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ONE FOR A MAN of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well. On Thursday afternoons he drives to Green Point. Punctually at two p.m. he presses the buzzer at the entrance to Windsor Mansions, speaks his name, and enters. Waiting for him at the door of No. 113 is Soraya. He goes straight through to the bedroom, which is pleasant-smelling and softly lit, and undresses. Soraya emerges from the bathroom, drops her robe, slides into bed beside him. 'Have you missed me?' she asks. 'I miss you all the time,' he replies. He strokes her honey-brown body, unmarked by the sun; he stretches her out, kisses her breasts; they make love. Soraya is tall and slim, with long black hair and dark, liquid eyes. Technically he is old enough to be her father; but then, technically, one can be a father at twelve. He has been on her books for over a year; he finds her entirely satisfactory. In the desert of the week Thursday has become an oasis of luxe et volupt�. In bed Soraya is not effusive. Her temperament is in fact rather quiet, quiet and docile. In her general opinions she is surprisingly moralistic. She is offended by tourists who bare their breasts ('udders', she calls them) on public beaches; she thinks vagabonds should be rounded up and put to work sweeping the streets. How she reconciles her opinions with her line of business he does not ask. Because he takes pleasure in her, because his pleasure is unfailing, an affection has grown up in him for her. To some degree, he believes, this affection is reciprocated. Affection may not be love, but it is at least its cousin. Given their unpromising beginnings, they have been lucky, the two of them: he to have found her, she to have found him. His sentiments are, he is aware, complacent, even uxorious. Nevertheless he does not cease to hold to them. For a ninety-minute session he pays her R400, of which half goes to Discreet Escorts. It seems a pity that Discreet Escorts should get so much. But they own No. 113 and other flats in Windsor Mansions; in a sense they own Soraya too, this part of her, this function. He has toyed with the idea of asking her to see him in her own time. He would like to spend an evening with her, perhaps even a whole night. But not the morning after. He knows too much about himself to subject her to a morning after, when he will be cold, surly, impatient to be alone. That is his temperament. His temperament is not going to change, he is too old for that. His temperament is fixed, set. The skull, followed by the temperament: the two hardest parts of the body. Follow your temperament. It is not a philosophy, he would not dignify it with that name. It is a rule, like the Rule of St Benedict. He is in good health, his mind is clear. By profession he is, or has been, a scholar, and scholarship still engages, intermittently, the core of him. He lives within his income, within his temperament, within his emotional means. Is he happy? By most measurements, yes, he believes he is. However, he has not forgotten the last chorus of Oedipus: Call no man happy until he is dead. In the field of sex his temperament, though intense, has never been passionate. Were he to choose a totem, it would be the snake. Intercourse between Soraya and himself must be, he imagines, rather like the copulation of snakes: lengthy, absorbed, but rather abstract, rather dry, even at its hottest. Is Soraya's totem the snake too? No doubt with other men she becomes another
woman: la donna e mobile. Yet at the level of temperament her affinity with him can surely not be feigned. Though by occupation she is a loose woman he trusts her, within limits. During their sessions he speaks to her with a certain freedom, even on occasion unburdens himself. She knows the facts of his life. She has heard the stories of his two marriages, knows about his daughter and his daughter's ups and downs. She knows many of his opinions. Of her life outside Windsor Mansions Soraya reveals nothing. Soraya is not her real name, that he is sure of. There are signs she has borne a child, or children. It may be that she is not a professional at all. She may work for the agency only one or two afternoons a week, and for the rest live a respectable life in the suburbs, in Rylands or Athlone. That would be unusual for a Muslim, but all things are possible these days. About his own job he says little, not wanting to bore her. He earns his living at the Cape Technical University, formerly Cape Town University College. Once a professor of modern languages, he has been, since Classics and Modern Languages were closed down as part of the great rationalization, adjunct professor of communications. Like all rationalized personnel, he is allowed to offer one special-field course a year, irrespective of enrolment, because that is good for morale. This year he is offering a course in the Romantic poets. For the rest he teaches Communications 101, 'Communication Skills', and Communications 201, 'Advanced Communication Skills'. Although he devotes hours of each day to his new discipline, he finds its first premise, as enunciated in the Communications 101 handbook, preposterous: 'Human society has created language in order that we may communicate our thoughts, feelings and intentions to each other.' His own opinion, which he does not air, is that the origins of speech lie in song, and the origins of song in the need to fill out with sound the overlarge and rather empty human soul. In the course of a career stretching back a quarter of a century he has published three books, none of which has caused a stir or even a ripple: the first on opera (Boito and the Faust Legend: The Genesis of Mefistofele), the second on vision as eros (The Vision of Richard of St Victor), the third on Wordsworth and history (Wordsworth and the Burden of the Past). In the past few years he has been playing with the idea of a work on Byron. At first he had thought it would be another book, another critical opus. But all his sallies at writing it have bogged down in tedium. The truth is, he is tired of criticism, tired of prose measured by the yard. What he wants to write is music: Byron in Italy, a meditation on love between the sexes in the form of a chamber opera. Through his mind, while he faces his Communications classes, flit phrases, tunes, fragments of song from the unwritten work. He has never been much of a teacher; in this transformed and, to his mind, emasculated institution of learning he is more out of place than ever. But then, so are other of his colleagues from the old days, burdened with upbringings inappropriate to the tasks they are set to perform; clerks in a post-religious age. Because he has no respect for the material he teaches, he makes no impression on his students. They look through him when he speaks, forget his name. Their indifference galls him more than he will admit. Nevertheless he fulfils to the letter his obligations toward them, their parents, and the state. Month after month he sets, collects, reads, and annotates their assignments, correcting lapses in punctuation, spelling and usage, interrogating weak arguments, appending to each paper a brief considered critique. He continues to teach because it provides him with a livelihood; also because it teaches him humility, brings it home to him who he is in the world. The irony does not escape him: that the one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons, while those who come to learn learn nothing. It is a feature of his profession on which he does not remark to Soraya. He doubts there is an irony to match it in hers.
In the kitchen of the flat in Green Point there are a kettle, plastic cups, a jar of instant coffee, a bowl with sachets of sugar. The refrigerator holds a supply of bottled water. In the bathroom there is soap and a pile of towels, in the cupboard clean bedlinen. Soraya keeps her makeup in an overnight bag. A place of assignation, nothing more, functional, clean, well regulated. The first time Soraya received him she wore vermilion lipstick and heavy eyeshadow. Not liking the stickiness of the makeup, he asked her to wipe it off. She obeyed, and has never worn it since. A ready learner, compliant, pliant. He likes giving her presents. At New Year he gave her an enamelled bracelet, at Eid a little malachite heron that caught his eye in a curio shop. He enjoys her pleasure, which is quite unaffected. It surprises him that ninety minutes a week of a woman's company are enough to make him happy, who used to think he needed a wife, a home, a marriage. His needs turn out to be quite light, after all, light and fleeting, like those of a butterfly. No emotion, or none but the deepest, the most unguessed-at: a ground bass of contentedness, like the hum of traffic that lulls the city-dweller to sleep, or like the silence of the night to countryfolk. He thinks of Emma Bovary, coming home sated, glazen-eyed, from an afternoon of reckless fucking. So this is bliss!, says Emma, marvelling at herself in the mirror. So this is the bliss the poets speak of! Well, if poor ghostly Emma were ever to find her way to Cape Town, he would bring her along one Thursday afternoon to show her what bliss can be: a moderate bliss, a moderated bliss. Then one Saturday morning everything changes. He is in the city on business; he is walking down St George's Street when his eyes fall on a slim figure ahead of him in the crowd. It is Soraya, unmistakably, flanked by two children, two boys. They are carrying parcels; they have been shopping. He hesitates, then follows at a distance. They disappear into Captain Dorego's Fish Inn. The boys have Soraya's lustrous hair and dark eyes. They can only be her sons. He walks on, turns back, passes Captain Dorego's a second time. The three are seated at a table in the window. For an instant, through the glass, Soraya's eyes meet his. He has always been a man of the city, at home amid a flux of bodies where eros stalks and glances flash like arrows. But this glance between himself and Soraya he regrets at once. At their rendezvous the next Thursday neither mentions the incident. Nonetheless, the memory hangs uneasily over them. He has no wish to upset what must be, for Soraya, a precarious double life. He is all for double lives, triple lives, lives lived in compartments. Indeed, he feels, if anything, greater tenderness for her. Your secret is safe with me, he would like to say. But neither he nor she can put aside what has happened. The two little boys become presences between them, playing quiet as shadows in a corner of the room where their mother and the strange man couple. In Soraya's arms he becomes, fleetingly, their father: foster-father, step-father, shadow-father. Leaving her bed afterwards, he feels their eyes flicker over him covertly, curiously. His thoughts turn, despite himself, to the other father, the real one. Does he have any inkling of what his wife is up to, or has he elected the bliss of ignorance? He himself has no son. His childhood was spent in a family of women. As mother, aunts, sisters fell away, they were replaced in due course by mistresses, wives, a daughter. The company of women made of him a lover of women and, to an extent, a womanizer. With his height, his good bones, his olive skin, his flowing hair, he could always count on a degree of magnetism. If he looked at a woman in a certain way, with a certain intent, she would return his look, he could rely on that. That was how he lived; for years, for decades, that was the backbone of his life. Then one day it all ended. Without warning his powers fled. Glances that would once have responded to his slid over, past, through him. Overnight he became
and the police do nothing. I'm going to take a break to look after her. If he wanted a woman he had to learn to pursue her. They'll know. I mean. Thai. 'You people?' he says. stale smoke hanging in the air. taking care to skirt the office where she works. Drug-pedlars hang around the playingfields. he wonders. at least you knew where you were. daintily. then snubs him. He lends her a comb. Chinese.' he says. From the beginning it was satisfactory. as he is leaving the apartment. Now people just pick and choose which laws they want to obey. at least. with Venetian blinds over the windows. to his mind coarse. over shrimp salad. Soraya makes the announcement he has been steeling himself against.' 'Phone the agency.in a hotel room in Long Street. Would you like an introduction to another of our hostesses? Lots of exotics to choose from -Malaysian. The entry said 'Afternoons only'. maliciously. In return she gives him a hurt look. He takes her to lunch at a restaurant a discreet distance from the campus and listens while. stolen hours. she says. She was on their books under 'Exotic'. says the man. he will be shuddered over. 'What people?' 'I mean your generation. His introduction to Soraya took place in a dim little sitting-room off the front office of Discreet Escorts. cool sheets. that would be against house rules. 'My mother is ill. Soon.a ghost.' 'Will I see you the week after?' 'I'm not sure. retire from the game. Bucking and clawing. Then the accident in St George's Street. On the fourth Thursday after the incident. The second time he takes her out they stop at his house and have sex. just what he wanted. For the past three years she and her husband have had their name on a list at the New Zealand consulate. a popular nom de commerce . They tell stories. No. You had better phone first. 'You don't say. He existed in an anxious flurry of promiscuity. A clearing of the decks. he slept with whores. in one way or another. unpractised. pot plants in the corners.' she says. 'So what do you do?' she says as she slips off her clothes. but they shudder too. It is a fate he cannot escape. then telephones the agency. He has a shrewd idea of how prostitutes speak among themselves about the men who frequent them.Soraya has become.' 'I don't have a number. they laugh. whatever the rights and wrongs of the situation. to buy her. This one is no more than eighteen. to emigrate. often. he feels a growing coolness as she transforms herself into just another woman and him into just another client. It's anarchy. she complains about her sons' school. it seems. That was what decided him: the promise of shuttered rooms. and the strangeness that has followed. we cannot put you in touch with her. so that one can turn . but then ageing is not a graceful business. she works herself into a froth of excitement that in the end only repels him. as one shudders at a cockroach in a washbasin in the middle of the night. you name it. It is a failure. After that he avoids her. 'Export-import. I won't be here next week.' He waits a few days. At what age. He had affairs with the wives of colleagues. There is a new secretary in his department. He ought to give up. The photograph showed her with a red passion-flower in her hair and the faintest oflines at the corners of her eyes. How can you bring up children when there's anarchy all around?' Her name is Dawn. did Origen castrate himself? Not the most graceful of solutions. drives her back to the campus. A bull's eye. He spends an evening with another Soraya . In a year he has not needed to go back to the agency. he picked up tourists in bars on the waterfront or at the Club Italia. Soraya? Soraya has left us. the older men in particular. It depends on how she gets on. 'You people had it easier. Though Soraya still keeps her appointments.
one's mind to the proper business of the old: preparing to die. Might one approach a doctor and ask for it? A simple enough operation, surely: they do it to animals every day, and animals survive well enough, if one ignores a certain residue of sadness. Severing, tying off: with local anaesthetic and a steady hand and a modicum of phlegm one might even do it oneself, out of a textbook. A man on a chair snipping away at himself an ugly sight, but no more ugly, from a certain point of view, than the same man exercising himself on the body of a woman. There is still Soraya. He ought to close that chapter. Instead, he pays a detective agency to track her down. Within days he has her real name, her address, her telephone number. He telephones at nine in the morning, when the husband and children will be out. 'Soraya?' he says. 'This is David. How are you? When can I see you again?' A long silence before she speaks. 'I don't know who you are,' she says. 'You are harassing me in my own house. I demand you will never phone me here again, never.' Demand. She means command. Her shrillness surprises him: there has been no intimation of it before. But then, what should a predator expect when he intrudes into the vixen's nest, into the home of her cubs? He puts down the telephone. A shadow of envy passes over him for the husband he has never seen.
TWO WITHOUT THE Thursday interludes the week is as featureless as a desert. There are days when he does not know what to do with himself. He spends more time in the university library, reading all he can find on the wider Byron circle, adding to notes that already fill two fat files. He enjoys the late-afternoon quiet of the reading room, enjoys the walk home afterwards: the brisk winter air, the damp, gleaming streets. He is returning home one Friday evening, taking the long route through the old college gardens, when he notices one of his students on the path ahead of him. Her name is Melanie Isaacs, from his Romantics course. Not the best student but not the worst either: clever enough, but unengaged. She is dawdling; he soon catches up with her. 'Hello,' he says. She smiles back, bobbing her head, her smile sly rather than shy. She is small and thin, with close-cropped black hair, wide, almost Chinese, cheekbones, large, dark eyes. Her outfits are always striking. Today she wears a maroon miniskirt with a mustard-coloured sweater and black tights; the gold baubles on her belt match the gold balls of her earrings. He is mildly smitten with her. It is no great matter: barely a term passes when he does not fall for one or other of his charges. Cape Town: a city prodigal of beauty, of beauties. Does she know he has an eye on her? Probably. Women are sensitive to it, to the weight of the desiring gaze. It has been raining; from the pathside runnels comes the soft rush of water. 'My favourite season, my favourite time of day,' he remarks. 'Do you live around here?' 'Across the line. I share a flat.' 'Is Cape Town your home?' 'No, I grew up in George.' 'I live just nearby. Can I invite you in for a drink?' A pause, cautious. 'OK. But I have to be back by seven-thirty.' From the gardens they pass into the quiet residential pocket where he has lived for the past twelve years, first with Rosalind, then, after the divorce, alone.
He unlocks the security gate, unlocks the door, ushers the girl in. He switches on lights, takes her bag. There are raindrops on her hair. He stares, frankly ravished. She lowers her eyes, offering the same evasive and perhaps even coquettish little smile as before. In the kitchen he opens a bottle of Meerlust and sets out biscuits and cheese. When he returns she is standing at the bookshelves, head on one side, reading titles. He puts on music: the Mozart clarinet quintet. Wine, music: a ritual that men and women play out with each other. Nothing wrong with rituals, they were invented to ease the awkward passages. But the girl he has brought home is not just thirty years his junior: she is a student, his student, under his tutelage. No matter what passes between them now, they will have to meet again as teacher and pupil. Is he prepared for that? 'Are you enjoying the course?' he asks. 'I liked Blake. I liked the Wonderhorn stuff. 'Wunderhorn.' 'I'm not so crazy about Wordsworth.' 'You shouldn't be saying that to me. Wordsworth has been one of my masters.' It is true. For as long as he can remember, the harmonies of The Prelude have echoed within him. 'Maybe by the end of the course I'll appreciate him more. Maybe he'll grow on me.' 'Maybe. But in my experience poetry speaks to you either at first sight or not at all. A flash of revelation and a flash of response. Like lightning. Like falling in love.' Like falling in love. Do the young still fall in love, or is that mechanism obsolete by now, unnecessary, quaint, like steam locomotion? He is out of touch, out of date. Falling in love could have fallen out of fashion and come back again half a dozen times, for all he knows. 'Do you write poetry yourself?' he asks. 'I did when I was at school. I wasn't very good. I haven't got the time now.' 'And passions? Do you have any literary passions?' She frowns at the strange word. 'We did Adrienne Rich and Toni Morrison in my second year. And Alice Walker. I got pretty involved. But I wouldn't call it a passion exactly.' So: not a creature of passion. In the most roundabout of ways, is she warning him off? 'I am going to throw together some supper,' he says. Will you join me? It will be very simple.' She looks dubious. 'Come on!' he says. 'Say yes!' 'OK. But I have to make a phone call first.' The call takes longer than he expected. From the kitchen he hears murmurings, silences. 'What are your career plans?' he asks afterwards. 'Stagecraft and design. I'm doing a diploma in theatre.' 'And what is your reason for taking a course in Romantic poetry?' She ponders, wrinkling her nose. 'It's mainly for the atmosphere that I chose it,' she says. 'I didn't want to take Shakespeare again. I took Shakespeare last year.' What he throws together for supper is indeed simple: anchovies on tagliatelle with a mushroom sauce. He lets her chop the mushrooms. Otherwise she sits on a stool, watching while he cooks. They eat in the dining-room, opening a second bottle of wine. She eats without inhibition. A healthy appetite, for someone so slight. 'Do you always cook for yourself?' she asks. 'I live alone. If I don't cook, no one will.' 'I hate cooking. I guess I should learn.'
'Why? If you really hate it, marry a man who cooks.' Together they contemplate the picture: the young wife with the daring clothes and gaudy jewellery striding through the front door, impatiently sniffing the air; the husband, colourless Mr Right, apronned, stirring a pot in the steaming kitchen. Reversals: the stuff of bourgeois comedy. 'That's all,' he says at the end, when the bowl is empty. 'No dessert, unless you want an apple or some yoghurt. Sorry - I didn't know I would be having a guest.' 'It was nice,' she says, draining her glass, rising. 'Thanks.' 'Don't go yet.' He takes her by the hand and leads her to the sofa. 'I have something to show you. Do you like dance? Not dancing: dance.' He slips a cassette into the video machine. 'It's a film by a man named Norman McLaren. It's quite old. I found it in the library. See what you think.' Sitting side by side they watch. Two dancers on a bare stage move through their steps. Recorded by a stroboscopic camera, their images, ghosts of their movements, fan out behind them like wingbeats. It is a film he first saw a quarter of a century ago but is still captivated by: the instant of the present and the past of that instant, evanescent, caught in the same space. He wills the girl to be captivated too. But he senses she is not. When the film is over she gets up and wanders around the room. She raises the lid of the piano, strikes middle C. 'Do you play?' she says. 'A bit.' 'Classics or jazz?' 'No jazz, I'm afraid.' 'Will you play something for me?' 'Not now. I'm out of practice. Another time, when we know each other better.' She peers into his study. 'Can I look?' she says. 'Switch on the light.' He puts on more music: Scarlatti sonatas, cat-music. 'You've got a lot of Byron books,' she says when she comes out. 'Is he your favourite?' 'I'm working on Byron. On his time in Italy.' 'Didn't he die young?' 'Thirty-six. They all died young. Or dried up. Or went mad and were locked away. But Italy wasn't where Byron died. He died in Greece. He went to Italy to escape a scandal, and settled there. Settled down. Had the last big love-affair of his life. Italy was a popular destination for the English in those days. They believed the Italians were still in touch with their natures. Less hemmed in by convention, more passionate.' She makes another circuit of the room. 'Is this your wife?' she asks, stopping before the framed photograph on the coffee-table. 'My mother. Taken when she was young.' 'Are you married?' 'I was. Twice. But now I'm not.' He does not say: Now I make do with what comes my way. He does not say: Now I make do with whores. 'Can I offer you a liqueur?' She does not want a liqueur, but does accept a shot of whisky in her coffee. As she sips, he leans over and touches her cheek. 'You're very lovely,' he says. 'I'm going to invite you to do something reckless.' He touches her again. 'Stay. Spend the night with me.' Across the rim of the cup she regards him steadily. 'Why?' 'Because you ought to.' 'Why ought I to?' 'Why? Because a woman's beauty does not belong to her alone. It is part of the bounty she brings into the world. She has a duty to share it.' His hand still rests against her cheek. She does not withdraw, but does not yield either.
what is too far.'And what if I already share it?' In her voice there is a hint of breathlessness.' Too far. 'Shall I walk you home?' 'No. she says. 'Then you should share it more widely. At the restaurant she has no appetite. the stars are shining. I won't let it go too far. always. For a moment he can feel her little breasts against him. 'Is something the matter? Do you want to tell me?' She shakes her head. But he does not. Mel�ni: the dark one. Rehearsals are taking up a lot of her time. 'From fairest creatures we desire increase. During the drive he tries to put her at ease. 'I thought you might like to go out to lunch. Exciting. She does not look up. He has become a teacher again. Too young. 'I'll pick you up at. whose cadence once served so well to oil the serpent's words. She will not know how to deal with him. perhaps he does not own himself either.melody: a meretricious rhyme. he ought to let her go. twelve.' He reaches out. enfolds her. telephone number. mobile quality. He takes her back to his house. to the harbourside. guardian of the culture-hoard. She is wearing black tights and a black sweater. unlocking the garden gate. wriggle out. she is waiting on the sidewalk outside her apartment block. He dials the number. On Sunday morning he drives to the empty campus and lets himself into the department office. But he is in the grip of something. I'll take care. Her hips are as slim as a twelveyear-old's. Not a good name for her. stares out glumly over the sea. Beauty does not own itself. She does not own herself. in a matter like this? Is her too far the same as his too far? It has begun to rain: sheets of water waver across the empty bay. Her smile loses its playful.' Not a good move. Then she slips his embrace and is gone. and the moment passes. to be courted: exciting. A woman's voice answers. 'Hello?' In the one word he hears all her uncertainty. Good night. 'A lovely night. 'No need.' he says. as old as seduction itself. 'I must leave. What is far.' The clouds have cleared. 'Melanie?' 'I'll call her. pleasurable.' Melanie .' 'Very well.' Smooth words. The pentameter. THREE THAT IS WHERE he ought to end it.' he says. On the living-room floor. shall we say. She does not own herself. David Lurie.' she says. From the filing cabinet he extracts Melanie Isaacs's enrolment card and copies down her personal details: home address. I'm expected. But she is too confused. now only estranges. He asks about her other courses. 'that thereby beauty's rose might never die. to the sound of . 'Shall we leave?' he says. 'Are you worried about the two of us?' 'Maybe. When he arrives. man of the book. Who is speaking?' 'Tell her. She is acting in a play. She puts down her cup. Cape Town address. Beauty's rose: the poem drives straight as an arrow.' There is still time for her to tell a lie.' he says. Yet at this moment he believes in them. Shift the accent. He takes her to Hout Bay. It is one of her diploma requirements.
and grieved To have a soulless image on the eye That had usurped upon a living thought That never more could be. gathers her things. dressed. her hands slack above her head. 'Melanie!' he says. But he has forgotten how to woo.' she repeats. 'I haven't got twelve pink. he finds the act pleasurable. he spies her at the doorway amid a knot of students waiting for a break in the downpour. Melanie is not in class. Roses? Perhaps not roses. awkwardly they run together to the car. you would have found that _usurp upon_ means to intrude or . Red? White? 'Send twelve pink. trying to keep his tone light. 'Thanks. his trousers are around his ankles.rain pattering against the windows. so pleasurable that from its climax he tumbles into blank oblivion. on her breasts.' he says. The girl is lying beneath him. His own hands are under her coarse-knit sweater. They are still on Wordsworth. not a lover.' she whispers.' 'What about this evening?' 'I've got a rehearsal this evening. At a red light he takes her cold hand in his. 'If you had. and slides out. She licks away a drop of rain from her upper lip. in her usual seat. Shall I send a mix?' 'Send a mix. In a few minutes she is back. we also first beheld Unveiled the summit of Mont Blanc. in its way perfect. the poet in the Alps. Averting her face. He orders carnations. on Book 6 of The Prelude. in the car she lowers the hood. a slight frown on her face. Mont Blanc. he makes love to her. He makes no effort to detain her.' he says. Crossing the square to the parking lot he draws her closer to shelter her. Her body is clear. He wakes the next morning in a state of profound wellbeing. leaves the room. 'Thanks. She is wearing a slick yellow raincoat. He comes up behind her. from heavy clouds blown in over the city from the west. 'Red or white?' asks the woman.' she says.' 'Then when do I see you again?' She does not answer. When he comes back the rain has stopped. 'Wait for me here. she frees herself. On Wednesday she is in class. 'From a bare ridge. Her face is flushed. Did anyone look it up in a dictionary?' Silence. puts a hand on her shoulder. simple. Why? Let us start with the unusual verb form _usurp upon_. A child! he thinks: No more than a child! What am I doing? Yet his heart lurches with desire. 'So. After the storm.' he says. They drive through dense late-afternoon traffic. Her tights and panties lie in a tangle on the floor. Rain falls all of Tuesday. 'Aren't you going to invite me in?' 'I think my flatmate is home. 'I must go. opening the car door. 'I missed you yesterday. which does not go away. From his office he telephones a florist. he thinks: straight out of George Grosz. He draws up before her apartment block. Crossing the lobby of the Communications Building at the end of the day. her eyes closed. 'Are you all right?' She does not reply. The majestic white mountain.' he reads aloud. staring at the wiper blades.' He returns with an umbrella. though she is passive throughout.' he says. The voice he hears belongs to a cajoling parent. turns out to be a disappointment. he is aware of the rise and fall of her chest. 'I'll give you a ride home. A sudden gust blows the umbrella inside out.
Save for a balding man in a janitor's uniform a few rows in front of him. giving us a glimpse of the invisible. is the perfective of _usurp upon_. she is absorbed in the text. and sorry for her too. Wordsworthian moments we have all heard about. do you truly wish to see the beloved in the cold clarity of the visual apparatus? It may be in your better interest to throw a veil over the gaze. they want to complain? What answer can he give them? What did he say to Melanie that first evening? That without a flash of revelation there is nothing. perfect little breasts. Sunset at the Globe Salon is the name of the play they are rehearsing: a .' He pauses. A man looking at a mountain: why does it have to be so complicated. covering up. As the senseorgans reach the limit of their powers. she drops her glance. The very air into which he speaks hangs listless as a sheet. cocooned from sense-experience. but at least it wakes them up. hoping for one of those revelatory. Nevertheless. 'The same word usurp recurs a few lines later. Wordsworth seems to be feeling his way toward a balance: not the pure idea. he takes a seat in the back row. usurping completes the act of usurping upon. a soulless image. Goddesses? What is he talking about? What does this old man know about love? A memory floods back: the moment on the floor when he forced the sweater up and exposed her neat. 'If you were blind you would hardly have fallen in love in the first place. or on a smaller scale Table Mountain. Where is the flash of revelation in this room? He casts a quick glance at her.' It is hardly in Wordsworth. then lingers. a mere image on the retina. their light begins to go out. he says. the peak was unveiled. How to bring them to him? How to bring her? 'Like being in love. How can we keep the imagination pure. Can we find a way for the two to coexist? look at line 599. to take over entirely. Unnoticed. Wordsworth is writing about the limits of sense-perception. For the first time she looks up. perhaps it even contradicts the Mont Blanc moment. pure ideas. find themselves usurped by mere sense-images. or seems to be. but we have the Drakensberg. But she slips away in the throng. a breathing presence. nor the visual image burned on the retina. A strange response. _Usurp_. But now. kept as fleeting as possible. wreathed in clouds. says Wordsworth.encroach upon. and we grieved to see it. Archetypes? they are saying to themselves. overwhelming and disappointing us with its matter-of-fact clarity.' he says. 'The clouds cleared. 'But moments like that will not come unless the eye is half turned toward the great archetypes of the imagination we carry within us. Her head is bowed. The question is not. having to listen to these covert intimacies. as a means toward stirring or activating the idea that lies buried more deeply in the soil of memory. The great archetypes of the mind. The passage is difficult. goddesslike form. A week ago she was just another pretty face in the class. which we climb in the wake of the poets.' Now he is just talking. He has gone too far too fast.' he says. her eyes meet his and in a flash see all. he is the only spectator. Confused. Now she is a presence in his life. hoping for a word with her. Blank incomprehension. 'We don't have Alps in this country. so as to keep her alive in her archetypal. Yet at the moment of expiry that light leaps up one last time like a candle-flame. 'Wordsworth is writing about the Alps. has encroached upon what has hitherto been a living thought. He dismisses the class. It is a theme we have touched on before. Why grieve? Because. for a traveller to the Alps. 'Yet we cannot live our daily lives in a realm of pure ideas. The auditorium of the student union is in darkness. Usurpation is one of the deeper themes of the Alps sequence.' Enough! He is sick of the sound of his own voice. protected from the onslaughts of reality? The question has to be. What was that living thought?' Silence again. but the sense-image.
' He obeys.' says the hairdresser. like a rabbit when the jaws of the fox close on its neck. On stage a hairdresser. When he takes her in his arms. one black. stepping into the water. 'A more Marx Brothers atmosphere. A mistake.' she replies . sitting in the dark spying on a girl (unbidden the word letching comes to him). All she does is avert herself--avert her lips.' squawks Melanie. I'll attend to you in a mo. Not rape. The broom gets tangled in an electric cord. Johannesburg. the wiggling bottom. He carries her to the bedroom. but undesired nevertheless.comedy of the new South Africa set in a hairdressing salon in Hillbrow. pick up a broom and make yourself useful. but something goes wrong with the synchronization. no doubt about that. Something to do with the apparition on the stage: the wig. a huge mistake. insults. The director comes striding onstage. she is too surprised to resist the intruder who thrusts himself upon her. struggling. slippers in the shape of comic-book gophers which he finds silly. She picks up a broom. undesired to the core. Little shivers of cold run through her. eyes closed like a sleepwalker's. totters around the set pushing it before her. brushes off the absurd slippers. An unseemly business.' she says when it is over. when he reaches his car. 'Please. she. At four o'clock the next afternoon he is at her flat. Ahead of him the janitor stands up and with a heavy sigh leaves the auditorium.'the one you advertised. A fourth figure comes onstage. 'No. as it were. of him. the crude talk. die within herself for the duration. Patter passes among the three of them: jokes. You must go. follows the janitor into the darkness outside. her limbs crumple like a marionette's. 'It's got to be snappier. one white. as soon as she is bare. 'Pauline will be back any minute. She opens the door wearing a crumpled T-shirt. avert her eyes. he has no doubt. Melanie pushes her broom. Melanie. it is Melanie. He would like to slide into a bath of his own. Yet the old men whose company he seems to be on the point of joining. 'I've come for the job. flamboyantly gay. and turns her back on him. a girl in high platform shoes with her hair done in a cascade of ringlets. she slips under the quilted counterpane like a mole burrowing. Catharsis seems to be the presiding principle: all the coarse old prejudices brought into the light of day and washed away in gales of laughter. and behind her a young man in black leather who begins to fiddle with the wall-socket. He ought to be gone too. At this moment. So that everything done to her might be done. is overtaken with such dejection.' She turns to Melanie. screams of alarm. A woman with chunky legs and a no-nonsense business suit passes by and . A bang. far away.' Her accent is glaringly Kaaps. 'My cousin will be back!' But nothing will stop him. Can they be blamed for clinging to the last to their place at the sweet banquet of the senses? Onstage the action resumes. kisses her feet. is trying to cleanse herself of it. with straight limbs and clear eyes. not quite that. He has given her no warning. Words heavy as clubs thud into the delicate whorl of her ear. not now!' she says. but then. such dullness. There is supposed to be a flash.' says the hairdresser. a flash. goddess of the foaming waves. 'It's not my fault. cycling shorts. 'OK. As though she had decided to go slack. 'Take a seat. 'OK?' Melanie nods. followed by a screaming and a scurrying around. that he sits slumped at the wheel unable to move. She does not resist. Strange love! Yet from the quiver of Aphrodite. the tramps and drifters with their stained raincoats and cracked false teeth and hairy earholes . attends to two clients. dearie. 'My gats.' says the director. tasteless. astonished by the feeling she evokes. She lets him lay her out on the bed and undress her: she even helps him. He sees her running a bath.all of them were once upon a time children of God. raising her arms and then her hips. why must everything always be my fault?' Quietly he gets up.
lying with the sheet drawn up to her chin. in her heart. The sheet slips aside.enters the apartment block. without reply. . every night he can slip into her bed like this. covers her. She stays away the whole of the next week. as the first birds are beginning to chirrup. She seems thoroughly at home. slip into her. I'll be back at noon.' Almost he says. He stretches out on the bed beside her. he feels a tingling of desire. 'I have classes to meet.' In his bedroom.' He strokes her hair. She shrugs. An unfortunate absence. 'Would that be a good idea?' Whether it would be a good idea she does not say. In his arms she begins to sob miserably. He folds the bedclothes aside. with a little black woollen cap. 'I'm going to leave now. no doubt about that. at this moment? When he made the first move.' His heart is flooded with relief.' he says. he steels himself for angry words. her face warm against his belly. 'There. Yet at this moment the thought is intoxicating. The next day she is not in class. two doors away. 'Stay here?' he repeats carefully. of course. there. It is Melanie. avoiding his eye. 'Come.' he whispers. kisses her good night. 'Tell Daddy what is wrong. the alarm clock goes off.' 'No. reaches down. Then at midnight on Sunday the doorbell rings. she is wearing only a singlet and panties. drives off. for a scene. What game is she playing? He should be wary. 'Of course. But he should have been wary from the start. People will find out. nothing. neither good nor bad. Try to sleep again.quickly in. But what will that matter? A last leap of the flame of sense before it goes out. there will be whispering. He finds her a tissue.' She gathers herself and tries to speak. fully clothed. he had thought of it as a quick little affair . strokes her breasts. the one whose disapproval Melanie is so afraid of? He rouses himself. The last thing in the world he needs is for Melanie Isaacs to take up residence with him. looking haggard. 'Tell me what is wrong. draws her to him. Is this cousin Pauline the flatmate. in the college gardens. Despite all. Her face is strained. trying to comfort her. 'Of course. At the foot of the page he pencils a note to himself 'Provisional'. When he fills in the register afterwards. Does she know what she is up to. but long shudders of misery still pass through her. She has stopped crying. Instead she presses herself tighter to him. sitting at the kitchen table. embraces her. 'Of course you can stay. Mistress? Daughter? What. pressing her against him stiff and cold. He eases off her shoes. When he returns half an hour later she is in a dead sleep. leaves her to herself. eating toast and honey and drinking tea. then we can talk. She turns away from him. since it is the day of the mid-term test. trailing complications behind her. She is awake. The scene does not come. no tea. she is the one who is embarrassed. 'Can I stay here a while?' she says. 'How are you feeling?' he asks.' he murmurs. quickly out. 'Can I sleep here tonight?' she whispers. is she trying to be? What is she offering him? When he returns at noon. Every night she will be here. I'll make you some tea. 'Is something the matter? Do you want to talk?' She shakes her head mutely. I'm exhausted. Time after time he telephones. there might even be scandal. He reaches out. she is up. He sits down on the bed. Now here she is in his house. dressed from top to toe in black. they always do. but her nose is clogged. pulls the covers up over her shoulders. kisses her forehead. her buttocks. he knocks at her door. I just need to crash.' He makes up a bed for her in his daughter's old room. In fact. he ticks her off as present and enters a mark of seventy. Seventy: a vacillator's mark. At seven in the morning.
he feels a surge of joy and desire. when she hooks a leg behind his buttocks to draw him in closer: as the tendon of her inner thigh tightens against him. she is learning to exploit him and will probably exploit him further. 'Do you do this kind of thing often?' she asks afterwards. He has no interest in Amanda. irritated. 'I have to go. One moment stands out in recollection.' She promises. 'Do what?' 'Sleep with your students.' 'Do you have pictures?' 'I don't collect pictures.'So. She is behaving badly. It would have helped if you had explained earlier. nods appreciatively at the bookcases. I don't collect women. 'Are you sure it's OK?' she says. she the one who follows.' She gets up. She is quick. getting away with too much.' 'I wanted to say. of course not. he wears a black leather jacket and black leather trousers.' 'Will you tell me now what this is all about?' She avoids his eye. it's OK.' 'I slept after you left.' 'And when will next time be?' 'This evening. 'Yes. Will you be in class tomorrow?' 'Yes. he looks like trouble. He is vexed. as good as the first time. He looks older than most students. if she is behaving badly. He is tall and wiry. I promise. To the extent that they are together. that is only because she is still young. I'll tell you some other time.' 'What happened to your first wife?' 'It's a long story. But if she has got away with much. Amanda is another student in the class. casts a look around the room. divorced twice. as little bashful as if she were alone. 'you are looking much better.' he says. but the production is taking up all my time.' he says. after rehearsal. as perfectly formed. strolls around the room picking up her clothes. 'Professor David. Without invitation he sits down.' 'Aren't you collecting me?' 'No. I'll explain next time. Is that OK?' 'Yes. You are telling me your drama work has priority. and greedy for experience. He is used to women more self-conscious in their dressing and undressing. I know I've missed a lot of classes. he has got away with more.' She gets up. if they are together. 'Not now. But the women he is used to are not as young. he is the one who leads. FOUR HE MAKES LOVE to her one more time. Melanie has told me . Who knows. he is beginning to learn the way her body moves. I'm late. turns to face him. It is good. carries her cup and plate to the sink (but does not wash them). he has behaved worse. The same afternoon there is a knock at his office door and a young man enters whom he has not seen before. but with a promise that is not enforceable. If he does not sense in her a fully sexual appetite. Married twice. despite all. a wispy blonde. 'I've been divorced twice. on the bed in his daughter's room. 'Why did you get divorced?' she asks. he has a thin goatee and an ear-ring. 'So you are the professor.' she says. Have you slept with Amanda?' He does not answer. Let him not forget that.' 'I understand. he thinks: there might. be a future.
