Hello Reader, Please use the "Book Chapters" directory to read the Chapters in order. As the story unfolds each new Chapter will be posted... This story weaves a magical tapestry between culture groups and generational groups during tumultuous times. An African Sky tells the story of ordinary people having an incredibly extraordinary experience. Set in turn of the Century Southern Africa.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
Chapter Four - A Change is Coming...
Don't forget to use the Book Chapter Directory on the right to read the Chapters in sequence. The following events are all true. Names and location have been changed. Part 1: Love in a Harsh Landscape Chapter Four - A Change is Coming...
1910 South Africa
Marcelle reached for her fine paint brush, with one long
motion she painted a simple line across the page. Instantly the nondescript
scene became recognizable… the river Seine from the right bank. She smiled as
she pictured the movement of the trees in a gentle Parisian breeze; she shut
her eyes and imagined the people walking there. She saw the sun shining on the
Pont Bridge, she heard the water lapping up against the yellow stones… When she
focused on the page again she started to paint fluidly, forming grass, water,
trees and a few people here and there…
The sun rose slowly over the home studio, Marcelle turned
her head towards the light as if in a daze, her face was smeared with traces of
pale blue and yellow. She placed her paintbrush into a tall beveled glass of
water, and removed her spattered white apron. She walked gracefully to the
large grey sink and washed her hands in the bucket of water there. Drying her hands,
she started to carefully clean her fingernails. Traces of the night’s painting
were in every crevice and fold of her skin. She smiled at the poetic nature of
this. Frowned at the mess of it.
“Un tel gâchis…Such
a mess!” her smooth forehead crinkling with the finest of lines. Her delicate
features were the envy of all of the women in town. Her dark hair rolled back
neatly and pinned to her head in elaborate plaits, often caught the sun and
shone with deep natural ebony – and no hint of grey. There was talk about her
using a natural dye called Henna, from the local spice traders and passing
migrant laborers, but this was not so. She walked towards the window, leaning
on the sill; she smiled out at the new day,
du matin… Welcome morning sun.”
Henri de la Terre drove his shining Ford Model N up their
short tree lined drive, he had bought it from a Mr Georges Chapard (also
conveniently a Frenchman) as he travelled throughout Natal selling the popular
car. As Henri jumped from the cabby, two teenaged boys ran giggling out from
the shade under the house, and started to lead two shabby horses that were tied
to the railing, to the back of the house.
“Make sure they get water and some food.”
“Yes Baas.” The
Swazi twins Mahlosane and Sambulo chimed in unison at their boss, and led the
horses away chatting loudly to each other. Henri was also a good man, he was
fair. Their mother, Nosi, a Swazi migrant had worked at the house until she died
from influenza a few years before, Mahlo and Sam both worked as all-rounders, running
errands, fixing odds and ends, maintaining the gardens and watching over the
Madam when Henri was not home. They would leave the two horses tied to the gate
so that people passing by would know that someone was home visiting the lady of
He opened the front door of his home and made his way
“Marcelle? Good morning! Where are you love?” He stopped
at each doorway peeking inside to see if she was perhaps buried in a good book
or maybe out taking a short walk.
“I am here my love, in the library.”
Henri sped up his steps, seeing his wife was quite
possibly the best part of his day, every day. A man could not have asked for a
better woman. Industrious, talented and kind hearted. He stopped at the Library
and knocked politely, Marcelle played along,
“Who is it?”
“May I come in Madam?”
“But of course!” Marcelle laughed and stood quickly to
receive her husband with a loving hug. In public they were the picture of a
‘proper marriage’ but in their own home they were very affectionate and enjoyed
each others company very much.
