The Story of an African Farm

by Olive Schreiner

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Part 1: Chapter 4 Summary

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The stranger, Bonaparte Blenkins, claims to be a kinsman of Napoleon himself. He tells the story of his birth and explains that he is related to Napoleon on his mother’s side. He also claims a connection to the Duke of Wellington’s nephew, who is married to his cousin. Bonaparte tells fantastic stories and makes unlikely claims. He has traveled to Russia, he says, with the Duke of Wellington’s nephew and been stuck up in a tree with ten bears sitting in a perfect circle below. He shot and killed all ten, saving himself and the nephew. The nephew, however, proved to have no gratitude at all, for when the ship went down with all of Bonaparte’s equipment and money, the nephew refused to send any more to help.

Otto believes every word of Bonaparte’s stories. Lyndall does not. She asks how they can know the stories are true, and Otto answers that they believe because they are told. Lyndall is not satisfied.

Bonaparte then dashes back into the cabin. He has been attacked by a young ostrich and claims that his nerves have been shattered. Otto gives him a bit of liquor and apologizes that Bonaparte has had a fright. Bonaparte expresses forgiveness and no ill-feeling, but his hat is ruined. Otto gives Bonaparte his own hat and invites his guest to stay on for many days. The two men discuss Sabbath customs, and Otto agrees to talk to Tant’ Sannie about allowing Bonaparte to speak at their regular gathering. Otto also gives Bonaparte a suit of clothing and boots, and he greatly enjoys doing it.

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Part 1: Chapter 5 Summary