She is mixed up with a bravo and now I am mixed up with her bravo too! His stomach churns. He is not surprised: if he has been shamed.' He gets up. 'Goodbye. He leans forward. He steals a glance at Melanie. Manfred. 'None at all. she sits huddled over her book.' he says. 'Who are you?' he says. looking thin and exhausted. 'You think you're smart. waiting for her. with an air of cocky ease. Usually she is a busy writer. Poor little bird. So. is vandalized. he thinks: the chickens come home to roost. Despite himself. she is shamed too. Byron the man found himself conflated with his own poetic creations . they are clearly waiting to see what he will do about the intruder. There is no way in which he can evade the poem. And what has she told you?' 'That you fuck her. He rises. He reads aloud: He stood a stranger in this breathing world. But on Monday she reappears in class.' 'Indeed. Today. 'Any idea who did it?' asks the locksmith. whom I have held against my breast! He has told them to read 'Lara'. he thinks. 'That's enough! It's time for you to leave!' 'It's time for you to leave!' the boy repeats. Usually there is a buzz of talk from the students. his heart goes out to her.' The words come faster now. notoriety and scandal affected not only Byron's life but the way in which his poems were received by the public. he thinks. Post-Christian. Though he cannot believe they know what is afoot. 'OK. A pity that must be his theme. Evidently there are more instalments to come.' There is a long silence. 'As we saw last week. mimicking him. A bravo. sweeps right and left with his hands. the boyfriend. A thing of dark imaginings. saunters to the door. newspaper is pasted over the windscreen. they might as well have . plunging into his notes. and beside her. Today there is a hush.about you.' Scandal. glue is injected into the doorlocks. parked in the street.' Light dances on his black eyeballs. leaning back in his seat. His notes deal with 'Lara'. postliterate. even Don Juan. posthistorical. Professor Chips! But just wait and see!' Then he is gone. 'And don't think you can just walk into people's lives and walk out again when it suits you. What do you want?' 'Don't you tell me what's enough. 'A real ladies' man.' he replies curtly.with Harold. hands in pockets. but he is in no state to improvise. The locks have to be replaced. The tyres are deflated. what else? 'We continue with Byron. that shaped By choice the perils he by chance escaped. The papers on the desk go flying. Though he stays up late into the night. is the boy in black.' he continues. After this coup de main Melanie keeps her distance. his car. Instead. the paintwork is scratched. in a patter of menace. What can he do? He must grit his teeth and pay. 'Who will gloss these lines for me? Who is this "erring spirit"? Why does he call himself "a thing"? From what world does he come?' He has long ceased to be surprised at the range of ignorance of his students. The visitor ignores his question. I should have guessed it: a girl like that would not come unencumbered. You think you will still look so smart when your wife hears what you are up to?' 'That's enough. the bill comes to six hundred rand. What will he do indeed? What happened to his car was evidently not enough. An erring spirit from another hurled. Melanie does not come.
. more human sense of the word. just possibly. All of a sudden he finds himself cast out into this strange "breathing world" of ours. it is all the same to them. 'you are going through a difficult time. Lucifer. Good or bad. and. He assigns the first cantos of Don Juan and ends the class early.' Heads bent. a monster.been hatched from eggs yesterday. It is to the boy alone that the question has addressed itself. They finish the poem. For though he lives among us. 'Wait here. My little dove. does not need to breathe. But there is a limit to sympathy. try to cheer her up. He wants to show that he knows about more than just motorcycles and flashy clothes. Byron will suggest. But today he is met with silence. who lives dangerously. The boy would like to press his intuition further. can I have a word with you?' Pinch-faced. and the source of his impulses is dark to him. 'Never mind. a smile in which there is. But in some strange perversity of thought.' 'Exactly. What is a mad heart?' He is asking too much. With the boyfriend trailing behind. On the contrary. He shakes his head. he takes in his words.' he says. between himself and the boy. and I don't want to make it more difficult. He will be condemned to solitude. He could at times resign his own for others' good. He is exactly what he calls himself: a thing.' The boy has not looked down once at the text. Perhaps he does indeed have intimations of what it is to have a mad heart. her head sunken. in this classroom. 'Lucifer. a touch of bemusement. as long as a stranger is there to listen and judge and mock. they will not play his game. If they were alone he would embrace her. 'The angel hurled out of heaven. So he does not expect them to know about fallen angels or where Byron might have read of them. Cain. he can see that. this being with whom there is something constitutionally wrong. even creating danger for himself. but heart. he is not one of us. it will not be possible to love him. like a sleeper summoned to life. and closes the door on him. Again his heart goes out to her. But not in pity. not because he ought. "Erring": a being who chooses his own path." A mad heart. 'He does what he feels like. And perhaps he does. with luck. They will not speak. Of how angels live we know little. exhausted. he just does it. the dark angel. Byron. she stands before him. the boy responds. not in the deeper. Note that we are not asked to condemn this being with the mad heart. a dogged silence that organizes itself palpably around the stranger in their midst. 'Shall we go to my office?' he says instead. he can guide toward the mark. 'So. I know that. What he does expect is a round of goodnatured guesses which. he would call her. Finally. 'My dear. before these strangers. That swayed him onward with a secret pride To do what few or none would do beside. And this same impulse would in tempting time Mislead his spirit equally to crime.' he tells the boy. Instead. with a little smile on his lips. He doesn't care if it's good or bad. Melanie sits before him. Read a few lines further: "His madness was not of the head. But.' he says. here. He just does it. Across their heads he calls to her: 'Melanie. but we can assume they do not require oxygen. what kind of creature is this Lucifer?' By now the students must surely feel the current running between them. we are invited to understand and sympathize. he leads her up the stairway to his office. that is. the words will not come. At home Lucifer. Let us read further. He doesn't act on principle but on impulse. they scribble down his words.
she seems to want to say. during the lunch break? That will give you the weekend to do the reading. She rises. I'm calling from George. And you are going to have to make up the test you missed. meets his eye defiantly. I wonder if you can help us. Professor. Either she has not understood or she is refusing the opening. slings her bag over her shoulder. They wear helmets. in his mailbox he finds an official withdrawal card: Student 7710 101SAM Ms M Isaacs has withdrawn from COM 312 with immediate effect. 'Monday. that's her nature. Let us set a date.' 'Professor. Then the motorcycle surges forward.' What he wants to say cannot be said. Melanie has been such a good student. maybe you can persuade her to think again.' She raises her chin. Instead. he stops at a traffic light. I have been there! he thinks.' 'Yes. when it comes. 'Melanie. on the pillion. Barely an hour later a telephone call is switched through to his office. How can you speak to me like this? Her voice. you know. takes things to heart. Driving home from a concert that evening. but he recognizes them nevertheless. I wonder if I can ask. You have made me bear your secret. It does not matter if you are not prepared. is so subdued that he can barely hear: 'I can't take the test. Tell him that.' 'She wants to give up her studies and get a job. Melanie. sits with knees wide apart. It seems such a waste. I have obligations to my students. can you have a chat with her. I am no longer just a student. you are going to have to give more time to your work. not decently. It has come as a terrible shock to us. the point is to get it behind you. FIVE SHE DOES NOT appear for her examination on Monday. overstressed. Melanie. But I can't have him disrupting my classes. you know. What . You have cut me off from everyone. so maybe she is. At least go through the motions. and then drop out before the end. All he can do is signal. and now she says she is going to give it all up. pelvis arched. You are going to have to attend class more regularly. He would not have guessed it. What your friend does off campus is his own business. Professor. here in my office. her mother and I. She has such respect for you. 'As for yourself. a silver Ducati bearing two figures in black. from me. She always takes things so to heart. My daughter is in your class.' So Melanie-Mel�ni. like everyone else.' Responsibilities: she does not dignify the word with a reply. with her baubles from the Oriental Plaza and her blind spot for Wordsworth.But I must speak to you as a teacher. all of them. 'Just take the test. and hope that she understands. We don't want her to throw away all these years for nothing. she gets very involved. How about next Monday. 'Professor Lurie? Have you a moment to talk? My name is Isaacs.' She stares back at him in puzzlement. overworked. Don't make the situation more complicated than it need be. I haven't done the reading. talk some sense into her?' 'Have you spoken to Melanie yourself? Do you know what is behind this decision?' 'We spent all weekend on the phone to her.' 'I'm not sure I understand. But if you talk to her. She is very involved in a play she is acting in. bearing her away. A motorcycle throbs past.' he repeats. A quick shudder of lust tugs him. even shock. I have responsibilities. Melanie. but we just can't get sense out of her. to spend three years at university and do so well.
' he says without thinking. Halfway through. Shall we go to my office?' 'That won't be necessary. with surprising dispatch. The story must be out. 'it is about her decision to withdraw. a memorandum arrives from the office of the Vice-Rector (Student Affairs) notifying him that a complaint has been lodged against him under article 3. Article 3. he says. not available?' 'I mean she doesn't want to speak to you. Professor. ethnic group. as the stranger's voice rises they fall silent. but I don't think so.1 addresses victimization or harassment of students by teachers. the blood thudding in his ears. He is requested to contact the Vice-Rector's office at his earliest convenience. Melanie has such respect for you. He reads it. and with good reason. shakes his head. speak. now is your chance to say. I'll see what I can do. Nor will father Isaacs in faraway George forget this conversation.is accompanied by a copy of the code. Your daughter lost respect for me weeks ago. 'Professor. 'Professor! Professor Lurie!' he calls.' he whispers. so help me God. takes a deep breath.' Now is his chance indeed: let him who would speak.' he begins. You will not get away with it. I tell you now!' That is how it begins.' Respect? You are out of date.' 'Tell her'. Melanie is not available.' 'Yes. gender. He wears a blue suit too large for him. 'What do you mean. Article 3 deals with victimization or harassment on grounds of race. he tells himself afterwards. but what you have done is not right. A second document describes the constitution and competences of committees of inquiry. 'It is not right. his .' Wednesday's class goes badly. If we can't trust the university. How do you do. thin. who can we trust? We never thought we were sending our daughter into a nest of vipers. with its lies and evasions.' Like a thing of wood. 'I'll see what I can do. or physical disability. sexual preference. 'you may be very educated and all that. 'Professor Lurie? We spoke on the telephone. Friday's even worse. gathers himself. his heart hammering unpleasantly.' He pauses. Mr Isaacs.' 'You are. stoop-shouldered. Why not come clean? I am the worm in the apple. the docile. I can see it from your face. says Pauline in a chilly voice. you may be high and mighty and have all kinds of degrees.' he says instead. But he stands tongue-tied. religion.' The man pauses. laying heavy stress on the word. 'I have business to attend to. Mr Isaacs. but if I was you I'd be very ashamed of myself. How can I help you when I am the very source of your woe? He telephones the flat and gets cousin Pauline. He is in the department office when he hears a voice behind him: 'Where can I find Professor Lurie?' 'Here I am. Attendance is poor. 'You can't just run away like that! You have not heard the last of it. No. Tell her she is being very rash. If I've got hold of the wrong end of the stick. That is what he ought to say. Professor Lurie. Into the crowded corridor Isaacs follows him.which arrives in an envelope marked Confidential .' The two secretaries do not pretend to hide their curiosity. you are! As I say. he turns and leaves. 'We put our children in the hands of you people because we think we can trust you. he should have said. he smells of cigarette smoke. Next morning. the passive. Isaacs.else has he not guessed about her? 'I wonder.1 of the university's Code of Conduct. A viper: how can he deny it? 'Excuse me. There are students in the office too. The man who has spoken is small. whether I am the right person to speak to Melanie. The notification . the only students who come are the tame ones. There can be only one explanation.
David. it should have been reported. locks the door of his office. 'There is a query about Ms Isaacs's attendance. writes the hand: PROFESSOR. 'I have no defence. the downward gash of the I.he glances at Elaine Winter . she regards him as a hangover from the past. Ms Isaacs's name will be protected too. searching for the one to tick. First the name of the plaintiff: MELANIE ISAACS. the plain one. he is convinced. who chairs the university-wide committee on discrimination. this is not the time or place to go into substantial issues. its cross of righteousness: J'accuse. I can assure you of that. lovers no longer but foes. 'Lodge a complaint? What kind of complaint?' 'It's private. points the nicotine-stained finger of her father. A hand takes up the pen.' he says. Your name will be protected. She is too innocent for that. the little man in the illfitting suit. 'We want to lodge a complaint. and a pen. 'So unless there are two Melanie Isaacs. Then a space for the name of the accused.she has attended only two classes in the past month. Yet' -she glances at the file in front of her . the l with its bold upper loop. We are talking about a complaint laid by Ms Melanie Isaacs. the flourish of the final s. makes its X. must be behind it. The form is placed before them. Aram Hakim.' he would say. Elaine?' Elaine Winter takes her cue. Its function will be to determine whether there are grounds for disciplinary measures.' 'Have you thought it through? Is this really what you want to do?' they would respond. Finally. while Melanie stood by abashed .' cousin Pauline would have interjected. would grow bolder.I spoke to her on the phone . 'We want to lay a complaint against one of your professors. According to her . a hand he has kissed. 'Yes. at the foot of the page. Also about' .'against a professor. How can we best tackle this business?' 'You can fill me in about the complaint. I need barely say.'is clarify procedure. his and hers. There is a form to fill in. What we should do' .'some pre-existing irregularities that seem to involve Ms Isaacs. 'so let's get to the point. She has never liked him. Two names on the page.concentration fails. sleek and youthful. her attendance is unblemished and she has a mark of seventy for the mid-term. At five o'clock he is waiting in the corridor.' 'Go to room such-and-such. DAVID LURIE. following procedure. 'Friends.he glances at the other two . the duenna. in careful block letters.' She regards him quizzically. Isaacs. 'It's late. David.' 'Harassment. They must have talked her into it. There. She also says she missed the mid-term test. Down the column of boxes wavers the hand. If that is true. He gets up.' they must have said.' Smoothly Hakim intervenes. He calls the Vice-Rector's office and is given a five o'clock appointment.. worn her down. a hand he knows intimately. settles.' 'Very well. He. David. Melanie would not have taken such a step by herself. There are already two persons in the room: Elaine Winter.' In room such-and-such he.' says Hakim. You or your . the matter will be handled in the strictest confidence.'according to your records. the date and her signature: the arabesque of the M. The hand slows. we know why we are here. then in the end marched her to the administration offices. outside regular hours. and Farodia Rassool from Social Sciences. A committee will be set up. and sits with the paper in his hand. emerges and ushers him in. daring her to object. the sooner cleared away the better. The deed is done. he and cousin Pauline. chair of his department. side by side. Two in a bed. too ignorant of her power. glancing at his daughter.. trying to imagine what has happened. we know what we want to do.' 'There is only one.
Really. The case is supposed to be confidential. Elaine?' Tight-lipped. looking straight through him as she passes? Why do only two students turn up for the first Baudelaire class? The gossip-mill.' 'What kind of undertakings?' 'Sensitivity training. turning day and night. play it by the book. he thinks. of course people talk. this harassment business. Minimize the damage.' He mentions two names. but of course it is not. Take a yellow card. announces a twentyfour-hour vigil in solidarity with 'recent victims'. so we'll just take it step by step. Hakim has to let him out. It is raining. get a woman to represent you. Why else. grinding reputations.' He has known Hakim for years. Community service. why does a younger colleague. when he enters the commonroom. Gleeful whispers. everything goes on as before. WAR. perhaps take a spell of leave. holding their sessions in corners.' says Hakim. In the corridors of the Communications Building he makes a point of walking with head held high. 'Share my umbrella. Schadenfreude. The back exit is locked too. Is there anything I am omitting. Dr Rassool shakes her head. Women Against Rape. My one suggestion is. all affairs are serious. Like heart attacks. David. You give certain undertakings. my advice would be. Your best hope. does a hush fall on the chatter. until the committee has made its recommendation to the Rector and the Rector has acted.' says the lawyer. 'Whatever. First the sentence. 'Let's get it clear first.' he says. I want to tell you you have all my sympathy. at his car. over the telephone.' .' He leaves in a fury. 'Don't tell me what to do. He speaks to the lawyer who handled his divorce.' 'Counselling? I need counselling?' 'Don't misunderstand me. as a matter of strategy.legal representative will have an opportunity to challenge its composition. complicated as well as unfortunate.' On campus it is Rape Awareness Week. then the trial. to drop the charges. but we believe our procedures are good and fair. acquaint yourself with the procedures and perhaps get legal advice. I was having an affair with the girl. with whom he has hitherto had perfectly cordial relations. and you will be expected to refrain from all contact with her. Whatever you can negotiate. In the meantime. behind closed doors.' 'Well. David. wait for the scandal to blow over. 'Speaking personally.' 'Serious?' 'Does seriousness make it better or worse? After a certain age. I'm not a child. These things can be hell. Farodia. David. CASANOVA. they used to play tennis together in his tennis-playing days. 'Sleep on it. A pamphlet is slipped under his door: 'WOMEN SPEAK OUT. put down her teacup and depart. 'Aim for a private settlement. Its hearings will be held in camera. The community of the righteous. Counselling. then. I'm simply saying that one of the options offered to you might be counselling. 'It's always complicated. But the building is locked and the doorkeeper has gone home.' 'To fix me? To cure me? To cure me of inappropriate desires?' The lawyer shrugs. or her family. Ms Isaacs has officially withdrawn from the course she takes with you. but Hakim raises a warning hand.' Scrawled in pencil at the bottom is a message: 'YOUR DAYS ARE OVER. He has had enough. 'how true are the allegations?' 'True enough. but he is in no mood now for male chumminess.' He is about to reply. in return for which the university persuades the girl. He shrugs irritably. gets into his car.
I thought I'd drive up after the inquiry and spend some time with her. There was a jealous boyfriend. living now on a farm in the Eastern Cape. Stupid. Yet perhaps she has a point. David. War veterans. that's all.' Rosalind goes on. They speak of Lucy. I'm not sure I will want to.? Do you ever think about that?' He is silent. they are growing to be friends again.' 'The story is. not in this day and age.' 'Yes. That is what whores are for. I'm not sure I will be permitted to come back to the university. You are too old to be meddling with other people's children. You should have expected the worst.' 'Where did you hear that?' 'People talk. Is that true?' 'I know nothing about sleeping-pills. David. Am I allowed to tell you how stupid it looks?' 'No.He has dinner with his ex-wife Rosalind. 'Don't expect sympathy from me. David. it's all very . the blood in the stool. don't you think? I won't ask if what you got from this girl was worth the price. I don't know what you do about sex and I don't want to know. after all: to put up with the ecstasies of the unlovely. How old is she . slowly. And after you have seen Lucy?' 'I don't know. Everyone's hand will be against you. and don't expect sympathy from anyone else either. and ugly too.' 'That's very quick. Perhaps it is the right of the young to be protected from the sight of their elders in the throes of passion. Who told you about sleeping-pills?' She ignores the question.fiftytwo? Do you think a young girl finds any pleasure in going to bed with a man of that age? Do you think she finds it good to watch you in the middle of your. of a sort. how could you?' The old tone has entered.'I'm thinking of taking a trip.' 'Can't they? Don't be so sure. 'I may see her soon. There were indignant parents. There was a battle of some kind going on behind the scenes that I wasn't privy to. They have been apart for eight years. she took sleeping-pills.' 'Then why this complaint?' 'Who knows? She didn't confide in me. Anyway. 'Was she in love with you? Did you jilt her?' 'No. They can't cut me off without a penny. Even Rosalind must be aware of that. Old enough to know her own mind. sole issue of his first marriage. It reassures him that Rosalind still lives nearby: perhaps she feels the same way about him. It sounds like a fabrication to me.' 'I will anyway. 'you say you'll see Lucy. Of age. What are you going to do with your time? What about your pension?' 'I'll come to some arrangement with them. but this is not the way to go about it. in the juiciest detail. No sympathy.' he says .your inamorata?' 'Twenty. I was taken completely by surprise. 'An inglorious end to your career. Someone to count on when the worst arrives: the fall in the bathroom. You're what ... you are not. Everyone knows about this latest affair of yours. It's in no one's interest to hush it up. the tone of the last years of their married life: passionate recrimination.' 'In term time?' 'Term is nearly over. Another two weeks to get through. and why not? Really. She must have crumpled in the end. no mercy.' 'You should have known.' 'Has this anything to do with the problems you are having? I hear you are having problems. no one's but your own. warily. 'Anyway. Neither.' Rosalind shakes her head.' 'The inquiry?' 'There is a committee of inquiry sitting next week.
the dangerous vanity of the gambler. he and Rosalind. Two of them he knows: Farodia Rassool and Desmond Swarts. you have the right to challenge its makeup.' says Mathabane. 'I think we had better restrict ourself to the legal sense. Do I need to summarize that statement? Professor Lurie?' 'Do I understand.' says Mathabane. Professor of Religious Studies. Blest be the infant babe. steel yourself.. and disgraced disciple of William Wordsworth. Have you any objection to the presence of a student observer from the Coalition Against Discrimination?' 'I have no fear of the committee.' 'What does it say?' 'Read it for yourself ' The report is on page three: 'Professor on sex charge'. Mr Chairman. But he does not care. Aren't you supposed to ask that as well?' 'Very well. He is ushered in and seated at the foot of the table by Manas Mathabane himself. Don't blame her. who will chair the inquiry. SIX THE HEARING is held in a committee room off Hakim's office. against each other. Professor Lurie. To the matter at hand. To his left sit Hakim. He skims the first lines. So let me ask: is there any member of the committee whose participation you feel might be prejudicial to you?' 'I have no challenge in a legal sense. David Lurie (1945-?). commentator upon. Blest be the babe. On the contrary. The first complainant is Ms Melanie Isaacs. nature-poet. Vanity.' William Wordsworth (1770-1850). He nods to the committee members.' In the old days he would. He does not feel nervous.' 'Don't blame her! Whose side are you on? Of course I blame her! I blame you and I blame her. 'You have no challenge to the makeup of the committee. 'The body here gathered. The next day Rosalind telephones. Dean of Engineering. a student of some kind. vanity and self-righteousness. have you seen today's Argus?' 'No. he has slept well. who has made a statement of which you all have copies. and a young woman. teaches in the Business School. He is going into this in the wrong spirit. he feels quite sure of himself. 'I have reservations of a philosophical kind. at this point. his secretary. Furthermore. His heart beats evenly. to his right are the three members of Mathabane's committee. opening proceedings. 'David. All it can do is to make recommendations. But tonight he does not. author of a book on English nature-poet William Wordsworth. '.' he replies. I have no fear of the observer. The whole thing is disgraceful from beginning to end. And I'm not sorry for saying so. No outcast he.' 'You haven't asked whether I love her. was not available for comment. CTU is keeping tight-lipped about the latest in a series of scandals including fraudulent scholarship payouts and alleged sex rings operating out of student residences. They have grown thick skins.' 'Well. have stormed out. but I suppose they are out of bounds. that Ms Isaacs will not be appearing in . a student in the drama programme. according to the papers in front of him. he thinks. 'has no powers..demeaning. is slated to appear before a disciplinary board on a charge of sexual harassment. Are you in love with this young woman who is dragging your name through the mud?' 'She isn't responsible.' A general shifting and shuffling. The third.' 'Very well. Really. it is headed. Disgraceful and vulgar too. Lurie (53). There's a piece about you.
this is not a trial but an inquiry.person?' 'Ms Isaacs appeared before the committee yesterday. while we deliberate?' He and the student observer retire to Hakim's office. It has no power to take decisions. The atmosphere in the room is not good: sour. 'Professor Lurie. or a counsellor? Would you be prepared to undergo counselling?' The question comes from the young woman from the Business School.' Hakim leans across to Mathabane. 'comes from the Registrar. 'YOUR DAYS ARE OVER. CASANOVA. 'I am sure the members of this committee have better things to do with their time than rehash a story over which there will be no dispute. this is a committee of inquiry. 'No. says Mathabane. I am guilty. it . and concerns the validity of Ms Isaacs's record. I am not receptive to being counselled. Its role is to hear both sides of the case and make a recommendation. Again I ask.' He takes a deep breath. and of keeping false records. Have you consulted anyone . 'I have made my plea.' He turns to Mathabane. Professor Lurie. He can feel himself bristling. Professor Lurie.' 'You are taking us in circles. through the Office of Student Records. Do I understand that. No word passes between them. 'Professor Lurie. I can represent myself perfectly well. There are more important things in life than being prudent. 'that the committee recess to discuss Professor Lurie's plea. I have not sought counselling nor do I intend to seek it. but can you afford it? It seems to me we may have a duty to protect you from yourself ' She gives Hakim a wintry smile.' A round of nods.' says Hakim. Is there any reason why this debate should go on?' There is a whispered consultation between Mathabane and Hakim.' What does she think of Casanova now that she meets him face to face? They are called back in. clearly the girl feels awkward. we must continue with the hearing?' 'We want to give you an opportunity to state your position. I am a grown man. and let us get on with our lives. Is that a problem for you?' 'No. I accept it.' 'Guilty of what?' 'Of all that I am charged with. 'You say you have not sought legal advice.a priest. for instance. Mathabane continues. Our rules of procedure are not those of a law court. Murmured words pass between them.' Now Farodia Rassool intervenes.' 'A second and related charge'. despite the plea I have entered. 'This is all very quixotic. would it not be better if you were represented by someone familiar with our procedures?' 'I don't need representation. could I ask you to step outside for a few minutes. Professor Lurie. The charge is that Ms Isaacs did not attend all the classes or submit all the written work or sit all the examinations for which you have given her credit.' Farodia Rassool sits back in her seat. I am beyond the reach of counselling. Pass sentence.' 'I have stated my position. you and Ms van Wyk.' 'But would it not be prudent to actually read the statement before accepting it?' 'No.' 'Of everything Ms Isaacs avers. but have you actually read it?' I do not wish to read Ms Isaacs's statement. 'I must repeat. 'It has been proposed'. 'You say you accept Ms Isaacs's statement. Let me remind you again.' 'That is the sum of it? Those are the charges?' 'They are. I plead guilty to both charges. I know of no reason why Ms Isaacs should lie.
but he does not. We have our weak moments. 'In this chorus of goodwill. The question is whether Professor Lurie is crystal clear in his mind.' 'In our own minds I believe we are crystal clear. Guilty as charged. 'I hear no female voice. you say you accept the truth of the charges brought against you?' 'I accept whatever Ms Isaacs alleges. I must protest. are you sure you are handling the situation in the best way?' Swarts turns to the chair. Your case is not unique.' 'If he is censured. 'to resume: Professor Lurie. 'what it is specifically that Professor Lurie acknowledges and therefore what it is that he is being censured for. all of us. and if we do not make it crystal clear in our recommendations. raising her voice with practised ease. In a case with overtones like this one.' he says. Dr Rassool. as is my right. We fail to perform our duty if we are not crystal clear in our minds.seems to him. but we around this table are not your enemies. all we get is subtle mockery. we are only human. That Professor Lurie be dismissed with immediate effect and forfeit all benefits and privileges. to wake him from his nightmare. are you sure you don't want a postponement to give yourself time to reflect and perhaps consult?' 'Why? What do I need to reflect on?' 'On the gravity of your situation. but I ask myself.' says Mathabane.' 'Then we should recommend the severest penalty. which I am not sure you appreciate.' 'Dr Rassool. Professor Lurie pleads guilty. 'David. Well. David. That's no joke in these days. 'So.' he snaps back. to find a way out of what must be a nightmare. 'What goes on in my mind is my business.' says Mathabane. I put forward a plea. not yours.' Mathabane: 'If he is censured.' He cannot let that go. what Professor Lurie is being censured for. 'Mr Chair. 'The wider community is entitled to know'. you have something you wish to say?' 'Yes.' 'Then what do you advise me to do? Remove what Dr Rassool calls the subtle mockery from my tone? Shed tears of contrition? What will be enough to save me?' 'You may find this hard to believe. I want to register an objection to these responses of Professor Lurie's.' 'Mr Chair. That is my plea. 'We would like to help you. which I regard as fundamentally evasive. 'There are no overtones in this case. 'it is not up to us to impose penalties. I do believe that as members of a university community we ought not to proceed against a colleague in a coldly formalistic way.' Easily Hakim joins in. you stand to lose your job. .' 'David?' The voice comes from Desmond Swarts. They want him back in the classroom. does he accept his guilt or is he simply going through the motions in the hope that the case will be buried under paper and forgotten? If he is simply going through the motions. Farodia. I make no confession. who has not spoken hitherto. We would like to find a way for you to continue with your career.' 'Exactly. she continues. That is as far as I am prepared to go. Yet when we try to pin him down on what it is that he actually accepts.' It would be wiser to shut up. Dr Rassool.' he says. the wider community is entitled .' 'Let me remind you again. To be blunt. Professor Lurie says he accepts the charges. what you want from me is not a response but a confession. 'Frankly. To me that suggests that he accepts the charges only in name. riding over him. You have expressed exactly what I wanted to say. I urge that we impose the severest penalty.' They are his friends. David.' There is silence. as I said while Professor Lurie was out of the room. They want to save him from his weakness. They do not want to see him begging in the streets. The issue goes beyond mere technicalities. David.
Or extreme caution. but not long past. a huge hand stifling her cries? How absurd! Then he remembers: they were gathered here yesterday in this same room.' 'Before we do that. The story begins one evening.' says the businesswoman.' Farodia Rassool intervenes. Yes. listening to you. Mr Chair. he says. Freely.' . he is guilty. I was no longer a fifty-year-old divorc� at a loose end. and at that moment something happened which. But that has not been possible.' 'You were not the same as what?' asks the businesswoman cautiously. That is why I say it is futile to go on debating with Professor Lurie. so that you can think your position over. all of a sudden it is not abuse of a young woman he is confessing to. no mention of the long history of exploitation of which this is part.' he says. with no mention of the pain he has caused. What does she see. I think we should proceed to a decision. dismissal with censure. it was far from ungovernable. That is why I ask whether there is not a form of public statement that you could live with and that would allow us to recommend something less than the most severe sanction. Melanie. 'I would like to plead with Professor Lurie one last time. Is there any form of statement he would be prepared to subscribe to?' 'Why? Why is it so important that I subscribe to a statement?' 'Because it would help to cool down what has become a very heated situation. Our paths crossed. I give you a confession. is what was going on in this case.'Very well. I will not try to describe. 'that by its nature academic life must call for certain sacrifices? That for the good of the whole we have to deny ourselves certain gratifications?' 'You have in mind a ban on intimacy across the generations?' 'No. I am ashamed to say.' 'You mean. I forget the date. was the young woman in question. You want a confession. I have denied similar impulses many times in the past. and she was before them. but when we try to get specificity. I sense. I was walking through the old college gardens and so. David. it happened.' Abuse: he was waiting for the word. that you believe you are being treated unfairly. Mr Chair. Perhaps a ban on mixing power relations with sexual relations. that keeps her at such a pitch of anger? A shark among the helpless little fishies? Or does she have another vision: of a great thick-boned male bearing down on a girl-child.' 'What do you want the statement to contain?' 'An admission that you were wrong. It has received a lot of attention. will I humble myself and ask for clemency?' Swarts sighs.' 'Is this a defence you are offering us? Ungovernable impulse?' 'It is not a defence. I became a servant of Eros. 'I was not myself. Words passed between us. Suffice it to say that Eros entered. Ideally we would all have preferred to resolve this case out of the glare of the media. We must take his plea at face value and recommend accordingly. We on this committee see ourselves as trying to work out a compromise which will allow you to keep your job. 'We are again going round in circles. I get the impression. it doesn't help to sneer at our efforts. who barely comes to his shoulder.' 'I have admitted that. just an impulse he could not resist. 'David. 'Unless there is something that Professor Lurie wants to add. not necessarily. As for the impulse. But as teachers we occupy positions of power. I am guilty of the charges brought against me. Spoken in a voice quivering with righteousness. Unequal: how can he deny that? 'I tend to agree with Dr Rassool. 'let me confess.' says Swarts. At least accept an adjournment. says Swarts. That is quite mistaken. After that I was not the same. when she looks at him. Ms Isaacs.' 'Don't you think'. namely. All eyes are on the university to see how we handle it. it has acquired overtones that are beyond our control. not being a poet. Which.
Does it reflect your sincere feelings?' He shakes his head. 'Do you regret what you did?' 'No. Is that good enough for you?' 'The question is not whether it is good enough for me. where people turn to stare at the tall man hurrying from his pursuers.' There is a titter. First Professor Lurie must make his statement. 'He was enriched. He ignores it. There is a flash.' The loiterers and the curious have begun to crowd around. the hearing. and you know that. The statement should come from him. more words for the belly of the little machine. showing even white teeth.' 'But if you had a chance?' 'That isn't a real question. 'Hold it!' she says. Then we can see if it comes from his heart.' 'I can't comment on that. pressing on into the crowded lobby. plaited with amber beads. so what can you comment on?' 'There is nothing I want to comment on. Then we can decide whether to accept it in mitigation. 'What about?' A tape recorder is thrust toward him. hangs straight down on either side of her face. I took advantage of my position vis-a-vis Ms Isaacs. 'You know. 'I have said the words for you. He pushes it away. the question is whether it is good enough for you. 'Can we stop and speak?' she says. 'If there are no more questions for Professor Lurie. 'About how it was.to divine whether it comes from my heart?' 'We will see what attitude you express.' says Farodia Rassool.' She wants more. I have had enough. The recorder is thrust closer.' 'Very well. 'How what was?' The camera flashes again. but for the moment is at a loss for how to suck him into further indiscretion. If he wants to get away. That is preposterous. 'Are you sorry?' says the girl. from the words I use . I plead guilty.' 'And you trust yourself to divine that. He is halfway down the stairs before he hears the cry _That's him!_ followed by a scuffle of feet.' he says. and I regret it. now you want more. one even grabs at his jacket to slow him down. 'Can we talk to you just for a minute. David. He averts his face.' says the girl. Her hair. you want me to demonstrate their sincerity. Professor Lurie?' says a voice. Professor Lurie. They catch up with him at the foot of the stairs. 'That would be back to front.' says Mathabane from the chair. That is as far as I am prepared to go.' 'OK.' 'Right. . stretches out a hand.' At first they do not recognize him. It was wrong. Let us go back to playing it by the book.'Don't play games with us. A girl circles around him. he will have to push through them. I will thank him for attending and excuse him. 'He was what by the experience?' he hears someone ask sotto voce. That is beyond the scope of the law. We will see whether you express contrition.' The smile remains on the girl's face. She smiles. Someone bars his way. 'I was enriched by the experience. We don't negotiate first on what should be in his statement. in his own words. There is a difference between pleading guilty to a charge and admitting you were wrong.' 'And that will satisfy you: an admission I was wrong?' 'No. 'So would you do it again?' 'I don't think I will have another chance.
