"Your master has treated all my messages with contempt. He is in secret alliance with the chiefs who have invaded our colony. He has received and concealed cattle stolen from the white men. A British trader has been deliberately murdered in his territory, near his own residence, and under his protection, and no steps have been taken to punish the murderers. Violence and outrage have been committed by him on British traders, and missionaries living under his safeguard have been forced to flee to the Tambookie chief to save their lives. I will no longer treat with him. Since Hintza is resolved on war, he shall have it. I will now take the Fingoes under my special protection, make them subjects of the king of England, and severely punish any who commit violence upon them. I will also carry off all the cattle I can find.—Go, tell your master his blood shall be on his own head."
This message, which was followed up by prompt action, the capture of considerable numbers of cattle, and a successful attack on one of his principal kraals, brought the great chief to his senses—apparently, but not really, as the sequel will show. He sent in four messengers with proposals, but the Governor refused to treat with any one except Hintza himself. Terrified at last into submission, he entered the camp with a retinue of fifty followers, and was courteously received by the commander-in-chief.
During the course of these proceedings detached parties were frequently sent hither and thither to surprise a kraal or to capture cattle, and the two parties under Groot Willem and Hans Marais, having arrived at Fort Wilshire at the same time, were allowed to act pretty much in concert.
One night they found themselves encamped in a dark mountain gorge during a thunderstorm.
"Well, well," said Jerry Goldboy to Junkie, who with Scholtz had taken refuge under the very imperfect shelter of a bush, "it's 'orrible 'ard work this campaigning; specially in bad weather, with the point of one's nose a'most cut off."
Jerry referred to a wound which an assagai aimed at his heart had that day inflicted on his nose. The wound was not severe, but it was painful, and the sticking-plaster which held the point of his unfortunate member in its place gave his countenance an unusually comical appearance.
"Is it very zore, boy?" asked Scholtz.
"Zore! I wish you 'ad it, an' you wouldn't 'ave to ask," returned Jerry.
"How did you come by it?" asked Junkie, looking grave with difficulty.
"Well, it ain't easy to say exactly. You see it was getting dark at the time, and I was doin' my best to drive a thief of a hox down a place in the kloof where it had to stand upright, a'most, on its front-legs, with its tail whirlin' in the hair. An' I 'adn't much time to waste neither, for I knew there was Kafirs all about, an' the troops was gettin' a'ead of me, an' my 'oss was tied to a yellow-wood tree at the foot o' the kloof, an' I began to feel sort o' skeery with the gloomy thickets all around, an' rugged precipices lookin' as if they'd tumble on me, an' the great mountains goin' up to 'eaven—oh! I can tell you it was—it was—"
"In short, the most horrible sight you ever saw," said Junkie, drawing his blanket tighter round his shoulders, and crouching nearer to the bulky form of Scholtz for protection from the wind which was rising.
"Yes, Junkie, it was—the most 'orrible sight I ever saw, for wild savageness, so I drew my sword and gave the hox a prog that sent 'im 'ead over 'eels down the kloof w'ere 'e broke 'is back. Just at that werry moment—would you mind takin' your toe out o' my neck, Junkie? it ain't comfortable: thank you.—Well, as I was sayin', at that very moment I spied a black fellow stealin' away in the direction of my 'oss. He saw me too, but thought I didn't see 'im. Up I jumps, an' run for the 'oss. Up 'e jumps an' run likewise. But I was nearer than 'im, an' a deal faster—though I don't mean to boast—"
"An' a deal frighteneder," suggested Junkie.
"P'raps, 'owever I got to the 'oss first. I didn't take time to mount, but went leap-frog over 'is tail slap into the saddle, which gave the hold 'oss such a skeer that 'e bolted! The Kafir 'e gave a yell an' sent 'is assagai after me, an' by bad luck I looks round just as it went past an' all but took off the point of my nose. Wasn't it unlucky?"
"Unlucky! you ungrateful man," growled Scholtz. "You should be ver' glad de assagai did not stick you in de neck like von zow.—Is zat rain vich I feels in ze back of mine head?"
"Like enough. There's plenty of it, anyhow," said Junkie, trying to peer through the gloom in the direction of the tents occupied by a small body of regular troops which accompanied them.
As he did so a sudden squall struck the tents, levelling two with the ground, and entirely whisking off one, which, after making a wild circle in the air, was launched over a precipice into thick darkness, and never more seen!
Lying under another bush, not far distant, Considine and Hans lay crouched together for the purpose at once of keeping each other warm and presenting the smallest possible amount of surface to the weather. They did not sleep at first, and being within earshot of the bush under which the brothers Skyd had sheltered themselves, found sufficient entertainment in listening to their conversation.
"We scarce counted on this sort of thing," said John Skyd, "when, fifteen years ago, we left the shores of old England for 'Afric's southern wilds.'"
"That's true, Jack," was Bob Skyd's reply, "and I sometimes think it would have been better if we had remained at home."
"Craven heart! what do you mean?" demanded James.
"Ay, what do you mean?" repeated Dobson; "will nothing convince you? It is true we made a poor job of the farming, owing to our ignorance, but since we took to merchandise have we not made a good thing of it—ain't it improving every day, and won't we rise to the very pinnacle of prosperity when this miserable war is over."
"Supposing that we are not killed in the mean-time," said Stephen Orpin, who formed one of the group.
"That is a mere truism, and quite irrelevant," retorted Dobson.
