good dinner in his great paneled dining hall that evening. With it he had a bottle of Pol Roger and half a bottle of Chambertin. Two slight annoyances kept him from perfect enjoyment. One was the thought that it would be difficult to replace Ivan; the other was that his quarry had escaped him; of course, the American hadn't played the game--so thought the general as he tasted his after-dinner liqueur. In his library he read, to soothe himself, from the works of Marcus Aurelius. At ten he went up to his bedroom. He was deliciously tired, he said to himself, as he locked himself in. There was a little moonlight, so, before turning on his light, he went to the window and looked down at the courtyard. He could see the great hounds, and he called, "Better luck another time," to them. Then he switched on the light.

A man, who had been hiding in the curtains of the bed, was standing there.
"Rainsford!" screamed the general. "How in God's name did you get here?"
"Swam," said Rainsford. "I found it quicker than walking through the jungle."
The general sucked in his breath and smiled. "I congratulate you," he said. "You have won the game."
Rainsford did not smile. "I am still a beast at bay," he said, in a low, hoarse voice. "Get ready, General Zaroff."
The general made one of his deepest bows. "I see," he said. "Splendid! One of us is to furnish a repast for the hounds. The other will sleep in this very excellent bed. On guard, Rainsford."
. . .
He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.

The Soldier's Peaches by Stuart Cloete (1897-1976)

Mrs. Brennen took snuff. She got it out of her grandson's store; going in and helping herself from the big tin on the second shelf. It was a habit her family deplored. Mrs. Brennen did not like snuff much. It was one of the things she had got over. It made her cough. But the fact that her family deplored her taking it prevented her from giving it up completely. She drank a little too. Not much; just enough to get "tiddly." That was what she called it, "I'm a little tiddly to-day," she'd say, and the family didn't like that either. Nor did she, save for the fun of shocking them and the interest outwitting them gave her.

An old woman did not have much fun, and she had her reputation as a character to keep up. Sometimes she wished she was not a character.

"Mad," people called her behind her back; "eccentric," to her face. "Dear Mrs. Brennen, you would do that. You are so eccentric." "Mad" she would not agree to; "eccentric," yes; if it was eccentric to like sitting on the stoep in the sun and only talking when you wanted to. There was too much talk in the world. Sometimes she would go for days without talking. "One of her spells," they called it. Oh, yes, she knew what they said: "Old Mrs. Brennen is having one of her spells." But she was too busy thinking to worry about what people thought. "Let 'em talk," she said. "If they'd seen what I've seen, they'd stay silent. If they'd seen what I've seen, they'd have something to think about. Lot of damned old women! That's what they are, men and all." Her family made her laugh with their goings-on. When they reached her age, if they ever did, they'd know that nothing mattered very much. She took another pinch of snuff. Some of it slipped between her fingers on to her black alpaca dress. She flicked it off with the back of her fingers and fumed to watch a span of oxen pull up to the store.

The voorloper bent down to pick up some clods to throw into the faces of the oxen. The driver whistled and turned the handle of the brake. The big wheels locked, dragged on a yard or two and stopped. Taking off his hat, the driver went into the store. The voorloper sat in the dust under the horns of the leaders.

Mrs. Brennen wondered how many wagons she had seen pull up like that since she had come to Brennen's Store as a bride. Thousands and thousands

of wagons. Thousands of men, too--white men, Kaffirs, men on foot, in Cape carts, in spiders, or riding, and now they came in motor-cars. Mrs. Brennen did not like motor-cars. Of course they saved time. But what did one do with the time one saved? No one could tell her that. She chuckled. They couldn't tell her, because they didn't know.

She had seen two wars and some native troubles. Once when Brennen was away, the store had been burned by Kaffirs. She had just escaped. A friendly native had warned her. She had hidden in the bush. She had taken Susie with her--a sweet little dog. She had never had another dog like Susie-black and white, as soft to touch as silk, with a wet pink nose. Generally, black-and-white dogs had black noses, but Susie's had been pink. As she crouched among the rocks, the Kaffirs had come quite near her. Susie had tried to bark and she had held her between her knees and strangled her. Then the Kaffirs had gone and she had buried Susie. The road had been moved since then, and the new store built. Susie was buried about where the wagon stood now. She looked at her hands. They were very frail, veined, knotted and lumpy with gout. Once they had been beautiful. Brennen had said she had beautiful hands. Once they had strangled a pet dog while wild Kaffirs swarmed round her.

They were off-loading the wagon. Mealier. Her grandson, George, was buying them, then. He would pay too much for them. He always paid too much for everything. She thought of a horse he had bought once. That must have been twenty years ago. Like all horses said to be salted, it had died of horse sickness. She had told him it wasn't salted. Anyone could see it was not salted. A salted horse had a look. You couldn't explain it. You just knew the look it had.

George came out of the store now. A stupid boy. He always had been stupid.

"Don't pay ten shillings a bag!" she shouted. "Don't pay more than eight; and sample them!" If it wasn't for me, I don't believe he'd sample them, she thought. She watched him drive a knife with a hollow groove into the bags, emptying the pips into his hand. Some chickens ran out to pick up the fallen mealiest One of them picked a tick from the heel of the near wheeler--a big red and white ox that was chewing its cud.

Mrs. Brennen closed her eyes. Sometimes they forgot who she was. Yes, sometimes they forgot that it was still her store. That she was Cecelia Brennen, the mother of them all. The mother of a multitude of fools. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. It was hard to keep track of them now. Each year they came to show her the new babies they had bred. She thought of her first grandson. She had been so pleased with him. She looked at George; he had been the first grandson. He was leaning against the door of the store. Babies were like everything else; when there were so many of them, they became commonplace. It was hard to remember their names or even their mothers' names. She liked the Kaffir babies best--black like puppies, and pleasantly nameless. The Kaffir women who brought them to her to admire did not expect her to remember anything; all they wanted was a smile and a present. But that was what most people wanted, when you came to think of it--a smile and a present.

She nodded her head. They thought her memory had gone; but she knew more than the whole pack of them put together. Knew everything that was worth remembering. Ninety-three, and the pattern of her life trailed out like a cloak behind her--her loves and hates, that had once been so hot and cold, all meaningless now--just part of the fabric; brilliant threads that had been woven through it. Remember--she remembered all right. The things she forgot, like the names of her great-grandchildren, and of the women her grandsons had married, were not important. What did it matter if she did not recognise them all, so long as they knew her? Besides, women all looked the same now. They had no character--short curly hair, red lips, red nails and no shape.

She watched the wagon go. The driver shouted and clapped his whip. The voorloper trotted in front of the running oxen. The hind wheels were still locked, and dragged. That was like a Kaffir, to start his span with the brake on. The driver clapped his whip again and took off the brake, then he ran forward and jumped on to the disselboom. She remembered a man being brought into the store who had been run over that way. He had slipped and the wheels had gone over his legs. Empty of ballast, the wagon moved noisily. One wheel let out piercing squeaks. Grease, Mrs. Brennen thought. George should have noticed it and sold him some grease.

She stared down the road. It was red, unmetalled, dusty, and wide enough to turn a span. Part of it was bordered with big blue gums; grey foliaged untidy trees whose bark hung in torn white ribbons from the trunks. There was the bottle store, the chemist's, the Standard Bank, the coolie store, and the usual white houses with red roofs that got smaller and more disreputable as the road went on. The best part of the dorp was behind her. That was where the doctor lived, and the bank manager, and Mr. Fairburn. No one knew quite what Mr. Fairburn did or where he got his money. That was where George wanted to live. He thought it was common to live opposite the store. He wanted to drive down to it in his new car each day, as if he was a professional man.

She laughed. Perhaps that was it, or perhaps he wanted her tucked away safely where she could not see everything that went on. But the store was her life. It did not change, like the children. It did not die. It did not go away. It grew, but it grew slowly and precisely. You knew which way it was going to grow. Seventy years was a long time to sit in one place. She had been asked why she did not travel! Travel. Why go and look for life when it was going on all around you if you had eyes to see and waited long enough? She thought of the #story of the two hunters. One had walked for miles, looking for game. The other had sat near a water-hole. The first had killed nothing. The second had taken what he wanted. It was better and less exhausting to let things come to you than to go and search for them. The store was like a water-hole--everyone had to come to it in the end. If they wanted a needle or a plough, they came to Brennen's.