Whether you eventually return to teaching duties will depend on yourself. a secular plea. 'The committee has passed on its recommendation. I sincerely apologize to both parties and accept whatever appropriate penalty may be imposed. In all probability.' Mathabane reads: 'I acknowledge without reservation serious abuses of the human rights of the complainant. The photograph appears in the next day's student newspaper. I told you what I thought.' .' someone calls to the girl. an expert on romantic poetry. He is prepared not to take extreme measures. 'The disciplinary committee investigating charges of harassment and misconduct against Communications Professor David Lurie was tight-lipped yesterday on its verdict.' Confessions. That is a matter.' 'I am being asked to issue an apology about which I may not be sincere?' 'The criterion is not whether you are sincere. which will have the status of a plea in mitigation.' ' "Whatever appropriate penalty": what does that mean?' 'My understanding is. and I pleaded guilty to the charges. 'Trouble first erupted when complaints against Lurie. what chance has he? 'Committee tight-lipped on verdict. Before that secular tribunal I pleaded guilty. before a branch of the law. David. as members of what you call a secular tribunal if not as fellow human beings. You charged me.' 'In what spirit?' 'A spirit of repentance. as well as abuse of the authority delegated to me by the University. you will not be dismissed. were filed by students in his classes. Lurie (53) said he had found his experiences with women students "enriching". the Rector will be prepared to accept it in that spirit. above the caption 'Who's the Dunce Now?' It shows him. What goes on in your soul is dark to us. May I read it to you?' 'Read it. holds above him. David. eyes cast up to the heavens. to another universe of discourse. we went through the repentance business yesterday. but what makes the picture a gem is the inverted waste-paper basket that a young man. 'Sparring verbally with members of WAR after the hearing. and the Rector has asked me to get back to you one last time. you will be requested to take a leave of absence.' 'That is it? That is the package?' 'That is my understanding. Repentance belongs to another world. That is all you need from me. Against such an image.'Ask him if he apologized. Repentance is neither here nor there. on condition that you issue a statement in your own person which will be satisfactory from our point of view as well as yours. I won't do it. It is quite short. That plea should suffice. I . I appeared before an officially constituted tribunal. By a trick of perspective the basket appears to sit on his head like a dunce's hat. as I say. Hear me out.' reads the headline.' 'You are confusing issues. grinning broadly.' 'Manas. we have been over that ground. They circle around him like hunters who have cornered a strange beast and do not know how to finish it off. The criterion is whether you are prepared to acknowledge your fault in a public manner and take steps to remedy it.' 'Now we are truly splitting hairs. Chair Manas Mathabane would say only that its findings have been forwarded to the Rector for action. he says.' 'Manas.' 'Wait.' He has a call at home from Mathabane. apologies: why this thirst for abasement? A hush falls. You are being asked to issue a statement. for your own conscience. 'I already asked. You are not being instructed to repent. If you signify that you subscribe to the statement. The pose is ridiculous enough in itself. I have a draft statement before me which would satisfy our requirements. reaching out a groping hand toward the camera. and on the decision of your Dean and head of department.
a wind-pump. dark. if there were to be a break-in. she said. bread in the oven and a crop in the earth. Helen is a large. in between stands of mealies. hugging her. 'It gets the morning sun. The more dogs. She had fallen in love with the place. Do you want time to rethink?' 'No. and. the town of Salem on the Grahamstown-Kenton road in the Eastern Cape. I'll show you. holding her arms wide. someone better. stables and outbuildings. what a nice welcome at the end of a long trip! The house. Six years ago Lucy moved in as a member of a commune. the more deterrence. sprawling farmhouse painted yellow. he pulls up behind it. I approve. Anyhow. most of it arable. 'I'm going to put you in Helen's room. An armed philosopher. the rump moving on to New Bethesda. There is an old VW kombi parked in the driveway. aside from the help.' Dogs and a gun. bare feet and all. the rest of the front is dust and gravel.' she says. you will be hearing from the Rector. embracing him. I haven't ever used it.' 'I have a rifle. a tribe of young people who peddled leather goods and sunbaked pottery in Grahamstown and. . there is little to hold him back. she comes to greet him. but I have it. I don't see that two people would be better than one.' 'But you have a weapon. 'There are the dogs. flowered dress. I bought it from a neighbour. she wanted to farm it properly. We want more. older than Lucy. When the commune broke up.' 'David. or be found by. he thinks. He has never been able to understand what Lucy sees in her. and a low. I can't go on protecting you from yourself. You have no idea how cold the mornings have been this winter.'No.' 'Very well.' 'Good. of guests by the wagonful. He helped her buy it. no longer a child playing at farming but a solid countrywoman. chilly. I hope you can see your way clear to giving us that. For a moment he does not recognise her. kissing him on the cheek. sad-looking woman with a deep voice and a bad skin. with a galvanized-iron roof and a covered stoep. Dogs still mean something. His daughter's smallholding is at the end of a winding dirt track some miles outside the town: five hectares of land. Now here she is. I am tired of it. philosophize. Her hips and breasts are now (he searches for the best word) ample. What a nice girl. and so is the rest of the committee. A stopover in Oudtshoorn. 'Helen has been back in Johannesburg since April. Then I can only say. but more. and she has put on weight. I've been alone. which is large. When all else fails. grew dagga.' 'That's very philosophical.' SEVEN ONCE HE HAS made up his mind to leave.' 'How is Helen?' he asks.' 'Yes. Not a great deal more. in a house full of the smell of baking. even at midday. dates from the time of large families. He clears out the refrigerator. I can't. Lucy stayed behind on the smallholding with her friend Helen.' 'You didn't tell me that. From the shade of the stoep Lucy emerges into the sunlight. privately he wishes Lucy would find. a crack-of-dawn departure: by mid-morning he is nearing his destination. locks up the house. and at noon is on the freeway. a boervrou. Aren't you nervous by yourself?' Lucy shrugs. The front boundary is marked by a wire fence and clumps of nasturtiums and geraniums.' 'Sorry. Comfortably barefoot. A year has passed.
rather. Good! If this is to be what he leaves behind . coproprietor. bull terriers. in the huge old wardrobe there is only a blue overall hanging. Lucy takes him on a tour of the premises.' he says. cattle and maize. But perhaps it was not they who produced her: perhaps history had the larger share. She reminds him about not wasting water. beetroot. ridgebacks. Today. He knows the lesson but listens dutifully.cauliflowers. Then she shows him over the boarding kennels. The pets tend to come in during the summer holidays. 'There's no need to entertain me. watches them morosely. embedded in her new life. shaded by young bluegum trees. It's part of the package. solidly built. past the beehives. it is not just for a while. German Shepherds. a tan-coloured bulldog bitch with a cage to herself who. I suppose. and heavy-gauge mesh. On his last visit there had been only one pen. She gets taken out every day for exercise. He is hungry: he wolfs down two blocklike slices of bread with prickly-pear jam. Try to find her a home. Words and music. She's sulking. 'Watchdogs. The more things change the more they remain the same. The owners have done a bunk. also home-made. 'Working dogs. onions. one week. and through the garden: flowerbeds and winter vegetables . he supposes. Rottweilers. this sturdy young settler. and from selling flowers and garden produce. head on paws. 'Katy? She's abandoned. Something for the stage. He must be careful: nothing so distasteful to a child as the workings of a parent's body. They walk back along an irrigation furrow.' Petrus?' 'You will meet him.' she says. Her own fingernails are none too clean. Lucy's bare toes grip the red earth. galvanized poles and struts. A frontier farmer of the new breed. on short contracts: two weeks. Petrus is my new assistant. or not the kind of book I have written in the past. He is aware of her eyes on him as he eats. A solid woman. I'm thinking of branching into cats. Not a book.Curious that he and her mother.' This is how she makes a living: from the kennels. History repeating itself. should have produced this throwback. back in the house. this woman . Characters talking and singing. sometimes just a weekend. potatoes.' . Country dirt: honourable. Account unpaid for months. 'I have plans. since March. Something on the last years of Byron.' He strolls with her past the mud-walled dam. cityfolk.' 'And cats? Don't you take cats?' 'Don't laugh. intellectuals. If Helen is away.then he does not have to be ashamed. In the old days. but otherwise she's all right. By me or by Petrus. Quite a fellow. I just need a table and chair. 'I've brought my books. Nothing could be more simple. where a family of ducks coasts serenely. Rains for the past two years have been good. with concrete bases. on Saturday mornings.' 'Do you still have your stall at the market?' 'Yes. I don't know what I'm going to do about her. Now there are five. She offers him tea.this daughter. I'm just not set up for them yet. about not contaminating the septic tank. They visit the pump and storage dam on the edge of the property. He unpacks his suitcase in Helen's room. dogs and daffodils. the water table has risen. In fact. chard. His work is not a subject they often talk about. leaving clear prints. I'll take you along. 'Don't the dogs get bored?' He points to one. though in a more modest vein. all of them. She talks easily about these matters. not even bothering to get up.' 'Are you working on something in particular?' she asks carefully. The drawers are empty. Perhaps history has learned a lesson. The dogs are excited to see her: Dobermanns.
.' 'Yes. he thinks. 'I look after the dogs and I work in the garden. say. Like Strauss. One wants to leave something behind.' He leaves Lucy to her tasks and takes a stroll as far as the Kenton road.' 'Yes. It's quite comfortable.' he says.' says Petrus. I think. the sun already dipping over red hills dotted with sparse. But it's all in the realm of ideas as yet. cello. you will be the first to hear. 'it is dangerous. toward a very meagre accompaniment . Or at least a man wants to leave something behind. A lined. It's easier for a woman.' He is left with Petrus. There are times when I feel anxious about my daughter all alone here.' He reflects for a moment.' 'Are you going to write the music yourself?' 'I'll borrow the music. Country ways. they greet him back.' he repeats.' He pauses.' he remarks. to produce something with a life of its own.' he says: 'I have come for the spray.' Petrus gives a broad smile. I've put in electricity. I know. we won't go into that now. Yes. 'I am the gardener and the dog-man. Some other time. 'Everything is dangerous today.' 'Will you miss it?' 'Will I miss it? I don't know.' 'Well. I haven't written a note . I have no qualms about borrowing.' 'Have you left the university for good?' 'I have resigned.' says Lucy. to break the silence. weathered face. But there is more to it than that.' And he gives another smile.' 'Does he live on the property?' 'He and his wife have the old stable. But let us wait and see what comes. Without warning a memory of the girl comes back: of her neat little breasts with their upstanding nipples. some of them grown up.' 'Roz mentioned something on the telephone. I can't help feeling that. 'The dogman. come in. shrewd eyes. 'Petrus seems a good man. He greets them. I was no great shakes as a teacher. Forty? Forty-five? Petrus turns to Lucy.. What I had to say they didn't care to hear. It is very isolated. I found. I was asked to resign. If something does come. 'I have just travelled up from Cape Town. with my students. He goes off and spends time there occasionally. So perhaps I won't miss it. 'Petrus. A group of children pass him on their way home from school. Does Lucy really intend to spend her life here? He hopes it is only a phase. poor soil. 'He has his head screwed on right. Lucy returns with a small bottle. The first and probably the last.I've been distracted. I was having less and less rapport. savouring the phrase. I'll fetch it. 'You look after the dogs. a tall man in blue overalls and rubber boots and a woollen cap. Which would have been beyond my powers. by comparison with being a mother. They shake hands.'I didn't know you still had ambitions in that direction. At the beginning I thought it was a subject that would call for quite lush orchestration. being a father is a rather abstract business. You must have heard about my troubles. Wait here. oboe or maybe bassoon. He has another wife in Adelaide.' 'Why is it easier for a woman?' 'Easier.violin. A cool winter's day. meet my father. Now I'm inclining the other way. Petrus wipes his boots.' 'I thought I would indulge myself. 'You know the measurement: one teaspoon to ten litres of water. Already Cape Town is receding into the past.' A man is standing in the doorway.' 'Doesn't being a father count?' 'Being a father. Good only for goats. I mean. Perhaps I'll enjoy my release. for the most part. Poor land. Exhausted. and children.' It's in the kombi. of her smooth flat belly. A ripple of desire passes .' And Petrus ducks out through the low doorway. 'The spray. bleached grass. But here it is all right.
The code-word was counselling.' 'You shouldn't be so unbending. and that's that. Serve one's time. Lucy. Is there still time to reconsider?' 'No. After a certain age one is simply no longer appealing. Perhaps I'll just go on a ramble.' He shrugs. I wouldn't oblige. the sentence is final.' 'Shot? For having an affair with a student? A bit extreme. Usually he does not like sweet potatoes. a long ramble. 'Does that go on every night?' 'One gets used to it. Ample is a kind word for Lucy. One just has to buckle down and live out the rest of one's life. I am not complaining.' He shakes his head. sourcils vo�t�s?_ Supper is simple: soup and bread. One dog mechanically. now that he hears it through another's ears.' 'Roz said the atmosphere was nasty. I would prefer simply to be put against a wall and shot. I'm sorry. One can't plead guilty to charges of turpitude and expect a flood of sympathy in return. Recantation. Have done with it.' 'I won't be bored. David? It must go on all the time. They wanted a spectacle: breast-beating. David.' 'No appeal?' 'No appeal. public apology. I'm old-fashioned. my dear. . I'm not a fugitive. then sweet potatoes. which I wouldn't accept. ces cheveux blonds.' He goes to bed early. as happens when one withdraws from the field of love.' 'And are you so perfect that you can't do with a little counselling?' 'It reminds me too much of Mao's China. In the middle of the night he is woken by a flurry of barking. Not after a certain age. In fact.' 'Well. self-criticism.' 'I brought it on myself. the loth to admit defeat. remorse. He returns to the house and finishes unpacking. A TV show.' 'Well. It isn't heroic to be unbending. he will have to be neat. He will have to mind his manners. If they prosecuted every case the profession would be decimated. Evidently whatever it was is not over yet. Stay here as long as you like. 'Will you be staying a while?' she asks. but Lucy does something with lemon peel and butter and allspice that makes them palatable. I'm just afraid you'll get bored. Reformation of the character.' 'What kind of compromise?' 'Reeducation. they wanted me castrated. without cease.' 'What if we don't call it a visit? What if we call it refuge? Would you accept refuge on an indefinite basis?' 'You mean asylum? It's not as bad as that. Letting herself go. don't you think. 'These are puritanical times. excessive. Long visits don't make for good friends. in fact. On whatever grounds.' but he cannot say the words. you're welcome to stay. 'So you stood your ground and they stood theirs. Is that how it was?' 'More or less. where will you go?' 'I don't know yet. Prurience is respectable. tears if possible. 'The truth is. prurience and sentiment. Private life is public business. A long time since he last lived with a woman.through him. his whole tirade sounds melodramatic. Soon she will be positively heavy.' 'And after the week. _Qu'est devenu ce front poli. but I'd like to keep your friendship. It certainly went on when I was a student. 'A week? Shall we say a week? Will you be able to bear me that long?' 'You can stay as long as you like.' 'It's nice of you to say so. not to his daughter. join in again. I was offered a compromise.' He was going to add. that's a pity. more than palatable.
' she says. And then her parents got to hear and descended on Cape Town. whom Lucy keeps on a leash. But . presuming to tell him about women? 'Have you thought of getting married again?' asks Lucy. From George. walk through scrubland. she won't think too harshly of you. not easier. There were the strains of the classroom. I suppose. The pressure became too much.' says Lucy . I didn't have a chance to ask. She smiles. 'Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires'? 'Why do you quote that to me?' 'Unacted desires can turn as ugly in the old as in the young. the abandoned one. Is Lucy.' The bitch continues to strain. but very attractive. They return along the tar road.' 'And there was you. 'Well. he wanders among the flowerbeds. then through sparse pine forest. and the bulldog bitch.' says Lucy. 'Just joking. hanging her tongue out. Geese fly in echelon high overhead.'was it serious?' 'Didn't Rosalind tell you the story?' 'Not in any detail. She was in one of my classes. the bitch tries to defecate. there was me. Lucy. 'you have paid your price. Only middling as a student.' he says. They take three of the dogs along: two young Dobermanns. bullying her. He has not brought the right clothes: he has to borrow a sweater from Lucy.' 'Therefore?' 'Every woman I have been close to has taught me something about myself.' Never before have he and Lucy spoken about his intimate life. It is not proving easy. the sound lingering on the still air. 'The girl you were involved with. Hands in pockets. I don't suppose I was easy. 'I'll have to dose her. They turn.EIGHT HE HAS FORGOTTEN how cold winter mornings can be in the uplands of the Eastern Cape. glancing around shiftily as if ashamed to be watched.' 'Yes. She was in a difficult position. 'She is having problems. Was it serious? I don't know. It certainly had serious consequences. a lover or ex-lover.' 'She came from this part of the world. Perhaps. That knowing you has turned your women into better people. as time passes.' 'But it's over with now? You're not still hankering after her?' Is it over with? Does he hanker yet? 'Our contact has ceased. But if not to her. What is he going to do with his time? 'Would you like to go for a walk?' says Lucy behind him.' 'I hope you are not claiming the reverse as well. do you mean? I wasn't made for marriage. Just that you are going to find it more difficult. looking back.' They have arrived at a gate with a sign that says 'SAPPI Industries Trespassers will be Prosecuted'. There was a young man. then to whom can he speak? 'Do you remember Blake?' he says. Women can be surprisingly forgiving.' 'But what? But it is unseemly to go on preying on children?' 'I didn't mean that. 'Why did she denounce you?' 'She didn't say. his child. They leave the road. You have seen that for yourself ' 'Yes. At the turnoff to the smallholding there is . Out of sight on the Kenton road a car roars past. To that extent they have made me a better person.' says Lucy.' He looks at her sharply. Nothing comes.' There is silence. Pinning her ears back. 'To someone of my own generation.
By seven. 'I thought cycads were illegal. I grow them from seed. There is plenty of trade too at the milk-and-meat stall. and a little assistant in a balaclava cap who cannot be more than ten. 'I give her a hand sometimes. Many of Lucy's customers know her by name: middle-aged women.' with an arrow: 'Cycads?' he says. On Donkin Square stallholders are already setting up trestle tables and laying out their wares. They are in what appears to be the produce quarter. she takes the Grahamstown road. to his relief. peering through the misted windscreen. His daughter. Mr Lurie. most of them. dried fruit. people rub their hands. bustling little woman with black .a painted sign he has not noticed before: 'CUT FLOWERS. In the course of the morning Lucy takes in nearly five hundred rand. I'll show you. There is a smell of burning meat. waiting for the first customers. It is Saturday. The perfective. stamp their feet. preserves. but his fingers are soon so cold that he cannot tie the bunches. unfamiliar world. 'It will do. Like Lucy. with coffee. honeybush tea. showing him life.' he replies. 'And you? Is this what you want in life?' He waves a hand toward the garden. David Lurie. a dumpy. So: a new adventure. if that is all right with you. A cold mist hangs over the town. CYCADS. whom once upon a time he used to drive to school and ballet class. 'Bev runs the animal refuge. soup-bones.' says Lucy.' 'You must be proud of your daughter.' 'It's illegal to dig them up in the wild. He sits beside her. burned and burnt. We'll drop in at her place on the way back. is taking him on an outing.' They walk on. eating the sandwiches she has made. Lucy's potatoes. Petrus stays behind. He passes the twine back to Petrus and instead wraps and packs. they have potatoes and onions to sell. The heater does not work. herbs. butter to sell. They drink coffee from a thermos flask. His nose drips. with dawn touching the hills and the dogs beginning to stir. showing him this other. Lucy drives. the job is done. Two weeks ago he was in a classroom explaining to the bored youth of the country the distinction between drink and drink up. they join Petrus in the garden. 'Yes. have been washed clean. On their left are three African women with milk. onions. at eleven o'clock she drops her prices and the last of the produce goes. pockets of potatoes. as though her success were theirs too. market day. curse. do less well. but also bottled jams.' they say. after one of the introductions. to the circus and the skating rink. There is a show of bonhomie from which Lucy. Each time she introduces him: 'Meet my father. cabbage. He offers to take over from Petrus. he hopes she does not notice.' replies Lucy quietly. but the old couple. the bitch padding behind. The kombi is loaded with boxes of flowers. packets of buchu tea. On their right are an old Afrikaner couple whom Lucy greets as Tante Miems and Oom Koos. toward the house with sunlight glinting from its roof. on a visit from Cape Town. as arranged. Lucy has brought two canvas stools. I lived.' He has not taken to Bev Shaw. Her flowers sell steadily. tumbled out into a bushel basket. with a touch of the proprietary in their attitude to her. masa. signifying an action carried through to its conclusion. Lucy wakes him at five. How far away it all seems! I live. Swaddled against the cold. I have lived. seated side by side wooden and unsmiling. Koos and Miems's are still speckled with earth. the young dogs tugging to be free. panting. very proud. from a bucket with a wet cloth over it. holds herself apart. where by the light of a halogen lamp he is already cutting flowers. also.
cowbells. They are greatly relieved.' 'But it is true. She's been going into D Village for years. once an active charity in Grahamstown. first for Animal Welfare. Nothing to be proud of: a prejudice that has settled in his mind. cats everywhere underfoot. wiry hair.' 'It must be a losing battle..' 'That's not true. equally squat. wooden pallets. This is the only life there is. Dave.' 'Yes. Don't underestimate Bev. 'You think I ought to involve myself in more important things. That's the example I try to follow. Everyone is so cheerful and well-intentioned that after a while you itch to go off and do some raping and pillaging. Or to kick a cat. She does an enormous amount of good. That's the example that people like Bev try to set. On the list of the nation's priorities. I . I'm sure. He has nothing against the animal lovers with whom Lucy has been mixed up as long as he can remember. 'No.' Through a window he glimpses the Shaws' back yard: an apple tree dropping wormridden fruit. idle. He is not in a bad temper. Bill. But he does not care to do so. 'We won't stay. It's admirable. I'm sorry. or does not care enough. because I am your daughter. The Animal Welfare League. 'Sit down. but to me animal-welfare people are a bit like Christians of a certain kind. and the reason is.' she says.. I ought to be doing something better with my life. The house is just as he had imagined it would be: rubbishy furniture. Does it matter? The animals she helps aren't despondent. You too.' 'She must get despondent.' He is already shaking his head. There is not only Bev Shaw. drinking tea at the kitchen table. There is no funding any longer. No. Which we share with animals. It's a subculture of its own.freckles. He does not like women who make no effort to be attractive. I just find it hard to whip up an interest in the subject. with nowhere else to go. what she does. an area fenced in with galvanized-iron sheets. indigent. the last thing he wants to do is trade small talk with these people. They are not going to lead me to a higher life.. now on her own. then.' says Lucy. You don't approve of friends like Bev and Bill Shaw because they are not going to lead me to a higher life. with a beet-red face and silver hair and a sweater with a floppy collar. the yammer of a radio. my child. the cheeping of birds in cages. he is tired. no.. where chickens scratch around and what looks uncommonly like a duiker snoozes in a corner. It is a resistance he has had to Lucy's friends before. The world would no doubt be a worse place without them. He casts Lucy a glance.' he murmurs. make yourself at home. close-cropped. However. So when Bev Shaw opens her front door he puts on a good face. though in fact he is repelled by the odours of cat urine and dog mange and Jeyes Fluid that greet them. old tyres. Don't they have children?' 'No. not in the least. 'Have a cup. it is. a handful of volunteers led by Bev Shaw still runs a clinic from the old premises. has had to close down its operation.' 'That's wonderful. 'You think I ought to be painting still lives or teaching myself Russian. there is no higher life. rampant weeds. what you do. sit down. no children. Lucy. To share some of our human privilege with the beasts.' He is surprised by his outburst. 'You think. no. 'I don't want to be rude.' says Bill. He ought to chase them out. His mind has become a refuge for old thoughts. They are on the open road.' It has been a long morning. settled down. 'I'm just picking up some medicines. she drives without glancing at him. there is Bill Shaw too.' 'Yes. sweep the premises clean. a clutter of ornaments (porcelain shepherdesses. and no neck. animals come nowhere. She's not a fool. 'What do you think?' says Lucy afterwards in the car. an ostrich-feather flywhisk).
Yes. so tiny that they barely come up to the referee's chest. Petrus is beside him on the sofa with a bottle of beer in his hand. Impossible she has been unaware of it. don't be cross. The Mystery of Edwin Drood: not what he would have expected. most unstinting love. 'Bushbucks. Good bones. So if we are going to be kind.don't want to come back in another existence as a dog or a pig and have to live as dogs or pigs live under us. I've always found that difficult. wanders through to the back of the house. and he is not afraid now. coming back from his wanderings. NINE HE IS SITTING in the front room. belabour each other. Petrus switches channels. 'My team. Why should they not be open with each other. They arrive at the house in silence. 'What do you suggest?' 'You could help with the dogs.' Lucy draws a breath. Attractive. idly fondles her bare foot. The score is nilall. Has he fathered a woman of passion? What can she draw on. not because we feel guilty or fear retribution. I agree.' says Petrus. but then does not. 'He is a good goalkeeper. When the dust clears. shapely. Has it been too much. 'He is good! He is good!' says Petrus. Lucy is lying on her bed. 'Sit down. He has turned the volume higher. how it is for her lovers with her. necessarily.' He nods absentmindedly. circle. 'It's not working out. A good foot. languages of which he understands not a word. neither team seems interested in winning. Saturday afternoon in South Africa: a time consecrated to men and their pleasures. She seems about to respond to his homily. yet lost to men. A woman in the flower of her years. David. then takes the earplugs out of her ears. like her mother. Bushbucks and Sundowns. leap in. the Bushbucks goalkeeper is lying on the ground with the ball under his chest.' Sundowns take a corner. Need he reproach himself. He nods off. that's all. The commentary alternates between Sotho and Xhosa. You could cut up the dog-meat. attractive despite the heaviness. He sits on the bed. But let us not lose perspective. that love? Has she found it a burden? Has it pressed down on her? Has she given it a darker reading? He wonders how it is for Lucy with her lovers. Then there is Petrus. by all means let us be kind to them. in the realm of the senses? Are he and she capable of talking about that too? Lucy has not led a protected life.' 'Lucy. my dearest. As for animals.' he says. just different. why should they draw lines. he is thinking. I'm glad to have you here. 'What are you reading?' he repeats. Petrus groans and clasps his head. Once you find things to do you won't be so bored. what not. Boxing: two tiny men. reading. lays her book aside. watching soccer on television.' she says. We are of a different order of creation from the animals. Not higher. 'What are you reading?' he says. She looks at him quizzically. There is a melee in the goalmouth. is it? Shall I leave?' She smiles. He turns the sound down to a murmur. He gets up. He has never been afraid to follow a thought down its winding track.' The game ends scoreless. When he awakes. Petrus is busy establishing his own . let it be out of simple generosity. this is the only life there is. and then. it is working out perfectly well. They must keep him. 'From my point of view. or would it have worked out like that anyway? From the day his daughter was born he has felt for her nothing but the most spontaneous. It takes a while to adjust to the pace of country life. in times when no one else does? 'Once I find things to do. despite the unflattering clothes.
They are desperate for volunteers. are we?' he murmurs.' 'I'm dubious. now he grips her ankle tight. Again it runs through him: a light shudder of voluptuousness. By Eastern Cape standards he is a man of substance. We share the dam. closes her eyes. I like that.' 'All right. But plenty of beauty. her old dugs hang slack. Everything from there to the fence is his. But don't expect to be paid.' 'Poor old Katy. she is in the cage with the water-can. 'I'm not sure that I have a soul. But the old bulldog bitch barely stirs. part of the alarm system. closes the door behind him. Interesting. I promise.' 'All right. goes out into the yard. I am not prepared to be reformed. tickles her behind the ears.' 'Give Petrus a hand. He squats down. He got a Land Affairs grant earlier this year. Above is the pale blue sky. sniffing her feet. I'll do it.lands. You have only to help her. They are part of the furniture.' 'Yes. sharper. But only as long as I don't have to become a better person. If he has played his cards right he could get a second grant to put up a house. With the best will in the world he could not find wit in Mel�ni. David. or a wife and a girlfriend.' She teases him as her mother used to tease him.' His hand still rests on her foot. They won't ask and they won't care. You will have to do it out of the goodness of your heart. no one will ask you to change. Ask him to pay you. I want to go on being myself.' 'I don't think she and I will hit it off. I didn't tell you? The boundary line goes through the dam. and we respond by treating them like things. What else?' 'You can help at the clinic. He must have fallen asleep: the first he knows. enough to buy a hectare and a bit from me. 'Their souls are tied to their bodies and die with them. she's in mourning. You could give him a hand. and dangerous to know.' he observes. I like the historical piquancy. and the bitch is up.' 'As to your motives. whining eagerly. The irony is. if anything. He has two wives. the animals at the clinic won't query them. she must have offspring all over the district who would be happy to share their homes with her. No one wants her.' 'You don't need to hit it off with her. It sounds like someone trying to make reparation for past misdeeds. Her wit. do you think?' 'Ask him. bad. 'She's not easy to make friends with. I'm not sure I can afford him any more. 'Abandoned. He is aware of Lucy observing him. It sounds suspiciously like community service. He stretches out beside her on the bare concrete. This is how Lucy finds him. The bitch slumps down. and she knows it. Will he pay me a wage for my labour. Lucy. But it's not in their power to invite her. She raises her head. I'll handle the dog-meat. 'Understood?' She gives him what he can only call a sweet smile. 'Making friends?' says Lucy. 'The Church Fathers had a long debate about them. lets her head fall again. Wit and beauty. I can assure you. They do us the honour of treating us like gods. 'So you are determined to go on being bad. He can afford it. He has a cow that will calve in the spring. His limbs relax. I wouldn't know a soul if I . regards him. The younger dogs are delighted to see him: they trot back and forth in their cages.' Lucy shrugs. Mad. and decided they don't have proper souls. He enters her cage. He gets up. He does not appear to be able to conceal it.' They leave the cage. He has always been drawn to women of wit. I'll offer to dig for Petrus. I'm sure he will. I'll do it on that basis. then he can move out of the stable.' 'You mean help Bev Shaw.
'Forgive me.' says Bev Shaw. 'Think comforting thoughts. But I'll go and help Bev Shaw. Bev does. Awkwardly he joins in the tussle. He makes his way through the crush. At the door is a line of waiting people. gurgling snarl comes from its throat. Provided that I don't have to call her Bev. boytjie! . It's a silly name to go by. its powerful hindquarters strain. I don't. alone in her cage. almost breaks free of the boy. bare waiting-room is packed.O. pressing the dog's hind legs together. We have no antibiotics. He passes a belt around its body and she buckles it. 'What will you do with her?' he says. one hand wrapped in an old rag. and through a sudden cacophony as two dogs. has the dog's head clamped under his arm and is trying to hold its jaws open. When shall I start?' 'I'll give her a call.' 'That's not true. 'Thank you. 'There's an abscess here from an impacted tooth. Lucy. eyeing the dogs. 'On his side . As soon as he gets out of his car there are children all around him. We are souls before we are born. then relaxes. which smells pungently of urine. An old woman nods toward a doorway closed off with a plastic curtain. 'Forgive you? For what?' She is smiling lightly. not stifling the sigh. there!' he murmurs. Bev Shaw probes again with the lancet. The dog gives a tremendous jerk.' She regards him oddly. Gingerly. for everyone. The dog gags. 'The belt.hold him still.' She probes inside the mouth with a lancet. 'For being one of the two mortals assigned to usher you into the world and for not turning out to be a better guide. held back by their owners. 1529.' TEN THE SIGN OUTSIDE the clinic reads ANIMAL WELFARE LEAGUE W. The small.' 'Don't you ever put animals down?' 'No. so she has taken it upon herself. They can smell what you are thinking: what nonsense! 'There. She is a more interesting person than you think. mockingly. evidently the owner. The dog's eyes roll in terror. she expertly trips up the dog and turns it on its side. some with animals.' he says. if it comes to that.' His own terms: what are they? That dumpy little women with ugly voices deserve to be ignored? A shadow of grief falls over him: for Katy. goes rigid.' He leans his full weight on the dog. Kneeling on the table a barefoot child. 'Mrs Shaw?' he inquires.so we'll just have to lance it and hope for the best.' says Bev Shaw. forcing it to sit on its haunches. He sighs deeply.saw one. the child prises open the jaws again. but this has been taped over. so . You underestimate her. 'So. It cuts her up terribly. It reminds me of cattle. its hooves clicking on the hard floor. We are all souls. A low. Below is a line stating the daily hours. You are a soul. . think strong thoughts. He grasps it as it scrabbles to get off the table. With a pencil-light she is peering down the throat of a young dog that looks like a cross between a ridgeback and a jackal. The woman holds a goat on a short rope. In the inner room. for a moment its eyes. He has to step over someone's legs to get in. breaks free of him. 'With Katy? I'll keep her. They can smell what you are thinking. snarl and snap at each other. for himself.so. Bev Shaw is working at a low steel-topped table.' says Bev Shaw. begging for money or just staring. it glares nervously. Making crooning noises. Her face is flushed. It is a job no one else wants to do. full of rage and fear.' she says. Even in your own terms. glare into his.
He straps the right hind leg to the right foreleg. . She begins to tug the goat toward the door. Bev Shaw touches the scrotum with a swab. They must grow that way. he can hear the accents of defeat. cowers under the table. 'Can you fasten his legs?' she asks. nuzzles his throat.' She purses her lips. but the old fellow will come out sterile anyway. She is pondering his words. And then a chin that comes straight out of her chest. Bev Shaw continues to stroke him with her head. casts it aside. 'I don't know what we can do.' she says to the woman. She swabs the wound gently. and indicates how.' she says to the woman.' says Bev Shaw. Bev wipes it off. You have a good presence.' 'Do I like animals? I eat them. Then they are gone. One half of his scrotum.' Though she tries to control her voice. speaks to the child in what sounds like very halting Xhosa. She motions to the woman to let go of the horns. 'Yes. teeters. we eat up a lot of animals in this country. a fullgrown buck. Mr Lurie. The goat does not stir. I don't have the experience to try a removal.' says Bev Shaw.' Then: 'Shall we start on the next one?' Justify it? When? At the Great Reckoning? He would be curious to hear more. He has never seen such a tessitura from close by. cheery. 'Thank you. She collects herself and gets to her feet. He has been savaged by dogs. Does she make the curls herself. There is a spattering of blood and saliva on the surface. The woman obeys. gives a bleat: an ugly sound. He shudders. I'm not sure how we will justify it to them. The child coaxes the dog out. While Bev Shaw is examining him. 'Blowfly. Standing at his head. low and hoarse. But he seems bright enough. As the dirt comes away. gripping his horns. stroking the throat upward with her own hair. bucking and plunging. like a pouter pigeon's. the woman pretends to reprove him. 'now we must let nature take her course. the old woman says. 'What do you say. on its feet. 'At least a week old. The goat kicks. You can wait for the doctor on Thursday. Is she prepared to spend money on antibiotics?' She kneels down again beside the goat. The goat trembles. whose tone she appears to have missed. I sense that you like animals. 'It doesn't seem to do us much good. The dog. is swollen like a balloon.' She unbuckles the belt. Shall I? Shall I keep him here?' The woman wavers. She seems to have lapsed into a trance of her own. 'Every night the dogs come. so I suppose I must like them. combative. that's all.' Her hair is a mass of little curls. the obscene bulge quivering behind him. remarkably unattractive. 'I'm afraid it's too late. he passes a short burst of pellets on to the floor. 'I will help him through.' she says.' she says. She can wait for Dr Oosthuizen on Thursday. my friend?' he hears her say. It is too. 'You can have him back afterwards.' says the woman. but this is not the time. The goat trembles but is still. Five hundred rand you pay for a man like him.' Bev Shaw straightens up. 'You should have brought him in long ago. The veins of her nose too.'So. She is whispering. He will let me do that for him. The woman drags the strap loose. or you can leave him with me. then shakes her head. the other half is a mass of caked blood and dirt. The goat. 'What do you say? Is it enough?' The goat stands stock still as if hypnotized. yellow and purple. with tongs? Unlikely: it would take hours every day. he sees that the wound is alive with white grubs waving their blind heads in the air. 'Yes. too bad. As an ensemble. can barely walk. The goat tries to kick again. some parts of them. and does she want that? And then there is the question of antibiotics. I can give him a quiet end. 'I can't make him better. The veins on her ears are visible as a filigree of red and purple. The goat hears them too: he kicks against the strap.
and we have no way of telling them. When the last of the day's cases has been dealt with. We offer a free neutering service. not by theirs. He helps her pour out dry food and fill the water-troughs. any of us. They empty two ten-kilogram bags. blows her nose. We'll put them down. I wouldn't want someone doing it for me who didn't mind. they like to slaughter in their own way. They don't have to be told what steel is for. I mind deeply.' 'Yes. It surprises him how little fighting there is. No one too high and mighty to smell another's backside. For the rest there are dogs: not Lucy's well-groomed thoroughbreds but a mob of scrawny mongrels filling two pens to bursting point.'What was that all about?' he asks. It's their animal. Cats the same. whining. He spends all afternoon in the surgery. 'No classes. We get donations. sniffs his fingers through the mesh.who gave refuge to a deer that clattered into his chapel. This bleak building is a place not of healing . 'They are very egalitarian. There have been goats here since the beginning of time. It has what he thinks of as an intelligent look. waiting their turn. 'Perhaps he understands more than you guess. Bev Shaw. They don't think it's a bad thing to have lots of offspring.her doctoring is too amateurish for that . But he comes in only one afternoon a week.who was it? St Hubert? . They know how death comes to a goat. helping as far as he is able. eyes shining with wellbeing. 'Are they all going to die?' 'Those that no one wants. In the avian cage there is only one bird. Sudden darkness. 'I'm not sure. licks them.' 'Who does the neutering? 'Dr Oosthuizen. 'Perhaps he has already been through it. but we can't force the owners. What a pity! Such a good old fellow. Interesting is not the word. He has a first inkling of the task this ugly little woman has set herself.' He is watching the dogs eat. Lucy thought he would find her interesting. accepting their lot. until they filled the earth. 'How do you pay for this stuff?' he asks. absurdly. not without being escorted. aren't they.' 'And you are the one who does the job. panting and distraught.' .' 'You don't mind?' 'I do mind. trying. I keep enough lethal for bad cases.' Things are beginning to fall into place. so brave and straight and confident!' Lethal: the name of a drug? He would not put it beyond the drug companies. 'We get it wholesale.' 'And rats. He recalls the story of . Born with foreknowledge. the weak hold back.' he remarks. to lighten the load of Africa's suffering beasts. he is trying to comfort her. not a veterinarian but a priestess. They would just multiply and multiply if they had their way. I don't think we are ready to die. Bev Shaw shows him around the yard. Too many by our standards. But Lucy is wrong. leaping with excitement. from the waters of Lethe. They are born prepared. The small. replete. and fire. full of New Age mumbo jumbo. 'It's nothing. We hold public collections.' One of the dogs.' He squats. The more the jollier. a young fish-eagle with a splinted wing. so to speak. after all. there are just too many of them. This is Africa.but of last resort. our vet. To his own surprise. fleeing the huntsmen's dogs. and get a grant for that. Then: 'Do you know why my daughter sent me to you?' 'She told me you were in trouble. 'The trouble is. his breath. Which reminds me: check yourself for fleas when you get home. yapping. of course.' he says. though it is probably nothing of the kind. Bev Shaw hides her face. barking.' 'Do you think so?' she says. allows the dog to smell his face. Would you?' He is silent.' says Bev Shaw.' 'And rats. 'They don't understand it.