"Talking of irrelevant matters, does any one know why Sandy Black and McTavish did not come with Groot Willem?" asked Orpin.
To this John Skyd replied that he had heard some one say a party of the Glen Lynden men had gone off to root out a nest of freebooters under that scoundrel Ruyter, who, taking advantage of the times, had become more ferocious and daring than ever.
"Yet some say," observed Dobson, "that the Hottentot robber is becoming religious or craven-hearted, I don't know which."
"Perhaps broken-hearted," suggested Orpin.
"Perhaps. Anyhow it is said his followers are dissatisfied with him for some reason or other. He does not lead them so well as he was wont to."
While the white men were thus variously engaged in jesting over their discomforts, or holding more serious converse, their sable enemies were preparing for them a warm reception in the neighbouring pass. But both parties were checked and startled by the storm which presently burst over them. At first the thunder-claps were distant, but by degrees they came nearer, and burst with deafening crash, seemingly close overhead, while lightning ran along the earth like momentary rivulets of fire. At the same time the windows of heaven were opened, and rain fell in waterspouts, drenching every one to the skin.
The storm passed as suddenly as it came, and at daybreak was entirely gone, leaving a calm clear sky.
Sleepy, wet, covered with mud, and utterly miserable, the party turned out of their comfortless bivouac, and, after a hasty meal of cold provisions, resumed their march up the kloof.
At the narrowest part of it, some of the troops were sent in advance as skirmishers, and the ambush was discovered. Even then they were in an awkward position, and there can be no question that if the natives had been possessed of fire-arms they would have been cut off to a man. As it was, the savages came at them with dauntless courage, throwing their assagais when near enough, and hurling stones down from the almost perpendicular cliffs on either side. But nothing could resist the steady fire of men who were, most of them, expert shots. Few of the white men were wounded, but heaps of the Kafirs lay dead on each other ere they gave way and retreated before a dashing charge with the bayonet.
Oh! it was a sad sight,—sad to see men in the vigorous health of early youth and the strong powers of manhood's prime cast lifeless on the ground and left to rot there for the mistaken idea on the Kafirs' part that white men were their natural enemies, when, in truth, they brought to their land the comforts of civilised life; sad to think that they had died for the mistaken notion that their country was being taken from them, when in truth they had much more country than they knew what to do with—more than was sufficient to support themselves and all the white men who have ever gone there, and all that are likely to go for many years to come; sad to think of the stern necessity that compelled the white men to lay them low; sadder still to think of the wives and mothers, sisters and little ones, who were left to wail unavailingly for fathers and brothers lost to them for ever; and saddest of all to remember that it is not merely the naked savage in his untutored ignorance, but the civilised white man in his learned wisdom, who indulges in this silly, costly, murderous, brutal, and accursed game of war!
Returning from the fight next day with a large herd of captured cattle, the contingent found that Hintza had agreed unconditionally to all the proposals made to him by the Governor; among others that he should restore to the colonists 50,000 head of cattle and 1000 horses,—one half to be given up at once, the remainder in the course of a year.
The deceitful chief was thus ready in his acquiescence, simply because he had no intention whatever of fulfilling his engagements. To blind his white enemies the more effectually, he himself offered to remain in the camp as a hostage, with his followers. Two other chiefs, Kreli and Booko, also joined him. This seemingly gracious conduct won for Hintza so much confidence that orders were immediately given to evacuate his territory. He became the guest of Colonel Smith, and the Governor presented him with numerous conciliatory gifts. Thereafter the camp was broken up and the Governor took his departure.
No sooner was his back turned than Hintza's people commenced a general massacre of the Fingoes. About thirty were murdered in cold blood near to Colonel Somerset's camp.
Full of indignation, when he heard this, the Governor summoned Hintza to his presence and related what had occurred.
"Well, and what then?" was the Kafir's cool reply, "are they not my dogs?"
Sir Benjamin met this by giving orders that Hintza and all the people with him should be put under guard, and held as hostages for the safety of the Fingoes. He instantly despatched messengers to stop the carnage, and said that if it continued after three hours he would shoot two of Hintza's suite for every Fingo killed. He added, moreover, that if he found there was any subterfuge in the message they sent—as he had discovered to have been the case in former messages—he would hang Hintza, Kreli, and Booko on the tree under which they were sitting.
In less than ten minutes the messengers of the chiefs were scampering off at full speed in different directions with orders! So potent was the power of this vigorous treatment that within the short time specified the massacre was stopped.
But the Governor knew well the character of the men with whom he had to deal. To have left the Fingoes in their hands after this would have been tantamount to condemning them to suffer the revengeful wrath of their cruel masters, who would no doubt have resumed the massacre the instant the troops were withdrawn. Sir Benjamin therefore collected them together, along with the few missionaries and other British subjects who had found temporary refuge at the station of Clarkeburg. He placed them under the care of the Reverend Mr Ayliffe, for whom the Fingoes expressed sincere regard, and transported the whole body in safety across the Kei.
"An amazing sight," observed Charlie Considine to a knot of his comrades, as they reined up on the top of a knoll, and watched the long line of Fingoes defiling before him like an antediluvian black snake trailing its sinuous course over the land, with a little knot of red-coats in front, looking like its fiery head, and sundry groups of burghers, and other troops, here and there along its body, like parti-coloured legs and claws. The length of this mighty snake may be estimated when it is said that of the Fingo nation not fewer than 2000 men, 5600 women, and 9200 children, with 22,000 cattle, were led across the Kei into the colony at that time.
