Stephen, Gertrude’s son, and Absalom’s wife return home. Gertrude’s son inquires after his mother, but Stephen tells him that she is gone, and he doesn’t ask again. When they arrive home, Stephen greets his wife. He tells her that their son is going to die and Gertrude went missing, but he doesn’t want to discuss it right then. She understands. His wife greets the young boy and Absalom’s wife. They all go walking outside.
The tribe, or some of it, is drawn back together again, though it is permanently missing some members. Absalom’s wife is strong and stoic, and though she suffers, so does so silently, and she does what she can to help bring together the family that they do have.
As they walk, people see Stephen and begin to cry out in happiness that he has returned, that he has been missed. They tell Stephen about the drought that has been parching the land. When Stephen asks how they have been finding water, they tell him that they draw water from the river that comes from James Jarvis’s place. When Stephen asks about him, they say that he has just returned from Johannesburg, and his wife Margaret is very ill. More and more people run up to tell Stephen how they have missed him.
As in the beginning of Book II, the drought is a physical manifestation of the problems with the land. The people have become reliant on James Jarvis’ water because they have none of their own, mirroring how white men’s actions have left blacks dependent upon them. Notice how the people of Ixopo greet each other, and have a real community. It is a start contrast from Johannesburg, where everyone seems to out only for themselves.
Stephen goes to the church, where many parishioners are waiting for him. He begins to pray with them, praying for Gertrude’s son and Gertrude and Absalom’s wife, and for Absalom. Afterwards, he turns to his friend and confesses that Gertrude is missing and his son is to be hanged. He says to him that these are not facts to be hidden. But then he says that he thinks he should leave this place. The friend says of course not, can’t he see that everyone loves him and wants him here? The friend then asks about Sibeko’s daughter, and Stephen tells him that she is gone and no one knows where she is.
Stephen feels that, because of his failures, he cannot continue as a man of influence in the town. The friend’s point, of course, is that the issue is not one of success, it is about love. The community loves him and has faith in him, and so he must return that faith and stay with the community and do the best he can. It is a way of thinking that does not exist in Johannesburg.
Stephen returns home and talks to his wife. He shows her the money from Msimangu. She is overwhelmed with the gift. Stephen then prepares to tell her about the events that took place in Johannesburg.
Money as something that is stolen, or ripped from the earth, or otherwise prized as more important than other human beings is portrayed as a corruption in the novel. Money that is given as a gift, that is used to help other people, is seen in a much more positive light.