'Not just in trouble. In what I suppose one would call disgrace.' He watches her closely. She seems uncomfortable; but perhaps he is imagining it. 'Knowing that, do you still have a use for me?' he says. 'If you are prepared...' She opens her hands, presses them together, opens them again. She does not know what to say, and he does not help her. He has stayed with his daughter only for brief periods before. Now he is sharing her house, her life. He has to be careful not to allow old habits to creep back, the habits of a parent: putting the toilet roll on the spool, switching off lights, chasing the cat off the sofa. Practise for old age, he admonishes himself. Practise fitting in. Practise for the old folks' home. He pretends he is tired and, after supper, withdraws to his room, where faintly the sounds come to him of Lucy leading her own life: drawers opening and shutting, the radio, the murmur of a telephone conversation. Is she calling Johannesburg, speaking to Helen? Is his presence here keeping the two of them apart? Would they dare to share a bed while he was in the house? If the bed creaked in the night, would they be embarrassed? Embarrassed enough to stop? But what does he know about what women do together? Maybe women do not need to make beds creak. And what does he know about these two in particular, Lucy and Helen? Perhaps they sleep together merely as children do, cuddling, touching, giggling, reliving girlhood - sisters more than lovers. Sharing a bed, sharing a bathtub, baking gingerbread cookies, trying on each other's clothes. Sapphic love: an excuse for putting on weight. The truth is, he does not like to think of his daughter in the throes of passion with another woman, and a plain one at that. Yet would he be any happier if the lover were a man? What does he really want for Lucy? Not that she should be forever a child, forever innocent, forever his - certainly not that. But he is a father, that is his fate, and as a father grows older he turns more and more - it cannot be helped - toward his daughter. She becomes his second salvation, the bride of his youth reborn. No wonder, in fairy-stories, queens try to hound their daughters to their death! He sighs. Poor Lucy! Poor daughters! What a destiny, what a burden to bear! And sons: they too must have their tribulations, though he knows less about that. He wishes he could sleep. But he is cold, and not sleepy at all. He gets up, drapes a jacket over his shoulders, returns to bed. He is reading Byron's letters of 1820. Fat, middle-aged at thirty-two, Byron is living with the Guicciolis in Ravenna: with Teresa, his complacent, short-legged mistress, and her suave, malevolent husband. Summer heat, late-afternoon tea, provincial gossip, yawns barely hidden. 'The women sit in a circle and the men play dreary Faro,' writes Byron. In adultery, all the tedium of marriage rediscovered. 'I have always looked to thirty as the barrier to any real or fierce delight in the passions.' He sighs again. How brief the summer, before the autumn and then the winter! He reads on past midnight, yet even so cannot get to sleep.
ELEVEN IT IS WEDNESDAY. He gets up early, but Lucy is up before him. He finds her watching the wild geese on the dam. 'Aren't they lovely,' she says. 'They come back every year. The same three. I feel so lucky to be visited. To be the one chosen.' Three. That would be a solution of sorts. He and Lucy and Melanie. Or he and Melanie and Soraya. They have breakfast together, then take the two Dobermanns for a walk. 'Do you think you could live here, in this part of the world?' asks Lucy out of the blue.
'Why? Do you need a new dog-man?' 'No, I wasn't thinking of that. But surely you could get a job at Rhodes University - you must have contacts there - or at Port Elizabeth.' 'I don't think so, Lucy. I'm no longer marketable. The scandal will follow me, stick to me. No, if I took a job it would have to be as something obscure, like a ledger clerk, if they still have them, or a kennel attendant.' 'But if you want to put a stop to the scandal-mongering, shouldn't you be standing up for yourself? Doesn't gossip just multiply if you run away?' As a child Lucy had been quiet and self-effacing, observing him but never, as far as he knew, judging him. Now, in her middle twenties, she has begun to separate. The dogs, the gardening, the astrology books, the asexual clothes: in each he recognizes a statement of independence, considered, purposeful. The turn away from men too. Making her own life. Coming out of his shadow. Good! He approves! 'Is that what you think I have done?' he says. 'Run away from the scene of the crime?' 'Well, you have withdrawn. For practical purposes, what is the difference?' 'You miss the point, my dear. The case you want me to make is a case that can no longer be made, Basta. Not in our day. If I tried to make it I would not be heard.' 'That's not true. Even if you are what you say, a moral dinosaur, there is a curiosity to hear the dinosaur speak. I for one am curious. What is your case? Let us hear it.' He hesitates. Does she really want him to trot out more of his intimacies? 'My case rests on the rights of desire,' he says. 'On the god who makes even the small birds quiver.' He sees himself in the girl's flat, in her bedroom, with the rain pouring down outside and the heater in the corner giving off a smell of paraffin, kneeling over her, peeling off her clothes, while her arms flop like the arms of a dead person. I was a servant of Eros: that is what he wants to say, but does he have the effrontery? It was a god who acted through me. What vanity! Yet not a lie, not entirely. In the whole wretched business there was something generous that was doing its best to flower. If only he had known the time would be so short! He tries again, more slowly. 'When you were small, when we were still living in Kenilworth, the people next door had a dog, a golden retriever. I don't know whether you remember.' 'Dimly.' 'It was a male. Whenever there was a bitch in the vicinity it would get excited and unmanageable, and with Pavlovian regularity the owners would beat it. This went on until the poor dog didn't know what to do. At the smell of a bitch it would chase around the garden with its ears flat and its tail between its legs, whining, trying to hide.' He pauses. 'I don't see the point,' says Lucy. And indeed, what is the point? 'There was something so ignoble in the spectacle that I despaired. One can punish a dog, it seems to me, for an offence like chewing a slipper. A dog will accept the justice of that: a beating for a chewing. But desire is another story. No animal will accept the justice of being punished for following its instincts.' 'So males must be allowed to follow their instincts unchecked? Is that the moral?' 'No, that is not the moral. What was ignoble about the Kenilworth spectacle was that the poor dog had begun to hate its own nature. It no longer needed to be beaten. It was ready to punish itself. At that point it would have been better to shoot it.' 'Or to have it fixed.' 'Perhaps. But at the deepest level I think it might have preferred being shot. It might have preferred that to the options it was offered: on the one hand, to deny its nature, on the other, to spend the rest of its days padding about the living-room, sighing and sniffing the cat and getting portly.'
'Have you always felt this way, David?' 'No, not always. Sometimes I have felt just the opposite. That desire is a burden we could well do without.' 'I must say,' says Lucy, 'that is a view I incline toward myself ' He waits for her to go on, but she does not. 'In any event,' she says, 'to return to the subject, you are safely expelled. Your colleagues can breathe easy again, while the scapegoat wanders in the wilderness.' A statement? A question? Does she believe he is just a scapegoat? 'I don't think scapegoating is the best description,' he says cautiously. 'Scapegoating worked in practice while it still had religious power behind it. You loaded the sins of the city on to the goat's back and drove it out, and the city was cleansed. It worked because everyone knew how to read the ritual, including the gods. Then the gods died, and all of a sudden you had to cleanse the city without divine help. Real actions were demanded instead of symbolism. The censor was born, in the Roman sense. Watchfulness became the watchword: the watchfulness of all over all. Purgation was replaced by the purge.' He is getting carried away; he is lecturing. 'Anyway,' he concludes, 'having said farewell to the city, what do I find myself doing in the wilderness? Doctoring dogs. Playing right-hand man to a woman who specializes in sterilization and euthanasia.' Lucy laughs. 'Bev? You think Bev is part of the repressive apparatus? Bev is in awe of you! You are a professor. She has never met an old-fashioned professor before. She is frightened of making grammar mistakes in front of you.' Three men are coming toward them on the path, or two men and a boy. They are walking fast, with countrymen's long strides. The dog at Lucy's side slows down, bristles. 'Should we be nervous?' he murmurs. 'I don't know.' She shortens the Dobermanns' leashes. The men are upon them. A nod, a greeting, and they have passed. 'Who are they?' he asks. 'I've never laid eyes on them before.' They reach the plantation boundary and turn back. The strangers are out of sight. As they near the house they hear the caged dogs in an uproar. Lucy quickens her pace. The three are there, waiting for them. The two men stand at a remove while the boy, beside the cages, hisses at the dogs and makes sudden, threatening gestures. The dogs, in a rage, bark and snap. The dog at Lucy's side tries to tug loose. Even the old bulldog bitch, whom he seems to have adopted as his own, is growling softly. 'Petrus!' calls Lucy. But there is no sign of Petrus. 'Get away from the dogs!' she shouts. '_Hamba!_' The boy saunters off and rejoins his companions. He has a flat, expressionless face and piggish eyes; he wears a flowered shirt, baggy trousers, a little yellow sunhat. His companions are both in overalls. The taller of them is handsome, strikingly handsome, with a high forehead, sculpted cheekbones, wide, flaring nostrils. At Lucy's approach the dogs calm down. She opens the third cage and releases the two Dobermanns into it. A brave gesture, he thinks to himself; but is it wise? To the men she says: 'What do you want?' The young one speaks. 'We must telephone.' 'Why must you telephone?' 'His sister' - he gestures vaguely behind him - 'is having an accident.' 'An accident?' 'Yes, very bad.' 'What kind of accident?' 'A baby.' 'His sister is having a baby?'
Without warning. however mutely. the door too old and solid. inside the forestry concession. 'Petrus!' he shouts as loudly as he can. The house is still. 'Get him!' he shouts. She unlocks the back door and enters. thrusting with the stick.. 'The keys.' He and Lucy exchange glances. The bottom leaf is not bolted: a few heavy kicks and it swings open. Abandoning them. hit him as many times as is necessary. His face is placid. the day of testing. He is lying face down on cold tiles. the key is gone. He is in the lavatory. He closes his eyes again. If it entails hitting him with a bottle. Before him stands the second man. shu!' he pants. 'Come in. the dog circles left and right. Dizzily he gets to his feet. it seems. and the space too cramped anyway. holding an empty one-litre bottle by the neck. The story makes sense. without fanfare.' she says. It is merely a job he is doing: getting someone to hand over an article. before his limbs turn to water and he crumples.. A blow catches him on the crown of the head.' Lucy murmurs to him. he knows at once. sits down heavily. than in frenzy. Yet if his child were calling. The dog trots heavily after the boy.' 'Stay out here. He sits down on the toilet seat and tries to recover. 'Lucy!' he calls again. So it has come. He lets go the bulldog's leash. 'Lucy! Speak to me!' The door opens. come out here!' he calls. will belong to the past. Now he must do something. The boy turns and sprints. is a hamlet with no electricity. it is here. louder: 'Lucy!' He tries to kick at the door. On all fours he creeps into the kitchen. must know.' says the man. He stumbles back. unsure for the moment whether to follow or wait where he can keep an eye on the boy. The tall man follows.. the lavatory of Lucy's house. he rushes back to the kitchen door. Though he strains to hear. and then. but more in duty. shu. 'No. In front of the house he catches up with them. whatever is happening to her will be set in stone. and then. 'Lucy. surely he would hear! He batters the door.' 'Where are you from?' 'From Erasmuskraal. in an hour. From the house there is silence. 'Lucy!' he croaks. The boy has picked up a beanstake and is using it to keep the dog at bay. 'Lucy!' he shouts. and he is in the middle of it. to the boy: 'Who is it who wants to telephone?' He indicates the tall. He is aware of being dragged across the kitchen floor. But now it is not too late. The man raises the bottle. He tries to stand up but his legs are somehow blocked from moving.'Yes. the dogs are barking. he will hit him. and is about to go in when the door-latch clicks shut. In his chest his heart hammers so hard that it too. Then he blacks out. handsome man. 'Why didn't you phone from the forestry station?' 'Is no one there. If I am still conscious then I am all right. but he is not himself. without trace of anger. knocking him off balance. it will be too late. Erasmuskraal. 'Shu. in its dumb way.' The man gives him a push. In a minute. Growling softly. heading for the front door.. the shorter one. he can make out no sound from the house. he and his heart? His child is in the hands of strangers. He has time to think. Something is wrong. . no telephone. The door is locked. How will they stand up to the testing. After a moment the second man pushes past him and enters the house too. if necessary break the bottle too.
hurling out shapeless bellows that have no words behind them. and they stand beneath the window. only fear. inches from his face. So he was wrong! He and his daughter are not being let off lightly after all! He can burn. A moment later the boy joins him. he seems to have no hair. whining softly. Carrying Lucy's rifle and a bulging garbage bag. The barking of the dogs grows louder again. Just leave my daughter alone. He is helpless. splashing water over his face. A car door slams. Footfalls along the passage. He speaks Italian. He hangs over the toilet bowl. carrying the rifle. and the door to the toilet swings open again. he can die. Everything is tender. and if he can die. He tries to stand up and is forced down again. 'Lucy!' he shouts. inspecting their prisoner. a missionary in cassock and topi waiting with clasped hands and upcast eyes while the savages jaw away in their own lingo preparatory to plunging him into their boiling cauldron. then so can Lucy. his whole scalp is tender. For a moment his vision clears and he sees. then falls heavily. he speaks French. Why did he not recognise it in time? But they are not harming him. the second man is just disappearing around the corner of the house. His eyes burn. milling about. 'Are you here?' . he tries to wipe them. A dangerous trio. beats out the last of the flames on his clothes. a figure from a cartoon. sits down heavily. Is it possible that what the house has to offer will be enough for them? Is it possible they will leave Lucy unharmed too? From behind the house comes the sound of voices. behind him he glimpses the boy in the flowered shirt. dies at once. There is a burst of laughter. With wads of wet paper he bathes his face. He stands up. he is pushed back into the lavatory. Mission work: what has it left behind. more excited. He struggles to his knees and plunges the hand into the toilet bowl. The scrape of a match. blood and brains splatter the cage. one eyelid is already closing. Some kind of trip: they must practise it in soccer. There is a nasty smell of singed hair. Struggling to get up.'Take them. The man reappears empty-handed. retreat to the back of the pen. His eyes are stinging.' Without a word the man takes the keys. gets past the man. the man picks them off. shot through the chest. The toe of the shoe curls upward. following with its gaze the movements of this being who does not even bother to administer a coup de gr�ce. He stands on the toilet seat and peers through the bars of the window. Burned. snaps at it. eating from a tub of ice-cream. slavering with rage. 'Hai!' says the man. A flame dances soundlessly on the back of his hand. locks him in again. and calls out some words. With practised ease he brings a cartridge up into the breech. but Italian and French will not save him here in darkest Africa. an Aunt Sally. another. Taking his time between shots. with a gaping throat-wound. discussing his fate. The second man stands before him. He recognizes the smell: methylated spirits. The remaining three dogs. There is a heavy report. that huge enterprise of upliftment? Nothing that he can see. there are blades of grass sticking out from the tread. his hair crackles as it catches alight. He runs a hand over his head and his fingertips come away black with soot. everything is burned. Now the tall man appears from around the front. above all Lucy! He strikes at his face like a madman. thrusts the muzzle into the dogs' cage. blue overalls and a shoe. He tries to shoulder his way out. and at once he is bathed in cool blue flame. For a moment the barking ceases. not yet. Behind him the door closes and the key turns. with nowhere to hide. The man fires twice more. For a moment the two of them look straight into each other's eyes. dousing his head. As he lies sprawled he is splashed from head to foot with liquid. flattens its ears. and smiles grimly. 'Take everything. burnt. A hush falls. One dog. Save for a patch over one ear. The biggest of the German Shepherds.' he says. He shivers. he throws himself about. He recognizes the sound: his car.
unbelievably.' says Lucy's voice.' she remarks. He looks into her eyes. cigarettes. and chokes on a sudden surge of tears. I must telephone the police. her hair is combed back. She is wearing a bathrobe. She bends over it. He sits on the bed and waits. my darlings!' he hears her murmur. She opens the first cage and enters. I think they went off in the Port Elizabeth direction. He tries to wash off the ash under the kitchen tap. shoes. going? 'Lucy!' he shouts. every minute. He trails after her through the kitchen. his good shoes. Gently. Not enough to go around. He writhes. he continues to shiver. It is already getting dark. He cannot recollect how he hurt it. She does not stir a finger to soothe him. Brown ash. he tells himself. or at the bottom of a donga with a bullet in your head. her hair wet. 'There's baby-oil in the bathroom cabinet. At last. 'Lucy!' he calls again.' he says. hold to the theory and to the comforts of theory. women too. speeding away. a packet of cigarettes. 'My darlings. Lucy has turned her back on him. and the crunch of tyres on gravel. but the door is closed. The dog with the throat-wound is somehow still breathing. Lucy has come up behind him. He follows her into the cage and tries to take her in his arms. not enough cars. Water trickles down his back. Though he has wrapped a blanket around himself. What there is must go into circulation. Count Lucy lucky too. A frown appears on her face. her face clean and entirely blank. He hears his car start. He looks at himself in a mirror. till he can hear an edge of craziness in his voice. A risk to own anything: a car. Above all Lucy. Is your car gone?' 'Yes. the key turns in the lock. Cars. It happens every day. One eyelid is swelling shut. 'Don't come in. . he begins to shiver with cold. coats his scalp and forehead. 'My dearest. Put some on. The telephone is smashed. He goes to the bathroom. struggling against them. 'Are you all right? Are you hurt?' Stupid questions. The living-room is in a mess. where the refrigerator stands open and food lies scattered all over the floor. decisively. 'My dearest child!' he says.A vision comes to him of Lucy struggling with the two in the blue overalls. she wriggles loose. She is wearing slacks and a raincoat now. she does not reply. to whose workings pity and terror are irrelevant. Otherwise one could go mad.' 'You can't. too few things. dearest. a pair of shoes. so is his own room. By the time he has the door open. She stands at the back door taking in the carnage of the dog-pens. so that everyone can have a chance to be happy for a day. blessedly. He touches the skin: it is painful and beginning to ooze. his eyebrows are gone.. Too many people. in every quarter of the country. That is how one must see life in this country: in its schematic aspect. Things have been taken: his jacket. The whole afternoon seems to have passed in a flash. just a vast circulatory system. Not human evil. trying to blank it out. Underneath it the scalp is an angry pink. all that is left of his hair. and now for the first time she turns her gaze on him. his eyelashes too.. Count yourself lucky not to be a prisoner in the car at this moment. Faintly it wags its tail. There must be some niche in the system for women and what happens to them. 'What on earth did they do to you?' she says. That is the theory. Count yourself lucky to have escaped with your life. One of his wrists is swollen and throbbing with pain. her feet are bare. speaks to it. and that is only the beginning of it. shoes.' She leaves him. pouring glass after glass of water over his head. 'Your head looks terrible. over and over. Is it over? Are they. every hour.
you save yourself. 'Or is there?' At the hospital she strides ahead through the door marked CASUALTIES. yielding nothing.' she instructs him. Bill. I won't be long. and takes her in his arms.45. When she does not come. and a man with bloody wadding over his hand. she shows no sign of it. He closes his good eye and slips into a swoon in which the two sisters continue to whisper together. Lucy has told him to drive to the hospital. he is the only one left in Africa. 'For yours. I never go anywhere without my Beretta. 'For my sake or for yours?' he asks her. he puts aside his blanket. his eye covered. 'You're making a mistake. a young Indian woman. seats him in the waiting room. Lucy has her arms folded across her breasts.' she comments after the examination.' 'What about yourself?' She shrugs. my child!' he says. would he have saved Lucy? He doubts it. She is all strength. 'I will be back to fetch you. 'You are lucky. If he had had a gun. 'If they discharge you. though he must be wary of infection.' she says. His hands. he notices. 'Shocking. The upper and lower lids are stuck together. 'My child. If she is trembling. I tell what happened to me.' he says in a voice that is fast descending to a croak.46. When he opens his eye the clock still says 5. He is twelfth in line.' she repeats. The burns on his scalp are not serious. If they had used petrol it would be a different story. one of them holding a moaning child. Two hours pass before a nurse calls him. He pats the holster at his hip.Lucy returns. separating them proves extraordinarily painful. But. are trembling ever so lightly. In the waiting-room he is surprised to find Bill Shaw. 'The best is. 'No I'm not.' he observes once they are on the Grahamstown road. She spends more time on his eye.' She pauses. it turns out. Is it broken? No: the minute hand jerks and comes to rest on 5. and there is more waiting before his turn comes to see the sole doctor on duty. his children have gone back to Germany. 'You tell what happened to you. 'They've let down the tyres of the kombi. 'I'm walking over to Ettinger's.' she says. all purposefulness. TWELVE ETTINGER IS A SURLY old man who speaks English with a marked German accent. you can be sure.' He emerges with his head dressed and bandaged. who is a head shorter than he. 'Yes. wait here.' 'Won't the police want to see me too?' 'There is nothing you can tell them that I can't.' she replies. stands up.45. His wife is dead. In his embrace she is stiff as a pole. would you mind keeping to your own story. not any more. fills out the form for him. . He finds a seat between two hefty girls who might be sisters. Is that because she is trembling too? He was expecting Ettinger to take them to the police station. chuchotantes. holding out his arms to her. grips him by the shoulders. she says. He arrives in his three-litre pickup with Lucy at his side and waits with the engine running. 'There is no damage to the eye itself.' Is Ettinger right? If he had had a gun. he would probably be dead now. 'David. because the police are not going to save you. The clock on the wall says 5. an ice-pack strapped to his wrist. he and Lucy both. whereas the trembling seems to have spread to his whole body. when people ask. to what happened to you?' He does not understand.
Bev Shaw settles him on a sofa that smells of cats. Bill Shaw. but for bonds of some kind. 'I thought you were calling me. Does the drinking of tea seal a lovebond. and the two of them have obligations towards each other.' 'I'm not hungry.' 'I have burns. cast-iron bath. helped to dry himself. there's a bulletin out for your car. atrocity: every word with which one tries to wrap up this day. Lucy is not at all as in the vision. best not to disturb her. He has to call Bill Shaw and suffer the ignominy of being helped out of the bath. 'Lucy is over at our place. because he and David Lurie once had a cup of tea together. but when it happens to someone you know' . She was going to fetch you herself but Bev wouldn't hear of it. the words stay with him and will not go away.' he mumbles: his mouth is dry. she is tying the belt of a dressing-gown that is clearly not hers. without so much as a newspaper to read.' 'Nonsense!' says Bill Shaw. who was born in Hankey. in the eyes of Bill Shaw? Yet but for Bill and Bev Shaw.' says Bill Shaw again in the car. Lucy has taken a sedative. then he. where would he be now? On the ruined farm with the broken telephone amid the dead dogs.still echo in his ears. He stretches out his pale length in the steaming water and tries to relax. sends it flying. In the vision she stands. his tongue thick. old-fashioned. How are you?' 'I'm all right. David Lurie. nothing serious.' he says.'that really brings it home to you. but for old Ettinger. from _freon_. It's bad enough when you read about it in the paper. The day is not dead yet but living. David Lurie is his friend. He gets up. to love. A light goes on and Bev Shaw is before him in her nightdress.'Come to me. 'Atrocious. with surprising ease he falls asleep. Bill Shaw believes that. save me!' .' Spoken without irony. Bev Shaw meets them at the door. in a field of white light. Light burns. and works in a hardware shop. helped into borrowed pyjamas. Later he hears Bill and Bev talking in low voices. But when it is time to get out.' he says.' . 'Has she been to the police?' 'Yes.' 'Then you should eat and get some rest. to fetch him home. He has had a vision: Lucy has spoken to him.' He does not bother to reply. not two hundred kilometres away. Her face is puffy with sleep. her words . 'I have to speak to Lucy. the day swallows down its black throat. and lightheaded too. and knows it is he they are talking about. I had a dream. a packet of burn dressings. 'I'm sorry. and a little aluminium gadget to prop his head on. whose attitude toward friendships between men is corroded with scepticism? Modern English _friend_ from Old English _freond_. hands outstretched. Is Bill Shaw wrong or right? Has Bill Shaw. 'What else are friends for? You would have done the same. The word vision is suddenly too oldfashioned.he shakes his head . The door to Lucy's room opens. War. she announces. had been hit over the head and set on fire.' She runs water for him in their big. seen so little of the world that he does not know there are men who do not readily make friends.' 'And she has seen a doctor?' 'All attended to. It's like being in a war all over again. and is lying down. wet hair combed back. I'm sorry we've ruined your evening. Bill Shaw believes that if he. but they are not as bad as they look. he slips and almost falls: he is as weak as a baby. too queer. stumbles against a chair. 'A shocking business. He has come away from the hospital with a tube of painkillers. How about you? Lucy says you were badly burned.absolutely shocking. In the middle of the night he awakes in a state of the utmost clarity. would have driven to the hospital and sat waiting.
ringing. Bev Shaw serves him a breakfast of cornflakes and tea. What is he doing? He is watching over his little girl.' 'On the farm?' 'Of course. Or perhaps that is all that lesbians are: women who have no need of men. 'I wasn't. No wonder they are so vehement against rape.' 'Be sensible. On the farm.Lucy shakes her head. Nevertheless. Cautiously he switches on the lamp and gets up. then he can be irritable too. she and Helen. Not her father's little girl. violation and its aftermath: blood-matters. With a blanket wrapped around him he pushes open Lucy's door and enters. she confronts him. She is lying with her face turned to the wall. It must be an effect of the pills. It is morning. he sits down. her words clear.and now there is a crack of anger in her voice . No' . Perhaps he is wrong to think of Lucy as homosexual. 'I'm sorry I asked. she seems to be saying. It is wet with tears. he wonders whether women would not be happier living in communities of women.'how can she? How can a doctor take care of all eventualities? Have some sense!' He gets up. If she chooses to be irritable. eyes glittering. 'I saw my GP last night. Bev Shaw responds only with a terse shake of the head. There is a chair by the bedside.' 'Why not?' 'Because it's not a good idea. his eyes burn. those men? Had the word got around? At nine o'clock.' he says. women's preserve. A soft pop as her lips separate. of course. not any longer. After a long while he feels her begin to relax.' 'And is he taking care of all eventualities?' 'She. He tries to get back to sleep but cannot. His senses tell him she is awake. Lucy. not he. violator of seclusions. then disappears into Lucy's room. neck stiff. 'She. and the gentlest of snores. 'but have you seen a doctor?' She sits up and blows her nose. Go to sleep now. It is three in the morning. 'What are our plans for today?' 'Our plans? To go back to the farm and clean up. immediate. a woman's burden. god of chaos and mixture. childbirth. He sits down beside her. accepting visits from men only when they choose. just a chemical hallucination. warding off the bad spirits. after Bill Shaw has gone off to work. and it's not an idea. good or bad. guarding her from harm. he taps on Lucy's door. 'How is she?' he asks when she comes back. Raping a lesbian worse than raping a virgin: more of a blow. 'This is not an easy thing to talk about. 'Save me!' cries his daughter. Rape.' she says. Did they know what they were up to. not even a dream.' 'It was never safe.' She is right. His wrist aches.' 'And then?' 'Then to go on as before. Perhaps she simply prefers female company. Things have changed. I'm just going back.' he says. . I'm not going back for the sake of an idea.' Sitting up in her borrowed nightdress. he tells himself: not a vision. But he cannot fail to notice that for the second time in a day she has spoken to him as if to a child a child or an old man. Not your business. the figure of the woman in the field of light stays before him. Menstruation. his scalp is sore and irritable. and may their souls lead an independent life? Hours yet before sunrise. Not for the first time. Because it's not safe. touches her cheek. Is it possible that Lucy's soul did indeed leave her body and come to him? May people who do not believe in souls yet have them. We can't just pick up where we left off.
he knows. inside him.' he remarks. He cannot expect help from Lucy. A grey mood is settling on him. with its neat white cap and blanked-out eye. wherever they may be. 'There's the risk of venereal infection. ready to float away.' 'Ask again. Just an after-effect. 'You must ask Lucy yourself ' 'I have asked. even at the moment when the steel touches your throat. using tweezers. Lucy must work her own way back from the darkness to the light. She refuses breakfast. In a while the organism will repair itself. I do not care. tired to the bone. the weakness are only the first and most superficial signs of that shock. There's the risk of HIV. He recalls the goat in the clinic. and it fills him with (the word will not go away) despair. Delicately she anoints the folds of his eyelid and his ear. your limbs relax. let it all go to the dogs. The most painful part is the flange of his right ear: it is. he will be like a fly-casing in a spiderweb. lighter than rice-chaff. He tries again to raise the subject of the rape. Aimlessly he roams about the garden. It is not just that he does not know what to do with himself. Bev drives them out to the farm. then. is otherwise. Until she is herself again. submitting to her hands. ready to begin their investigations. without desires. standing back. wearing the same clothes as yesterday. It is a burden he is not ready for: the farm. he feels his interest in the world draining from him drop by drop. brittle to the touch. The blood of life is leaving his body and despair is taking its place. indifferent to the future. In the cramped little bathroom Bev Shaw unwinds the bandages. he has begun to float toward his end. She does not speak while she works. 'Shipshape. . odourless. it felt the same peacefulness. wonders whether. an after-effect of the invasion.' 'There's the risk of pregnancy. without nourishment.' 'Yes. As for the men who visited them. abused . he wants to say. as the young doctor put it. But it has come too suddenly. you cease to care. it may take months before he is bled dry. but thinks: Like a mummy. will be my old self again. like a puffball on a breeze. I can't get sense from her. When that is finished. There is a ring at the doorbell: two young policemen in spruce new uniforms. despair that is like a gas. Like a leaf on a stream. the onus is on him to manage their daily life. the ghost within it. His pleasure in living has been snuffed out. the future of the land as a whole . The trembling. the garden. 'Lucy says she saw her GP last night. but he is bleeding. the kennels. Shouldn't she see a gynaecologist as well?' Bev Shaw shifts uncomfortably. The eyelid is still closed and blisters have risen on his scalp.' It is past eleven. He has a sense that. Patiently. He sees it quite clearly. Lucy's future.THIRTEEN BEFORE THEY SET off he needs to have his dressings changed. For the first time he has a taste of what it will be like to be an old man. With a sterile solution Bev washes the exposed pink underskin of the scalp. You breathe it in. silently. but the damage is not as bad as it could have been.' she says at last. without hopes. the only part of him that actually caught fire. his future. Lucy emerges from her room looking haggard. and I. Slumped on a plastic chair amid the stench of chicken feathers and rotting apples. but otherwise does not want to think about them. he tells himself. a vital organ has been bruised. he wishes them harm.perhaps even his heart. But the truth. With the police following behind in their van. 'There. It may take weeks. but Lucy shows no sign of emerging.' he presses on. tasteless. lays the oily yellow dressing over it. He inspects the image in the mirror.it is all a matter of indifference. The events of yesterday have shocked him to the depths.
he says. which they do not even notice. 'How long did the whole incident take?' She says. a television set. A chant from his childhood come back to point a jeering finger. The bulldog Katy is still around: they catch a glimpse of her skulking near the stable. as if she were a creature polluted and her pollution could leap across to them. they assaulted him. Lucy looks steadily at him. clothes. Now she does not react. Behind the lavatory door. They listen respectfully. Still. They tricked their way into the house. it could have been worse.' Barely have they departed when the telephone repairmen arrive.' An untruth. The mess in the kitchen has been cleaned up (by Lucy? when?). Ettinger. Cautiously the policemen move through the house. No fool. Two old ladies locked in the lavatory / They were there from Monday to Saturday / Nobody knew they were there. but edgy of her nevertheless. the pen darting nervously across the pages of the notebook. A quiet house on a winter morning. as she knows. poured spirits over him. the policemen avert their eyes. she recites. 'Poor Lucy. taking down her every word. The scene of the crime. There were three men. as he knows. Of Petrus there is no sign. a CD player. Indoors. In Lucy's room the double bed is stripped bare. tuck them under their arms. 'Twenty minutes. Locked in the lavatory while his daughter was used. She describes the men and what they were wearing. I don't know whether insurance policies cover massacres. Oh dear. No blood. Of the absent Petrus. or else daring him to contradict her. Lucy?' . A matter of indifference: he barely listens as Lucy goes through her story. 'Why aren't you telling the whole story.' remarks Ettinger. He walks Ettinger to the door. no more. two spent matchsticks.' 'Indeed? How?' 'They could have taken her away with them. 'I will bury the dogs if you show me where. All the while she speaks. and. In the past he has seen Lucy fly into a rage at the use of the word boy. then old Ettinger. When one of the officers asks. Ettinger remarks darkly. a rifle with ammunition. she describes the car. They are of her generation. 'A detective will come and take fingerprints. Then they shot the dogs and drove off in his car.' he offers.' That brings him up short.' A pause. It took much longer. tried to set him on fire.' they say as they leave. as if reading the thought. He stands back. give us a call at the station. Nevertheless he does not interrupt. pass on. At last he and Lucy are alone. 'It must have been bad for her. 'What are you going to tell the owners?' 'I'll tell them the truth. When her father resisted. soil them. 'Try not to touch things. If you remember anything else they took.The corpses of the dogs lie in the cage where they fell. 'Not one of them you can trust. thirty minutes. he thinks to himself. took (she lists the items) money. his disgrace. How much longer? As much longer as the men needed to finish off their business with the lady of the house. I will have to find out. what can the matter be? Lucy's secret. to fix the kombi. as though drawing strength from him. the two policemen take off their caps. leaves it to Lucy to take them through the story she has elected to tell. keeping her distance. or two men and a boy. no overturned furniture. inspecting.' He will send a boy. Words are beginning to take shape that have been hovering since last night at the edges of memory. no less.' 'Will your insurance cover it?' 'I don't know.