She saw a car. What a dust it threw up! It came from Pretoria. It was many years since she had been there. They said Church Square was now a garden. It had been the outspan. They had often outspanned there in the old days. Sometimes there had been two hundred wagons, Lying wheel to wheel. But the great days were gone, and where were the men to day who could compare with the men she had known then? Men like the old president, Joubert, De Wet, De la Rey, Cecil Rhodes, or Doctor Jim. Men like Brennen her husband. That was another reason she sat in the store all day. Brennen was with her. She could feel his company.

She looked at George. He had not moved. George was fat. She hated fat men. A fat woman was comfortable, but a fat man an abomination.

The car stopped at the store. A young man got out; he had a letter in his hand. He looked at the notice outside the store. Then he went up to George and gave him the letter. She would find out what was in it later. A man in a car bringing George a letter.

George was bringing him over. He looked like an Englishman. There was even something familiar about him. The turn of his head or the way he walked.

"She may know," she heard George say, "but she's difficult. She has spells."

That was another of George's delusions--that she was deaf. She hated being shouted at, but it was worth letting them think it for the asides she heard.

"This is Mr. Vane," George said, putting his mouth to her ear. "He has come from England, Ouma."

She put out her hand. "I can see he comes from England," she said. "Look at his boots." Mrs. Brennen wondered if she would take snuff now or later. He seemed a nice young man, fresh complexioned, very clean and shiny, with reddish hair.

"Sit down," she said.

He sat down.

"How much did you pay for those mealies, George?" she asked.

"Nine shillings."

He would go in a minute and leave her with the young man. George got up.

"I said you weren't to pay more than eight."

She looked him up and down. Once she had had great hopes of George.

"I'II be going," George said. "See you later."

"Thank you," the Englishman said. "I do hope I'm not being a nuisance, Mrs. Brennen."

"Nothing is a nuisance now," she said.

She got her snuff-box. "Take snuff?" she asked.

"No, thank you."

"Quite right, young man. A filthy habit. He"--she pointed to George's back--"thinks I am a disgrace to the family." She chuckled. "But I bred them. If it wasn't for me, there'd be no family--and the store is mine. That's what they don't like. They'd like to sell the store and go into something else--too grand for Brennen's general store. Ride round in motor-cars. That's what they want to do--just ride round and round. There's no sense in riding round and round." She looked at her visitor. He seemed a little bewildered.Never seen anyone like me before, she thought.

"Never seen anyone like me, have you?" she asked. "And you won't again, young man; I'm one of the last of them. Real people, we were. Men and women. Real," she said. She closed her eyes. "What do you want?" she asked. "Why did you come here? Who gave you a letter to George? No good having a letter to George. He's a fool. He's my grandson, and I know."

"It's a long #story." Francis Vane lit a cigarette. He wondered how to begin. "It's my father," he said. "You see, his father--my grandfather--was killed near here with the Three Hundred and First, and I wondered if anyone could tell me about it. They sent me to George Brennen. I had a letter to him."

"No good sending anyone to him," Mrs. Brennen said.

"Do you remember them coming here?" Vane asked. "It was in November 1880."

"Of course I remember," Mrs. Brennen said. "John--that's George's father--was ill then. We thought he would die, and then they came. 'Kiss me Mother . . . kiss your darling daughter'--that's the tune they played as they marched in. They had a doctor with them--a Captain Bull. He saved John's life and we gave him a cage of wild birds. . . . But what do you want to know? she asked.

"I want to know how it happened. You see, my grandfather commanded the Three Hundred and First. He was killed. They said it was his fault That he was incompetent. My father is very old now and he broods about it. He wants to know where his father is buried. He wants to know what happened. He's very old," he said again.

