You must have traveled all night,” she heard herself say. “I had to come back early.” She felt his lips brush her tumbled hair. “I left some things unfinished. But I had a feeling you might need me. Tell me what’s happened, sweetheart.” Amelia opened her mouth to answer, but to her mortification, the only sound she could make was a sort of miserable croak. Her self-control shattered. She shook her head and choked on more sobs, and the more she tried to stop them, the worse they became. Cam gripped her firmly, deeply, into his embrace. The appalling storm of tears didn’t seem to bother him at all. He took one of Amelia’s hands and flattened it against his heart, until she could feel the strong, steady beat. In a world that was disintegrating around her, he was solid and real. “It’s all right,” she heard him murmur. “I’m here.” Alarmed by her own lack of self-discipline, Amelia made a wobbly attempt to stand on her own, but he only hugged her more closely. “No, don’t pull away. I’ve got you.” He cuddled her shaking form against his chest. Noticing Poppy’s awkward retreat, Cam sent her a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry, little sister.” “Amelia hardly ever cries,” Poppy said. “She’s fine.” Cam ran his hand along Amelia’s spine in soothing strokes. “She just needs…” As he paused, Poppy said, “A shoulder to lean on.” “Yes.” He drew Amelia to the stairs, and gestured for Poppy to sit beside them. Cradling Amelia on his lap, Cam found a handkerchief in his pocket and wiped her eyes and nose. When it became apparent that no sense could be made from her jumbled words, he hushed her gently and held her against his large, warm body while she sobbed and hid her face. Overwhelmed with relief, she let him rock her as if she were a child. As Amelia hiccupped and quieted in his arms, Cam asked a few questions of Poppy, who told him about Merripen’s condition and Leo’s disappearance, and even about the missing silverware. Finally getting control of herself, Amelia cleared her aching throat. She lifted her head from Cam’s shoulder and blinked. “Better?” he asked, holding the handkerchief up to her nose. Amelia nodded and blew obediently. “I’m sorry,” she said in a muffled voice. “I shouldn’t have turned into a watering pot. I’m finished now.” Cam seemed to look right inside her. His voice was very soft. “You don’t have to be sorry. You don’t have to be finished, either.” She realized that no matter what she did or said, no matter how long she wanted to cry, he would accept it. And he would comfort her.
Well, let's argue this out, Mr Blank. You, who represent Society, have the right to pay me four hundred francs a month. That's my market value, for I am an inefficient member of Society, slow in the uptake, uncertain, slightly damaged in the fray, there's no denying it. So you have the right to pay me four hundred francs a month, to lodge me in a small, dark room, to clothe me shabbily, to harass me with worry and monotony and unsatisfied longings till you get me to the point when I blush at a look, cry at a word. We can't all be happy, we can't all be rich, we can't all be lucky - and it would be so much less fun if we were. Isn't it so, Mr Blank? There must be the dark background to show up the bright colours. Some must cry so that the others may be able to laugh the more heartily.
-- They must go on, said Msimangu gravely. You cannot stop the world from going on. My friend, I am a Christian. It is not in my heart to hate a white man. It was a white man who brought my father out of darkness. But you will pardon me if I talk frankly to you. The tragedy is not that things are broken. The tragedy is that they are not mended again. The white man has broken the tribe. And it is my belief -- and again I ask your pardon -- that it cannot be mended again. But the house that is broken, and the man that falls apart when the house is broken, these are the tragic things. That is why children break the law, and old white people are robbed and beaten. He passed his hand across his brown.-- It suited the white man to break the tribe, he continued gravely. But it has not suited him to build something in the place of what is broken. I have pondered this for many hours, and I must speak it, for it is the truth for me. They are not all so. There are some white men who give their lives to build up what is broken. --But they are not enough, he said. They are afraid, this is the truth. It is fear that rules this land.