Cry, The Beloved Country Book 1, Chapter 2
A small child in the village runs to the pastor's house, holding a letter to deliver to him. The Reverend, Stephen Kumalo, welcomes her into his home, receiving the letter then kindly telling her to ask his wife for some food. He is reluctant to open the letter. It is from Johannesburg, where three of his close relatives have gone, never to be heard from again. His sister Gertrude, twenty-five years younger than he, went to find her husband, who had gone there and disappeared. His brother John also moved to Johannesburg, and hadn't been heard from since. But the most painful disappearance is that of his son, Absalom, who as a young man went to find Gertrude and has not returned. Kumalo's wife urges him to open the letter, and she herself finally does so. It is from the Reverend Theophilus Msimangu, who writes that Gertrude is very sick. He assures Kumalo that he will find him a place to stay in Johannesburg, and urges him to come. Kumalo is afraid-Johannesburg is a huge, terrifying city, and he does not know Msimangu, does not know what he might find there. He is angry with his relatives for not writing. He frets, "they go to Johannesburg, and there they are lost, and no one hears of them at all." Chapter 2, pg. 9 In addition, he and his wife are very poor. Finally, they decide that they will use the money they were saving to send Absalom to school for the trip instead. Kumalo goes to pray, and his wife sits alone in silent suffering.