Memories of South Africa: Jock of the Bushveld.

The story of a dog in South Africa, Jock of the Bushveld, written by Sir Percy FitzPatrick, is a wonderful book for young and old.  Rudyard Kipling, a friend of FitzPatrick, convinced him to collect the true bed-time stories FitzPatrick told his children, and turn it into a book.  Here’s how it starts:

Chapter One:  The Background.

Of the people who live lonely lives, on the veld or elsewhere, few do so of their own free choice. Some there are shut off from all their kind—souls sheathed in some film invisible, through which no thrill of sympathy may pass; some barred by their self-consciousness, heart hungry still, who never learned in childhood to make friends; some have a secret or a grief; some, thoughts too big or bad for comradeship. But most will charge to Fate the thoughtless choice, the chance, or hard necessity, that drew or drove them to the life apart; they know the lesson that was learned of old: “It is not good for man to be alone.”

Go out among them, ever moving on, whose white bones mark the way for others’ feet—who shun the cities, living in the wilds, and move in silence, self-contained. Who knows what they think, or dream, or hope, or suffer? Who can know? For speech among that hard-schooled lot is but a half-remembered art.

Yet something you may guess, since with the man there often goes—his dog; his silent tribute to The Book. Oh, it’s little they know of life who cannot guess the secret springs of loneliness and love that prompt the keeping of a trifling pet; who do not know what moves a man who daily takes his chance of life and death—man whose “breath is in his nostrils”—to lay his cheek against the muzzle of his comrade dog, and in the trackless miles of wilderness feel he has a friend. Something to hold to; something to protect.

Read the rest of it at Project Gutenberg’s Jock of the Bushveld.

About Barbara Dillon Hillas

Mother of global nomads; wife of diplomat; peripatetic lawyer; annotator of foreign service life, rule of law, culture, travel, & whatever strikes my fancy.
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