Book Three—Chapter Summaries
It is the day before Absalom's execution, and Stephen begins at dusk to walk up a nearby mountain for a vigil, as he has done before on momentous occasions. He comes upon Jarvis on his horse. Jarvis speaks of plans for the new church, and they talk enthusiastically about Letsisi and the boy. Stephen thanks Jarvis for all that he is doing; Jarvis is modestly dismissive. Stephen climbs slowly up to his chosen place. He dwells first on his son's tragic fate. Then he confesses his sins, and runs through the imperfections we have seen in him. He then counts and gives thanks for his blessings, which he enumerates—and his meditative prayer serves as a recapitulation of some of the main events in the story. For all his suffering, he considers himself blessed. He thinks of and prays for those he knows who are suffering, especially Absalom, who will die as the sun rises; and also all the people of South Africa, many of whom are afflicted by fear. As dawn approaches, he imagines his son's last hours, and goes through them with him. Then the sun rises: it is the moment of death but also of sober hope.