In due course we reached the wagon without further trouble. While we were shielding our pipes after an excellent supper I asked Anscombe his impressions of Mr. Marnham.
“Queer cove, I think,” he answered. “Been a gentleman, too, and still keeps the manners, which isn’t strange if he is one of the Marnhams, for they are a good family. I wonder he mentioned having served with my father.”
“It slipped out of him. Men who live a lot alone are apt to be surprised into saying things they regret afterwards, as I noticed he did. But why do you wonder?”
“Because as it happens, although I have only just recalled it, my father used to tell some story about a man named Marnham in his regiment. I can’t remember the details, but it had to do with cards when high stakes were being played for, and with the striking of a superior officer in the quarrel that ensued, as a result of which the striker was requested to send in his papers.”
“It may not have been the same man.”
“Perhaps not, for I believe that more than one Marnham served in that regiment. But I remember my father saying, by way of excuse for the person concerned, that he had a most ungovernable temper. I think he added, that he left the country and took service in some army on the Continent. I should rather like to clear the thing up.”
“It isn’t probable that you will, for even if you should ever meet this Marnham again, I fancy you would find he held his tongue about his acquaintance with your father.”
“I wonder what Miss Heda is like,” went on Anscombe after a pause. “I am curious to see a girl who designs a house on the model of an ancient ruin.”
“Well, you won’t, for she’s away somewhere. Besides we are looking for buffalo, not girls, which is a good thing as they are less dangerous.”
I spoke thus decisively because I had taken a dislike to Mr. Marnham and everything to do with him, and did not wish to encourage the idea of further meetings.
“No, never, I suppose. And yet I feel as though I were certainly destined to see that accursed yellow-wood swamp again.”
“Nonsense,” I replied as I rose to turn in. Ah! if I had but known!
THE HUNTERS HUNTED
While I was taking off my boots I heard a noise of jabbering in some native tongue which I took to be Sisutu, and not wishing to go to the trouble of putting them on again, called to the driver of the wagon to find out what it was. This man was a Cape Colony Kaffir, a Fingo I think, with a touch of Hottentot in him. He was an excellent driver, indeed I do not think I have ever seen a better, and by no means a bad shot. Among Europeans he rejoiced in the name of Footsack, a Boer Dutch term which is generally addressed to troublesome dogs and means “Get out.” To tell the truth, had I been his master he would have got out, as I suspected