After sharing tea, Henri drove them the short distance
into Hermanskraal and he dropped her at the Gallery or
“Galleria” as she had named it. Before she stepped down he kissed her lightly
on the cheek and she gave him a warm smile. He watched her fuss with her shawl
while trying to find the keys in her purse, she was a fine woman, slender and
petit, always fashionably dressed… and always complaining about the paint on
her hands and nails. It was ‘part of the job’ he always said, ‘just accept it’ She
wished she could paint with gloves on, and she had tried too. But alas, it was
not comfortable and her painting had looked stiff and uninviting…
Marcelle walked to her desk and sat down, preparing to
read through her paperwork from the day before. International purchases of the
Galleria’s paintings to finalise,
new artists to preview, and there was a chance that she could visit Paris in a
month’s time to sell some more of her artwork, and purchase some new pieces for
the Galleria showroom. With the new roads winding up from the coast and through
Hermanskraal, there was a more steady stream of travelers making their way
through the sleepy dorp town,
husbands or men who wanted to surprise their wives or lovers with a beautiful
piece of art… By midday the stifling African heat was too much, the
hiss and shrill cry of the Cicadas lending an ominous feel to the days
oppressive heat. She stepped
out to find a cool place to have lunch. She decided on the small tea shop “Little
London” that served delicious British cakes, scones and lots of different types
of tea. She walked into the tearoom and sat down, ordering two scones with
fresh cream and jam, and a pot of Earl Grey tea. Once it arrived she started to
eat, she looked up and saw through a back window – two young lovers holding one
another and laughing – the young man looked familiar… suddenly the man threw
his head back in laugher, and Marcelle’s hand flew to her throat, her mouth
making a little O shape. It was her son,
Jean-Michel with the local loudmouth farmer Pa Venter’s only daughter, Elmarie.
She felt her stomach repulse and pushed her plate of food from her, her eyes
darted around as she tried to think of how long this may have been going on,
she thought of the consequences.
“I will take this with me please, I must go. Now.” she
said brusquely to the tea lady. She rose quickly and paid at the front desk,
“You aren’t staying my dear?” the tea lady frowned,
“No, No, I have much to do now, much to do. Sorry and
thank you for the… uh… the… lunch… it was… how
you say?... Marvelous?” Her English always failed her when she was upset.
“Thank you for the compliment, and I must say, your
latest paintin’ is jus’ lovely. All those dancin’ girls an’ frills… very nice.”
But Marcelle had already left the tea room.
She raced up the steps of the Galleria, locked the gate
and walked down and around the building, looking for the two youngsters. As she
approached she saw something happen that made her breath quicken, the look in
her son’s eyes and the way he was looking at Elmarie… hungry was the only
The two youngsters jumped back from one another and looked
as though they had seen a ghost.
“Mother! Uh… allow me… uh… this is Elmar…”
“I know who she is.
Come with me this instant I am not playing games Jean-Michel come with me NOW”
she was being rude, she knew she was being rude. She had not greeted or acknowledged
her son’s friend and she didn’t care. She needed to get him away from here and
away from this girl. It was a bad idea. Not now. Not at this time in his life.
Elmarie had tears on her cheeks, shame making her cheeks flushed. Jean-Michel
was enraged, fist clenched as he regarded his mother’s rudeness. God. How to do
come with me now.”
“Yes… Yes, Jean. You must listen to your mother. Go with
her please. I have to meet Pa soon so please. I don’t want trouble for you just
Jean-Michel looked from his pale and flustered mother, to
his embarrassed and dismayed girl, why was this so hard? Suddenly he saw a
vision before him, he saw Elmarie lifeless in his arms, blood smeared across
her neck and shoulder. The vision was so clear and in front of his eyes, he
gasped and stepped back. Turning to look at his mother, she was staring at him
in a strange way and nodding. Did she just?... How had she done that? He ran
his fingers through his hair, feeling shocked by what he had just seen. And
more so because he had felt a feral animalistic response to it.
“I will go with my mother, but I will see you soon
Elmarie…” he reached out and took Elmarie’s hand in his. He felt her pulse
beneath her skin with his thumb, circling it gently, the desire to raise her
wrist to his lips was so overpowering that he dropped her hand immediately. What
was going on?