"I'm very old," Mrs. Brennen said, "and I know; I brood too. Thinking, I call it. Your grandfather. Then that's it. That's why I thought I'd seen you before. I danced with him that night. He danced well. We gave them a dance in the old store." She nodded to the warehouse behind the present building. "We cleared everything out. Ploughs, harrows, soft goods and all. We put buck sails over them and gave the officers a dance. They had come from Lydenburg and were going to Pretoria. They didn't think there'd be a war. They said it would be a massacre if it came--Boars against trained troops like them. The Three Hundred and First," Mrs. Brennen said. "Yes, the Three Hundred and First."

Francis Vane leaned forward.

Mrs. Brennen saw it all. She saw them march in. "Kiss me, Mother . . . kiss your darling daughter." The drum-major tossed his stick, caught it, twirled it; men in red--an endless stream of sunburnt young men in red-mounted officers, rumbling transport, mules, baggage, wagons drawn by oxen, dogs that followed the battalion with lolling tongues.

For a day Brennensdorp had been gay, populated with soldiers. They had swarmed everywhere--walking about in pairs, standing in groups, or Lying on their backs in the shade of the gum trees--they had been small then and their shade thin. She saw them washing in buckets, their young chests bare, their hair wet, their eyes wrinkled against the soapy water. She had propped Johnny up so that he could see the soldiers. And it had been hot. It was not hot like that now. It had been so hot that the sheets of corrugated iron on the roof cracked as they pulled at the nails. The trees had danced up and down on the veld and the road was wet with mirage water. The red jackets of the troops had made it seem hotter. Wherever you looked there were red jackets. How they worked to empty the store! Everyone had helped. They had thrown mealie meal on the floor to make it fit for dancing.

The colonel had come to thank her. "Thank you, Mrs. Brennen," he had said. "It is very kind of you to entertain us like this."

Colonel Vane had admired her. She had seen it in his eyes. "I hear your little boy is ill" he said. "Perhaps we can help you. Would you like to see Captain Bull, our doctor?"

She had seen him. A kindly man. He had come at once in his dusty boots. Brennen had given him beer. The bottles were kept cool in a canvas bucket that hung from the roof. "I'll stay with him, Mrs. Brennen," the doctor said, and he had stayed watching at the bedside.

The dance had been an event. Boys had been sent out to call in the countryside--all that were loyal, that is--and they had come, every man and woman and girl for miles round. Both sides of the street had been full of their Cape carts and buggies. The regimental band played tune after tune. The doorway was filled with watching Tommies. The dust and mealie flour had risen off the floor in clouds. It clung to the dresses of the girls, to the clothes and moustaches of the men. Music, laughter and some kissing.

There was a tale she had heard about a clown who had made jokes while his little son was dying. She felt like that clown. She kept going in to look at Johnny. The doctor put his finger to his lips and motioned her away. She had gone away. . . .

"May I have the pleasure of this dance, Mrs. Brennen?"


"How well you dance, Mrs. Brennen."

"How light you are, Mrs. Brennen."

What did they expect, she wondered. It was strange how one could go on saying and doing all the right things when one was feeling nothing. It was as if one stood some way off watching oneself. She had noticed this, time and again. That cannot be me. This cannot be me. Cecelia Brennen could not be doing this. But Cecelia Brennen was doing it. Her place was with her son; her place was at the dance. She was Mrs. Brennen, the wife of John Brennen, of Brennensdorp. It was her place to entertain the soldiers of the Queen.

There had been a great killing of beasts and fowls, a great baking, a great emptying of casks of wine and brandy. She had seen to it all, and to her sick child as well. She had worn cyclamen taffeta with a bustle and hoops. 

Her hair hung in ringlets round her neck. A pretty young thing--the belle of the ball and the mother of a dying child. But he had not died. If only Johnny can grow up strong and healthy, like these officers, she thought. If only-- Excusing herself, she ran to see him. Captain Bull was asleep; the child slept, too, his hand in that of the soldier. How tired he looked!

In the morning Johnny was better. "He'll come through," the doctor said. He made up medicine for him in a whisky bottle. She and Brennen had wondered what they could give him. They could not give money. "Give him my cage of birds," Johnny said. They were beautiful birds; little finks of every colour--rooibekkies, blouvinks, kingvinks. They were all tame, and sang and twittered on their perches. She had taken them to Captain Bull. "A present from Johnny," she said. Brennen had come at that moment with a Kaffir carrying a case of champagne. The champagne and the birds had been stowed in the doctor's cart. The case of wine on the bed, and the cage slung from the roof and lashed to the sides, so that it should not swing.

"Good morning, Mrs. Brennen." Colonel Vane rode up. "I am glad to hear your little boy is better."

Behind the colonel there was a donkey wagon loaded with yellow peaches. It had just come in and the soldiers were crowded round it, eating peaches and stuffing them into their haversacks to eat on the march. The colonel was laughing.

"Fruit's good for them," he said.

"It's a good year for peaches. And the trees in the district are weighed down with them," she said.

Then the bugles sounded. The colour-sergeants shouted, "Fall in." The markers were waiting. The men, fully accoutred, ruddy with sleep, ran out. Transport drivers cursed as their hubs bumped. The Three Hundred and First was going. They had come and they were going.

"Kiss me, Mother . . . kiss your darling daughter"--the band struck up again. Like a red snake the regiment swung out of the dorp in a cloud of dust. Then the dust fell. To-night they would lie in Pretoria.

The Three Hundred and First had gone and Johnny would get well. She was sitting with Johnny when it happened. A man came galloping down the street. A private soldier, wounded, riding an officer's charger. It was streaked with sweat, its chest splashed with foam, its eyes were wild. She recognised the horse. It was Colonel Vane's horse. The big bay she had patted as he said good-bye.

The soldier pulled up and almost fell from the saddle.

"What is it?" she said. "Oh, what is it?" She knelt beside him in the dust.

"The doctor sent me to get help! They are all finished!" he said. "They're cut to hell--the whole bloody lot! We walked into it! The colonel's dead! I took his horse!" He began to cry. "They got us--they got us fair! It was murder!"

He was only a boy. She held him in her arms and the blood from the wound in his neck ran on to her shoulder. Suddenly he sat up. "Bandages,"

he said, "and brandy . . . and food! That's what the doctor said! We've got no bandages! They're all bleeding, and nothing to stop it! Oh, God, Mrs. Brennen, nothing to stop it! I must get back!" He dragged the horse towards him and tried to mount.

"What are you going to do?" she asked.

"I don't know, but I must go back. I can't stay here."

"Where is it? Where did it happen?"

"At the little river--they were all round us."

"The Spruit?"

"That's what they call it."

Brennen was inspanning already, loading up the Cape cart. That would be the quickest; the wagons could follow. It was not very far. She ran into the house for sheets, towels, bedding, mattresses, blankets, brandy; the house and store were emptied of everything that might be useful.

She climbed into the cart beside her husband. He had put in four horses instead of two.

"Trot the oxen, Jan!" he shouted to the driver who was inspanning.

"They cannot trot so far, baas!

"Trot them and be damned!" Brennen said.

And then they were off at a gallop, rocking first on one wheel and then on the other as they hit the bumps in the road. Hardly checking for the drift, they splashed through the water. Brennen hit the horses as they slowed up to pull out of it. She had never seen him hit a horse before. They sprang into the traces again with such a jerk that she thought the swingletree would break loose. She looked at the pole. Brennen had tied it with a double riem. They were on the flat now. The horses were bolting. Let them bolt. Nothing could go wrong with a strong cart and good gear on a straight road unless one of the horses fell. The whip clapped like a pistol as Brennen urged them to greater speed. The four reins were like live things in his hands as he cried out the horses' names: "Bles! Charlie! Klinkie! Chaka!" Chaka was a new black horse. Brennen had put him on the off lead, where he could get at him best with his whip. "Come, Bles! . . . Come, Charlie!" She gripped the arms of her chair. What a drive it had been. She smelt the dust in her nostrils.