'Lucy. at this time.' 'I don't agree. mine alone. like all revenge. gathers herself. 'I'll sleep here. Evening falls. A satisfying afternoon's work. 'Can I guess?' he says. 'Are you trying to remind me of something?' 'Am I trying to remind you of what?' 'Of what women undergo at the hands of men. 'For whom is this?' he asks. yet forever part of his life now. for the moment. then surely they ought to be chased out. Eating is a ritual. He trundles the corpses over in a wheelbarrow. But in this place. and by the time he has finished his back is sore. In another time. my dearest. The dog with the hole in its throat still bares its bloody teeth. butcher's meat for dogs that no longer have need of it. But his thoughts go to the three intruders. David. his wrist aches again. they will say to each other. and he does not press her. probably. Lucy draws a deep breath. what happened to me is a purely private matter. ' 'What about the spare room?' 'The ceiling-boards have gone. with its boxes of empty preserve jars piled in a corner and its single tiny south-facing window? If the ghosts of Lucy's violators still hover in her bedroom. heady.' 'This place being what?' 'This place being South Africa. Do you think that by . This has nothing to do with you.' 'Nothing could be further from my thoughts. 'I am sure you have your reasons. then breathes out again and shakes her head. 'For myself. Too ashamed. not allowed to take it over as their sanctum. One by one he tumbles the dogs into the hole. but they eat. yet exhilarating. The freezer in the back room barely purrs. They are not hungry. then fills it in. and rituals make things easier. men he will probably never lay eyes on again. close to the boundary line. A grave for six full-grown dogs: even in the recently ploughed earth it takes him the best part of an hour. Contemptible. but in a wider context are you sure this is the best course?' She does not reply.' And at once he sets about clearing out his things.' Not true. listen to the gossip.'I have told the whole story. There is no shame in being the object of a crime. So he moves his belongings into Lucy's room. in a country where dogs are bred to snarl at the mere smell of a black man. as long as you agree not to raise the subject again. 'Take over my room. recollecting their exploit. Like shooting fish in a barrel. as far as I am concerned. the three invaders. The men will watch the newspapers.' he says. He returns to find Lucy installing a camp-bed in the musty little pantry that she uses for storage. it is not. I don't agree with what you are doing.' Sitting across the table from him. The reason is that. and they will chuckle luxuriously. You want to know why I have not laid a particular charge with the police. The whole story is what I have told. in another place it might be held to be a public matter. his arms are sore.' 'And the big room at the back?' 'The freezer makes too much noise. You are an innocent party. he thinks. As gently as he can. It is my business. It is because of what the freezer holds that Lucy will not sleep there: offal. bones.' He shakes his head dubiously. But does he really want to move into this cell. Is Lucy prepared to concede them that victory? He digs the hole where Lucy tells him. It will dawn on them that over the body of the woman silence is being drawn like a blanket. You did not choose to be the object. and of his daughter's. he offers his question again. They will read that they are being sought for robbery and assault and nothing else. why don't you want to tell? It was a crime. I will tell you. too ashamed to tell.
you get a diploma and safe conduct into the future. who must let the ducks out of their pen. creosoted poles. with her long skirt and her headcloth piled high. security gates.meekly accepting what happened to you.' 'Why didn't he tell you he was going away? Doesn't it strike you as fishy that he should disappear at precisely this time?' 'I can't order Petrus about. Lucy spends hour after hour lying on her bed. 'With a load of building materials. Petrus steps down from the cab. he thinks to himself. with Lucy. country fashion. offering to lend them a gun 'for the meanwhile'. which Petrus tethers to a fence-post. but she cuts him short. I don't act in terms of abstractions.' 'Stop it. The more it devours. A handsome woman. Lucy ought to buy a pistol and a two-way radio. listening for sounds. Until you make an effort to see that. 'We'll think about it.' 'Good. But where have they been? 'Petrus is back. l�ndliche way of life. but he lets it pass. for the time being. Then Petrus makes his return. and finally. followed by his wife and the driver. 'Thank you. violated.' A non sequitur. two halfgrown sheep. A handsome woman and a lucky man. They ought to turn the farmhouse into a fortress. what is left for her to love? Katy is coaxed out of her hiding-place and settled in the kitchen. The lorry makes a wide sweep around the stable and thunders back down the driveway. FOURTEEN A NEW DAY. Life. with much noise and commotion. ignorant as he is about farming. Lucy.' 'Then help me. a roll of plastic piping. we agreed. shows no interest in anything around her. Lucy keeps to herself.' He wants to respond. In a while. Ettinger telephones. Guilt and salvation are abstractions. as Ettinger has done. Vengeance is like a fire. they are continually on the alert. Petrus' wife emerges and with a broad. or a sign to paint on the door-lintel that will make the plague pass you by? That is not how vengeance works. An old lorry groans up the rutted driveway and stops beside the stable. expresses no feelings. of which she seems to have an unlimited store.' he replies. She is subdued and timorous. sheets of galvanized iron. wearing a suit too tight for him. easy movement empties a slop bucket. I am not just trying to save my skin. David! I don't want to hear this talk of plagues and fires.' he tells Lucy. is not as before. Is it some form of private salvation you are trying to work out? Do you hope you can expiate the crimes of the past by suffering in the present?' 'No. He continues to watch. you can set yourself apart from farmers like Ettinger? Do you think what happened here was an exam: if you come through. from moment to moment. But will she ever consent? She is here because she loves the land and the old. You keep misreading me. If that way of life is doomed. Petrus and his wife disappear inside. He has decided to let everything pass. If that is what you think.' He gets out Lucy's tools and repairs the kitchen door as well as he is able.' Never yet have they been so far and so bitterly apart. He is his own master. A plume of smoke begins to rise from the asbestos-pipe chimney. you miss the point entirely. I don't want to go on with this conversation. He is shaken. a perimeter fence. keeping close to her heels. The house feels alien. 'David. and take shooting lessons. staring into space or looking at old magazines. master the sluice system and lead water to save the garden from parching. the hungrier it gets. She . From the back of the lorry the two men unload cartons. It is he. They ought to install bars. I can't help you. following Lucy about.
disciple of nature poet William Wordsworth and until recently professor at the Cape Technical University. while he sits and warms his hands. what is the answer? 'I am alive. 'I don't feel up to it. 'As long as one is alive one is all right. the police are overstretched. registration CA 507644.' 'Yes. Except that he does not presume to give Petrus orders.' 'Are you sure? It would be a pity to miss a week. Because of the disgrace.' 'Petrus wants to know if you are going to market tomorrow. not decently. I'll be sure to tell her. 'Will Lucy go to the market tomorrow?' asks Petrus. was treated at Settlers Hospital and discharged. the robbers also shot and killed six watchdogs before escaping in a 1993 Toyota Corolla. their takings are down: less than three hundred rand. As yet Petrus has offered no explanation for his absence. But for Lucy's sake he goes through with the market business. my daughter is fine. and he knows why. how they showed her what a woman was for. Boxes of flowers. that is what they have done to this confident. Of Edwin Drood there is no more sign.' She does not reply.' he says. Mr Lourie. Petrus does what needs to be done. he is entitled to his silence.' He pauses. So yes. But questions remain. a silence which Petrus ought to fill with the next question: And how is Lucy? He is wrong. bags of vegetables have to be loaded back into the kombi. responding politely to those friends of Lucy's who choose to commiserate. we lost a car. She would rather hide her face. who received light injuries during the attack. as I'm sure you know. Yes. Like a stain the story is spreading across the district. No. The reason is Lucy's absence. we had a big robbery on Wednesday while you were away. In a bizarre twist. Nevertheless. enduring the stares of the curious. How they put her in her place. He spies Petrus out at the dam.' He reads their story as reported in the Herald. I suppose. Unknown assailants the men are called. Because of the shame.' says Petrus. takes the money. That is what their visitors have achieved. no doubt about that. 'Yes. and that is that. Petrus is the one who swiftly and efficiently lays out their wares. making off with clothes. electronic goods and a firearm. modern young woman. Just like the old days: _baas en Klaas_.' Is he all right? Is Lucy all right? Is Petrus asking a question? It does not sound like a question. No. makes the change. as though searching for something that is not there.' says Petrus. but he cannot take it otherwise.' he says. 'Three unknown assailants have attacked Ms Lucy Lourie and her elderly father on their smallholding outside Salem. 'And the dogs. It is very bad.' 'Because she will lose her stall if she does not go. He strolls over. sitting beside Petrus at the stall. exchanges greetings. 'I don't know. But you are all right now. of course. Does Petrus know who the strangers were? Was it because of some word Petrus let drop that they made Lucy their target rather than. It seems odd that the man has not yet reported to Lucy. there is little for him to do. With his one eye and his white skullcap. . he has exercised that right. Petrus has the right to come and go as he wishes.' she says. 'You must have heard.' 'Why don't the two of you go.' He is glad that no connection is made between Ms Lourie's elderly father and David Lurie. we are not hopeful. Petrus is in fact the one who does the work. I am all right. The question is. Petrus shakes his head. 'Not good. waits. Not her story to spread but theirs: they are its owners. allows a silence to develop. 'He is afraid you might lose your stall. 'Maybe. the one who knows the prices. As for the actual trading.' he informs Lucy.' he says. in his work overalls. 'I heard. all but one.flicks through them impatiently. just not feeling well today. a very bad thing. he has his own measure of shyness about showing himself in public.
Stretches of English code whole sentences long have thickened. Doubtless Petrus has been through a lot. He has his own suspicions of what Petrus is up to. Pressed into the mould of English. he and Lucy and Petrus. Country life has always been a matter of neighbours scheming against each other. is neighbour. eingewurzelt. But preferably not reduced to English. That is why he continues to nag Petrus. a paysan.' he says. he does believe Petrus could have warned Lucy. In that respect Ettinger has been stupid. months of patient. 'I find it hard to believe the men who came here were strangers. Nevertheless. then Petrus bears its marks. he suspects. yet in a crisis ready to lend a hand. and the offices of an interpreter. is something far more he casts around for the word . and did what they did. he climbs into the dam. The word that seems to serve best. and he knows it. is even prepared. Petrus is a man of his generation. unwritten contract. Petrus is no longer. hired help. Petrus. It is hard to say what Petrus is. a man of the country.say. Then he would like to have Ettinger's too. a man of the earth. He would not mind hearing Petrus' story one day. Petrus' story would come out arthritic. wishing on each other pests. I find it hard to believe they arrived out of nowhere. tenacious. For a while he and Petrus work in concert. What appeals to him in Petrus is his face. But he cannot believe that. In spite of which he feels at home with Petrus. Lucy is merely a transient. an enthusiast of the farming life rather than a farmer. Lucy may have lasted longer than her hippie. something it would take months to get to the bottom of. their articulateness. Ettinger will be a harder nut to crack. strictly speaking. He sells his labour under contract. or enough of it to run a herd on. and Petrus knows that he knows it. like peasants everywhere. Petrus has a vision of the future in which people like Lucy have no place. A man of patience. the language has stiffened. With his feet crammed into Lucy's rubber boots. scraping. bygone. 'Do you know. gypsy friends. The real truth. Ettinger is another peasant. strictly speaking. stepping carefully on the slick bottom. A good peasant takes care to have lots of sons. in the longer run. financial ruin. More and more he is convinced that English is an unfit medium for the truth of South Africa. A plotter and a schemer and no doubt a liar too. Petrus knows it. paying them off with the loot. The worst. It is an unpleasant job. Petrus is a neighbour who at present happens to sell his labour. their articulatedness. however. Like a dinosaur expiring and settling in the mud. poor crops. scrubbing. But Ettinger will die one of these days. however guardedly. energy. That is why he will not let go of the subject. A peasant. On the other hand. Petrus will not be content to plough forever his hectare and a half. But that need not make an enemy of Petrus. and the Ettinger son has fled. doubtless he has a story to tell. Ettinger? Did Petrus know in advance what they were planning? In the old days one could have had it out with Petrus. It is a new world they live in. he does believe that Petrus knew something was in the offing. resilience. Petrus has emptied the concrete storage dam and is cleaning it of algae. And I find it hard to believe that the reason they picked on us was simply that we were the first white folk they met that day. In the old days one could have had it out to the extent of losing one's temper and sending him packing and hiring someone in his place. to like him. Then he breaks off.anthropological. If there is such a thing as honest toil. Petrus would like to take over Lucy's land. but to Petrus Lucy is still chickenfeed: an amateur. and that contract makes no provision for dismissal on grounds of suspicion. his face and his hands. But though Petrus is paid a wage. he offers to help. unhurried conversation with dozens of people. and disappeared afterwards like ghosts. because that is what suits him. shovelling out the mud. it would be too simple. the darkest reading would be that Petrus engaged three strange men to teach Lucy a lesson. Honest toil and honest cunning. lost their articulations. What do you think? Am I wrong?' .
His expression is perfectly tranquil. After they did what they did. the loving! He has no reason to believe their misfortunes have made it on to the gossip circuit in Cape Town. over open country. it was a violation. In silence. exchanges spade for broom. He sweeps the floors.' A flurry of anger runs through him. worse than odd. 'The police must find them and put them in jail. Rosalind is in Madagascar. He packs produce for the market. to hide his face. Those men knew about the forestry station. He composes a dispatch: 'Lucy and I have had some bad luck. you would not be tapping your pipe and weighing your words so judiciously. repulsive . cooks the meals. tamps down the tobacco in the bowl. he wants to be sure that Rosalind does not hear the story in some garbled form. you cannot expect Lucy calmly to go on with her life as before. 'They came to do something else as well. in which I took a bit of a knock. You know what I mean. side by side. Am I wrong? Am I wrong to want justice?' He does not care how he gets the words out of Petrus now. He retains the skullcap and the bandage over his ear. to a degree. He helps Petrus clean up the irrigation system. You are whipping yoursef into a rage. He stares reflectively over the dam wall.' he says at last. to Grahamstown only on Saturdays. Though the heart be still as loving and the moon be still as bright. it was an outrage.one of those sorry creatures whom children gawk at in the street.' 'But the police are not going to find them without help. His eye is healing surprisingly fast: after a mere week he is able to use it again. The burns are taking longer. I am convinced they knew about Lucy. Nothing serious . over the wall. without success. He helps Bev Shaw at the clinic. The ear. 'Why does that man look so funny?' they ask their mothers. he and Petrus finish off the job. If it had been your wife instead of my daughter. and have to be hushed. He keeps the garden from going to ruin. sucks at the pipe unlit. uncovered. I want those men to be caught and brought before the law and punished. Now he straightens up. scouting. He picks up his spade and strikes whole strips of mud and weed from the dambottom. touches the eye-shield. All at once he has become a recluse. Who would have thought it would come to an end so soon and so suddenly: the roving. flinging them over his shoulder. takes the pipe from the pocket of his overalls. He is trying to get used to looking odd. He goes to the shops in Salem as seldom as he can. opens the cap. he would like to say to Petrus. yes. He puts the pipe away in his pocket. The third time he telephones the travel agency where she works. Thought I'd let you know in case of . Petrus. looks like a naked pink mollusc: he does not know when he will be bold enough to expose it to the gaze of others. That is the job of the police. and. he is given the fax number of a hotel in Antananarivo.Petrus smokes a pipe. He is busy from dawn to dusk. 'They did not come just to steal. They did not come just to do this to me. 'It was not simply theft. The end of roving. Violation: that is the word he would like to force out of Petrus. you are not wrong.we're both fine. Yes. and there was a scuffle too. Twice he tries to call her. though shaken. Nevertheless. or if you don't know you can surely guess.' He touches the bandages. 'No. How could they have known if they were complete strangers to the district?' Petrus chooses not to take this as a question. over the hills. he would like to hear Petrus say. 'The police must find them. he just wants to hear them. does all the things that Lucy no longer does. My car was stolen. he is told. a country recluse. an old-fashioned pipe with a hooked stem and a little silver cap over the bowl. This is how his days are spent on the farm. I am Lucy's father. He buys a hat to keep off the sun. strong enough to take him by surprise.' he persists. he admonishes himself: Stop it! Yet at this moment he would like to take Petrus by the throat.
still bleating dolefully.to be stuck in the back of beyond. destined since birth for the butcher's knife. alike in size. half demented. They are blackfaced Persians. suspended in the dark. strike the first note. hiding. bitter gall. Lucy is not improving. every last ounce of them. the baritone of the humiliated husband. who has his bicycle upside down and is working on it. in markings. do not own their lives. then to Bev Shaw to send off To Rosalind in darkest Africa.' He gives the page to Lucy to approve.'don't you think we could tie them where they can graze?' 'They are for the party. even turns the mattress over. been putting it off for months: the moment when he must face the blank page. attending to a dying enterprise. Of the books he brought from Cape Town. if the truth be told. Trust you are having a good time. which no one will eat. half sleepwalking. The public library in Grahamstown can offer nothing but selections from the poems. But does he need to go on reading? What more does he need to know of how Byron and his acquaintance passed their time in old Ravenna? Can he not. where there is abundant grass.' he says . or. You and Lucy must come. They exist to be used.rumours. Their bleating. But even if the sheep are for the party. gather his forces. he unties them and tugs them over to the damside. by now. cooking unfamiliar dishes because she refuses to touch meat. looking for stains. has begun to annoy him. don't you think they could graze?' An hour later the sheep are still tethered. throbbing in the background. Will this be where the dark trio are at last brought to life: not in Cape Town but in old Kaffraria? FIFTEEN THE TWO YOUNG sheep are tethered all day beside the stable on a bare patch of ground.' he tells Lucy. their bones to be crushed and fed to poultry. Petrus is nowhere to be seen. runs from the man with the face like a hawk. I am giving a party on Saturday. then in the afternoons he finds her asleep on the sofa. nursing his daughter. in all likelihood. If he came for anything.' says Petrus. The sheep drink at length. She has lost interest in food: he is the one who has to tempt her to eat. He has nightmares of his own in which he wallows in a bed of blood. claiming she cannot sleep. Exasperated. A big party. he strips his own bed. the whisper of reptile scales on marble staircases. This is not what he came for . 'I invite you and Lucy to the party. panting.' 'Thank you.the rest were in the trunk of the stolen car. like a Benin mask. Well. One night. Snatches are already imprinted on his mind of the lovers in duet. Twins. She stays up all night. The demons do not pass him by. soprano and tenor. and a Teresa too? He has. the vocal lines. 'Those sheep. Nothing escapes.' 'On Saturday?' 'Yes. 'Why is he throwing a . 'Petrus has invited us to a party. like Thoth. it was to gather himself. see what he is worth. invent a Byron who is true to Byron. nothing remarkable in that. Melody without climax. their flesh to be eaten. He strolls over to Petrus. except perhaps the gall bladder. steady and monotonous. warding off demons. even in their movements. and. The soul. coiling wordlessly around and past each other like serpents. 'On Saturday I will slaughter them for the party.' He wipes his hands clean. then leisurely begin to graze. her thumb in her mouth like a child. When did a sheep last die of old age? Sheep do not own themselves. only two volumes of the letters are left . Here he is losing himself day by day. Descartes should have thought of that. shouting soundlessly. There is still the Byron project.
This is the country. The cat slaps at the belt. David. out of the blue. one-twothree-four. then the city can pass judgment on the country too. We should at least put in an appearance. 'you aren't hiding something from me. There are spells when the two of them are like strangers in the same house.' 'How long will that take?' She shrugs. Country ways . the cat dives after it. that Lucy is still living in the shadow of the attack. He has other words: indifference. Science has not yet put a limit on how long one has to wait. maybe. a faint smell of staleness. that time needs to pass before she will be herself. take them a present. are you? You didn't pick up something from those men?' She is sitting on the sofa in pyjamas and dressing-gown. This is Africa. the cat jumps off the sofa. one is never oneself again? What if an attack like that turns one into a different and darker person altogether? There is an even more sinister explanation for Lucy's moodiness. He sits down beside his daughter. He tells himself that he must be patient. And by wait you mean wait for what I think you mean?' 'Yes.bringing the slaughter-beasts home to acquaint them with the people who are going to eat them. He has thought of buying the sheep from Petrus. once he has bought them out of slavery? Set them free on the public road? Pen them up in the dog-cages and feed them hay? . If the country can pass judgment on the city.' The cat makes a quick pounce at the belt. I have had tests. I have done everything one can reasonably do. For ever. His usual response is to withdraw into silence. Now I can only wait. 'Which men?' She flicks the belt to one side. I am not a child any more. In the old days it would have been an ox.' 'I'm not sure I like the way he does things . it would appear. 'At least it won't be for ever. reaches him. It's a big day for him. I have seen a doctor. quick. Longer. Now that he is close to her. 'Lucy. 'David. light paw-blows. It goes through officially on the first of next month. But what if he is wrong? What if.party?' 'Because of the land transfer.' 'He is going to slaughter the two sheep. playing with the cat. hardheartedness. Which men? His heart stops. my dearest. skittish. He takes her hand. 'At least you will be spared that.that is what Lucy calls this kind of thing. It is past noon. Presumably they have until Saturday morning. I would guess.' he asks the same day. The cat is young. And what will he do with the sheep anyway.' The sheep spend the rest of the day near the dam where he has tethered them. after an attack like that. stalks away. 'Men?' she says.' 'I see. alert. Has she gone mad? Is she refusing to remember? But. Lucy dangles the belt of the gown before it. so that you needn't think about it?' 'Yes. one that he cannot put from his mind. It seems a miserable way to spend the last two days of one's life.' 'Wake up. two days. but the game is over now.' There is a snappishness to Lucy nowadays that he sees no justification for. The next morning they are back on the barren patch beside the stable. Three months. I wouldn't have thought two sheep would go very far. But what will that accomplish? Petrus will only use the money to buy new slaughter-animals. 'A month. unwashedness.' he says.' 'What would you prefer? That the slaughtering be done in an abattoir.' 'Petrus is a pennypincher. and pocket the difference. she is only teasing him.
It is like sharing a house with strangers. David. worth agonizing over. On the whole. laughter and music. whom he could not pick out from a mob in a field. settles. wearing what looks to him like churchgoing finery. in this case I am disturbed. One has to be a certain kind of person. I can't say why. He watches from behind the kitchen curtain. . The bond is not one of affection. Which among them get to live. their lot has become important to him. Quite tolerable. I would prefer not to go. The ear twitches. on foot. he thinks to himself . he does not know how. He stands before them. 'You decide. music that he associates with the Johannesburg of his own youth. She shrugs.quite jolly. under the sun. market day. At five o'clock the guests start arriving. solid. in fact he is relieved. by taxi. 'Thanks. 'Should we run the stall?' he asks Lucy. even.' she says. 'Do you want to go for a walk?' he asks. he can find only a vague sadness. returns. Nevertheless. which get to die. There is one old woman over whom a particular fuss is made: wearing his blue suit and a garish pink shirt. The sheep backs away uneasily to the limit of its chain. The sun beats on his face in all its springtime radiance.' Saturday is looming.' 'God moves in mysterious ways. suddenly and without reason.' 'Don't mock me. he thinks? Do I have to become like Bev Shaw? He speaks to Lucy. as far as I am concerned. by car. he thinks: we live too close to Petrus. Preparations for Petrus' festivities begin at noon on Saturday with the arrival of a band of women half a dozen strong. waiting for a sign. and sets off alone on an eight-kilometre loop.' He takes the bulldog. entering into his life. Is that possible without being rude?' 'Anything to do with his slaughter-sheep?' 'Yes. I haven't changed my ideas. 'I have been thinking about this party of Petrus's. if that is what you mean. I'm sorry. trying to tire himself out. waiting for the buzz in his mind to settle.. Behind the stable they get a fire going. chases her back to the farm. that it is all over. The ear twitches again. Petrus comes all the way down the path to welcome her. with fewer complications.' 'Nevertheless?' 'Nevertheless. Petrus and his guests are certainly not going to give up their mutton chops out of deference to you and your sensibilities. Should he mourn? Is it proper to mourn the death of beings who do not practise mourning among themselves? Looking into his heart. not this time. perhaps. sharing noises. is not. Too close. He does not run the stall. I still don't believe that animals have properly individual lives.A bond seems to have come into existence between himself and the two Persians.' 'Well. staid. Most are of their host's generation. On the breeze comes a murmur of talk. stroking him. It is dark before the younger folk make an appearance. He takes a step forward. How does she get it right. this communion with animals? Some trick he does not have. comforting him. He knocks at Lucy's door. The fly takes off. the double deed.. Soon there comes on the wind the stench of boiling offal. There is a fly trying to creep into the ear of one of them. Nevertheless. Take Katy.' 'I'm not asking for that. Do I have to change. I would just prefer not to be one of the party. He remembers Bev Shaw nuzzling the old billy-goat with the ravaged testicles. but she is so slow and sulky that he grows irritated. It is not even a bond with these two in particular. He does not query her decision. No. I never imagined I would end up talking this way. circles. walking fast. but no. from which he infers that the deed has been done. sharing smells.
Then Petrus appears at their side.' A distasteful word. Yet can Petrus be blamed? The language he draws on with such aplomb is. the young wife opens the package. There is dancing going on. tired.' He rubs thumb and forefinger together. Yes.'It's time. does not offer them a drink. the one-time teacher of communications.' 'Then at least put on a tie. 'Always it is best if the first one is a boy. it seems to him. They are the only whites. is well. friable.' Lucy explains to Petrus. but at least it is spacious and at least it has electricity. nor does she meet his eyes. smiling. 'but perhaps we should give it to your wife. What have you got against girls?' 'We are praying for a boy. you must unwrap it.' says Lucy.' 'Haven't you got a suit here?' 'No. 'The baby is coming in October. This is a big day in Petrus' life. father and daughter arm in arm.' says Petrus. 'We have brought you something. money.' which Lucy chooses to accept as a joke. She commences introductions. I am not any more the dog-man. eaten from the inside as if by termites. He shivers. 'A girl is very expensive. Petrus is nowhere to be seen. At the open door they pause. I'm ready. She takes Lucy's hand but does not take his.' says Lucy. Petrus summons his wife. as if a goose has trodden on his grave. Shaded lamps and pictures on the walls (Van Gogh's sunflowers. Nothing short of starting all over again with the ABC. if he only knew it. clearly pregnant. 'Lucy is our benefactor. can see. souring the moment. to the old-fashioned African jazz he had heard. fit to be trusted once more. with a necklace of painted wooden beads and matching earrings. he will be long dead. 'She must unwrap it. 'Are you coming?' Unusually.show them how to behave. It is a cloth in a rather attractive Ashanti design. She looks at him uncomprehendingly. 'In October. 'Thank you. 'It's a bedspread. Jane Fonda in her Barbarella outfit. Doctor Khumalo scoring a goal) soften the bleakness.' He pauses. double-edged. and not even all of them. shy. a Tretchikoff lady in blue. but a little girl in a party dress comes up and leads them in. and then. He does not play the eager host.' she whispers in English. They walk up the track to Petrus' house. Only the monosyllables can still be relied on.' She carries a tiny flashlight.' says Lucy. It is the first time he has seen her from close by. but does say. 'All right. purified.' Petrus intervenes. Carefully. Curious glances are cast at the two of them. He is not sure he likes the effect.' 'Oh.' . 'Always money. 'Yes. There are by now half a dozen onlookers around them. if that is what they are to call it. Then he can show his sisters . so all.' 'I thought we were in the country. We hope he will be a boy.' says Petrus.' says Petrus.when are you expecting the baby?' he asks Petrus' wife.' 'All the more reason to dress up. By the time the big words come back reconstructed. she lighting the way.' From the kitchen area. or perhaps only at his skullcap. It is for the house. at pains not to tear the festive paper with its mandolins and sprigs of laurel. he bearing their offering. to Lucy: 'You are our benefactor. Lucy knows some of the women. She is young younger than Lucy . The old stable has no ceiling and no proper floor. she is wearing a knee-length dress and high heels. 'The baby . money. I'll come. Lucy speaks a few words in Xhosa and presents her with the package.pleasant-faced rather than pretty. 'No more dogs. it appears. What is to be done? Nothing that he.
But let him tell you what it is about. enjoying himself. with his pals. a baked potato. but he knows she is embarrassed. He lays a hand on Petrus' sleeve. But presumably Petrus is innocent of that snippet of European tradition. jostling.' 'It is not true!' shouts the boy. 'Boys can be expensive too. The boy does not appear to be startled. It is the third of them. the man does not pay for the woman.' says Petrus . Again he speaks to Petrus. drinking. He thrusts his way past the bodies. . talking.' He floats a hand above his wife's head. Petrus breaks off.was here before. A new contingent of guests floods in. 'Hey. and moves away. Except your daughter. a boy is better. loose-limbed. Soon she is joined by a young man. making him feel at home. 'Who are you?' he says. 'No. Clothes. sharing it with a skinny old man with rheumy eyes. A plate of food finds its way into his hands. Music continues to unfurl into the night air.' 'Who is here?' 'I saw one of them out at the back. He finds a chair to perch on. today.A long time since he last saw that gesture. The party is getting into its swing. but the words mean something else: By what right are you here? His whole body radiates violence. But some things will not wait. 'I know you. On the floor she dances by herself in the solipsistic way that now seems to be the mode. I am going to be kicking up a fuss. he thinks. Otherwise we are passing plates all night.' says Petrus angrily. tall. not old fashion at all. The young man is dancing only inches from her now. On the contrary. talking fast in Xhosa.' He repeats the finger-rubbing. He knows that face. a ladle of rice swimming in gravy. gives him an impatient glare. Country people.' continues Petrus. pay. There are almost as many guests outside as inside. At once things fall into place. the dullfaced apprentice. He glances across at Lucy. 'No. 'They are here. goes out at the back door. Then Petrus is with them. it is all the same: pay. 'I do not know what is the trouble. knows it intimately. pushing. 'Can we leave?' she says. What is the trouble?' 'He . Let him tell you why he is wanted by the police. pay.' he says grimly. Kind people.' Petrus and his wife are spending a lot of time with him. I do not know what this is. 'Now.' He passes her the plate. the running-dog. a stream of angry words. clustered around the fire. Your daughter is as good as a boy. Then Lucy is at his side. 'Do you know who this is?' he asks Petrus. I don't want to kick up a fuss. with the same meaningful cock of the head. modestly she drops her eyes. David. carrying trays of grilled meat. He passes it on to Petrus. The plate he is holding contains two mutton chops. on this of all days. no longer listening. laughing. but can we leave at once?' 'Hold this. nattily dressed. in the old days: money-money-money.' he remarks. I pay. courting her.'is for you. The voice that issues from his throat is thick with rage. Your daughter is different. pumping his arms. Women are beginning to come in from outside. her face tense. He is one of them. the boy appears to have been waiting for this moment. young. 'You must buy them this. Lucy!' Lucy smiles. lively. A pity. In front of the boy he plants himself.' she murmurs. I am going to eat this. getting into his stride. but no one is dancing any longer: Petrus' guests are clustering around them. a slice of pumpkin. Almost!' He laughs at his sally. nice things. lifting his legs high and thumping them down. 'I pay. I am going to eat it and ask forgiveness afterwards.this thug . snapping his fingers. he thinks. storing himself up for it. you must buy them that. But that is old fashion. The air is full of appetizing smells. 'No. From the far side of the fire someone is staring at him. 'I'm going to dance. flashing her smiles. breathing fast. doing his bit for the conversation. he says to himself. He dances opposite her. Used of Jews. noisy.
if you are too delicate to call them in now. to your own self-respect. 'He says he does not know what you are talking about. and if there is one right I have it is the right not to be put on trial like this. There is a disapproving murmur from the onlookers.' he repeats to Petrus. Let me call the police. 'For God's sake. Why should I be sensible? Really. 'David. and there is nothing he can do about it. You can't call in the police. How can he expect Lucy to come out before these strangers. 'I am going to telephone the police. David! I don't need to defend myself before you. they blunder through potato beds before they reach the farmhouse. What happened to me is my business. but this is not the way to do it. and now I fail to understand why you are protecting Petrus. he is one of them. Wait until morning. We should just have kept quiet and waited for the next attack. The atmosphere is not good. Lucy has forgotten the flashlight: they lose their way in the dark. he and she are being driven apart. face the boy. Petrus is stonyfaced. it was he who brought in those men in the first place. don't do it. You don't know what happened.' But of course Lucy will not confirm. where Lucy stands waiting. say. you don't begin to know. Petrus is not an innocent party. then we should never have involved them in the first place. mine alone. Lucy has to take off her shoes.' he says. As for Petrus.' He is astonished. you amaze me.' 'Lucy. He was one of those who did the deed? 'I am going to telephone the police. You have a duty to yourself. You may as well pack your bags and leave. I plead with you! You want to make up for the wrongs of the past. not yours. to the future. This is my life. the evening will be destroyed for him. . the insurance would not pay out. He has the telephone in his hand when Lucy stops him.' No: that is Lucy's last word to him. you will not be able to live with yourself. Or cut our own throats. Petrus speaks. No longer is there friendliness in their aspect.' he says. Lucy. If you call in the police. gone with the wind. Wait until you have heard Petrus' side of the story. With regard to the police. 'Let's go. As for Petrus. It's not that kind of place. As for the police. He knows perfectly well. In a cloud of silence he returns indoors. you had better be sure of your facts first.' 'Don't shout at me. We filed a report because if we did not. That's all gone. not to have to justify myself . and you know it. Petrus is with them.' 'Lucy.' 'Stop it. why isn't it Petrus' fault? One way or another.interjecting. That is simply not true. he is not some hired labourer whom I can sack because in my opinion he is mixed up with the wrong people. Step by step. David. In any event. closes the door on him. point a finger. not to anyone else. The guests give way before them. if you fail. If you want to antagonize Petrus. And now he has the effrontery to invite them back. Lucy. Petrus knows him. Or call them yourself ' 'No.' 'He is lying. I won't have it. Be sensible. I repeat: if you buckle at this point. closes him out. If you fail to stand up for yourself at this moment. She retires to her room. Pause and think about that. you will never be able to hold your head up again. Lucy will confirm. as inexorably as if they were man and wife. astonished enough to turn on his daughter. I fail to understand why you did not lay real charges against them.not to you. let me remind you why we called them in in the first place: for the sake of the insurance. I am the one who has to live here. from beginning to end I fail to understand.' 'I don't know?' 'No.' 'But in the meantime the boy will disappear!' 'He won't disappear. Yes. It's not Petrus' fault. no. no one disappears in the Eastern Cape.
' On the way to the dam Petrus talks about regulators of different kinds. on the other with gnus or ibises rampant. Petrus says nothing. but every now and then there is a pause and a murmur of agreement from his audience. He looks around.to be his handlanger. Other eyes turn toward him too: toward the stranger. If Lucy has any sense she will quit before a fate befalls her worse than a fate worse than death. There is a cluster of people at the back door. He lifts a hand to his white skullcap. regina et imperatrix. businesslike as ever. Fiji. Then in the afternoon Petrus himself raps at the back door. so be it. not backward-looking. showing off his mastery. just inside the door. But of course she will not. Treading cautiously in the dark. he says. The big fire has died down. with his guns and barbed wire and alarm systems. and the sooner the better. Medals. The new pipe will have to cross Lucy's land. He wants to lay PVC piping from the storage dam to the site of his new house. in the life she has chosen. the odd one out.' About the party. he wears a dark suit and. Symbols struck by the boxful in a foundry in Coventry or Birmingham. Can he borrow tools. SIXTEEN ALL OF THE next morning Lucy avoids him. The boy's eyes flit nervously across him. a door built wide enough to admit a tractor. the Gold Coast. a distance of two hundred metres. he brings out the words with a flourish. It is just laying pipes. I know nothing about plumbing. falters for a moment. it is good that she has given her permission. wearing boots and overalls. too. to wear it as his own. about junctions. about pressure-valves. Let them know I am still here. a gold chain from which hangs a medal the size of a fist. It is time to lay the pipes. He slips out of the house. around his neck. he thinks. orating in rounded periods that rise and fall. How she must be rueing the day when he came to live with her! She must wish him gone. For the first time he is glad to have it. 'It is pipefitting. Even the days of Ettinger. She is 'forward-looking'.Their very quarrels have become like the bickerings of a married couple. Kaffraria. As for him. he says.' says Petrus. She is stubborn. 'She is a forward-looking lady. to pass him tools . about the boy with the flickering eyes. It is as though none of that had happened. that is clear. are numbered. Petrus needs him not for advice on pipefitting or plumbing but to hold things. in fact. he approaches the stable from behind. young and old. He has no idea what the man is saying. . in the long run. stamped on the one side with the head of sour Victoria. and can David help him fit the regulator? 'I know nothing about regulators. a man of middle age. The meeting she promised with Petrus does not take place. The role is not one he objects to. And if that spoils their get-together. of the kind that chieftains used to have bestowed on them as a symbol of office. Yet she too will have to leave. raises his voice. Petrus is a good workman. the music has stopped.' He is in no mood to be helpful to Petrus. The man is speaking. In the centre of the floor stands one of the guests. and immersed. His own role at the dam soon becomes clear. Chieftains. among whom. a mood of quiet satisfaction seems to reign. he does not mind the attention. The boy is standing nearby. The man with the medal frowns. Shipped all over the old Empire: to Nagpur. He peers over their heads. trapped together with nowhere else to go. 'It is not plumbing. He has a shaven head and a bull neck. for the use of. As a woman alone on a farm she has no future. let them know I am not skulking in the big house.
