She paused, as though she did not quite know how to begin.
Then she seemed to give herself, mentally, a little shake. “You must have wondered “, she said, “why I was so upset at the thought of young George’s going to England without you. I am an old woman, and perhaps I have the silly fancies of the old, but I should like to tell you my own love story, and then you can decide whether it is wise for your man to leave you before you are married.”
“I was quite a young girl when I first met Richard Weston. He was an Englishman who boarded with the Van Rensburgs on the next farm, four or five miles from us. Richard was not strong. He had a weak chest, and the doctors had sent him to South Africa so that the dry air could cure him. He taught the Van Rensburg children, who were younger than I was, though we often played together, but he did this for pleasure and not because he needed money.
“We loved one another from the first moment we met, though we did not speak of our love until the evening of my eighteenth birthday. All our friends and relatives had come to my party, and in the evening we danced on the big old carpet which we had laid down in the barn. Richard had come with the Van Rensburgs, and we danced together as often as we dared, which was not very often, for my father hated the Uitlanders. Indeed, for a time he had quarreled with Mynheer Van Rensburg for allowing Richard to board with him, but afterwards he got used to the idea, and was always polite to the Englishman, though he never liked him.
“我和理查德是一见钟情，尽管直到我十八岁过生日那天大家才表示彼此的爱慕之情。那天晚上的舞会上，大家的亲友都来了。大家在仓房里铺上一条宽大的旧毛毯，翩翩起舞。我和他壮起胆子频频起舞。但事实上，没多少次，由于我的爸爸非常讨厌’洋人’。有一次，他曾抱怨说伦斯堡先生不应该让理查德寄住在他的家，为此还跟他吵过一场，他后来就习以为常了。虽谈不上喜欢，但对这个英国人以礼相待。”那是我一生中最开心的一个过生日，由于理查德在跳舞间歇将我领到外面清凉的月光中，在点点繁星之下对我倾诉爱慕之情，并向我求婚。我二话没说答应了他的需要，由于我早已心醉神迷，想不到爸爸妈妈亲会怎么说。我的心中除去理查德和他的爱情，什么也顾不上了。 “That was the happiest birthday of my life, for while we were resting between dances Richard took me outside into the cool, moonlit night, and there, under the stars ,he told me he loved me and asked me to marry him. Of course I promised I would, for I was too happy to think of what my parents would say, or indeed of anything except Richard was not at our meeting place as he had arranged. I was disappointed but not alarmed, for so many things could happen to either of us to prevent out keeping our tryst. I thought that next time we visited the Van Ransburgs, I should hear what had kept him and we could plan further meetings…
“So when my father asked if I would drive with him to Driefontein I was delighted. But when we reached the homestead and were sitting on the stoep drinking our coffee, we heard that Richard had left quite suddenly and had gone back to England. His father had died, and now he was the heir and must go back to look after his estates.