Jeremy ran straight through the apparition and was out of the door in a flash. He jumped the few wooden stairs and ran like mad to the car.
He was digging in his pockets for the key and looked up in the process, white as a sheet and with sweat running down his brow.
His mouth fell open.
The whole picnic spot had changed.
All the buildings except for the lapa in the middle where the caretaker was sitting earlier on were still there but somehow they looked different. Also amongst the buildings and way out into the veldt there were pitched tents, strong, old fashioned tents and about thirty of them.
The next moment he was drawn inexorably towards the site as he started hearing a myriad of voices talking, shouting orders, arguing, with many other sounds intermingling with it, clanging, snorting, stamping of hooves, dishes being washed, water running from an enamel pitcher or some metal, somebody sawing and cutting something, the clicking sound of a rifle being loaded or cleaned.
Nothing was perceptible however.
Then, slowly and very flimsy in the way of watery outlines, the first movements of people became visible: A tent flap being opened, a forearm lifting a mug to unseen lips, water splashed into a face by two hands…Gradually, bit by bit, the picture started filling up.
Until with great amazement Jeremy could see, hear and even smell everything as if he were cast in the same time period and were a component of it.
In no time though he realized that none of the others could see HIM!
There was a great variety of men, soldiers, in different stages of dress. It was early morning and it was already hot.
This surely could be none other than the British established regiment, Steinacker’s Horse, who located here for some time at the very beginning of the 20th century while keeping guard against contact between the Boers of old and the sympathizers from across the Mozambican border.
One of the men in full army outfit and carrying a rifle was leading a saddled horse through the camp and on reaching the perimeter stood there waiting for others who followed soon after. There were five of them. He briefed them on some scouting points after which they clambered onto the animals and galloped away in the direction of the border. These seemed to be the only horses around.
In the camp itself the rest of the soldiers were engaged in many activities. Some were busy in the shade of an apple-leaf tree skinning the carcass of a buffalo which apparently was hunted down during the night and prepared it for sawing and cutting off of big chunks of meat. A little to their right was a makeshift cooler room, the walls of which were put together with layers of earth materials and ash in between. The meat will obviously be stored there.
Further actions around camp involved simple things like fixing the wheel on a cart, shaving, getting dressed, bathing, cooking, eating, cleaning up the yard, lazing around and there were some men even drinking beer at this early hour – probably in an attempt to drown away the severe hangovers from too much revelry last night.
Then Jeremy saw him, the scrawny soldier from the river whom he had thought was a ranger. There was a difference in his body though and all Jeremy could figure from this was that he could have seen the man in two separate time zones. Here and now he was not so thin but rather well-built.
He was standing near the stream in earnest conversation with another fellow, both of them seemingly neat and proud in dress and general appearance. In his hand he held a white sheet of paper. Every now and again he would slap with the back of his hand against the sheet with a face contorted with concern.
What worried him that much? While everybody around seemed to be so careless, untroubled, slovenly even, what could be the problem this man faced with such seriousness?
Jeremy decided to walk up to them and listen in on the conversation.
To be continued.