Christmas was always a joyful and merry occasion in the town, marked by the good spirit of the church where everybody congregated for the celebration. The church bells rang day and night, reigning in the new year ahead while parting with the old. Robert couldn’t shake the feeling that what lay ahead of them was foreboding. He tried to rejoice among the town people’s mirth, but he was troubled.
He was attending a party at Martha de Wet’s home, when he noticed General De La Rey in a corner deep in thought. Robert wondered if the General was worried about the Seer’s prediction.
“General,” Robert greeted him. It took a few times for him to say his name before General looked up to notice him.
“Robert,” General cleared his voice, “How long have you been standing there?”
“Not long,” Robert said.
“I can see there is something on your mind,” the General was quick to notice Robert’s preoccupation.
“Can I confer with you, General?”
“What troubles you, son?” the General asked.
“I once overheard the seer talking,” Robert carefully choose his words. “He talked about the future… of our town. Is it true? Will it come to pass?”
The General looked deep into him before he answered, “the Seer spoke of many things… whatever he had said must be true. What did you hear him say?”
“He said–he said,” Robert had to swallow hard to get the words out. “He said the time of prosperity ends for our town… for our people… and the time of desolation begins with the murder of one of our brethen.”
The General was quiet for a long while.
“The Seer confided in us about many things,” the General said, “mostly about our people and our way of life. He said, that nobody cares about the old ways and because the coming generation who will have no use for the old ways, will be punished… I have thought about everything he told us every day, wondering if this year or the next will we be forsaken.”
“What will happen then?” Robert wanted to know.
“We will have to defend ourselves and even then our future will be bleak,” the General said, “as long as our people have lost their faith and love for each other we will be divided. The cracks are not obvious at first, but the signs will be there.”
Robert felt dismayed.