Jess H. Rider Haggard Author
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Jess Croft lives with sister Bessie and old Silas, a farmer raising ostriches on the great Transvaal veldt. Jess is a reserved and aloof, with a quietness about her brought on by the misfortunes of her young childhood, when she and Bessie arrived motherless from England to South Africa. Then an Englishman, Captain John Niel, arrives to try his hand at the farming life. To his eyes, Bessie is lively and lovely of face and figure -- yet Jess is mystery, with a bright and roving mind and splendid, searching eyes . . . and unwillingly the three of them are drawn together, then torn apart, by the emotions that flare among them.Excerpt from JessThe day had been very hot even for the Transvaal, where, even in the autumn, the days still know how to be hot, although the neck of the summer is broken, that is, when the thunder-storms hold off for a week or two, as they occasionally will. Even the succulent blue lilies - a variety of the agapanthus which is so familiar to us in English greenhouses - hung their long trumpet-shaped flowers and looked oppressed and miserable, beneath the burning breath of the hot wind which had been blowing for hours like the draught of a volcano. The grass, too, near the wide roadway, that stretched in a feeble and indeterminate sort of fashion across the veldt, forking, branching, and reuniting like the veins on a lady's arm, was completely coated over with a thick layer of red dust. But the hot wind was going down now, as it always does towards sunset. Indeed, all that remained of it were a few strictly local and miniature whirlwinds, which would suddenly spring up on the road itself, and twist and twirl fiercely round, raising a mighty column of dust fifty feet or more into the air, where it hung long after the cause of it had passed, and then slowly dissolved as its particles floated to the earth.


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