I was always a little in awe of Great-aunt Stephina
Roos. Indeed, as children we were all frankly terrified of her.
The fact that she did not live with the family, preferring her
tiny cottage and solitude to the comfortable but rather noisy
household where we were brought up - added to the respectful fear
in which she was held.
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She was a tiny little woman to inspire so much veneration.
She was always dressed in black, and her dark clothes
melted into the shadows of the voor-kamer and made
her look smaller than ever. But you feel it the moment
she entered. The feeling is something vital and strong
and somehow indestructible had come in with her. This
was despite the fact that she moved slowly and her
voice was sweet and soft.
Tante Sanna would bring in dishes that comprises of very sweet sticky candy or a great bowl of grapes or peaches and Great-aunt Stephina would converse gravely about happenings on the farm ,and, more rarely, of the outer world.
When we had finished our sweetmeats or fruit she would accompany us to the stoep, bidding us goodbye and reminding us to thank our mother for her gift and sending quaint, old-fashioned messages to her and father. Then she would turn and enter the house, closing the door behind so that it became once more a place of mystery.
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As I grew older, I found rather to my surprise that I had become
genuinely fond of my aloof old great-aunt. But to this day, I
do not know what strange impulse made me take George to see her
and to tell her of our engagement before I had confided in another
living soul. To my astonishment, she was delighted.
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