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Hontfon : 


[All rigMs reserved.'} 





THE following narrative is a faithful account of my 
personal experience. The only liberty that I have taken 
with facts consists of the substitution of fictitious for 
the real names of persons and farms. These changes 
have been made for obvious reasons. 





ON a fine breezy morning, early in December, 1878, a 
number of passengers, and volunteers for the Zulu war, 
crowded the deck of one of the Union Company's steam- 
ships, then lying off the Port of D'Urban, or Port Natal. 
She had been for some days unable to land her passengers 
owing to the roughness of the "bar," that terrible difficulty 
presented by all south-east African seaports ; but earlj 
on this particular morning the joyful intelligence that 
the tug was coming was made known, and the excitement, 
was great in consequence. 

The volunteers had all come on board at East London, 
a very sparely populated and commonplace-looking sea- 
side village on the African coast. They were more or 
less prepared for what lay before them, for they knew 
what life in South Africa is; but to the majority of 
the passengers the low-lying, jungly-looking shore on 
which the breakers were beating was like the drop-scene 
of an unknown opera. "What lay behind it was a mystery 


2 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

to all those who were then for the first time lauding in 
South Africa at least one half of the number assembled 
on deck. Most of them, no doubt, felt this ; but there 
was one, at least, who did not. This was a young gentle- 
man who went by the name of " Dick." He was a strap- 
ping youngster of about eighteen, who, I 'am inclined to 
think, had been shipped to Africa because nothing could 
be done with him at home. The new life before him 
presented no difficulties to his mind ; he knew exactly 
how he was going to manage. He would buy a horse at 
D'Urban, put a few things in his saddle-bags, strap his 
tent on his horse's crupper, and ride to Rustemberg (his 
destination) with a Kaffir for his guide. There he would 
rapidly make his fortune, principally by trading amongst 
the Kaffirs, to which end he had, before leaving England, 
provided himself with a stock of little machines, which (if 
my memory serves me rightly) are labelled in shop- windows 
"A cup of tea in five minutes." This invention consists 
of a piece of sponge covered with wire gauze and encased 
in a metal cover, so that the apparatus can be carried 
in the pocket until it is required to perform the part of a 
spirit-lamp. The contrivance is more complicated than I 
describe, and decidedly ingenious. Dick had a store of 
these things in perfect order, and was confident of doing 
a roaring trade in them amongst the Kaffirs. 

Dick was now, however, troubled with a difficulty ; it 
was this : he had two dogs, one an English bull-terrier 
it had cost him 5Z. to bring the animal from England the 
other a Kaffir mongrel, for which he had paid a sovereign 
to the owner, who had come on board at Cape Town. The 
owner was a Kaffir, and had brought his dog on board 
without asking any questions, and probably would have 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal, 3 

taken him off without any being asked of him ; but when 
Dick bought the dog, the captain and chief officer declared 
that he must pay the full fare for the animal, and on his 
indignant refusal, threatened to seize his saddle. Poor 
Dick was in an agony, honestly believing they meant what 
they said, and being much troubled in his mind as to how 
his new acquisition, a very large and lively dog, was to be 
got into the tug. The method of conveying the passengers 
from the steamship to the tug was certainly enough to 
alarm the poor mongrel, and Dick was justified in think- 
ing it likely that he would object to it. A strongly-made 
basket, large enough to hold three or four persons crouch- 
ing down, was being periodically hauled up to the side and 
swung over to the deck of the ship, filled with passengers, 
and then lowered away, until, amidst much laughter and 
shouting, its unlucky occupants were let bump down on 
the deck of the little tug that was bobbing about by the 
side of her big sister, when they were immediately and 
very unceremoniously tumbled out if they were men. 
Women and children were somewhat more gently treated. 
It certainly struck nie that it would be very easy to break 
one's legs in the operation, and when my turn came I was 
very glad to find myself safely on board the little vessel. 
She was a funny-looking little craft, made expressly for 
crossing the disagreeable bar, and we were all cautioned 
to sit fast and wedge ourselves in well, or we might be 
swept overboard as we passed it. I expected a frightful 
drenching at least, but nothing at all happened ; it was 
the old story of the mountain and the mouse, and as 
such, it formed a fitting prelude to life in South Africa, 
where, so far as my experience goes, everything is ex- 
aggerated dangers, difficulties, beauties, and advantages. 

B 2 

4 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

I believe that D' Urban is a pretty town, but it did not 
look pretty to me, for I was in a bad temper. I had 
arranged to travel with a party who were going up 
country to speculate, thinking that it might be difficult 
for a lady alone, unless blessed with large means, to travel 
in a country of which the languages and customs were 
unknown to her. It is, I think, rather trying for any one 
accustomed to manage for himself to submit to be managed 
for, unless the management be very good, which in this 
case it was not. I found it decidedly tried me, and when 
it came on to rain, and (there being a strike of the 
Kaffir porters on that day) my companions piled all the 
luggage in the middle of a tramway, seemingly un- 
conscious of there being any unadvisability in its being so 
disposed of, I felt very uncharitable towards them. The 
result of this disposition of our joint property was, that 
after a while a number of Kaffirs, with that beautiful dis- 
regard of consequences which is one of the pleasing 
characteristics of the race, sent a line of empty railway 
trucks right into it. The acrobatic and athletic efforts 
then made to rescue individual boxes dear to the owners' 
hearts, were amusing to behold ; but it would have been 
a great relief to one's feelings to have been able to vent 
one's wrath, if only in words, on those unpleasant Kaffirs, 
who looked on grinning ; but it was no use abusing them, 
for they didn't understand English, and none of us spoke 
Zulu or any other Kaffir language. At last I got into an 
omnibus which runs between the Port and the village of 
D'Urban, taking " Jimmy " with me. And here, as I shall 
have occasion to mention Jimmy again, let me introduce 

Jimmy was a boy of nearly sixteen, whom I had known 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 5 

from the time lie was very small. He belonged to the 
party with whom I had arranged to travel, and was the 
only member of it with whom I had any previous 
acquaintance when I went on board the Union Company's 
ship at Southampton. He was fresh from home and 
school, and not at all accustomed to roughing it, hence he 
was permitted to be a good deal with me, and was allowed 
certain little privileges not accorded to the men of the 
party, or even to another youngster not much older than 
Jimmy, but about twice his size and strength. 

The omnibus set us down at the best hotel in D'Urban; 
but that does not say very much. The village consisted 
of a line of straggling cottages or small houses, some of 
them with things in the window for sale, a railway-station, 
and a rather nice-looking building where the post-office 
was. I say consisted, for it may be much changed since 
then. The hotel was a cottage standing in a garden. There 
was a sitting-room with a piano in it, and a table d'hote 
in an adjoining but separate room; but there were none 
of the other arrangements which one connects in one's 
mind with an hotel. The idea it gave me was that a small 
farmhouse had been suddenly called upon to accommodate 
several people, and that the owner was doing his best. 
On the whole, D'Urban did not strike me as a singularly 
delectable spot, and I was not sorry to leave it. 

We departed by the train, which took us to Pine Town, 
a pretty little place, in the middle of scenery that reminded 
me of an Indian jungle. 

Here we got into an omnibus. We were packed very 
tight, and had little parcels of various sorts crammed into 
every available spot. The road was rough, and the horses 
went at a rattling rate. I suppose it was what some of 

6 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

the people said, "miserable;" but I rather enjoyed it, 
for the scenery was fine. We stopped for dinner sit a 
farmhouse, and got into Pieter-Maritzburg at sunset. 
The town looked very pretty with the evening light on it, 
lying in the middle of a circle of hills ; but it is not really 
a very pretty place, although I believe its inhabitants 
think it so. Pieter-Maritzburg in reality is, or was when 
I saw it, only a large village. 

Before I proceed, I must warn my readers, that 
although I shall have to tell them of rocks and valleys 
and wooded ravines, &c., they must not picture to them- 
selves anything analogous to what they may have seen 
in Switzerland or Italy. There are such things in this 
part of the world, but they are commonplace. It is neces- 
sary to come here to understand what a "commonplace " 
wooded ravine means, but once here one understands it 
perfectly. I have often tried to make out in what this 
want of beauty, where there ought to be beauty, consisted, 
and I think that to a considerable extent it is caused by a 
want of atmosphere, to use a phrase common to artists. 
In this part of the world the sun rises, when the sky is 
cloudless, in a bright yellow halo. It is yellow not the 
glorious gold of the Egyptian or Indian sunrise and the 
light it throws on all around is simply a bright yellow 
light. There are no delicately shaded tints, as it fades 
into shadow, or plays over an uneven surface. The artist 
who would portray it need have but few colours in his 
paint-box. If the sky be cloudy, he need only as a rule 
have plenty of grey, and enough red and yellow for a 
streak or two. It is very seldom one sees the beautiful 
rose-flecked sky which made the fanciful Greeks gift 
Aurora with rosy-tipped fingers. And then, where will 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 7 

a dweller here find the magnificent colouring of an Indian, 
or the ethereal blush of an Italian, sunset? The finest he 
will ever see here will not be equal to many that he will 
have seen in England. 

The colouring of the scenery is monotonous. The 
grass when it is not yellow is a very vivid green; the 
trees have not much variety of hue or form ; and the 
sky is very blue a cobalt blue, deepening into indigo 
as it nears the horizon, but without a trace of the rose- 
pink which, when we first learn to put a brush on paper, 
we are so strenuously enjoined never to omit in an hori- 
zon. Even the moonlight is not so ethereal as in other 
countries, although it is often very bright. 

So much for the scenery. Now, as to the life here, I 
can only compare it to a picture in which there is no 
central point for the eye to rest on, in which everything 
is equally prominent. It is moral atmosphere which is 
wanting, I am inclined to think. Life here is a jumble, 
to use an inelegant but expressive word. To me, and to 
many I fancy, there is much in the life which is attractive. 
It is, I believe, a fact, that people who have been here for 
some time and have longed to return to Europe, having 
done so, have come back to finish their days in Africa. 
But I doubt whether more than two or three of those 
persons even, could have told the characteristic charm 
which thus recalled them from their old homes. 

8 A Lady Trader in tJie Transvaal. 


JIMMY and I left Pieter-Maritzburg on a fine afternoon, 
having been there about a week the rest of the party, 
together with the two waggons which had been hired by 
the manager, having gone on in front the men on foot, 
we on horseback, or rather on ponyback, for neither of 
our steeds was fifteen hands high. I had found it very 
hard to get serviceable animals at Pieter-Maritzburg, for 
at that time all the available, and many unavailable horses, 
were bought up by the volunteers. Dick had invested in 
a weedy-looking young mare, and he rode her to death, I 
heard, in about a fortnight, although he was not in the 
volunteers. Two of our party had left us to join the 
native contingent (then being raised) as volunteer 
officers. They spoke nothing but English, and their men 
nothing but a Kaffir dialect ; so how they, and many others 
who joined like them, managed, I do not know. They 
had also bought miserable hacks. I cannot say much for 
my own two. One, which Jimmy bestrode, was a rough 
and ugly Basuto pony, very thin, but with good qualities. 
My pony was larger, fat, and handsome ; he would have 
been very good, except for his laziness. I certainly never 
have seen so lazy a little horse. He would stand stock- 
still, unless forcibly reminded that he was wanted to 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 9 

walk; and when induced to canter, he would in five 
minutes fall into a walk. These two animals were the 
means of introducing me to the common domestic insect 
of this part of the world, namely, the " tick/' or " bush- 
louse/' as it is called by the Boers. There were hundreds 
on both the ponies, and the groom of the hotel being, as 
Kaffir grooms generally are, a useless addition to the 
stable, Jimmy and I had employed hours in ridding our 
ponies of the parasites. I had an idea that I knew what 
a " tick " was, on sheep in England ; but the South 
African tick is a wonderful creature. There are grey, 
brown, whitish, and striped varieties, besides one exceed- 
ingly poisonous kind, yellow-green on the back, with a 
white line with symmetrical streaks of red on it running 
round the edge of the podgy little body, and the belly 
grey. These insects vary in size, from almost invisibility 
to the bulk of a hazel-nut. They are very agile ; and if 
you happen to be sitting on the grass, you have a good 
chance of seeing one walk nimbly towards you, with a 
hungry look pervading his small person. What the 
creatures live on when they don't happen to fall in with 
some living prey I do not know, but numbers of them 
certainly have their habitat in the grass. 

Jimmy and I started on ponyback. With a vague 
idea that I was going into a wild country, and with a 
distinct one that Jimmy was not likely to afford me 
much protection, I had a revolver in a case strapped 
round my waist, and another in a holster on my saddle. 
The waggons had started in a hurry ; and there having been 
some misunderstanding on my part as to when I was to 
have all my things loaded up, a good many things belong- 
ing to Jimmy and myself had been left behind, and these 

io A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

were crammed into our saddle-bags, and tied on our 
saddles. However, we started, and having arrived at an 
even stretch of road halfway up the hill immediately 
beyond the village, Jimmy proposed a canter. It was 
not a particularly fast one, but the effect was disas- 
trous. I was a little in front when I heard " Hilloa ! I 
say, look what's happening ! " and looking back, I beheld 
the road strewed with articles which had gradually fallen 
from Jimmy's various parcels. Jimmy looked disconsolate 
as he returned, and began to pick them up and tie them 
on again, while I sat on my pony and laughed. This was 
unfair, I must confess, for the loading up arrangement 
had been of my invention, not Jimmy's. Presently we 
came up to one of our party, sitting, hot and weary, on a 
big stone near to a hand-cart laden with miscellaneous 
articles, which, had not arrived in time to be packed in the 
waggons. I must here observe, that the manager of our 
party had contracted for our being taken to Pretoria with 
our goods by a carrier, or what is here called a transport- 
rider, and the transport-rider was imperious about when 
he would "in and out-spann," to use a South African 
phrase for putting the oxen into and letting them out of 
the yoke. I confess that, being at the time ignorant of 
the conditions of transport-riding, I thought our carrier 
unreasonable on this and many other occasions. But 
experience has taught me that in respect of his treatment 
of oxen in this one particular, he was altogether reason- 
able, for in travelling with an ox-waggon, even an in- 
human man, and our driver wa's one, must consider his 
oxen, or else he. will stick fast on the road. 

The young gentleman who was sitting hot and weary 
on the stone, guarding the hand-cart while his com- 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 1 

panions in misfortune had gone to drink somewhere, 
must have been a very amiable person if he did not feel 
something akin to hatred of Jimmy and myself as we 
rode up, and after a few words rode on. He did his best 
to look cheerful; and this was creditable to him, although 
it was a failure, for who could be expected to look cheer- 
ful at being harnessed two abreast to a heavy hand-cart, 
and having to drag it uphill for miles in a broiling sun ? 
Everything, however, has an end. Some time after 
Jimmy and I reached the place where the waggons were 
outspanned, the cart was brought in, the articles in it 
placed in the wa ergons, and the cart itself sent back I 
forget how to Pieter-Maritzburg. When the oxen were 
inspanned and we started once more, we felt that we 
were fairly en route ; and being so, let me describe the 
waggons, which were to serve us as houses until we 
reached Pretoria. The one was an open buck- waggon, 
something of the same make as our large English 
hay-waggons, with a tarpaulin, or what is here called 
" a buck-sail/' thrown over it to protect the goods. 
There were, I think, eighteen oxen in this waggon, 
which was driven principally by the Africander trans- 
port-rider, a small man, with red whiskers and mous- 
tache. The other waggon was also a buck-waggon, 
or waggon with railings projecting from the sides for 
the support of goods ; but on the back half of it 
there was a tent, formed of canvas stretched on bent 
laths, so as to form a complete covering at the sides and 
top. The ends were furnished with canvas flaps, to 
be shut or opened at pleasure. With very few articles 
packed in a half-tent, its occupant, if there be but one, 
may be comfortable enough ; but when, in addition to 

12 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

cases, the entire paraphernalia which a company of twelve 
men, most of them unaccustomed to travelling, think 
necessary to keep handy, is tumbled into it, the conditions 
are altered. Of course each man had a rifle, and these 
weapons had to be kept exceptionally handy, although 
they did not get us more than two or three brace of birds 
during our whole trek, and not even one buck. The 
result of twelve men and one woman (myself) having these 
things " handy " in a half-tent was this. The various 
articles underwent a rotatory movement every time one of 
them was wanted, and became well mixed up. Later on I 
was able to make canvas bags and tie them up to the sides 
of the tent, and so save my property from the general 
confusion, but at the outstart my goods contributed 
to it. 

Our evening outspann was on a bleak hill-top, along 
which a thick, damp mist was beginning to sweep. It 
soon enveloped us, and rendered the cooking of the 
evening meal difficult. In agreeing with the transport- 
driver, no definite understanding had been come to as 
to what assistance the natives under his control were to 
render, hence they gave us very little, and the men had 
to bring water, fuel, &c., and make the fire themselves. 
This a native will do in pouring rain, but an Englishman, 
as a rule, is puzzled to do it even in a drizzling mist. 
Presently, through the mist, up rode the two of our party 
who had joined the volunteers ; they came to bid their 
companions God-speed, and then rode off, as it was already 
late. I don't know what became of one of them ; the 
other was massacred as he lay ill of fever in the hospital 
at Rorke's Drift. In the meantime the tent for the men 
was pitched by them. I had a tent, but I think I only 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 13 

persuaded them to pitch it for my benefit four times, and 
I forget whether this was one of those occasions. Pre- 
sently supper made its appearance. The meal consisted 
of fried ham, bread, and coffee without milk, be it under- 
stood. It does not sound badly, but I will describe it in 
the words of the man who cooked it : " Rancid tallow 
candle, with lots of salt in it." He would not eat of it ; 
but I was very hungry, and did, although I confess the 
description was accurate. 

14 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


I SHALL not give a lengthened description of a journey 
in or with an ox-waggon, through a country whose lead- 
ing feature is an utter absence of any objects of interest, 
except to the eye of a speculative farmer, and even he 
could not but be disagreeably impressed by the want of 
water. I will sum it up by saying, that we travelled over 
many miles of undulating country, starting early in the 
morning, outspanning in the middle of the day, and 
travelling again in the evening, during which time we 
were not particularly comfortable. The men generally 
walked ; Jimmy and I rode. It was very rough, although 
after our first evening the food improved ; but the want 
of milk was trying. Then, too, it is unpleasant when 
the weather is very hot not to be able to get a good 
wash, or to change one's linen often ; and these were 
impossibilities for me, owing to my not being able to 
induce the men to pitch my tent. The waggon-tent wag 
too much cumbered for even an active person, not to 
say one who is lame, as I am, to perform satisfactory 
ablutions in; and the absence of trees made an im- 
promptu dressing-room a thing not to be thought of. 
Sometimes we came to a little shanty called an hotel, 
and then I eagerly seized the opportunity for a 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 5 

wash ; but these accommodations -were very few, and far 

One duty which devolved on me, many would, I dare- 
say, consider a hardship, but I did not mind it ; this was 
cleaning my horse. I was a new hand at grooming a 
horse then, having previously only had the brush and 
comb in my hands en amateur, and it is one thing to rub 
down a well-groomed horse for amusement, and another 
to clean a very dirty and hot one under a broiling sun ; 
but I cannot say that I disliked this hardship, although 
I used to wish that our outspanning times were such as 
to allow of my grooming operations being carried on at 
some hour when the sun was low. At best, however, a 
mid-day outspann in a treeless country is objectionable; 
it is pleasanter to be moving than stationary during the 
process of being broiled. It is true that under the 
waggon there is a little shade, but in this case it was not 
available for me, being fully occupied by the tired men. 
It is, however, absolutely necessary for oxen to rest in 
the heat of the day if they are to work well ; and, as I 
said before, our conductor in this respect was a good 

The first place that made an impression on my mind 
was Kar- Kloof. It is approached by a road that winds 
round a hill-side, and then one is almost startled by the 
abruptness and length of the ascent in front. It seems 
almost impossible for oxen to drag a loaded waggon up 
so long and steep a hill. It is a picturesque place (for 
Africa), with deep gullies at the side of the rugged road, 
and with even a sprinkling of trees. On the top of this 
tremendous hill is a tiny iron house an inn, and very 
glad I was that such a thing existed ; for hardly were we 

1 6 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

at the top when a most terrific storm broke over us. 
There was even a stable, or what served the purpose of 
one, and in it, to my great relief, I was able to get shelter 
for the horses. The landlady, a most garrulous and in- 
quisitive old person, was very kind to me ; although 
she apparently regarded my companions as undesirable 
characters, and came down on them very sharp whenever 
she could. The storm ended in a thick mist, through 
which one of the men thought he saw a buck, and in- 
continently set forth, rifle in hand. The buck disappeared, 
and so did its would-be persecutor ; the disappearance of 
the former being for good, and of the latter for the whole 
night, which he spent in forlornly wandering in continual 
dread of losing his footing amongst the rocks and gullies 
as completely as he had lost his way. 

Then there was Estcourt, a place that looked pretty by 
moonlight, but not so well by daylight ; and then there 
was the Drachensberg, or Dragon Mountain. I had 
heard much of this terrible mountain, and dreadful 
accounts of what happened to waggons whilst attempting 
to cross it; I therefore approached it with a certain 
amount of respect. 

The Drachensberg is not a single mountain, but a very 
long chain, as any one can see by looking at it on the map. 
At its foot the road coming from Natal divides into two, 
one branch leading across the mountain into the Free 
State, the other going to Newcastle. We were to go by 
the former, and I now learned that we were to go to 
Pretoria via Heilbronn and Heidelberg. My knowledge 
of the geography of the country was not up to the mark, 
but it was sufficient to render this announcement start- 
ling to me, the taking Heilbronn en route to Heidelberg 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 7 

bringing me some sixty or seventy miles out of my way ; 
however, the conductor said he had to go, and that was 
considered to be conclusive. I believe the reason he 
gave was, that having lost many of his oxen on the road, 
and thinking it likely he should lose more, he had to go 
to Heilbronn, where his home was, for fresh oxen ; in 
reality, he went to pick up his wife, who wanted to pay 
a visit to Heidelberg. But whatever was the reason, he 
said he must go by Heilbronn ; and we, having no pre- 
vious contract as to the road by which he was to travel, 
had to obey. We left the hospitable little inn at the foot 
of the mountain in the afternoon. The preamble of our 
starting was as follows : 

My horse's withers having been touched by the saddle, 
and Jimmy's pony being also touched on the back, I said 
I would g-o in the waggon. 

" If that be so," said the conductor, " your young 
friend had best go with you." 

" Why ? " I inquired. 

"Because very likely the waggon may be upset," 
quoth the conductor. 

What benefit I was to derive from Jimmy's presence 
in such a case I did not pause to inquire, but, as speedily 
as I could, descended from my destined conveyance just 
in time to see a wretched sheep in its dying agonies, 
having been killed for our supper by one of the men, 
alongside of the waggon, to which it was speedily hung. 

The innkeeper now provided a light carriage called a 
" spider," drawn by four oxen, for my benefit, in which 
I started some time after the waggons had done so. 

The ascent of the Dragon Mountain is certainly pic- 
turesque, although the lack of trees is very much felt, 


1 8 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

but the effect of it was greatly marred by a thick mist 
which came on as evening drew in. Presently we came 
to our waggons, stuck in the mud amongst a lot of others 
all in the same predicament. It was a nice pleasant 
look-out ! The spider deposited me in the mud ; the 
men pitched their tent in the mud ; and presently up 
came Jimmy leading the two ponies, all very muddy. 
The supper was what might be expected under the cir- 
cumstances. I got Jimmy into the waggon with me, 
tied the horses to the back of it, and fed them from my 
hand for the mud made it impossible to feed them on the 
ground, and I had no nose-bag for them and then pre- 
pared to go to sleep. My remembrance of that night is, 
that it was a perpetual struggle to avoid slipping out at 
the back ; for as there was no mattress, but only a blanket 
or two thrown on a mixed assortment of articles, promi- 
nent amongst which were the rifles of the party, and the 
waggen stood on a steep incline, not only oneself, but all 
one was lying on had a downward tendency. 

Towards morning I heard dismal sounds from a member 
of our party who had attempted to sleep on the waggon, 
outside the tent but under the buck-sail, and then a 
clank which told me that his head must have come in 
collision with a certain tin box of mine. 

" I can't stand this any longer," he groaned ; and I 
heard him descend to where, under the waggon, some of 
his companions had been sleeping in the mud. This 
woke them, and they began making comparisons between 
the relative coldness of their backs, which so amused me 
that I completely woke up, to find the dawn breaking 
very sullenly. I found the poor ponies warm under their 
blankets, but slipping in the mud, which was by this 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 19 

time over their pasterns, and got them something to eat. 
Then with difficulty I woke Jimmy who solemnly assured 
me he had not slept a wink all night and suggested to 
him the advisability of saddling, and trying to push on 
to an inn on the Willow River, which I heard was about 
twelve miles distant. This we did, passing a waggon, 
all broken to pieces in its fall, a little way ahead of our 
waggons, which, with the rest of the party, did not get 
to our harbour of refuge by the Willow River for two 
days, having fearful weather on the mountains. 

We were now in the Orange Free State, and during 
my stay at the little hostelry I heard much political talk, 
ad verse to the English, from an old Free- Stater somewhat 
addicted to the bottle. I also had a conversation with a 
gentleman of a very inventive turn of mind, who told me 
some wonderful stories, to which I listened gravely. 
Whenever something suggested to him that my won- 
derment was getting too strong, he would appeal in a 
most artless manner to the memory of a friend of his 
who was there, and the friend always remembered. 
These two were dwellers in the Transvaal, but both, 
with delightful naivete, cautioned me not to trust any 
Transvaalists, as they were all fearfully acute and 

On the morning after the arrival of our party at the 
Willow River, Jimmy and I started for Harrismith, the 
others, with the waggons having gone on before. We 
found them having breakfast, and stopped for a few 
minutes with them. 

Harrisniith looked like a dismal little attempt at a 
town. I was fresh from European and Indian cities and 
towns then. Now, after a little more than two years in 

c 2 

2O A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

the Transvaal, I have become sufficiently savage to think 
Harrismith, whenever I may next see it, quite a respect- 
able attempt at one. There are two inns in the place ; 
the one to which we went was fairly comfortable at least 
the sitting-room, dining-room, and my bedroom adjoining 
the sitting-room, were very good. I could see that the 
bedroom was the show bedroom, and I don't know what 
the others were. The stable was large, and crammed 
with horses just tied to the manger, without any divi- 
sion between them, and so closely packed that it was 
difficult to get between them so as to clean one's own 
horse. And the dirt ! The Augean stable must have 
been a trifle to it ! 

From Harrismith we were to trek to Heilbronn, and 
when our party came up it was proposed that I should 
go there in the post-cart, leaving Jimmy in charge of my 
horse and his own. I was rather loath to trust my horse 
to the tender mercies of either Jimmy or any of the men ; 
but I had two reasons for acceding to the proposal first, 
that the horses withers were touched by the saddle ; 
secondly, that my companions were evidently looking 
forward with delight to the idea of getting rid of me, 
and I felt it would be ungenerous to disappoint them. 
So it was arranged that they were to start on the morning 
of, I think, Thursday, and I was to start on Friday in the 

Just as they were starting, I bethought me that it 
might be as well not to carry money with me during my 
solitary drive with the Kaffir post-boy, and keeping only 
enough for roadside expenses, I sent the rest of my 
possessions on in the waggon ; and, bidding Jimmy and 
my pony farewell, I prepared to employ the remainder of 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 2 1 

the day as best I could. There were a few books on the 
round table in the sitting-room, none of them worth read- 
ing but one, Dickens's " Great Expectations." With this 
to enjoy, I lay down on the sofa ; and had a thorough rest. 

The next morning I remained in bed until my coffee 
was brought to the door by a Kaffir ; and I was dressing 
leisurely, when I was startled by hearing a voice I was 
sure was Jimmy's. I hurried out, and there, in good 
truth, was Jimmy, looking very tired. In answer to my 
astonished inquiry how he came to be there, he recounted 
the following story, which he believes in implicitly to the 
present day, but to which no one else has ever attached 
any credit. 

He had ridden in front of the waggons, leaving my 
pony in charge of the men, and although believing him- 
self to be on the right road, virtually lost his way. Being, 
I fancy, rather glad to ride his pony just as he liked, 
instead of under my inspection, he rode and dismounted, 
rode and dismounted, until evening began to creep up, 
when it occurred to him as odd that the waggons were 
not coming up into sight. Just about this time he was 
close to a small stony hill or coppie, down which he saw 
three Kaffirs, armed with assegais, coming. He looked at 
them with some suspicion, and rode on, looking behind 
every now and then, when he observed that they were 
following him. He then cantered, upon which they ran; 
then, according to his account, he caused his pony to 
gallop a feat I don't think the pony was capable of; 
anyhow, he attained to a pace which appeared a very fast 
one to the rider, when one of the Kaffirs threw an assegai 
after him, which overshot him, and stuck quivering in the 
ground. Thereupon Jimmy struck across the veldt, and 

22 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

cantered or galloped along till night stopped him. He 
then dismounted and led the pony, feeding himself and 
his little steed with some gingerbread and other biscuits 
he had in his pocket ; but as he had no idea where he 
was, it was not much use walking about leading a pony. 
However, he presently saw a light in the distance, and 
making for it, found it to proceed from the fire of a 
friendly waggoner, who told him he was some twenty 
miles from Harrismith, but far off the waggon-road to 
Heilbronn, and who advised him to go with him to 
Harrismith, whither he was bound, and to find me out. 
He then gave him some supper and a blanket, and tied 
the pony behind the waggon, so that Jimmy need not 
stir when the waggon started. 

All I can say about the assegai story is, that the Free 
State was far from the seat of war, in a condition of 
profound peace, and that I was informed that it is 
unlawful in the Free State for Kaffirs to carry assegais. 
One thing was evident, Jimmy was there, and so was the 
pony. Jimmy was tired; the pony completely knocked 
up. The question was, what could I do ? I had my 
ticket for the post-cart, which was to start at ten o'clock, 
and a few shillings over what my hotel bill would amount 
to and the price of a place in the post-cart was four 
sovereigns ! It was evident that money must be raised, 
and so I raised it by selling the pony ; and then Jimmy 
and I awaited the arrival of the post- cart, which was 
supposed to take us to Heilbronn in two days. Its 
advent was heralded by very loud talking. A gentleman 
on horseback was alongside of it, who in excited tones 
drew the attention of another individual to the state of 
the hulking Kaffir driver of the vehicle. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 23 

" I can't think of allowing a lady to go with the 
drunken brute/' he exclaimed. " We must get another 

Whereupon he jumped off his horse. 

" I'll give you a jolly hiding, and send you to prison, you 
rascal. You stand there, and take that and that and 
that and that/' and he struck the Kaffir across the head, 
arms, and breast, with his heavy stinging ox-hide whip. 

The fellow barely stirred a muscle. I could hardly at 
the time think that he felt much, but Kaffirs will some- 
times bear a beating that does hurt in that way. There 
was a twitch of the mouth each time the whip fell that 
was all. 

" Now you take him away," quoth the excited man ; 
" and you here, you must drive." 

You here was a diminutive Hottentot. 

" I can't drive," said the Hottentot. 

" Oh, never mind that," said the excited gentleman, 
who probably knew this was not the case; ''jump up ! " 

"And I don't know the road." 

" Then you'll have to find it out. You drove the cart 
some time ago you must know it; jump up ! " and up 
the Hottentot jumped. 

The vehicle into which he jumped, and into which I 
proceeded to scramble, had once been a dog-cart, but was 
now a ruin ; the system of pieces of leather and cord, 
ingeniously twisted together, which attached it to the 
horses, had, I suppose, once been a set of harness ; the 
horses once had certainly been very good, but now they 
were a pair of vicious, jibbing rips. How they did jib ! 
and when the united efforts of the little Hottentot (who 
soon proved that he could drive) and some four or five 

24 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

other men had got them to move, how they did rush away 
with the little cart ! 

They were just sobering down to a reasonable pace at 
the outskirts of the village when my driver said, " Will 
you hold the reins ? That's my house ; I must say good- 
bye to my wife, and get my blanket." The small man 
could talk English. Upon his return from taking a fond 
adieu of Mrs. Hottentot, the horses steadily refused to 
move. Jimmy had to push the wheels, and there was a 
great to-do before, with a plunge, they got away again ; 
but alas ! there was a spruit, or small ravine with a brook 
running through it, before us ! 

The Hottentot in the meanwhile opened his heart to me. 
" It is very hard pressing me like this/' he said. " I 
don't remember the road ; and my ribs were broken the 
other day, and they are hardly well." I don't know 
whether the effect was that of the broken ribs or not, but 
as he spoke the little man foamed at the mouth like a 
champing horse, which was unpleasant when one was to 
leeward of him, as I was : I therefore discouraged conver- 
sation. A few minutes after brought us to the spruit, 
where the operations of coaxing, whipping, and pushing 
the jibbing horses, had to be resorted to. The road was 
very uneven, and this had to be repeated at every little 
hitch, we therefore got along rapidly. I was looking for- 
ward with anxiety to the change, but it only brought us 
even worse horses. Then the harness took to breaking, and 
was mended with little strips of leather and pieces of 
twine, produced out of his pocket by the little driver. 
Each change seemed to bring us worse horses. At last 
a pair of almost unbroken colts were put in. It was a 
terrible battle to get them to start at all, and then they 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 25 

went at a furious rate, but stopped at the first hitch, and 
plunged the harness nearly off, breaking it hopelessly in 
one place. The Hottentot's resources were exhausted ; 
but fortunately I had a little hunting-crop with me, and 
its lash did excellent service. 

"We must be 'near the house where I ought to leave 
some letter," said the Hottentot at one place; "but I 
don't know the road." 

" Dear me," said I, with my European conscientious- 
ness about letters still unimpaired. " What can you 

" Oh, I shall just go on," said the little man. " It 
isn't my fault. I told him I didn't know the road." 

Presently it began to get dusk and chilly. " I can't 
get to the right place for outspanning for the night," said 
the driver. " We must stop at the next house." 

A Dutch farmhouse is very different from an English 
one. It is merely, as a rule, a wretched hovel, stuck down 
in the middle of a waste of grass. 

The Free State farmhouses are particularly desolate- 
looking, owing to the Free State being unfit for agricul- 
ture, and given over to pasturing cattle, sheep, and horses. 
The cottage where we stopped, however, was rather a good 
specimen, and the people a young man and a pretty 
woman, his wife were very hospitable, and gave us a 
good supper, cleanly served, and, to me at least, a clean 
bed. There was a nice basin and jug, with a clean towel 
neatly folded over it, in my room ; but they never thought 
of the water ! 

I cannot describe the country we travelled through, for 
there is nothing in it to describe ; it is simply a wide 
expanse of grass, with spruits running through it at 

26 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

intervals spruits with quantities of stones, but sometimes 
only a trickle of water in them. The flocks of sheep, and 
herds of cattle and horses, are striking features of the 

Through this scenery, if scenery it could be called, we 
took our way once more on Saturday morning. Our 
hosts would accept of no payment, only thanks. They 
gave us a cup of black coffee before we started, without 
either sugar or milk I suppose the cows were not yet 
milked and we were off once more. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 27 


AFTER a long drive we got to a small house, into whose 
one room a large and very dirty family were crowded. 
Here the woman gave us a bottle of milk, and a little 
farther on we got some bread the man who gave it to us 
asking for payment, but not getting any, because I had 
only gold and he had no silver. The horses in the mean- 
time were becoming from bad to worse, Jimmy and our 
charioteer having frequently to get out to push the wheels, 
the reins being delivered over to me ; and many a laugh 
I had, although frightened, at the frantic rush these two 
would make after the cart when the horses at last bolted 
off, I doing my best to hold them in, so as to allow the 
little Hottentot (who in spite of his broken ribs was an 
active fellow) to jump in, and then extending a hand 
backwards to Jimmy, who had to take flying leaps up to 
the back seat. 

The broken ribs of our driver occasioned him, much to 
his sorrow, to transgress the regulation laid down that, 
when approaching any dwelling 1 , the driver of a post-cart 
is to blow a horn. A Hottentot delights in any row on a 
thing supposed to be a musical instrument, and our Jehu 
so greatly deplored his inability to perform his duty, that 
I, not at that time appreciating the true cause of his grief, 

28 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

offered to endeavour to extract sounds from the old brass 
horn. My endeavours were, however, not crowned with 
success, nor were Jimmy's. We achieved a great puffing 
out of our cheeks and a peculiar snorting noise, but 
nothing more. By nightfall we arrived at a house, which 
impressed me as the most squalid I had ever seen I 
do not mean the combination of poverty and dirt to 
be seen in London, but squalor in the midst of plenty. 
This is a common sight amongst the Boers, but it was 
a new one then to me ; and it remains stamped on my 
memory. We approached this dwelling by a road which 
was invisible to me ; indeed I had long ceased to wonder 
at our driver having, as he said at starting, forgotten 
the ' ' road/' for often when he seemed undecided as to 
which he should take, I could discern none whatever over 
the bare, dried grass. It was a raw evening with a mist 
coming on, and the long low-roofed cabin stuck down in 
the middle of the veldt, with three stunted trees near it, 
looked cheerless in the extreme. Our advent was heralded 
by a barking chorus from a number of gaunt dogs ; this 
brought out seven men and boys. The little Hottentot 
whispered " You must shake hands with every one ;" 
and I descended and instantly commenced operations. 
The oldest of the men led us into the house, where we shook 
hands with a woman and a number of girls, big and little, 
terminating with a small baby. All the hands were very 

I leaned against the half-door and looked out at the 
three trees, wishing very much that I could speak to 
these people, and turning, saw Jimmy sitting disconso- 
lately near me, whilst ranged round the room on benches, 
sat the family, regarding us gravely. It was absolutely 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 29 

necessary to say or do something, so I made a desperate 
effort to form some sounds resembling Dutch out of a 
combination of German and English. One of the little 
girls was a pretty curly-headed little creature with large 
serious eyes. I thought I would make her the subject 
of my remarks. I daresay that the expression of my face 
was more intelligible than my words, for the woman looked 
pleased, and the eldest of the men said something to the 
effect that she was his daughter. 

The Hottentot now appeared, and squatted on the step of 
the half-door, and he was able to act as interpreter. The 
family consisted of a man and his wife and their children. 
It seemed wonderful, for there really appeared to be less 
than ten years difference between the two eldest men : 
presently more gawky boys came in and shook hands, until 
the whole family being assembled, I discovered that there 
were, I think, fourteen children. They were rich in flocks 
and herds, and yet all but the father, mother, and two 
eldest sons were barefooted ; none had stockings ; none 
appeared to be possessed of a brush and comb, or of 
soap ! 

" I wonder if they are going to give us anything to 
eat," whispered Jimmy. " Ask them." 

I did not like to do so, not knowing whether it might 
be considered a liberty, as I did not know whether pay- 
ment for food would be accepted ; but I wondered too, 
for I was very hungry, having eaten nothing but a little 
bread since morning. 

Presently the eldest girl brought me abasin, with a small 
quantity of water in it, and a not over-clean-looking cloth. 
I had my own soap and towel, and washed ; the same basin 
and water was presented to Jimmy, who washed ; it then 

3O A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

passed to the father, who threw the water on his face and 
hands and wiped them with the cloth, and from him it 
passed in regular order down to the youngest boy, a lad 
of about eleven ! The girls did not wash. A cloth was 
now laid on the table, and plates with bowls on them 
placed on it, a big basin full of milk, and a dish full of a 
sort of hard, crisp bread, peculiar to this country and very 
nice, was placed near it. Jimmy, the father, and I had 
knives, forks, and spoons, the rest had spoons only. It 
was dark now, and a tallow candle illumined the scene. 
The father said a long grace in Dutch, and then the 
mother helped all to milk and biscuits the hard bread is 
called Boer biscuit here whilst the eldest girl brought 
in a very small piece of boiled mutton. This the father 
cut into three pieces, giving one to Jimmy, one to me, 
and reserving one for himself. I enjoyed my supper, and 
ended my meat before my host had finished his. Seeing 
this, I saw him eye me thoughtfully for a minute or so 
with uplifted knife and fork, then he pushed his own 
plate over to me. I smiled, thanked him in German, 
and shook my head, whereupon he drew it back again 
with a look of relief, and ate the meat that remained on 
it. And this man had hundreds of fat wethers, and full- 
flanked oxen grazing on his farm ! 

I think grace was said when all was done, and shortly 
after various sheep and goat-skins were spread on the 
floor, and oil a bench by the side of the room ; and then 
the mother signed to me to follow her, and led me into a 
dark little closet, in which was a big very dirty-looking 
bed, a number of little delft bowls on a shelf, and abso- 
lutely nothing else. On the bare rafters various articles, 
including rags of apparel, were hung. Here she left me, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 31 

without a candle, the only light I received being from 
the candle in the sitting-room, which showed over the 
top of the door. There was a window, or rather a small 
opening in the wall, with a shutter to it ; this was open 
when 1 went in, and to it I trusted for light and air ; but 
hardly had the woman left me, ere I heard it being 
barricaded, in some very secure manner judging from 
the noise, on the outside ; then the 'candle went out in 
the sitting-room, and I heard sounds of people lying 
down. I lay down dressed, and for a long time listened 
to such a chorus of snoring that I felt convinced the 
whole family were sleeping in the sitting-room ; and, 
such was indeed the case, as I learnt next morning from 
Jimmy. He slept with one of the sons on the bench. 
None of the party undressed. Boers never do when 
they go to bed, not even in case of illness ; indeed, they 
think it the height of impropriety to do so so much so 
that a Boer who travelled in the waggon of an English 
Africander, an acquaintance of mine, afterwards said to 
the wife of the latter, 

" I shall never travel in William's waggon again with 
him ; it is so dreadful of him to take his trousers off 
when he goes to bed." 
My bed was the domicile of innumerable insects. 

We had coffee and a wash in the basin, and started 
early. The horses were of the usual description, the 
scenery of the usual description, and the delivery of 
letters of the usual description ; and this reminds me that 
I have not described the operation. On arriving at a 
place where horses had to be changed, the little Hottentot 
would request me to stand up, and, opening the top of 
the seat he and I occupied, would take out a lot of rags 

32 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

and pieces of leather, which seemed to be considered as 
valuables to be kept, and then pull out the letters, 
parcels, and papers, and make them over to me to de- 
cipher their addresses. The addresses were generally 
badly written, the names Dutch, and the places unknown 
to me; hence I think it probable that a great many 
letters went astray. I know my audience, namely, the 
driver and a Boer or two, more than once said they 
did not know the name of the individual I read out. 
However, the little Hottentot settled the matter somehow, 
and I suppose there were no more letters left wrongly 
on this occasion than on any other. It has sometimes 
occurred to me to wonder how letters get to their desti- 
nation at all in the Orange Free State, judging from 
my experience of the post-cart, and from the fact that I 
heard from several persons at Heilbronn that the usual 
driver of the post-cart, namely, the Kaffir with whom my 
excitable friend in Harrismith had dealt so summarily, 
lived in a constant state of intoxication, frequently lying 
for hours on the ground by the side of the post-cart, 
whilst the wretched horses grazed, glad enough to be rid 
of their tormentor, who, when he was in his seat, always 
drove at a gallop, flogging them without intermission. 

I forget whether it was on this day, or on the pre- 
vious one that we came to a small river with very steep 
banks, and that the small Hottentot informed us that 
we had better get out of the vehicle, as he felt sure it 
would be upset. I concurred in this opinion, although 
getting out meant fording the river on foot; and indeed, 
if there had been any weight behind them the horses 
would certainly have upset the concern ; as it was, they 
jibbed and plunged on the sharp descent, and then bolted 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 33 

through the river and up the other side. How the cart 
held together during the frantic leaps it had to take 
over the big stones that strewed the bottom of the river, 
and the road beyond it, I don't know the more so as 
one wheel had been shaky from the time we started. 
Jimmy and I waded through the river, which came up 
nearly to my knees, and had to climb into the cart as 
quickly as we could, and off we went again. It was 
Sunday now, and we ought to have been in Heilbronn 
on Saturday evening. We were to have two more 
changes of horses, and were to pass through the small 
town of Frankfurt before reaching our destination. 

Our last change but one brought us a pair of very 
fine horses, if they had been in good condition ; but they 
were very thin, their chests raw from the pressure of 
the chest-strap (collars are not used here), and they 
looked very vicious. It was hard work harnessing them, 
and then there was a pitched battle before they would 
start. It was no wonder, for it must have been dreadful 
pain to throw their raw chests against the band ; the 
blood was running from them before the poor brutes 
chose that pain instead of the pain of the flogging they 
were getting from three men besides the driver. It 
really was dangerous work driving these horses, for they 
were very strong, hard-mouthed, and added kicking to 
the accomplishments of the animals we had before had ; 
in fact, not far from our starting-point one of them sent 
his hoof through the splash-board in unpleasant proximity 
to my knee. It was early in the afternoon when we 
reached Frankfurt. I was told there was a village there ; 
but all I saw was a small white house, the post-office ; 
another small white house of a shape that snggested to 


34 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

me that it was a church, and which I learnt was one ; 
and I think three little cottages with gardens, in a row 
at a little distance. There were some children and girls 
in their best dresses lounging near the post-office, one of 
whom I particularly remember, owing to the strange 
incongruity of her attire with both her appearance and 
her surroundings. She was a podgy young lady of about 
sixteen, and was arrayed in a white skirt, over which a 
pink polonaise of some miserable sort of stuff was put 
on, and a hat with bad imitation flowers in it. 

The postmaster, or some one who I supposed was he, 
came out and received letters ; told me also in answer to 
my inquiries that Heilbronn was not very far, but that 
we had a very ugly spruit to cross. I asked if we could 
not have other horses ; but he said that was impossible 
and we started again. We got the horses off well, and 
were bowling down a grassy decline towards the three 
cottages before named, when the little Hottentot dis- 
covered a letter by his side which he had not left. He 
pulled up the horses, and the postmaster and another 
man a little short man, with black hair and whiskers, a 
black coat, and a white collar came running np. Now 
the question was to start the horses again. They 
evidently thought that having started once they had 
done their duty ; they had no idea of doing it for a second 
time, and proceeded to display all their accomplishments. 

In the meantime the little black man, who had a very 
goodnatured broad face, favoured us with descriptions 
of the spruit in front of us. 

" The cart is generally upset there," he said cheerfully. 

" Very often, at least/' said the postmaster ; " it was 
upset last time." 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 35 

" I really think you are bound to find me other horses/' 
I said then. " The persons who have the management of 
this post-cart are certainly responsible for any damage a 
passenger may receive, when such horses as you see these 
to be are kept in it. There must be some other horses 
here, and you are in duty bound to take these out." 

The two men looked somewhat convinced. 

" I would ask Mr. to lend his horses," said the 

postmaster, " but they are in the veldt, and would have 
to be sent for, and there would be great delay ; you are 
a day behind time already." 

I very nearly laughed. 

" Well," I said, " not so much delay as if we are 
upset and the cart broken in the spruit ; and you must 
see that is what will probably take place with these 

My listeners seemed suddenly convinced ; the effect 
of my words was magical ! It was instantly agreed that 
the horses should be sent for to the veldt, and my cheer- 
ful-looking little friend in black requested me to descend 
and accept of his hospitality. He offered his arm, and 
asked abruptly whether I was a member of the Esta- 
blished Church? My reply in the negative completely 
stunned him, or completely satisfied him ; he made no 
further remark, but led me to one of the three white 
cottages. This reminded me of an English farmhouse, 
and was a very pleasant relief. Some neighbours, who 
all talked English, dropped in, and we had tea and bread 
and butter. 

Poor Jimmy had not been asked in, and I felt very 
sorry for him whilst eating my bread and butter, for I 
knew he must be very hungry. It was getting soine- 

D 2 

36 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

what late in the afternoon when we started once more, 
the owner of the horses which had replaced the vicious 
pair using his own harness and driving himself, whilst 
the Hottentot drove his steeds walking behind them. 
The spruit was a very ugly one, but we got over it all 
right, thanks to this kind Frankfurtian, whose name I 
forget. He left us at the house where we got our last 
change. The horses were good, and we got into Heil- 
bronn by dark without farther adventure. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 37 


WHATEVER it may be now I do not know, but then 
Heilbronn consisted of a square of fifteen small houses, 
and a few outstanding ones, stuck on a slope in the 
middle of a perfectly bare country. If you walked to the 
upper side of the village, you could look along a grassy 
expanse to where it touched the horizon, whichever way 
you turned your head. The hotel was a long low cottage. 
The entrance door led you straight into the sitting-room, 
from whence a step led you into the dining-room at the 
back. Two doors at each side of the sitting-room, each 
led you into a small bedroom. That is the plan of pretty 
nearly all Boer houses that have any pretensions the 
architects of the nation can conceive nothing grander. 
The size may vary, but the plan remains. There were 
other tiny bedrooms built at the back, to get to which 
one had to go from the dining-room into the yard. Two 
of these were appropriated to Jimmy's and my use. 

The people of the inn a man and wife with a large 
family were good sort of people, I think, and wished 
to make us as comfortable as they could. They had two 
other boarders, unmarried men who had some employ- 
ment in the village, and a good many men came there to 
dine. It was a strange gathering at meals, and the con- 

38 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

versation was amusing. Very odd, too, it appeared to 
me, to hear shopkeepers in this funny little town looked 
upon as magnates in the land. Of course everybody 
knew everybody, and was free and easy with everybody, 
and of course Keilbronn delighted in gossip ; what small 
place does not ? 

We arrived two days before Christmas Day, and on 
Christmas-eve mine hosts gave a dance in the public 
sitting-room. Amongst the guests were the judge of 
the place, and the magistrate, or landroost, a shopkeeper or 
two, some of their assistants, and a dressmaker. During 
the pauses of dancing a musical box played the dance 
music itself was performed on a fiddle and there were 
some songs. But oh, the dancing ! Whilst it was going 
on, I sat a spectator in the dining-room. They all danced 
with great gravity and ponderosity, if I may use such a 
word; but some clung to each other as they hopped 
heavily round and round to a waltz tune; others charged 
round savagely with outstretched arms, to the imminent 
danger of their neighbours; others held their arms 
stretched down so tightly that they looked as if they 
were mutually desirous of dislocating each other's 
shoulders; whilst one couple, a chubby little man and 
woman, regardless of the time of either the music or the 
dancing of the others, with a stolid smile On each fat 
little face, turned slowly round and round as on a pivot. 
I cannot say how they managed it ; their progression 
was very slow, and they seemed quite regardless of the 
collisions they came in for. I saw them get a thump 
from one of the chargers which would have knocked a 
less steady couple down, but only caused them to totter ; 
but the comicality of their appearance at last tickled me 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 39 

so much that I felt I must laugh if I stayed, and so I took 
myself off to bed. 

The entire town of Heilbronn was going out on a pic- 
nic (a combined picnic) on Christmas Day. Great had 
been the preparations, and hence great was the woe when 
Christmas Day broke with a drizzling rain. The great 
question, to go or not to go ? was discussed until ten o'clock, 
when there being a slight diminution of the drizzle, it 
was unanimously decided that it was going to clear up, 
and the whole white population of Heilbronn went off in 
waggons and carts. Of course there had been great dis- 
cussion as to who was to go in who's waggon, and who's 
cart was to take up whom ; and the arrangements had 
been slightly complicated at the last moment by two 
young gentlemen having brought their cart and horses 
up to the door of the hotel, and there upset it and broken 
it leading one to the conclusion that the festivities of 
the previous night had been too much for them. How- 
ever, everything was at last arranged, and Heilbronn was 
deserted for the nonce by its inhabitants. The landlady 
informed me that she had killed two fowls, picked a dish 
of peas, and made a plum-pudding, for the benefit of 
Jimmy and myself, and had given her Hottentot girl 
strict injunctions to make us comfortable. This was her 
parting blessing, and we were left alone. 

There was nothing very amusing to be done. There 
was the musical box, and it seemed to afford some enter- 
tainment to Jimmy, for he kept it playing nearly all day, 
driving me almost to insanity thereby; and there were 
some children's stories of good and bad children, and a 
mutilated copy of " Ivanhoe." The rain came down 
heavily after the picnic party had started, and appeared 

40 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

likely to continue coming down. Presently we had 
dinner, minus the peas, which I suppose the Hottentot 
girl kept for herself. 

In the afternoon, rather late, the weather cleared, and 
Jimmy and I walked a little outside the village, and I 
gave him his first lesson in pistol-shooting. As we were 
returning I was accosted by a man, who asked me if I 
were not the lady that was going up country with a party 
of gentlemen who were expected in Heilbronn daily. I 
answered in the affirmative; and he then told me that he 
was the proprietor of one of the spans of oxen our con- 
ductor had. (I think he was in some sort a partner of 
his.) He said he heard that many of them were dead of 
red-water, and that our conductor flogged them cruelly, 
and had beaten a Kaffir who was with him severely. I 
said it was all true. It was this man who told me the 
real reason of our conductor bringing us to Heilbronn. 
He asked us to go to his cottage, which stood a little 
apart from the village ; and we went, and found his wife 
(a pretty young woman) and his baby there. The man was 
an Englishman with a pleasant English face. He was, as 
h.e looked and spoke, of the small farmer class. His wife 
was colonial born. They were very kind and hospitable, 
and gave us a very nice tea. 

On our return to the hotel we found the party had 
returned in very bad humour. I should not think 
picnicking under a tarpaulin stretched between two 
waggons in a thick drizzling rain on a dead flat likely to 
conduce to good temper ; and then there were all the 
little jealousies and envy ings sure to arise on such occasions 
Mr. So-and-so had done this and said that, and so on. 
The picnic had set the whole little town by the ears ! 

A Lady Trader in tJie Transvaal. 41 

A day or two after, our party arrived bringing my 
pony with them. I had heard that the horse-sickness 
was likely to be bad as soon as we crossed the Vaal, so I 
sold him at Heilbronn to my pleasant-looking English 
acquaintance, and resolved to travel thenceforth in the 
waggon. A good many things belonging to the con- 
ductor were taken out of it at Heilbronn, and it was 
made much more comfortable in consequence. 

The evening that we were to start, I went to take tea 
with the purchaser of my pony, and I have a vivid recol- 
lection of the excellent pancakes I was eating, when one 
of our party tapped at the door and said the waggon was 
waiting for me. Certainly a kind welcome given to a 
stranger travelling alone in a wild country, is one of the 
things the angel who records good actions ought always 
to make a note of. 

I missed my pony very much. To jolt hour after hour 
in an ox-waggon along a dead flat under a broiling sun 
is objectionable : and being now always with the waggon, 
the spectacle of the brutality of our conductor to his 
oxen, and the fearful language used by him, were very 
hard to bear. 

We crossed the Vaal on New Year's eve, and I shall 
never forget his wanton cruelty on the occasion. The 
river separated us, or, powerless as I was, I should have 
felt called upon to interfere, as no one else seemed dis- 
posed to do so. 

We were now in the Transvaal, and a day more took 
us to Heidelberg. We arrived there rather late at night, 
and I proceeded with Jimmy to the hotel. The waggon 
was outspanned a little outside the small town, but I was 
told that I could easily find the hotel by the moonlight, 

42 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

and that it would be open. I followed the instructions 
given me for finding it, but when I arrived at the house 
I took to be the hotel, it seemed shut up for the night. 
It was a nice-looking cottage, standing in a pretty 
garden. Seeing no light in front, I walked to the back, 
where I saw a glimmer from a candle through the window 
shutters. This encouraged me, and I knocked at the 
door with my whip. After a pause, a very frightened 
female voice cried, " Who is it ? " from within. " A 
traveller," cried I ; "is not this the hotel ? " Whereupon 
the door opened, and I saw a very pretty frightened face, 
with loose hair hanging about it, and a little figure robed 
in white. " Oh, how you frightened me ! " it said; " my 
husband is not at home. No, this is not the hotel." Of 
course I expressed the deepest contrition, and the 
frightened little lady told me where to go to. 

Little Heidelberg, sleeping in the moonlight, with the 
hills around showing brown against the clear sky, looked 
refreshing after the dreary Free State. We got to the 
hotel presently. It was shut up, but I was emboldened 
to knock by two considerations ; the first, that I could 
not go back to the waggon, because the men I knew 
would already be asleep in it ; the second, that I had met 
the proprietor of the hotel at the Willow Eiver, and he 
had told me to be sure to come to his house. I knocked, 
and knocked, until Jimmy said, " How can you go on 
knocking like that ? Well, I never thought you could do 
such a thing." At last a man's voice from within asked, 
" What do you want ? Who are you? " 

" A traveller, " I cried in return. " Can't I have a 

The door was unbolted, and I saw my roadside ac- 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 43 

quaintance, who had evidently just got out of bed. "I 
can't give you a bed/ 5 he said ; " we're full." 

" Oh, Mr. Dubois/' said I, " don't you remember telling 
me that I must come here ? Do, please, let me in. I 
can't go back to the waggon, the men will all be asleep in 
it." Mr. Dubois was mollified. He let me into the 
room, where I saw a rough-looking man sitting up between 
the blankets on a sofa-bedstead. 

" Here," said Mr. Dubois, " you must put your boots 
on, and you can sleep in there/' pointing to a back-room, 
" and let the lady have your place/' So the rough-looking 
man tumbled out ; and Jimmy said good-night, and 
had to go back to the waggon; Mr. Dubois brought 
me a piece of candle, and I tumbled into bed, and went 
very fast asleep in a minute. 

Nothing particular occurred during our trek from 
Heidelberg to Pretoria, until we were quite close to the 
latter place. I think it was at our last outspan that a 
man, who, in spite of a rakish look, was more like a 
gentleman than any one I had seen during my travels, 
rode up to the waggon, and dismounting, entered into 
conversation. His manners and address confirmd what 
his appearance had suggested to me. Long after, I heard 
something of this individual's story, which still farther 
confirmed my first impression ; the end of it is worth 
telling, as illustrative of habits and customs out here. 
It is an odd thing that Boers, although adverse to the 
English, are very proud if they can induce Englishmen 
to marry into their families. Our roadside acquaintance, 
who had earned for himself the sobriquet of " mad " 
amongst his intimates, was sane enough to make use of 
this little peculiarity. Being very completely on his beam- 

44 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

ends for about the hundredth time, he wooed and won 
a young Boeress, whose father was prepared to give 
a handsome portion. Having used all his fascinations 
so as completely to infatuate his wife and make her think 
herself the happiest of women, he suddenly decamped, 
and had got to the Yaal River, on his way into the Free 
State, when his father-in-law overtook him. The old 
gentleman was in an agony of rage and anxiety for his 
daughter, who of course was doing what old women call 
" taking on " pretty considerably ; the husband was quite 
cool. He told the story of himself. 

" What's your figure ? " he asked of his infuriated 
relative. " Make it high enough, and I'll go back, other- 
wise I'm off ! " 

" Will five hundred sheep do ? " gasped the old gentle- 
man. The younger shook his head. 

" No," he said, " not enough ; just consider how dread- 
fully I shall be bored. Make it a thousand, and I'll say 
done." And the old fellow made it a thousand. 

This individual told us that he was out in command of 
volunteers, as it was thought that the Boers might break 
out next day, when they said they meant to come armed 
into Pretoria. Of course they did not come into Pretoria. 
Personally I, writing this in the besieged camp of 
Pretoria, don't believe they ever will do so ; but it made 
one feel a pleasant sort of excitement to think that they 
might, and that we should be just in time to see them do it. 

We came into Pretoria through a Poort, or opening 
between the hills, called, I think, Bobian Poort, literally 
Baboon Entrance. There are no baboons on the hills 
now, but I suppose there were not long ago. Little 
Pretoria, with its blue gums and willow-trees, and its 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 45 

surrounding hills, looked very pretty in the light of the 
fast-setting sun. It was nearly dark by the time we had 
outspanned on a common at the upper end of the town. 
I asked the manager if he had inquired which hotel was 
the best for a lady to lodge at. He said he had ; that 
the " European " was the one recommended ; and I 
started off with Jimmy. I had to ask my way from a 
gentleman I saw sitting under his verandah on the out- 
skirts of the town, and then to walk down a longish road, 
with rose hedges at each side, and with a sound of running 
water to be heard, which, although it was too dark to see 
them, told me that there must be rivulets at both sides 
too. The cottages, standing back in their gardens, with 
lights in the windows, looked pleasant and home-like, 
and I was almost sorry when the pretty road ended in the 
market-square, with an ugly white church in the middle 
of it. There were lights in two buildings forming one of 
the corners of this square low long cottages, and I 
rightly guessed them both to be hotels. Neither of these 
appeared to be suited for a lady's lodging the bar being 
the leading feature in both, and a number of loud-talking 
men, in broad hats, short coats, and riding-boots, lounging 
in front of them. I asked a passer-by which was the 
" European," and he showed me the one which had a 
verandah, and appeared the fuller of the two. I could 
see that it had a public dining-room, which seemed 
crammed, but the only entrance was through the bar; 
so, taking heart of grace, into the bar I walked. It was 
as full as it could be of men of the kind who frequent 
bars ; but, luckily for me, behind the bar itself stood a man 
who was a gentleman the then proprietor of the " Euro- 
pean/' since dead (he was killed by lightning, together 

46 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

with the horses he was driving) . I asked this gentleman 
whether I could obtain a lodging at his hotel, telling him 
at the same time how I had just arrived, a stranger, in 
Pretoria, and had been told that the " European " was the 
best hotel for a lady to go to. "Well," he said cour- 
teously, " you have been misinformed ; it is completely a 
man's hotel. In fact it is not an hotel, but simply a restau- 
rant." I bowed, and asked if he could tell me where to 
go, as I could not return to the waggon. " If you stup 
into my private room," he said, " I will send you some 
supper, and I will send round to the " Edinburgh " and 
" Royal " to know if they have a room to spare." I was 
only too glad of the offer. Jimmy went back to the 
waggons, and I had a nice little supper whilst I waited. 
But alas ! there was not a room at either hotel ; all were 
full. Mr. Carter (in this instance I give the real name of 
the individual) then said that all he could propose was this : 
there was a small room at a little distance from the hotel, 
whose usual occupant was absent. Mr. Carter had the 
key, and I could use it for that night. I forthwith started, 
with a coolie servant for a guide, and was taken to a small 
room in a stable-yard behind a public-house. There was 
a stable at one side, and I could hear men's voices in the 
room at the other side. It was a comfortable little room, 
and I observed a woman's dress hanging on a peg. Here 
my guide left me after he had lighted a candle. I pro- 
ceeded to investigate the fastenings of the door and 
window. The former I could lock, but there was no way 
of fastening the other. It was not very pleasant, for the 
little I had seen of Pretoria that night had made me 
acquainted with the fact, which farther acquaintance only 
confirmed, that it is a very rowdy little village, and that a 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 47 

woman might better walk about late in London or Paris 
than in that place. I began to wish I had brought my 
pistol with me ; however, there was no use wishing, and 
so I put a chair on the table that stood under the little 
window, so as to be sure of hearing if any one attempted 
to get in, and then turned into bed, and found it very 

The next morning I had nothing to do but to go to 
breakfast at the " European." The eating-room was full 
of men, but Mr. Carter took me into it himself, and 
seated me at a little table ; this he did at each meal as 
long as I stayed there, for which I am still grateful to 
him. That whole day I passed looking for a lodging, but 
could find none, and had to sleep once more in my little 
room. The next day was the same. In the morning a 
gentleman spoke to me as I was standing under the 
verandah of the " European/' " You are looking for a 
lodging, I believe ? " he said. I replied in the affirmative. 
" So am I," quoth he ; " let us go together ;" so off we 
started. Life is very free and easy out here, as will be 
observed, not only on this occasion but on various others 
throughout my story. The gentleman told me how he 
came to be in Pretoria he was travelling to see the 
country ; and I told him something of how I came to be 
in Pretoria. We walked about and called at various 
houses, but fruitlessly; at last, as we were walking along 
a grassy rose-hedged lane, which in Pretoria is called a 
street, we saw two fashionably dressed ladies standing 
under the verandah of a cottage with a strip of garden iii 
front. " Let us ask them if they let lodgings," said my 
companion. " I don't think it would do," responded I ; 
but he evidently thought it would, for he went up and 

48 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

asked, and I thought I might as well go up too, under 
the circumstances. The ladies were very kind ; they did 
not let lodgings, but they asked us in ; my acquaintance 
soon left us to go in quest of some abode, but I was tired 
both of walking and of looking for a room, and I stayed 
and chatted, and had a cup of coffee. 

In the afternoon, whilst standing under the " European " 
verandah, I was accosted by the volunteer officer we had 
met on the road, and shortly afterwards by the gentleman 
who had on the night of my arrival told me the way to 
the hotel. In conversation with them I mentioned my 
difficulties about finding a room, and also the fact that I 
had two letters of introduction to ladies in Pretoria, but 
that I was loath to present them so long as presenting 
them was tantamount to asking them to put me up. I 
mentioned the names of the ladies, and one of the gentle- 
men said he knew them ; and with that he walked off, and 
presently reappeared bringing with him a gentleman, 
whom he introduced to me as Mr. Farquarson, the husband 
of one of the ladies, and the son-in-law of the other. Mr. 
Farquarson took me to see Mrs. Parker, whose house was 
not far from the hotel ; but on the way he heard from 
some one that she was not at home, and hence I simply 
gave him my letters of introduction and returned to the 
hotel ; but not immediately, for I took a solitary walk first 
on the outskirts of the village, and thereby missed seeing 
the two ladies, who called at the "European" whilst I 
was out. 

Early the next morning I heard a knocking at the 
door, and the coolie's voice outside, saying I must get up 
at once and clear out, that the Newcastle post-cart had 
just come in, and brought the rightful owner of the room 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 49 

I was in. As may be supposed, I turned out pretty 
quickly. But my difficulties were to cease that day, for 
Mr. Farquarson came in the morning and carried me off to 
his cottage at the upper end of the town. Oh, how nice 
it did seem, with its carpets, and sofas, and nice little 
nicknacks, and, best of all, its pretty mistress, after 
travelling so long with rough men ! 

I went afterwards to Mrs. Parker's cottage, smaller 
but prettier ; a very gem of a little cottage, with a small 
brilliant garden in front, and a well-filled kitchen-garden 
and orchard behind, and a verandah all overhung with 
beautiful creepers, and with ferns in pots, and easy-chairs, 
under it, with graceful young trees standing all round it ; 
and with a pretty setter who gave her paw, and a little 
spring-bok, and a cross little prairie-dog, or meer-cat as 
it is called here, as its inhabitants, without counting the 
mistress of all these nice things ; mistress also of two of 
the smallest maid-servants I ever saw two little Hotten- 
tot, or rather Bushman, sisters. They were mere children, 
but they looked like two pretty little baby monkeys, 
tripping about noiselessly with their little bare feet, and 
dressed in their clean little print frocks. The old lady 
was a relation of old friends of mine in England, and her 
house and that of her adopted daughter, Mrs. Farquarson, 
seemed veritable harbours of refuge to me. 

5o A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


WE remained a week in Pretoria, during which time all 
our things had to be removed from the waggons that had 
brought us from D'Urban, and packed on two others 
which were to convey us to Rusternberg. This was the 
destination of our party, and it had been arranged that I 
was to be lodged and boarded at the farmhouse of the 
farm they were to work on, and there to remain for a 
year, during which time I was to receive instruction in 
the superintendence of South African farming, while I 
intended to employ my spare time in learning Dutch 
or what is called Dutch here, for the Dutch talked by 
the Boers is such a mere patois, with Kaffir, Hottentot, 
and even English words, mixed up in it, that a real 
Dutchman, or what they call here a Hollander, neither 
understands it nor is understood by the Boers. 

When I saw the waggons which were to convey us to 
Rustemberg my heart sank within me. One was a buck- 
waggon, the other a long tent- waggon. The buck- 
waggon was provided with a buck-sail or tarpaulin, the 
tent of the other was supposed to keep out the rain 
without any tarpaulin; but as one could see daylight 
through it, it was not likely to be of much avail. It 
was so packed that it was impossible for any one to sit 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 51 

up in it, and only a space of about a foot and a half left 
at the back to allow of dressing, whilst the flap at the 
back was so ragged that it was easy to see through it, 
and impossible to fasten it tightly down. Then my tent, 
which I had lent to the party at their request during my 
stay in Pretoria, was lost by them during the loading-up 

We started about the middle of the day ; our oxen 
were a mixed lot a very bad thing, for if oxen are to 
pull well, one must span them in their accustomed places 
and on their accustomed sides. Many oxen will never 
make either good fore or hind oxen. Our drivers were a 
half-cast of the name of William, and a Kaffir. William 
drove the tent-waggon. We were hardly out of Pretoria 
when, at a very small brook, we broke the " disselboorn," 
or pole, of one of the waggons, I forget which. This 
caused a long delay, for William had to go back to 
Pretoria to get a new one. In the meantime we remained 
outspauned, in a valley about two miles broad and about 
sixty long. It runs between the Magaliesberg and the 
Witt-waters Eaudt ; and if any one wants to know the 
positions of these big hills, or ranges of hills, let them 
look at the map. The next day William brought the 
disselboom in a donkey-cart, and we started rather late 
in the afternoon. There are three high roads by which 
one can go from Pretoria to Rustemberg in a waggon. 
One goes over Mosilikats-nek, commonly called Silikats- 
nek, one over Commando-nek, and another over 
Oliphants-nek. W^e were to go over Silikats-nek, and 
hence took the turn which leads to it. The tent-waggon 
was leading, and was well ahead of the other ; and the 
Kaffir driver of the other went along the maiu ruad 

E 2 

52 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

without troubling himself to look where the leading 
waggon was. Some of the men were with one, the rest 
with the other waggon. The blankets of the party were 
on one, the food all on the other. It was nearly dark by 
the time we outspanned, and this division of property 
made the evening and night agreeable for both divisions 
of our party. 

