He was dragged onto the yard by a thong. A boy. A stranger. Off balance on his clumsy feet, the floppy hat pulled down low over his jug ears, red in the face because of the thong around his neck. The people gawking at him were not used to strangers. Here where they stay no-one has lived before. Their leader led their trek here more or less six years ago, dug the heel of his velskoen into the ground, made a possessive sweep with his big hand and declared the area his property. Here his word was law. The pastor confirmed his authority through the Bible. Also over the indentured, those children brought back to the laager after punitive raids against the indigenous people. The fathers and mothers were shot –stock thieves surely, all of them – and the children were carried away to be reared as slaves.
The boy on the rope sees a black girl staring at him from under the peak of a bonnet. Only later, locked up in a smithy, will he discover who and what she is. And when he is taken along on an expedition to recapture stolen stock, he is confronted with the horrid reality of her life: a child who was snatched from between the corpses of her parents and carried away on the saddle of a horseman.
And it will be this simple boy, dragged onto that trekkers’ yard by a thong, who will bring it home in that godforsaken hinterland that there is no bond as durable, no rope as strong, as the commitment a heart makes.