'Petrus.' 'No. 'It is all right. you buy another car with the insurance. she wants to get along with everyone. 'But the insurance will give you a new car. there is a principle involved.' he says.what is his name and where is he now?' Petrus takes off his cap. 'Assuming it isn't bankrupt by now because of all the car-theft in this country. I am the one who must be keeping the peace. is this boy related to you?' 'And why'. He seems to have a collection of headgear. trying to be patient. he cannot go to jail. Heavily he settles on one knee and begins to work the coupling over the outlet pipe. As Petrus drones on about his plans. So it is hard for me too. Tell me the boy's name and whereabouts and I will pass on the information to the police. then you have a car again. it will be a matter for the law. Petrus continues. That won't be enough to buy a new car. I know what happened. he cuts across the flow.' 'But you will not get your car back from this boy. He cannot give you your car. frowning. 'Petrus. I know! He is just a youth. it is a hard thing you are saying. Then we can leave it to the police to investigate and bring him and his friends to justice. you cannot put him in jail. 'do you want to take this boy to the police? He is too young.' says Petrus. She wants to make her life here.' 'I have no intention of involving you in the case. there is no sign he has even heard.a good citizen and a good neighbour. she is safe.' 'If he is eighteen he can be tried. 'that young man who was at your house last night . let me ask you. He does not know where your car is. The best is.' 'You say? You will protect her?' . I will not be involved. the insurance will give me a percentage of its own idea of what the old car was worth.' 'I know. my daughter wants to be a good neighbour . 'Lucy is safe here.' Petrus stretches. Petrus. bathing his face in the sun's glow. You will not be involved. Petrus! Clearly she is not safe! You know what happened here on the twenty-first. ignoring the question. 'David. Today he is wearing a peaked cap with a silver South African Railways and Harbours badge. It is Petrus himself he has begun to dislike. The skin of his hands shows deep. wipes his forehead.' 'But she is not safe. Anyhow. he looks more than eighteen. We can't leave it to insurance companies to deliver justice. he is not eighteen.' 'Yes. Your car is gone. But how can she do so when she is liable to be attacked at any moment by thugs who then escape scot-free? Surely you see!' Petrus is struggling to get the coupling to fit. He would certainly not wish to be married to him. At last. no.' Is it a question? A declaration? What game is Petrus playing? 'The insurance will not give me a new car. He is very angry that you are calling him a thief. 'Petrus. when he has had enough. but he wonders what stories the old wife has to tell.' he explains. rough cracks. And I. 'You see. But now it is all right.' 'How do you know? He looks eighteen to me. he grows more and more frosty toward him. that is the law. The young wife seems happy. He would not wish to be marooned with Petrus on a desert isle. She loves the Eastern Cape. you cannot put a youth in jail. You can leave her.it is an education to watch him.' 'Who says it is all right?' 'I say.' he announces suddenly. A dominating personality. That is what he is telling everyone.' How has he landed in this dead-end? He tries a new tack. you must let him go!' For Petrus that seems to clinch the argument. he gives little grunts as he works. If he is sixteen he can be tried. that this boy is a thief. That is not their business.
you think Petrus is an old-style kaffir. 'Lucy and I are not getting on. What can I say to that? You have spoken. It may not have been Petrus' brainchild. but he certainly turned a blind eye. he certainly took care not to be in the vicinity.' he says.' 'That may be so. I suppose.' she whispers: 'she has been through such a lot!' 'I know what Lucy has been through. Without Petrus Lucy wouldn't be where she is now.' says Petrus. You know the future. he certainly didn't warn us. I am trying to persuade her to hand over the operation to Petrus and take a break. I am not saying she owes him everything. much less a good old chap. Without a car he feels trapped on the farm. according to Lucy.' Petrus smears more grease over the pipe. Lucy is objectively in danger. now I must just dig the pipe in. But the present situation is different. stands up. Petrus slaved to get the market garden going for Lucy. He is not a thief ' 'It is not just thieving I am speaking of. Petrus will take her under his wing. Petrus. You must know what I mean.' 'Petrus? What interest has Petrus in taking her under his wing?' 'You underestimate Petrus. But why not? 'The boy is not guilty. 'I know. in my opinion. no man can be where the woman is? Whatever the answer.' 'Depend on Petrus? Because Petrus has a beard and smokes a pipe and carries a stick. If you want proof. She isn't safe.' 'You didn't protect her last time. You can't watch over Lucy for ever. In the . 'He is not a criminal.' 'He is not guilty. was he not? In the room where the intruders were committing their outrages? Do they think he does not know what rape is? Do they think he has not suffered with his daughter? What more could he have witnessed than he is capable of imagining? Or do they think that. Do you need me here any longer?' 'No. he unburdens himself to Bev Shaw. 'You went away. Parents and children aren't made to live together. 'Nothing remarkable in that. It is just a big mistake.' The pipe is in. look no further than at what happened to Lucy and me. according to Bev Shaw. gone back to Cape Town. Where.' His vehemence surprises Bev Shaw. Petrus is not an old-style kaffir. I have been the least protective of fathers. Under normal circumstances I would have moved out by now. What am I supposed to conclude?' It is the closest he has come to accusing Petrus.' 'You know?' 'I know.' 'It will be all right.'I will protect her. He is too young. I am telling you. There was another crime as well. there is no movement on his claim. 'Poor Lucy. outraged at being treated like an outsider. and then those three thugs turned up. David. is itching for Lucy to pull out.' You weren't there. but you didn't protect her last time. But it is not like that at all. Petrus folds the clamp. 'You say you know what happened. but she owes him a lot. what does Petrus owe her?' 'Petrus is a good old chap. You weren't.' Wide-eyed she gazes back at him.' Despite Petrus' confidence in the insurance industry. But I can't leave Lucy alone on the farm. You can depend on him. 'But you weren't there. I know. he is outraged. now it is easy. She told me. and now it seems you are friends with one of them.' 'You have to let go of your children.' he repeats. He buys a small television set to replace the one that was stolen. We have had that demonstrated to us. I was there.' 'You know. David. He is baffled. a far heavier crime. You say you know what happened. The question is. On one of his afternoons at the clinic. straightens his back. But she won't listen to me. where rape is concerned.' 'I let go of Lucy long ago. tightens it. You don't know what happened.
sleep in his own bed. Until now he has been more or less indifferent to animals. dispatch it to oblivion. To each. sheathing it.' but that is what is expected: that they will dispose of it. for the present: in this time. grow carapaces over their souls. mopping up. But that is not what happens. from mange. He tries to spend the daytime hours outdoors. He wants to be able to sit at his own desk again. he is the one who holds the dog still as the needle finds the vein and the drug hits the heart and the legs buckle and the eyes dim. So that one day she may be able to say.' and think of it merely as the day when they were robbed. if they can bear it. his hands shake. despite Petrus' assurances. from broken limbs. from intestinal parasites. observing the ups and downs of the duck family. leaving Lucy free to breathe in the house. in fact. He had thought he would get used to it. Although in an abstract way he disapproves of cruelty. This is where he lives. D Village appears to have its own veterinary lore. If. is slipping. He assumes that people from whom cruelty is demanded in the line of duty. benign or malign. despite Lucy's obstinacy. So time does indeed heal all. He has recovered the sight of his eye completely. less frequently cats: for livestock. in the larger scheme. Nevertheless. he need no longer use the oily dressing. driving home in Lucy's kombi. But Cape Town is far away. L�sung (German always to hand with an appropriately blank abstraction): sublimation. 'The day we were robbed. Only the ear still needs daily attention. from old age. sealing it off. Bev gives her fullest attention. He goes off to the Animal Welfare clinic as often as he can. it is because of his presence: he gives off the wrong smell (They can smell your thoughts). in his opinion as well as in Lucy's. more often than not. are beginning to fade away. One at a time he fetches them out of the cage at the back and leads or carries them into the theatre. from infected bites. He is simply nothing. He works in the garden. His scalp is healing over. its own pharmacopoeia. almost another country. in this place. as a headache. but most of all from their own fertility. make it disappear. the visit has gone on too long. talking to it. the more jittery he gets. All he can grasp of it are fragments. The project is not moving. its own healers. What is being asked for is. There are simply too many of them. easing its passage. Despite Bev's counsel. The dogs that are brought in suffer from distempers. he and Lucy sit side by side on the sofa watching the news and then. in what will be its last minutes. he actually has to stop at the roadside to recover himself. the first notes remain as elusive as wisps of smoke. the dog fails to be charmed. but it does not seem to be so in his. The animals they care for at the clinic are mainly dogs. brooding on the Byron project.evenings. the entertainment. as alcohol is sublimed from water. from neglect. The more killings he assists in. he is not prepared to abandon his daughter. leaving no residue. the smell of shame. Margarita Cogni. he cannot tell whether by nature he is cruel or kind. Tears flow down his face that he cannot stop. Habit hardens: it must be so in most cases. whose passionate contralto attacks hurled against Byron's bitch-mate Teresa Guiccioli he aches to hear. He does not understand what is happening to him. tired of listening all the while for the crunch of gravel on the pathway. for instance. Their loss fills him with despair. Even the most appealing of them. stroking it. no aftertaste. offering himself for whatever jobs call for no skill: feeding. He is tired of living out of a suitcase. after supper. Sometimes he fears that the characters in the story. or if not healing then forgetting. growing scar tissue around the memory of that day. 'I have brought you this dog to kill. who for more than a year have been his ghostly companions. cleaning. It is true. people who work in slaughterhouses. When people bring a dog in they do not say straight out. despair as grey and even and unimportant. when he is tired he sits by the dam. One Sunday evening. The first words of the first act still resist him. So on Sunday afternoons the clinic door is closed and locked while he helps Bev Shaw l�sen the week's superfluous canines. . Presumably Lucy is healing too. from malnutrition.
he goes. despite the good thoughts that Bev Shaw thinks and that he tries to think. one at a time. while the workmen whose job this normally is stand by and watch. On his first Monday he left it to them to do the incinerating.a mixture both casual and terrible. When the crew arrive for work they first rake out the ashes from the previous day.He does not seem to have the gift of hardness. it is he who takes charge of disposing of the remains. Why pretend to be a chum when in fact one is a murderer? But then he relents. On the table some snap wildly left and right. . to the incinerator. Why should a creature with the shadow of death upon it feel him flinch away as if its touch were abhorrent? So he lets them lick him. he guesses that it dates from the 1950s. they have to be pulled or pushed or carried over the threshold. But that would mean leaving them on the dump with the rest of the weekend's scourings: with waste from the hospital wards. He is convinced the dogs know their time has come. The dead legs caught in the bars of the trolley. It was then that he intervened and took over the job himself. a sentimentalist. none will look straight at the needle in Bev's hand. Since Bev Shaw is the one who inflicts the needle. to break the rigid limbs. He is not prepared to inflict such dishonour upon them. After a while the workmen began to beat the bags with the backs of their shovels before loading them. Rigor mortis had stiffened the corpses overnight. By nine a. locking their legs. He comes. malodorous refuse from the tannery . The morning after each killing session he drives the loaded kombi to the grounds of Settlers Hospital. He does not know the names of the crew and they do not know his. it takes all afternoon to cool down. the dog would as often as not come riding back too. 'Someone has to do it. His whole being is gripped by what happens in the theatre. hot enough to calcify bone. some whine plaintively. and on Monday mornings drives them to the hospital grounds. and there consigns the bodies in their black bags to the flames. its plastic covering burnt away. he does not form part of the society of which the incinerator. as if they too feel the disgrace of dying. when the hospital itself was built. and cranks it back. They flatten their ears. that beneath her show of compassion may hide a heart as leathery as a butcher's.' in order not to have to hear her say in return. the dogs in the yard smell what is going on inside. There he himself loads them. temperatures of a thousand degrees centigrade are being generated in the inner chamber.' He does not dismiss the possibility that at the deepest level Bev Shaw may be not a liberating angel but a devil. Worst are those that sniff him and try to lick his hand. despite the airtight bags in which they tie the newmade corpses. So on Sunday evenings he brings the bags to the farm in the back of Lucy's kombi. Despite the silence and the painlessness of the procedure. The incinerator is anthracite-fuelled. He has never liked being licked. despite the wire fence and the padlocked gate and the notice in three languages. smelling of singed fur. parks them overnight. and when the trolley came back from its trip to the furnace. On the seventh day it rests.m. if they want to. To them he is simply the man who began arriving on Mondays with the bags from Animal Welfare and has since then been turning up earlier and earlier. It operates six days of the week. he does his work. He is not. they droop their tails. The fire is stoked until mid-morning. 'I don't know how you do it. just as Bev Shaw strokes them and kisses them if they will let her. carrion scooped up at the roadside. blackened and grinning. He tries not to sentimentalize the animals he kills. cranks the mechanism that hauls the trolley through the steel gate into the flames. which they somehow know is going to harm them terribly. pulls the lever to empty it of its contents. and his first impulse is to pull away. He tries to keep an open mind. It would be simpler to cart the bags to the incinerator immediately after the session and leave them there for the incinerator crew to dispose of. or to sentimentalize Bev Shaw. with an electric fan to suck air through the flues. on to the feeder trolley. then charge the fire. he hopes. He avoids saying to her. Monday to Saturday.
SEVENTEEN THEIR WORK AT the clinic is over for the Sunday. Lucy says there was a young woman who caused you a lot of trouble. you say. There are vagrants too. you must find life very dull here. or perhaps even in the tunnel. they are there. and if what he brings to the dump does not interest them. more productive ways of giving oneself to the world. for the warmth. By the time the orderlies arrive in the morning with the first bags of hospital waste. I caused the young woman in question at least as much trouble as she caused me. wrongheaded. But when he is there. the social rehabilitation thing.' 'A different kind of life? I didn't know life came in kinds. and what do dogs know of honour and dishonour anyway? For himself. to take care of themselves. or to an idea of the world.' 'I'm in no hurry. daft. be construed as a service to mankind. It is not a sodality he tries to join.' 'You shouldn't be hard on her. the gate and the notice are simply ignored. you must be used to a different kind of life. That must have been difficult. There must be other. He saves the honour of corpses because there is no one else stupid enough to do it. at a pinch. washable bandages. who hang about the hospital grounds by day and sleep by night against the wall of the incinerator. As a last chore he is mopping the floor of the surgery. Women friends didn't bring me much luck there. coming in from the yard.' says Bev Shaw. For his idea of the world. which they sell to muti shops or trade in the streets.' 'Women friends. Even sitting down more purposefully with the Byron libretto might.' 'I mean. then. but he is prepared to take care of them once they are unable.' 'Yes.' 'Lucy says you have had to give up your position at the university. But there are other people to do these things . That is where he enters their lives. That is what he is becoming: stupid. now he has become a dog-man: a dog undertaker. Petrus once called himself. One could for instance work longer hours at the clinic. that is only because the parts of a dead dog can neither be sold nor be eaten. 'You'll be wanting to get back. Do you regret it?' . The dogs are brought to the clinic because they are unwanted: because we are too many. The kombi is loaded with its dead freight. One could try to persuade the children at the dump not to fill their bodies with poisons.' 'Not Lucy . utterly unable. a world in which men do not use shovels to beat corpses into a more convenient shape for processing.' 'Hard on Lucy? I don't have it in me to be hard on Lucy. but particularly for pills. You must miss your own circle. For the fence has long ago been cut through. But I was the troublemaker in that case. anything for which there is a market.the animal welfare thing. You must miss having women friends.is the hub. For the sake of the dogs? But the dogs are dead. once even Bev Shaw has washed her hands of them. the one for whom they are not too many. even the Byron thing. there was a young woman. Curious that a man as selfish as he should be offering himself to the service of dead dogs. A dog-man. 'I'll do that. pins.' 'Still. Why has he taken on this job? To lighten the burden on Bev Shaw? For that it would be enough to drop off the bags at the dump and drive away. a dog psychopomp. Surely Lucy told you why I left Cape Town. He may not be their saviour. there are already numbers of women and children waiting to pick through it for syringes. Well. a harijan.the young woman in Cape Town.
and storing blankets in the cabinet. Other men too. At least I am out of the way of temptation. Without another word he leaves the clinic. What happened in Cape Town brought me here. A long time since he last saw a woman of middle age blush so thoroughly. waits. On the bottom shelf. standing with her back to him. Of their congress he can at least say that he does his duty. Even in the dimness there is nothing charming in the sight. Bev Shaw is in the surgery. Bev. been powdering and anointing herself every Sunday. I'm not unhappy here. when the upturned face on its short neck must have seemed pert and the freckled skin homely.' 'I don't mind Grahamstown. Not a question but an announcement. runs his hands down her body. So that in the end Bev Shaw can feel pleased with herself. She grasps his hand. David Lurie. made in a high. declaring herself ready.' Out of the way of temptation: a callous thing to say to a woman. The choice is between the operating table and the floor. it might be said. In the heat of the act there are no doubts. Nonetheless he is surprised. kissing it . checks that the back door is locked. she responds.' she murmurs. She is lying under the blanket with only her head sticking out. but then has the good sense not to. because there is scandal attached to his name. Without passion but without distaste either.even. he gets in beside her. her friend Lucy Lurie has been helped with a difficult visit. He switches off the light. his lips brush the tight little curls of her hair. The clinic is not open on Mondays. that he makes love to many women and expects to be made love to by every woman who crosses his path. you must find Grahamstown very quiet.What nosiness! Curious how the whiff of scandal excites women. she assumes adulteries are carried out: with the woman telephoning her pursuer. from beginning to end. she nuzzles her ear against his chin. for all he knows. in the heat of the act? Of course not.while blushing furiously all the time. That is as far as they go. like a squat little tub. He would bet she has not been down this road before. has been succoured.' Two blankets. Almost he asks.like a nun who lies down to be violated so that the quota of violation in the world will be reduced? 'Do I regret it? I don't know. He. 'Can we meet at the clinic. strained voice. This must be how. On an impulse he reaches out and runs a finger over her lips. Besides. healthy.' 'But at the time . 'Why?'. just in case. A contraceptive. There must have been a time when Bill Shaw saw something in young Bev. in her innocence. She has no breasts to speak of. one pink. leaves the room. because he comes from the big city. Slipping off his underpants. Sturdy. smuggled from her home by a woman who in the last hour has probably bathed and powdered and anointed herself in readiness. He spreads out the blankets on the floor. To the roots of her hair. Who thinks. Does this plain little creature think him incapable of shocking her? Or is being shocked another of the duties she takes on . 'By comparison. turns the key behind him in the lock. The next afternoon there is a call from her. at four. He folds her in his arms. All she intended has been accomplished. He lets himself in. even a plain one. perhaps. 'In the cabinet. brushing her lips against his hand . That is all that happens. All thought out beforehand. who has. passes him something. She lowers her eyes but does not flinch. On the contrary. I don't live in Grahamstown. the pink on top.' she says.did you regret it at the time?' 'At the time? Do you mean. As I'm sure you must know yourself ' She blushes. 'Still. Never did he dream he would sleep with a Bev. 'There are blankets. I live on a farm with my daughter. the grey blanket underneath. . almost waistless. as a man is succoured by a woman. Yet not plain in everyone's eyes. Behind him he hears her switching off the lights. He hears the rustle of clothes as she undresses. He tries to imagine her twenty years younger.' she says. one grey.
Not much of a life. it would have taken him days with a hand-plough and oxen. 'Yes. smoke hangs in the air. plastering. Well. he thinks. to which he has coupled the old rotary plough that has lain rusting behind the stable since before Lucy's time.' 'And Lucy will come back one day. 'No. she could branch out into cats. from where he has no idea. the carry-man. But better than passing her days in fear of the next attack. It is not hard to imagine Lucy in ten years' time: a heavy woman with lines of sadness on her face. This is what I will have to get used to. you need to be skill. this and even less than this. now he is no longer. Let her gaze her fill on her Romeo. Petrus chuckles.' he says. She is very attached to this farm. as if they have popped up before him like a rabbit out of a hat. At the door Bev presses herself against him a last time.' says Bev Shaw.Let me not forget this day. lying beside her when they are spent.' says Petrus. 'Bricklaying. He approaches Petrus on the site he has chosen for his new residence. work out a deal. across a strip of waste land. on his bowed shoulders and skinny shanks. Now he is too busy for that kind of thing. I am going to dig the trenches. It is indeed late. No. 'I must be the farm manager. He comes to the point. eating alone. let poor Bev Shaw go home and do some singing too. Now he can play at being one. the moon looms overhead. all very unlike Africa. this is what I have come to. That is not such a skill job. building. return to civilization. he is bankrupt. are you?' he asks. from the first rows of shacks. Against this new Petrus what chance does Lucy stand? Petrus arrived as the dig-man. She could even go back to what she and her friends did in their hippie days: ethnic weaving. In olden times. On the horizon lies a last crimson glow. as Marie Antoinette could play at being a milkmaid.' 'I must keep Lucy's farm running. comes a hubbub of voices. all that. EIGHTEEN PETRUS HAS BORROWED a tractor. he would say that Lucy has been outplayed on all fronts. 'You are not going to do the building yourself. In a matter of hours he has ploughed the whole of his land. as he has let her do everything she has felt a need to do.' 'I am sure she will come back. that is to say ten years ago. ethnic pot-decoration. when the dogs will not be enough to protect her and no one will answer the telephone. She could open boarding kennels in the suburbs. it is a skill job. He lets her do it. the pegs are in place. he tells himself. talking to her pets. making no effort to hide himself. A percentage of the profits. She has no . The surveyor has already paid his visit. rests her head on his chest. If she is poor. Defeated. And let him stop calling her poor Bev Shaw.' He pushes the blanket aside and gets up. ethnic basketweaving. wearing clothes long out of fashion. that is just a job for a boy. 'It's late. Once he was a boy. selling beads to tourists. That I can do by myself. the water-man. or you could do it on a percentage basis. consign the farm to Petrus. 'If Lucy and I went back to Cape Town. For digging you just have to be a boy. to carry. If she had any sense she would quit: approach the Land Bank.' He pronounces the words as if he has never heard them before. on a slight rise overlooking the farmhouse. 'I must be going. Where is Lucy going to find someone to dig. All very swift and businesslike. would you be prepared to keep her part of the farm running? We would pay you a salary. to water? Were this a chess game. I have a lover! I have a lover! sings Emma to herself. After the sweet young flesh of Melanie Isaacs.' Petrus speaks the word with real amusement. we could call you the farm manager if you like. His thoughts go to Emma Bovary strutting before the mirror after her first big afternoon.
too much. I'll wait. I just want a general answer. TVs.' He points to the number on the sheet: CA 507644.I must feed the dogs.' 'What condition is the car in? Is it driveable?' 'Yes. 'Yes. where they follow directions to Van Deventer Street. showing teeth yellow from smoking. you can drive it. seeing if you are agreeable. Emphatic signs forbid parking in front of the station. and smiles. They stop before a white Corolla.' 'No. yes or no. I haven't discussed it with Lucy. A holiday. you name it.' Petrus shakes his head. 'It is too much. 'I had almost given up hope. the docket stays open two years.' he says.' he says.' 'By the sea. She needs a break. there is no need to make a list. You know that. by the sea. They put on false plates. would you be prepared to look after the farm?' 'How I must go to the market if I do not have the kombi?' 'That is a detail. There won't be dogs. 'This is not my car. His car has been recovered.' The detective is stiffly silent. if she wants. fortress-like police station surrounded by a two-metre fence topped with razor wire.' 'How long I must be farm manager?' 'I don't know yet. 'I'll wait in the car.' 'Wouldn't it have made more sense to call me in before you set them free. 'Where did you find it?' he asks Esterhuyse. fridges. Usually with the older Corollas the buggers chop it up for parts. from a Detective-Sergeant Esterhuyse in Port Elizabeth.' In an unfamiliar state of elation he drives with Lucy to Port Elizabeth and then to New Brighton. Detective-Sergeant Esterhuyse. We got them on a tipoff. Petrus.' says Lucy.' says Petrus. There was a time when he thought he might become friends with Petrus. I must go to the market . to a flat. But she has been having a hard time recently. It says so on the docket. blond little man.' he says. to have me identify them? Now that they are out on bail they will just disappear. where he may identify and reclaim it. 'They respray them. 'I don't see that either of us is entitled to question Lucy if she decides to take a break. searches through his files. Out of the blue comes a call from the police. I am just exploring the possibility. Talking to Petrus is like punching a bag filled with sand. 'Neither you nor I. They change plates around.' 'Where are the men now?' 'They're out on bail. if Lucy took a holiday. 'Here in New Brighton. Two men have been arrested. I must plant the vegetables. We can discuss details later.' 'You said you made arrests.intention of giving it up.' 'Two guys. sir. It is in the yard at the New Brighton station.' 'And I must do all the things . 'My car had CA plates.' . Found a whole house full of stolen goods. 'That's wonderful.' he says. You were lucky. videos. then conducts him to a yard where scores of vehicles stand parked bumper to bumper.' 'Petrus. a plump. 'Are you sure?' 'I don't like this place.' He is irritated by Petrus' habit of letting words hang in the air. is directed along a maze of corridors to the Vehicle Theft Unit. Up and down the ranks they go. They park far down the road. I am just asking in a general way.' He presents himself at the charge office. Now he detests him.
her eyes closed. 'It's not my car. Again the feeling washes over him: listlessness. But why did they hate me so? I had never set eyes on them. He lays a protective hand on Lucy's shoulder. but also weightlessness. 'In any event. but there is no more.' She rests her head on her arms.' 'They are out again on bail. getting in. Either you stay on in a house full of ugly memories and go on brooding on what happened to you. Halfway home. Whom it has fallen to me to guide. He is becoming a nag. expected. he thinks. 'They have a Corolla. 'I can't talk any more. but shouldn't you at least consider the other route? Can't the two of us talk about it rationally?' She shakes her head. In the act.' There is a long silence. but it's not mine. 'It was so personal. yanks fiercely on the wheel. That was what stunned me more than anything.' he says. a woman in slippers and a ragged dress is staring fiercely at them. 'I'll check into it. speaks. Are you sure my car isn't somewhere else in the lot?' They complete their tour of the lot. How. . it really is time for you to face up to your choices. 'If they are caught it means a trial and all that a trial entails.' she says. It came down from the ancestors. 'I didn't realize you were keen for them to be caught. are the alternatives. Lucy. Does she mean what he thinks she means? 'Are you still afraid?' he asks. 'There must be a mixup. 'Lucy. Leave me your number and I'll give you a call. The shock of being hated. Think of it that way. Who one of these days will have to guide me. It may have seemed personal. can a man in this state fmd words.. His car is not there. Can she smell his thoughts? It is he who takes over the driving. indifference.' she says. her shoulders heave as she gives in. 'I don't have a sound system. rapidly. The shock simply doesn't go away. I'm sorry about the disappointment. You will have to testify. I'm sorry. 'Does that follow. Anyway. The rest was. 'A history of wrong.' he offers at last. logically?' she says. I can't. he says. He can hear the irritation in his voice but does nothing to check it. Her face is stiff as she fights off tears. if it helps. or you put the whole episode behind you and start a new chapter elsewhere. My daughter. not with the police in the state they are in. The interior smells of wet newspaper and fried chicken. Because of who you are and who I am. Our friends aren't going to be caught. I know you would like to stay.' Lucy is sitting behind the wheel of the kombi. I mean. as though afraid the words will dry up.. my dearest daughter. I just can't. And I'm sorry about your car.' 'Did you see the men?' 'The men?' 'You said two men had been arrested. it's not my car.' he says.' In the act.' He gathers himself. David. he thinks to himself. I wish I could explain. 'It was done with such personal hatred. But I can't. She starts the engine. Are you ready for that?' Lucy switches off the engine. the trail is cold. as I see it. this is not my car. So let us forget about that.' 'That doesn't make it easier. but there is no helping that. 'It was history speaking through them.'Even so. to his surprise. He raps on the window and she unlocks the door. a bore. but it wasn't. so whoever was arrested can't be whoever took my car. find music that will bring back the dead? Sitting on the sidewalk not five yards away. Esterhuyse scratches his head. speaking softly. 'It's all a mistake. Can you open it?' The detective opens the car. as if he has been eaten away from inside and only the eroded shell of his heart remains. Those. for the moment.' He waits for more. 'I know I am not being clear.' he says.
tax collectors. for men. Go overseas. until things have improved in this country. By three men.. When you come back you can take stock. it could be so simple.' 'And?' 'You were in fear of your life. Because you can't.' 'If I leave now.' There is a pause.. She gives an impatient little flick of the hand. but finally you don't.' 'And?' Her voice is now a whisper. Disposed of. I'll pay. There are things you just don't understand. hating the woman makes sex more exciting. David. But trust your feelings. I did not save you. They will come back for me. make a fresh start.' 'Then what?' She is silent. perhaps that is how I should look at it too. I understand all too well. her voice steadier now.. nothing. what if that is the price one has to pay for staying on? Perhaps that is how they look at it. Multiply. 'At least the two older ones have.'Yes. If they had come a week earlier. if you didn't lay a charge against them with the police. I think they do rape. you think you understand. they wouldn't come back? Was that what you told yourself?' 'No. Take a break for six months or a year.' He picks up speed.' 'Did you think. David? What if. Maybe.' 'Hatred. Why should I be allowed to live here without paying? Perhaps that is what they tell themselves.' 'Then you can't possibly stay. I won't come back. you don't understand what happened to me that day. This is a bad stretch.' That is his own confession. I meant nothing to them. You said you felt only hatred from them.' 'Afraid they are going to come back?' 'Yes.' he says. but it won't work. Because you were nothing to them. you .' says Lucy. Do it at once. It is in their interest to make up stories that justify them. Lock up the house.' 'You think they will come back?' 'I think I am in their territory.' 'Then what do you propose to do?' 'I don't know. I would have been alone in the house. 'But isn't there another way of looking at it. 'Don't.' He slows down and pulls off the road. David. Close down the kennels.' She broods a long while before she answers. 'On the contrary. pay Petrus to guard it. 'I think they have done it before. You couldn't have been expected to rescue me. nothing surprises me any more. 'Not here. which I appreciate. 'Don't blame yourself David. There is nothing you can suggest that I haven't been through a hundred times myself. 'Lucy. 'I will pronounce the word we have avoided hitherto. They see me as owing something.' she resumes. Thank you for the offer.' 'Why not?' 'Because that would be an invitation to them to return. too risky to stop.' 'I am sure they tell themselves many things. 'And I did nothing. When it comes to men and sex. You are concerned for my sake. I could feel it. But you are right. They see themselves as debt collectors. You are a man. But whatever I decide I want to decide by myself. You were raped.' 'What don't I understand?' 'To begin with. Stealing things is just incidental. They have marked me. without being pushed. Go to Holland.. You were afraid that after you had been used you would be killed. A side-line. I think they are rapists first and foremost.
The question is. she is mistaken.' he says. call your dogs! No dogs? Then let us show you dogs! You don't understand. trying to puzzle out what exactly it meant. Byron looks very old-fashioned indeed. From where he stands. does he have it in him to be the woman? From the solitude of his room he writes his daughter a letter: 'Dearest Lucy. get her under you. Subjugation. drank up her fear. leaving the body behind covered in blood . This is not happening. exiting afterwards. for their part. With all the love in the world. did all they could to hurt her. that is not the point. a nightmare. you ought to know: does one speak to one's father like that? Are she and he on the same side? 'Perhaps. revelled in it. tucked warm and satisfied between their legs . 'If they had been white you wouldn't talk about them in this way.doesn't it feel like murder. He remembers. Time is almost up. she said to herself as the men forced her down. But none surely had cause to fear that the session would end with her throat being slit. hold her down. They must have had every reason to be pleased with their afternoon's work. Lucy was frightened.when you trap her. was doing in the middle of a word held in such horror that no one would utter it aloud. While the men. They want you for their slave.' They have passed the Cycads sign. usually so gentle. But it is something new you are talking about.' And then rapidly. you weren't there. Among the legions of countesses and kitchenmaids Byron pushed himself into there were no doubt those who called it rape. to menace her. He thinks of the three visitors driving away in the not-tooold Toyota. Her voice choked. women in gauze veils flinging their arms in the air and wailing. When you have sex with someone strange . put all your weight on her . It will strip you of all honour. be the men.' 'And the third one. But the road you are following is the wrong one. Slavery.isn't it a bit like killing? Pushing the knife in. I am not blaming you. I must say the following. Sell the farm to Petrus and come away. What does she mean? Was he right after all when he dreamt of a bed of blood. if he loses himself. Covered in blood. you will not be able to live with yourself.' he says. Lucy. if he concentrates. In an art-book in the library there was a painting called The Rape of the Sabine Women: men on horseback in skimpy Roman armour. Sell up. Subjection.' That is where the conversation ends. without forethought: 'Was it the same with both of them? Like fighting with death?' 'They spur each other on. 'It's too much. But Lucy's words echo in his mind. poring over the word rape in newspaper reports. the back seat piled with household goods. listen to me.' 'No. What had all this attitudinizing to do with what he suspected rape to be: the man lying on top of the woman and pushing himself into her? He thinks of Byron. says Bev Shaw. a bath of blood? They do rape. Like dogs in a pack. wondering what the letter p. you wouldn't. they must have felt happy in their vocation.' 'Not slavery. inhabit them. Call your dogs! they said to her. for instance. it is just a dream.' He shakes his head. You wish to humble yourself before history. 'Sometimes. fill them with the ghost of himself. as a child. Lucy's intuition is right after all: he does understand. he can. frightened near to death.' 'Wouldn't I?' 'No. 'If they had been white thugs from Despatch. like getting away with murder?' You are a man. You are on the brink of a dangerous error. That's probably why they do it together. to heighten her terror. Well. from where Lucy stands. she could not breathe. her limbs went numb. For some men. I plead with you.purring is the word that comes to him.ought to know. the boy?' 'He was there to learn. be there. Go on. their weapons. their penises. .
et mentem mortalia tangunt_: those will be Byron's words. 'You mustn't worry.' 'And?' He shrugs. We'll go often to the farm. Lucy. he is sure of it. She has family in Holland. Lucy didn't get on with the new stepfather.' 'So she chose you. I know you mean well. She must have told you that. That was where my heart was. He and Bev Shaw lie in each other's arms on the floor of the surgery. 'You will see. Teaching was never a vocation for me. that is Lucy's last word. for the present. The sun is going down. As for the music. 'It will be all right.' says Bev Shaw. 'Yours. 'I cannot be a child for ever.' 'Fatherly Petrus. She also chose a certain surround. but you are not the guide I need. they have in effect ceased to pretend that that is what they do together. I was what used to be called a scholar.' That is their exchange. 'Yes. 'Lucy doesn't speak about her either. Petrus will keep an eye out. I am a dead person and I do not know yet what will bring me back to life. it is getting cold.' She waits for more. it hovers somewhere on the horizon. After the divorce she went back to Holland. 'Bill and I will look after her.' . I taught only to make a living. I think of you as one of the three chimpanzees. it has not come yet. in this life. Her head is against his chest: presumably she can hear his heart.' 'But you were a teacher. the road I am following may he the wrong one. At the age of thirty-five he has begun to understand that life is precious. but he is not in the mood to go on. 'You have never told me about your first wife. friends. 'Lucy isn't inclined. She says I am not a good guide. I can't imagine. the black bags are piled at the door. She asked to return to South Africa. with whose beat the hexameter keeps step.' says Bev Shaw. draws a breath to sing.'Your father. In half an hour Bev will go back to her Bill and he will begin loading the bags.' Lucy's mother was Dutch. _Sunt lacrimae rerum. He is on the point of setting off for Greece. Now I am trying to get her to leave again. You cannot be a father for ever. Certainly I never aspired to teach people how to live. not at this time. All I know is that I cannot go away. 'Dear David. each with a body and a soul inside. a certain horizon. In his head Byron. alone on the stage. It is as if you have chosen deliberately to sit in a corner where the rays of the sun do not shine. I wrote books about dead people. Evelina. Holland may not be the most exciting of places to live. not being Lucy's father. and I do not know what more I can do to make you see.' She runs her fingers through the stubble of his hair. to heed any advice I give. Evie. Later she remarried.' she whispers.' 'Lucy says I can't go on being a father for ever. if only for a break.' 'Yes. And there's Petrus. but at least it doesn't breed nightmares. They have not made love. the one with his paws over his eyes.' Half an hour later an envelope is pushed under his door. and will taste that defeat for the rest of my life. 'You do not see this. But if I leave the farm now I will leave defeated.' 'Of the most incidental kind.' 'In a sense. You have not been listening to me. The business of dog-killing is over for the day. I am not the person you know.
God save me. but she gives no sign of recognition. MIDDLE SCHOOL says the writing on the other. The younger sister Melanie spoke of. . I know your sister. there is a smell of stale smoke.' Desiree: now he remembers. S. She is eating a slice of cake. from which he peers out like a sharpbeaked bird caught in a sack. the dark one. flattening herself as he passes. which she holds daintily between two fingers. white knee-length stockings. No. My name is Lurie.' She holds the door open for him. Melanie the firstborn. the desired one. Surely they tempted the gods by giving her a name like that! 'My name is David Lurie. She's a student. The path leads to the front door. when it was new. if anything. But he thinks: fruit of the same tree.' 'He's not home yet. he pushes the gate open. set in a dusty quadrangle fenced with barbed wire.' A buzz. you can come inside. but he usually stays late. trees. F. open-necked shirt.' 'Oh. behind his desk. he thinks . fifteen or twenty years ago.what am I doing here? 'You can sit down if you like.NINETEEN THE HOUSE IS part of a development that must. Desiree? I think I will try to catch your father at his school. where a slim girl stands watching him. The windows are closed. When do you expect your father home?' 'School comes out at three.' He sits down. It's all right. He does not say. have seemed rather bleak.' He watches her closely.' Isaacs. He has an urge to reach out. if you can tell me how to get there. There are crumbs on her upper lip. from Cape Town. She has Melanie's eyes. 'Good afternoon. The furniture gleams. then Desiree. she is. the room is oppressively neat. The two of them in the same bed: an experience fit for a king. at the same instant the memory of her sister comes over him in a hot wave. Just go in. He wanders around until he comes upon a sign reading OFFICE. 'Desiree. Inside sits a plump middle-aged secretary doing her nails. He presses the button.' He nods. MARAIS says the writing on the one entrance pillar. looks at his watch.' 'My sister is in Cape Town. whose name he cannot for the moment recollect. but has since been improved with grassed sidewalks. 'Do you remember me? David Lurie. 'Mr Isaacs!' she calls: 'Here's a visitor for you!' She turns to him. 'What's your name?' he asks.now. know her well. more beautiful. down probably to the most intimate detail. regards him in a puzzled way. the latch clicks. 'Do you know what. He shivers lightly. brush them off. 8 Rustholme Crescent has a painted garden gate and an answerphone. A youthful voice speaks: 'Hello?' 'I'm looking for Mr Isaacs.' says Isaacs. and sits down again. He is wearing the same overlarge suit: his neck vanishes into the jacket. Melanie's dark hair.' he says. half-rises. The grounds are deserted. different urgencies of passion. Melanie's wide cheekbones. 'I'm from Cape Town. and creepers that spill over the vibracrete walls.' 'When do you expect him?' 'Now .' The school is of a piece with the housing estate: a low building in facebrick with steel windows and an asbestos roof. Yet with differences: different pulsings of the blood. 'I'm looking for Mr Isaacs. She is dressed in school uniform: marine-blue tunic. pauses.
no doubt about that. 'Sit. since you ask. a deacon or a server. but real: real fire. it's outrageous.burnt up.' There is a framed picture on the desk.. that I have. I'm just checking attendances. That is how I used to think. and doing well. I think of it as a fire. and the word leaves his lips like a sigh: 'how are the mighty fallen!' Fallen? Yes. What about you? What are your plans now that you have left the profession?' 'I have a daughter myself. But I thought I would drop in anyway. The pen continues its dance.' says the girl's father. She is going on with theatre work in her spare time. 'After Melanie lodged her complaint. I'm sure you can understand. It was that kind of flame your daughter kindled in me. coming to my school and telling me stories . 'Mr Lurie. She owns a farm. Not hot enough to burn me up. As a result I resigned my post.' He pauses. He would not be surprised if Isaacs were something in the church. you strike a match and start another one. apples of their father's eye. It began as an adventure. He does want to speak his heart. you must be aware of it. They thought twice before letting a flame die. 'It began without premeditation on my part.. helping out. I remember our last meeting as being. 'No. Does the man behind the desk have adventures? The more he sees of him the more he doubts it. and I thought I might stop and speak to you. She phones every week.' says Isaacs softly. closing the last register. 'the university held an official inquiry. however. A sudden little adventure. 'So. 'In Melanie's case.' says Isaacs. there has been a fall. that keep me going. they gave her a special dispensation to do that. He continues. giving away nothing. inverts it. Also I have a book to complete. 'I ask myself what on earth you think you are up to. in self-defence. heated. Excuse me for talking in this way. She has resumed her studies. The pen has stopped moving. So Melanie is all right. That is the history.' He pauses. pained smile on his face.'If you don't want to see me I'll leave at once.' he says. but in fact finds himself quite calm. Isaacs is regarding him with what strikes him as piercing attention. 'So.' 'I'm sorry. I know.burnt . 'A fire: what is remarkable about that? If a fire goes out.' Isaacs stares at him quizzically. runs his fingers down the shaft.' Burned . 'You have heard Melanie's side of the story. under the circumstances. a flamegod. if you are prepared to hear it. She struck up a fire in me. But mighty? Does . what is on his heart? Isaacs has a cheap Bic pen in his hand. That's all I wanted to say. one of those sudden little adventures that men of a certain kind have. but he knows what it will be: Melanie and Desiree. Do you mind if I finish first?' 'Please. The question is. with the mother who bore them. I was passing through George today. a sort of book. I am trying to be frank. Men of a certain kind. That's the end. whatever a server is. in a motion that is mechanical rather than impatient.' he says. 'Since then I have been at a loose end. and there is a crooked. I would like to give you mine.' says Isaacs. Yet in the olden days people worshipped fire.' That much is true. 'To what do I owe this pleasure?' He had expected to be tense. over and over. I expect to spend some of my time with her. you will be interested to hear. How is Melanie?' 'Melanie is well. something unexpected happened. He runs his fingers down the shaft. From where he sits he cannot see it. and say what is on my heart. One way or another I will keep myself busy.
