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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton

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CHAPTER 32

Several letters arrive. Mr. Carmichael's letter says that there will be no mercy. Kumalo and his wife grieve, but she shakes it off faster. The one from Absalom says that if he were at Ndotsheni, he would never leave again. Msimangu reports the Johannesburg news, and Kumalo is surprised about his own nostalgia for that bewildering city. Mrs. Kumalo departs with the letter from Absalom to his wife, and Kumalo goes out to study the welcome rain clouds.



Standing there, he witnesses a strange ceremony involving the local magistrate, Jarvis, and other white men with sticks and flags. The chief rides up but obviously doesn't know what is going on. The sticks and the box on the tripod are surveyors' instruments. Meanwhile it has been no ordinary storm building up. The white men leave just in time, and after Jarvis turns his horse loose, he joins Kumalo in the leaking church. They try to stay dry during the deafening downpour. When Jarvis asks Kumalo whether mercy was granted, Kumalo shows him Carmichael's letter. Jarvis knows what it is to lose a son, and tells Kumalo he understands. That evening Kumalo's people joke and play around the surveyors' sticks until one of the sticks is accidentally pulled up. They put it back carefully, almost superstitiously, since they still don't know what the sticks mean.

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Barron's Booknotes-Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
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