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How Barrington Returned To Johannesburg
by [?]

Norris wanted a holiday. He stood in the marketplace looking southwards to the chimney-stacks, and dilating upon the subject to three of his friends. He was sick of the Stock Exchange, the men, the women, the drinks, the dances–everything. He was as indifferent to the price of shares as to the rise and fall of the quicksilver in his barometer; he neither desired to go in on the ground floor nor to come out in the attics. He simply wanted to get clean away. Besides he foresaw a slump, and he would be actually saving money on the veld. At this point Teddy Isaacs strolled up and interrupted the oration.

“Where are you off to, then?”

“Manicaland,” answered Norris.

“Oh! You had better bring Barrington back.”

Teddy Isaacs was a fresh comer to the Rand, and knew no better. Barrington meant to him nothing more than the name of a man who had been lost twelve months before on the eastern borders of Mashonaland. But he saw three pairs of eyebrows lift simultaneously, and heard three simultaneous outbursts on the latest Uitlander grievance. However, Norris answered him quietly enough.

“Yes, if I come across Barrington, I’ll bring him back.” He nodded his head once or twice and smiled. “You may make sure of that,” he added, and turned away from the group.

Isaacs gathered that there had been trouble between Barrington and Morris, and applied to his companions for information. The commencement of the trouble, he was told, dated back to the time when the two men were ostrich-farming side by side, close to Port Elizabeth in the Cape Colony. Norris owned a wife; Barrington did not. The story was sufficiently ugly as Johannesburg was accustomed to relate it, but upon this occasion Teddy Isaacs was allowed to infer the details. He was merely put in possession of the more immediate facts. Barrington had left the Cape Colony in a hurry, and coming north to the Transvaal when Johannesburg was as yet in its brief infancy, had prospered exceedingly. Meanwhile, Norris, as the ostrich industry declined, had gone from worse to worse, and finally he too drifted to Johannesburg with the rest of the flotsam of South Africa. He came to the town alone, and met Barrington one morning eye to eye on the Stock Exchange. A certain amount of natural disappointment was expressed when the pair were seen to separate without hostilities; but it was subsequently remarked that they were fighting out their duel, though not in the conventional way. They fought with shares, and Barrington won. He had the clearer head, and besides, Norris didn’t need much ruining; Barrington could see to that in his spare time. It was, in fact, as though Norris stood up with a derringer to face a machine gun. His turn, however, had come after Barrington’s disappearance, and he was now able to contemplate an expedition into Manicaland without reckoning up his pass-book.

He bought a buck-wagon with a tent covering over the hinder part, provisions sufficient for six months, a span of oxen, a couple of horses salted for the thickhead sickness, hired a Griqua lad as wagon-driver, and half a dozen Matabele boys who were waiting for a chance to return, and started northeastward.

From Johannesburg he travelled to Makoni’s town, near the Zimbabwe ruins, and with half a dozen brass rings and an empty cartridge case hired a Ma-ongwi boy, who had been up to the Mashonaland plateau before. The lad guided him to the head waters of the Inyazuri, and there Norris fenced in his camp, in a grass country fairly wooded, and studded with gigantic blocks of granite.

The Ma-ongwi boy chose the site, fifty yards west of an ant-heap, and about a quarter of a mile from a forest of machabel. He had camped on the spot before, he said.

“When?” asked Norris.

“Twice,” replied the boy. “Three years ago and last year.”