Isaacs thanks him.' she murmurs. hairless skin. As she crosses the floor towards them she hesitates an instant.' Isaacs does not bat an eyelid. my God! As for her.when Isaacs calls out: 'Mr Lurie! Just a minute!' He returns. 'Come in. Desiree. there is a whispering in the kitchen. 'Thank you for seeing me.' He reaches out a hand. I have been to your home already. The front door is opened by Isaacs himself.' 'Good. Perhaps not. the lawn mowed. 'Hello. For the first time he detects a trace of Melanie in him: a shapeliness of the mouth and lips. her eyes gleaming with excitement. Let me write down the address for you.' The hair that had screened her face is tossed back.he is. 'What are your plans for the evening?' 'This evening? I've checked in at a hotel. All their resources concentrated on launching the two jewel daughters into the future: clever Melanie. I just stopped by to find out how Melanie was. 'Goodbye. I have no plans. holding out the bottle.' 'On my heart? No.' He is at the door . the man whose name is darkness. So: she has found out who he is. the beauty. had a tussle over him perhaps: the unwanted visitor. in the outer office. She meets his gaze. on the first evening of their closer acquaintance. He comes back. in fact. clearly. ends up by stroking the back of it. still fixing him with that intent look. 'this is Mr Lurie.' 'You don't need to do that. He should have thought of that. straightforwardly this time.mighty describe him? He thinks of himself as obscure and growing obscurer. Come anyway. come in. prudent. He remembers Melanie. with her theatrical ambitions. Stepping out in the forest where the wild wolf prowls. tries to shake the man's hand.' he says. 'Perhaps it does us good'. which is now empty . 'Desiree. nor of the second daughter. 'to have a fall every now and then. besides the story of yourself and Melanie? You mentioned there was something on your heart.' They are teetotal. Desiree. 'Mr Lurie. Of the wife there is no sign.the word comes up reluctantly .' he says. We eat at seven. and holds out a bottle of wine. Desiree the beauty enters with the bottle and a corkscrew. The car washed. 'Pa?' she murmurs with a hint of confusion. he says. 'Can I give you some? I'll just go and open it. and ushers him into the living-room. Come for dinner. conscious that a greeting is owed. and met your daughter. but stronger now that she is under her father's wing.' says Isaacs: 'is there something else you want to tell me.' he says.' 'Hello. sitting beside him on the sofa drinking the coffee with the shot-glass of whisky in it that was intended to . As long as we don't break. My God. A figure from the margins of history. Good. 'We seem to have lost the corkscrew.lubricate her.' he says. Good. and he thinks.' 'I don't think your wife would welcome that. frugal. Her father has trapped her hand in his. No. A tight little petit-bourgeois household. but seems unsure what to do with the wine. It was she who directed me here.' 'Come and have a meal with us.' says Isaacs. savings in the bank. They have discussed him.' He rises.' 'Perhaps. But Dezzy will borrow from the neighbours. Cool. she cannot hide from him what is passing through her mind: So this is the man my sister has been naked with! So this is the man she has done it . I appreciate it. Her trim little body.' 'Goodbye. 'I brought an offering.' He leaves the room. 'Good. Break bread with us. On an impulse he reaches across the desk. still embarrassed. her sexy clothes.
What is this? He cuts it out. living with Lucy. Then they return. right to her mother. she avoids his eye.' she commands. 'Go ahead.' Isaacs disappears into the kitchen. so much the worse for him. David Lurie. 'Am I the only one drinking?' he says. 'come and help carry. 'Mind. he bought the Late Harvest imagining it would be to their taste. frowning. sit!' says Isaacs. of complications. to his surprise. 'Excuse me a moment. an array of salads and pickles. He loves his daughter. 'Mr Isaacs. He talks about Lucy. left to the girl's father. Her features remain stiff. warm from her labours.' Mrs Isaacs is a short woman.' say his wife and daughter. about the boarding kennels. but not about the incinerator in the hospital grounds or his stolen afternoons with Bev Shaw. of complicated people. it's hot. the mother's small. candles are burning. Petrus. Like a blade cutting the wind. He stands up. He is left facing Desiree across the table. 'Amen. but there are times when he wishes she were a simpler being: simpler.' he says. our guest. fleshy. and he. What is all this stuff? growls the surgeon. Well. he sees it all yet feels no pain.' He pours a glass. A real beauty she must have been in her day. there is a hint of gaiety.' Gratefully the child tumbles out of her chair. tosses it aside. the two parents together. bearded. no longer so brave. The bottle of wine is set before him. What is this? 'Your daughter . Conversation flags. solid. During the meal he tries to be a good guest. with his two wives and his moderate ambitions. bends over him. mumbles 'Amen' too and lets go the two hands. Mrs Isaacs. from throat to groin he is laid open. but she does give the slightest of nods. I appreciate it.' says Isaacs. 'Sit down. a good wife and helpmeet.' says Isaacs. He pokes at the heart.' Isaacs gives a smile in which. Just the kind of food he most missed. Mr Lurie.' she says as she passes his plate. Will the daughters take after her? 'Desiree. about her beekeeping and her horticultural projects. may the Lord make us truly grateful. 'For what we are about to receive. growing dumpy in middle age. He glosses over the attack. sit down! We'll be all right! We will do it!' He leans closer. The man who raped her. Those are her only words to him. 'Sit. with a hatch to the kitchen. But he can see where the sisters get their looks. was like that. Four places are set with the best cutlery. the father's cool as silk. He does not like sweet wines. the leader of the gang. to talk entertainingly. He pokes at the gall bladder. rice. to fill the silences. And ye shall be as one flesh. 'It was kind of you to invite me. 'She has a man who helps sometimes. A surgeon. How he wishes it could be true! He is tired of shadows. there is nothing for it but to stretch out his hands too. 'You haven't met my wife. mentioning only that his car was stolen. A scalpel flashes. I am just causing upset in your home. 'You have to be strong!' Then Desiree and her mother are back bearing dishes: chicken in a bubbling tomato stew that gives off aromas of ginger and cumin. There remains the prayer to get through. Obedient. about his Saturday morning stints at the market. but . Doreen. and a solitary wine glass. She hangs her head. neater.with! This old man! There is a separate little dining-room. An African. Stitched together in this way. He talks about the Animal Welfare League. He is less hungry than he thought he would be. with bowed legs that give her a faintly rolling walk.does she run her farm all alone?' asks Isaacs. Still no sign of his wife. but it is better that I leave. 'Please. He has a vision of himself stretched out on an operating table. Mrs Isaacs dishes up.' And he talks about Petrus. dependable Petrus.' 'I am grateful to you for receiving me in your home. the story unrolls without shadows. The Isaacs take hands. Country life in all its idiot simplicity.
He has not taken his seat. 'I should be leaving. Then we are very sorry. You have a wonderful family. yet now you find yourself in our home.' says Isaacs. Normally I would say. 'I will tell you. I ask for your pardon. you have no way to ask God. Astonished at the sight of him. You lacked the lyrical. He can prevaricate no longer. you came to speak to me. I was not just passing through.' 'Wait. and you thought to yourself. It could have turned out differently. does not like his tricks. we would not be where we are today. 'About Melanie. what are we going to do now that we are sorry?' He is about to reply. Sitting on the bed are Desiree and her mother. 'at last you have apologized. But perhaps that is not true. 'Yes?' 'One word more. I am living it out from day to day. you say.' Wonderful is not right. The question is not. For which I am sorry. But I say to myself. I lack the lyrical. Mr Lurie. he says. he tries to pick his words carefully.' says Isaacs. 'So. As for God. 'I am due to make an early start tomorrow. Desiree excuses herself.'lyrical. In my own terms. are we sorry? The question is. It is not a punishment I have refused. I manage love too well.' He is smiling again.' he says. that I live in disgrace without term?' 'I don't know. despite our ages. what does God want from you. I had been thinking about it for some time. now he begins to pace up and down. trying to accept disgrace as my state of being. He rises.' 'Yes. I am sorry for what I took your daughter through. 'May I pronounce the word God in your hearing? You are not one of those people who get upset when they hear God's name? The question is. but Isaacs raises a hand. they fall silent. But since you don't pray. On the contrary. I am sunk into a state of disgrace from which it will not be easy to lift myself. I believe.somehow they get through the meal. don't ask me. too easy. If you had had the lyrical. He pushes the door open. With careful ceremony he gets to his knees and touches his forehead to the floor. . 'You are sorry. ask God. Better would be exemplary. 'So who did you really come to speak to?' Now he is sure of it: he does not like this man. Even when I burn I don't sing. stay a moment. you say. not always. So God must find his own means of telling you.he hunts for the word . 'Normally I would say'. But there was something I failed to supply. Why do you think you are here. doing something with a skein of wool. Mr Lurie?' He is silent. goes off to do her homework. I do not murmur against it. we are all sorry when we are found out. From behind a half-closed door he hears low voices. One can only be punished and punished. I wondered when it was coming.' He ponders. besides being very sorry? Have you any ideas. They are alone. and it occurred to you that your student's family was from George. Is it enough for God. between the two of us. Mr Lurie?' Though distracted by Isaacs's back-and-forth. Am I right?' 'Not quite. I am being punished for what happened between myself and your daughter. You were passing through George. Why not? You didn't plan on it. With Isaacs you get off easy that is what they say. I was not telling the truth. I apologize for the grief I have caused you and Mrs Isaacs. so I will have to translate what you call God and God's wishes into my own terms. if you understand me. That must come as a surprise to you. I am not a believer. I wait to see. 'that after a certain age one is too old to learn lessons. the same crooked smile as before. then I am finished. All the children at my school know that. Mrs Isaacs clears the table. what lesson have we learned? The question is. do you think. but why me? I'm easy to speak to. blunders through the empty dining-room and down the passage. something' . I came to George for one reason alone: to speak to you.' he says.
waiting for the afternoon to peter out so that he can cook his evening meal and go to bed. then the daughter's.' At eleven o'clock there is a call for him in his hotel room. He wanders through the house taking a census of his losses. But how did they get in? Tiptoeing from room to room. Booty. The two of them are still sitting there. And indeed. It is Isaacs. for instance. Who is at this moment wearing . his tapes and records. So he is home again. The end of roaming. A mat of leaves and sand. blown in by the wind. His liquor store is gone.' 'Because the path you are on is one that God has ordained for you. The stream of cars has to slow down while a child with a stick herds a stray cow off the road. Soon there will be cattle again on Rondebosch Common. What comes after the end of roaming? He sees himself. There is no sound. boxes. soon history will have come full circle. Whoever was here is gone. His sound equipment is gone. the cupboards yawn bare. The garden is overgrown. the house has stood empty for months: too much to hope for that it will not have been visited. The kitchen has been thoroughly stripped: cutlery. skulking about like a criminal. without hope. he soon finds out.' A pause. cleaning out the site. He cannot imagine taking up residence once more in the house on Torrance Road. His heart begins to thud with a sick excitement. His bedroom has been ransacked. papers are scattered everywhere. He has not paid a bill since he left. another incident in the great campaign of redistribution. stooped. the mailbox stuffed tight with flyers. The bars over one of the back windows have been torn out of the wall and folded back. smaller appliances. Mr Lurie. Thank you for the meal. shuffling to the corner shop to buy his half-litre of milk and half-loaf of bread. In his study the desk and filing cabinet have been broken open. He has been away less than three months. war reparations. frozen. without prospect: is that what he is prepared to settle for? He unlocks the front gate. the current of desire. Even the cupboard that had held canned food is empty. the windowpanes smashed. Inexorably. dodging old colleagues. he sees himself sitting blankly at a desk in a room full of yellowing papers. He is living on credit. any day now his credit is going to dry up. The life of a superannuated scholar.Is that enough? he thinks. It is not for us to interfere. crockery. leaving enough of a hole for a child or even a small man to climb through. Will that do? If not. He will have to sell the house. white-haired. 'Thank you for your kindness. his computer equipment. he thinks. in the shadow of the university. move to a flat somewhere cheaper.' TWENTY HE RE-ENTERS Cape Town on the N2. He gets to his feet. No ordinary burglary. 'There is a question I never got to ask. Though well fortified by most standards. I have finished with the university. His finances are in chaos. 'I am phoning to wish you strength for the future. He meets the mother's eyes. from the moment he opens the front door and smells the air he knows there is something wrong. It does not feel like a homecoming. what more? He raises his head. A raiding party moving in. advertisements.' 'Understood. You are not hoping for us to intervene on your behalf. retreating laden with bags. and again the current leaps. yet in that time the shanty settlements have crossed the highway and spread east of the airport. are you. To reinstate you. suitcases. 'Good night. the country is coming to the city. has caked on the floor.' 'The thought never crossed my mind. with the university?' 'To intervene?' 'Yes. a little more creakily than he would have wished.' he says.
I suspect. He takes the lift to his office on the fifth floor. This used to be my office. As dusk settles he rouses himself and leaves the house.' In the past. and sinks into a chair and closes his eyes. Sorry. with duties to no one but himself. unmourned. through gardens heavy with the scent of verbena and jonquil. I miss the ducks. visiting the pantomime. intending to sort through his mail. His books and pictures are gone. confident that as long as she is there they are safe from all harm. he makes his way to the university campus. OTTO. takes a load of washing to the laundry. For that betrayal. But he is too depressed to act. I rattle about in the house like a pea in a bottle.his shoes? Have Beethoven and Jan�cek found homes for themselves or have they been tossed out on the rubbish heap? From the bathroom comes a bad smell. The room has been transformed. His neighbour. he almost adds. studiously keeps her back turned. Let it all go to hell. Meenie. 'Who are you?' he asks. 'I'm David Lurie. 'I thought I'd phone in case you were worried about me. 'Oh. Unless he does something about it he will spend the night in the dark. From Monday onward the dogs released from life within the walls of the clinic will be tossed into the fire unmarked. reads the new tag. I wasn't thinking. Through empty streets. In the evening he calls Lucy from a public telephone. 'No problem. A pigeon. And some other stuff of yours that I found. In the little shop where for years he has bought his coffee the assistant pretends not to recognize him. The lights are cut off. But when he reaches the access barrier the machine will no longer accept his card. He is too restless to sleep. he does not want to think about them.' 'Yes? And?' 'I've come to pick up my mail.' he says. he thinks. He thinks of William Wordsworth on his first stay in London. The name-tag on his door has been removed.' He waves. David Lurie. The young man frowns. He unlocks the door and enters.' . right. The feeling is unsettling. 'Over there. No sound. At dawn he heads for the mountainside and sets off on a long walk. seeing Jack the Giant Killer blithely striding the stage. 'Can you manage that?' He takes the heavy box across to the library. As for the dogs. flourishing his sword. 'Thank you. He has to do his sorting on a bench in the lobby.' says young Dr Otto. Nonetheless.the duck family. there are things he misses .' 'And my books?' 'They are all downstairs in the storage room. He breathes in the heady scent of pine. Gingerly he lifts the mess of bones and feathers into a plastic packet and ties it shut. I put it all in a box. leaving the walls bare save for a poster-size blowup of a comic-book panel: Superman hanging his head as he is berated by Lois Lane. It has rained. As of today he is a free man. From under the door comes a faint light. He still has his keys to the Communications Building. protected by the word Invisible written on his chest. has expired in the basin. while Eenie. but he presumes he will get used to it. A good hour to come haunting: the corridors are deserted. DR S. watering her garden. will he ever be forgiven? He visits the bank. 'I'm fine. He knocks. for instance: Mother Duck tacking about on the surface of the dam.' he says. I'll take a while to settle down. the telephone is dead. Behind the computer. The first stars are out. Minie and Mo paddle busily behind.' He picks up the box. Time lies before him to spend as he wishes. trapped in the house. her chest puffed out with pride. His spell with Lucy has not turned him into a country person. sits a young man he has not seen before. in the half-light. the streams are in spate.
Elaine. for death. 'Applied language studies. but one of these days. to whom he has not listened well. never be repeated. so much for the dead masters.that would be the frankest answer: We are getting on very well without you. That is how he had conceived it: as a chamber-play about love and death. chair of his onetime department.He does not mention the raid on the house. the project has failed to . first on Lucy's farm and now again here. very well. he a mere handbasket.' 'Well. Formally speaking.' he replies. Her relief is palpable. Who have not. through. spied on by Teresa's jealous husband. the jealous husband. A young man. the two would roam through the gloomy drawing-rooms singing of their baulked passion.' So much for the poets. You have only to say the word. dark. he might add. A right little prick. guided him well. And how are you getting on.' 'Wouldn't dream of it. 'You have so little. though too prudent to voice them. he finds himself in a queue behind Elaine Winter. From the far side of the barrier she gives him a farewell wave. and for him to respond. with Byron's pet monkeys hanging languidly from the chandeliers and peacocks fussing back and forth among the ornate Neapolitan furniture. as an action with a complex. But he too is well brought up. imported Italian cookies. which should be. 'Goodbye!' he calls over the cashier's head. chocolate bars . Yet. the opera had had at its centre Lord Byron and his mistress the Contessa Guiccioli. goes past. he suspects. the conception is not a bad one. 'Oh. 'Wouldn't you like to go ahead of me?' she suggests instead. for apotheosis. his own vocal line. restless music behind it. or is he still wrapped up in his housebuilding?' 'Petrus has been helping out.' Who would have guessed. Everyone has been helpful.full cream ice cream (real almonds. gesturing toward his basket. What is the good of burdening Lucy with his troubles? 'And Petrus?' he asks. failing that. has the right mix of timelessness and decay. Nervously she returns his greeting. I can come back any time you need me. Teresa's soaring arias ignite no spark in him. sung in an English that tugs continually toward an imagined Italian. 'Have you been able to do any hiring?' 'We have taken on one new person. Aliter. obscurely he has begun to long for a quiet retirement. on a contract basis. He is in language learning. 'And how is the department getting on without me?' he asks as cheerily as he can. Teresa feels herself to be a prisoner. She pays by credit card. Very well indeed . when his child was born. over her. the discarded mistress hammering at the windows. she smoulders with resentment and nags Byron to bear her away to another life.' I have met him.' 'Thank you. 'Give my regards to everyone!' She does not look back. His life is becalmed. There is still room for Elaine to ask the next question. Very well. Their early ecstasies will. She has a whole trolleyful of purchases. with a passionate young woman and a once passionate but now less than passionate older man. convoluted. The villa too.' she replies vaguely.as well as a pack of sanitary napkins. As for Byron. he might respond. he is full of doubts. 'Has Petrus been looking after you. The woman ahead of them in the queue is taking her time to pay. Not at present. Trapped in the Villa Guiccioli in the stifling summer heat of Ravenna. But she is too polite to say the words. that in time he would come crawling to her asking to be taken in? Shopping at the supermarket. real raisins). struggling along as usual. then takes some pleasure in observing as she unloads her purchases on to the counter: not only the bread and butter items but the little treats that a woman living alone awards herself . The characters balance one another well: the trapped couple. he must say. David?. Elaine. 'What is his specialism?' he inquires instead. As first conceived. perhaps. David.
living out her days in a dull provincial town. A lone clarinet answers. abandoning the pert. holding the pursestrings tight. Mio Byron. wavering and disembodied. the voice of a ghost. something that does not come from the heart. The end of the prelude. Byron wanders among the shades. petulant . than an aristocrat. In the letters he wrote to her Byron calls her My friend. letters she cannot reach and set fire to. she sings a third time. Byron soon grew bored with her. her abbreviated legs. sleeping alone. makes jokes about her husband. keeping an eye out that the servants do not steal the sugar. saving him from going . There is something misconceived about it. her voice throbbing with sadness. Byron lists her flippantly among his Italian conquests. then My love for ever. he found her empty-headed. In the years since Byron's death. music whose harmonies. she takes a breath. is the chestful of letters and memorabilia she keeps under her bed. alludes to women from her circle with whom he has slept. more strongly. precocious newlywed with her captive English Milord. in the new version. And she is lost too. Byron. her boy. but the Teresa that history has bequeathed him . Can he find it in his heart to love this plain. In these letters. addressed to his English friends. the Teresa he loved. tails off. so faltering is the voice of Byron that Teresa has to sing his words back to him. in summer she is overtaken with attacks of asthma that leave her heaving for breath. his friends have written one memoir after another. Where is he. wilful. what is left for him? He comes back to what must now be the opening scene. and the solace of her lonely nights. her Byron? Byron is lost. then My love. he stayed with her only out of dutifulness. and from somewhere. Mio Byron. runs the story they tell. he hears shadowed in his inner ear. ordinary woman? Can he love her enough to write a music for her? If he cannot. The tail end of yet another sultry day. So faint. helping him along breath by breath. Without him she is nothing: a woman past her prime. greedy. without prospects. a hush. Her years with Byron constitute the apex of her life. The complexion that Byron once so admired has turned hectic. dry. With her heavy bust. the girl of nineteen with the blonde ringlets who gave herself up with such joy to the imperious Englishman. drawing him back to life: her child. she sings. exchanging visits with women-friends. that is the answer. she calls again. is long dead. Mio Byron. I am here.does not match up to the music he has dreamed of. a contadina. supporting him.engage the core of him. Teresa stands at a second-floor window in her father's house. she sings. lushly autumnal yet edged with irony. which her grand-nieces are meant to open after her death and peruse with awe.young. The new Teresa is a dumpy little widow installed in the Villa Gamba with her aged father. Where are you? he sings. Byron's love is all that sets her apart. she looks more like a peasant. He tries another track. Abandoning the pages of notes he has written. running the household. from the caverns of the underworld. drawing upon his letters. massaging her father's legs when they give him pain. Teresa's sole remaining claim to immortality. looking out over the marshes and pine-scrub of the Romagna toward the sun glinting on the Adriatic. the source of everything. Their libels hurt her to the quick. and afterwards stroked his brow as he lay on her naked breast. But there are rival letters in existence. breathing deeply. slumbering after his great passion. what she calls her reliquie. he tries to pick Teresa up in middle age. After conquering the young Teresa from her husband. A woman complaining to the stars that the spying of the servants forces her and her lover to relieve their desires in a broom-closet who cares? He can find words for Byron. it was in order to escape her that he sailed off to Greece and to his death. a voice sings back. the voice of Byron. Is this the heroine he has been seeking all the time? Will an older Teresa engage his heart as his heart is now? The passage of time has not treated Teresa kindly. It has dried up. and then a word she does not want to hear: secca. falls silent. her stocky trunk.
She wants to be loved. he tells himself. But he was wrong. he tries to sketch out the opening pages of a libretto. too rich. Teresa now sits staring out over the marshes toward the gates of hell. I was your Laura. And. Once that is done it will all be easier. it calls up of its own accord modulations and transitions that he feels in his blood even when he has not the musical resources to realize them. while to one side a discreet trio in knee-breeches (cello. Teresa. he thinks. I am your source. No matter. He is in the opera neither as Teresa nor as Byron nor even as some blending of the two: he is held in the music itself. The deeper he follows the Contessa into her underworld. giving voice to Teresa. astonishingly. chants Byron in his cracked monotone. Plunk-plink-plonk go the strings. from a crate full of old books and toys of Lucy's. it becomes clear that purloined songs will not be good enough.through Gluck. and he. Do you remember how together we visited the spring of Arqui Together. the man in the ransacked house.lifting ideas too. will sing to her dead lover. Out of the poets I learned to love. the music comes. But there is something about the sound of the piano that hinders him: too rounded. leaves chase across the floor from the broken window. like a fish on a line. It is not the erotic that is calling to him after all. now mournful.who knows? . O why do you speak like that? sings Teresa in a long reproachful arc. sometimes the shade of a melody. in dribs and drabs. Plink-plunk-plonk go the strings of the banjo. to his surprise. sometimes the words call forth the cadence. the more inseparable from her. flute. The halt helping the lame. and this is how it does its work! How strange! How fascinating! He spends whole days in the grip of Byron and Teresa. At the piano he sets to work piecing together and writing down the beginnings of a score. he recovers the odd little seven-stringed banjo that he bought for her on the streets of Kwa Mashu when she was a child. So this is art. now angry. cradling the mandolin on which she accompanies herself in her lyric flights. Then there will be time to search through the masters . nine syllables on C natural. is another story. living on black coffee and breakfast cereal. perhaps . he thinks: let the dead bury their dead. too physical. Why. from there it is but a short step to putting the instrument into her hands. to be loved immortally. Working as swiftly as he can. The lush arias he had dreamed of giving her he quietly abandons.lifting melodies. I found (descending chromatically to F). in the flat. Seated at his own desk looking out on the overgrown garden. she wants to be . Sometimes the contour of a phrase occurs to him before he has a hint of what the words themselves will be. for instance . but life. and that pale-voiced Byron will sing back to her from the land of the shades. Do you remember? That is how it must be from here on: Teresa giving voice to her lover.down. singing her words for her or humming her vocal line. Get the words down on paper. Six months ago he had thought his own ghostly place in Byron in Italy would be somewhere between Teresa's and Byron's: between a yearning to prolong the summer of the passionate body and a reluctant recall from the long sleep of oblivion. As the action begins to unwind. unfolds and blessedly reveals itself. furthermore. nor the elegiac. bassoon) fill in the entr'actes or comment sparingly between stanzas. that the two will demand a music of their own. With the aid of the banjo he begins to notate the music that Teresa. tinny slap of the banjo strings. From the attic. But by steps. The refrigerator is empty. Instead of stalking the stage. having hovered for days on the edge of hearing. as he begins to live his days more fully with Teresa and the dead Byron. his bed is unmade. becomes the silly plink-plonk of the toy banjo. he marvels at what the little banjo is teaching him. for want of better. but the comic. the voice that strains to soar away from the ludicrous instrument but is continually reined back. holding tight to Teresa. you and I.
' she remarks. He could fly to Venice tomorrow. getting sand into her underwear (the horses standing by all the while. sings Teresa. if she had to touch it. sunk in his old sleep. one line going up. Rosalind's long. after his manner. So hot. pale body thrashing this way and that in the throes of a pleasure that was hard to tell from pain. leave me. Unlovely. On those pineneedles Byron had his Teresa . He is inventing the music (or the music is inventing him) but he is not inventing the history. Then one day there emerges from the dark another voice. she has been passed from hand to hand and finally given to the nuns to look after. My poor little baby! sings Byron. TWENTY-ONE ROSALIND TELEPHONES. one he has not heard before. complex proteins swirling in the blood. She would shudder. and from the occasion a passion was born that kept Teresa howling to the moon for the rest of her natural life in a fever that has set him howling too. because he would rather be back where he belongs. howling. Plink. love me! And Byron. bride of another man. leaving him clear-headed and dry. My love. unloved. pale as a ghost. That is what Soraya and the others were for: to suck the complex proteins out of his blood like snake-venom.raised to the company of the Lauras and Floras of yore. A woman in love. when he lived in Italy. tramp along the old riding-trails. the other down. so hot! she complains in a rhythm of her own that cuts insistently across the voices of the lovers. And Byron? Byron will be faithful unto death. mio Byron. he visited the same forest between Ravenna and the Adriatic coastline where a century and a half before Byron and Teresa used to go riding. Teresa leads. that is Byron's.rumpling her clothes. catch a train to Ravenna. and will not explain further. waveringly. sheets damp with perspiration. but that is all he promises. echo the strings. 'Lucy says you are back in town. wallowing in love. but from where inside him does it come? Why have you left me? Come and fetch me! calls Allegra. As they talk her gaze keeps drifting back to the misshapen ear. to her misfortune.' he called her . To the call of the inconvenient five-year-old there comes no answer. Come to me. has no one to suck the venom from her. page after page he follows.' he replies.' he replies. unwillingly. They meet in a coffee-shop in Claremont. making the palms sweat and voice thicken as the soul hurls its longings to the skies. distending the sexual organs. Somewhere among the trees must be the spot where the Englishman first lifted the skirts of his eighteen-year-old charmer.'timid as a gazelle. 'Were you ever?' comments Rosalind drily. Let both be tied till one shall have expired. pass by the very place. echoes her derisively: Leave me. on death's other shore. so hot! she whines from the bed in the convent where she is dying of la mal'aria. Teresa in her father's house in Ravenna. swelling out the fat English monosyllable she learned in the poet's bed. His best memories are still of their first months together: steamy summer nights in Durban. he is sure. leave me be! Years ago. incurious). 'You've lost weight. Two sensualists: . Why have you forgotten me? Why will her father not answer? Because he has had enough of life. Seated in the shadows to one side. Why haven't you been in touch?' 'I'm not yet fit for society. So hot. has not counted on hearing. the trio of instrumentalists play the crablike motif. From the words he knows it belongs to Byron's daughter Allegra. Not the ministering type. too softly for her to hear. a cat on a roof. 'What happened to your ear?' 'It's nothing. exiled from life. neglected by her famous father. she cries: come to me. so hot.
' 'You said you had your car stolen.' says Rosalind. But you were always a great self-deceiver. 'I thought she had a friend living with her. I heard you didn't make a good impression. It's too big for me. you came across badly. I should have been more careful. 'You shared my bed for ten years.' 'The story of your life. And no. You have thrown away your life. whatever the principle was.' 'A book?' 'An opera. Melanie Isaacs . David. They thought you were just obfuscating. Didn't you know? I can see why you fell for her.'Why should you have secrets from me?' 'Lucy and I still get on well. What was the principle you were standing up for?' 'Freedom of speech. I was standing up for a principle.' 'I wasn't trying to make an impression. You were too stiff and defensive.' 'An opera! Well.' 'It was my own fault. that's a new departure. she would be mad to feel safe. they are about how well you put yourself across. I'm writing something. in fact.' he replies. Big. You must have thought it would be another of your quick flings. while it lasted. My hands are full.' 'Oh? How did you hear? I thought it was confidential.' 'Yes. Will you move in with Lucy?' 'The opera is just a hobby. 'But not well enough to live together. According to my source. I suspect they have broken up for good. Has something happened?' Her questions are intrusive. dark eyes. it was too abstruse for your audience. And now look at you. Freedom to remain silent.' There is silence while they contemplate. It won't make money.' 'That may be so.' 'Is Lucy safe by herself in that lonely place?' 'No. Just your type. 'Grace. and for what?' .' Rosalind says. whatever you call it.that was what held them together. David. Helen is back in Johannesburg.' 'Helen. I am going to sell the house. What are you going to do about money? Did they take away your pension?' 'I'll get back what I put in. your inquest. I heard you didn't perform well. The inside story. A great deceiver and a great self-deceiver. your peccadilloes. They talk about Lucy. 'I saw your girlfriend.' 'My trial?' 'Your inquiry. changing the subject.' 'That doesn't matter. Are you sure it wasn't just a case of being caught with your pants down?' He does not rise to the bait.' she once said . but Rosalind has never had qualms about being intrusive. It wouldn't be a good idea.' 'Why not? You and she have always got on well together.' 'I forgot to mention: I heard the story of your trial. about the farm. You should have got yourself some coaching beforehand.' 'That sounds very grand. It has become a point of honour with her.isn't that her name? She is in a play at the Dock Theatre. something to dabble at. 'My girlfriend?' 'Your inamorata. but surely you know by now that trials are not about principles. But she will stay on nevertheless. from their respective angles. I hope it makes you lots of money. the story of his life.' 'What will you do with your time? Will you look for a job?' 'I don't think so. Cunning little weasel body. she isn't safe. I won't be moving in with Lucy. 'Anyway.
If the old men hog the young women. a sign that the affair has not run its course? Yet the very idea of reapplying to Melanie is crazy. He seems to be spending a lot of time sighing. as naked and as perfect as on that last night in Lucy's old room. He wishes he could have a sign. God knows who gave you that haircut. Though they are his countrymen. If. Until two years ago the Dock Theatre was a cold storage plant where the carcases of pigs and oxen hung waiting to be transported across the seas. said Rosalind.' She arrests her tirade. The young in one another's arms. What if their paths cross again. Half of literature is about it: young women struggling to escape from under the weight of old men. Nevertheless.' 'That's enough. laugh uproariously when the characters trade slurs and insults. for the sake of the species. They have taken to Melanie-Gloria. engrossed in the sensual music. When an affair is over. with its crude humour and nakedly political intent. for instance. as hard to endure as before.' 'I'm going to end up in a hole in the ground. For unnatural acts: for broadcasting old seed.in fact. 'You are going to end up as one of those sad old men who poke around in rubbish bins. heedless. you hide out in Torrance Road like a tortoise afraid to stick its neck out of its shell. He has never been given to lingering involvements. are enjoying the play.the dunce with the funny ear. seed that does not quicken. If he had a sign he would know what to do. private flame and she were to stand before him. her hair piled in loops on her head. Now it is a fashionable entertainment spot. Is it possible that in the months he has been away she has grown up. So are we all. Melanie has kept her part as Gloria. once all the fine words were stripped away. Regret: a regrettable note on which to go out. Why should she speak to the man condemned as her persecutor? And what will she think of him anyway . he finds the play. he puts it behind him. She is altogether more sure of herself than before . That was what the trial was set up to punish. at bottom. He sighs.' he says. I'm upset as it is. who ought to know. ruddy-faced. this. contra naturam.' The mention of Melanie Isaacs unsettles him. tired seed. No country. 'When you are tired of bread and jam. found herself? Whatever does not kill me makes me stronger. perhaps she too has suffered. your name is mud. was the case for the prosecution. comfortable in their heavy flesh. the smell of a mate. . People who aren't good enough to tie your shoelaces make jokes about you. He arrives late. you've got . she totters onstage on high heels. give me a call and I'll cook you a meal. your friends avoid you. his and Melanie's? Will there be a flash of feeling. Perhaps the trial was a trial for her too.' She gathers up her packages. those absurd clothes were to burn off her body in a cold. what will be the future of the species? That. Be sensible. 'And so are you. good in the part. taking his seat just as the lights are dimming. there is a new lead actor. the rumpled collar? The marriage of Cronus and Harmony: unnatural. The holidaymakers among whom he is seated. 'A runaway success brought back by popular demand': that is how Sunset at the Globe Salon is billed in its new production. in a revelation secret to him alone. Rosalind. her face garishly made up. The set is more stylish. the direction more professional. The lines she is given are predictable. positively gifted.' 'But it is! You have lost your job. but she delivers them with deft timing in a whining Kaaps accent. he could not feel more alien among them. David. Deep inside him the smell of her is stored. Wearing a pink caftan over gold lame tights.'My life is not thrown away. the novice hairdresser. and come through. On trial for his way of life. But there is something unfinished in the business with Melanie. Your shirt isn't ironed. I don't want to get into an argument. they titter at the risqu� jokes. Does she remember his smell too? Just your type. the uncut hair. for old men.