The whole scene, with its multitudinous details, was a commingling of the ludicrous, the touching, and the sublime. It was mirth-provoking to observe the wild energy of the coal-black men, as they sprang from side to side, with shield and assagai, driving in refractory cattle; the curious nature of the bundles borne by many of the women; the frolicking of the larger children and the tottering of the smaller ones, whose little black legs seemed quite unequal to the support of their rotund bodies. It was touching to see, here and there, a stalwart man pick up a tired goat and lay it on his shoulders, or relieve a weary woman of her burden—or catch up a stumbling little one that had lost its mother, and carry it along in his arms. And it was a sublime thought that this great army was being led, like the Israelites of old, out of worse than Egyptian bondage, into a Christian colony, as the adopted sons and daughters of a civilised Government.
It was, in one sense, a "nation born in a day," for the Fingoes were destined, in after years, to become the faithful allies of their white deliverers, and the creators of much additional wealth in the colony,—a raw native material which at that time gladdened, and still rejoices, the hearts of those missionaries who look to the Fingoes with reasonable hope, as likely to become, in time, the bearers of the Gospel to their kindred in the wilds of Central Africa.
CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.
THE FATE OF THE PARAMOUNT CHIEF OF KAFIRLAND.
Meanwhile Hintza, not having shown sufficient readiness and alacrity in redeeming his promises, was held as a hostage in the hands of the white man. He was, however, treated with the utmost consideration, and when he proposed to accompany a division of the troops, in order to exercise to the utmost his personal influence in recovering from his people the cattle and horses due, and to apprehend the murderers, according to treaty, he was allowed to do so, not only quite free in person, but even with his weapons in his hands.
Colonel Smith, however, who commanded the force, distinctly told the chief through an interpreter, that if he attempted to escape he would instantly be shot.
The force consisted of detachments of the Cape Mounted Rifles, the 72nd regiment, and the corps of Guides—350 men in all.
Towards the afternoon of the day on which they marched, a circumstance occurred which justified Colonel Smith's suspicions as to Hintza's sincerity. They had reached a streamlet and encamped, when one of the guides reported to him that two Kafirs, with five head of cattle, were near the camp, and that Hintza, on the plea that they would be afraid to approach, had sent one of his people to bring them in.
On being questioned, the chief declined to give any explanation on the subject, and the Kafirs not only did not come in, as they were ordered, but made off, and carried the horse of Hintza's messenger along with them! The suspicion excited by this circumstance was increased by the evasive answers given to the Colonel's repeated inquiries as to the point on which Hintza wished the troops to march.
"We are going right," was the only answer that could be elicited from the taciturn savage.
After crossing the range of the Guadan Hills, the troops bivouacked on the Guanga, and here Hintza became more communicative, said that he wished them to march towards the mouth of the Bashee, by a route which he would point out, and that they must move at midnight. This was done, and they continued to move forward till eight o'clock in the morning, observing as they went the spoor of numerous herds of cattle that had been driven in that direction quite recently.
The men, being tired, were then halted for refreshment.
At this point Hintza became particularly uneasy at the vigilance with which he was watched.
"What have the cattle done," he said testily, "that you should want them? and why should my subjects be deprived of them?"
"Why do you ask such questions, Hintza?" replied Colonel Smith; "you know well the many outrages committed on the colonists by your people, and the thousands of cattle that have been stolen. It is in redress of these wrongs that we demand them."
The chief looked stern, but made no rejoinder. He appeared to recover himself, however, after breakfast, and was in high spirits while on the march. He rode a remarkably strong horse that day, which he appeared very anxious to spare from fatigue—dismounting and leading him up every ascent.
As the party advanced, the tracks of numerous cattle were still found leading onward, but the animals themselves were nowhere to be seen.
"You see," remarked the chief, with a touch of sarcasm in his tone as he rode beside the Colonel, "you see how my subjects treat me: they drive their cattle from me in spite of me."
"I do not want your subjects' cattle, Hintza," was the Colonel's pointed reply; "I want, and will have, the colonial cattle which they have stolen."
"Then," returned the chief, "allow me to send forward my councillor Umtini to tell my people I am here, that they must not drive away their cattle, and that the cattle of your nation will be alone selected."
Although it was quite evident that the chief meditated mischief it was thought best to agree to this proposal. Accordingly, the councillor, after being enjoined to return that night, which he promised to do, mounted and left the camp at full speed, accompanied by an attendant.
There was ground for uneasiness and much caution in all this, for those who knew Hintza best were wont to say that he possessed in a high degree all the vices of the savage—ingratitude, avarice, cunning, and cruelty, and his treatment of the traders and missionaries under his protection, as well as his secret encouragement of the border chiefs, fully bore out their opinion.
"Now!" exclaimed the chief in high spirits when Umtini had left, "you need not go on to the Bashee, you will have more cattle than you can drive on the Xabecca."
The path the troops were passing was a mere cattle-track leading up hill, from the bed of the Xabecca river, among tangled brushwood, and occasionally passing through a cleft in the rocks. Colonel Smith was the only member of the party who rode up the hill; Hintza and the others led their homes. On drawing near to the summit, the chief and his attendants mounted and rode silently but quickly past the Colonel into the bushes.
One of the guides observing the action called to the Colonel, who immediately shouted, "Hintza, stop!"
The savage had no intention of stopping, but, finding himself entangled in the thicket, was compelled to return to the track. He did so with such coolness and with such an ingenuous smile, that the Colonel, who had drawn a pistol, felt half ashamed of his suspicions, and allowed the chief to ride forward as before.
At the top of the steep ascent the country was quite open. The Xabecca river was seen in front with a few Kafir huts on its banks. Here the chief set off at full speed in the direction of the huts.
Colonel Smith and three of the guides pursued. The latter were quickly left behind, but the Colonel, being well mounted, kept up with the fugitive. Spurring on with violence, he soon overtook him.
"Stop, Hintza!" he shouted.
But Hintza was playing his last card. He urged his horse to greater exertion, and kept stabbing at his pursuer with an assagai.
The Colonel drew a pistol, but it snapped. A second was used with like ill success. He then spurred close up, struck the chief with the butt end of the pistol, and, in so doing, dropped it. Hintza looked round with a smile of derision, and the Colonel, hurling the other pistol at him, struck him on the back of the head. The blow was ineffectual. Hintza rode on; the troops followed as they best could. They were now nearing the huts. At length, making a desperate effort, the Colonel dashed close up to the chief. Having now no weapon, he seized him by the collar of his kaross, or cloak, and, with a violent effort, hurled him to the ground. Both horses were going at racing speed. The Colonel, unable to check his, passed on, but before he was beyond reach the agile savage had leaped to his feet, drawn another assagai from the bundle which he carried, and hurled it after his enemy. So good was the aim that the weapon passed within a few inches of the Colonel's body.
The act afforded time to those behind to come up. Although Hintza turned aside instantly and ran down the steep bank of the Xabecca, the foremost of the guides—named Southey—got within gun-shot and shouted in the Kafir tongue to the chief to stop. No attention being paid to the order, he fired, and Hintza fell, wounded in the left leg. Leaping up in a moment, he resumed his flight, when Southey fired again, and once more the chief was hit and pitched forward, but rose instantly and gained the cover of the thicket which lined the bank of the river. Southey leaped off his horse and gave chase, closely followed by Lieutenant Balfour of the 72nd regiment. The former kept up, and the latter down, the stream.
They had proceeded thus in opposite directions some distance when Southey was startled by an assagai striking the cliff on which he was climbing. Turning sharply, he saw Hintza's head and his uplifted arm among the bushes within a few feet of him. The savage was in the act of hurling another assagai. Quick as thought the guide levelled his gun and fired. The shot completely shattered the upper part of Hintza's skull, and next instant a mangled corpse was all that remained of the paramount chief of Kafirland.
CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.
THE RESULTS OF WAR.
"Peace at last!" said Edwin Brook to George Dally, on arriving at his ravaged and herdless farm in the Zuurveld, whither George had preceded him.
"Peace is it, sir? Ah, that's well. It's about time too, for we've got a deal to do—haven't we, sir?"
George spoke quite cheerily, under the impression that his master required comforting.
"You see, sir, we've got to go back pretty well to where we was in 1820, and begin it all over again. It is somewhat aggrawatin'! Might have been avoided, too, if they'd kep' a few more troops on the frontier."
"Well, Jack, the treaty is signed at last," said Robert Skyd to his brother, as he sat on his counter in Grahamstown, drumming with his heels.
"Not too soon," replied John Skyd, taking a seat on the same convenient lounge. "It has cost us something: houses burnt all over the settlement, from end to end; crops destroyed; cattle carried off, and, worst of all, trade almost ruined—except in the case of lucky fellows like you, Bob, who sell to the troops."
"War would not have broken out at all," returned Bob, "if the Kafirs had only been managed with a touch of ordinary common sense in times past. Our losses are tremendous. Just look at the Kafir trade, which last year I believe amounted to above 40,000 pounds,—that's crushed out altogether in the meantime, and won't be easily revived. Kafirs in hundreds were beginning to discard their dirty karosses, and to buy blankets, handkerchiefs, flannels, baize, cotton, knives, axes, and what not, while the traders had set up their stores everywhere in Kafirland— to say nothing of your own business, Jack, in the gum, ivory, and shooting way, and our profits thereon. We were beginning to flourish so well, too, as a colony. I believe that we've been absorbing annually somewhere about 150,000 pounds worth of British manufactured articles— not to mention other things, and now—Oh, Jack, mankind is a monstrous idiot!"
"Peace comes too late for us, Gertie," said Hans Marais to his wife, on their return to the old homestead on the karroo, which presented nothing but a blackened heap of dry mud, bricks, and charred timbers; herds and flocks gone—dreary silence in possession—the very picture of desolation.
"Better late than never," remarked Charlie Considine sadly. "We must just set to work, re-stock and re-build. Not so difficult to do so as it might have been, however, owing to that considerate uncle of mine. We're better off than some of our poor neighbours who have nothing to fall back upon. They say that more than 3000 persons have been reduced to destitution; 500 farm-houses have been burnt and pillaged; 900 horses, 55,000 sheep and goats, and above 30,000 head of cattle carried off, only a few of which were recovered by Colonel Smith on that expedition when Hintza was killed. However, we'll keep up heart and go to work with a will—shan't we, my little wife!"
Bertha—now Bertha Considine—who leaned on Charlie's arm, spoke not with her lips, but she lifted her bright blue eyes, and with these orbs of light declared her thorough belief in the wisdom of what ever Charlie might say or do.
"They say it's all settled!" cried Jerry Goldboy, hastily entering Kenneth McTavish's stable.
"What's all settled?" demanded Sandy Black.
"Peace with the Kafirs," said Jerry.
"Peace wi' the Kawfirs!" echoed Sandy, in a slightly contemptuous tone. "H'm! they should never hae had war wi' them, Jerry, my man."
"But 'aving 'ad it, ain't it well that it's hover?" returned Jerry.
"It's cost us a bonnie penny," rejoined Black.
"Nae doot Glen Lynden has come off better than ither places, for we've managed to haud oor ain no' that ill, but wae's me for the puir folk o' the low country! An' I'll be bound the Imperial Treasury'll smart for't. [See Note 1.] But it's an ill wind that blaws nae gude. We've taken a gude slice o' land frae the thievin' craters, for it's said Sir Benjamin D'Urban has annexed all the country between the Kei and the Keiskamma to the colony. A most needfu' addition, for the jungles o' the Great Fish River or the Buffalo were jist fortresses where the Kawfirs played hide-an'-seek wi' the settlers, an' it's as plain as the nose on my face that peace wi' them is not possible till they're driven across the Kei—that bein' a defensible boundary."
"So, they say that peace is proclaimed," said Stephen Orpin to a pretty young woman who had recently put it out of his power to talk of his "bachelor home at Salem." Jessie McTavish had taken pity on him at last!
"Indeed!" replied Jessie, with a half-disappointed look; "then I suppose you'll be going off again on your long journeys into the interior, and leaving me to pine here in solitude?"
"That depends," returned Orpin, "on how you treat me! Perhaps I may manage to find my work nearer home than I did in days gone by. At all events I'll not go into Kafirland just now, for it's likely to remain in an unsettled state for many a day. It has been a sad and useless war, and has cost us a heavy price. Think, Jessie, of the lives lost— forty-four of our people murdered during the invasion, and eighty-four killed and thirty wounded during the war. People will say that is nothing to speak of, compared with losses in other wars; but I don't care for comparisons, I think only of the numbers of our people, and of the hundreds of wretched Kafirs, who have been cut off in their prime and sent to meet their Judge. But there has been one trophy of the war at which I look with rejoicing; 15,000 Fingoes rescued from slavery is something to be thankful for. God can bring good out of evil. It may be that He will give me employment in that direction ere long."
These various remarks, good reader, were uttered some months after the events recorded in the last chapter, for the death of the great chief of Kafirland did not immediately terminate the war. On the contrary, the treaty of peace entered into with Kreli, Hintza's son and successor, was scouted by the confederate chiefs, Tyali, Macomo, etcetera, who remained still unsubdued in the annexed territory, and both there, and within the old frontier, continued to commit murders and wide-spread depredations.
It was not until the Kafirs had been hunted by our troops into the most impregnable of their woody fortresses, and fairly brought to bay, that the chiefs sent messengers to solicit peace. It was granted. A treaty of peace was entered into, by which the Kafirs gave up all right to the country conquered, and consented to hold their lands under tenure from the British Sovereign. It was signed at Fort Wilshire in September.
Thereafter Sir Benjamin D'Urban laid down with great wisdom and ability plans for the occupation and defence of the annexed territory, so as to form a real obstruction to future raids by the lawless natives—plans which, if carried out, would no doubt have prevented future wars, and on the strength of which the farmers began to return to their desolated farms, and commence re-building and re-stocking with indomitable resolution. Others accepted offers of land in the new territory, and a few of the Dutch farmers, hoping for better times, and still trusting to British wisdom for protection, were prevailed on to remain in the colony at a time when many of their kindred were moving off in despair of being either protected, understood, or fairly represented.
Among these still trusting ones was Conrad Marais. Strongly urged by Hans and Considine, he consented to begin life anew in the old home, and went vigorously to work with his stout sons.
But he had barely begun to get the place into something like order when a shell was sent into the colony, which created almost as much dismay as if it had been the precursor of another Kafir invasion.
Conrad was seated in a friend's house in Somerset when the said shell exploded. It came in the form of a newspaper paragraph. He looked surprised on reading the first line or two; then a dark frown settled on his face, which, as he read on, became pale, while his compressed lips twitched with suppressed passion.
Finishing the paragraph, he crushed the newspaper up in his hand, and, thrusting it into his pocket, hastened to the stable, where he saddled his horse. Leaping on its back as if he had been a youth of twenty, he drove the spur into its flanks and galloped away at full speed—away over the dusty road leading from Somerset to the hills: away over the ridge that separates it from the level country beyond; and away over the brown karroo, until at last, covered with dust and flecked with foam, he drew up at his own door and burst in upon the family. They were concluding their evening meal.
"Read that!" he cried, flinging down the paper, throwing himself into a chair, and bringing his fist down on the table with a crash that set cups and glasses dancing.
"There!" he added, pointing to the paragraph, as Hans took up the paper—"that despatch from Lord Glenelg—the British Colonial Secretary—at the top of the column. Read it aloud, boy."
Hans read as follows:—
"'In the conduct which was pursued towards the Kafir nation by the colonists and the public authorities of the colony, through a long series of years, the Kafirs had ample justification of the late war; they had to resent, and endeavour justly, though impotently, to avenge a series of encroachments; they had a perfect right to hazard the experiment, however hopeless, of extorting by force that redress which they could not expect otherwise to obtain, and the claim of sovereignty over the new province must be renounced. It rests upon a conquest resulting from a war in which, as far as I am at present enabled to judge, the original justice is on the side of the conquered, not of the victorious party.'"
