Book Three—Chapter Summaries
Stephen continues to hope and pray for the restoration of Ndotsheni. He has a sense that Jarvis, who is away in Pretoria, might help to perform the miracle that he is hoping for. The cheerful young white boy pays another visit, and learns some more Zulu. He meets Stephen's wife, but she is overcome when she realizes who he is. As he departs, his grandfather arrives, and drops a newcomer in Ndotsheni: it is Napoleon Letsisi, the new agricultural demonstrator. He is warm and idealistic, and sketches for Stephen, who is excited, his plans for reviving the agricultural life of the valley. He speaks (but in non-technical language) of composting, contour ploughing, tree planting, and the prevention of soil erosion; and also of the need for education and for the modification of certain customs. He confirms that the mysterious sticks indicate that a dam is to be built, with water piped from the river. Stephen, delighted, sees Letsisi as "an angel from God". The bright boy drops in to say goodbye; Stephen regards him as a "small angel from God". But he hopes that the restoration may come before he dies—"for I have lived my life in destruction."
As storm clouds gather and the people wait for the Bishop's visit, news is brought that Jarvis's wife has died. The community is sad, as she was admired, but Stephen is particularly distressed, as she has clearly encouraged Jarvis's generosity.He fears that her son's death may have precipitated hers. He sends a message of sympathy. The Bishop arrives, it rains heavily, and the confirmation takes place in the leaking church. Afterwards the Bishop strongly suggests to Stephen that, in view of recent events and of the need to collect money for a new church, he should move. Stephen is overwhelmed, in tears, and is unable to explain his position or his feelings. At this moment a letter for Stephen is brought in. In it Jarvis thanks him for his sympathy and prayers, says that he and his wife had decided to have a new church built at Ndotsheni, and that she had been ill for some time. Stephen proclaims joyfully that the letter comes from God, and tells the Bishop what has been happening; the Bishop is touched, and withdraws his proposal that Stephen should move. Stephen is spiritually uplifted. The community makes a wreath for the funeral.
Things are beginning to happen in the Ndotsheni Valley. Under the supervision of Letsisi, who is backed by the chief, the people plough along the contours, and collect dung, and prepare to plant wattles. But it is not easy going: the soil is very poor, and a great deal has to be done, and people are reluctant to make the sacrifices that are required. Still, something is beginning. Stephen speaks admiringly to the young Letsisi, but a difference in their views becomes apparent. Stephen, old and fairly conservative, feels that one should be grateful for the bounty of Jarvis, but Letsisi, without calling Jarvis's goodness into question, insists that, in the context of past exploitation by whites, Jarvis's gifts have to be seen as a repayment. Stephen regards this way of thinking as unpleasant and ungrateful. Letsisi assures him that he is not seeking power, or advocating hatred or any particular political position; he simply believes that blacks should recognize their rights, work for Africa, and be beholden to no one. Stephen acknowledges Letsisi's sincerity, and, left alone beneath the stars, admits to himself that he is too old for new and disturbing thoughts.