So, so, that is the end of my story of the forgotten bygone years. As I, old Suzanne Botmar, tell it the shadow of that white-topped koppie falls upon this house and beneath my feet is the very spot where the brave schimmel died. Ralph and Jan would not leave it—no, not even when the British hoisted their flag in Natal, making us English again after all that we had undergone to escape their usurping rule. We suffered much at that event, Jan and I, but though he said nothing, for indeed he did not dare to in my presence, I believe that Ralph did not suffer at all. Well, he was of English blood and it was natural that he should like his own flag best, though to this day I am very angry with my daughter Suzanne, who, for some reason or other, would never say a hard word of the accursed British Government—or listen to one if she could help it.
Yet, to be just, that same Government has ruled us well and fairly, though I never could agree with their manner of dealing with the natives, and our family has grown rich under its shadow. Yes, we were rich from the beginning, for Ralph and some Boers fetched back the cattle of Suzanne and Sihamba which Swart Piet’s thieves had stolen, and they were a very great herd.
For many long and happy years after all these events that I have told of did Ralph and Suzanne live together, till at last God took my child Suzanne as she began to grow old. From that day life had no joys for Ralph, or indeed for any of us, and he fought with the English against Cetywayo at Isandlhwana, and fell there bravely, he and his son together, for his son’s wife, an English-woman of good blood was dead also in childbirth.
Then all the world grew dark for Jan and me, but now in my extreme age once more it lightens like the dawn.
O God, who am I that I should complain? Nay, nay, to Thee, Almighty God, be praise and thanks and glory. Quite soon I must fall asleep, and how rich and plentiful is that store which awaits me beyond my sleep; that store of friends and kindred who have passed me in the race and won the immortal crown of peace, which even now their dear hands prepare for me. Therefore to Thee, Maker of the world, be praise and thanks and glory. Yes, let all things praise Thee as do my aged lips.
NOTE BY THE BARONESS GLENTHIRSK, FORMERLY KNOWN AS SUZANNE KENZIE.
It is something over three years since my great-grandmother, the Vrouw Suzanne Botmar, finished dictating to me this history of her early days and of my grandparents, Ralph Kenzie, the English castaway, and Suzanne Botmar, her daughter. Now, if it be only as an instance of the wonderful workings of fate, or, as I prefer to call it, of Providence, I add this note to her narrative. As I write there stretches before me, not the bushy veldt of Weenen in Natal cut by the silver line of the Tugela, but a vast prospect of heather-clad mountains, about whose feet brawls a salmon river. For this is Scotland, and I sit in the castle of Glenthirsk, while on the terrace beneath my window passes my little son, who, if he lives, will one day be lord of it. But I will tell the story, which is indeed a strange one.