Tragedy In A South African Mission
Love at the Mission. By R. Hernekin Baptist. (Macmillan, 7s. 6d.) The Kilmarney Line. By K. Balbernic. (Martin Seeker, 7s. 6d.) Dear Savage. By Marcos Spinelli. (Peter Davies, 8s, 6d.) Reviewed by FRANCIS BURDETT
THE mission about which we are told in Love at the Mission was situated in South Africa. it is a Swiss Protestant Mission and what is important about it, so far as this story is concerned, is not its work but the fact that it contained some human beings, Europeans, who lived there isolated in a vast pagan continent.
The Pastor Orgue was a scholar and a saint but also a widower. He, absorbed in his work, never realised the growth of his three daughters or their needs. So far as she could the vast negress Fani took their mother's place. But even her selfless love, and her practical ability in running the house, could not do for them what a mother might have done.
The pastor's absorbing passion was his translation of the Bible into Swahili, and the advent to a neighbouring mission of the German Fr. Rudolf, a White Father, also a scholar, had deepened both that absorption and that passion, Fr. Rudolf was practical as well as intelligent and, for all his celibacy, understood the dangers awaiting the growing girls. He gave advice, but vainly. So tragedy comes.
It is so simple and yet so unforeseen in its manner that it makes an absorbing tale. Fr. Rudolf plays an important part and his unravelling of the mystery attending the murder is admirable in its understanding of the native as in its understanding of a thwarted European nature. There is much about Africa that is profoundly interesting and whilst the author stands aloof and unprejudiced he shows a real understanding of the difference between Catholic and other missions.
Kilmarney was an historic and beautiful house. Throughout the centuries the family were noteworthy both for their looks and their lack of restraint. Illegitimacy played a not unimportant part in their story and The Kilmarney Line both begins and ends on that note. Its horizon is bounded by passion and blood, the blood of the Line, but in spite of this it has a romantic quality that is shot with intelligence and imagination.
Caroline Melluish was an irregular descendant of the Kilmarney family, and a sketch of the eighteenth ancestress whose ungoverned instincts were ultimately responsible for her birth, makes a prelude to the book. Caroline was both romantically and intellectually excited when, by