That man should walk upright in the land where they were born . . . what was there evil in it? . . . such fear could not be cast out, but by love.See Important Quotations Explained
Jarvis and his wife go to visit one of Mrs. Jarvis’s favorite nieces, Barbara Smith. While the women go into town, Jarvis stays behind to read the newspaper’s reports on crime and the gold rush. There is a knock at the door, and when Jarvis opens it, he is surprised to see a frail black parson in tattered clothes. The parson seems shocked by the sight of Jarvis and begins trembling so much that he is forced to sit down on the house steps. Torn between compassion and irritation, Jarvis holds the parson’s stick and hat while the parson struggles to his feet and collects his scattered papers.
The parson explains that he is there to check on a friend’s daughter who had come to work for the household. Jarvis refers him to the house’s native servant, then realizes that the man before him must be the parson, known in Zulu as the “umfundisi,” of Ndotsheni, Jarvis’s hometown. Jarvis tells the parson that he may wait for the mistress of the house to return, then asks the old man why he is so afraid of him. The umfundisi, who does not give his name but is obviously Kumalo, reveals that it is his son who murdered Arthur Jarvis. Jarvis leaves abruptly to walk around the garden, and though he is obviously very emotional when he returns, he informs the parson that he is not angry. They share a memory of Arthur when he was young, and Kumalo tells Jarvis how saddened he is by the Jarvis family’s loss. Mrs. Smith returns and curtly informs Kumalo, through Jarvis, that the girl he seeks was fired after she was arrested for distilling liquor. She has no idea where the girl is now. The parson leaves, and when Mrs. Jarvis asks Jarvis why he seems disturbed, Jarvis makes a cryptic comment about a visit from the past.
John Kumalo addresses a crowd with his powerful voice. His voice rolls out beautifully, like thunder, but his comrades Dubula and Tomlinson listen with scorn and envy, for it is a powerful voice not backed by their courage or intelligence. John argues that the wealth from the new gold that has been found in South Africa should be shared with the miners. The crowd roars with John as he declares that the miners deserve higher wages and better conditions. Some of the white policemen on guard say that John should be shot or imprisoned. The narrator notes that while some leaders want to go to prison as martyrs, John does not, since he knows that in prison there is no applause. Toward the end of his speech, he states that he and the crowd do not want to trouble the police.
Stephen Kumalo and Msimangu are among the listeners. Kumalo is impressed, but Msimangu is skeptical—he knows that John lacks courage, and wonders why God should have given this man a gift of such oratorical skill. Still, he is thankful that John lacks heart, because he believes that if John backed up his words with action, he could plunge the country into violence and bloodshed. They move forward to hear the next speaker, Tomlinson. Jarvis and John Harrison, who have also been at the meeting, leave for Harrison’s club. Jarvis refuses to discuss what he has just seen, simply stating that he does not “care for that sort of thing.”
A police captain reports to his officer. He states that John Kumalo is dangerous and comments on the power of his voice. The officer comments on Kumalo’s voice as well, saying that he must go hear it one day. The captain wonders if there will be a strike. The officer replies that a strike could be a “nasty business.”
The narrative voice returns and states that there are rumors that the strike may spread to the railroads and the ships. The narrator adds that such a terrible prospect makes some white people think about how much they depend on black labor.