Without warning a memory comes back from years ago: of someone he picked up on the N1 outside Trompsburg and gave a ride to. directing herself at him.. On stage the action has progressed. There are twenty rows of seats between himself and Melanie. at this moment. The point of a cigarette glows: Ryan . are plunged without warning into the ocean of memory? The German girl: is it possible that at this very instant she is remembering the man who picked her up on the roadside in Africa and spent the night with her? Enriched: that was the word the newspapers picked on to jeer at. by the girl in Touws River. They have come to the point where Melanie gets her broom tangled in the electric cord. He is the target. Soraya: by each of them he was enriched. he fed her. even the failures. he seems quite at ease. 'Sss. What has happened to them. all those women. Bev Shaw. 'Professor Lurie!' whispers Ryan hoarsely. by Rosalind. before he can reach the aisle. A fourth pellet strikes his shoulder and bounces into the air. There is a little smile on his lips. They drove as far as Touws River. Like leaves blown on the wind. even the least of them. Sidney the hairdresser is tearing open the fatal envelope and reading aloud the landlord's ultimatum. The play goes on. no doubt. the boyfriend with the ear-ring and goatee. The man in the next seat steals a puzzled glance. A stupid word to let slip. Something raps him lightly on the head. In a sudden and soundless eruption. Standing against the back wall is Ryan. a stream of images pours down.more of an impostor. Who did that? he is supposed to bark. He holds his breath. jou dom meid!' screeches the hairdresser. and by the others too. pretending not to notice. Yet when they laugh at Melanie's lines he cannot resist a flush of pride. wiry legs. A fair field full of folk: hundreds of lives all tangled with his. willing the vision to continue. no doubt of that. By Melanie. calling him back to the world. and the stage is suddenly plunged into darkness. all those lives? Are there moments when they too. he remembers the softness of her hair. cross looks. but he hopes she can at this moment. sunburnt and dusty. smell him. find his way out. 'Be quiet!' exclaims the woman two seats away. he would stand by it. and a pellet catches him on the temple. slept with her. under the circumstances. Where do moments like this come from? Hypnagogic. his heart floods with thankfulness. He is supposed to turn and glare.' hisses Ryan again.. though he has uttered not a sound. smell his thoughts. pell-mell. as if she were his daughter. a woman in her twenties travelling alone. they pass before him. Mine! he would like to say. 'Sss. turning to them. images of women he has known on two continents. some from so far away in time that he barely recognizes them. checked into a hotel.' comes a hiss from behind him. 'Sss. but what does that explain? If he is being led. yet now. There are five pairs of knees to fight past ('Excuse me. moonless night. 'What are we going to do?' laments Miriam the hair-washing woman. Excuse me'). 'Jesus Christ. a tourist from Germany. There is a sound behind him. Or else stare stiffly ahead. Their eyes meet. They have until the end of the month to pay the back rent. across space. Outrageous though his behaviour is. A third hits him in the neck. then what god is doing the leading? The play is grinding on. failing which the Globe will have to close down. A flash of magnesium. angry murmurings. but there is around him now a definite flurry of unrest. He turns. its feather-lightness between his fingers. as if he has fallen into a waking dream. A moment later another object flits past and hits the seat in front of him: a spitball of paper the size of a marble. He remembers her long. soft enough not to be heard at the front of the house.' He turns. emerge into the windy. Like a flower blooming in his breast. or some of them.
where the spring crop is now in bloom. 'Are you going to explain this childish behaviour?' Ryan draws on his cigarette.' He drops his cigarette. he thinks. she tells him. Nonetheless. also strangely protective. truthfully?' Bev Shaw is guarded. The trembling has ceased. The girl is drunk or perhaps on drugs: he can get nothing coherent out of her. driving deep into the woman's body. driven to perfect itself.' He drives back slowly along the Main Road in Green Point. he to give the impression that he does not doubt her. driven. Didn't you learn your lesson?' 'What was my lesson?' 'Stay with your own kind. contented. The kennels are reviving. 'Let her alone. Spit in your eye: he had not expected that. prof. His hand on the steering wheel is trembling. But something in Lucy's tone nags at him. 'Only doing you a favour. The Shaws are frequent visitors. The streetwalkers are out in numbers. Don't make me. He telephones Bev Shaw. However. Ryan is speaking. Believe me. 'Are you going to explain yourself?' he snaps. Drive. Lucy will have to tell you herself ' He calls Lucy. Will that be the verdict on him. the verdict of the universe and its allseeing eye? The girl stirs. not even by the measure of Byron. 'What has she told you?' 'She tells me that everything is fine. She has two dogs on full board and hopes of more. Petrus is busy with his house. man! Melanie will spit in your eye if she sees you.' TWENTY-TWO HE STAYS IN contact with Lucy by telephone. even at his hottest. In their conversations she is at pains to assure him that all is well on the farm. She is hard at work in the flowerbeds. 'I'm taking you back to where I found you. Not by the measure of Teresa. younger even than Melanie. he thinks. she says . beyond all prudence? _Omnis gens quaecumque se in se pecere vult_.has followed him into the parking lot. she does not need money.' he says. She sounds as if she is on tranquillizers. 'How is Lucy. resting. prof. Under stars so bright one might think them on fire they face each other. driving to bring the future into being. The seed of generation. sits up. 'There is the . Lacking in fire. No. takes a step closer. a tall girl in a minute black leather skirt. on this night of revelations? They park in a cul-de-sac on the slopes of Signal Hill. How could I ever have forgotten it? Not a bad man but not good either. she does her work on him as well as he could expect.there have been 'developments'. lying. He feels drowsy. but not too busy to help out. So this is all it takes!. making them kin.' Your own kind: who is this boy to tell him who his kind are? What does he know of the force that drives the utmost strangers into each other's arms. 'I must make a trip to Durban. 'Where are you taking me?' she mumbles. But she sounds like a zombie.and she seems to be picking her words carefully . Why not. Afterwards she lies with her face in his lap. 'Find yourself another life.' he says. David. at a traffic light one of them catches his eye. She is younger than she had seemed under the streetlights. Not cold but not hot. kind. The shocks of existence: he must learn to take them more lightly. 'You are the only person I can ask. He lays a hand on her head. Is she?' Bev Shaw evades the question. 'What developments?' 'I can't tell you.
whatever you decide. it feels like a foreign land. You are the main character. Why should there be a question of abortion anyway? I thought you took Ovral.' 'You could have told me earlier. May I stop off for a day or two?' 'Has Bev been speaking to you?' 'Bev has nothing to do with it.' 'This has nothing to do with belief. people are not divided into major and minor. 'Come in. I am not minor. The end of May. You behave as if everything I do is part of the story of your life. When are you expecting it?' 'May. I am a minor character who doesn't make an appearance until halfway through. I confess.' 'Very well. Petrus' house has become a reality. Lucy's patch of earth. and in my life I am the one who makes the decisions. Lucy. And I never said I took Ovral. he guesses. Why did you keep it from me?' 'Because I couldn't face one of your eruptions. now marks the boundary between Lucy's property and Petrus'. But I am not having an abortion. Are you all right?' 'I'm pregnant. Without warmth she returns his embrace. There is no question about that. Well. Lucy. David.' 'I didn't know you felt that way. Is it his earth too? It does not feel like his earth. it stands on an eminence east of the old farmhouse.' she says. 'Tell me about the Durban offer. because I am concerned about you.' 'You are what?' 'I'm pregnant.' she says. She pours tea. This has come as a shock to me.possibility of a job. Not any more. passes him a packet of ginger snaps. taking her hand across the table. I am here. That is something I am not prepared to go through with again. you and your GP.' They sit together at the kitchen table. contrary to what you think. Her complexion is pasty. A wire fence. just as important to me as yours is to you.' 'And your mind is made up?' 'Yes. Lucy opens the door wearing a shapeless smock that might as well be a nightdress.' he says. I have taken every reasonable care short of what you are hinting at. Two hours later he turns off the road on to the track that leads to the farm. it must cast a long shadow. Now I am going to take . I thought you took care of it.' 'Why?' 'Why? I am a woman. in the mornings. There have been changes. 'Are you telling me you are going to have the child?' 'Yes. Her old air of brisk good health is gone. Grey and featureless. I can't run my life according to whether or not you like what I do.' 'A child from one of those men?' 'Yes. I have a life of my own. On Petrus' side graze a pair of scrawny heifers. 'I was just making tea. Despite the time he has spent here.' 'From whom? From that day?' 'From that day. David. Lucy's farm. not particularly skilfully erected. May I come?' He flies to Port Elizabeth and hires a car. but I will stand by you. Do you think I hate children? Should I choose against the child because of who its father is?' 'It has been known. You never told me you did not believe in abortion.' 'I don't understand.' 'What do you mean. 'That can wait.' An eruption? Is this not an eruption in its own right? 'That's enough.' 'No. she has not washed her hair. no? You mean you didn't take care of it?' 'I have taken care.
we both know that. I suspect there is something wrong with him. David. You can't have forgotten. It is morning. like water dribbling into the earth? Who would have thought it! A day like any other day. And now. hiding his face in his hands. like a dog's urine? A father without the sense to have a son: is this how it is all going to end.' 'The boy?' 'Yes.rapists cum taxgatherers roaming the area. to mortify me. We can talk again later. For the rest of the afternoon he avoids her. 'By the way. indulging their violent pleasures. a mild sun.a walk. Over supper there is a new revelation. When could it have been? While she was still living at home? Did Rosalind know.' 'Stop calling it the farm. Therefore she has had an abortion before. For years you used it against me when I was a child. Lucy. 'Particularly what? Say it.' he says. But Petrus has obligations toward him. it's not in my power. lo and behold. He clambers over the new-built fence.' Why can they not talk now? Because he is shaken.' . It's the only sane thing left to do. I would steer clear of him if I were you. They snap at each other as if he has not been away at all. And David.' He goes to bed with a heavy heart. just Pollux?' 'P-O-L-L-U-X.' she says. she says. Whether that means a real brother I don't know. meant to soil her. Lucy was wrong. 'Good morning. afraid he will come out with something rash. Because there is a risk that he too might erupt. sacs bulging with seed aching to perfect itself. yet suddenly everything is changed. which she has not taken back.' 'So it all begins to come out. utterly changed! Standing against the wall outside the kitchen. Petrus' wife is hanging washing behind the old stables. I just want to warn you he is around. clear skies. he heaves and heaves and finally cries. He would never have guessed it. it doesn't help. 'the boy is back.' 'Not Mncedisi? Not Nqabayakhe? Nothing unpronounceable. He is staying with Petrus. I'm looking for Petrus. they were mating. It was not the pleasure principle that ran the show but the testicles.' He does not finish the sentence. your situation is becoming ridiculous. But no. family obligations. According to Petrus.' 'Particularly when he may be the father of the child you are carrying. leave the farm before it is too late. Lucy called them . 'Molo. mixed chaotically. This is not a farm. it's just a piece of land where I grow things . can we have some relief from that terrible irony of yours?' 'I don't know what you mean. I plead with you.' 'Don't get indignant. What kind of child can seed like that give life to.' 'Particularly . I'm not giving it up. He installs himself in Lucy's old room. They were not raping. She is not prepared. David. I don't know how you can fail to see it. Rapists rather than robbers. the child! Already he is calling it the child when it is no more than a worm in his daughter's womb. sinister. Anyway. and was he kept in the dark? The gang of three. But I can't order him off the property. Well. to mark her. His name is Pollux. helping him. worse than ridiculous. Three fathers in one. And now young Pollux returns to the scene of the crime and we must behave as if nothing has happened. seed driven into the woman not in love but in hatred. Pollux has dropped out of school and can't find a job. to go through with it again. Pollux turns out to be a brother of Petrus' wife's. Nothing has changed between Lucy and himself.' 'Of course you do. the boy you had the row with at Petrus' party. is this how his line is going to run out. nothing has healed. attacking women.
I know. He is a child. 'But here'. 'Though I could hardly believe what I was hearing. you come back again . Well. Her movements are slow. this Pollux?' 'Yes.' 'Lucy does not want to marry. what happened. Petrus is glazing windows. 'He is my relative. puffing on the empty pipe. 'It is finish. Does not want to marry a man. 'I lie. It was blackmail pure and simple.' he says.' 'No. Lucy is his people. he is too young. I was taken . 'For why must I lie to you?' 'Don't ask me. 'But I tell you. I didn't lose my temper. 'I also say it is bad. You come to look after your child. My people. I can see. So this is it. You lied to me. 'You will marry Lucy. He is a child still.' he says.' 'A dangerous child.' 'I tried to handle it lightly. I can see.' He takes the pipe from his mouth.' he says at last. my people. 'Now I must tell him to go away because of this thing that happened?' 'You told me you did not know him.' We: he is on the point of saying. A jackal boy.' 'It is not finished. 'I lie to you. The boy who attacked her. No more lies. 'Lucy tells me the boy is back again.' he tells Lucy afterwards.' 'Your child? Now he is your child. Petrus. 'Explain to me what you mean. Then it is over. says Petrus.' Petrus scrapes his knife clean. It is not an option she will consider. It is not finished.' he says. waiting for a response. lays it down. too young. wait.' says Petrus. She wants to live her own life. Maybe one day he can marry. all this badness. then you tell Lucy. heavy.why?' He stares challengingly. but not now.' Petrus stares reflectively. 'He will marry Lucy. This is not something I want to hear. You are wrong about that. too dangerous.She does not meet his eyes. It will go on long after I am dead and you are dead.' Petrus brushes aside the insults. This is not how we do things.' 'Yes. Why do you lie?' The smile has vanished. ask yourself. I will marry. As naked an answer as he could wish.' He sucks again. I said I doubted you would be interested. There is a long palaver of greetings that ought to be gone through. And perhaps he does indeed know. 'You go away. that's all. 'Yes. rather don't explain. I said I would relay his offer. We Westerners. On the contrary.' So that is it. only he is too young. It is bad. Don't pretend you don't know what I mean. it is just beginning. A young thug. 'Pollux.' Petrus continues.' 'You will marry whom?' 'I will marry Lucy. He would be a fool to underestimate Petrus. that is what all the shadowboxing was for: this bid. I also look after my child. too young to be marry. But it is finish. I can't make myself clearer than that. Then he removes the pipe and gives a wide smile. 'You say it is bad. He is my family.' Petrus sets his pipe between his stained teeth and sucks vigorously.' 'It wasn't blackmail. 'Yes. this blow! And here stands Petrus foursquare. I hope you didn't lose your temper. A woman must be marry. 'You have no work here.' He cannot believe his ears. stabs the air vehemently with the stem. He is positively chuckling.' 'Were you offended?' 'Offended at the prospect of becoming Petrus' father-in-law? No. No. 'He will marry her. rolling the r.' says Petrus. but he is in no mood for it. 'it is dangerous. but points languidly toward the building site. not pretending he does not understand. Her time is near: even he can see that.' he says carefully.
unhealthy way. I have no brothers. Two proposals. I repeat that. He is offering an alliance. I have a father. there is only Petrus left.' she says. Say I accept his protection. But I am sure his wife and he will have put two and two together. give me credit for that. Tell him that he can have it. except to drive home his message.. How can you even contemplate it?' 'I don't believe you get the point.aback.' 'Then we need not discuss it any further.' 'It's not workable. I am prepared to send you to Holland. He will love . Lucy. In any event. say I will sign the land over to him as long as the house remains mine. title deed and all.' 'Then what do you propose?' She sits in her housecoat and slippers with yesterday's newspaper on her lap. it is not me he is after. Say he can put out whatever story he likes about our relationship and I won't contradict him. not offended. ditto. so be it. It is not a joke. I know what I would be letting myself in for. but no. The farm is my dowry. But.' It is as if she has not heard him. 'Propose the following. And I keep the kennels. You know that. I am without protection. Shall I convey your decision to Petrus . would Petrus expect me to sleep with him? I'm not sure that Petrus would want to sleep with me. As for the land. 'I have made my proposal.' 'A bywoner. and I won't say why?' 'No.' 'A bywoner. But then the child becomes his too. No one enters this house without my permission. Objectively I am a woman alone.' 'But this is preposterous. I don't want to sleep with Petrus. you told me there are two wives.' 'Because. The question is. Petrus has been dropping hints for a while now. Why should Petrus bother to negotiate? She cannot last: leave her alone and in due course she will fall like rotten fruit. Including him.' 'No. Go to Petrus and tell him what I have said. Lucy! He is already married! In fact. At some level he is serious. in what sense? Is he aware that you are. To whom can I turn for protection. this is not the first time.' 'And that won't make him change his mind?' 'Why should it? It will make me all the more part of the family. David. Before you get on your high horse with Petrus. More and more she has begun to look like one of those women who shuffle around the corridors of nursing homes whispering to themselves.' 'Lucy. Practically speaking. Definitely not. no. he wants to remind me. I contribute the land. I am in the process of selling the house in Cape Town. Petrus is not offering me a church wedding followed by a honeymoon on the Wild Coast. astonished.' 'I have no doubt that in some sense he is serious. Legally it's not workable. he is after the farm. 'Go back to Petrus. I am fair game. The child becomes part of his family. I'm not leaving. take a moment to consider my situation objectively. Petrus may not be a big man but he is big enough for someone small like me. dumbfounded. she is overweight in a slack. That I would find it altogether safer to become part of his establishment. If he wants me to be known as his third wife. I have no illusions about him. is he aware of my condition? I have not told him.' 'And that isn't blackmail? What about the personal side? Is there no personal side to the offer?' 'Do you mean.that his offer is not accepted. But the house remains mine. but he is far away and anyhow powerless in the terms that matter here. I must tell you. Tell him I give up the land. I will become a tenant on his land. to be frank. And at least I know Petrus. Otherwise. Wait. As his concubine.?' 'You mean. Her hair hangs lank.. not a threat. Alternatively I am prepared to give you whatever you need to set yourself up again somewhere safer than here. Think about it. for patronage? To Ettinger? It is just a matter of time before Ettinger is found with a bullet in his back. in return for which I am allowed to creep in under his wing. a deal.
ripping his shirt. solid kick. taking the bulldog Katy for a walk. He would like to give the boy what he deserves: a sound thrashing. Falling to her knees. 'Come. As she rises. no weapons. covers herself. no dignity.' he says finally. pearls of blood emerge on the dark skin. the boy tries to run. Phrases that all his life he has avoided seem suddenly just and right: Teach him a lesson. The boy is moaning with pain. With a shout of pain he tries to pull free. Pollux! What a name! The dog changes position. Lucy grips the dog's collar. 'Such high hopes. 'You filthy swine!' More startled than hurt. 'I will kill you!' he shouts. Now they are heavy. At once the dog is upon him. With nothing. The last time he saw his daughter's breasts they were the demure rosebuds of a six-year-old.' and to end like this. To With nothing. unashamedly. the boy is staring too. so that he sprawls sideways. Rage wells up in him again. she braces her forelegs and tugs. At first he thinks he is urinating. the sash slips loose and her breasts are bared. property. Snot is running from his nostrils. As they approach the house he notices the boy. By the time he turns they are upon him. no rights.that. Not with nothing but. He is staring. Her teeth close over his elbow. He has been out. then he realizes he is peering in through the bathroom window. In a single quick movement the boy scrambles to his feet and dodges out of range. Show him his place. so that he staggers. 'How humiliating. The flat of his hand catches the boy in the face.' 'Like a dog. 'We will kill you . 'You swine!' he shouts. Lucy folds back his sleeve. 'Ya ya ya ya ya!' he shouts in pain. the one whom Petrus called my people. Surprisingly. standing with his face to the back wall. but the boy is too absorbed to pay heed. mounting the boy's body. The dog gives her a sidelong glance but does not obey.' There is a pause between them. peeping at Lucy. Lucy is wearing only a wrapper. as they watch. 'Are you all right?' she says. rounded. but his blows lack force and the dog ignores them. So this is what it is like. No cards. She snuffles and pants as much as ever. I agree. He seems on the point of crying. almost milky. let us go and wash it.' a good point to start start at ground level. but trips over his own feet. but she does not budge. Perhaps that is what I must learn to accept. Katy has begun to growl. There are score-marks from the dog's fangs. A stillness falls. But perhaps that is from again. He strikes out with a fist. tugging grimly at his arm. Then Lucy is on the scene. shakes his head. no TWENTY-THREE IT IS MID-MORNING. Katy has kept up with him. he thinks! This is what it is like to be a savage! He gives the boy a good. The word still rings in the air: Swine! Never has he felt such elemental rage.' 'Yes. The boy sucks in the snot and tears. clouding his eyes. it is humiliating. speaking softly and urgently. 'Yes. 'Katy!' she commands. The boy tries to push her off. either because he is slower than before or because she is faster.' she says. Reluctantly the dog releases her grip. but this no longer seems to irritate him. 'I will kill you!' he heaves. growling. like a dog. and strikes him a second time. Lucy turns away from the two of them.
' 'He was staring at you through the window. In the old days we had a word for people like him. with souls boiling up in it like mushrooms. 'David. tentative as strangers. I can cope with Petrus and his aanhangers. looking for mischief. He turns. we become too many. She pushes out her breasts to the sun. Morally deficient. Anyway. Lucy may be able to bend to the tempest. make any sacrifice. panting lightly. Lucy is right. Du musst dein Leben �ndern!: you must change your life. but he cannot hear what she says. Vedi l'anime di color cui vine l'ira. gnawing at each other. When he thinks of the boy and his threats. But as long as Petrus is there. 'He is shifty. He should be in an institution. He has taught no one a lesson . What is Lucy up to. and clearly she does not like what she sees. David.' 'I'm sorry. 'This can't go on.' Hours after the incident his hand still tingles from the blows. He has shown himself to her in the throes of passion. he is too old to heed.' She faces him squarely. Too many in too small a space. not with honour. At the same time. I hope. though he still nurses his arm. please keep it to yourself. he will strike him again. A disturbed child. But there is more. But he cannot. A punishment fitted to the crime. The problem is with the people she lives among. deliberately trampling the potato bed.' 'Then I'll pack my bags. I am going to find a room for myself in town. He is not. surely Lucy will be . If you want to think like that. 'I don't trust him. everything was peaceful again. until you came back.' 'And I am part of what you are prepared to sacrifice?' She shrugs. He ought to apologize. for the sake of peace. 'I am back for as long as is necessary. too old to change. Something is wrong with him. it would seem. he seethes with anger. Katy slumps down at her feet. he ducks under the wire fence and retreats toward Petrus' house. 'You are talking about that boy who has moved in with Petrus. Something about Pollux sends him into a rage: his ugly. you said it. Are you aware of that?' 'He is disturbed. Well.' 'Is that an excuse? An excuse for what he did to you?' Lucy's lips move. He is here. He is like a jackal sniffing around. he is ashamed of himself. she plays the banjo in front of the servants and does not care if they smirk. pleased with herself. Souls overcome with anger. His gait is cocky once more. If Pollux insults his daughter again. But I won't be staying with Lucy. I must have peace around me. opaque little eyes. All he has done is to estrange himself further from Lucy. his insolence. Mentally deficient. Teresa is past honour.all!' he shouts. That is why he must listen to Teresa. I can cope with you. Hard to believe they once lay naked in each other's arms. They embrace. Nothing that can't be fixed. A violent child in the body of a young man. Like spiders in a bottle. but I can't cope with all of you together. some angle to the business he does not understand. in control of himself.' An image comes to him from the Inferno: the great marsh of Styx.' he goes on. He arrives at the clinic just as Bev Shaw is leaving. squinting into the sunlight. I must say I don't like the look of him. he is a fact of life. we can't go on like this. protecting the boy? Lucy speaks. David. Teresa may be the last one left who can save him. She and I aren't hitting it off. what you think of him is beside the point. What is the problem?' 'Between Lucy and myself? Nothing. he cannot. with her achievements. Everything had settled down. and sings her longings. When I am added in.certainly not the boy. Deficient. 'I didn't say it. wrong in his head. but also the thought that like a weed he has been allowed to tangle his roots with Lucy and Lucy's existence. She will not be dead. She has immortal longings.' 'That is reckless talk. 'Is this just a visit or are you back for a while?' she asks. I am prepared to do anything. He condemns himself absolutely. he won't disappear in a puff of smoke.
stuffy. There is one other boarder. Between Lucy's generation and mine a curtain seems to have fallen. otherwise he reads or dozes or. but knows she thinks it is cancer. when he has the premises to himself. Twice a day he feeds the animals. Dogs. overfurnished.' he stumbles on. David?' she asks quietly. If you happen to hear of anything in Grahamstown. 'and some new disaster were to take place on the farm. picks out on Lucy's banjo the music he will give to Teresa Guiccioli. every day. to teach him a lesson? Animals trust her. you know. so that they won't jump out. 'If I had stood back from the beginning. for you to stand back and let Lucy work out solutions for herself. and she uses that trust to liquidate them. more than the boarding-house. he meets his landlady on the stairs. He is spending money like water. Is there something about him that Bev Shaw can see and he cannot? Because animals trust her. One morning he glances up to see the faces of three little boys peering at him over the concrete wall. Women are adaptable. it does not have to last for ever. Mr Lourie. After breakfast he leaves for the clinic and spends the day there. he tells himself. 'What do you plan to use it for?' says the man. He does not say what the treatment is for. but the engine sounds smooth enough.' The room is dark. an aluminium pot. In the bare compound behind the building he makes a nest of sorts. he hires a room in a house near the hospital. the dogs start barking. becomes his home. this will be his life. What a tale to tell back home: a mad old man who sits among the dogs singing to himself? . should he trust her too. 'Animals. I know someone who can fit rails for you. so I am looking for a room.' 'That will be handy. Carrying them up to his room. where would Lucy be now?' Bev Shaw is silent. a small gas stove.' 'You will need rails on the back. he cleans out their pens and occasionally talks to them.all right. They exchange greetings over breakfast. From a friend of Bill Shaw's he buys a half-ton pickup. 'Is that the question. He brings in the gas stove to make tea or warm up canned food: spaghetti and meatballs. 'I can't stay with Lucy. She lives closer to the ground than you.' 'My dogs don't jump. 'We don't allow cooking in the rooms. Following up an advertisement in Grocott's Mail. tells his landlady he is in Grahamstown for outpatient treatment. Perhaps the time has come.' Lucy adaptable? That is not his experience. with a table and an old armchair from the Shaws and a beach umbrella to keep off the worst of the sun.' he continues. the boys drop down and scamper off whooping with excitement. The clinic.' she says. let me know. 'I don't know. What is the lesson there? 'If I were to stand back. the mattress lumpy. He gives his name as Lourie. Nothing has to last for ever. He rises from his seat. snoek and onions. Until the child is born.' says Bev Shaw. 'You keep telling me to stand back. I don't know what the question is any more. 'In case of fire. I didn't even notice when it fell. Lucy is adaptable. And anyway. 'Anyway. as he has got used to other things. But he will get used to it. for the rest do not speak.' he says. for which he pays with a cheque for R 5000 and another cheque for R7000 postdated to the end of the month. What I mainly came to say is that I am available to help at the clinic. how would I be able to live with myself?' She shrugs. And she is young.' There is a long silence between them. David. Than either of us. No matter.' According to its papers the truck is twelve years old. Sundays included. At a camping shop he buys an immersion heater. a retired schoolteacher. pays a month's rent in advance.
Alternatively she wants him to arrive on the dawn. 'Come!' she whispers. to them. and think a little better of him. there is one he has come to feel a particular fondness for.from the pain. A lie. Just something to dabble at. embracing what it will bring. The lyric impulse in him may not be dead. Its period of grace is almost over. the truth is that Byron in Italy is going nowhere. her voice barely above a whisper .'che Sono?' Silence. The solitudine immensa offers no reply. like a bird. from the Villa Gamba. There is no action. Cradling it like a child. so as not to wake her father. halting cantilena hurled by Teresa into the empty air. from the summer heat. It consumes him night and day. From the chair where it rests she picks up the mandolin. Of the dogs in the holding pens. It is the darkest hour of the night: she breathes deeply. Poor Teresa! Poor aching girl! He has brought her back from the grave. How can he ever explain. Her eyes are closed. Even the trio in the corner are quiet as dormice. She wants to be rescued . Plink-plunk goes the mandolin in her arms. a single authentic note of immortal longing. Sitting at his table in the dog-yard. It has become the kind of work a sleepwalker might write. just a long. This is a bad time of the month for Teresa. to their parents. to raise Byron in Italy off the monotonous track on which it has been running since the start.' she sings . I plead. she is haggard with longing. she returns to the window. No visitor has shown an interest in adopting it. he had said to Rosalind. As for recognizing it. embracing the darkness. to bury his face in the hollow between her breasts. if it comes . she has not slept a wink. the belling of the bullfrogs. She wants him to come on the wind. but after decades of starvation it can crawl forth from its cave only pinched. punctuated now and then with groans and sighs from Byron offstage. might as well not exist.he knows too much about art and the ways of art to expect that. to appear on the horizon as a sun-god casting the glow of his warmth upon her. he harkens to the sad. For he will not hear the note himself. He has not the musical resources.' she sings.'Che vuol dir questa solitudine immensa? Ed io. But that will not be. deformed. the resources of energy. swooping curve of Teresa's plea as she confronts the darkness. to wrap himself around her. The husband and the rival mistress are forgotten. He sighs. when it comes. not any more. stunted. Though it would have been nice for Lucy to hear proof in her lifetime. if there are still scholars by then. The opera is not a hobby. to D Village. Plink-plunk squawks the banjo in the desolate yard in Africa. softly. she is sore. what Teresa and her lover have done to deserve being brought back to this world? TWENTY-FOUR IN HER WHITE nightdress Teresa stands at the bedroom window. His hopes must be more temperate: that somewhere from amidst the welter of sound there will dart up. By any means at all she wants him back. and now he is failing her. from her father's bad temper. breathing in the rustle of the wind. . my Byron!' She opens her arms wide. 'Come to me. from everything. It is a young male with a withered left hindquarter which it drags behind it. Yet despite occasional good moments. It would have been nice to be returned triumphant to society as the author of an eccentric little chamber opera. He hopes she will find it in her heart to forgive him. no development. 'Che vuol dir. he will leave that to the scholars of the future. Whether it was born like that he does not know.Mad indeed. promised her another life. soon it will have to submit to the needle.
he makes the faintest of gestures toward his daughter. 'The house is finished. all things are permitted? On Saturday mornings. the stables. She is wearing a pale summer dress. by agreement. When he strums the strings.Sometimes. and walks the rest of the way. When he hums Teresa's line. Lucy is slowing down in her movements. carnelian. with her back to him. They will not be able to deny that. or snooze at his feet. leaves the truck at the turnoff. 'The child? No. Arbitrarily. But Lucy is at work among the flowers.one can trust Mother Nature for that. he releases it from the pen and lets it frisk. Lucy. listens. Would he dare to do that: bring a dog into the piece. how much longer before the eagle-eyed daughters of Grahamstown pick them up too? 'How is Petrus getting on?' he asks. ash-blue. Of Petrus there is no sign. toward her body . But you go ahead. he knows. The dog is fascinated by the sound of the banjo. he can see the milky. he does not. Not a bad resolution to make. By unspoken agreement. Afterwards he takes her out to lunch.' 'No. from his mouth. but if he is picking up signs. David. The bees must be in their seventh heaven. As she bends over. blue-veined . From the last hillcrest the farm opens out before him: the old house. one weekday he takes a drive along the Kenton road. unconditionally. a patch of fawn on the path beside her. and.' 'Has Petrus dropped any more hints?' 'Hints?' 'About you. he has been adopted. nor of his wife or the jackal boy who runs with them. clipping or pruning or tying. You are well on the way. He reaches the fence and stops. and a wide straw hat. in dark times. the dog sits up. the dog smacks its lips and seems on the point of singing too.'is born. he goes to Donkin Square to help Lucy at the market stall. Lucy's visitors from afar. They are in the process of moving in. in its grotesque way. 'Do you love him yet?' Though the words are his. I am determined to be a good mother. for the time being. allow it to loose its own lament to the heavens between the strophes of lovelorn Teresa's? Why not? Surely. solid as ever. placid look. I'm just an old lag serving out my sentence. the dog would die for him. She has begun to wear a selfabsorbed. All very nicely timed. Petrus' new house. and the humming begins to swell with feeling (it is as though his larynx thickens: he can feel the hammer of blood in his throat). At this distance the flowerbeds are solid blocks of colour: magenta. A season of blooming.' A good person. You should try to be a good person too.' 'And their child? Isn't the child just about due?' 'Next week.' 'I suspect it is too late for me. in a work that will never be performed. not following the track but striking out over the veld. he can see the bulldog too. It will be. About your place in the scheme. has not yet noticed him. Love will grow . they startle him. a child of this earth. as he picks his way down the hillside. nevertheless. come to his daughter's farm. or howling. all but the ceilings and the plumbing. he is sensible of a generous affection streaming out toward him from the dog.' 'Perhaps it will be different once the child' . A good mother and a good person. after all.' There is a long silence between them. It is not 'his' in any sense. the old dam on which he can make out specks that must be the ducks and larger specks that must be the wild geese. while he is reading or writing. How could I? But I will. cocks its head. he has been careful not to give it a name (though Bev Shaw refers to it as Driepoot). around the yard. boots. Nonetheless. She is not obviously pregnant.
peasant tasks. bends down again. would already have lolloped after his comrades into the clinic building. She looks.' he says. One by one Bev touches them. She is flushed from her labours and perhaps a little sunburnt. 'Lucy. So: once she was only a little tadpole in her mother's body. 'I parked and took a walk. with luck. His daughter is becoming a peasant. But perhaps those virtues will come as other virtues go: the virtue of passion. his gift. A scene ready-made for a Sargent or a Bonnard. He and Bev do not speak. patience. till it may as well be forgotten. Good. das ewig Weibliche. The truth is. comforts them. and now here she is. Not much of an eye for anything. the blind. the one who likes music. from her. immemorial. City boys like him. 'Lucy!' She does not hear him. including one he will not yet have met with in his life: the smell of expiration. Sunday has come again. the maimed. He clambers through the fence. the watchdog appears to be snoozing. will grow inexorably less and less. 'I didn't hear you. Still she is not aware of him.skin and broad. but even city boys can recognize beauty when they see it. the one who. There may be things to learn. he has never had much of an eye for rural life. despite all his reading in Wordsworth. into the theatre with its zinc-topped table where the rich. 'Hello. He must have a look again at Victor Hugo. despite trying harder than most. mixed smells still linger. He has learned by now. giving it what he no longer has difficulty in calling by its proper name: love. the picture of health. There is only the young dog left. in a straw sunhat. One by one he brings in the cats. still be here doing her ordinary tasks among the flowerbeds. that with luck will be just as solid. more solid than he has ever been. With luck she will last a long time. visitation: a new footing. then stands back and watches while he seals up the remains in a black plastic shroud. Lucy comes erect. He and Bev Shaw are engaged in one of their sessions of L�sung. speaks to them. The wind drops.' 'Will you come in and have some tea?' She makes the offer as if he were a visitor.' she says. A grandfather. bees busy in a field of flowers. Visitorship. the halt. A Joseph. stretches. suddenly.' Katy raises her head and stares shortsightedly in his direction. and where has that got him? Is it too late to educate the eye? He clears his throat. a new start. Who would have thought it! What pretty girl can he expect to be wooed into bed with a grandfather? Softly he speaks her name. What will it entail. And from within her will have issued another existence. a line of existences in which his share. the sound . and at the centre of the picture a young woman. long beyond him. to concentrate all his attention on the animal they are killing.all those whose term has come. Lucy straightens up. There is a moment of utter stillness which he would wish prolonged for ever: the gentle sun. 'Where is the truck?' asks Lucy. . but also the young. the crippled. and therefore perhaps the most endearing. Field-labour. vulnerable tendons of the backs of her knees: the least beautiful part of a woman's body. for instance. He lacks the virtues of the old: equanimity. Katy lumbers up to him. just as longlasting. poet of grandfatherhood. being a grandfather? As a father he has not been much of a success. given half a chance. except pretty girls. lightly pregnant. solid in her existence. and puts them away. Twenty-three. the stillness of midafternoon. more loudly. When he is dead she will. can have their breath taken away. The spell is broken. the least expressive. kindliness. half-turns. smiles. So it will go on. sniffs his shoes. He ties the last bag and takes it to the door. As a grandfather he will probably score lower than average too. then the dogs: the old. As for the watchdog.
' Bearing him in his arms like a lamb. his legs buckle. when the soul is out. and the next day wheel the bag into the flames and see that it is burnt. I am giving him up. One gets used to things getting harder. it cannot be evaded. 'Was that the last?' asks Bev Shaw. He will do all that for him when his time comes. this room that is not a room but a hole where one leaks out of existence. He crosses the surgery. licks his cheeks. briefly it hangs about in the air. bewilderingly. 'Come. sniffs his face. something unmentionable: here the soul is yanked out of the body. twisting and contorting.' says Bev Shaw. 'Are you giving him up?' 'Yes. his lips. 'One more. Harder. what his nose will not tell him. It will be little enough. What the dog will not be able to work out (not in a month of Sundays! he thinks). if he wishes. He does nothing to stop it. yet easier too. perhaps he will do that for him) and caress him and brush back the fur so that the needle can find the vein. when he will have to bring him to Bev Shaw in her operating room (perhaps he will carry him in his arms. and then. 'I thought you would save him for another week. He can save the young dog. It gets harder all the time. less than little: nothing.the soft. and whisper to him and support him in the moment when. But a time must come. bends. short smell of the released soul.' He opens the cage door. his ears. The dog wags its crippled rear.' The End . 'Come. he re-enters the surgery. Something happens in this room. Bev Shaw once said. is how one can enter what seems to be an ordinary room and never come out again. for another week.' he says. burnt up. It will be beyond him. opens his arms. one ceases to be surprised that what used to be as hard as hard can be grows harder yet. then it is sucked away and is gone. fold him up and pack him away in his bag.
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