This was translated, and the lawyer asked how I knew his trade.
“In the same way that I know a weasel by its face and a stink-cat by its smell,” I replied, for every minute I hated that advocate more.
At this answer the lawyer grew white with anger, and the young lord burst into a roar of laughter, for, as I have said, these English people have no manners. However, they settled themselves down again on the yellow-wood bench and looked at me; while I, folding my hands, sat opposite, and looked at them for somewhere about another hour, as the interpreter told them that if they moved I should be offended, and, for my part, I was determined that I would not speak to them of their business until Suzanne had gone to bed.
At last, when I saw that they would bear it no longer, for they were becoming very wrathful, and saying words that sounded like oaths, I called for supper and we went in and ate it. Here again I noticed the resemblance between the young man and Ralph, for he had the same tricks of eating and drinking, and I saw that when he had done his meat he turned himself a little sideways from the table, crossing his legs in a peculiar fashion just as it always had been Ralph’s habit to do.
“The two had one grandfather, or one grandmother,” I said to myself, and grew afraid at the thought.
THE SIN OF VROUW BOTMAR
When the meat was cleared away I bade Suzanne go to bed, which she did most unwillingly, for knowing the errand of these men she wished to hear our talk. As soon as she was gone I took a seat so that the light of the candles left my face in shadow and fell full on those of the three men—a wise thing to do if one is wicked enough to intend to tell lies about any matter—and said:
“Now, here I am at your service; be pleased to set out the business that you have in hand.”
Then they began, the lawyer, speaking through the interpreter, asking, “Are you the Vrouw Botmar?”
“That is my name.”
“Where is your husband, Jan Botmar?”
“Somewhere on the veldt; I do not know where.”
“Will he be back to-morrow?”
“When will he be back?”
“Perhaps in two months, perhaps in three, I cannot tell.”
At this they consulted together, and then went on:
“Have you living with you a young Englishman named Ralph Mackenzie?”
“One named Ralph Kenzie lives with us.”
“Where is he?”
“With my husband on the veldt. I do not know where.”
“Can you find him?”
“No, the veldt is very wide. If you wish to see him you must wait till he comes back.”
“When will that be?”
“I am not his nurse and cannot tell; perhaps in three months, perhaps six.”
Now again they consulted, and once more went on: