Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Love Potion by Herman Charles Bosman Review

The short story "The Love Potion" by Herman Charles Bosman related with the old legend about the magical effect of the berry. This tale was beautifully written by the author in the beginning of the story, here is the text:

"... they say you must pick off one of its little red berries at midnight, under the full moon. Then, if you are a young man, and you are anxious for a girl to fall in love with you, all you have to do is squeeze the juice of the juba-berry into her coffee. They say that after the girl has drunk the juba-juice, she begins to forget all sorts of things. She forgets that your forehead is rather low, and that your ears stick out, and that your mouth is too big. She even forgets having told you, the week before last, that she wouldn't marry you if you were the only man in the Transvaal. All she knows is that the man she gazes at, over her empty coffee cup, has grown remarkably handsome."

The story was written from the first sight, from the man called Schalk. The narrator described the hunting for the bucks which was quite a popular deal in South Africa. The local authority made it illegal but people continued hunting at night using the lamps fastened to the caps. For that reason, the locals needed to hide in the bushes and start shooting in the middle of the night.

In that moment before the midnight, the narrator saw the young policeman, named Gideon. The narrator knew Gideon and he "had found him very likable". Gideon asked Schalk to lend him the lamp. The narrator said: "You can have my lamp ... but you must be very careful. It's worse for a policeman to get caught breaking the law than for an ordinary man.'".

The policeman replied:
No, I don't want to go shooting with the lamp, he said, ‘I want to …'.
And then he paused.
He laughed nervously.
‘It seems silly to say it, Oom Schalk,' he said, ‘but perhaps you'll understand. I've come to look for a juba-plant. I need it for my studies. For my third-class sergeant's exam. And it'll soon be midnight, and I can't find one of those plants anywhere.'

The narrator felt sorry for the policeman: if he was not able to find the plant, how could he find and catch a criminal?

Next day, the narrator visited the farm. While he was talking with the owner, he mentioned the name Gideon and looked to the farmer's daughter, Lettie. "The colour that crept into her cheeks. The light that came in her eyes."

When the narrator saw Gideon next day, he asked:
"So the juba-plant worked?'
The answer was:
You'd be surprised how quickly it acted,' he said. ‘Lettie just took one sip at the coffee, and then jumped straight onto my lap.'

Herman Charles Bosman finished the story by a witty remark which the main character made:
"But then Gideon van der Merwe winked in a way that made me believe that he was not so very simple, after all."

These are links to the story: