Chapter 197737501

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Chapter NumberXXXIV
Chapter Url
Full Date1880-03-13
Page Number1
Word Count723
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleFreebench. A Tale of South African Life
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Happy at having done what little ahe could of duty to her hnsband, bnt tearful at times as she thought of her fattier and home, Phyllis waa working at a black dress when Bus: Faircraft came into her. Phyllis read news of sorrow in her landlady's face, and at onoe associated it with the little slip of printed paper in her band. " You may as well give it me at once," said Phyllis," that I may know the wont." And she pat down her work and took tbe paper and read it. Her faoe became paler and her lips more compressed, and she clasped her t wo white hands together; but she said nothing. "The newa is very distressing," said Mrs. Faircraft; "but do not give way to sorrow or despair, my dear child, until you have some confirmation of what you have road. The statements of correspondents from these'" places are untrustworthy, and are often contradicted or modified afterwards. Shall I send for Mr. Smiley ?" " Mot now, thank you," said Phyllis; " I will wait till I am more fit to talk." Next day Phyllis wrote a little note to Smiley asking him to come up; and this waa exactly what Smiley wanted. It was with a countenance appropriately subdued and sympathetic that Smiley approached the object of hia snares. He greeted her in silence and waited for her to apeak. " It is very kind of you to come," said she "• Yoa have read tbe newspaper; do yoa think there is any hope ?" "My dear Madam," said be, "unless that statement is an invention, which is improbable, I can give you little hope. I have never concealed from you the anxiety with which I regarded your husband's position. I hare always looked upon the task of these volunteers as dangerous to all concerned, and more particularly ts your hnsband, whose duties .exposed him to more danger than-hia companions. Ths Kafirs give no quarter; and, if the horse has been found aa stated, it raises a strong presumption of the rider's death. If I discover a vessel wrecked in mid ocean, and "find that no boat has left her side and have no newa of any of her crew, what most be my oonoloaion aa to their fate ? And the sea itself is not more merciless than the South African native." "Still, is there no way by which we could make enquiries ? would it be useleas to offer these tribes a ransom for him or a reward for his safety " I never heard of that coarse being adopted," said Smiley," and for tbe simple reason that the fate of a captured white man is decided too quickly te admit of negotiation. Still I think it is very desirable to make enquiries, aa you suggest." , . "If you know any intelligent person who would take a little trouble and exercise a few of his wits in aid of a distressed and almost friendless girl, I should be glad if you will tell me his name or write to bim for me. Meanwhile, I will write to Von Sehlikmann bimelf." Smiley waa startled, though be was not conscious of the reason. It was not that he feared tbat any answer from the brigand-in-chief would do anything bnt confirm the news already received, but what really vexed him waa the exhibition of independence on the part of fait victim. "You would hardly think it prudent," ho said," to address yourself to the lawleaa adventurer who has inveigled your husband into the very peril which has probably been fatal to him?" " Adventurer or not, Mr. Smiley," said Phyllis, " tbe man is a gentleman and a soldier, and I know what I am doing when I write to bim. Please think, however, of what else can be done. And now let me offer you a cup of tea. Oh t hero comes Tambooti bringing it." And Smiley took courage again; for he saw tbat it was her great grief and isolation that made the woman brave for the time; bat her independence would soon pass away, and she would fall more easily into the snare of the fowler. Tbe fowler took hi* cup of tea and left his victim.