The buck-waggon joined us the next morning, and we 
got as far as the foot of Silikats-nek by mid-day. The 
scenery here is fine. The waggon was outspanned under 
some trees in the middle of thick bush ; above us rose 
the rugged sides of the Magaliesberg, now beginning to 
show what becomes its characteristic farther down the 
valley, namely, a precipice of some hundred feet high 
crowning its wooded sides. This formation is here called, 
not inappropriately, a kranz, or crown. Creepers hung 
in festoons round the bushes, turning them into bowers 
or impenetrable barriers, as the case might be. 

I rambled about in this refreshing maze of verdure until 
dinner was ready, and then I determined to walk on over 
the nek in front of the waggon, and so not only enjoy the 
scenery undisturbed, but avoid the flogging of the oxen 
and accompanying yelling, which was sure to ensue as 
soon as the oxen took the hill. I inquired particularly of 
William as to what road I was to take, and he instructed 
me to keep to the left. William spoke a little English. 
Arrived at the top of the nek, where the road is, as it 
were, cut out from between two masses of rock, I looked 
down on a park-like scene, the well-made road, of a 
reddish colour, winding through clusters of trees, 
some of a good size, others small, and most of them 
festooned by graceful creepers. Leaving an apparently 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 53 

old road to my right, I kept along this pretty road until I 
saw another one turn off to the right. Here I hesitated, but 
my instruction having been to keep to the left, I did so. 

Presently a sudden thunder-storm caused me to take 
shelter under a thick bower of trees and creepers. This 
was, however, not thick enough to prevent my being wet 
through by the rain, which came down so quick and 
strong that it soon turned the road into a river. The 
storm passed, but no waggon was to be seen or heard, 
and I, although soaking wet, still wandered on, keeping 
in the grass by the side of the road. I was tempted on 
by the quiet beauty of the scene, and by a love of solitude, 
which had been denied to me for some time. Presently 
a small tax-cart, drawn by two weedy-looking ponies, 
came along the road towards me. In it were two men, 
one an oldish man with a big beard, the other a sleek but 
dirty-looking little fellow in black clothes, with a sancti- 
monious look about him. The former said " Good-even- 
ing ! " as he passed, which made me stop and ask him if I 
were on the Rustemberg road. He asked where my 
waggon was ; and I told him I had left it at Silikats-nek. 
" Then," he said, " I think you probably have passed the 
turn you should have taken, to the right. You can go to 
Rustemberg by this road, but it is a little out of your 
way. There is a farmhouse not far off, but I can hardly 
recommend you to go to it, for the people are not very nice." 
I thanked him, and he drove on. I now considered that 
as it was near sunset, if the waggons had taken the other 
road I could easily pick them up, as they would be out- 
spanned for the night, and that I should be able to know 
whether they had done so by the fresh marks of wheels 
and oxen's feet, and hence I determined to walk a little 

54 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

farther, until the farmhouse should come in sight. Com- 
mando-neck, with its high kranz towering above its 
brother hills, and showing sharp against a dark bank of 
cloud with edges gilt by the setting- sun, and the queer 
piping of some pretty birds with crests that darted in and 
out amongst the trees, and whose nearer acquaintance I 
was anxious to make, were too much for me. Presently 
the small white farmhouse, built in a cleai'ing, came in 
sight, and I stopped. The thunder was beginning to 
growl once more, and bright flashes of lightning to light 
up the dark mass of cloud behind the precipice of the nek, 
whilst the nearer hills and the trees were burnished by 
the setting sun. 

I stood and looked, then turned, but only to stop and 
look again, although in front of me when I turned the sky 
looked unpleasantly lowering. Presently, however, a 
tremendous crash of thunder, accompanied by some very 
large drops, warned me to be moving. But I had waited 
too long ; before many minutes the sky was as dark as 
night, the rain began to fall, though not very heavily, and 
when I reached the road I thought the waggon might 
have taken, I could only see it by the flashes of lightning. 
It was evident no waggon had passed there. It was now 
pitch dark, and I had some difficulty in finding the old 
road which I had remarked on my way out. By the 
flashes of lightning I again discovered that no waggon 
had been there. I now concluded that the waggon had 
had some mishap on the nek, and soon I heard voices, 
and came up to the party and to the tent-waggon, out- 
spanned on the very top of the ascent. The buck-waggon 
with all the eatables in it had stuck half way up. The 
rain was coming down pretty sharp now. There was 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 55 

nothing to eat or to drink but some rum, of which the 
men were partaking, and I, being still wet through, 
thought it best to follow their example before rolling 
myself up in my damp blankets, for the tent leaked, as I 

When I woke the next morning I found it still drizzling, 
but with a look in the sky as if the day would be fine. If 
our former conductor insisted on starting early, and ruled 
our party, William let them do as they liked, the result 
being that they did not get out of their blankets until 
long after the sun was up.' The waggon on the hill was 
presently brought up, and we started late. We made but 
one short trek, which brought us to the Crocodile 
River, where we did a very foolish thing, namely, out- 
spanned before crossing. It is better even with tired 
oxen to make them take their waggon through a river at 
the end of a trek, than try to make them do it just after 
they are inspanned and before they are warm. It was a 
very pretty place, with tangled brushwood and tallish 
trees scattered over the grass and forming a bower over 
the river in parts. The next morning broke beautifully, 
and I enjoyed the pretty view, and had early coffee from 
William's kettle long before the rest of the party thought 
of stirring, so that it was late in the morning before we 
spanned in. The ford, or drift, as it is here called, is a 
nasty one at this place. However, the tent-waggon, in 
which I was, went through all right. The buck- waggon 
stuck. There was much flogging and swearing, the end 
of which was that the disselboom broke, and the waggon 
remained in the middle of the stream. The oxen were then 
attached to it behind, it was pulled back to where it had 
started from, and the oxen turned loose whilst the dissel- 

56 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

boom was being 1 mended. This took some time, and 
when it was at last accomplished it was discovered that 
the oxen were lost amongst the thick bush. They were 
not forthcoming till late in the afternoon, when they took 
the waggon once more into the middle of the stream, 
where William and the Kaffir driver between them 
managed them so well that the disselboom was broken 
for the third time. It was near sunset, and a heavy 
storm was coming up. William, who said that getting 
into the water made him ill, and who hence contented 
himself by dancing about on the bank and shouting, 
determined to leave the waggon in the middle of the 
stream for the night, which, considering that in this 
country, as in many others, an hour suffices to turn a 
small stream into a roaring torrent, was a very prudent 
thing to do. No one objected to it, however, as far as I 
know, and so the waggon remained. 

That evening, before going to sleep, I made sundry 
arrangements in anticipation of the storm that was evi- 
ently coming up. I put on my mackintosh, spread my 
waterproof sheet over me, placed a few articles, which I 
prized, under me, put a candle in my lantern, a box of 
matches in my pocket, rolled my blankets nicely round 
me, and then awaited what was to come. 

I was wakened by a rattling crash of thunder, followed by 
a series of explosions which seemed as if they must rend 
something in pieces ; the lightning was terrific, the wind 
howled round and battered the waggon as if it would over- 
turn it, the rain poured down in torrents, and I could hear 
the rush of the rising river. I lit my lamp, with difficulty 
protecting my match under my mackintosh. The sight 
was absurd ! The rain was coming intD the waggon like a 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 57 

shower-bath, and after forming lakes and pools all round 
me, was finding its way through the different articles 
down to and out of the bottom. Many of the men were 
sleeping under the waggon, and they presently began to 
become aware of this ; then it was amusing to hear their 
surprise and disgust. The people in the tent, too, began 
to rouse up ; altogether it was a lively night. The spec- 
tacle presented by our party the next morning was most 
comical, garments of all sorts being hung about on the 
bushes in a vain effort to dry them (for the day began 
and remained very showery), whilst their owners wandered 
about disconsolately. A new disselboom had to be got 
from a farmhouse at some distance, and it was rather late 
before the waggon was at last pulled out. The river had 
risen so much in the night that the water was nearly into 
it, and the buck-sail having been badly fastened down 
had blown off, and everything was drenched. 

We made a short trek that evening, and outspanned 
just as the sun was setting. Shortly after, the grey- 
bearded man whom I had met in the cart near to Com- 
mando, rode up and asked us if he could do anything to 
help us, as his farm was close by. I asked him if he could 
get me a horse, or any other conveyance, to take me into 
Rustemberg. I felt sure that we should have some more 
mishaps before arriving there, and having been now three 
days without having been able to change my wet clothes, 
and obliged to sleep in damp blankets, I was getting 
tired of it. He said that he could not get me a horse, 
either to hire, or to buy, or to borrow ; that the horse he 
rode was a borrowed one ; and that it was very difficult 
to get horses, owing to the fact of the " horse disease " 
being so very bad behind the Magaliesberg so bad that 

58 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

very few horses ever (( salted," i. e. recovered from tlie 
disease. He said, however, that he would do his best to 
get a trap to drive me over to Rustemberg, and that he 
would let me know in the morning. 

True to his word, my new acquaintance sent a Kaffir 
boy early the following morning to show me the way to 
his farm,, where I was to have breakfast, and to find a 
cart and horses to take me to Rustemberg. I had 
managed, by taking a little walk, to find a bower of trees 
suitable for a dressing-room ; there I carried some water 
in a gutta percha pail from a neighbouring brook, and 
was able to make a little toilette ; then putting a few 
things into my valise, I started with the Kaffir. About 
a quarter of an hour's walk along a bridle-path took me 
to a little three-roomed and thatched cottage, built on a 
grassy slope at the foot of a spur of the Magaliesberg, 
with luxuriant orchards of orange, lemon, fig, peach, 
apricot, and quince trees in front of it, whilst a few 
healthy-looking coffee bushes testified to the mildness of 
the climate. 

Inside, the house was dark and comfortless. Its mis- 
tress, a kind-faced woman of about forty bed-ridden with 
a painful and chronic disease welcomed me kindly, and 
we attempted a conversation. She understood a little 
German, and my knowledge of German enabled me partly 
to understand her Dutch, so we scraped along. Her 
husband told me that he had had great difficulty in 
getting a trap for me. The one I was to have, belonged 
to the sanctimonious-looking little man I had seen driving 
my acquaintance. He was a Dopper, i. e. belonged to a 
very sanctified sect of the Dutch Church. The sleek little 
man had shuddered with holy horror at the idea of his 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 59 

committing the impropriety of driving- alone with, any 
woman not related to him, neither would his conscience 
allow him to hire out his vehicle so as to facilitate any 
such improper action on the part of his neighbour; at 
last, however, his scruples had been overcome to the 
extent of consenting to drive me to Rustemberg, provided 
his neighbour (my new acquaintance) acted chaperon to 

We three, therefore, set forth in the dewy morning 
through a park-like country. The little Dopper sat in 
front, and said never a word. Mr. Deckbird, on the con- 
trary, was very talkative. So was I at first, the relief 
from the dreadful waggon being so great that I really 
felt in high spirits ; but gradually it began to dawn on 
me that my companion was mad, and I confess that I was 
very glad that the little Dopper was in the front seat 
during that day's drive. As I say, I believe that man 
was mad, but he was very kind for all that ; and although 
I was certainly afraid of him, I shall always remember 
his kindness with gratitude. We outspanned three times, 
once near a farmhouse, from whence Mr. Deckbird 
brought me a basketful of beautiful fruit; once at an- 
other farmhouse, where the women came out and insisted 
on my getting down, and where Mr. Deckbird introduced 
me in Dutch as his second wife, which, considering that 
I could not say anything to the contrary, owing to not 
knowing Dutch, although I understood what was said, 
and had to confine myself to shaking my head vigorously, 
was not pleasant. The good people all laughed at the 
joke, and gave me some very good coffee, and milk, and 
bread, and sat and looked at me. I, in return, looked at 
them, and once more observed to myself that many of 

60 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

these Boers, if dressed up in antique fashion, would look 
like the models from which Rembrandt and others of the 
old masters painted. 

Our third outspann was in sight of pretty, diminutive 
Rustemberg, and was in the open veldt, near, I think, a 
quarry. The cause of this outspann was original. 

"We must outspann here/' said Mr. Deckbird. "I must 
change my trousers before T go into Rustemberg j I know 
some people there." And retiring to the quarry in mufti, 
he reappeared in magnificence. 

Before we reached the little village I was introduced 
to a habit common to the Transvaal, and which is not a 
pleasing feature in the life here. 

" You will be sure to meet Mr. Lestrange," said my 
companion. " A charming man ; you will be delighted 
with him. But you must take care; don't trust him." 

This was the first time I heard this ; I have heard it 
now ad nauseam. Mr. A. tells you to beware of Mr. B., 
he is very nice and all that, but to be on your guard ; 
Mr. B. says he sees you know Mr. A., that it is all very 
well to be friends with him (friends !), but that you must 
not trust him too much ; both Mr. A. and Mr. B. caution 
you in a friendly spirit against Mr. C., and Mr. C. in the 
same manner cautions you against them ; and this some- 
times even when the people who speak thus appear to be 
on the most intimate terms. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal, 61 


THE village of Rustemberg, from which one can see the 
last place inhabited by white people, and through whose 
streets numbers of Kaffirs and Kaffir women troop daily, 
dressed in skins, and adorned with barbaric ornaments, 
appeared to me to be a sort of Ultima Thule. It had 
some little shops as stores, and a little prison, and a little 
post-office, and three little churches for even here the 
population is large enough for sects to exist ; and it had 
also numerous rose-hedges bounding its grassy streets, 
and a missionary station, and a mill. Everything looked 
as if it were just winking between two sleeps. There was 
no fort then to suggest that poor little Rustemberg was 
destined in two years from that time to sustain a length- 
ened siege, the result of which is, as I write, uncertain. 
Amongst other things that Rustemberg possessed was a 
little inn, kept by a big, jolly Dutch woman, a Mrs. Brown, 
by virtue of her marriage with an Englishman. In this 
worthy couple's house I spent a month, and if I never see 
Mrs. Brown again, yet shall I always remember her as the 
cheeriest, heartiest, most kind-hearted, and sturdiest of 
housewives. Her heart was open to everybody, whether 
the body walked on two or four legs. Did she see a half- 
starved Kaffir dog look in at her kitchen door or crawl 

62 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

trembling towards the dresser, it was not " Furtseck/' or 
" Get out/' that she would cry, but " What a shame to 
starve that poor thing so ! " and a piece of bread or meat 
was sure to be offered. Did she see an ox being ill-treated, 
she would rush out and interfere. The horses in her 
stable, whether her own or her lodgers', were well cared 
for ; her oxen sleek, and dire was her anger if she saw 
marks of heavy stripes on their glossy backs. Her cows 
all knew her well ; and a bevy of dogs, amongst which was 
one little spaniel she had rescued from a cruel master, sat 
round her every morning and at every meal, for her to give 
to each its portion. 

Then, as to her own species, she had brought up and 
portioned one orphan girl, had opened her doors to 
another, whose mother was dead and whose stepmother 
was unkind to her, and was talking about the necessity of 
taking a third because she was so unkindly treated. Her 
husband was a carpenter ; he left her the principal 
management of the hotel, but was fond of, and kind to, 
all her various proteges ; whilst his special favourite was a 
large torn cat, who always sat by his side at table, and 
whom Mrs. Brown averred he spoiled by feeding it whilst 
he was eating himself. 

My little room was in a row of small chambers, built out- 
side the hotel but quite close to it, for the accommodation 
of travellers. The hotel itself was simply a big Boer 
cottage. It was kept scrupulously clean, and I felt as if 
in a farmer's family which in fact I was ; it was an hotel 
in name, but really a farmhouse. There was a gentleman, 
the doctor of the place, who came there for his meals, and 
who, strange to say, had known some friends of mine 
in England intimately during his boyish days ; but there 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. . 63 

was seldom any stranger to break the monotony of the 
hotel routine. \Ye had early coffee in our bedrooms, 
breakfast at eight, dinner at one, supper at six, and then 
a chat in the big sitting-room till we went to our bed- 
rooms. Often visitors for Mrs. Brown would drop in of 
an evening, and then I heard Dutch talked. Mrs. Brown 
could not speak English at all perfectly, and was delighted 
to hear that I wanted to learn Dutch ; she was, however, a 
dangerous preceptress, for she would teach me all sorts of 
phrases, assuring me that their signification was so and so, 
and then, upon nay repeating them innocently, her ringing 
laugh and the wink she would give, showed me that she 
had been putting me up to say something very different 
from what I thought. Of course I soon made friends with 
her four-footed pets ; and the little dog " Gip/' which she 
had taken in compassion, got so fond of me that she made 
it a present to me. I remember one day we passed the 
afternoon in washing all the dogs in a big tub, and 
putting them to bed afterwards, rolled up in counterpanes 
like babies. 

But with all Mrs. Brown's kindness and merriment the 
time at Rustemberg was very trying. On arriving there 
I soon found that what I had suspected for a long time 
was only too true. The scheme about the farm was a 
snare and a delusion; both the men who came out to work 
on it, and I, who had counted upon getting instruction 
there, had been utterly deceived. The party arrived some 
days after I did, and it was a week or so before the whole 
affair was quite shown up ; but when it was so, two or 
three of the men, and Jimmy, went on to the farm, such as 
it was, the rest went as volunteers, and I had to shift for 

64 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

It was evident that I could do nothing in the farming 
line until I could understand and speak the Boer tongue ; 
evident also that unless I were to earn money somehow, my 
small stock would rapidly dwindle to next to nothing, for 
living at an hotel, or boarding, in the Transvaal, is fright- 
fully expensive. 

In this dilemma I was helped by Mr. Richardson, the 
clergyman of Rustemberg, to whom I had brought a letter 
of introduction from the then rector of Pretoria. He 
asked me if I would go as a governess in a farmer's family ; 
and on my answering in the affirmative, he said he would 
write to an English Africander farmer, who had two young 
daughters whom he was anxious to educate well. This 
farmer's name was Higgins, he told me, and his farm 
was about thirty-five miles from Rustemberg, on the 
southern slope of the Magaliesberg. From all who spoke 
of Mr. Higgins I heard a good account of himself and 
his family; and his house, I was told, was the finest 
farmhouse in the Transvaal. The post only goes out 
once a week from Rnstemberg, and hence there was some 
delay before Mr. Higgins's reply came. It was to the 
effect that he would come in to fetch me as soon as he 
could. My engagement was that I was to be paid five 
pounds a month, with washing, and that I might take 
other pupils besides Mr. Higgins' s two daughters at any 
terms I chose to make, while Mr. Higgins undertook to 
give any such pupils their dinner. 

Several days passed, and I neither heard nor saw any- 
thing of Mr. Higgins. I used to pass my day in writing a 
story, without which amusement I should have collapsed 
under the combined heat, dulness, and anxiety of that 
time at Rustemberg; but it is wonderful how one can 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 65 

forget oneself and one's own troubles in inventing the 
joys and woes of creatures of one's imagination ! I used 
to sit up late writing, and so soon as day broke get up to 
write again. Little Gip was my constant companion now. 
He would not remain an instant away from me, and many 
a time his little paw scratching my dress would stop my 
pen, and call upon me to take the small beast up and 
give it the caress it wanted ; for Gip never cared for being 
fed, but only for being coaxed and played with. He was 
a very delicate little dog, having had his constitution 
undermined, Mrs. Brown told me, by his former owner's 
cruelty, and was the victim of a species of St. Vitus's 
Dance, which at times made him go through the queerest 

One beautiful evening, after a very hot day, I was 
standing at the door of my little room, enjoying the cool 
air, and admiring two fine grey horses that were cropping 
the grass in the street, watched by a mischievous-looking 
Kaffir boy of about nine. They were evidently fresh 
arrivals, for I had not seen them before. While I was 
standing thus and chatting to Mrs. Brown's protege, a 
fine-looking man, dressed in a riding-suit, with high boots 
and a wide-a-wake hat, and with a sunburnt honest face, 
merry blue eyes, and a fine reddish-brown beard, sprang 
up the steps that led to my little door, and touching his 
hat said, " Mrs. Heckford, I think ; I'm Higgins. I came 
while you were out," he went on ; " those are my horses/' 
pointing to the animals I had been admiring. We settled 
everything in five minutes. I told Mr. Higgins that he 
might inquire about me from Mr. Richardson, who would 
be able to tell him who I was, and what were my ante- 
cedents ; but he said it was of no use, that he was quite 


66 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

satisfied with what he had seen and heard of me, and only 
wanted to know when I could start. I said I should 
be ready to start early next morning ; and so my stay in 
little Kustemberg, and under the friendly roof of Mr. and 
Mrs. Brown, came to an end. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 67 


EARLY the next morning I packed all the things I could 
into the tax-cart with a canvas hood to it which was to 
convey me to my new home, the farm " Surprise ;" my 
heavy luggage I had to leave behind in Mrs. Brown's 
charge. Then after breakfast, and amidst much shaking of 
hands and many good wishes, I got into the cart, climbed 
on to the back seat Mr. Higgins and the mischievous- 
looking Kaffir imp jumped up in front little Gip was 
lifted up to me, and Mr. Higgins having said I might take 
him, I joyfully tucked him under my arm and I was 
launched into my new life. 

^ That asking whether I might take my dog seemed like 
the first plunge into a cold bath on a frosty morning ; it 
was part of the part I had to play now, and I wondered 
how I should play it. I had always pitied governesses, 
and had also always objected to be an object of pity my- 
self, even to myself. I never could see the use of self- 
commiseration, which to some seems to be so delectable. 
How I wondered what Mrs. Higgins would be like, what 
my pupils would be like, what the whole life would be 
like, and what sort of a governess I should make, as we 
bowled along the pretty road, over Oliphants-nek, and 
then along the southern side of the picturesque Hagalies- 

p 2 

68 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

berg once more, into the long valley, up and down which 
I had looked on the day of our breaking the disselboom a 
little outside of Pretoria, but distant about sixty miles from 
the spot. Mr. Higgins in the meantime chatted away 
pleasantly. He was not an educated man, as he said him- 
self, but he was evidently a very good fellow. He said his 
children were respectively eleven and nine, the name of 
the elder was Augusta, of the younger Sarah. He said 
they had had no teaching to speak of, but that their mother 
was very anxious they should have good schooling. 
Then he told me the names of the two greys that were 
drawing the cart were Sam and Dick, that they were 
brothers, and that he had another horse, a fine brown 
horse, called Free State, or, as a pet name, Baby; and 
then he talked about other horses he had had, and about 
a little dog his youngest daughter had. We outspanned 
twice, and twice stopped for Mr. Higgins to pay a little 
visit at farms we passed, and on each occasion he piled 
my lap and filled his pockets and handkerchief with 
peaches. At last, just as the sun was setting, and as we 
were turning round a spur of the hill all wooded with 
thorn-trees, Mr. Higgins said, " Now you'll see the house;" 
and in .a few minutes I saw a good-sized red-brick 
house with a verandah, standing in the middle of the 
grassy slope, the wooded sides of the mountain and its 
high kranz rising behind it, an orchard of large fruit- 
trees and a fine stretch of cultivated land lying below 
it, and a background of mountain range and wooded 
slope running down into the long valley beneath it. 

At the same moment Mr. Higgins said, "There are 
Mrs. Higgins and the children ;" and I saw two tall black - 
rcbed figures and one small one (the family were in 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 69 

mourning for the youngest child), and a little black and 
white dog, coining to meet the cart. It was alongside 
of them in a minute ; and Mr. Higgins jumping out, little 
Sarah was lifted up and took the reins, whilst her 
dog Fido, who jumped up with her, went through a 
series of frantic antics ending by nearly tumbling out, all 
meant for demonstrations of joy at her master's return. 

Let me introduce my employer's wife and children. 
Mrs. Higgins was a very tall, fine-looking woman, with a 
stately grace about her movements and manners; she 
talked bad grammar, and misplaced her " h's," but I felt 
at and from the first that I was in the presence of a 
lady. Augusta, a child of eleven, was as tall as most 
girls of fifteen, and looked almost grown up. Slight, 
with beautiful fine brown hair hanging over her shoulders 
and down to her waist, with soft almond-shaped blue 
eyes fringed by long dark lashes and over-arched by 
pencilled eyebrows, with a sweet but haughty little 
mouth, and with a white and rose-pink complexion, with 
long, slender, refined hands too, I thought I had rarely 
seen such a lovely girl. Everything about her breathed 
of refinement and indolence; you would have sworn she 
had been bred in some luxurious drawing-room, and 
waited on by obsequious servants. 

Little Sarah was a contrast to her sister. Small for 
her age, and with a baby chubbiness still clinging to her ; 
with mischief, wilfulness, and bright intelligence sparkling 
in her eyes and ringing in her voice ; with an expression 
ever changing, with still unformed features, and with a 
shock of wild- looking hair hanging about her face, in 
some ways she reminded me of an unbroken Shetland 
pony, and in my mind I installed her as my pet. 

70 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

We were soon at the front of the house a house not 
after the Boer model, but built on Mr. Higgins's own 
plan. A raised " stoop/' or nagged pathway in front, 
was covered by an iron verandah, and ended in two small 
rooms, one used as a visitors' room, the other as a lumber 
room. Three doors, two of them half glass, and two 
windows, opened on the stoop, besides the half-glass doors 
of the end rooms. The two half-glass doors led into 
rooms which were respectively my bedroom and the 
school-room. The centre door opened into a passage 
which led to the dining-room, a long room at the back, 
with the kitchen and a pantry at one side, and a big 
store-room at the other, the two former opening into it, 
the latter having to be entered by a side door outside. 
Two doors opened into the passage besides the dining- 
room door at the end of it, leading to side rooms, one 
the sleeping-room of the family, the other the drawing- 
room, from which a side door led to my bedroom. The 
school-room had no door but the one on the stoop. There 
was a fireplace in the drawing-room and kitchen only. 

I was taken first into my bedroom, a very pleasant 
one, large and lofty, with a canvas ceiling under the 
rafters, papered walls, large strips of a bright coloured 
carpet on the floor, 'and a comfortable-looking French 
bed with white hangings, besides the other furniture of a 
bedroom in it. From a side window which opened like a 
double door there was a pretty view of part of the crest 
and of a wooded spur of the Magaliesberg, and then one 
looked over undulations in part studded with trees, and 
across the valley to the distant range of Witt- waters Randt. 

There was a big old thorn-tree close by, under which 
were two little mounds, the graves of two little children 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 71 

the Higginses had lost; and at a little distance, jnst round 
the turn of a rose hedge, which here bound the culti- 
vated land, a Kaffir house could be seen, where farm- 
servants lived ; while between the tree and my window 
was a sort of dust-hole a hollow place whe re refuse was 
thrown the outside door of the kitchen being close to 
it. This place was half overgrown with stramonium, a 
big bush-like plant, with a coarse but not ugly flower. 
A little beaten path led from the kitchen door up to the 
cattle and sheep-kraal, an enclosure made of bushes of 
thorn on the side of the hill, and well sheltered from 
cold winds by the spur of the mountain. It was in all 
a very pretty look-out. 

We had supper in the dining-room, and then we went 
to the drawing-room a prettily-furnished apartment, 
with a fairly good piano, and a nice harmonium in it. I 
got the children to play on the former. They performed 
a duet from ear for they did not know their notes and 
kept exact time. Then I was asked to play. I had no 
music with me, the little I had, having been left behind 
with my heavy luggage, and I had not touched a piano 
for months, nor practised on one for years. They parti- 
cularly wanted to hear me play a piece called " The 
Battle of Waterloo." It was one of those pieces that 
sound more difficult than they are, and I read it easily 
enough. Then followed " Shells of Ocean " with varia- 
tions, and " Home, Sweet Home," and some others with 
variations, all arrangements new to me, but with which I 
did my best. It was very encouraging to hear that I 
gave great satisfaction I was so dreadfully afraid I 
should not ; but it was evident that the pleasure caused 
by my playing was genuine. Then an old copy of the 

72 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

entire opera of " Norma " was brought out. The family 
did not much care for ' ' Norma ;" but, oh ! how strange 
it did seem to listen to that well-known music, which 
carried one back to the gorgeous Italian opera, and 
recalled faces and voices some of them passed away, 
some of them never probably to be seen or heard again 
in that little drawing-room of the farmhouse on the Maga- 
liesberg, with listeners around to whom the very names 
that were household words to me, were utterly unknown ! 
Life is a wonderful romance for many of us. It never 
struck me more forcibly that it had been so, and was still 
for me, than on that evening, when, having bid the family 
good-night, and having been kissed by the children with 
heartiness that showed they were prepared to like me, I 
stood for a while at the open window, with the dark 
outline of the mountains before my material eyes, but 
with visions of all that had passed since I had first 
listened to " Casta Diva," shutting out the present, and 
substituting for a short while scenes widely different. 
Before I went to sleep, however, the present reasserted 
itself in the shape of Gip. Gip was determined to sleep 
with his little head touching my shoulder. He had not 
been accustomed to do so, but I suppose he felt strange 
in the new house, and wanted a sense of protection. At 
any rate he was determined on this point. It was useless 
putting him off the bed; and he would patter on the floor, 
and scratch at the side of the bed, and make little springs, 
and whine in a manner that rendered sleep impossible, 
and I felt that sleep was necessary ; so at last I took him 
up and let him have his own way, although I wondered 
in my mind what Mrs. Higgins would think of a dog 
sleeping on her nice white counterpane. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 73 


I WOKE early the next morning, and took a survey of my 
new abode, and a stroll towards a wooded spur of the 
mountain, where I was told Mr. Higgins's father and 
mother and two young sisters lived, in a little cottage. 
The road, if road it could be called, passed along the top 
of some upper cultivated lands, on which a fine crop of 
Indian corn was standing, and which were shut in partly 
by a low stone wall, partly by a rose hedge at the top and 
sides ; whilst an orchard of big orange, lemon, peach, 
almond, apricot, and fig-trees separated these, the upper 
lands, from the lower lands, which were much larger. At 
the bottom of the upper lands stood an old thatched house, 
used as a stable and outhouse, with two enormous syringa- 
trees overshadowing it. This was the oldest house in 
the Transvaal, and had been built by old Potchieter, who 
was afterwards made mincemeat of by the Kaffirs in 
days not indeed far distant, but when elephants might be 
shot on the place where Mr. Higgins's house now stood, 
and when the cultivated valley beneath me was still 
covered with bush. A little farther on the road passed 
over a broad stone bulwark, which served to dam up a 
rivulet, which, gushing out of the precipitous crown of 
the mountain, found its way down its side through a 

74 -A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

ravine overarched by trees, and carpeted with ferns, to 
a place at which it was compelled to form a big pond or 

From this dam as much or as little water as was 
requisite could be let out, by means of two wooden pipes, 
to water the lands, sluits (or what are here called furrows) 
having been made on purpose to convey it to different 
parts. From these furrows it had to be let on to the 
lands by opening them here and there with the spade, 
and so directing the various little streams that, without 
touching each other, they yet wet all the ground. This 
process is called " letting water," and is a very important 
one in this dry country, also a very troublesome and 
tedious one. The stream of water and the dam are the 
first things to be looked to in buying a farm out here, 
also their relative position to the ground to be culti- 
vated. The dam has frequently to be made by the pur- 
chaser, then he must be careful to see that he can make 
one of sufficient size above what he means to be his 

From the dam the road took me over a little rise, on 
which some Kaffir houses were built, and then down 
towards the valley. It was a pretty walk. As I was 
returning I observed that the house had a loft, but no 
outbuildings of any kind. It is the same with all the 
best farmhouses in the Transvaal. They are comfort- 
able in many ways, but they lack what we consider 
the commonest conveniences of a dwelling; and this 
applies to some even of the houses on the outskirts of 

The children came to meet me near the dam, and we 
went in to breakfast. This was Friday 3 and Mr. Higgins 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 75 

said I had better take it easy, and not begin lessons till 
Monday. My life now seemed settled for a time. I was 
to give the children what is called a good English educa- 
tion, and to teach them to play the piano, to draw, and 
to sing. Foreign languages are not much cared for in 

Besides Augusta and Sarah, it was arranged that I 
was to have Mr. Higgins's two sisters Alice, a girl of 
sixteen, and Ada, who was thirteen as pupils. Their 
mother, a pleasant-looking old lady, came over from her 
cottage, and made the arrangement with me. Alice, a 
small, plump, and pretty girl, with something very sweet 
and yet determined in her look, and with activity stamped 
on her every movement, was engaged to be married to a 
young man who was half farmer and half trader. Ada, 
almost but not quite so tall as Augusta, was yet a tall 
girl for her age. She was slight and graceful, with 
hands as delicate as those of her niece. With a pretty 
impertinent nose, arched eyebrows, and eyes that could 
coax you, or calmly overlook you, according to the mood 
of their pretty owner, with a scornfully-turned upper lip, 
and a pouting under one very rosy, and which could 
part into a delightful smile when she was pleased, or 
wanted to please with a prettily disdainful languor in 
all her movements (except, by the way, when she went in 
for a romp, at which she excelled), Miss Ada Higgins 
looked like a little princess in disguise. Like her niece, 
she had masses of brown hair hanging from her well-set- 
on head, but her hair was even heavier in its flow than 

I had to begin with the very simplest lessons. 
Even Alice had to learn to spell monosyllables, and be 

/ 6 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

taught the meaning of words which a child of eight in 
England would laugh at you for asking her to explain. 
They had no idea of the points of the compass, and had 
never heard of an article; but they were on the whole very 
good pupils, and only Sarah was wilful and idle at times, 
making up for this afterwards by the greatest attention 
and intelligent comprehension. It was a terrible trial to 
this small girl to be kept at lessons she who, up to the 
time I came, had been allowed to run wild, and romp all 
day with the Kaffir children on the property. Many an 
excuse would she make to escape from the school-room, 
and forthwith perform a dance with Maikee or Vittaree, or 
have a sparring-match with Fiervaree, the Kaffir imp who 
was supposed to look after Sam and Dick. Many a day 
would she pretend to be ill until she persuaded her 
mamma to let her off school, and then set to, with gleeful 
enjoyment, to help Sannee, the Kaffir girl who assisted in 
the housework, to clean the pots and pans ; or turning 
up her sleeves, and tying her doll on behind her back as 
the Kaffir mothers tie their babies when at work, she 
would get a pailful of cow-dung and water, and proceed 
to smear the floor cf the little lumber-room with it, pre- 
tending that it was her house. This smearing operation, 
unpleasant to English ears, is a necessary part of house- 
keeping here, where most of the floors are made of mud 
or rather, of a mixture of ant-heap and water, stamped 
and levelled down, and where, without the aid of cow- 
dung, one would be stifled with dust and eaten alive 
by fleas. 

The life was monotonous, but not unpleasant. Break- 
fast at between seven and eight, then lessons till one 
(dinner-time), then lessons again till about five, when 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 77 

there was afternoon tea, then supper at about seven, a 
chat or a little music, and to bed. I worked my pupils 
pretty hard, but I tried to make them fond of me, and I 
think I succeeded. I certainly became fond of them, 
but little Sarah was always my pet, though I used to 
make her ciy about four days out of the seven. There 
was a great difficulty in getting books, &c., for them, 
Pretoria, the nearest town, being forty miles distant, and 
it was often difficult to explain common things to them, 
owing to their experience being so very small. It is not 
easy to convey the idea of a bridge even, to a child who 
has never seen any nearer approach to it than the wall of 
a dam with a road over it, or a piece of plank stretched 
across a furrow ; or to convey the idea of a steam-engine, 
or a steamboat, to one who has never seen anything 
of the sort; or to create an idea of a large town in 
one who looks upon a tiny village as a very imposing 
place. However, all things considered, the children got 
on well, and their parents were satisfied. Mr. Higgins 
let me ride " Free State " occasionally, on one occasion 
taking me to a small Kaffir kraal that was on his pro- 
perty, where I went into the neat huts and admired the 
cement-like mud floors. 

The Kaffirs living in the kraal were what is called raw 
Kaffirs, the men indeed being in some sort clothed in old 
European garments, but the women wearing skins, and 
the children being naked. Mr. Higgins, as landlord, had 
the right to their services for taking the crops off the 
land, without paying them; and also of commanding their 
services at other times, for the wage of a shilling a day, at 
most, to the men, and of something much less to the 
boys. He also had the right to order the women to weed 

78 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

or to scoffle, as it is called here, giving them a basket of 
peaches in return, during the fruit season, or without pay- 
ment if there was no fruit. Besides these, he had several 
families of what are called Urlains, or civilized Kaffirs, 
living in mud houses on his property. These families 
dressed like Europeans, and had food like Europeans, 
even to the drinking of early coffee. They also went to 
school to the missionary station at Eustemberg periodi- 
cally, and learned a little reading and singing of hymns. 
I don't think the school did them much good. I 
heard of one Kaffir woman saying, that when she came 
back from school and had been made a Christian, she 
would sit on a chair and eat with a knife and fork, and 
not let the raw Kaffirs eat with her, for that then she 
would be better than they. 

Sannee, the girl who helped in the house, after her 
return from school refused to help her mistress, who was 
very ill at the time, saying that the missionary had told 
her that she must not work for some months, only 
study. Mr. Higgins was a very kind, indulgent master, 
partly from good nature, partly from indolence. He 
could get Kaffirs to come to squat on his farm when 
other farmers could not get any ; but then they squatted 
and did little else, except when a sudden fancy to do a 
little work seized them. 

I also rode to old Mr. Higgins's little cottage, a small 
structure stuck on a very picturesque spur of the moun- 
tain, with a big wild fig-tree in front of it. It was simply 
a mud and stone cabin, with the bare rafters and thatch 
showing overhead, its one long room divided into three 
by rude canvas partitions, without a trace of paper on 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 79 

the walls, and with planks supported on the rafters doing 
duty as shelves. Outside, a straw house did duty as out- 
house, stable, cow-house, or anything else, a conical 
straw hut, with a hole at the top, was the kitchen, and 
another small straw structure close to the sheep kraal 
served for a fowl-house. There was an old piano, how- 
ever, in this funny little building, and on it Alice and 
Ada practised their music. Old Mrs. Higgins kept no 
servant ; she and Alice cleaned the house, cooked, washed 
in a washing machine, ironed, and made the dresses of 
the family. Ada, the princess, did nothing, not even 
mend her own clothes. How Alice managed to do the 
work she did and learn her lessons I don't know, but she 
did manage it. 

There were no windows to this odd little building, 
only square holes in the wall, with movable frames 
stretched over with calico fitted to them, and there was 
no chimney. Old Mr. Higgins, who had been a great 
hunter when younger, was now a victim to chronic bron- 
chitis of a very bad type, and how he managed to live in 
that cabin I do not know. He had not even the conve- 
nience of an armchair. He was a small grey-bearded 
man, much bent, but with a keen look about the eyes 
that spoke of his hunting days, and with a still easy seat 
in the saddle a thorough old gentleman too in all his 
ways and thoughts, and with a fund of queerly assorted 
information. Often he has startled me by the things he 
knew of, having been all his life a great reader, and given 
to buying books in lots on sales. 

Mrs. Higgins the younger did the principal part of her 
housework herself, and wonderful was the amount of 

8o A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

needlework, or rather machinework, she would get 
through in the day besides; yet she never seemed in a 
fuss or a hurry, never spoke loudly or crossly, but was 
always stately and ladylike, even with her dress turned 
up, her arms bared, and a broom in her hand. Augusta, 
like Ada, did nothing but look ornamental. This was 
what the two girls were meant for by nature, and they 
could not, I believe, be useful if they tried ; but they 
didn't try. Little Sarah was already a famous house- 
keeper, but she scolded the servants well. 

There was a wonderful old Hottentot maid, " Khrid," 
the second wife of a certain Jonas who squatted on the 
farm a good sort of creature, who was very helpful in the 
house, and of whom Sarah was a special pet and perse- 
cutor. Sometimes she would spring on the woman's back, 
and tightening her legs round her waist, pinch her and 
beat her in fun it is true, but pretty hard for all that 
until the old woman would lie down and roll, to get 
her off. 

In this family I was treated not like a governess, but 
like a welcome guest. The best of everything was at my 
disposal without my asking for or even thinking of 
having it. Whatever there was unavoidably rough in 
the life, Mrs. Higgins did her best to shelter me from. 
A stranger would, I am sure, have thought that I was 
there teaching the children as a friend, not as one paid for 
it. When poor little Gip got ill and became troublesomely 
dirty at night, Mrs. Higgins expostulated with me for 
having cleaned and washed up the things myself; and 
when my poor little dog died, she got a Kaffir to dig a 
grave for it, and in no way objected to lessons being 
interrupted to attend to it before its death, or to see it 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 8 1 

buried afterwards. I was dreadfully sorry for the little 
dog that had beeu so fond of me when I was a strauger 
in the land, and it was true kindness to me to indulge me 
as she did. But it was not to me alone that she showed 
tact and delicacy of feeling. It was the same with even 
a raw Kaffir. The true politeness of quick sympathy and 
unselfishness, was always there, for the benefit of any one 
coming within her sphere of influence. 

It must be remembered that all this time the Boer 
scare was going on. Horrible tales used to be told at 
meal-times and in the evening as to what the Boers 
meant to do to the English, or any of the Africanders 
who held with the English ; and the Higgiuses were very 
loyal. There was even talk of its being as well for the 
family to go into the Free State. This being the case, I 
began to feel unhappy about Jimmy, who was away on a 
farm with three or four other English. This farm was 
about thirty miles from Surprise, and I had no horse or 
any other means of conveyance to take me to him. I 
therefore began to be very anxious to buy a horse, but it 
was not easy to get one. 

The scare had for a time subsided, when one day, 
while I was in the schoolroom, one of the children cried 
out, " Oh ! there is Uncle Walter," and of course they all 
wanted to go out to see Uncle Walter an unmarried uncle 
who, with a bachelor brother, kept a store at Marico. I 
remained in the schoolroom. Presently Mr. Higgins 
called me, and said he wanted me to meet his brother. I 
went out, and saw a fine-looking man standing by the 
side of a handsome dun horse, and with another horse 
standing close to him with a rein in its mouth for leading 
it by. 


82 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

" That's a nice little horse/' said Mr. Higgins ; " what 
do you think of it ? " 

" It does not look bad," I said, not much prepossessed 
by the lean animal with a draggly tail, that I was looking 
down on from the stoop. 

" Do you think it would suit you ? " he asked. 

I looked closer at it then. It was a good horse at all 
points, with a little head, taper neck, and fine ears, which 
spoke of good blood, better than generally seen. It had 
been roughly treated, evidently, not over well fed, and 
ridden hard, and was very dirty, but that time would 
cure. It was a light-red roan what is here called a red 
grey with white stockings, a white streak down its face, 
and chestnut mane and tail. The eyes were full, but a 
little mischievous-looking, in spite of the otherwise very 
mild appearance of the creature. 

" I think it might/' I replied, " if the price be not 

" Would you give twenty pounds ? " asked Mr. 

" Yes, but not more/' I answered. 

He inquired of his brother whether the horse, which 
was his, and which he had had for some time, was sound 
and fit for a lady to ride. He said it was so ; and the 
bargain being struck, my new acquisition, " Eclipse," the 
grandson of a famous old colony racer, and himself the 
winner of two races in the colony, was turned loose to 
graze, whilst Walter Higgins rode off on his handsome 
dun a horse whom everybody said was thoroughly 
" salted," and for whom he had refused sixty pounds, 
but who died a few days after, it was said from " horse 
sickness/' but I rather fancy from the bots. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 83 

Not long after, a neighbour came in. " Have you 
bought that red-grey horse ?" he asked. 

" Yes." 

' f Are you a very good horsewoman ? " 


" Then take care ; he'll break your neck. Why, he 
bucked Walter Higgins off him and Arthur Sturton 
and he nearly threw me, only I jumped off. I never saw 
a horse buck so cleverly as he does." 

This was pleasant, the more so as before a day was 
over I heard further confirmation of it. However, the 
thing was done, and I had to make the best of it. 

Mr. Higgins allowed me forage for my animal, and I 
groomed him, fed him, and bedded him up myself. No 
hand but mine touched him. He was stabled in the 
stable with Dick, Sam, and Freestate, and I now saw how 
the Kaffir boys who had charge of these horses neglected 
them. Anticipating buying a horse, I had brought all 
the articles necessary for one with me, and Eclipse soon 
showed his change of owners. At first he was trouble- 
some to groom, but he soon got accustomed to it and 
fond of me, nor, though a very lively horse, did he ever 
attempt more than a little playful jump with me ; but his 
character was bad. The Dutch, farmers seeing me ride 
him would exclaim ; and even men who had ridden him 
could never account for the change in him, although it 
was easily enough accounted for. 

Eclipse knew as well as most horses how to distinguish 
between a master who treated him well and never 
punished him except when he deserved it, and one who 
neglected him and spurred him to make him show off. 
I certainly felt much happier after getting my horse, 

a 2 

84 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

although I had to be up early to groom him, and had 
trouble about his bedding; and although I had no time 
to ride much for it is not good during the summer 
months here to have a horse out of the stable early in 
the morning or late in the evening and I was occupied 
during the day on weekdays. Still many a ride I had, 
generally with one of the children with me on Dick, and 
I felt now that if there were danger I could get hold of 

Some little time after I got Eclipse about the begin- 
ning of March it was decided that we should all go 
over to visit two married brothers of Mr. Higgins 
(James and John), who had a farm and kept a store 
behind the Witt-waters Randt, about twelve miles from 
Surprise. We started early, Mr. and Mrs. Higgins and 
little Sarah in the cart, Alice on a pony borrowed from 
her brother-in-law, Arthur Sturton, and Augusta on Free- 
state. I, of course, rode Eclipse. In parts the road 
was pretty, particularly at a point not far from our 
destination, where we saw several monkeys sitting on a 
low kranz above us. Here we had to ford a river three 
times, owing to its rapid turns. We passed several farm- 
houses, and at last came to the one we were to stop at. 

It was not so nicely arranged a house as Surprise, 
being, in fact, two houses tacked together. There were 
several little children playing about, and the hosts were 
very hospitable and kind to me. Each of the wives had 
a piano, on which I played in the evening, and I slept on 
a comfortable bed made up on the sofa in one of the 
sitting-rooms. Here, too, the mistresses had to do 
almost all the housework, the Kaffir servants being either 
too lazy or too stupid. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal, 85 

The Boer scare now set in again. Plans used to be 
discussed as to what was to be done in case of an attack, 
and at last even Mr. Higgins, who generally took things 
quietly, began to look serious, and to check me when I 
laughed at the idea of danger for I thought there was 
too much talk for anything to come of it. One day a 
neighbour rode up to say that there was a Kaffir com- 
mando marching on Pretoria, that a son of Cetewayo had 
ridden through the valley and over the mountain to Rus- 
temberg the night before that he had told the farmers 
from whom he had commanded a horse and money, that a 
great outbreak of the Kaffirs was close at hand, and that 
all who did not wish to be murdered had best go into 
lagers. The veldt-cornet had ridden late at night to 
warn some people in his district ; all was authenticated 
beautifully. Surprise was alarmed : no shame for it, 
for Pretoria trembled in its shoes at the same rumour. I 
can't say that I felt frightened, but then it is difficult for 
any one accustomed to profound peace, and a civilized 
country, to bring his mind to realize the possibility of a 
sudden outbreak of savages. The Higginses knew what it 
was from practical experience, old Mrs. Higgins having had 
to fly with a child under one arm, and a money-box under 
the other, alongside of her husband, who was laden with 
another child and the powder- bag. My employer had seen 
his parents' property swept away more than once in the 
old colony by Kaffirs, and hence it is no wonder that he 
felt more concern than I. 

It was the most absurd hoax that ever was practised, 
and the Kaffir who personated Cetewayo's son, and ordered 
the terrified Boers to give him horses and money must 
have had a laugh at the success of his piece of fun. Their 

86 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

having obeyed the dictates of a half tipsy Kaffir was a 
sore point with the Boers afterwards, and this absurd 
escapade did not serve to raise my opinion of their courage. 
But hardly had this blown over, than the Boer scare broke 
out again. Mr. Higgins wanted to take loads down to 
Xatal, and ride transport up transport was very high 
then but waited and waited for the Beeinkotnmste, which 
was then sitting, to break up. Terrible threats were 
current as to what was to happen to the dwellers on out- 
standing farms, if the demands of the committee were not 
listened to, still worse was it to go with us if the English 
Government attempted to lay hands on the leaders. 

Time went by, and at last Mr. Higgins said he could 
wait no longer, or that he should have too cold weather on 
his return journey for the oxen ; so he loaded a big pistol 
for his wife, and hung it up in the hall, told her she must 
do the best she could in case of any disturbance, and on 
a fine April morning he started off the waggons loaded 
with wool-bags, and prepared to follow them on horse- 
back. Great had been the preparations for starting the 
waggons, biscuits having to be baked for the road and 
other provisions provided. A Mr. King, a small farmer 
and a great friend of Mr. Higgins, went with the waggons, 
he came to breakfast before he started, and a starved- 
looking rough black and white terrier with big beseech- 
ing eyes all covered by his long hair came with him. The 
dog did not belong to him, but was loafing about, and 
came to Surprise for something to do, I suppose. We all 
turned out to see the waggons start. The one with a 
splendid span of eighteen black oxen in it their sleek 
skins shining in the sun, and with their driver, a Kaffir 
called Saul, alongside, looking proud of his beasts, and 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 87 

glad of the change made a great impression on me, and 
I said to myself, " I will never go down to the coast till I 
can go with such a span as that." Soon after Mr. Higgins 
saddled up, and bidding us good-bye, took a short cut 
after the waggons. We all felt very flat as the last flick 
of Freestate's tail was seen through the long grass ; how 
I did envy Mr. Higgins to be sure, but we soon settled 
down, and I began to like being alone with Mrs. Higgins 
and the children. The rough black and white dog stayed 
behind, and in process of time came to be my dog, and 
developed into a very pretty playful little animal, up to 
any amount of fun, and a good watch-dog, but with a 
terror of being lost or stolen from me. He would often 
go off visiting on his own account, but his dread of being 
taken hold of by any one strange, and the way he would 
struggle and bite, were amusing; a terrible dog for 
fighting too was this Little animal, whom we christened 
" Rough." 

Winter was now beginning, and though I regretted 
the summer in some ways, I was glad it was gone; for 
the dreaded " horse-sickness " goes with it. It is strange 
that no one has ever found out exactly what the " horse- 
sickness " is ; the only thing certain about it is that 
horses that eat the grass after the sun is set, or before 
the dew is off, are more liable to it than others. Opinions 
vary as to whether mere exposure to the night air affects 
horses in the matter. It is averred that horses that have 
once had the " horse-sickness " rarely have it again, and 
if they do get it, have it very mildly ; one is told many 
other things regarding this curious disease, but authori- 
ties disagree. I believe that numbers of horses are said 
to die of " horse-sickness " when in reality they die of 

88 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

bots and of neglect. In this country, where horses are 
so seldom kept decently clean, the bots make terrible 
ravages amongst them. I have frequently been told, 
and that, too, by people who ought to have known better, 
that it was impossible to clean the bot-eggs off horses 
that were roughing it in the veldt, and it stands to 
reason that if the eggs are left on the animals for them 
to lick off, they will soon be full of bots. I speak 
now of horses that are ridden. In the case of a herd of 
mares and colts, it would of course be impossible to 
prevent harm, grooming in such cases being out of the 

There are two species of disease called "horse-sick- 
ness," one of them is also called " Dick-kop," or " thick- 
head" sickness. They both come on very suddenly. 
In the case of simple " horse- sickness," the horse perhaps 
appears well, and eats and works well, when suddenly it 
begins to pant and blow, gives a short hacking cough, 
then a discharge comes from the nose, and the animal 
seems choked with mucus which it cannot expel. Its 
distress is very great, and in the majority of cases, death 
supervenes quickly. In the case of the " thick-head " 
variety, the head begins to swell first in those hollows 
over the eyes, which, probably, even my unhorsy readers 
will have remarked, and soon the entire head is enor- 
mously swollen, and the animal appears to die from 
suffocation. In both cases there is high fever. No satis- 
factory cure for either disease has yet been discovered, 
but even were a cure known, I doubt whether it would 
be of much avail in the majority of cases, for it would 
have to be accompanied by more " sick-nursing " than 
is generally practicable whether with man or beast in 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 89 

tliis rough country. The great thing, therefore, is, if 
possible, to prevent a horse from getting the disease, 
and I was as careful about Eclipse not being exposed 
to the early or late air as a mother with a delicate 

9O A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


NOT long after Mr. Higgins's departure we were all 
startled one day by Arthur Sturton's riding up from 
his farm in the valley to tell us that a neighbouring 
farmer an English Africander had just come back 
from Pretoria, and had brought the news that Sir Bartle 
Frere had met the Committee of the Boers that there 
had been much angry discussion, and that at last the 
Boers had leapt from their seats, overturning the chairs 
and crying, " War ! war ! We give you notice that we 
will march on Pretoria to-morrow." He had told Arthur 
Sturton that every waggon was being pressed into Govern- 
ment service, and that his own had been seized ; so that 
but for a chance he should have had to walk all the way 
from Pretoria, whither he had gone with a load. Arthur 
Sturton said that he had sent a Kaffir to his father's 
farm (which is half-way between Surprise and Pre- 
toria), there to wait for further intelligence; Moyplas, 
as it is called, being on the high-road, and any one 
coming from Pretoria being likely to call there. He 
said that when the Kaffir returned he would send news 
to us. 

Mrs. Higgins and I held a council of war on the 
verandah that afternoon, and it was resolved that if the 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 9 r 

Boers came to Surprise, we would receive them civilly, 
but when we saw them coming, we would put the girls 
into the bedroom and lock it. The invaders were to be 
allowed to take what they liked, but if they wanted to 
enter that room we would first expostulate, saying we 
had put the girls in there to prevent their being more 
frightened than necessary, and that if the men insisted 
on forcing an entrance, we would use our pistols and 
knives ; also that we would do the same if they attempted 
any liberties with either of us. Mrs. Higgins had told 
me that many of the Boers around had said that they 
would not kill the women of their enemies ; but that 
they would strip them, and make laughing-stocks of 

Two days passed, and we heard nothing ; the third 
morning, very early, I was half awake, when I heard 
what sounded like a very distant cannon-shot. I thought 
sleepily, " I suppose that is at Pretoria," but roused up 
when I heard a second and similar sound. I meant to 
lie awake, but sleepiness overcame me, and I was just 
dropping off, when I heard a third sound of the same 
character, after which I went fast asleep. In the morn- 
ing, however, I told what I fancied at breakfast, and 
proposed that in the afternoon I should ride down to the 
valley in search of news. When Alice heard that I was 
going, she said she would go too. We did get news of 
rather a surprising character, to the effect that all the 
inventive young farmer had narrated was pure fiction. 
My heavy guns have been a laugh against me ever 
since ! 

We really felt quite dull after the Boer excitement 
was over ; of the story we had heard, so much alone was 

92 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

true that the Beeinkommste had broken up after Sir 
Bartle Frere met the Committee. It seemed to me quite 
stupid to settle down to common-place life again, after 
talking of pistols and knives ; and I know the children 
had the same feeling in a different way. They quite 
enjoyed the Boer scare, and once Ada dressed herself in 
my mackintosh, and girding on my belt with knife and 
pistol, blackening her eyebrows, and putting on a cork 
moustache, she gave the Kaffirs in the kitchen a fine 
start. Mrs. Higgins and I were still sitting at the tea- 
table talking after tea, when we heard a violent knocking 
at the back door of the kitchen; Sannee, the maid, opened 
it rather reluctantly, being dreadfully afraid of the Boers, 
when a gruff voice exclaimed, 

" Var is Bob Higgins ? " and presented a pistol in her 

Sannee and two little Kaffir children uttered a succes- 
sion of unearthly yells, and rushed into the dining- 
room, where they clung to Mrs. Higgins's dress, hiding 
their faces, whilst the Boer dashed past, pistol in hand, 
to search the rooms. We had a good laugh, and Ada 
was delighted at the success of her scheme. 

Winter now came on in earnest, and soon great grass 
fires were to be seen every evening on the opposite 
randt. One day Mrs. Higgins came into the school- 
room and said she smelt that there was a fire coming 
our way across the Magaliesberg, and that she had sent 
some Kaffirs to see. It did not, however, come close, 
greatly to my relief. 

In the beginning of June, Mr. Higgins came home. 
For days before, the children, Mrs. Higgins, and the 
Kaffirs had been on the look-out for him, and at last a 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 93 

Kaffir ran in just as we finished dinner, to say that the 
"boss" was coming. We all went quickly out on the 
stoop, and saw a mounted Kaffir-boy with a led horse, 
and Mr. Higgins with another led horse, coming up the 
short way from the valley. Of course there was great 
excitement. The new horses were two handsome young 
black stallions (brothers), for whom Mr. Higgins had 
exchanged a farm in the Bush- veldt, and a bay pony for 
old Mr. Higgins. Freestate had come, too, but so 
changed that none of us knew him at first. Eclipse was 
grazing close by as Mr. Higgins dismounted, and I re- 
member his first remark to me : " Eclipse is looking well. 
I see you have kept him clear of bot's eggs " for Mr. 
Higgms had asserted his conviction that I should not do 
so. I had already remarked that his horses were thickly 
covered with them. 

I had forgotten to say that during Mr. Higgins' 
absence, Mrs. Higgins had kindly sent in a waggon to 
Rustemberg for my heavy luggage, and had allowed it 
also to call at the farm where Jimmy was, to bring him 
over to Surprise, with whatever luggage he had the 
whole affair of the farm, &c., having come to complete 
squash and Arthur Sturton having offered to take him 
on his farm, where he could learn and make himself 
useful, in return for his board and lodging. 

A few days after Mr. Higgins's arrival, he rode to 
Pretoria, and on his return rather late in the evening, he 
said he did not know what was the matter with Free- 
state; he had seemed so tired on the road. Mrs. 
Higgins and I were alone when he came in ; all the girls 
and Harriet Sturton, who was paying them a visit, having 
gone off on horseback and in the cart with Sam and 

94 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

Dick to Fahl-plas, the farm of James and John Higgins. 
They were escorted by Alfred Sturton and Alice's in- 
tended. Alfred was a younger brother of Arthur. The 
occasion of this festivity was little Sarah's birthday, and 
there had been great excitement among the young people, 
for they were to have a dance. 

The next day Freestate seemed very ill, standing 
about listlessly and eating but little, and Mr. Higgins 
said he ought to have a bran mash, but the Kaffir never 
gave it to him. At about two o'clock we were startled by 
seeing the cart with Ada and Alfred in it, and Alice and 
Harriet on horseback. I shall never forget the sharp 
ring of terror in Mrs. Higgins's voice as she greeted them 
with, "Where are my children?" Little Sarah, the 
told us, was very ill with sore throat diphtheria had been 
fatal in the family and Augusta was ill too. It was 
decided to start at once for Fahl-plas, Mr. and Mrs. 
Higgins in the cart, and I riding, for Mrs. Higgins said 
she would like me to go to see the children. The two 
greys did their return journey well. We got in before 
dark. Little Sarah was very ill with high fever, and her 
throat dreadfully inflamed she was almost delirious at 
times. Augusta had simply a bad cold. 

Then, for the first time, did I see the misery of illness 
in this country. The two houses at Fahl-plas could 
muster but eight rooms together, counting the kitchens. 
Into these eight rooms, or rather six rooms, had to be 
stowed four men, five babies, or children little more than 
babies, two little girls, and four women fifteen people ! 
Mrs. Higgins, Augusta, Sarah and I were all in one small 
room, and its one window had to be kept shut ! Its door 
opened into the dining-room where two of the men slept 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 95 

and it had no chimney to admit air. Then the impossi- 
bility of keeping the small children quiet ! I remember 
two little boys inventing a dreadful species of drum made 
out of an old biscuit tin, which could be heard for miles 
off, and when it was taken away, their shrieks were worse 
than the drum itself. 

Augusta was well enough in a day to be driven over 
to Surprise; the rest of us stayed with little Sarah. 
Her throat ulcerated and was dreadfully bad, but finally 
the ulcers broke, and she began to mend. Before this, 
however, Mrs. Higgins expressed a wish that I should 
return to Surprise, to be with Augusta and Harriet, and 
great was their astonishment at my appearance alone just 
as it got dark one evening. Poor Freestate was dead 
killed by the bots. I had heard of many things which 
were suppose to kill bots one excellent remedy, I had 
been told, was thick sugar-and-water also strong coffee. 
I determined now to make the experiment, and getting 
a live bot from the stomach of the poor horse, (the 
creatures had eaten through the stomach in places), I 
put it into all sorts of baths. Strong solution of tartar 
emetic so strong as to be an impossible dose for a 
horse alone seemed to make the objectionable little worm 
feel ill ', that nearly killed him, and would have killed him 
altogether, only that just as he was at his last gulp I put 
him as an experiment into a bath of strong coffee, when 
he instantly came to and looked quite lively. Sugar, too, 
he seemed rather to like ; and at last I gave my experi- 
ments up, having tried all the medicines in my medicine- 
chest, besides other simples, such as coffee. 

Harriet Sturton was a very pleasant addition to our 
party, and except for my anxiety about little Sarah, I 

g6 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

should have quite enjoyed this time, but I now felt how 
fond of the child, and still more of her mother, I had 
grown. I could have cried for joy the day she was brought 

Mr. Higgins now prepared to leave home for the Bush- 
veldt, and here I must explain what the bush- veldt is. 

Lying towards the northern borders of the Transvaal 
are large tracts of land, unfitted for cultivation except in 
parts, owing to there not being much water, and hence 
given over to nature, and such trees as nature causes to 
grow there. There are not many parts of this bush- 
veldt where the trees are fine, owing to the constantly- 
recurring bush-fires ; but the bush- veldt of Zoutpansberg, 
which is called the Wood-bush, produces fine timber, and 
steam saw-mills have been established there lately. Along 
that part of the Crocodile River which runs through the 
bush-veldt there are some large trees, and I believe in 
the bush- veldt, bordering the Swazee country, trees of 
good size are also plentiful. The bush-veldt generally has 
few Boer houses in it, although it is divided into farms, 
whose proprietors live elsewhere in summer, leaving their 
possessions there either tenantless or tenanted only by 
Kaffirs. In winter, however, they trek there with 
their flocks and herds, also generally with their families, 
and then the bush- veldt is full of waggons and tents. The 
Boers greatly enjoy this annual picnic; the men hunting, 
the women and children sitting and playing about under 
the trees, and enjoying the verdure, which, to those who 
live on what is called the high or Ur-veldt, a barren but 
healthy tract of the Transvaal, is a luxury. The bush- 
veldt is fatal to horses during the summer, but is safe for 
them in winter ; and the grass there remaining, as a rule, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 97 

green under the bushes all through the winter, the oxen 
and sheep have nice feeding, whereas in the other parts 
of the Transvaal the grass is either long, hard, and dry, 
or burnt off by the grass-fires There are, however, great 
drawbacks to going every year to the bush-veldt. 
Poisonous herbs grow there, one of which is fatal to 
sheep, the other to oxen. It is easy to lose animals in 
the thick bush, and when lost they are liable to fall a prey 
to wild beasts. It is also difficult to keep the herds of 
different owners separate, and hence 'the disease called 
"lung-sick" (which is contagious amongst cattle) often 
does -much damage; whilst a long pod which grows on 
one sort of thorn-tree has a poisonous effect on cattle that 
eat it, lowering their condition, and sometimes even 
killing them. Many also of the farmers live at a great 
distance from the bush-veldt, and the long journey tells 
against their animals. On the other hand, if cattle and 
sheep are to be kept in the higher parts of the Transvaal 
in the winter, good shelter for them must be erected, and 
hay and other food laid by for them. This would necessi- 
tate outlay and trouble, both things that a Boer detests. 
He and his wife are so accustomed to the detestable 
jolting and discomfort of a waggon that they think 
nothing of the long journey ; so much accustomed to the 
higgledy-piggledy arrangements in their cabins, or small 
houses, that a tent is far preferable and indeed a tent 
can be most comfortable. But the idea of cutting grass 
for winter fodder, or growing turnips or mangel-wurzel ! 
They would stand and laugh a broad he-haw at such an 
idea in most cases, only a few being sufficiently enlightened 
to confess it might be well to carry it out. Their plan is 
to put a match in the grass when it is dry, to burn it and 


98 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

get rid of it, so that the fresh grass may sprout, and trek 
to the bush-veldt. Grass-fires are very dangerous. 
Waggons, stock, and dwelling-houses are sometimes de- 
stroyed by them ; but then it is only sometimes, so what 
does it matter ? The result of this treking to the bush- 
veldt is, that for about six months in the year milk cannot 
be got except in the bush- veldt ; and the same may be 
said of butter, for the Boers make butter so badly that it 
will not keep. They do not, besides, make much, and 
cheese they never make. In Pretoria milk sells readily 
at a shilling a bottle in the winter, and butter sometimes 
runs up to four, or even five shillings a pound ; three 
shillings is considered a moderate price. 

Even at the best of times, in this great pasture country 
(for, as a whole, the Transvaal is that) the cows give very 
little milk. I have seen over twenty cows give about two 
buckets when they were in full milk ! It is usually said 
that the cows of this country are bad milkers, and only 
good for breeding oxen ; but it strikes me that even good 
cows, treated as they are here, would soon become bad. 
Exposed constantly to the weather, whatever it may be, 
every night driven into an open kraal, sometimes knee- 
deep in mud, with their calves left close to them all night, 
only kept from sucking by a barrier of thorn bushes, or a 
few poles, or at best a stone wall, by which a division is 
made in the big kraal; sometimes trying all night to break 
through to them ; never given any food but grass what 
can be expected from them ? Boers, too, will assure you 
that 110 cow will give milk unless her calf is first allowed 
to suck, and that if the calf dies she will run dry. Like 
many other things in this country, a little good manage- 
ment would set it to rights. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 99 

Why Mr. Higgins sent his cattle to the bush-veldt I 
really don't know, for he said himself the journey was bad 
for them, and that they could get as good eating in the 
kloofs (or ravines) on his property as they could any- 
where, instancing the fact that the cattle belonging to 
his kraal-Kaffirs, that grazed about the mountains in the 
winter, looked better than his did when they returned 
from the bush-veldt. However, he had sent them under 
the care of the Nell family as soon as his waggons came 
up from Natal, leaving only one span of oxen to do the 
farm work, and one fine ox that was too sick to walk, 
at Surprise, and now he prepared to follow them. His 
father and mother had gone before, leaving Alice and 
Ada at Surprise, and we once more settled down in our 
quiet life. 

Before going farther, allow me to introduce the Nell 
family. It consisted of a hulking black-bearded father ; 
of a stout garrulous mother, who had unlimited powers of 
invention, and who could speak a little English; then 
followed two big sons, and a whole bevy of little boys and 
girls, ending with an infant in arms. Krishian (I spell 
as pronounced I believe his name is Christian) was a 
young gentleman who wished to be elegant. Whenever he 
got any money by working an occupation he objected to 
he spent it in making himself lovely in velvet coats, &c., 
occasionally investing in that most perilous possession in 
the Transvaal, a horse, but when he had one he took no 
care of it. As may be imagined, the ups and downs of 
this young man were frequent. The second son, Dahl 
I don't know what his real name was, Dahl being, I 
heard, his mother's abbreviation of darling was a 
big hulking fellow with a baby's face, and the most 

H 2 

ioo A Lady Trader in tJie Transvaal. 

wonderful talent for romancing I ever met with or heard 
of, except in Lever's creation of " Potts " in " A Day's 
Ride." He was a better fellow by far than Krishian, 
although dirtier, and worse to shake hands with. Of 
the younger members of the family I have no distinct 
knowledge ; to hear their names, you would have thought 
they were a family of pups. There were Tic, and Tol, 
and Toss, besides others. The father and mother had 
come from the old colony, where they had had, and lost, 
money, and in consequence considered themselves some- 
thing better than those of their neighbours who were as 
poor as they, but they let their children, big and little, be 
on terms of equality with the Urlams Kaffirs. 

There was a small one-roomed cabin, situated at the 
lower end of Mr. Higgins's property, originally built by 
William Sturton,who, like his brother Arthur, had married 
a Miss Higgins. He had built it for himself and his wife, 
before he hired a farm in the valley near to his brother, 
and since then the cabin had remained tenantless. Just 
before Mr. Higgins went to Natal, Krishian and Dahl 
had asked to be allowed to occupy this eligible residence, 
and to till some ground near to it, in return for their ser- 
vices on the farm. Mr. Higgins had consented, saying, 
however, that they must come alone ! He had had pre- 
vious and disagreeable knowledge of the whole family as 

" You will see that the whole troop will come so soon 
as you go away/' Mrs. Higgins had said. 

" Then I will send them packing, when I come back/' 
replied her husband, causing Mrs. Higgins to laugh in a 
way that told me she doubted his ferocity. True enough, 
two days after Mr. Higgins's departure, a waggon was 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 101 

seen depositing the whole family and their baggage at the 
cabin. How they all managed to pack into that diminu- 
tive abode, Heaven only knows ! but houses here are 
wonderfully elastic. They commenced tilling some ad- 
joining ground in a leisurely manner, made themselves 
very much at home at Surprise in a cringing sort of 
way, and did as little as possible. On Mr. Higgins's 
return no change was made ; he, an over-easy master for 
Kaffirs, was not likely to be less so for people of white 
race. Mrs. Xell would sometimes pay a day's visit at 
Surprise, where her conversation was a mixture of 
flattery and gossip ; she knew everything about every- 
body, and her curiosity was unbounded. She would 
follow Mrs. Higgins about as she did her household work, 
sitting down in the nearest chair and pouring forth a 
stream of talk. She and her husband were very anxious 
for Mr. Higgins to adopt one of their small fry, a dimi- 
nutive but perfect specimen of a Dutchman chubby, 
stolid, with little knickerbockers, short jacket, and broad 
hat, all complete, only wanting a pipe to be quite perfect. 
I don't know whether he was Tic, Toss, or Tol, but 
anyhow his parents, whilst giving him an excellent 
character, were anxious to part with him, partly, they 
averred on account of his own surprising attachment to 
Mr. Higgins ; Mrs. Higgins, however, resolutely rejected 
this handsome present. Dahl Nell often favoured Sur- 
prise by a short visit, generally asking for a loan of some- 
thing, which it was difficult to get back again, and 
enlivening his conversation by stories of doubtful veracity. 
Once he gave a touching description of the death of an 
acquaintance of the Higginses, who was in robust health at 
the time ; but his grandest flight of fancy, that I ever 

IO2 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

heard of, was reserved for a farmer who lived at some 
distance. Chancing to meet this individual, the baby- 
faced Dahl recounted to him that he had been fortunate 
enough to obtain from old Mr. Higgins the loan of his 
span of oxen, that he had also got a waggon, and was 
prepared to ride transport to the Diamond Fields, 
familiarly called the " Fields/' High prices were being 
given for produce there at the time, and transport was 
also high, and many a young man's dream was to be able 
to get a span and a waggon to take loads there. I sup- 
pose Dahl as he had trudged along on foot to where he 
met the farmer, had dreamed a pleasant day-dream of 
how at some future time he might make enough money to 
afford himself a horse. The farmer pricked up his ears, 
and the affair ended by a bargain being struck for Dahl 
to take a load for him to the Fields. How Master Nell 
got out of his contract I don't know, but as he had no 
means of fulfilling it he must have got out of it somehow, 
probably scathlessly, for the Nell family seemed to have 
a knack of wriggling out of difficulties in safety. 

Why Mr. Higgins trusted his valuable cattle to go 
to the bush-veldt under the care of these people I can't 
say, but the Nell family were delighted to be so trusted. 
They would have milk all the winter, could make butter, 
and sell it afterwards if they chose to take the trouble of 
putting it in jars, or if not eat it themselves ; they could 
have meat too, which was a luxury to them, for they 
could easily invent a story to account for the death of an 
animal ; and then they were paid into the bargain. They 
had got an old tent-waggon and departed happy, and 
by the time Mr. Higgins came up to them had killed a 
cow. They said she had gone blind ! they swore she had 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 103 

so blind that she could not see where to walk ; but it 
was strange that the Kaffirs with them had been unable 
to detect her inability to distinguish surrounding objects. 
I forgot to mention that amongst other talents Mrs. Nell 
possessed that great female accomplishment of being able 
to weep to order, and this always settled the matter with 
Mr. Higgins. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


I HAVE a pleasant remembrance of winter at Surprise 
the bright crisp morning air as I walked through the 
hoar-frost to the stable, there to warm my hands by 
cleaning Eclipse; the cheery breakfast of bread and 
mutton, or sometimes eggs, occasionally pleasantly diver- 
sified by hot scones, and which my exercise always caused 
me to enjoy, although I confess I missed the milk ; then 
lessons. I don't maintain that they were always pleasant 
that would be impossible ; and the school-room a bare 
room, with the rafters showing overhead, a mud floor, 
and with a big deal table, two forms, one chair, and a big 
packing-case for furniture was sometimes bitterly cold ; 
but Mrs. Higgins would bring, or send us in, little iron 
dishes of hot embers to warm our toes, and we wrapped 
ourselves up in all sorts of jackets and shawls. Rough 
would curl up in my lap and act muff; and so we pulled 
through, and except when little Sarah's grief at not 
being able to have a good romp instead of saying lessons, 
became overwhelming, we used to be quite merry over 
our spelling-books, geography, &c. Dinner of mutton, 
pumpkin, potatoes, and sometimes crushed mealies, made 
a diversion ; and then afternoon tea, when Mrs. Higgins 
generally managed to get an egg to beat up in my tea, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 105 

and make a substitute for milk. I used to enjoy that 
tea, I lolling on the table having been sitting too long 
for standing not to appear preferable .to sitting to me ; 
Mrs. Higgins, always with some work in her hands, sitting 
on the sofa; and the children running about the room 
chattering, as children always do when let out of school. 
The singing lesson generally came after; and then I 
hastened off to catch Eclipse (for although he would let 
himself be driven up towards the house by the little 
Kaffirs, he would not let himself be caught except by me) 
and take him to the stable, to give him his evening feed 
and bed him up. 

Just before starting for the bush-veldt, Mr. Higgins 
(having sent the Kaffir Jonas away) had given me his 
house as a stable for Eclipse, but before that, I used to 
feed him outside the old stable under the big syringa- 
trees of an evening, and many a pretty Rembrandt-look- 
ing group have I seen of the Kaffirs, little and big, sitting 
round this evening fire, which threw fitful lights on the 
trunks of the surrounding bushes and trees, and on the 
long grass, also on elf -like little figures dancing some un- 
couth Kaffir dance, and chanting some equally uncouth Boer 
ditty, interrupted by peals of ringing laughter as one or 
the other played some trick off on his or her companions. 
Great amongst the trick players were little Sarah (who, 
free from school, was wild with spirits) and Fiervaree the 
small groom. Then to walk to the house, and see the 
light of the bright wood fire in the drawing-room gleam- 
ing through the darkness, and know how cosy it would 
be that evening after our supper of bread and tea, when 
we would all draw round the fire, and with the three 
youngest girls curled up on the ground, or sitting in the 

io6 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

big fireplace, a petition would be put up by a chorus of 
young voices for a story, and I had to recall old German 
"Mahrehen" and eastern "Arabian Nights/' and make 
De laMotte Fouque's charming "Undine" come forth from 
the treasury of my memory, to delight these pretty little 
Africanders, who hung on my words as if I had been a 
veritable Scheherazade. There were two additions to 
our family always in the room ; these I had forgotten to 
mention. One was a dassy, or rock rabbit, a round 
furry little beast, guiltless of a tail, and with the brightest 
eyes, and the sharpest of white teeth, which it was not 
slow to use. It was still quite young, but when annoyed 
was very fierce, and would fly at any one it fancied meant 
to offend it, as at any dog or horse that in any way 
molested it, making a queer snapping noise, and curling 
up its little upper lip in a savage manner that seemed 
quite preposterous in such a soft little furry beast. It 
was wonderfully active, and although its legs were almost 
too short to be visible, and it had no neck to speak of, 
and was besides as fat as a plump partridge, it thought 
nothing of taking the most prodigious jumps up, down, 
or sideways. The mischief this little animal delighted in 
was something wonderful. It had a great taste for 
flowers ; roses it particularly affected ; and whether it saw 
one in a girl's hair, or in a vase on a high chimney-piece, 
was quite immaterial to it. To jump from the floor on 
the young lady's shoulder and seize its prey, or to spend 
a whole afternoon in practising jumps at the chimney- 
piece, was the same to Master Dassy. He always got the 
rose in the end. And if there was not a rose, he would 
demolish whatever in the flower line there was. The 
numbers of vases full of water that small animal over- 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 107 

turned was wonderful ; but at times he would become the 
victim of an insane desire to break something. Once he 
made up his mind to break a very pretty glass vase. He 
shoAved his intention early in the morning, and in spite of 
the vase being repeatedly placed in positions that were 
supposed to be safe from his assaults, it was broken 
before evening. We were at supper when we heard the 
crash, and arrived in the drawing-room just in time to see 
Master Dassy scuttling away, his little black eyes dancing 
with glee, and the vase, broken in pieces, lying on the floor. 
At meal-times Dassy was great. He would make one 
spring from the sofa to the table, and once there he would 
put one little paw on the side of a dish, and tilt up the 
cover with his little snub nose, look what was inside, and 
if he liked it nibble a little, if not put down the cover and 
go to another dish. I have often looked at him sitting in 
the middle of the table eating alternately from four dishes. 
If he was interfered with, he would charge at the 
offender, barking, and showing his teeth, and if he could 
not bite his enemy, he would at least fasten on and worry 
his sleeve. If there was nothing else to eat he would 
nibble hair or wool mats, and window blinds, sometimes 
even he would sit on my shoulder and nibble my hair. 
He and Rough were great friends, and he would curl up 
on Rough's back, or between his paws, and look exquisitely 
comfortable. Dassy was a Sybarite. His slumbers were 
not to be disturbed with impunity. He generally slept 
in his master and mistress's bed, and would bite them if 
they, in moving, interfered with him. In the morning he 
would have his early coffee, and if it were not given 
quickly to him in a saucer, he would jump up and upset 
the cup ; then he would hop up to the window, and pop 

io8 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

his nose through a hole in one of the panes to try what 
the temperature was, and if it was cold he would retreat 
to bed again. There was a thin muslin curtain hung over 
the lower part of the window which interfered a little 
with him, so one day he nibbled it away exactly over 
where it had acted as a curtain to his loop-hole. He was 
a most engaging little animal ; and when at last he fell 
sick, and his appetite failing, waxed thin, and at last so 
feeble that he could hardly move, his little face and ways 
were most touching. He would still try to eat a rose, 
and if he saw one, would look first at it, and then at any- 
one who happened to be near him, imploringly. A few 
nights before he died I had occasion to go into the kitchen 
after the family were in bed. Dassy was curled up in the 
still warm ashes of the fire, and as I came in I was struck 
by the mute appeal in his eyes. I thought he might 
want something to drink, and brought water and then 
milk to him ; but he would not touch either, but still 
looked imploringly at me. I stroked the poor little back, 
now quite sharp and bony, and puzzled my brains as to 
what the little thing could want. Suddenly he crawled 
over to a small piece of half-burnt wood, and took it up, 
then looked straight at me, nibbled it and put it down. 
I saw then what he wanted, and got him food, which he 
ate greedily. I had not thought of it before, for he had 
persistently refused food for days. During the winter, 
however, Dassy was still well and mischievous, and Fido, 
Roughy, the two cats, Dassy, and a little prairie-dog, or 
meer-cat, formed members of our evening party. 

The meer-cat, an animal I had often seen in the Zoolo- 
gical Gardens, was even funnier than the dassy. With its 
long black bushy tail, long sharp nose, and bead-like eyes, 

A Lady Trader in tJie Transvaal. 109 

it looked as if it would be the more active of tlie two. 
But the dassy beat it hollow in jumping. Meer-cat, how- 
ever, would canter along as quick as a horse, and many a 
time has he even outrun Eclipse as he cantered ; when, 
jumping up on a convenient ant-heap, this little piece of 
absurdity would stand bolt upright, balancing himself on 
his tail, and with his fore paws crossed, and his head 
turning from side to side, would survey his surroundings 
with the greatest complacency, until the horse, being 
abreast of him, he would jump down, and with his tail 
erect make off to the next nearest ant-heap. Sometimes 
he would lie on his back propped against a stone, with his 
fore paws crossed, his tail turned up between his hind 
legs, head thrown backwards, and his eyes cast up in a most 
sentimental manner. Really, however, he cast up his eyes 
to keep a sharp look-out for hawks, of which he was 
terribly afraid. At other times he would play hide and 
seek with Dassy, or throwing one fore paw round the cat's 
neck, sit for half an hour examining her fur in the way 
monkeys do, or he would compose himself to sleep, lean- 
ing back cross-pawed in the chimney corner, or perhaps, 
after vain efforts at keeping in an absolutely erect position 
poised on his tail in front of the fire, and after sundry 
bobs and nods and sudden awakings, accompanied with 
those demonstrations of great wukefulness which I have 
so frequently observed and practised during sermon- 
times in my youthful days, he would suddenly collapse 
into a little furry ball, and sleep so soundly that he would 
emit little snores and let himself be handled without 
awaking. He was as mischievous as Dassy, only in a 
different way, and having been accustomed in his early 
youth to follow the fashion of meer-cata and live in a 

i io A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

hole, lie was never tired of grubbing, either in or out of 

Sometimes our evening's amusements were diversified 
by making pancakes, or by playing games, such as magic 
music and friar's ground; and sometimes the children 
would give me a good laugh by chasing old Khrid as she 
went about her duties in the kitchen, carrying a lighted 
candle in a pewter candlestick poised on her head. 

Occasionally a chance visitor from the outer world 
would drop in unexpectedly strangers travelling through 
the Country for the first time, or people out for a 
day or two from Pretoria, or sometimes people of the 
country travelling on business. Whatever or whoever 
they were, they met with genial hospitality at Surprise. 
Then, at other times, Jimmy would come up to pay a visit 
on Sunday, one of the girls and I would ride down to 
the valley, or I would ride over to the farmhouse where 
the post was left, for letters. 

One hideous episode alone, broke the pleasant monotony 
of this time. One night I was awakened by a loud tapping 
at my door and Mrs. Higgins's voice calling me. I jumped 
up in a fright, thinking that one of the children must be 
ill, but was glad to hear that it was only a Kaffir child, 
the little daughter of a certain Andreas, who lived in a 
small separate kraal on Mr. Higgins's estate. Andreas 
affected to be something better than the usual kraal Kaffirs, 
but his wife was a mere savage, dressed in skins and 
blankets, and his children ran about either naked or with 
only a narrow girdle on. Mrs. Higgins took me into the 
kitchen, where I saw Andreas with the little girl squatted 
on the floor, and the mother with a baby in her arms 
standing close by. After examining the child I felt con- 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 1 1 

vinced that she had taken poison some vegetable poison ; 
I could not say what. The history told by her father, and 
which, owing to my still imperfect knowledge of Dutch, 
had to be interpreted to me by an old Englishman who 
was building a stone cattle-kraal at Surprise, and who 
had been aroused from his sleep in the lumber-room by 
these late visitors, was this. The mother had gone a 
short time before to a neighbouring kraal where the family 
of Andreas's brother's wife lived. She had taken the girl 
with her, arid from the day she returned she had been 
ailing. The father seemed greatly distressed ; the mother 
did not seem in the least interested. After doing what I 
co aid for the child and leaving the kitchen, I com- 
municated my opinion as to the cause of the illness to 
Mrs. Higgins. She then reminded me that this very 
Andreas, shortly after my arrival at Surprise, had been 
accused of poisoning his brother, Roykraal by name, 
having administei'ed a certain poison to him which had 
caused him to go mad. That Roykraal, a fine lad not 
long married, had gone raving mad for a time, and had 
since remained in a half mad state, whilst he looked quite 
old, was certain. He had deserted his wife, and generally 
wandered about talking nonsense to himself. Andreas 
had been accused before the captain or chief of his tribe, 
but the charge had fallen through in some way. I 
remembered too that Mrs. Higgins had, at the time, said 
that Roykraal's people would take revenge. I also 
remembered that a short time before, Andreas and his 
wife had had a desperate disagreement, ending by Mrs. 
Andreas running away to her father across the mountain. 
This is a usual form of husband-bullying among the 
Kaffirs. Girls are sold high amongst these people, an 

ii2 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

attractive and active girl fetching a considerable price in 
cattle for a wife. She has to work hard afterwards, for 
the cultivation of the fields is done principally by the 
women ; but if her husband displeases her she walks off 
to her old home ; and as it is considered a great disgrace 
to a man for his wife to be in her father's kraal, he gene- 
rally buys her back, paying the father one or more head 
of cattle to restore her. Andreas had bought his better 
half back again, after grieving over her departure for 
some days ; but shortly after she had betaken herself for 
a visit to the kraal of the father of RoykraaPs wife, and 
the eldest of Andreas's children, and his favourite, was ill 
since then. It struck me as strange that Mrs. Andreas, 
who was of course well aware of the vindictiveness of her 
own race, should have chosen Mrs. Roykraal's kraal as a 
place to make an excursion to with her children. I 
watched the child until early morning, then went to have 
some sleep. When I saw her later, although still weak 
and at times light-headed, she could eat with relish ; and 
as it is not pleasant to nurse any one, especially a dirty 
Kaffir, in one's kitchen, I agreed with Mrs. Higgius that 
the child might be taken to her home. We cautioned 
the parents that they must not leave her alone a 

The day passed as usual. I was very sleepy in the 
evening and went to bed early. I always slept with my 
window open, and Rough always lay curled up at the foot 
of my bed. Some way on in the night I was startled by 
his furious barking, and jumping up, I saw a black head 
protruded inside of my window, whilst its owner said, in a 
frightened voice, that Andreas's child was dying, and that 
he had brought it. I let the people into the kitchen, and 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 1 3 

called Mrs. Higgins. It was a frightful scene. The child 
was in the most raving delirium I ever saw, convulsed in 
a most horrible manner, and her howls were unearthly, 
interrupted, every now and then, by the most touching 
appeals to her father touching because of the sound of 
her voice and her action. Her own father could not under- 
stand what she said. He had brought her tied on his 
back, which she had lacerated with her nails and teeth. 
The poor fellow had no thought for himself, but with 
anguish in his face and voice he besought me to save 
his child. I asked if he had remained all day with the 
girl ; he answered that he had been obliged to go away 
once or twice, but that the mother had remained with 
her. That more poison had been administered was, 
however, certain. I looked at the mother; she was 
squatted in the chimney corner, rolled up in two 
blankets, and was looking at her daughter's writhings 
with a stolid curiosity. Then a horrid suspicion crossed 
my mind. 

The child, after taking some medicine, became quiet, 
but soon began to get deadly cold. We got all the 
blankets we could to roll round her, and put hot bricks 
to her feet and the calves of her legs. The mother never 
moved. At last, the child still being cold, I ordered 
Andreas to take one of the blankets off his wife, as she 
was warm enough with one, sitting as she was by the 
fire. The patient was just getting a little warmer, and I 
had turned away from her for a few minutes, when I 
noticed that the mother moved and began to arrange the 
blankets round her child. I watched her to see what she 
was going to do, and was horrified to see that she pulled 
her own blanket out, uncovering the child, and proceeded 


ii4 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

to roll it round herself, saying, it was explained to me, that 
she was sure the girl was dying, and that she could not 
remain, but was going home. It struck me that Andreas 
was afraid of the woman; but I pulled her blanket off 
somewhat ungently, and again rolled it round the child, 
telling the woman that she might go without it if she 
chose ; but she crouched up again by the fire. The father 
again made a passionate appeal to me to save the little 
girl's life ; and Mrs. Higgins having come into the kitchen, 
I asked her to tell him that I was doing all I could, but 
that I was combating no disease, but poison, and that it 
was a poison which I had not the proper means at hand 
to combat successfully. The wretched man wrung his 
hands. " Oh ! " he exclaimed wildly, " if I could but get 

to (mentioning a Kaffir name) behind the mountain, 

he would save her/' Saul, the driver, who was standing 
close by Mrs. Higgins and me, whispered, "That's the 
man he got the poison for Roykraal from/' 

I shall never forget that night the almost dark 
kitchen, the awe-struck group standing round the child 
with her father kneeling by her, the witch-like figure of 
the mother crouched in one corner of the large fireplace, 
with an impish-looking boy of about twelve the shepherd 
crouched in the opposite one, with a grin on his face, 
and with his lanky bare arms and legs looking more like 
a hideous spider than anything else, and the sickening 
conviction that was growing upon me that the mother 
was an accomplice to the poisoning ! 

Towards morning I had so far succeeded that the child 
was warm, and appeared to be sleeping naturally. I felt 
quite worn out, and not wishing to disturb the children's 
routine by sleeping the next day, I told the father to call 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 115 

me so soon as the little girl should awake, and then I lay 
down on my bed in my clothes. It was already dawning, 
and it was still very early morning when I awoke. I got 
up and hastened to the kitchen. All but the elf-like 
Kaffir boy were gone; he, as usual, was making early 
coffee. He told me that at break of day, the mother had 
insisted upon removing the child to the old stable near 
the garden. He said the child had seemed to him better. 
I drank the coffee, and Mrs. Higgins sent a boy to ask 
how the patient was. The answer came back that the 
child was again in convulsions ; but on seeing me preparing 
to go, the boy said it was useless that as he left, the 
woman, regardless of Andreas, had rolled her child tight 
up in a blanket, and had started for her kraal with her 
burden on her back. It was evidently a hopeless case. 
In the afternoon I rode down to the kraal, two small huts 
in a little yard enclosed with reeds. The yard was lined 
with women, squatting on the ground and talking, the 
mother amongst them. In the principal hut Andreas 
was seated on the ground, holding his little girl in his 
arms. She was in a stupor, which I- saw at once was the 
precursor of death; several kraal Kaffirs were squatted 
round ; one of them, called Old Jas, a relation of Eoykraal, 
with a most diabolical grin on his face. The child died 
that evening, and amidst much shrieking of the women, 
amongst whom the mother distinguished herself, was 
buried in her father's little cattle-kraal the place of 
honour amongst Kaffirs and the huts were deserted as 
being ill-omened, Andreas and his family going to the 
big kraal. 

No farther notice was taken of the matter, but I heard 
various stories of Kaffirs having poisoned even white 

i 2 

1 1 6 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

people's children in revenge, which, together with what 
I had seen, finished the disgust which I already felt for 
Kaffirs as a nation. The men who knew the Kaffirs best, 
and to whom I mentioned my conviction of the woman's 
guilt, said they had no doubt that I was right in my 
conclusions; that Kaffir women were quite capable of 
poisoning their own children in revenge upon their 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 117 


MR. HIGGINS returned from the bush-veldt ill-content 
Avith the management of the Nell family, but thinking 
that he had set them on the right path. We had hoped 
for a little butter, but none was sent. Things went on 
in much the same way after his return, with the exception 
that the story-telling came to an end, except when one 
of the children did not feel well and went to bed early, 
getting me to sit by the bed-side, or on the bed, and 
recount tales. I rather think there was a good deal of 
" foxing " done on little Sarah's part : Augusta never 
" foxed " about anything. 

It was mid-winter, and the grass-fires were wonderful 
and terrible to look at, as they swept along before the 
wind. Of course it depends on the strength of the wind 
whether they 'are dangerous or not, and it has always 
appeared strange to me how little the knowledge that 
the wind may rise or veer in a minute, seems to trouble 
the farmers. One evening I was going to bed, when I 
observed the whole sky ablaze from an evidently large 
fire at the other side of that part of the mountain which 
formed a spur in front of my window. The trees clothing 
the mountain side, and the magnificent precipice at its 
top, stood out in effective relief against the flame- coloured 

1 1 8 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

masses of smoke which were rolling, not towards 
Surprise, but, driven by the south wind northward over 
the mountain. The danger, so long as the wind remained 
steady, was not to us, for although the lurid light seemed 
near, I knew the fire could not even have reached the 
confines of Mr. Higgins's property. However, I called 
him he had not yet gone to bed and showed him the 
fire. " It is far off," he said ; " don't be frightened, the 
wind is not blowing this way/' "But suppose it 
changes in the night ? " said I. " Oh, it won't change/' 
he answered, laughing, and returned quietly to his rest. 

I was convinced Mr. Higgins was not infallible about 
the wind, and I knew that Eclipse was shut up in a house 
surrounded by such long grass that it nearly reached to 
the thatched roof, so I opened my window wide, and 
resolved to wake several times during the the night ; this 
I can do when I choose. The first time 1 awoke the fire 
was no closer, it was being slowly driven northward ; the 
second time the wind had changed, evidently only a short 
time before I awoke (it is possible its change woke me, 
for there was a slight breeze blowing into my room), and 
the smoke was pouring over the spur in the direction of 
the house. I had lain down in some of my clothes in 
case of emergency, and I immediately hastened through 
the dressing-room to Mr. Higgins's room, and tapping at 
the door told him of the change of wind. I had awakened 
and startled Harriet Sturton and the children, who were 
sleeping on the floor in the drawing-room. By the time 
I regained my room the flames could be seen, dancing 
amongst the foliage along the top of the spur. I now 
dressed ; and taking a bridle in my hand, I went down to 
Eclipse's stable, so that in case of the wind rising I 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 1 9 

might be able to get him out of it and into safety quickly. 
I did not go in, but waited and watched the scene. It 
was impressive. The moon was a little past the full, and 
shed her light on all around; to the north-west she was 
eclipsed by the fire, that came steadily on, curling round 
the foot of the precipice, whose projecting crags it lit up 
fitfully, with its many tongues licking up the long grass, 
and shooting along the stems of the trees and amongst 
their branches, until they, instead of standing out black 
against a lurid background, looked like enormous torches. 
It came closer and closer, till I could not only feel its hot 
breath, but could hear the roar of the flames and the 
crackling of the grass and bushes; then at last some 
Kaffirs came from the houses beyond the dam, and ex- 
tinguished the fire by beating it down with big branches, 
It broke out again during the day, however; and the 
next evening, as I was riding back alone from a visit to 
the valley, I saw its red serpent-like track creeping up 
and across the mountain. 

I was beginning to understand the Boer language now, 
and even to talk it, having practised it with the little 
Kaffirs who used to congregate round me morning and 
evening while I was attending to my horse. These 
impromptu lessons had become rarer since I had a 
separate stable for Eclipse, still I had occasional visitors 
even there. Once I remember a young Kaffir, the very 
imp who had reminded me of an ugly spider the night of 
the Andreas tragedy, standing for a long time, lolling 
through one of the little windows of the stable, looking 
at me while I turned up the bedding and cleaned the stall 
after I had turned Eclipse out ; for, strange to say, I had 
vainly offered a shilling a week to any boy who would do 

1 20 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

this for me. All were willing to take the shilling, but 
none would do the work as I chose it to be done, a 
very small cleaning of a stable going a long way in 
the Transvaal. The abovementioned young gentleman 
watched me with great interest for some time, and I said 
nothing to him, just to see what was coming (I knew it 
would not be an offer of assistance), then, turning to a 
small girl who came to tell me that breakfast was ready, 
he observed with great unction, " No ; thus I would 
never work for a horse. " 

I was beginning to think that it was time for me to 
look about for a farm, as I had not intended to remain 
more than one year as a governess. I had learned a 
good deal in various ways, too, during the past months, 
as much as, without neglecting my duties, I should ever 
learn, and hence, having seen some advertisements in 
the Volkstem and Argus which looked promising, 
and hearing that Arthur Sturton with his wife and 
Jimmy were going to Pretoria for the races in September, 
and would take their waggon, I asked leave to go too, as 
I should be able to send up a dress in their waggon and 
not be entirely dependent on my habit, as I must be in 
the event of riding up alone. Mr. Higgins was going to 
the races also, and upon my getting the desired per- 
mission, it was agreed that Mrs. Higgins and the children 
should accompany him. 

Only two events that occurred between Mr. Higgins's 
return and our going to Pretoria have left any particular 
impression on my mind, in addition to that made by the 
fire. The first was the return of the cattle from the 
bush-veldt in the early spring, very shortly before we 
started. It was a beautiful afternoon when the little 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 121 

Kaffirs came running with the news that the herd was in 
sight, but a long way off. We all turned out, lessons 
being hurried on in honour of the occasion, to see them 
come up. And a pretty sight it was ; the cows, with their 
calves, born in the bush-veldt, trotting beside them, the 
sturdy oxen, and the frisky young cattle, all coming in a 
long line across the fresh young grass of the hill-side and 
under the thorn-trees, bellowing a welcome to their old 
home, and the evening sun throwing their shadows far 
along the ground. 

They no longer found their poor old companion who 
had been too ill to follow them to the bush-veldt. He 
had got better, and had almost weathered out the winter, 
but after being left for a few nights of bitter cold rain 
without any covering, shivering in the kraal, into which 
from old habit he used to put himself at night, he one 
morning tottered over to the waggon he used to draw, 
and fell dead beside the disselboom, his old place when 
treking. I was present when the Kaffirs skinned and 
opened the carcass, preparatory to eating it. The poor ox 
a valuable one, who, but a short time before he got ill, 
had, with his mate, prevented the waggon being over- 
turned, by their intelligence in holding back when the 
rest of the oxen were taking it into danger died simply 
of neglected inflammation of the lungs. 

The second event was the visit of the Bishop of Pretoria, 
who came and went on a jolly and evidently petted pony. 
He confirmed the three eldest girls, also old Mr. and 
Mrs. Higgins ; and I shall never forget the singularly im- 
pressive sight of this world-worn couple, kneeling beside 
their two young daughters and their fair-haired grand- 
child in the drawing-room at Surprise, and answering from 

122 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

their careworn hearts that they steadfastly believed in 
that religion from which they had drawn comfort in 
all their many troubles, whilst the children's fresh lips 
repeated the same words, without even an idea of what 
steadfast belief meant. 

"We used to have occasional religious services in the 
drawing-room,, Mr. Richardson coming from Rustemberg 
twice, riding ; and then a young Englishman (not in holy 
orders), who was tutor to the children of an English 
Africander farmer at some distance, being entrusted by 
the bishop with the spiritual care of the district in which 
Surprise was the largest farmhouse. On these occasions 
old Mr. and Mrs. Higgins and the Sturtons, who lived in 
the valley, and sometimes John or James Higgins and 
family, would be our guests, also Jimmy; and while I 
played the piano (for owing to my lameness I could not 
play the harmonium), the young people sang the hymns. 
The young amateur clergyman was a very amusing person, 
and used to convulse us with laughter at his absurd anec- 
dotes of his life at a Boer's where he had at first been 
tutor. He certainly did not seem to have slept on roses 
there. Besides being tutor in the English Africander's 
family, he had to help with a store and mill ; at last he 
found his duties too onerous, and all attempt at church 
services ceased. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 123 


THERE were many preparations to be made for going 
to Pretoria dresses to be made for the children, and 
biscuits baked for us all, for we were to live in the 
waggon whilst there and the children were in great 
glee. At last the morning came ; the waggon was 
packed ; bedding, and boxes, and provisions, were all 
put in, and lastly Mrs. Higgins and her children. Then 
the waggon started, leaving Mr. Higgins and me to 
follow on horseback. We gave them a fair start ; and, 
leaving the old Englishman who had been building the 
new stone kraal, in charge of the place, and of the dogs 
and other pet beasts, who all had to be shut up until 
we were gone, and having locked up the front part of the 
house, we mounted our horses and followed. 

We came up with the waggon about half way to Moy- 
plas, outspanned just across a deep spruit. The travellers 
were having a tea-dinner, so we off-saddled and enjoyed 
it with them; then leaving them once more, we rode on. 
For some distance the road was uninteresting, its chief 
advantage being that it was good for cantering; but as 
we neared Moy-plas and crossed the tributary of the 
Crocodile River, which I had previously crossed when 
riding to Fahl-plas, we came to a farm which made a 

124 -A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

great impression upon me. Stretching right across the 
valley and to the top of the ranges on either side, with 
water from two tributaries of the Crocodile irrigating 
it, with its broad lands, magnificent orchard, its out- 
buildings, and its small but trim farmhouse, it looked the 
perfection of a Boer farm, and made one picture to oneself 
what it might be if it were an English one. The owner of 
this fine property a tall, gaunt woman with a pleasant 
face, the widow of three husbands was standing by the 
gate of the little yard in front of her house, a yard trim as 
a room, with oleander and other trees round it, and shut 
in by a low whitewashed wall. She received us cheerily, 
looked inquisitively at me when Mr. Higgins introduced 
me as his children's schoolmistress, told us that Arthur 
Sturton's waggon had passed, that he had paid her a visit 
with Jimmy, and that she thought Jimmy was rude because 
he did not shake hands all round, but she was delighted at 
my attempts to talk Dutch, and told me I must pay her 
another visit. She was surrounded by children of various 
ages, and all related to her in some way, whose parents 
lived in some of the buildings which looked like barns. 
This old lady was a remarkable woman. Hospitable and 
free-handed to all, of whatever nation they might be, she 
was yet a frugal manager. She and her first husband 
had started in life with a waggon and a span of oxen. 
I don't know what sort of man he was, but she was a host 
in herself. If her oxen stuck in a difficult drift, she would 
tuck up her petticoats, pull off her boots, and leaping from 
the waggon take the whip from her Kaffir and drive the 
team through herself. If labour was scarce at harvest 
time, or when water had to be led on the lands, she thought 
nothing of doing the necessary work, but she attended to 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 125 

her household duties withal. She had never allowed her 
children to take any part in politics, and I don't think 
any one exactly knew what she thought of British rule. 
Like all Boer women and men, she regarded husbands and 
wives as articles so necessary to household comfort that 
no time must be lost in replacing them when lost ; still 
she was of opinion that there was some limitation as to 
age in the matter, and I heard a delightful story about her 
reception of a suitor after the demise of No. 3. 

Mr. Higgins was riding home from Pretoria one day 
when he met a young Boer, so magnificently got up that 
he knew he must be going a-courting ; for Boers array 
themselves splendidly, and pay great attention on such 
occasions to the quality and colour of their saddle- 
cloths, a very favourite sort being a large-patterned 
drugget with much green and red in it, and with a broad 
yellow woollen fringe. The young Boer seemed discon- 
certed when Mr.' Higgins asked him where he was going, 
and still more so when Mr. Higgins playfully inquired 
whether the fair one was Lettie Matersen. This aroused 
Mr. Higgins's suspicions. Shortly after he had occasion 
to pass by Mrs. Matersen's farm, and, as usual, went in to 
pay a visit. He asked if she had lately seen (men- 
tioning the young man's name). "Yes," she said, " he 
had been there ;" and then went on to tell how the 
unfortunate individual had been dealt with by her. He 
had come to pay a visit, and the old lady instantly saw 
through his motives. She tormented him with questions 
as to whom he was going a-courting to, and as she knew 
all her neighbours, soon forced him into a corner by 
making him confess it was to none of them he was bound. 
She was deaf to his assertion that he was searching for 

126 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

a lost ox (a favourite excuse with a would-be suitor), 
although he described all its marks ; and at last when she 
extorted from him that she was the object of his hopes 
and fears, she turned sharp on him with " Ah, ah ! You 
young idiot. You have come a-courting of my farm, have 
you," &c., &c., until she drove him frantic from the house. 