"Mark that!" cried Conrad, starting to his feet when Hans had finished, and speaking loud, as if he were addressing the assembled colony instead of the amazed members of his own family,—"mark that: 'the claim of sovereignty over the new province must be renounced.' So it seems that the Kafirs are not only to be patted on the back for having acted the part of cattle-lifters for years, but are to be invited back to their old haunts to begin the work over again and necessitate another war."
He stopped abruptly, as if to check words that ought not to be uttered. There was a momentary silence in the group as they looked at each other. It was broken by Conrad saying to his youngest son, in a voice of forced calmness—
"Go, lad, get me a fresh horse. I will rouse the Dutch-African farmers all over the colony. The land is too hot to hold us. We cannot hope to find rest under the Union Jack!"
We can sympathise strongly with the violent indignation of the honest Dutchman, for, in good truth, not only he and his kindred, but all the people of the colony, were most unjustly blamed and unfairly treated by the Government of that day. Nevertheless Conrad was wrong about the Union Jack. The wisest of plans are open to the insidious entrance of error. The fairest flag may be stained, by unworthy bearers, with occasional prostitution. A Secretary of State is not the British nation, nor is he even, at all times, a true representative of British feeling. Many a deed of folly, and sometimes of darkness, has unhappily been perpetrated under the protection of the Union Jack, but that does not alter the great historical fact, that truth, justice, fair-play, and freedom have flourished longer and better under its ample folds than under any other flag that flies on the face of the whole earth.
But Conrad Marais was not in a position to consider this just then. The boy who is writhing under the lash of a temporarily insane father, is not in a position to reflect that, in the main, his father is, or means to be, just, kind, loving, and true. Conrad bolted a hasty supper, mounted the fresh steed, and galloped away to rouse his kindred. And he proved nearly as good as his word. He roused many of them to join him in his intended expatriation, and many more did not need rousing. Some had brooded over their wrongs until they began to smoulder, and when they were told that the unprovoked raid of the Kafir thieves was deemed justifiable by the Government which ought to have protected their frontier, but had left them to protect themselves, the fire burst into a flame, and the great exodus began in earnest. Thus, a second time, did Conrad and his family, with many others, take to the wilderness. On this occasion the party included Hans and Charlie Considine, with their families.
There was still wanting, however, that last straw which renders a burden intolerable. It was laid on at the time when slavery was abolished.
The Abolition Act was carried into effect on the 1st December 1834, at which time the accursed system of slavery was virtually brought to an end in the colony, though the slaves were not finally freed from all control till 1838. But the glory of this noble work was sullied not a little by the unjust manner in which, during these four years, the details relative to the payment of compensation to slave-owners were carried out. We cannot afford space here to go into these details. Suffice it to say that, as one of the consequences, many families in the colony were ruined, and a powerful impulse was given to the exodus, which had already begun. The leading Dutch-African families in Oliphant's Hock, Gamtoos River, along the Fish River, and Somerset, sold their farms—in many cases at heavy loss, or for merely nominal sums— crossed the border, and bade a final adieu to the land of their fathers. These were followed by other bands, among whom were men of wealth and education, from Graaff-Reinet, Uitenhage, and Albany, until a mighty host had hived off into the far north. Through many a month of toil and trouble did this host pass while traversing the land of the savage in scattered bands. Many a sad reverse befell them. Some were attacked and cut off; some defended themselves with heroism and passed on, defying the Kafirs to arrest their progress, until at last they reached the distant lands on which their hearts were set—and there they settled down to plough and sow, to reap and hunt and build, but always with arms at hand, for the savage was ever on the watch to take them at a disadvantage or unawares.
Thus were laid the foundations of the colony of Natal, the Orange Free State, and the Transvaal Republic.
Note 1. The war of 1884-6 cost the Treasury 800,000 pounds, and the colonists lost in houses, stock, etcetera, 288,625 pounds.
CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.
With peace came prosperity. This was not indeed very obvious at first, for it took a long time to reconcile the unfortunates of the eastern provinces to their heavy losses, and a still longer time to teach them to forget. Nevertheless, from this time forward the march of the settlers of 1820, commercially, intellectually, and religiously, became steady, regular, and rapid.
No doubt they suffered one or two grievous checks as years rolled on. Again and again they had to fight the Kafir savage and drive him back into his native jungles, and each time they had more trouble in doing so than before, because the Kafir was an apt pupil, and learned to substitute the gun for the assagai; but he did not learn to substitute enlightened vigour for blind passion, therefore the white man beat him as before.
He did more than that. He sought to disarm the savage, and, to a large extent, succeeded. He disarmed him of ignorance by such means as the Lovedale Missionary Institution near Alice; the Institution near Healdtown, and other seminaries,—as well as by mission stations of French, Dutch Reformed, Wesleyan, English, and Scotch churches scattered all over Kafirland; he taught the savage that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and that industry is the high-road to prosperity. Some of the black men accepted these truths, others rejected them. Precisely the same may be said of white men all over the world. Those who accepted became profitable to themselves and the community. Those who rejected, continued slaves to themselves, and a nuisance to everybody. Again we remark that the same may be said of white men everywhere. White unbelievers continued to pronounce the "red" Kafir an "irreclaimable savage," fit for nothing but coercion and the lash. Black unbelievers continued to curse the white man as being unworthy of any better fate than being "driven into the sea," and, between the two, missionaries and Christians, both black and white, had a hard time of it; but they did not give in, for, though greatly disheartened at times, they remembered that they were "soldiers" of the cross, and as such were bound to "endure hardness."