The road was always dusty, but now it had been made worse by the passing of a thousand men and their transport. The dust rose in clouds, obliterating everything, so that sometimes she could see only the horses' ears and their tossing manes. The reins went down to nothing. They disappeared into the dust. She could see no road. That they kept on it was a miracle.

And then they got there. The horses shied and pulled across the road as the leaders almost ran into an overturned wagon.

The dust fell slowly.

"You've come." It was the boy on the colonel's horse. "I was coming back to find you," he said.

They got out of the cart. Some soldiers took the horses out. She saw it all--the undulating ground, the bush, the trees by the road--many of them scored by bullets. There was blood everywhere. It ran down the sloping road into pools.

They helped the doctor to move the men, to bandage, to cut more bandages. Tents were pitched, food cooked, great cauldrons of hot water got ready to dress the wounded. She had gone in to Colonel Vane. His legs were off. While she was with him, Frantz Joubert, the Boer commandant, had come in.

"Will you drink with me, Commandant?" the colonel said. "And you, too, Mrs. Brennen." It was the champagne her husband had given the doctor. They drank. Joubert said, "Here's to Queen Victoria. May she live long and take her soldiers from the Transvaal."

They had wrapped the dead in blankets and buried them where they fell along the side of the road, on the veld where they had taken up their positions. Beside almost every body there were peaches; they had fallen from the hands of the men as they were ambushed. Their pipe-clayed haversacks still bulged with them. The dead of the Three Hundred and First were buried with their peaches where they lay.

She saw Johnny's cage of birds. It was broken and the birds were free. The wild birds were free once more and the men were dead.

"Yes," she said, looking up, "that's what happened to the Three Hundred and First. The birds were free and the men were dead, and buried where they fell."

"But--" Vane said.

She had not spoken. She had sat for nearly half an hour with her head sunk on her breast.

She looked accusingly at her grandson. "And they think I can't remember. I can remember everything. I can even remember the names."

"That's what I was afraid of," George Brennen said--"one of her spells."

They were silent, staring at the old woman; her head was lowered again.

Suddenly, from the next house, a woman screamed at a child.

"Didn't I tell you not to eat so many peaches? Peaches--you guzzle peaches all day, and then bring them home at night, so that you can eat more. You'll be sick, I say. Where did you get them? Did you steal them?"

"I didn't steal them, Mother. They're the soldiers' peaches. We drove ova there to get them. They're wild peaches." The child was crying.

Mrs. Brennen got up. "Let her have the peaches. Let her have all she wants. The soldiers' peaches never hurt anyone." Mrs. Brennen sat down again. "The soldiers' peaches," she said--"that grew out of their pockets."

Tears ran down her cheeks. They followed the lines of her face and dripped on to the snuff-stained alpaca dress. She made no effort to stay them.

"Out of their pockets?" Vane said.

"She means their haversacks."

"Then there are peach trees?"

"Yes, there are trees--plenty of them."

"And they buried them where they fell? Do you know the place well?" Vane asked.

"Everyone knows it well. All the children get peaches from them. They grow like this." George Brennen traced a pattern on the dust of the stoep with his finger. "Here is where there are the most. . . . That was where the main body got it. . . . They were buried on both sides of the road . . . and out here is where the scouts fell.'' He made scattered dots.

"Then there were scouts out," Vane said. "And it wasn't my grandfather's fault."

"It was nobody's fault," Brennen said. "The Boers were hidden and they held their fire."

Vane laughed. "Can we go over there to-morrow?" he asked. "I'll make a map of it for my father. Poor father," he said. "If only he had known this years ago! He nearly came once, and then he was afraid to come--afraid of what he'd find."

"We call them the soldiers' peaches," George Brennen said. "And I wish she had told you the story--I have heard it hundreds of times--but she's old; she has spells."

His grandmother looked up. "I remember as well as anyone," she said. She pointed to Vane. "I remember his grandfather. A fine man. There were some fine men in those days."

Brennen took Vane's shoulder. "Come along to my place. Spend the night and we'll drive over there to-morrow." 

" Motivational Video "

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