We reached Moy-plas as the sun was beginning to get 
low, and found the Sturtons' and old Mr. Higgins's 
waggons there already for Alice and Ada had persuaded 
the old people to take them to the races. 

I must try to describe Moy-plas. It was a large, 
irregular-shaped cottage, whitewashed and thatched, and 
it looked more like an English farmhouse than any place 
I had seen in the Transvaal. It was approached by a 
road branching a little off the highway to Pretoria, and 
the back of the house was turned to this road and to the 
outbuildings, which partially enclosed the sheep and goat 
kraal. At each side of these were sheds for protecting 
the animals in bad weather. The front of the house 
opened on a verandah, from which a step led to a yard 
like Mrs. Matersen's, this in its turn opened on a strip 
of grass, with a well-kept path leading to a little bridge 
across the broad water-furrow (like a rivulet), and into a 
trim garden and orchard, where you might walk under 
rows of big orange and lemon trees, and along hedges of 
figs, pomegranates, and quinces. There were vines, too, 
kept low and trim, and lots of brandy was made at Moy- 
plas. Inside, the idea of an English farmhouse was sug- 
gested by the wooden ceilings, with their supporting 
rafters, painted and polished, and the ample cupboards. 
One apartment, the dining-room, was papered with prints 
cut from the Illustrated Neivs ; many of them recalled the 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 127 

ghosts of former days to me, in a manner that was almost 
pleasant from the sense of strangeness that it awakened 
in me. 

Old Mr. and Mrs. Sturton were already at Pretoria, 
having gone there on account of Mr. Sturton's illness, and 
Harriet with her elder sister Maria, and her younger 
Clara, were to follow 'them in Arthur Sturton's waggon. 
The youngest girl, Lettie, was at Pretoria. Two sons 
Percy, a jolly young fellow with a ferocious beard, 
' and Augustus, who was still a child were to be left in 
charge of the farm, which, like Mrs. Matersen's, stretched 
from the top of the Magaliesberg across the valley to the 
top of the opposite range. William and Alfred, the two 
remaining sons, were the one on his farm, the other at 
school near Fahl-plas, his tutor being the amateur clergy- 

During the afternoon two rakish-looking men rode up, 
and were introduced to me as I sat under the verandah : 
they, too, were going to the races. Oue was an English- 
man I had often heard of, Charlie Harris ; the other, a 
Boer, whom, however, I took for an Englishman, as he 
spoke English perfectly, and I did not catch his name, 
Van der Veer, when he was introduced. I must here 
remark that it is far more the custom to talk of people 
by their Christian and surname together, than to use the 
term " Mr. ; ' It is very common, indeed, to use the 
Christian name alone. These individuals did not stay 
long, not even off-saddling. The Sturtons made me have 
iny meals in the house, but the others cooked beside their 
waggons, and I had a picnic tea by old Mrs. Higgins's 
camp fire. 

Our waggon came in late, and in the very early dawn 

128 A Lady Trader in tlie Transvaal. 

it and its occupants, together with Arthur Sturton's and 
old Mr. Higgins's waggons, and iriany accompanying 
waggons laden with forage for the Pretoria market, were 
got under way. They were to outspann for breakfast im- 
mediately after they had crossed the Crocodile. Mr. 
Higgins, Arthur Sturton, and I, waited for early coffee, 
and then started after them on horseback, Percy Sturton 
riding with us so far as the first outspann. 

Very pretty the wooded drift of the Crocodile looked 
that morning, the river flowing past it towards the deep 
cleft through which it winds its way to the back of the 
Magaliesberg. All but one of the waggons were already 
outspanned on the opposite side, and the camp fires alight, 
the ladies and children standing in groups looking down 
at the one forage waggon which had stuck in the drift. 
I rode on, and Mr. Higgins and Percy Sturton, dis- 
mounting and taking the whips, soon drove it through. ' 

We outspanned that evening close to Dasspoort, and 
within two miles of Pretoria, which lies on the other side 
of it. The name is derived from the number of dassies 
that used to live in the rocks at either side ; none are to 
be seen' now, but the name remains. 

The next morning we inspanned early, and Mr. Higgins 
rode on before the waggons so as to be early on the market 
with samples of his forage. We all followed in the waggon, 
Eclipse being led. I thought Dasspoort looked very 
pretty in the early morning light, the road being cut 
out of the face of the rock a few feet above the course 
of the Apis river ; and even before we outspanned on the 
outskirts of the village, I remarked that it had greatly 
increased in size since I had seen it last, and that a 
great deal of building was going on. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 129 


THE great excitement during our stay at Pretoria was the 
races, but other things, too, made an impression on my 
mind. First of all, the sleeping in the waggon. Mr. and 
Mrs. Higgins slept in the back part with little Sarah; a cur- 
tain divided them from Augusta and myself; and Sannee 
made up a sort of bed for herself on a box which stood 
across the fore part of the waggon, called the waggon- 
box, from which she had a tendency to roll down on my 
head in the night. Our washing arrangements were very 
limited ; and camp life, though jolly in its proper place, 
is a bore on the outskirts of a village, particularly when 
the village calls itself a city. However, we rubbed along. 
We found old Mr. Sturton very ill, and the arrangements 
for taking care of him were such as made my hair stand 
on end. A bare room had been hired at an enormous rent, 
in a house whose owners did not trouble themselves much 
about the illness of their tenant. A few things had been 
put in hastily, and there he lay, in danger of his life, with 
the cooking having to be done in his room, or outside, in 
a sort of yard, into which the refuse from all the neigh- 
bouring houses was thrown. There were no means of 
keeping the rooms fresh and clean no comfort which an 
invalid requires. On the arrival of his daughters another 
small room (also bare) was hired, and here the girls slept, 


130 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

and sometimes sat, on mattresses spread on the ground ; 
all this discomfort was not caused by want of money, 
but because the necessary accommodation was not to 
be had. 

I, of course, saw my kind acquaintances again at Pre- 
toria, and then there were the races. These were much 
better than I expected. The horses looked more up to 
the mark than I thought they would the jockeys, also 
and the running was not at all bad. Eclipse, remember- 
ing his old racing days, I suppose, was in a great state of 
mind at the first start. I rode with Mr. Higgins to see 
that, and then we separated, and I presently fell in with 
Mr. Van-der-veen at the Higgins's waggon, which was 
drawn up in a line with many other waggons. The scene 
was characteristic of South Africa the ox-waggon ele- 
ment predominating but there were also traps of various 
kinds drawn up in line, a little grand stand, with the 
ring close to it refreshment and other tents, a number of 
men on horseback, and two women besides myself. Mr. 
Yan-der-veen proposed to go with me to see another 
start, and told me that one of the horses in this particular 
race belonged to an old Boer who believed greatly in him. 
He said he was glad to see Boers doing this sort of thing 
it approached somewhat to civilization in short, he 
talked altogether so much as if he had nothing to do 
with the Boers in general, that I was much surprised 
when I heard afterwards that he was the son of a Boer. 
He and I then went to the Edinburgh Hotel, where I 
had put up my horse during my stay at Pretoria ; there 
we had lunch while the horses had a feed. I had been 
rather amused at Mr. Van-der-veen proposing this pro- 
ceeding, although I thought it a very good one. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 131 

By the end of the day the male portion of the com- 
munity were getting very lively, and rows were plentiful. 
Poor old Mr. Sturton participated unpleasantly in this 
part of the day's programme, for while the noise outside 
his window was unceasing, his hosts favoured him with 
snatches from " Bonnie Dundee/' and other ballads, until 
a late hour ; and Mrs. Sturton would not interfere, or 
allow me to interfere, because she thought it likely that 
if we did the invalid would be told to march the next 
morning, in spite both of his illness and the high rent he 
was paying. 

The next day I did not go to the races, as I thought the 
surroundings of the course would be too lively ; and on 
the third the waggons started on their homeward way. 
I remained behind, having affairs at Pretoria which, 
owing to all places of business being shut during the 
first two days of the races, I had been unable to get 
through before. I picked up the waggons at their first 
outspann, and had tea. Mr. Higgins had already arrived 
on horseback from Pretoria, and before we started James 
Higgins and his wife, with Alice and Harriett Sturton, in 
his covered-top cart, drawn by two good horses, came up ; 
and, after a short rest, I started for Moy-plas in their 
company, but on horseback. Half-way we stopped at a 
Boer's house, where I was asked to prescribe for the 
children, who were very ill with whooping-cough ; and by 
night-fall we reached Moy-plas once more. The waggons 
came in the next morning ; and in the afternoon Mr. 
Higgins, Arthur Sturton, and I started for home, leaving 
the rest to follow. 

Two events had taken place during our absence, both 
of them unpleasant. A neighbouring farmer, Do Kriiger 

K 2 

132 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

brother of the well-known Paul had been murdered 
by one of his Kaffirs ; and a tremendous grass fire had 
swept up to within a yard or so of the house Surprise, 
and to within about three feet of Eclipse's stable ; it 
had even destroyed part of the rose hedge bordering the 
upper lands. 

The circumstances of Do Kriiger's (pronounced Kreer) 
death were singular. He had an old quarrel going on 
with some Kaffirs, who lived in a little kraal just where 
his property touched Mr. Higgins's. Of late the quarrel 
had been getting worse, the Kaffirs being very disobe- 
dient. They had lands given them to cultivate for their own 
use in lieu of payment (a common arrangement in the Trans- 
vaal), and the natural consequence was that they wanted 
to work on their own lands when their master wanted 
them to work on his. The letting of water was the imme- 
diate cause of dispute. Do wanted water let on his lands, 
whilst the Kaffirs persisted in spending their time letting 
it on theirs. At last Do, having made up his mind to go to 
the bush-veldt to see how his cattle were getting on there, 
thought he would make an example. He called on some 
of his neighbours, amongst others on William Sturton, to 
ask them to accompany him to the little kraal, as he 
meant to give the Kaffirs a good lesson. This was a 
common practice amongst the Boers before English rule. 
William Sturton declined, but several Boers agreed ; and 
the next day, saddling his horse and bidding good-bye to 
his wife, he started for the bush-veldt, intending to settle 
his quarrel with the Kaffirs en route. His friends joined 
him at his own house, and having all reached the little 
kraal, Do called the Kaffirs. One only came out of the 
hut, to whom Do said that he must immediately let on 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 133 

water to the land. The Kaffir replied, that he would do 
so after he had watered his own, no doubt speaking dis- 
respectfully as well as disobediently. Upon this the 
Boers leapt off their horses and made a rush for the huts, 
forced their way in, overturning a small child, and seized 
the man who was particularly obnoxious to them ; but just 
as Do entered the house, a man of the name of Manell hit 
him over the head with a stick with a heavy knob at the 
end of it, here called a "knob-kirrie," and felled him. 
His friends were intent on belabouring the man they had 
caught ; but Do called out, " Leave him alone and help 
me out they have killed me." He walked a short way 
towards his house and crossed a spruit, then he said he 
must sit down. A large blood tumour had already formed 
behind the ear where he had been struck. He soon be- 
came unconscious, and died shortly after he was carried 
home. Strange to say, he received his death-blow on the 
very spot where his father had cruelly killed a Kaffir. 
His wife, a very fat woman, had seen her former husband 
brought home dead, killed by lightning. She went into 
convulsions and wept unceasingly, and did all the proper 
things to testify to the intensity of her grief on the 
occasion of Do's demise, and married for the third time 
six months after. The two men Manell, the one who 
killed him, and Paul, the one who was going to be beaten 
on hearing he was dead, ran away to Pretoria. They 
got there whilst we were there, and were caught 
whilst sitting by Mr. Higgins's camp-fire. After a long 
imprisonment Manell was hanged. 

The pretty farm of Surprise was a mass of black, 
with the ashes still lying on part, and the whitish effect 
they gave to the otherwise black prospect made it almost 

134 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

ghastly. Fido and the other animals were all right, ex- 
cept Hough he was gone. It appears that he had got 
into one of the rooms when we were locking up the 
house, and had been shut in. The Kaffirs hearing him 
whining had, after two days, forced a window open and 
let him out, when he immediately rushed off to Eclipse's 
stable, and then down towards the valley, the way I used 
to ride. I therefore concluded that he had gone back to 
Mr. King's, whom he had left to come to me, and this 
was the case. Mr. King came up the next day, and told 
us that he had seen Rough sneaking about his cottage ; 
but I had not time to go down for him. The day after 
Mr. King came again, and brought his big dog. This 
dog knew me, and must have told Rough on returning 
home that I was at Surprise, for that very evening 
Roughy came running in at the door, and up to me. 

The old life began again, disturbed only by my con- 
stant inquiries about farms. There were, of course, plenty 
of people willing to sell if they could induce me to pay exor- 
bitantly ; but none of the Boers in the vicinity, who had 
good farms, were disposed to part with them at all. At 
Pretoria I had not been able to arrange anything. 

Shortly after our return the dreaded " lung-sickness " 
broke out among the cattle. Investigation proved that 
an ox had died of lung-sickness in the bush-veldt, but the 
fact had been hushed up by the Nell family, who swore it 
died of what they call here " heart-water," in order to 
save themselves trouble ; for it is of the utmost import- 
ance when a case of " lung-sickness " occurs, to innoculate 
the grown cattle, and to drench the young ones. They 
take the disease after these operations, but have it slightly 
and become "salted," that is, are not liable to have it 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 135 

again ; whereas if they take- the disease naturally (and if 
it once breaks out in a herd it is sure to run through it) 
they are most likely to die of it. It was also found that 
the Nells had let some of Mr. Higgins's cattle get into the 
kraal of a man whose bush-veldt farm touched Mr. 
Higgins's, and had let them remain there a whole night, 
although it was well known that there was lung-sickness 
in it. The worst part of the whole was, that when the 
disease broke out at Surprise they said it must have 
been caused by the malice of this very man (who was on 
bad terms with Mr. Higgins), for that he had buried the 
intestines of the cattle he had lost by " lung-sickness" close 
to the place where Mr. Higgins's cattle went to water. At 
first Mr. Higgins believed the story, but subsequently 
found it to be untrue. I had now an opportunity of 
seeing the operations of innoculating and drenching. 
The lungs of a " lung-sick " animal are smashed up, and 
the liquid from them strained through fine gauze. It is 
necessary to kill the animal in order to obtain the lungs in 
a proper state. For drenching, the liquid thus obtained is 
mixed with about two parts of water, and given to the 
animal as a drink about a bottle-full being used. For 
innoculation, a strip of linen, or more commonly cotton 
rag, is threaded through a packing-needle, dipped in the 
liquid, and drawn through the lower part of the tail like 
a seton ; or the tip of the tail is split, the rag inserted, 
and the wound bound up. Great inflammation ensues, 
the tail generally rotting off, more or less. I have seen 
oxen with no tails at all. Sometimes the inflammation 
produces swelling of the parts above and around the tail, 
and then the animal generally dies in great agony; one 
of Mr. Higgins's oxen died thus. If at the time of the 

136 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

operation these parts be well smeared with tar, and in 
case of the inflammation spreading 1 very high, the animal 
be bathed every morning with salt and water, death sel- 
dom ensues; but few masters take so much trouble. 
The day when these operations took place at Surprise 
was a regular field-day, Mr. King, and Arthur Sturton, 
and the Nells coming to help. Some of the oxen and 
other cattle were very restive, and it was dangerous work 
for the men ; still, on the whole, I was surprised to see 
the business done so quietly. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


IN the beginning of November I at last decided to accept 
an offer Mr. Higgins had made me of buying half his 
farm, including the small house his father had hitherto 
occupied. I need not enter into the various reasons 
which induced me to do this, but need merely say 
that, all things considered, it appeared the best thing I 
could do, and that I bought the farm conditionally. I 
was not to pay the purchase-money for some months, and 
was to be free to leave the farm, if I chose to do so, 
before that time. I was to take Jimmy to live with me, 
as he and I had agreed ; and besides, I had engaged the 
services of a young Englishman who, with another, had 
come to Mr. Higgins's place looking for work. It was 
much to be suspected that they were deserters ; however, 
the one had evidently been a working farmer, and the 
other a groom ; so Mr. Higgins arranged to take the 
former, and I the latter. 

Before I left Surprise I was called upon to doctor 
one of William Sturton's children, the baby, who was 
dangerously ill with inflammation of the lungs. It had 
been ailing for some time, but not much notice was taken 
of its illness until one day, when, having ridden over to 
see the sick wife of a neighbouring Boer, I took William 

138 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

Sturton's on my way home, and was shown the child. It was 
very ill then, but before two days were over it was so bad 
that I remained with it and Alice, and, later on, Mrs. Higgins 
came to nurse it. That was not my first experience of 
the misery of illness in this country, but yet I must revert 
to it, it made so painful an impression on me. A small 
house, consisting of two rooms and a kitchen ; one of the 
rooms used as a store and general sitting-room ; a father, 
mother, and three young children ; no servant but a 
dirty, more than half-savage Kaffir; no convenience of 
any sort ! Fancy nursing a baby, choking 1 with inflamed 
lungs, in a room where, if the window was opened, the 
draught could not do otherwise than come on the bed ; 
where the door into a draughty passage was being per- 
petually opened by the two elder children, who, when 
not quarrelling, were always crying, and both of whom 
had sore eyes and no one to look after them. If the 
window were kept shut the heat was stifling ; and so 
it became necessary to open a window at the top of the 
gable, which had been intended as the door of a loft, but 
which, owing to the ceiling not being put in, still opened 
into the room. I remember this was decided upon late 
in the evening when we were all suffocating, and to do it 
an enormous, roughly-made ladder had to be brought in 
by William Sturton and the Kaffir, and left in the room, 
so that we might be able to get up to shut the window if 
necessary. Even with this window open the heat was 
dreadful, and I felt the fever I had had badly in India, 
and the approach of which I was only too well acquainted 
with, creeping over me and prostrating me. After two 
days of incessant care, the baby so far recovered that 
it was out of immediate danger; but I was obliged 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. \ 39 

to lie by for a day or two and even then I felt 

On the 19th November, I at last moved into my new 
abode, oH Mr. Higgins and his family going to live at 
Pretoria. I bought his flock of sheep, and old Mrs. 
Higgins's fowls and two pigs ; and Ada, much to her 
regret, had to leave me her two cats, for the good reason 
that they positively refused to be put into the waggon. 
One was a fine grey-and- white torn, the other, Tom's 
mother, was a very ancient specimen of the feline race, 
with a crooked eye, and the most surprising voice a cat 
was ever gifted with. I was not able to afford as yet to 
buy a waggon or oxen, wishing first to feel my way, and 
there not being any immediate necessity for oxen, as it 
was not time for ploughing. I also tried to do with as 
little furniture as possible, and as few servants. A small 
bed and a dressing-table and washing-stand, made of old 
cases, together with a chair and a box, made up the 
furniture of my bedroom. The bed was lent by Mrs. 
Higgius. A deal table, three old chairs, and a horizontal 
piano, which had been old Mr. Higgius's, and which I 
used as a table, adorned the sitting-room ; while planks, 
supported on the rafters, gave standing room to various 
articles, and others of a very miscellaneous character 
were hung on nails and lines round the walls. The third 
little apartment, partitioned off like the others with 
canvas, was a lumber and forage room, and here Barrie 
the groom slept Jimmy sleeping sometimes in it, some- 
times in the sitting-room. As I mentioned before, doors 
there were none, except the outer one. A curtain hung 
over the entrance into my room alone ; windows also 
there were none, only large square holes in the wall, 

140 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

which could be closed at will by shutters of stretched 
canvas. Goat and sheep skins did the duty of carpets, 
and the skins of two tiger-cats and one wild cat which 
had been killed at Surprise, hung on an old folding arm- 
chair, completed the Robinson Crusoe look of the place. 
After experience of the same, I think a Robinson Crusoe 
cabin is nicer to read about than to live in; and yet 
sometimes of an evening, with the light of a dip made 
from the fat of my own sheep, lighting up, in the feeble 
manner of dips in general, the motley ornaments of 
bridles, saddles, bits, fire-arms, tools of various sorts 
hanging on the walls, and faintly showing the dogs 
crouching on the floor and the cats' heads peering from 
off the rafters overhead, I used to think that it would 
not make a bad picture of an African-squatter's <c interior." 
It will be observed that I say " dogs," for besides my 
own Rough I generally had two visitors; one was a 
half-bred brown pointer left behind by old Mr. Higgins 
a dog of an undecided character, who never could 
make up his mind to whom he would belong. He was 
not one of those independent dogs who decline to belong 
to any one but go on visits to their friends ; on the con- 
trary, he was a very slavish, poor brute, addicted to 
yowling piteously if any one raised a hand to him ; but 
he was always running away from one place to another, 
and kept in a circle between my place, " Griinfontein," 
the Nells, and the Kaffir kraal. The other visitor looked 
like a half-bred turnspit. He had belonged to James 
Higgins, at whose house I had first made his acquaint- 
ance, and bestowed on him the name of " Moustache" 
for he had a ferocious pair at the time. He was after- 
wards presented to a Kaffir of the name of Mangwan, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 141 

who in his turn made him a present to his son and heir, 
called Magaliesberg. This young gentleman and his 
father valued the dog highly, in spite of his preter- 
naturally long back, nose and tail, the shortness and 
crookedness of his legs, and his generally ridiculous 
appearance. The only thing Magaliesberg objected to 
was his moustache, and that he cut off. They failed, 
however, in awakening corresponding sentiments in the 
ugly quadruped's breast, for he always ran away to me 
whenever he could, and had to be fetched home again, 
looking the picture of dejection. Considering that he 
got next to nothing to eat, and that the deficiencies in 
his feeding were made up by plenty of beating, it is per- 
haps natural that Moustache preferred Griinfontein to 
his master's kraal. 

I had a great deal to do at Griinfontein, before it could 
be called a farm. Old Mr. Higgins had indeed made a 
diminutive dam, and had a good piece of cultivated 
ground lying beneath it ; also a splendid orchard, but 
the place was terribly neglected. I began by cleaning 
out and enlarging a tiny darn which was near the cabin ; 
and by making a rough bridge over the large drain from 
this dam, which was also to serve for a drain from the 
large upper dam, which I had not as yet commenced. 

I must give a little description of the property I now 
called my own. It was perhaps as pretty a property as 
one could see in the Transvaal. It was bounded to the 
north by the precipices of the Magaliesberg, jutting 
out in bold bluffs and receding into clefts, which ren- 
dered it very picturesque, the ground, at first broken 
and covered with trees, ran abruptly downwards, then 
up again, forming a sort of upland valley, and then 

142 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

sloped sharply down to the valley, having reached some 
little way across which, my property ended. A sharp 
wooded spur ran out from the mountain side, about half- 
way down the incline, and here the cabin and funny little out- 
houses had been built between masses of rock and tangled 
brushwood, while the water, diverted from a rivulet, came 
babbling down to the tiny dam near the house, making 
a path for itself sometimes between the rocks, and, until 
I made a drain and bridge, occasionally made a swamp 
quite close to the cabin. A rough road led from the 
cabin round the lands to Surprise, but the shorter way 
was by a narrow path through the orchard, and across a 
piece of ground that I afterwards cleared and tilled, and 
which then went by the name of the Upper Lands, to 
where it suddenly dipped into a deep and rugged ravine, 
down which a rivulet from the side of the rock high up, 
gurgled pleasantly beneath tall ferns and overhanging 
trees. Some stepping-stones lay in the water to help 
passers-by, and then the path, climbing up the opposite 
side of the ravine, brought one to a grassy and partially 
wooded slope, which, being passed, the boundary of 
Griinfontein was also passed, and that of Surprise 
entered. A pretty scrambling path it was, which, if you 
took it on horseback, necessitated much bending of the 
head, and putting aside of boughs, and gave the rider 
the chance of picking luscious figs and soft peaches with- 
out dismounting, by merely stretching out his hand ; and 
many a time Eclipse has been startled by the birds he 
himself had startled from feasting on the fruit. And 
oh ! what a quantity of fruit there was. How it lay in 
heaps under the trees that still were overladen ! Kaffir 
girls came in troops to gather it in for me to dry and 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 143 

make vinegar of it ; little Kaffirs from Surprise came to 
steal it ; any and all who came to Griinfontein might eat 
as much as they cared for ; the Nell family sent their 
children daily to pull a big basket full ; the pigs ate of 
what fell to such an extent that they waxed ridiculously 
fat without getting any other food ; and still such quanti- 
ties went to waste before it could be gathered or eaten 
off the ground, that one trod on masses of fruit when 
walking through many parts of the orchard. 

The boundary of the other side of Griinfontein was 
another deep and wooded ravine, even prettier than the 
one near the garden ; but the prettiest spot in the whole 
property was just below where the cabin had been built. 
Here the spur of the mountain terminated in a small, level 
platform, round whose outer edge the rocks formed a sort 
of low wall, breaking off suddenly, and falling in jagged 
masses first to another smaller and lower platform, then 
in all manner of rough grotesque shapes into the sloping 
valley beneath. On the upper platform stood a beautiful 
syringa-tree ; the rockery below was thickly interspersed 
with shrubs of different sorts intertwined with the beauti- 
ful wild clematis. 

Standing on either platform you could look up the 
valley for forty miles. On a clear day you might catch 
sight of a white speck where the house at Moy-plas was, 
and could see as far as Dass-poort ; or you could look 
down the valley until it ended in the undulations which 
one rode over going to Fahl-plas. Many an evening have 
I stood gazing at the changing light on the valley, on the 
opposite mountains, and on the nearer range of the Maga- 
liesberg, and have tried to conjure up what Griinfonteia 
would look like on the eveninsr when I should at last 

1 44 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

have made it fit for the reception of the guests I hoped 
to bring to it. Then a pretty cottage should stand near 
the syringa-tree ; then the natural rockery should have 
been made still more attractive by flowers and ferns inter- 
spersed between its graceful bushes ; then the land below 
should be waving with crops ; then the old cabin should 
be my calf-house, and a herd of sleek cows should be 
lowing on their way home to their well-kept sheds ; and 
then Eclipse and other horses should have an English- 
kept stable, and not a straw-hovel, to eat their evening 
meal in. 

The high road from Pretoria ran through the valley 
portion of my property, and I used to think how I should 
point out the house when it first came in sight, and so on, 
like a great many dreams a great many people have doubt- 
less dreamed in wild homes, which they are trying to shape 
into civilized ones. 

In the meantime it was rough work at Griinfontein. 
Besides Jimmy and Barrie I had only a Kaffir woman, 
called Reva (Man ell's wife) to help during the day she 
went away early in the evening and came late in the 
morning and a little Kaffir boy to mind the sheep. I 
rose at early dawn, called the little shepherd, who slept in 
the straw kitchen, to light the fire, roused Jimmy and 
Barrie, and generally got to work before the sun shot his 
first rays upwards behind Witt-waters Randt, where it 
intercepted the eastern horizon. As I wanted to push on 
with the work as fast as I could, I did as much as I could 
myself, so that Jimmy and Barrie could get on with what 
I could not do. The cleaning of the horse and stable, the 
looking after the sheep that were lame or sick, often the 
skinning and cutting up of one of them, fell to my share, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 145 

at times also cooking, and cleaning the house, and other 
domestic duties when Reva gave herself a holiday besides 
superintending the work. Then there was the fruit-dry- 
ing ; and this was an important business, for dried fruit, 
besides being useful for one's own winter use, sells well 
in the Free State. 

Parties of Kaffir girls used to come from different 
kraals, some thirty miles distant, to pull the fruit and 
spread it on things made of wood and reeds, called stellas- 
sees, that look something like stretchers. Each girl would 
bring a large conical-shaped basket on her head ; into this 
she would pull the fruit, and she expected to be allowed 
to fill it once for her own benefit as payment. These 
young savages looked very picturesque, with their necks 
and arms and ankles ornamented with beads, gay 
handkerchiefs, or a gay strip of cloth bound round their 
heads, skins or blankets loosely hanging from their often 
shapely shoulders, walking in single file, with their 
baskets poised on their heads, or sitting in a circle cutting 
the fruit up and spreading it on the stellassees; but they 
had to be kept in order, or they would eat more than they 
plucked or cut up, and would talk their time away instead 
of working. Once or twice I had even to threaten them 
with my whip. The peaches and apricots alone have to 
be cut up; the figs have to be peeled, and gradually 
flattened out as they dry. When the fruit is all settled 
on the stellassees, they are placed on poles fixed in the 
ground, and the fruit left to dry in the sun. It has to be 
continually turned, and some experience is required to 
know when it is dry enough to put in a sack. Of course 
it must not be let get wet, and many a time the stellassees 
had to be brought into the house, and piled on the rafters 


146 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

or wherever a place could be got for them. Then there 
is another way of preserving peaches and apricots without 
sugar, when they are too ripe to dry well. They are 
squeezed in the hand to a pulp, and the skins and stones 
being thrown away, the remainder is spread upon a plank 
previously smeared with fat. The paste dries quickly in 
the sun, and can then be folded up like thick paper, 
and is very nice to eat. I made a quantity of dried 
fruit, and in consequence I was kept hard at work, for 
the turning, and flattening, and squeezing, and the hunting 
away of the fowls they would nutter up and oftentimes 
upset a stellassee, if not watched devolved of course on 
me, although in the last-mentioned part of my duty 
Rough and Moustache were valuable coadjutors, making 
sorties from where they would be lying in the shade, 
at my cry of " Sah ! Sah ! " accompanied by much 
barking and whisking of tails, to the confusion of the 
assembled fowls, who would rush off in dire confusion for 
a few yards, then stop and begin picking about in an 
apparently innocent manner, but with a tendency to come 
stealthily closer and closer to the stellassees. I have 
often amused myself watching their tactics. There was 
one hen of a more enterprising turn of mind than the 
rest. She used to go on picking away, keeping her eye 
on me all the while, always coming nearer and nearer. 
I used sometimes to pretend not to see her; for an 
instant she would stand, with head erect and a little on 
one side, looking at me, and then come picking along in 
a straight line for the stellassees. If I moved she would 
at once turn and take a circuitous route ; but if she caught 
my eye she would give a frightened cackle, and make off 
as if the dogs were behind her, but only to commence 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 147 

operations again. Those fowls were altogether rather a 
nuisance, for they insisted on coming into the cab in, showing 
as great pertinacity about that as about the fruit, and when 
in, they would get on the table. This was particularly 
agreeable, if, dinner being laid, I had just gone out to 
call to Reva to go for Jimmy and Barrie, and on returning 
found a party of fowls picking in the dish ; or if the dough 
for the bread was left uncovered for a moment whilst Reva 
and I went out, and the result was, its being all trodden 
upon and picked. Jimmy used to take their disregard of 
our wishes as something personal, and call them " insult- 
ing creatures," and throw broom handles, brushes, and 
boots after them. 

Having but one servant, it was impossible in such an 
establishment as mine to keep up the usual distinctions 
between master and man. Barrie had his meals with us 
and passed the evening in the common sitting-room. 

He was not either a bad-looking or a badly-educated 
young fellow this Barrie (not that Barrie was his name ; 
I don't know what his name was), that is to say, if by 
education one understands book-learning. He wrote a 
very good hand, read fluently, and was fond of improving 
himself, reading history by preference in his leisure-hours. 
But I am afraid he was but a bad sort of a fellow, or 
was on the road to become one. He had a great talent 
for deception, and gloried in it ; he had a favourite theory 
that dishonesty was the best policy ; he was very sharp, 
very lazy, very noisy, very violent, but a good-humoured, 
merry fellow nevertheless. He never showed his violence 
to me or to my animals, except by a vicious look, but the 
look told of what was going on within ; and one evening, 
when Eclipse, who hated him, made him run about three 

L 2 

148 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

miles to catch him, and then had to be caught with Mrs. 
Higgins's assistance, I heard that he confided to the latter 
that if he had been his horse he would have shot him had 
a rifle been handy, <c but that the missus was that parti- 
cular as he daren't touch the brute." On the whole 
Barrie restrained himself creditably, for his language, 
although certainly inelegant, never became intolerable 
while he was in my company; and this must have cost him 
an effort. If he kept up a certain respect of manner 
towards me, he was inclined to be the reverse of respectful 
in his manner of talking of, and even to, the Higginses and 
Sturtons, and had to be periodically checked about it. 

It is certainly demoralizing for English servants to come 
to this country. They may begin fairly ; but even serving 
under one whom they acknowledge as undeniably their 
social superior, their ideas of master and man are liable 
to become confused after a time. The master cannot 
refuse to associate, on what appears to be terms of equality 
to the man, with Africander farmers both of English and 
and Dutch origin, many of whom are in no way superior 
to the servant, whilst many are his inferiors, and only a few 
his superiors. They may be rich people, but the English 
servant knows well enough when they belong to the two 
first classes; but often when he remarks that those of the 
last class have no more " book-learning " than he has, he 
classes them with the former, although in their breeding 
they may be infinitely far removed from him. It is not 
easy to keep up the proper distance between master and 
servant when the very people whom he is called upon to 
bring in coffee to whilst they sit on a visit to his master, 
and behind whom he is expected to ride as long as his 
master rides by their side, are ready to drop into familiar 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 149 

conversation with him the next moment, or if they do not 
do so with him, will be on familiar terms with some one 
who is on familiar terms with him. For this reason, and 
others also, after many trials, I have come to the 
conclusion that it is more comfortable, and better in all 
ways, to have coloured servants than white ones. The 
Kaffirs are bad as a rule ; but there is a class of half-castes 
between white and Hottentot blood, here called "bastards," 
in which very excellent servants may be found. 

