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The Moon Endureth

VI. The Grove Of Ashtaroth
"C'est enfin que dans leurs prunelles
Rit et pleure-fastidieux--
L'amour des choses eternelles
Des vieux morts et des anciens dieux!"
--PAUL VERLAINE.
We were sitting around the camp fire, some thirty miles north of a place called Taqui,
when Lawson announced his intention of finding a home. He had spoken little the last
day or two, and I had guessed that he had struck a vein of private reflection. I thought it
might be a new mine or irrigation scheme, and I was surprised to find that it was a
country house.
"I don't think I shall go back to England," he said, kicking a sputtering log into place. "I
don't see why I should. For business purposes I am far more useful to the firm in South
Africa than in Throgmorton Street. I have no relation left except a third cousin, and I
have never cared a rush for living in town. That beastly house of mine in Hill Street will
fetch what I gave for it,--Isaacson cabled about it the other day, offering for furniture and
all. I don't want to go into Parliament, and I hate shooting little birds and tame deer. I am
one of those fellows who are born Colonial at heart, and I don't see why I shouldn't
arrange my life as I please. Besides, for ten years I have been falling in love with this
country, and now I am up to the neck."
He flung himself back in the camp-chair till the canvas creaked, and looked at me below
his eyelids. I remember glancing at the lines of him, and thinking what a fine make of a
man he was. In his untanned field-boots, breeches, and grey shirt, he looked the born
wilderness hunter, though less than two months before he had been driving down to the
City every morning in the sombre regimentals of his class. Being a fair man, he was
gloriously tanned, and there was a clear line at his shirt-collar to mark the limits of his
sunburn. I had first known him years ago, when he was a broker's clerk working on half-
commission. Then he had gone to South Africa, and soon I heard he was a partner in a
mining house which was doing wonders with some gold areas in the North. The next step
was his return to London as the new millionaire,--young, good-looking, wholesome in
mind and body, and much sought after by the mothers of marriageable girls. We played
polo together, and hunted a little in the season, but there were signs that he did not
propose to become the conventional English gentleman. He refused to buy a place in the
country, though half the Homes of England were at his disposal. He was a very busy
man, he declared, and had not time to be a squire. Besides, every few months he used to
rush out to South Africa. I saw that he was restless, for he was always badgering me to go
big-game hunting with him in some remote part of the earth. There was that in his eyes,
too, which marked him out from the ordinary blond type of our countrymen. They were
large and brown and mysterious, and the light of another race was in their odd depths.
 
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