I have been reading up on interesting South African ghosts and a rather intriguing mystery involving a ghost caught my eye. I thought I would have a go at writing a fictionalised account of this ghosts story. This is the beginning. Let me know what you think in the comments.
A ghost and his gold
The rapping intruded on his thin early morning sleep. He was tired and didn’t want to wake up yet. The cock had not as yet crowed. No sliver of morning light slipped through the cracks in the wooden shutters.
The rapping continued, dragging his mind upwards towards wakefulness. It felt like hard work as he forced himself out of sleep and into a wakeful state. He opened his eyes in the total blackness.
“Pieter, are you awake?” the loud whisper floated through the darkness.
Pieter climbed out of bed and stumbled across the bedroom. By the time he reached the front door, his eyes had adjusted to the dark.
The icy winter wind hit him in the face as he opened the door in his nightclothes and bare feet. The temperatures had dropped overnight. The freezing wind howled around the chimney and whistled through gaps in the shutters and under the doors.
I’m tired of winter and its only June. We still have the whole of July and August to get through.
Francois was waiting impatiently on the stoep [small verandah]. The drooping lines of his tall, lanky body evidenced his fatigue.
“François, what are you doing here?”
“The Rooinek [English] soldiers are marching on Pretoria. Your farm is directly in their path. You need to leave immediately.”
The words struck Pieter’s heart like arrows.
Leave my farm! This is my life. I don’t know anything else.
He gulped, “How long do we have?”
“Not to long if you want a good head start.”
“Thanks, I’ll get Marta and the girls moving now. Can I get you some coffee before you leave?”
“Thanks but no. I need to warn the other Boers [farmers].”
Pieter gripped his cold hand.
“Thank you, my friend.”
The sky had brightened to a dark grey as Pieter watched Francois galloping away in the direction of the Van Tonder farm. The clouds of dust kicked up by his horse’s hooves hung heavily in the dry air.
Pieter shivered violently. He pushed the door shut, cutting of the vicious wind. Bangs and muffled thumps attracted him to the kitchen.
His wife, Marta, a strong and resourceful woman who could handle a rifle as well as he could, was already up and dressed. She had overheard the conversation and was already packing essentials into grain sacks. They had foreseen this eventuality and had an action plan mapped out.
“I need to see to some business before we leave,” Pieter directed. “Get the girls ready. We leave for my brother’s farm as soon as we can.”
Marta nodded in agreement.
Pieter went directly to the cupboard in the bedroom. He dressed in his winter clothes and put on his sturdy veldskoene [walking shoes]. His toes ached as they started to warm up and he wriggled them to get the blood moving.
Leaning into the cupboard he removed a false panel set into the back and retrieved a few sacks from the small hiding place. He dragged the heavy sacks over to the window and peered out. Marta had opened the shutters to let air and light into the room, and it was easy enough for him to manhandle the sacks over the window sill. Soft thumps confirmed they had hit the ground outside.
Smoky clouds from his warm breath plumed in the frigid air as he carried the sacks, one by one, to the nearby thicket and pushed his way into a thick bush. He shoved them into a freshly dug hole deep beneath the bush and covered them up with the rich, dark soil.
It is fortunate that I dug this hole last week. My gold would have been lost to the British soldiers if I hadn’t planned ahead. It took me half a day to dig this hiding place.
Pieter pressed down the soil and pushed the displaced branches back into place. His hiding place would certainly withstand a casual inspection and no one knew about it except for Marta. His £30 000 of Kruger pounds should be safe until he could come back for them.
This job satisfactorily concluded, Pieter went to the barn. He led the oxen out of their stalls and hitched them to the covered wagon the family would travel in. As he performed these actions, bitterness burned in his heart like acid.
My farm is lost to me now. It is time for me to assess the future for me and my family.
Pieter and Marta loaded the wagon with kitchen utensils, bedding and clothing. Lastly, their two little girls, Renette and Suné, wearing their button-up boots and carrying their rag dolls climbed into the wagon and Pieter and Marta took their seats on the wagon seat up front. Pieter snapped his whip and they were off. The heavily-loaded wagon lurched down the rutted track that lead away into the bush veld.
He smiled at Marta. “Willem and Sara will be glad to see us. We can help them around the farm until we decide what to do next.”
To be continued.