To return to Griinfontein. My sheep caused me a 
good deal of trouble, the tick tormenting them terribly, 
and several catching a sort of fever which is very fatal in 
this part of the Transvaal. My neighbours lost largely 
by both causes ; but I took great care of my sheep, often 
working for two hours in the kraal with them, and I lost 
hardly any. I became quite an expert sheep-doctor, 
and could throw a good sized lamb alone. There was 
one splendid wether, a pet from his lambhood, which I 
had bought with a promise not to kill him. He was 
quite too nice a beast for me to think of such a thing, 
even without the promise. He would trot up to me and 
hunt all over my hands and pockets for salt, and then run 
to the door, or inside if he could, and refuse to go out till 
he got some. His name was Hans. I say was, for I fear 
my poor old sheep has been butchered by this time by 
the Boers. Many a time some Boer visitor has said to 
me admiringly, ' ' Oh ! there you have got a fine wether ! " 
with a truculent expression of face and voice, indicating 
carnivorous tendencies. Of horse-disease, as long as 
Eclipse grazed on my own property or that of Mr. 
Higgins, I was not much afraid, these farms forming a 
sort of healthy oasis in the midst of an unhealthy country 

150 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

although all along the southern side of the Magaliesberg 
the mountain grazing is pretty safe ; besides, I heard from 
several people that Eclipse had marks about him of being 
surely salted, and I began to suspect that I had got him 
cheap on account of his viciousness, although, as I said 
before, he was gentle enough with me. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 5 1 


SHORTLY before Christmas the Boer scare broke out 
again, and Mr. Higgins and Arthur Sturton determined 
to go into Pretoria. The morning the waggon left 
Surprise, Mr. Higgins rode up to my cabin from the 
high road. " Good-bye ! " he said, shaking hands as 
he stood by his handsome black horse Wellington. 
" Don't be frightened ; no one will hurt you." I laughed, 
and thought it was a very needless piece of advice. I 
was not at all frightened. A day or two after, Jimmy 
had occasion to go to the valley ; he came back full of the 
news he had heard from William Sturton and Mr. King. 
The Boers had declared war; they were going to break 
out on the outstanding farms, and every Englishman, 
woman, and child was to be killed. There were all sorts 
of circumstantial proof of the truth of this piece of news, 
which interested me too little for me to remember it. 
However, Jimmy and Barrie seemed impressed. A 
waggon was going up from the Sturtons to Pretoria, 
and 1 told them if they liked they might go up with it. 
However, they said they would stay ; but they were not 
altogether comfortable. I think it was two days after, 
while I was busy about the stellassees, I heard an exclama- 
tion from both of them as they were working at a little 
distance from me at the small dam and bridge. 

152 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

" Look there ! What's that ? " And then Jimmy cried 
out, " There is a cornmaiido riding to burn Surprise " (an 
old threat amongst our Boer neighbours). 

" Nonsense/' said I. 

"But you should go and look/' persisted Jimmy. 
"Barrie says too that he can see a party of horsemen 
riding over the veldt to Surprise; they must be going to 
burn it." 

Barrie thereupon expressed his belief that such was 
really the case. Now in my heart I believed Barrie to 
be a deserter, so I thought he might know something 
about what mounted men looked like, and I said, " You're 
sure they're not oxen, Barrie ? " Barrie was sure they 
were not ; so I went to look but they were oxen never- 

I think it was the next day that a young man, a brother 
of Alice's future husband, rode over from Fahlbank, to 
ask me to ride back with him to see John Higgins's baby, 
who was ill. Giving Barrie many instructions as to the 
proper carrying out of the bridge he was making, we 
started so soon as the sun began to decline a little. We had 
to call at Mr. King's, in the valley, for some medicine which 
he had, and which I had run out of; and as we saw that a 
storm was brewing we pushed along briskly, but it caught 
us just as we touched the top of the randt. How it did 
come down ! In a few minutes the horses could with 
difficulty keep their feet in many places where the nature 
of the soil rendered it slippery. I had forgotten my 
waterproof, and was soon wet through, and before long it 
was pitch dark. Fortunately my companion knew the 
country well, and by a detour saved crossing the river at 
the deepest drift. It does not sound pleasant, does it ? 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 153 

but I was getting sick of the monotony of Griinfontein, 
and the slowness with which the work seemed to progress, 
my feeling of weariness being increased by the fever, 
which kept hanging on, and I enjoyed it. The baby was 
not very ill after all. I slept in the room with the child, 
its mamma, and its little sisters, and the next day rode 
back alone to Griinfontein. The bridge was finished, 
and Barrie was triumphant at its fine appearance. 

" If it is as good under as it is above, Barrie," said I, 
"it will do nicely." I rather doubted the fact in my heart. 

" You may trust to me, missus," said Barrie. But the 
trust would have been misplaced had I done so, for a few 
days after Mr. Higgins's return, Wellington put his foot 
right through the bridge, and it had all to be pulled to 
pieces, and made again under my own inspection. 

The new year came, and with it talk of the Higginses 
going on a visit to the old colony, where Mrs. Higgins's 
relations still live. The weather was intensely hot, and 
there was a great deal of sickness about. The fever was 
steadily taking hold of me, and Jimmy was laid up with 
a slight attack ; but everything went on much as usual, 
until one day we learned, through the paper that used to 
come to Surprise, that Pretorius (called Pretors) had 
been arrested at Potchefstrom. The next day Mr. 
Higgins started on horseback for Marico, where he had 
some business ; he was to take Fahl-plas en route. Before 
leaving, he rode over to ask me to go to Surprise, as 
Augusta was ailing, and her mother felt anxious about her. 
I found the child not only ailing, but very seriously ill. 
Mrs. Higgius and I sat up all night with her. The next 
day we were surprised at Mr. Higgins's return. This time 
the Boers had fairly broken out, he told us. He had met 

154 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

numbers the day before, riding through the pouring rain to 
Potchefstrom, armed. He had spoken to many of them. 
They all said one thing. Pretorius must be given up to 
them, or they would fight aye, if they had to die for it. 
They would rather die than leave their leader under 
English arrest. Mr. Higgins said he felt sure they were 
in earnest now. He would like to put Mrs. Higgins and 
the children into the waggon and trek quickly into the 
Free State ; he had turned back on purpose. They would 
have gone, had it not been that pretty Augusta lay 
dangerously ill ; such being the case, they had perforce 
to stay. That there was a general ferment this time 
among the Boers was certain. There was great saddling 
in haste to ride to Potchefstrom, although when those 
who saddled in haste got to Potchefstrom they began to 
repent at leisure. Many Boers who had not horses talked 
about the desirability of having them, and some suggested 
borrowing them from those who had, but did not, on this 
occasion, use them. The next day Augusta was better, 
and I returned to Griinfontein in the morning, but rode 
over again to Surprise early in the afternoon. I had not 
been there long before a sound something like a cannon- 
shot was heard. Of course everybody cried out " What's 
that ? " and everybody but myself said it was a cannon- 
shot. We heard it three or four times. Mr. Higgins 
stood on the stoop with a field-glass in his hand. We 
were in quite a state of excitement, still I did not believo 
that it was a cannon-shot. Presently a Kaffir appeared, 
who told us all about it, he knew even where the shots 
came from. Pretorius was being taken under heavy 
escort to Pretoria. The Boers had attacked the fighting 
was sharp. He could not tell the result, but he knew 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 155 

the place of the battle exactly ; as to how he knew it, he 
was a little hazy. Mr. Higgins brought Wellington up 
from the stable, and put him into the store for the night, 
fearful that under these exciting circumstances some 
enterprising Boer might steal him, or as they say here 
"jump" him at night. The same idea struck me with 
regard to Eclipse. I asked if I might put him too in the 
store ; but hearing that if I did he would have to be left 
loose as well as Wellington, I desisted ; for Wellington 
was very fond of biting and kicking other horses, was 
shod all round, and was a much bigger horse than Eclipse. 
When I left Surprise in the evening, Mr. Higgins was 
still on the look-out, field-glass in hand, and perched on 
the top of an old stump. 

As I rode up to where Jimmy and Barrie were working 
at the upper dam I was making, I was greeted by " Did 
you hear the cannon ?" I remarked that I did not 
believe they were cannon ; and Jimmy scouted me. 

Although sceptical as to cannon, I thought horse- 
lifting was possible, so I determined to mount guard on 
Eclipse. The little straw outhouse was divided into two 
apartments by a rough partition, the stable was the inner 
one. I directed Barrie to take up bedding for me and 
also for himself to the outer one, and then taking arms 
for both of us with me, I camped for the night there. 
Jimmy wanted to go instead of me ; but Jimmy and 
Barrie as sentinels would have been like two logs the one 
slept sounder than the other. The dogs of course came 
and lay near me. Towards one or two in the morning 
they woke me by their growls. I sat up, and thinking 
I heard a stir in the bushes below, I called Barrie not 
loudly, because I did not want to give the intending 

156 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

thieves, if there were any, notice of my being ready to 
receive them. A snore was the only answer. I called 
again softly, and pushed him a little with my foot after 
I stood up a groan and a mumbled remonstrance was all 
I got from him ; it was evident that if further roused he 
would remonstrate loudly before thoroughly waking up, so 
I left him alone, and cocking my revolver took a cautious 
survey. All seemed quiet, and although I waited and 
watched for some time, I neither heard nor saw anything, 
and so went to sleep again. I had a good laugh at Barrie 
in the morning, who didn't like it, and pretended to feel 
ill after a night of sleeplessness and discomfort. I was 
amused at the fellow's absurdity, but when he said he 
felt too tired to act guard the next night, I contented 
myself with saying that he could sleep in the house if he 
liked ; it would have been the report of my revolver that 
would have first wakened him in the stable, it would 
probably also waken him in the house. He was annoyed, 
but persisted in his assertion that he was so dreadfully 
tired he could not act guard. Poor fellow, he did not 
know how near his fate was upon him ! Jimmy now 
insisted upon being my companion on guard; and 
although I did not much like to expose him to danger, if 
there should be any, still it was so clearly the right 
thing for him to do that I acquiesced. Nothing, however, 
disturbed the tranquillity of the second night, except the 
rain, and that was less than the night before. The front 
compartment of the outhouse, I must remark, was not 
perfectly water-tight, still one could keep fairly dry in it. 
The next day was Sunday, and I was cleaning the 
stable, preparatory to getting dressed for going to dinner 
at Surprise, when a delicate, gentlemanly-looking man, in 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 5 7 

a sort of blue serge blouse, ran up the little broken path- 
way leading to the stable, and raising his wide-awake, 
said he had heard that I was looking for brickmakers, 
that he and his mates were brickmakers and builders, 
and would be glad of a job. I glanced at his slim fine- 
skinned hands, and putting his appearance and mode of 
speech together, I said to myself " You're not, whatever 
your mates may be." I said aloud that I was in want 
of bricks, and that I thought of building, and asked 
where his mates were. He pointed to the cabin, and then 
I saw a sturdy-looking man of about forty, who looked 
every inch a tradesman, and a rollicking-looking fellow 
with a lot of yellow hair about him, who looked anything 
chance might require him to be, provided it did not ask 
him to attempt anything polished. I descended from the 
stable, pitchfork in hand, to greet them, and invite them 
inside. The tradesman, whose name was Williams, told 
me they had been thinking of coming to the cottage late 
the preceding evening and asking for shelter, but that 
knowing of the Boer scare, they thought they might 
frighten me, and so slept in the veldt. Of course I knew 
they were very hungry, and I had eaten up the last bit of 
meat that very morning ; the bread was nearly done ; I had 
no milk, no eggs ; Reva was away, and I did not know 
what to do. So, retiring for a minute, I set Barrie to work 
to make flat cakes, and despatched Jimmy to get some 
milk and meat at Surprise, if he could, and to ask Mr. 
Higgins to come over after dinner. The result was that 
I engaged the men to make bricks at the rate of fifteen 
shillings a thousand, burnt out, and that they were to cut 
the wood themselves, and with the agreement that I was 
to get the brick-moulds made as soon as possible by a 

158 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

carpenter who lived at Fahlbank, and that until their 
completion the three men were to work at the dam at the 
rate of half-a-crown a day ; I was to feed them into the 
bargain, and they were to sleep in the outhouse. 

The next morning early the three men went to worli. 
at the dam, and I, leaving Jimmy and Barrie to settle 
the stellassees, which had been taken in during the night, 
was walking up through the long dewy grass to see how 
they were getting on, when I saw Mr. Higgins and a 
man in a white mackintosh and cork helmet, push aside 
the branches of the fig hedge of the orchard and ride 
through. They were some distance from me, but I per- 
ceived in a minute from his seat that the man was an 
officer, and his horse I knew to be an English-bred and 
groomed horse. A momentary thought that it might be 
some old acquaintance come to look me up, struck me, 
but in a minute I felt sure that it was for Barrie the officer 
had come. 

" Where is Barrie ? " asked Mr. Higgins, after a short 
" Good morning." " At the house." " Well, I am afraid you 
must lose him," said Mr. Higgins. ' ' I thought so/' said 
I ; and continuing my walk up to the dam, I left them to 
carry out their disagreeable duty. It seems that Barrie 
swore to the last that he was no deserter, and became 
so violent that the officer had to draw his pistol. It was? 
all over in a minute or so ; when I returned to the cabin, 
in ten minutes, they were already gone. Mr. Higgins's 
servant was also captured, and from that day to this 
I have never heard more of them. 

It appears that the party of soldiers accompanying the 
officer had struck terror into hearts of many a Boer on 
the road they passed along. It had been generally 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 159 

known the day before that the great Potchefstrom de- 
monstration had come to naught, and the Boers thought 
this was a party sent out to catch other members of the 
committee, some of whom lived close to us. 

Fat old Hermanns Potchieter slept in a sluit on the 
night which they passed near his place ; and the equally 
fat Cornelius Vanroy slept, or rather tried to sleep, in a 
tree. I don't suppose he succeeded. 

The first day's work at the dam showed me that the 
man who had first accosted me was not worth half-a- 
crown a day at such work. I told him so, politely, the 
next morning. He said that he had been on the point of 
speaking to me much to the same effect, and asked me 
whether I would allow him to help me in such ways as he 
could, without payment, until the brick-moulds were made. 
To this I agreed. On the second day the rollicking- 
looking man sprained his back, and had to have poultices 
applied, and to lie by. This was not very pleasant. 
However I made Mr. Letheby useful in the fruit-gather- 
ing and drying business, and soon learned that he was 
the son of a manufacturer in the north of England, had 
been a clerk in the office, had had a disagreement with 
his father, and had come out here. He had not got on 
met with his present mates in Pretoria could do lots of 
things a little didn't mind what he did. It was the old 
story, that of hundreds out here. I could not call him 
Letheby, he was an educated man; so I called him 
Mr. Letheby, and then had to call the others " Mr." too, 
to prevent envy, hatred, and malice. These soon showed 
themselves without any extra incitement. The two 
workmen hated and despised their social superior after 
their manner, and he reciprocated the feeling after his ; 

160 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

but they made a butt of him, and he was too yielding, and 
not sharp enough to be able to reciprocate ; besides, they 
were coarse, and he was not. He used to amuse me by 
his naivete. I think after his many struggles he had 
quite made up his mind to the advisability of marrying a 
rich Boeress if he could; he told me so, in fact, more 
than once, candidly admitting that all he should abso- 
lutely require was money, youth and beauty he should 
like if they could be got. He did not, I must say, 
assert that he was ready to take this course, but he used 
to discuss its advisability in a manner so personal to him- 
self that it was hard for me to keep from laughing, At 
last, after Williams had been more rough than usual to 
him, and just when the brick-moulds arrived, he deter- 
mined to break his ill-assorted partnership, and departed 
with a letter of introduction from me, which got him a 
place as tutor in a neighbouring Boer's family. There, I 
heard, he got on very well. 

The yellow-bearded man being restored to a salu- 
brious condition, he set to work at the bricks with 
Williams, but after a day or two took his pack on his 
back and silently departed. I heard that he objected to 
getting meat only once a day, to not having butter on 
his bread, and to having occasionally too little milk in 
his coffee. Mr. Higgins wondered why he had not com- 
plained to me ; but I thought he showed his sense by not 
doing so, as it was evident that he would have gained 
nothing, for the good reason that butter there was 
none, that milk was scarce, and that as I had a limited 
number of wethers in my flock, I could not kill ad libitum. 
Besides all this, he knew that he fared exactly as I did. 
I was not left alone with Jimmy and Williams this time, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 6 1 

however, for two days before the discontented one 
departed, three men had come tramping up to my door 
while Mr. Higgins was at tea with me, and having 
declared that they wanted work "bad/' and "didn't 
mind hard work or hard grub neither," and that they 
"was men as was used to roughing it," accepted the 
wage of half-a-crown a day, and set to work on the dam. 
Yery rough men the greatest stretch of politeness could 
not have extended " Mr." to one of them. Jimmy and I 
had our meals together now, then Mr. Williams, and then 
the " Philistines/' as I called them. 

They did not work very hard unless urged thereto, but 
they ate very hard without any urging. They were 
respectful and obedient to me, but I felt that they were 
dangerous, and must be kept well in hand. Jimmy told 
me certain things he heard them say ; and other things 
which they said to me, without thinking about the impres- 
sion they were producing, made me aware that they were 
familiar with violent measures. They, of course, had all 
been volunteers, as had the others, you can hardly 
meet a man in this country who has not been a volunteer, 
and they certainly impressed me with the idea that it 
would have been unpleasant to have been in a farm-house 
to which they had access, in their volunteering capacity, 
unless a very strict officer happened to be with them. 
One story, in which they greatly gloried, was of how, 
having been rudely spoken to by an unfriendly Boer, they 
had caught one of his sheep in the veldt and cut its 
throat, not to eat it, for they had to run away so as not 
to be found out, but as revenge. 

The weather was very wet, and Williams being single- 
handed got on but slowly with the bricks ; but he was a 


1 62 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

thoroughly good workman, and a straightforward, honest 
fellow, and he made more headway than I expected under 
the circumstances. His idea and mine from the begin- 
ning was that he was to build as well as to make the 
bricks, but I found it hard to get him to state for what 
sum he would contract to execute my plan. I had drawn 
this plan before agreeing to buy the place, and Mr. 
Higgins had estimated the cost for me. 

In the meantime Mr. Higgins and his family were 
getting ready to go to the colony. It was to be a great 
emigration, for they took a large number of cattle with 
them, some to sell, and also spare oxen. I felt that it 
would be very desolate after Mrs. Higgins and the chil- 
dren went away, and the increasing fever did not raise 
my spirits. Most of my fruit was dried, and packed 
away in sacks, ready for my friends to take with them to 
sell in the Free State ; but a peculiar sort of yellow peach 
a fruit unknown in England but common in Italy had 
yet to be dried, and I was hard at work gathering it in, 
and spreading it on the stellassees. The weather had 
now become dry again, and the heat was very great 
greater than usual. I sometimes felt as if I should break 
down unless I could have either entire rest or some 
violent excitement. 

One day Mr. Higgins rode over early to my place, 
and said that he was off to Fahl-plas, and proposed 
that I should go with him, so as to reply quickly to 
a letter of interest to both him and me, which I 
expected to find there the post being fetched at 
that time from the distant farm where it was left by 
John Higgins. I jumped at the idea; it would be a 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 163 

" You look too ill to do it, though/' said Mr. Higgins. 
" You won't stand the ride." 

But I knew better, the programme being only so far 
changed by Mr. Higgins, that instead of riding there 
and back in one day, I was to dine at Surprise, start 
immediately after dinner for Fahl-plas, sleep there, and 
return early on the following day. 

It was a very pleasant ride ; the day was not too warm, 
and we got in just in time for a pleasant supper with the 
James Higginses. The next morning we idled about and 
talked, and did not saddle up until late, when a fearful 
storm soon drove us back. We saddled up after early coffee 
on the next day, and got to Surprise a little after break- 
fast so we had our breakfast alone and as we were talk- 
ing about how things would go on with me while the 
Higginses were away, Mr. Higgins said if I chose he 
would sell me his black span and the old waggon. The 
span, that had been of eighteen, had now dwindled to 
fourteen, but it had been twice down the dreaded Natal 
road, and all that remained were, I knew, salted with both 
red water and lung sickness. The sum asked was twelve 
pounds apiece, but I knew the oxen were worth it, and 
clenched the bargain. I felt perfectly delighted at getting 
possession of those oxen. 

The Higgins family were to start in the early days of 
February, which were now quite near ; and as I was 
anxious to see the last of them, I arranged to go with 
them as far as Fahl-plas, going in the waggon with Mrs. 
Higgins. Mr. Higgins was to lead Eclipse, who would 
carry me back. 

The day before they started I turned out all my dry 
fruit in the sun, and sorted it well. The weather was 

M 2 

164 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

frightfully hot, but I knew a great deal depended upon 
the fruit being perfectly dry and free from insects before 
it was put in the waggon. I slept at Surprise that night, 
and felt very ill I was not quite sure whether from fever 
or from the anxiety I felt at being left quite alone ; and 
yet in a certain sense I was glad, for I knew that I 
depended a great deal on Mr. Higgins, and I knew too 
that I should never really succeed so long as I was not 
completely self-dependent. I should be so by the time the 
Higginses came back. We started the next morning ; it 
was very hot, and by the time I got to Fahl-bank my bones 
ached so severely that I had to go to bed, or at least to lie 
down on the bed the whole afternoon. The next day, 
Sunday, I was better ; but that evening, as we stood 
looking at the comet, I felt the premonitory shiver of the 
real set-in of fever. It was curious how much that comet 
affected even the Higginses. They were really afraid it 
was going to do something, and many coupled it with 
an old rhyme of Mother Shipton's, much talked of here, 
in which it is set down, in doggrel verse, that after 
certain curious events happening, all described in 
allegorical language, the world is to come to an end in 

The next morning we all sat on the stoop having early 
coffee, and waiting for breakfast, the Higginses to get 
into the waggon (Wellington stopped at Surprise), I to 
saddle up for my return journey. I felt very ill, but 
hardly expected to do what I did, viz., faint away at a 
moment's notice. I know of no more annoying thing 
than to faint in another person's house, particularly 
when the performance is followed by such prostration 
that one has to be supported to bed, and has to be lifted 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 165 

up in bed like a baby. Yet this was what happened to 

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Higgins would not start : they said 
if I did not get better they would not start at all, but take 
me back to Surprise and nurse me but I well knew what 
a dreadful disappointment that would be to Mrs. Higgins 
and the children. I ordered myself quinine, but I knew 
that there is not much use in taking quinine when this 
sort of jungle fever, which is remittent but not intermittent, 
is at its height. Robert Higgins asked leave to doctor me, 
saying he knew a great deal about African fever; calomel 
was the thing for it. I knew that he had had experience 
in the matter, for he was an old elephant and ostrich 
hunter, and many a time of an evening had I listened 
eagerly to his graphically told stories of adventures, in 
which fever sometimes had its share ; so I obediently said 
that I would take calomel, although I don't believe much 
in it, but I would have taken anything they suggested 
just to show that I was ready to try to get well. Robert 
Higgins administered the calomel, and the effect of it 
was that I kept his wife, who slept in my room, awake 
all night by my half-delirious talking. Robert Higgins 
was surprised at my being worse the nest morning. I 
think he would have liked to administer another dose ; 
but then James Higgins said no, he could cure me 
homoeopathic aconite was the thing ! I assured him I 
should be delighted to try it. I did take it. He said I 
was to take four drops, but I altered his prescription by 
doubling the dose on the sly. It did me good, whereby 
I learned something in medicine that I had not known 

All this time I was being nursed with the utmost 

1 66 A Lady Trader in tke Transvaal. 

kindness in James Higgins's drawing-room. John 
Higgins and his family were away, but they came back ; 
and then Mrs. Robert Higgins carried me into their 
sitting-room, which was more adapted for a sick-room 
than the other. I remember how every one laughed at a 
suggestion made by Mrs. John Higgins as to howl could 
be moved, for walking was impossible and I objected to 
being carried. " Do you think you could carry me ? " said 
I to Mrs. Robert Higgins. " Well, if she can't," said 
her sister-in-law, "at the worst, there^s the perambulator." 
This suggestion conveyed such a comical appreciation of 
my smallness that I laughed heartily, in spite of my 
weakness. Two days afterwards I was so much better 
that I induced the Robert Higginses to start. It was 
very hard to part with them in my then weak state it 
was quite a wrench but the Higginses of Fahl-plas did 
all they could to make me comfortable ; if I had been 
their own sister they could not have done more, and 
although it is a dreadful feeling to be ill away from home, 
still I admitted to myself that it was well for me that I 
was with them not at Griinfontein. 

On the Monday after the Robert Higginses' departure, 
Jimmy, having heard of my illness, rode over on a borrowed 
horse to see me. His account of the proceedings at 
Griinfontein was the reverse of satisfactory. On finding 
that I did not return on the Monday, Jimmy imagined 
that I had gone on to Potchefstrom with the Higginses, and 
communicated his ideas to the men. The result was a 
mutiny next day. The Philistines struck for meat twice 
a day. Jimmy told them he could not go beyond my 
orders as to the allowance of meat, but that on his own 
responsibility he would give them no food at all if they 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 167 

did not work. They held a consultation upon this, and 
repaired to the dam, where they pretended to work, but 
in reality hardly worked at all ; in the meantime, Jimmy 
having gone to the valley to ask if any news had been, 
heard of me, they stole the meat that was drying in a 
tree, and a whole bottle of brandy which Jimmy had 
removed from where I left it, but thought he had carefully 
concealed in the bedroom. " They swore by all that 
was holy they had not touched the meat," said Jimmy, 
" and looked me straight in the face ; surely you don't 
think they can be so wicked as to do that when they 
knew they had really taken it ? " I assured Jimmy that 
such was my opinion of human nature that I believed it 
capable of even that depth of wickedness ; and remember- 
ing that I had thirty pounds locked up in a desk that 
might happen to take their fancy, I suggested to Jimmy 
that the best thing for him to do was to return to 
Grihifontein before night. 

He left me more anxious than before. So innocent a 
boy was not likely to have much control over the 
Philistines, and any attempt on his part to enforce his 
authority might lead to violence. My only hope was 
Williams. I seriously thought of trying to ride home, 
but as I could hardly crawl, the thing was impossible. 
Then James Higgins, seeing my anxiety, offered to drive 
me over the next day, but the next day his wife was 
seriously unwell; then torrents of rain set in, which 
rendered the river impassable. Two day after, the three 
Philistines presented themselves, and asked for payment, 
saying they would not work any longer. They swore the 
strongest oaths that they had worked as hard as men 
could during my absence, and that the dam was finished. 

1 68 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

Of course I knew they were lying, and I also knew that 
they had no legal right to payment, for they had engaged 
for a month, and the month was not out ; but when they 
saw that I was not going to be bamboozled, they changed 
their tone, said that they saw I did not believe them, and 
that Jimmy had been " a poisoning of my mind ;" farther, 
that they would know how to settle with him if they did 
not get paid. Now I thought it very improbable that 
Jimmy would know how to settle with them in case they 
returned to Griinfontein with that amicable intention, so 
I considered for a few moments, weighing the following 
facts and possibilities in my mind. 

There was a canteen in the Poort near the river, but 
on the other side of it; there was also a small river 
between the canteen and Griinfontein, a mere nothing 
generally, but which the rain, still pouring down, must 
have converted into a deep and rapid stream. If I did 
not pay these men, they would have to pass the canteen, 
with bitter longings for a glass, setting their angry 
passions ablaze, for they had not a penny in their posses- 
sion. They would reach Grunfontein in a murderous 
frame of mind ; the consequences might be terrible. 
Against that, if I paid them, they would certainly get 
drunk at the canteen, and then they would either stay 
there drinking so long as the money lasted, and that 
being expended, until the inevitable "h errors " were over, 
or they would trv to go to Grunfontein with no good 
intentions, for they were likely to feel rancorous towards 
Jimmy in their cups ; but then there was that conveniently 
swollen little river. I felt almost sure that a tipsy man, 
if he tried to cross it, must inevitably tumble into it ; it 
was not very improbable he might be drowned, and iu 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 169 

any case lie would hurt himself considerably, and be 
incapable of walking to Griinfontein after his bath. All 
these things duly considered, I paid the men, and 
determined to get to Griinfontein as soon as possible 

It seemed destined that the work at Griinfontein was 
not to make progress ; but the next evening a note was 
brought to me by an Englishman, who said he had come 
from Pretoria. It was from old Mr. Higgins, and told 
me that this man's name was Richard Hall, that he was 
the discharged soldier who had spoken to Robert Higgins 
about eoming to work on his farm ; and that old Mr. 
Higgins thought, if his son was gone by the time the 
man reached Surprise, I might like to engage him. I 
remembered to have heard of this man from Mr. Higgins, 
who said he had reason to believe he thoroughly under- 
stood farming, and that he bore an excellent character. 
Mr. Higgins had greatly hoped that he would come ; and 
now he was there, and I could engage him, at least for a 
time, I felt very glad. It had been arranged that 
James Higgins was to drive me to Griinfontein on the 
following day ; the difficulty had been as to how Eclipse 
was to be got there, but now I determined to let this 
man ride him over. In the meantime Richard Hall was 
taken into the dining-room, and given something to eat. 
He was a fine, stalwart young fellow, and had a mongrel 
pointer puppy with him, of which he seemed very fond ; 
but he was too free-and-easy in his manner towards the 
Higgins, for me not to see there would be the old diffi- 
culty there. 

We started the next morning. Eclipse was rather 
disposed to tricks when the man mounted him, but 

1 70 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

quieted down when I spoke to him and petted him, and 
we all reached Griinfontein safely, passing the Philistines 
dead drunk at the canteen. Jimmy and Williams welcomed 
me back heartily, and little Rough was overjoyed to see 
me ; but the fruit I had taken such pains to get settled 
on the stellassees before I left was all spoiled or de- 
stroyed. The horses of Hermans Potchieter had come 
over one night when the stellassees had been left out, 
and had knocked many of them down and eaten the fruit, 
the rest Jimmy had piled one on another during the rain 
and covered with a waterproof. He had not uncovered 
them for days, and even the stellassees they were on had 
rotted in consequence ; the fruit was a mass of black 
corruption. Roughy, too, had been seriously hurt in 
some way, and was very ill ; the cats looked miserable, 
and were wild and frightened. It was a damp evening, 
and the discomfort of the house sent a chill through me, 
in spite of my desire not to feel it. The truth is, I was 
still so weak that objects had a tendency to waver before 
my eyes, and Griinfontein was not a place for nursing 
oneself. Perhaps the worst part of this species of fever 
is, that so long as it hangs about one, painful sores are 
constantly making their appearance on different parts of 
the body ; when one crop vanishes another appears ; the 
least scratch turns into one of them, but if there be no 
scratch they will come of themselves. My hands, legs, 
and feet were particularly affected by them, and the pain 
almost crippled me. There was no use in lying by, 
however, and I began my usual routine next day. 

Richard Hall said he would not remain for less pay 
than six pounds a month, and although Mr. Higgins had 
told me, when I was making my calculations about farm- 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 171 

ing, that good European labour could be got much more 
cheaply, my own inquiries subsequently showed me that 
it could not. It was evident that I must have some one 
besides Jimmy and the shepherd boy and none of the 
Kaffirs on the property could be induced to work so I 
said I would engage Hall for a month on trial. He spoke 
very confidently as to his own knowledge of farming 
operations, and remembering what Mr. Higgins had said 
of him, I thought he might be worth the money. His 
first task was mere labourer's work : viz., finishing the 
dam which the Philistines had left unfinished, so I could 
not at once judge of his skill as a farmer. 

172 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


AT this point I must digress to relate a Kaffir idyll. It 
concerns Mangwan, the father of Moustache's proprietor. 
Mangwan was the son and heir of the great and power- 
ful Kaffir chief Mosilikatz, who only a few years ago held 
sway as far south as the southern slopes of the Magalies- 
berg. The Higginses, then dashing young hunters, and 
their father, an experienced one, used to pursue their 
game in his territory for months, and were on friendly 
terms with the old chief, with whom they exchanged 
visits and presents. Mangwan, too, used often to come to 
their waggons, and his brother also. At last old Mosili- 
katz died. The Higginses' waggons were not far from 
the place at which he expired. The old chief had many 
wives, but one was his special favourite. She not only 
fascinated the father, but the son ; and on his father's 
death Mangwan persuaded her to fly with him to the 
Higginses' waggons. By Kaffir law, a son who appro- 
priates one of his father's wives, forfeits both her life and 
his own, and loses his inheritance, but Mangwan and the 
girl were ready to risk all for each other. Old Mr. 
Higgins hid them, and kept them hidden, until he brought 
them to a place of safety. The property at Fahl-plas 
was then his, and he settled them on it. For a time 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 173 

Mangwan kept up state. He did nothing himself, nor 
would he allow his wife to do anything ; he had Kaffir 
slaves who attended on both (even to cutting and clean- 
ing his nails), but now that his dependents no longer 
supplied him with food, skins, money, &c., his store 
rapidly diminished, and old Mr. Higgins pointed out to 
him that as he had determined to forego his rights as 
chief for the sake of the Kaffir girl, he must now work 
for his livelihood. To this Mosilikatz's son could not bend. 
His flocks and herds dwindled, but he would not work. 
A son was born, whom he called Magaliesberg, and who 
grew to be the prettiest Kaffir boy I have ever seen. 
Little by little the slaves of Mangwan became reduced in 
number until he had but one, a wretched little girl who 
was starved and beaten, and made to sleep outside 
the door of the kraal in all weathers. When the child 
was dying of privation Mrs. Higgins pointed out to 
Mangwan the wickedness of letting her sleep in the cold 
and wet, without even a covering. 

" Surely," said Mangwan, " the place for a dog to 
sleep is outside his master's door." 

The little two-legged dog did sleep there until she died, 
and then the wife had to begin to work in a lazy fashion. 
When Robert Higgins bought Surprise he asked his 
father to come and live at Grlinfontein, and told Mangwan 
he might build himself a kraal in the valley beneath. 
Both invitations were accepted, and so when I bought 
Griinfontein, Mosilikatz's son became my tenant. 

