Monday 4 January 2016
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An African Tale chapter 8 continued

“We can go to Seronga tonight and then take the road to the ferry. There will be too many people to risk going the other way. We’ll cross the ferry in the morning and then make our way by road to The Hills. Once we get closer there should be less people and we can risk using the faster method. With luck we should be there in a couple of days.” Lorato rolled up the map and stood up.

“A couple of days?” Lesedi echoed incredulously. “How is that possible?”

“We have The Cart!” said Lorato, not offering any further explanation.

Lesedi scratched his head. He knew The Cart could go fast, much faster than any of the other donkey carts around, but they had to get to Seronga first and to do that they had to use the river. There was no way of getting there by land as Jao was completely surrounded by water. How were they going to get the donkeys and The Cart on a motor boat? None of the boat drivers would allow that; they were really fussy about their boats and there was no way they would be able to get them in a mokoro.

“Off you go and get ready,” said Lorato. “Tell everyone you’re packing in case you have to go to school with Aunt Matilda and don’t bring too much. We don’t want to overload the Cart and tire out Mary and James.”

Mary and James were the two donkeys that pulled The Cart. Lesedi had never figured out why his grandfather had called them these silly names but the donkeys didn’t seem to mind, so he supposed it was okay. If you just glanced at Mary and James they looked like your run-of-the-mill donkeys, but on closer observation you realised they were actually quite different. Their eyes were bright, their ears pricked up, and most important of all they were very energetic and loved working. They regarded themselves as a cut above the rest of the donkeys in the village and refused to mix with them. Whenever they passed by they would toss their noses in the air and turn their backs.

“Make sure Kgatwe knows we’re leaving tonight,” Lorato called after Lesedi. “He could be very useful. That is if he remembers his lessons!”

“Kgatwe said he wasn’t going to come with,” Lesedi called back. “I think he’s scared of all the weird creatures over there.”

“You tell Kgatwe I say he is coming with whether he likes it or not!”
Lesedi nodded. He liked having the little gecko along. He was more on his wavelength and they could mull things over together. He knew Kgatwe wasn’t too keen on the idea of going to The Hills but Lorato said he had to come, so that was it. Lesedi decided to go and look for him first to tell him that he had to come whether he liked it or not and to see what he thought about them getting there in a couple of days.
Kgatwe was sunning himself in Lesedi’s mokoro next to the river. Lesedi sat down on the bank and began relating all the exciting news. He was careful to make sure there was no one else around before he did this. He had been caught several times before, supposedly talking to his mokoro, which had amused the other boys no end.

“So we leave tonight,” he said, “and we will be in The Hills in a couple of days.”

“Hmmmm,” said Kgatwe, not expressing any surprise at the speed of it all. “You’re still talking about this ‘we’ stuff. What if those corn crickets bite my head off?”

“Well, you just make sure that you’re larger than them and bite their heads off!” Lesedi laughed.

“After yesterday’s performance I don’t know if I trust myself with that trick anymore.”

“Never mind, we’ll have Lorato along to sort things out. He told me to tell you, you have to come along, so that’s it!” said Lesedi. “This is going to be fun, and a lot better than going to school in Gaborone and living with Aunt Matilda!” He grabbed the little gecko and popped him into his top pocket. “I have to pack a few things and then we’ll go and meet Grandfather.”

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