It is not in any sense a historical novel. It is in conception and portraiture a work of the imagination. Strangers enter the Judgment House— Why do the sleepers sigh? Slow they rise in their judgment seats, Sieve and measure the naked souls, Then with a blessing return to sleep. Quiet the Judgment House.
Barry's hand felt the breast of the prostrate figure, and Byng's fingers sought his wrist.
It might have been—it was to have been—a revolution at Johannesburg, with Dr. Won't you come to-morrow at six? There was also De Lancy Scovel, who had become a biggish figure in the Rand world because he had been a kind of financial valet to Wallstein and Byng, and, it was said, had been a real unofficial valet to Rhodes, being an authority on cooking, and on brewing a punch, and a master of commissariat in the long marches which Rhodes made in the days when he trekked into Rhodesia.
The dark ificance, the evil consequences destined to flow from the Jameson Raid had not yet reached the general mind.
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There was also Barry Whalen, who had been educated as a doctor, and, with a rare Irish sense of adaptability and amazing Celtic cleverness, had also become a mining engineer, in the days when the Transvaal was emerging from its pioneer obscurity into the golden light of mining prosperity. Simple farmers, the sentimental newspapers call them—simple Machiavellis in veldschoen! He started uerr Pitsani two days ago.
Standing before the fire, Byng said to Looming meditatively, with that old ironic humour which was always part of him: "'Fee, fo, fi, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. At first sight of the forceful and rather ungainly form she had inwardly contrasted it with the figure of Ian Stafford and that other spring-time figure of a man at the end of the first row in the stalls, towards which the prima donna had flashed one trusting, happy glance, and with which she herself had been familiar since her childhood.
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He had suddenly capitulated, he who had ridden unscathed so long. The features were not regular, the forehead was perhaps a little too low, and the hair grew very thick, and would have been a vast mane if it had not been kept fairly close by his valet. Your last state will be worse than your first," remarked Stafford.
Some of the others were paralyzed. But could you think me so inhuman and unwomanly as not to have asked about her? They could only whine out execrations on the man who had dared something; who, if he had succeeded, would have been hailed as the great leader of a Llooking, not the scorned and humiliated captain of a filibustering expedition.
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First, he had got power by a fortune which represented the shallowness and gullibility of human nature, then had exploited the serious gift which had always been his, the native genius which had devised the gun when he was yet a boy. You have won; and it is all waiting for you. He did not wear a ring or scarf-pin, his watch-chain was simple and inconspicuous enough for a school-boy—and he was worth three million pounds, with a palace building in Park Lane and a feudal castle in Wales leased for a period of years.
You did think it all out in the second, didn't you? That chance, the predestined alluring opening had not yet come; but his eyes were wide open, and he was ready for the spring—nerved the more to do so by the thought that Jasmine would appreciate his success above all others, even from the standpoint of intellectual appreciation, all emotions excluded.
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The life into which he had been thrown with men of vaster ambition and much more selfish ends than his own, had stirred him to prodigies of activity in those strenuous, wonderful, electric days when gold and diamonds changed the hard-bitten, wearied prospector, who had doggedly delved till he had forced open the hand of the Spirit of the Earth and caught the treasure that flowed forth, into a millionaire, into a conqueror, with the world at his feet. I might properly have kept it till my opera cloak came back.
You will be forever young, but yours was always—will always be—the wisdom of the wise. Ian was handsome, exquisitely refined, lean and graceful of figure, with a mind which saw the end of your sentences from the first word, with a skill of speech like a Damascus blade, with knowledge of a half-dozen languages. The forehead was broad and strong, and the chin was square and determined; but the full, dark-blue eyes had in them shadows of rashness and recklessness, the mouth was somewhat self-indulgent and indolent; though the hands clasping both knees were combined of strength, activity, and also a little of grace.
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It was hr a herf he understood, but suddenly it came to him that he was prepared to do it; that he must be patient and watch and serve, and, as he used to do, perhaps, be elate in the morning and depressed at night, till the day of triumph came and his luck was made manifest. As they left the box the girl's white-haired, prematurely aged father whispered in the pretty stepmother's ear: "Jasmine'll marry that nabob—you'll see.
And so it was that "the dude" of the camp and the kraal, the factotum, who in his time had brushed Rhodes' clothes when he brushed his own, after the Kaffir servant had messed them about, came to be a millionaire and one of the Partners. Well, there's work to do, and I must be about kooking.
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His attempt to play with words was so full of nature, and had behind it such apparent admiration, that the unspoiled part of her was suddenly made self-conscious, however agreeably so. There was no one very near, though curious faces were turned in his direction, as the grim news of the Raid was passed from mouth to mouth.
The bold and generous orchestration, the exceptional chorus, the fine and brilliant tenor, had made a broad path for her last and supreme effort. Hearing gets to be the most acute of all the senses with the pioneer.
Abrupt, Lcoal honest, and sincere; always protesting against this and against that, always the critic of authority, whether the authority was friend or foe; always smothering his own views in the moment when the test of loyalty came; always with a voice like a young hetr and a heart which would have suited a Goliath, there was no one but trusted Barry, none that had not hurried to him in a difficulty; not because he was so wise, but because he was so true.
They went on their honeymoon to shoot in Africa, and they visited the falls of the Zambesi. There was plenty of admiration for the pluck and boldness, for the careless indifference with which the raiders risked their lives; for the romantic side of the dash from Pitsani to the Rand; but the thing was so palpably impossible, as it was carried out, that there was not a knowing mind in the Islands which would not have echoed Rhodes' words, "Jameson has upset the apple-cart.
So it was that Barry became one of the Partners, and said things that every one else would hesitate to say, but were glad to hear said.
Again, again, and again it was renewed. Stafford had ruled Byng out of consideration where she was concerned. First a Shetland pony, and now at last I've reached Zambesi—such a wicked dear. He had done it when she was very young, because he had not long to stay; and he had overcoloured the pictures in order that the impression should be vivid and indelible when he was gone.
But that wouldn't have been the natural man.
The rough life, the sordid struggle, had left their mark, and this easy, coaxing, comfortable life of London had not covered it up—not yet.