Poor Jeremy had to deal with spells of giddiness every time the scenes changed from one or two days to the next day or week. Things were developing fast. Again and again as he came to his senses, the area had undergone some changes: A new wooden building was erected, one of the soldiers had died from malaria, another from a lion attack while on patrol as well as the horse he was on at the time, it had rained then the weather had turned dry, the people became more restless and lazy, poaching was the order of the day. Now and again the Colonel would turn up and restore some sort of order, getting the soldiers to march around a bit and do some target shooting (which they did on a daily basis for fun anyhow). In no time all would be back to lethargically laying around, consuming a huge amount of whiskey and other spirits, gambling, fighting, out to do some scouting or patrolling or poaching and invariably returning with a kudu, blouwildebeest, tsessebe or impala slung over the shoulders. Once a dead lion was brought back to camp.
James was at his charming best trying his utmost to lure Marion away from her husband and into his own lusting arms. She loved the attention and the first signs of friction sprung up between Peter and James.
Calamity struck swift and unexpected before anyone could make a move. Way too fast it came down on the trio.
It was at this stage that Jeremy was plucked right into the middle of tragedy and he nearly lost his mind when he traveled at the speed of light from one point to the other, finding himself at places many kilometers from Makhadzi and back again. All the way between the contemporary Letaba camp, on the plains and in the bush and back to Makhadzi he went speeding…
• * * *
In the middle of the night James saddled two of the remaining four horses at the base, moving quietly about in the dark so as not to draw attention from the soldiers standing guard. Speaking softly to the beasts he led them on a roundabout way to the stream and into the thicket on the bank. He left them there and slipped stealthily back to fetch Marion. Whether she was a willing partner to this apparent absconding or not, Jeremy did not know at this stage but he was soon to find out.
Before James reached the sleeping quarters of Peter, Marion stepped from the shadows cast by the half moon to meet him in a lover’s tryst. Without first hugging or kissing his prize, James took her by the hand and pulled her away from the base into the foliage where the horses were loosely tied to a small tree. Fierce whispering between the two followed.
“No, James! No! If this is what it has come to, I think it best we should end it here and now. You are out of your mind if you think I will elope without as much as one trunk of clothing with me! Besides, I didn’t come all the way from England to be with my husband for a few weeks just to simply run off like this! I do love him, you know. No, again and again, NO!”
“Then you shouldn’t have led me on like you did!” accused the now angered man. “If you will just get onto the darn horse we can be off in a few seconds. Come on, Marion. Let me help you up…”
“Forget it! Didn’t you listen to a word I said?”
“Get onto the horse!” he ordered sharply.
“Leave me be, or else I will scream…”
Jeremy could only get a glimpse of what happened next.
To be continued.