The Story of an African Farm

by Olive Schreiner

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Part 1: Chapter 12 Summary

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As Bonaparte rides along, he talks to himself about how he cannot marry Tant’ Sannie for four years because of the provisions of her late husband’s will. He will “teedle her” until that time and keep her guessing about his intentions. When he returns to the farmhouse, there is a girl with Em. She is Trana, Tant’ Sannie's niece, and her father is rich. Trana is ready for marriage, Tant’ Sannie tells Bonaparte.

Bonaparte immediately has an idea, and he cleans himself up and begins sighing over and bumping into Trana. Tant’ Sannie tells her niece that Bonaparte is acting that way because Trana looks so much like her and is so awkward. She also insists that Bonaparte’s large red nose is a sign of his nobility and that his lack of hair is the result of a nasty trick played on him by a rival in his youth.

That night when everyone is asleep, Waldo goes after the books. He climbs up on the roof to get into the locked loft, but then he notices the stars, and they seem to talk to him, wondering why he is “so hot, so bitter, so angry.” Waldo is ashamed. The desire for the books fades. They are not worth hating over. Bonaparte awakens to hear Waldo coming down, and he sees the boy going back to the cabin.

The next day, Bonaparte asks Tant’ Sannie what is in the loft, and based on her answer, he decides that Waldo must be after some dried peaches. They call Waldo to them, but he refuses to confess. Bonaparte puts Waldo in the fuel-house so that he can reflect on his sins. He ties the boy up, slits the back of his shirt, and beats him viciously, telling Waldo that he is acting the part of a father and that the Lord will bless him for what he is doing. Left alone in the dark, Waldo spends the night in prayer but receives no answer.

Bonaparte checks on Waldo later, throwing the boy some bread and examining the cuts from the whip. Lyndall gets the key to the fuel-house and goes to Waldo. She tells him that they will not always be children and shall someday have power.

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Part 1: Chapter 11 Summary


Part 1: Chapter 13 Summary