Moreover, missionaries and Christians of all colours and kinds, doubtless remembered their own sins and errors. Being imperfect men, they had in some cases—through prejudice and ignorance, but never through design—helped the enemy a little; or, if they did not remember these errors and aims, they were pretty vigorously reminded of them by white opponents, and no doubt the thought of this humbled them to some extent, and enabled them to bow more readily to chastisement. Then they braced themselves anew for the gospel-fight—the only warfare on earth that is certain to result in blessing to both the victors and the vanquished.
If any of the missionaries held with Lord Glenelg in his unwise reversal of the good Sir Benjamin D'Urban's Kafir policy, they must have had the veil removed from their eyes when that nobleman himself confessed his error with a candour that said much for his heart; reversed his own decrees, and fell back upon that very plan which at first he had condemned in such ungenerous terms. His recantation could not, however, recall the thousands of Dutch-African farmers whom he helped to expatriate. Perhaps it was well that it should be so, for good came out of this evil,—namely, the reclamation of vast tracts of the most beautiful and fertile regions of the earth from the dominion of darkness and cruelty.
But what of those whose fortunes we have been following, during this period of peace and prosperity?
Some of them remained in the colony, helped on these blessings, and enjoyed them. Others, casting in their lot with the wanderers, fought the battles and helped to lay the foundations of the new colonies.
First, Charlie Considine. That fortunate man—having come into the possession of a considerable sum of money, through the uncle who had turned out so much "better than he should be," and having become possessed of a huge family of sons and daughters through that Gertie whom he styled the "sugar of his existence,"—settled in Natal along with his friends Hans and Conrad Marais. When that fertile and warm region was taken possession of by the British, he refused to hive off with the Marais, and continued to labour there in the interests of truth, mercy, and justice to the end of his days.
Junkie Brook, with that vigour of character which had asserted itself on the squally day of his nativity, joined Frank Dobson and John Skyd in a hunting expedition beyond the Great Orange River; and when the Orange Free State was set up by the emigrant Dutchmen, he and his friends established there a branch of the flourishing house of Dobson, Skyd, and Company. Being on the spot when South Africa was electrified by the discovery (in 1866-67) of the Diamond Fields of that region, they sent their sons, whose name was legion, to dig, and soon became diamond merchants of the first water, so that when Junkie visited his aged parents on the Zuurveld—which he often did—he usually appeared with his pockets full of precious stones!
"I've found a diamond this time, nurse," he said, on the occasion of one of these visits, "which is as big—oh!—as—as an ostrich-egg! See, here it is," and he laid on the table a diamond which, if not quite as big as the egg of the giant bird, was large enough to enable him, with what he had previously earned, to retire comfortably from the business in favour of his eldest son.
The sudden acquisition of riches in this way was by no means uncommon at that time, for the "Fields" were amazingly prolific, and having been discovered at a crisis of commercial depression, were the means, not only of retrieving the fortunes of South Africa, but of advancing her to a condition of hitherto unparalleled prosperity.
Mrs Scholtz—by that time grown unreasonably fat—eyed the diamond with a look of amused contempt; she evidently did not believe in it. Patting the hand of her former charge, she looked up in his laughing face, and said, with a shake of her head—
"Ah! Junkie, I always said you was a wonderful child."
Sitting on a bench in front of the house—no longer domestics, but smoking their pipes there as "friends" of the family, who had raised themselves to a state of comparative affluence—George Dally and Scholtz, now aged men, commented on the same diamond.
"It'll make his fortune," said George.
"Zee boy vas always lucky," remarked Scholtz; "zince I began to varm for myself I have not zeen so big a stone."
"Ah! Scholtz," returned his friend, "the hotel business has done very well for me, an I don't complain, but if I was young again I'd sell off and have a slap at the 'Fields.'"
"Zat vould only prove you vas von fool," said Scholtz quietly.
"I believe it would," returned George.
In regard to the Scotch party at Glen Lynden, we have to record that they continued to persevere and prosper. Wool became one of the staple articles of colonial commerce, and the hills of the Baviaans River sent a large contingent of that article to the flourishing seaport of the eastern provinces.
Of course the people multiplied, and the sturdy sons of the South African highlands did credit to their sires, both in the matter of warring with the Kafir and farming on the hills.
Sandy Black stuck to his farm with the perseverance of a true Scot, and held his own through thick and thin. He married a wife also, and when, in later years, the native blacks made a sudden descent on his homestead, they were repulsed by a swarm of white Blacks, assisted by an army of McTavishes, and chased over the hills with a degree of energy that caused them almost to look blue!
Andrew Rivers, being a man of progressive and independent mind, cast about him in a state of uncertainty for some years, devoting himself chiefly to hunting, until the value of ostrich feathers had induced far-sighted men to domesticate the giant bird, and take to "farming" ostriches—incubating them by artificial as well as natural means. Then Rivers became an ostrich-farmer. He was joined in this enterprise by Jerry Goldboy, and the two ultimately bought a farm on the karroo and settled down. Rivers had a turn for engineering, and set himself to form a huge dam to collect rain near his dwelling. From this reservoir he drew forth constant supplies, not only to water flocks and herds, but to create a garden in the karroo, which soon glowed with golden fruit.
