The Afrikander

The Afrikander

Karl May wrote this South African story in 1878 under the pseudonym of Emma Polmer (his first wife).


Excerpt from: Inn-Nu-Woh To Merhameh,

Two men rode across a monotonous plain in Kapland. Their mounts were of the light-footed, tireless breed that had been brought to South Africa by the sons of Old England. They were preferable to the heavy, clumsy Dutch trotters.

“Damn it,” one of them remarked as he shaded his eyes against the rays of the setting sun with his hand, and observed the horizon in front of them. “Where is this bedevilled Klaarfontain? Or have you made a mistake with the direction, John Hoblyn?”

“Me? Make a mistake with the direction, Mr Raffley? That would be something I’ve never learnt to do. Klaarfontain lies straight ahead of us and we’ll be there within half an hour.”

“And the girl is really as beautiful as you described her?”

“It’s true! She must be Amatomba or a Lagoan, judging by her beauty; I know all about that, sir!”

“Alright, John; I’ll buy her and if I find that…”

“Buy? Hm, I don’t believe that you’ll succeed in doing that. These Dutch Boers are very peculiar people and Piet van Holmen of Klaarfontain is a proper one, although he counts no more than twenty years. It seems to me he’s got his eye on her and, aside from that, doesn’t seem to be the man to let a house servant go to an Englishman.”

“I’ve heard of him! He’s supposed to be one of the most reckless Afrikanders, and no more frightened of an entire gang of Kaffers than of a lion or a rhinoceros. But we’ll see! He’s the right-hand man of Pieter Uys, who’s getting ready to move against Zulu chief Dingaan. We mustn’t allow the Boers to have that victory and, with the Governor’s orders in my hands, it’ll be easy for me to foil their plans. If I like the girl she’ll be mine; that’ll be that!”

The Englishman and his companion then silently continued their ride.

John Hoblyn was right, because half an hour later the squat buildings of a single Dutch settlement came into view out in the plain. It was Klaarfontain.

A few powerful hounds greeted the arrivals with their furious barking. A cleanly dressed woman stepped out of the door and calmed the animals, while she scrutinized the strangers with suspicious gazes.

“Are you Piet van Holmen’s mother?” Raffley asked.


“Is he home?”


“Where can we find him?”

“He’s out hunting. He’s chasing a leopard that’s been bothering our herd.”

“Who’s with him?”

“He’s on his own.”

“When will he be back?”

“Don’t really know. Tomorrow for sure.”

“Then we’ll stay here. We have to talk to him.”

Without further ado he dismounted, handed the horse to his companion and entered the house. Plantation owners knew how to make use of hospitality without unnecessary introductions. When he stepped into the lounge room, a young girl hurriedly tried to leave the room. He cast a quick glance at her and grabbed her by the arm.

“Wait, girl! What’s the rush? You don’t have to fear unkind treatment from me!”

The girl tried to get away from him and when she couldn’t, she looked pleadingly at her mistress with her large, dark eyes.

“What’s your name, sir?” the woman asked.


“Alright, Mr Raffley, leave the child in peace. You’re my guest and she has to prepare the catering for you in the kitchen.”

“Don’t you want to do that yourself Jeffrouw van Holmen?”

He attempted to pull the girl close, but the hostess pushed between them with her broad Dutch figure.

“Keep your opinion to yourself until I ask for it, sir! Hannje goes into the kitchen; I said so and that’s that!”

More: Inn-Nu-Who To Merhameh