In this he set a good example, which has been followed with great success by many men of enterprise in those regions; and there is no doubt, we think, that if such dams were multiplied, Artesian wells sunk, and railways run into the karroos, those fine, though comparatively barren regions of South Africa, would soon begin to blossom like the rose.
Thus, what between ostrich feathers, wool, horses, cattle, and enterprise, Rivers and Goldboy made themselves comfortable. Like other men of sense, they married. Thereafter the garden had to be considerably enlarged, for the golden fruit created by the streams which had been collected and stored by Rivers, proved quite inadequate to the supply of those oceans of babies and swarms of Goldboys that flooded the karroo, and filled its solitudes with shouts and yells that would have done credit to the wildest tribe of reddest Kafirs in the land.
Some of these descendants, becoming men of energy, with roving dispositions like their sires, travelled into the far north, and west, and helped to draw forth the copper ore, and to open the mines of Great Namaqua-land—thus aiding in the development of South Africa's inexhaustible treasure-house, while others of them, especially the sons of Jerry, went into the regions of the Transvaal Republic, and there proved themselves Goldboys in very truth, by successfully working the now celebrated gold-fields of that region.
Stephen Orpin did not give up trade, but he prosecuted it with less and less vigour as time went on, and at last merely continued it as a means of enabling him to prosecute the great object of his life, the preaching of the gospel, not merely to those whom men style par excellence the "heathen," but to every one who was willing to listen to the good news— redemption from sin! Ah! there was great fervour in Stephen Orpin's tones when he said, as he often did—"Men and women, I do not come here to make you good, which, in the estimation of more than one half of the so-called Christian world, means goody. My desire is to open your eyes to see Jesus, the Saviour from sin. Who among you—except the young—does not know the power of sin; our inability to restrain bad and vicious habits; our passionate desire to do what we know is wrong; our frequent falling from courses that we know to be right? It is not that hell frightens us; it is not that heaven fails to attract us. These ideas trouble us little—too little. It is present misery that torments. We long and desire to have, but cannot obtain; we fight and strive, but do not succeed, or, it may be, we do succeed, and discover success to be failure, for we are disappointed, and then feel a tendency towards apathetic indifference. If, however, our consciences be awakened, then the torment takes another form. We are tempted powerfully, and cannot resist. We cannot subdue our passions; we cannot restrain our tempers. No wonder. Has not God said, 'Greater is he who ruleth his own spirit, than he who taketh a city?' The greatest conqueror is not so great as he who conquers himself. What then? Is there no deliverance from sin? Yes, there is. 'Sin shall not have dominion over you,' are the words of Him who also said, 'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'"
"Stephen Orpin," cried a sturdy sinner, in whose ears these words were preached, "do you know all that to be true? Can you speak from experience of this deliverance, this rest?"
"Yes," cried Stephen, starting up with a sudden impulse, "I do know it—partly by some deliverances that have been wrought for me, partly from some degree of rest attained to, and much, very much, from the firm assurance I have that, but for God's forbearing and restraining mercy, I should have been a lost soul long long ago. Man, wherein I have failed in obtaining deliverance and rest, it has been owing to my sin, not to failure in the Lord's faithfulness."
But Stephen did not travel so far or so long as had been his wont in days gone by. A wife and family, in the village of Salem, exercised an attractive influence, fastening him, as it were, to a fixed point, and converting his former erratic orbit into a circle which, with centripetal force, was always drawing nearer to its centre.
In the course of his early wanderings Orpin managed to search out Ruyter the Hottentot robber, and so influenced him as to induce him to give up his lawless career, and return to the colony. Ruyter drew with him Abdul Jemalee, Booby the Bushman, and one or two others, who settled down to peaceful occupations.
The Malay in particular—slavery being by that time abolished—returned to Capetown, and there found his amiable wife and loving children ready to receive him with open arms. It is true the wife was somewhat aged, like himself, and his children were grown up—some of them even married,—but these little matters weighed nothing in his mind compared with the great, glorious fact, that he was reunited to them in a land where he might call his body his own!
If Jemalee had been a man of much observation, he might have noted that many important changes had taken place in Capetown and its surroundings during his long absence. A new South African college had been erected; a library which might now stand in the front rank of the world's libraries had been collected; the freedom of the press had been largely taken advantage of, and education generally was being prosecuted with a degree of rigour that argued well for the future of the colony— especially in Stellenbosch, Wellington, and neighbouring places. But Abdul Jemalee was not a man of observation. He did not care a straw for these things, and although we should like much to enlarge on them, as well as on other topics, we must hold our hand—for the new and eastern, not the old and western provinces of South Africa claim our undivided attention in this tale.
There is no necessary antagonism, however, between these two—'East' and 'West.' Circumstances and men have at present thrown a few apples of discord into them, just as was the case with England and Scotland of old; with the North and South in the United States of late; but, doubtless, these apples, and every other source of discord, will be removed in the course of time, and South Africa will ere long become a united whole, with a united religious and commercial people, under one flag, animated by one desire—the advancement of truth and righteousness among themselves, as well as among surrounding savages,—and extending in one grand sweep of unbroken fertility from the Cape of Good Hope to the Equator.