He was an old man then, and very skinny and ugly, 
and the woman he had given up his kingdom for was a 
hideous specimen of humanity ; but Magaliesberg was a 
very pretty, active, and graceful boy also a disobedient, 

1 74 -A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

idle, and mischievous urchin. He would order his father 
about instead of obeying him, and he was the apple of his 
father's eye. He was supposed to tend the cattle and 
goats, but he never did so. Mangwan never worked, 
and he was not above begging, yet, as he walked along 
with an old blanket thrown over his shoulders, there was 
a certain stateliuess about him. He never mixed with 
other Kaffirs, and he always spoke Zulu. Dutch he did 
not understand. In spite of his poverty he managed to 
marry two other wives, but the youngest ran away from 
him, and he never got her back. I suppose she thought 
the magnificence of his kraal hardly corresponded with his 
rank. But although Mangwan took unto himself other 
wives, his first wife was the one he always clung to ; 
and the only time I saw Mangwan' s serenity disturbed, 
was when a coolie servant of mine, who understood Zulu, 
after enduring her taunts and shrieks, and the snapping 
of her fingers under his nose, for about an hour, en- 
deavoured to push her forcibly out of my domains at 
my order be it understood, for I was fairly tired of the 
termagant's vociferation. Then Mangwan, who had pre- 
viously been sitting quite unconcernedly on a heap of 
stones hard by, leapt up, and throwing his blanket from 
him with quite a tragic air, gave one yell, and sprang at 
the coolie. They both rolled down the hill together. 
Mangwan arose with his nose bleeding, and his old 
bones sadly shaken, but still looking defiance. Maga- 
liesberg, however, strongly advised him and his mother 
to keep the peace and retire to their kraal, and this they 
did. The next day the Kaffir presented himself before 
me. His dignity as well as his nose had been injured. He 
was very sad : indeed, I always felt sorry for the old man. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 75 

Whether to a European or a Kaffir the sense of having to 
ask for favours when you once dispensed them, to obey 
where you once commanded the feeling* of dependence 
upon a stranger must always be bitter. Mang wan, looking 
down from my little eirie on the cultivated valley below, 
which had once been a wild bush, and his own hunting- 
country, must in a miserable blind sort of way have felt 
something of what the exiled French Princes experienced 
when they looked across the channel to the distant shores 
of France. Mangwan, climbing from his wretched little 
kraal in the valley to sit down in front of the door of my 
cabin, hoping that I might give him a little coffee or the 
feet of a sheep, or let him pull some fruit out of my 
garden, must have felt also, in a blind sort of way, the 
bitterness of the great Italian poet's heart when he 
climbed the stairs of others ! I always treated Mangwan 
with respect, and the old man felt this, I know. On the 
occasion to which I refer I fortunately had Saul the driver 
with me when he arrived, and I made him translate into 
Zulu what I considered a neatly turned speech for Mang- 
wan's benefit. I alluded to the fact of his being Mosili- 
katz's son, and of my wish to treat him with respect in 
consequence, but I distinctly forbade Mrs. Mangwan's 
reappearance near my cabin. I saw that the allusion to 
his illustrious birth pleased the old man, and his peace of 
mind was restored by a present of some carbolic oil where- 
with to heal his nose. He proceeded to smear on the oil 
with great satisfaction, and I added the gift of half-a- 
crown ! Mrs. Mangwan was thenceforth no more seen at 

Mangwan had a great liking for the possession of 
animals, although he never took care of them when he 

176 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

had them. When the Kaffir Jonas was sent away from 
Surprise he left his cat behind for Mangwan. But the cat 
preferred its liberty, and would not let itself be captured 
by Magaliesberg. Thereupon Mangwan undertook to 
catch it, and the way he carried out his undertaking 
was by every morning for about a fortnight, walking up 
in a stately manner to Surprise with a sack (destined 
to receive the cat) on his shoulder, and perambulating 
the vicinity of Jonas's hut for about an hour. He never 
looked for the cat that would have been beneath his 
dignity but held his head erect, and if he looked at any- 
thing it was at the sky. It is hardly necessary to remark 
that the cat retained its liberty. 

On Moustache he set great value. Moved to compassion 
by the entreating looks the poor little beast used to 
cast at me when Magaliesberg would come to drag him 
away, I offered Mangwan two shillings for him. I 
thought it a handsome offer considering the dog's sur- 
passing ugliness ; but Mangwan shook his head, and 
ejaculated " Pond," by which he meant that a pound was 
the value he set on the animal. During the Higginses' 
absence, however, Mangwan began to feel the pangs of 
hunger, for he used to get subsidies from their kitchen, 
given, not stolen I don't believe Mangwan would steal 
then he would often come to me and say, " Bow-wow, 
bow-wow," and hold up his ten fingers. That meant that 
his price for the dog had come down to ten shillings. I 
thereupon shook my head and held up five fingers, inti- 
mating that I raised my offer to five shillings. At last, 
one day, when Mangwan was very hungry, we struck a 
bargain for six shillings, and the absurd antics whereby 
Moustache testified his delight when Mangwan and 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 177 

Magaliesberg went off without him, quite repaid me for 
my extravagance. And so Moustache became a member 
of my household, much to Roughy's disgust, who, 
although much the smaller dog of the two, maintained his 
supremacy in a most lordly manner flying at his rival 
and shaking him by his long drooping ears, until they bled 
profusely, whenever he thought his right of precedence 
was in any way interfered with. 

Mrs. Mangwan never forgave me, but used to scowl in 
a most vicious way whenever she saw me. She was a 
terrible virago ; and it was impossible to imagine in what 
her fascinations had consisted. Dressed in skins not more 
shrivelled and brown than her own skin, she used to 
inspire Augusta with horror, when she insisted upon 
kissing the girl's hand, on the occasions of her visits to 
Surprise. I have seen my pretty pupil run round and 
round the table, the old witchlike- looking creature pur- 
suing her until she caught and mumbled over the fair 
soft hand that formed a curious contrast to the brown, 
skinny paw of Mrs. Mangwan. 

The old savage always called Mr. Higgins ' ' Bob," the 
name by which she had learned to call him when he used 
to hunt in Mosilikatz's territory. Her great delight was 
to be taken through the rooms at Surprise. She was never 
tired of admiring their splendour, and would clap her 
hands from time to time, and cry out, " Oh, Bob, Bob ! " 
meaning thereby to convey an idea of her appreciation of 
what a wonderful man Mr. Higgins was, to have been 
able to amass such treasures. 


178 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


SHORTLY after Hall's arrival, Jimmy informed me that lie 
was going to seek his fortune elsewhere, and departed, 
with his saddle-bag slung over his shoulder, by a bridle- 
path which led over the mountain to Rustemberg. The 
day after, three Kaffirs came seeking for work, and I 
engaged them. I told them I would give them two 
shillings a day and their food, but that I expected them 
to work hard. Mr. Higgins had told me that I should 
always be able to get Kaffir labour for one-and-sixpence 
a day, and that I could feed my Kaffirs on nothing but 
mealea meal ; but times, I suppose, were changing quickly. 
I found that it was almost impossible to get a Kaffir 
labourer for less than two shillings, and that the vast 
majority of them demanded meat at least three times a 
week, many insisting on having it every day. This was 
the experience of the Sturtons, as well as my own. Mr. 
Higgins never employed any Kaffir labour other than his 
kraal afforded him. 

I set these Kaffirs to work under Hall's orders at the 
dam ; but I was not very well satisfied by the way he 
made them work or worked himself ; they all required 
supervision. Hall was rather a fine-looking young fellow, 
and addicted to giving himself airs. He was much 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 79 

coarser of speech than Barrie, although he looked less 
rough, and was also much more ignorant. I soon came to 
the conclusion that he would not suit, for I felt sure he was 
a bad fellow, in spite of the character I had heard of him ; 
but thinking that, for all that, he might be a valuable 
man on the farm, I gave him plenty of rope, so as to let 
him hang himself before the month was out, if hanging 
was to be his fate. Under this treatment he developed 
rapidly. In the meantime he and the Kaffirs worked at 
the dam. One evening, some time before sunset, I went 
up to see how they were getting on. Hall was at work, 
the two Kaffirs lying on their backs smoking. I asked 
them why they were not at work ; they answered that the 
sun was gone. That was so far true, inasmuch as the dam, 
which was on the side of the mountain, was in shade, but 
the valley and opposite range were still in bright sunshine. 
I pointed to the valley and bade them get to work again 
at once. They hesitated a little, then, shouldering their 
spades, got into the dam and commenced operations. I 
stood by, until the last rays faded away from the valley ; 
then I told them they might go. I stood guard over them 
towards sun-down every day after that until Saturday. 
This was pay day, and having received their pay after 
their work was finished, they bolted without giving me any 
notice. But the dam was finished ; that very evening the 
finishing touch had been given to the embankment that 
shut up its narrow outlet ; the lower pipe and the drainage 
pipe were fixed, and I let the water in. This was a very 
great mistake, but I was in a terrible hurry to see how my 
dam would act. 

The Kaffirs in the meantime were gone ; my shepherd- 
boy had taken French leave, because I had had him 

N 2 

180 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

whipped, after repeated warnings, for letting the sheep 
get astray, whilst he played with some of Mr. Higgins's 
little herds, who, now that he was away, never looked 
after the animals in their charge at all. Williams had 
that morning told me he was too ill with fever to work, 
and I could see he spoke the truth. The time for plough- 
ing was come; the work must be done, or Griinfontein 
would be a dead failure. That evening I told Mr. Williams 
that I must have a decisive answer as to the contract for 
building. He, after some hesitation, named a price far 
exceeding that at which Mr. Higgins had estimated the 
cost, and much higher than I could afford. I told him so, 
and then he said he would not like to make bricks for 
another man to build with. He was too ill to walk to 
Pretoria at once, however ; and so, of course, he and I had 
to make up our respective minds to his remaining until he 
regained his strength. I sat up a long while considering 
the position. Hall had told me that there was a man of 
the name of Egerton, at Pretoria, who had expressed a 
wish to obtain work on a farm ; he said he believed he 
knew something of farming, and that though he was 
drinking hard in Pretoria he might be steady on a farm. 
He had also told me that he knew a coolie a capital 
gardener, and accustomed to farm-work who would, he 
was sure, be glad to come. My meditations ended in my 
resolving to saddle up early next morning, and ride to 
Pretoria to look for workmen, for it was clear that work- 
men I must have, and at once too. There was, however, 
the difficulty of my hunting up workmen unassisted, and 
there was also the difficulty of taking Hall with me, and 
this for two reasons one that I had no second horse, and 
the other that if he came with me, Williams must remain 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 1 8 1 

alone at Griinfontein. I must here mention what I omitted 
before, that my oxen were herded and kraaled still with 
Mr. Higgins's. I thought it best, however, to trust the 
farm to itself, and take Hall with me ; and the matter of 
the horse I managed by determining to take the loan of 
Wellington as far as Moy-plas, and, leaving him there, 
to ask the Sturtons for the loan of one of their salted horses 
to Pretoria. It was the unhealthy season for horses, and 
Pretoria is a very unhealthy place. Mr. Higgius, while 
regretting that Hall had not come before his departure, 
had mentioned, as one cause for his regret, that he could 
have exercised Wellington, so I felt no qualms about 
letting him ride the horse : and no case of horse-sickness 
had occurred in the valley, so that I was not much afraid 
of leaving Wellington in the stable at Moy-plas. I told 
Hall my plan early, and then went up to look at the dam. 
Alas ! the embankment had sprung several leaks. I 
opened the pipe, and let the water run out, and while 
doing so I was standing on the embankment, when I felt it 
shake, and stepped back just in time to escape from falling, 
with the part I had been standing on, into the dam. I 
felt dreadfully disappointed, but there was no time for 

I returned to the cabin, where I met Fiervaree, who had 
brought me some milk. I told him I wanted to see his 
father, that he was to come back with him as soon as, 
possible. They arrived shortly after in company, and I] 
persuaded the father to allow his boy to undertake to look 
after my sheep while I was away. He was to get a 
shilling a day provided he lost none of them so far for 
the father ; but Fiervaree had a will of his own, and a sepa- 
rate bargain had to be made with him. He was howling,. 

1 82 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

and saying he wouldn't mind the sheep ; what was the 
money to him ? His father would keep it. At last he 
was induced to name his price, a toy flute and a pound of 
sweets, always provided no sheep were lost. I then 
counted them out of the kraal to him, and, Wellington 
having arrived, I told Hall to saddle up. 

Hall was delighted at the idea of riding the handsome 
black horse. He rubbed up Jimmy's stirrups, and the 
snaffle and curb of his bridle, before putting them on his 
steed; he was determined he should look decently bitted 
for once, he said, alluding to the rusty state of Mr. Higgins's 
bits and stirrups. All his preparations being made, we 
started. We were not fairly on the flat, and I had only 
just began to canter, when Hall called out, 

" These stirrups are too small for me, missus." 

" Oh/' said I, cantering on. 

Presently I heard an angry ejaculation behind me. 

" What's the matter, Hall ? " asked I, looking round. 

"It's these stirrups," replied Hall. "They're 

babies' stirrups, not men's ; and the brute jumps so I 
can't stick on with such stirrups." 

" Well, take them off, and ride without them," quoth I. 

Hall had always spoken of himself as a good horseman. 
He got off, not looking much pleased. 

" Where can I put the things ? " he asked. 

" Across your saddle in front ;" but Hall declared he 
couldn't do that. " Well," said I, " tie them on to my 
saddle ; anything to push along ;" and off I started so 
soon as they were fastened as I directed. In a few 
minutes Hall was alongside of me. 

" I don't know what's the matter with the brute," he 
exclaimed ; " I never saw a horse go on as he does." 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 183 

Wellington was evidently very uncomfortable ; his 
rider was mismanaging him ; and besides he clearly 
disliked the snaffle together with the curb he was not 
accustomed to it. 

" Take off the snaffle/' said I ; and we stopped, and took 
off the snaffle. Then we started again. Wellington was 
fresh, and felt that his rider was not master over him, 
and it was all Hall could do to hold him in, whilst bumping 
up and down on Jimmy's small English saddle. The 
bumping was evidently becoming trying ; he shifted his 
position continually, and at last attempted sitting on his 
one hand whilst he checked Wellington too sharply with 
the other; at last 

" D the brute and this confounded saddle ! " he 

exclaimed ; and I very nearly burst out laughing. 

" Gently," I said. " What's the matter ? " 

"Why, who ever saw such a saddle?" exclaimed 
Hall. " No man could ride on a thing like that ; it's a 
child's saddle ;" he had been admiring it greatly while 
he was girthing it on. 

" Well/' said I consolingly, " perhaps I shall be able 
to get you a big Boer saddle at that house yonder /' a house 
belonging to Boers, who, though adverse to English 
rule, were very civil to me whenever I passed that way. 

Poor Hall ! How he did wriggle about and abuse his 
horse and his saddle, and everything but his own bad 
riding, until we reached the Boer farm; and then, oh, 
woe ! all the saddles were in use. 

" You have often ridden bare-backed, have you not ? " 
asked I. " Bare-backed, with a blanket strapped over 
the horse, would perhaps be better ? " Yes, Hall thought it 
would be better. We set off again. 

184 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

I was cantering sharply, but Wellington shot far ahead 
of me. 

"Steady/' I cried. 

" I can't stop the horse ; I never saw such a brute/ ' 
cried Hall in reply, tugging at the reins in a very un- 
horsemanlike fashion. 

He was beginning to get angry with the horse, and the 
horse with him. I knew Wellington to be a very pleasant- 
paced horse, and to have a very tender mouth, having 
ridden him myself, so I administered a little admonition 
to Hall as to keeping his temper. Presently, when I 
stopped and walked, I saw Hall deliberately get off Wel- 
lington and begin to walk by his side. I requested to 
know what he was about, and elicited from him that he 
intended to perform the rest of the journey to Moy-plas 
on foot. Now between Moy-plas and the place where we 
were was a farm, where there was an exceedingly savage 
dog. Few dogs are savage with me, but this dog made 
no exception in my favour ; and I had an unpleasant 
remembrance of a certain solitary moonlight ride home 
from Mrs. Materson's, whither I had gone on business, 
when this dog had pursued me for more than a mile, 
sometimes leaping at Eclipse's throat, and sometimes only 
kept from biting his legs by the horse's kicks, while I had 
to keep the brute from fastening on my habit by using 
my long hunting crop freely. If Eclipse had not known 
me and been fond of me, and withal been an intelligent 
horse, I knew he would have thrown me that night, and 
the dog would have worried me. I should not have been 
the first person who suffered from him, for he was the 
terror of all passers-by that way. I had counted on Hall 
as being able to cause a diversion in case this pleasant 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 185 

animal should attack me, and I was by no means disposed 
to forego his company before he had escorted me beyond 
Mr. Cucumoor's farm. I therefore summarily ordered 
him to mount, and once more started off at a smart 

When Cucumoor's farm was passed (without the dog 
being seen, by-the-way) I let him dismount, and leaving 
him to lead Wellington, pushed on for Moy-plas myself. 
How wretched he did look ! I knew he would make no 
fresh attempt at riding Wellington, so that it was quite 
safe to leave him. 

When I rode up to Moy-plas I found Arthur and 
William Sturton there. I believe the first thing I said 
was, " Has there been any horse-sickness here yet ? " I 
heard that there had not been, but that horses were dying 
fast in Pretoria. I told my story, and asked the loan of one 
of the two salted horses belonging to Percy. He said I 
might have my choice. In the meantime Arthur and 
William saddled up their salted steeds, and prepared to 
start home. They had been gone about an hour, when 
Harriett Sturton suddenly ran in from outside, exclaiming, 
" Oh ! what can be the matter ? Here is Arthur coming 
back again, leading his horse." Arthur soon told us. 
The salted horse had nearly fallen under him ; it had the 
horse-sickness. I felt greatly alarmed, thinking of Wel- 
lington, who had just come in with Hall. Arthur had to 
borrow one of Percy's salted horses to ride home on. In the 
evening Harriett and I went for a walk. Percy had ridden 
over to where his father was having a mill built. We had 
not gone far when I said, " Look at that horse ; it looks 
ill." It was a brown horse walking to meet us on the 
road, and looking very mournful. " Why, it looks lika 

1 86 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

Tommy/' said Harriett, " but Percy is not riding him." In 
a moment, a turn in the road showed us Percy carrying his 
saddle. The horse was the salted Tommy, and had fallen 
ill under him. Both horses died the next day, after I left 
for Pretoria. Hall had now no choice but to follow me 
on foot, to his great disgust. 

I put up at old Mr. Higgins's in Pretoria. He had a 
little cottage on the outskirts a miserable -looking place 
outside, but snug inside ; and he had a little stable, into 
which he kindly let me put Eclipse. Hall arrived late at 
night, very cross. The next day he found Sam and a 
brother of his, Mosam he was doubtful about finding 
Egerton and these two I engaged. I could not get them 
to come for less than four pounds a month. In the after- 
noon I was riding towards the market-square, and Hall 
was walking beside me, when, just as we passed a public- 
house, he turned and spoke to a man, then called to me, 
and presented the individual as Egerton. He was a man 
of apparently about five-and- thirty, with two black eyes, 
and a face whose general pallor betokened late heavy 
drinking and consequent illness. I did not want any 
more servants, having engaged the two coolies, and the 
man's appearance as he stood before me in a battered 
wide-awake, torn and dirty coat and trousers, and 
apologies for boots, was not prepossessing. I had, however, 
heard that Egerton had said, when Hall was leaving Pre- 
toria, " I would to God I could get out of the place," and 
so I thought I would see about it. 

" You would like to get employment on my farm?" said 
I. He answered in the affirmative without raising his 
eyes. " Can you do farm work : do you understand it ?" 

He answered he had worked on a farm for nine 

A Lady Trader in tJie Transvaal. 187 

months ; but, in reply to my questions as to whether he 
could drive oxen or plough, he said he could but try. 
It did not strike me that he would be a very valuable 
acquisition, but I saw that there was some sort of painful 
struggle goiug on in the man ; and, although he answered 
almost monosyllabically, his voice sounded refined. 

" What wages do you ask ? " 

He hesitated a little, then said six pounds a month. 

" No, I could not give you that," said I. " I give it 
to Hall, because I got him with a character of being a 
steady man, and one who thoroughly understood farming ; 
I should not give it to him otherwise." 

"And I have no character, or a bad one this," said 
Egerton, raising his hand to designate his black eyes. 
" Would you think five pounds too much for me to 

What trifles one is sometimes swayed by. A moment 
before I had almost determined to let the man go, but 
there was something in his voice and manner as he said 
this, that reminded me of the voice of a friend, of the 
manner which, had misfortune and his own fault placed 
him in Egerton's position, would have been his ; it was 
a very faint resemblance, but it told me that there was 
something better in Egerton than what appeared, and I 
said I would give him five pounds, and that he might 
walk down to Griinfontein the next day in company with 
Hall and the two coolies. I told him to call later in the 
day at Mr. Higgins's to sign his contract with me. He 
did so, and then went away. I was busy in the meantime 
getting offers for the contract for building my farm-house 
and out offices. To my surprise I found that I was known 
by name to a great many people in Pretoria whom I did 

1 88 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

not know at all, was indeed a small celebrity as a rich and 
enterprising farmer. I, of course, knew that there were 
unexpressed additions to these two adjectives, viz., 
" inexperienced/' " green," and ' ' fair game." I could 
get no offer for the execution of my plan which did not 
enormously exceed Mr. Higgins's estimate. I also heard 
much talk as to the large price I had paid to Mr. Higgins 
for my farm; when I said that I had not paid for it at all, 
and that he would let me throw it up if I chose, people 
laughed, and said I " had better try him." Of course I 
was offered other farms, which were all described as far 
more desirable than the one I had. 

The next day the rain poured down in torrents, and 
the third day also. On the first rainy day, Egerton, who, 
together with his companions, was unable on account of 
the rain to set out for Griinfontein, came to Mr. Higgins's 
house. I think he must have been there standing outside 
for some time before I happened to go to the door. 
" Could you ask Mr. Higgins if I might sleep in the 
stable," he said, " it is so very wet ? " The question told 
a terrible story. He slept in the stable, and the Higginses 
gave him some food. I had been obliged to put Hall up 
at the Edinburgh at ten shillings a day, I could not get 
him boarded for less. The next day the men started ; I 
had given them provisions for the road. Sam celebrated 
his exit from Pretoria by getting gloriously drunk. I 
remained behind for two days, partially on account of 
Mrs. James Higgins having come up to Pretoria for a 
fourth little baby's advent. Her husband had had to hire 
an unfurnished house, and bring up furniture for it in his 
waggon. She liked me to be with her, so I stayed. The 
fever was yet hanging about me, and I was still troubled 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 189 

with the fever sores, and did not much enjoy the idea of 
my ride home j however, on Saturday at about half-past 
three, I saddled up, having managed to get through my 
various engagements at last. 

It was rather late to start on a twenty-four miles' ride 
in the early part of March ; however, I was too anxious 
to get Eclipse away from unhealthy Pretoria, to wait 
longer than necessary, and although I felt very tired, 
having been walking all the morning, I cantered sharply 
until I reached the farm which is situated midway 
between Pretoria and Moy-plas. I had calculated that if 
I could do the distance in three hours and a half I should 
get in just before dark, for there was no moon. I had 
kept time so far, but I could not hold out. The pain of 
those dreadful sores was becoming unbearable when I 
cantered, and I felt almost too weak to sit in the saddle. 
Eclipse, on the contrary, was very gay and festive, and as 
the rays of the declining sun glanced on the sticks or stones 
he passed, he would pretend to be frightened, and shy in 
play. It is tedious as well as tiring to walk twelve miles 
on horseback. The last faint streaks of day lighted me 
across the Crocodile ; then it became pitch dark. I could 
hardly see Eclipse's pretty little head as he tossed it up 
and down impatiently ; as to guiding him it was out of the 
question. But my little horse was quite able to take care 
of both of us. Winding about, now down a steep and 
stony ravine, now up the other side, turning cleverly round 
bushes and trees, he brought me safe to near the back- 
door of Moy-plas, where he was assailed by a troop of 
dogs, whose barks and yelps soon ceased at the sound of 
my voice, but who heralded my arrival to the supper-party 
inside. Old Mr. Sturton, as he stood by me while I 

i go A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

ungirthed Eclipse, said, " I suppose you know about the 
black horse ? " " What ? " I exclaimed. " It's dead." 1 
felt that I turned deadly pale ; the horse was worth a 
hundred pounds, and I could ill afford to lose that sum. 
Mr. Sturton saw my face by the light of the lantern. 
He began to laugh. " It's my son William's black horse," 
he said, " not Bob's." 

After giving Eclipse his supper in an outhouse, I went 
in to my own. 

Very cosy the long, low room, with the well-spread 
supper-table looked, after my dark and weary ride, very 
cheery were the familiar kind faces of those seated round 
it, and very pleasant was their hearty welcome. Little 
did we all think that evening, when, forgetting my 
fatigue under these varied influences, I sat telling the 
news from Pretoria, that before that day twelvemonths, all 
that would remain of that comfort hard won comfort, 
too would be the bare walls, which may perhaps even 
yet fall victims to the revenge of the Boers ! 

There was one unfamiliar face, however, amongst my 
listeners. It was that of a little man who sat back from 
the rest for supper was just over when I entered and 
who struck me as being a stranger to the Sturtons as 
well as to myself. He was apparently between fifty and 
sixty, chubby, self-possessed, apparently on very good 
terms with himself, and engaged in a close scrutiny of 
everybody present, with a way of putting his head a little 
on one side in order to assist his investigations. This 
little man was so strikingly like a little cock-sparrow, that 
when he made any observation it almost sounded like a 

The next morning at breakfast there was talk about 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 191 

my intended buildings, about what had been asked by 
the contractors I had spoken to in Pretoria, about the 
servants I had engaged, and who had passed by Moy-plas 
the previous day. There was a general impression that 
Egerton would be found worth nothing, the coolies worth 
little, but Hall worth a great deal. Mr. Sturton had let him 
have Wellington to ride home on, much to my horror, 
for I knew that he was not fit to be trusted with a horse. 
Egerton had gone on alone, the coolies remaining half a 
day behind him to prepare and discuss a currie, for which 
purpose they had bought a fowl from the Sturtons. Mr. 
Sparrow listened to all this with his head on one side. 
After breakfast I loitered about. I always feel lazy on 
Sunday mornings, and besides, I was tired. Harriett had 
got a little pig as a pet, a jolly fat little beast that trotted 
about everywhere after her, and was very good-tempered, 
except when any one but Harriett happened to incon- 
venience it, then it made furious onslaughts on the 
offender's legs. There was the garden to look at, but 
after a while I became interested in some remarks Mr. 
Sparrow made to me about farm-buildings : they betokened 
that he knew something about such things, and we began 
to talk seriously. Presently he asked me whether I would 
show him my plan; I did so, and then he pointed out 
various faults in it, and I saw that he was right. He 
gave me several valuable hints, all in the way a benevolent 
sparrow might have done, and at last said, that if I would 
allow him, he would draw me a plan which would, he 
thought, please me better quite disinterestedly just 
because it was such a pleasure to see any one so enter- 
prising so energetic ; he was engaged in carrying out 
another contract, for he was an architect ; indeed, he was 

192 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

in such request, because of his superior knowledge, that 
he had no spare time, that his head his head, and he 
shook it a little as he thought of his sad case was over- 
taxed ; still, for a lady, and such a praiseworthy energetic 
lady, he would put on the strain. All this, and much 
more that was eulogistic of himself and me, did this 
benevolent specimen of the sparrow tribe twitter forth, 
whilst I thought to myself what a sly old bird it was. 

However, disinterested or not, Mr. Sparrow evidently 
was a great deal more advanced than any one else I was 
likely to meet with, in knowledge of the sort of building 
I was anxious to erect. In the midst of the abundance of 
his self -laudatory and adulatory twitters I could see that 
he was also an original, and he amused me greatly; so I 
accepted his offer, and we parted very good friends. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 193 


I SADDLED up after dinner, but alas ! my first short canter 
showed me that I should have to make Eclipse walk the 
eighteen miles home. It was a dreary look-out, but there 
was no help for it. Soon I saw a slight figure walking 
towards me, the figure of a young fellow dressed in coat, 
trousers, and wide-awake a white youngster too. Who 
could he be ? None of the young men at Lettie Matersen's 
farm, I knew; neither was he any of the Sturtons of Moy- 
plas ; he was not one of the Nells : who could he be ? It 
is unusual to see a Boer walking at any distance from his 
house, and the pedestrian was evidently of the well-to-do 
classes. The figure and I were diminishing the distance 
between us all this time, and then I saw with surprise 
that the youngster was Jimmy. He had terminated his 
wanderings by getting employment as tutor to two small 
Boers. The paternal Boer was going out trading, taking 
his youngsters in his waggon ; Jimmy was going too. 
The waggon was outspanned for a short time at Mrs. 
Matersen's. Jimmy had been to Griinfontein ; had heard 
of how his riding accoutrements had been dropped along 
the road ; had picked up bridle and saddle at Griinfontein, 
whither Hall had taken them, and was now going to 
Hoy-pias to pick up his stirrups. I wished him God- 

194 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

speed in his new life, and we parted. I had yet to pass 
Cucumoor's dog. I saw the brute sitting on the top of 
the rise across which the road went, and no sooner did 
he spy me than he began to bark and wag his tail in a 
fiendish manner it appeared to me. I had heard that the 
Cucumoors were adverse to the English, and that they 
would encourage the dog to assault any one belonging to 
our race; but I suddenly made up my mind to beard 
Cucumoor in his den (a mud-hut), and turning Eclipse 
off the road I cantered towards the house, whereupon 
Mr. Dog did the same. Then I saw three small Cucu- 
moors running towards me. The cause of their empresse- 
ment was that a baby related to some member of the 
Cucumoor family had the thrush. They expostulated 
with the dog, and introduced me to a wonderfully large 
family, of several men, still more women, a good many 
hobbledehoy girls, a troop of small children, and a 
sprinkling of infants, all related in some inextricable 
manner, and all capable of being compressed when 
necessary, like " Alice in Wonderland," judging from the 
diminutive size of the house compared with the number 
of its occupants. 

During the day they only enter it by relays, so the 
eyes of the uninitiated are not favoured with a view of 
them in a compressed condition. Cucumoor's house- 
hold was no more surprising in this respect than many 
others, but the family was the largest, as compared to 
their house, I had yet seen. They were very friendly. 
They gave me coffee, and I gave them a prescription. 
They asked what they were to pay; and when I said, 
" Nothing," they beamed. They laughed at my absurd 
efforts to speak their dialect, and I laughed too ; and we 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 195 

parted excellent friends, after I had learnt the name of 
the dog or rather dogs, for there were two of them. The 
savage was a jolly dog when you had a personal intro- 
duction to him, and his name was " Docks." This was 
supposed to be an English name, and was derived from 
the English word " dog." I heard it was a favourite 
name for a dog amongst the Boers. 

It was nearly dark when I reached Grriinfontein. Williams 
was better (he went away soon after). Several sheep were 
missing, but I afterwards recovered them ; and there were 
two English brickmakers awaiting my arrival, anxious to 
get the job to go on with the bricks a desire in which I 
gratified them. I began work in earnest now. The next day 
I went for my oxen. I had a plough already. Mosamma was 
a very fair driver, and a splendid cook; he was also conceited, 
lazy, and good-for-nothing, but his curries were delicious ! 
Sam was not a bad fellow, but he was for some unknown 
reason the bounden slave of his younger brother. Eger- 
ton worked hard and spoke little, and Hall continued to 
develope quickly; he also in a very short time showed 
clearly that he could not hold a plough properly, or drive 
a span he was in short an agricultural Mr. Winkle. 
He was greatly disgusted at my clear perception of his 
ignorance, and put on extra bumptiousness. Then I 
administered a rebuke, the result of which was that the 
next morning he said he wished to leave me, and as I had 
meant to send him away, we agreed perfectly. I had 
been lately in the habit of having my meals in my tiny 
bedroom, while Hall and Egerton had theirs in the sitting- 
room, the coolies of course eating outside. I had often 
listened to Hall's loud talk, and observed Egerton's 
reticence and different mode of speech. I had no doubt 

o 2 

196 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

now that he was a gentleman by education and early 
association, although fallen from that estate. So on 
Hall's going away I took my meals with him. 

I had one difficulty with respect to him. The coolies 
called him " Jack," as Hall had done. It was evidently 
out of the question for this to be allowed, if Egerton was 
to be treated as a gentleman by me, and after a few days 
of more intimate acquaintance with him, I saw that it 
would be unjust to treat him otherwise. I knew, how- 
ever that the two bumptious coolies, though respectful 
enough to me, would rebel at this, and probably leave me 
at the end of the month. However, I took heart of 
grace, and with a regretful eye at the finishing of the 
dam, the ploughing, the cutting of poles for fencing in 
the land, &c., I told them that henceforth he was to be 
called Mr. Egerton. They looked glum, but obeyed. 
In the mean time, about a day after Hall's departure, as 
the sun was setting, and as I was getting the table ready 
for tea, a German, of the thorough good working German 
type, presented himself at my little cabin door. I knew my 
man at once, and engaged him on his own terms, six pounds 
a month, and he was worth even more. Quiet, quaint, 
like one of the figures in some German etching illus- 
trative of German country life, doing everything he did 
thoroughly and unostentatiously, with a love for a quiet 
chat over a pipe when work was done, careful of any animal 
whether belonging to him or committed to his charge, 
shrewd, business-like, strictly respectful, but with a tho- 
roughly good opinion of himself, my new acquisition, in 
his respectable dress, his enormous flat hat, under which 
his kindly and merry blue eyes twinkled, with his rugged 
face and greyish moustache, and his talk about father- 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 197 

land, conjured up pleasant visions of my childish days 
before me. He had been many years in Africa, but had 
fought in the Franco-Prussian war, and had also fought 
the Kaffirs as a volunteer. So had Mr. Egerton in 
fact, as a rule every man you meet here has been a 
volunteer and they had had some slight acquaintance 
with each other. 

The men who were making the bricks an old man, Joe, 
and a young man, Jim had also been in the volunteers 
at Secocoonee's, and so all were more or less acquainted. 
They all called Mr. Egerton by his surname, and I left 
that alone. The work, all but the dam, now got on well ; 
but I had to give up the idea of making the embankment 
of the dam until I could build it up properly, and for that 
I had no lime ; a second attempt at an earthwork embank- 
ment failed also. Pigsties had to be built, for so soon 
as the crops began to come up, the pigs could no longer 
be left to wander about. A large water-furrow was taken 
out, leading through the large dam to the small dam, and 
thence down to the new lands below; the garden had 
to be got into order ; the poles cut for the wire fencing 
which I intended to get fixed round the upper lands ; and 
the ploughing and sowing had to be done. In the midst 
of all this, one evening Jimmy made his appearance. He 
had tired of teaching, but was going to help in the 
Higginses' store at Fahl-bank ; until they were ready for 
him he had come to me. He had to sleep with Mr. 
Egerton in the sitting-room. The German slept in the 
stable by preference, and of course he helped in various 
ways Griinfontein was no place for idlers. Reva no 
longer came, except to do the washing, and the coolies 
cooked, so that we had much better dinners, a change 

198 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

which Jimmy appreciated. On the whole we were very 

Mr. Sparrow appeared one morning with his plan and 
a very good one it was, vastly superior to mine ; and at 
last we arranged that he was to have the contract for the 
house, I was to find material, he labour. He said he 
would send me his partner shortly, who would give me a 
specification of what would be required, and of the pro- 
bable cost ; that he had arranged so as to be able to do 
my work ; that he must ask me to send my waggon to 
bring a few things from where they were, behind the 
mountain, to my place. He kept up the fiction of his 
suffering head, and his disposition to sacrifice himself, to 
a certain extent, for my advantage spoke of how he 
would not do so for a man oh, dear no ! (and the head 
was shaken gently), kept it up delightfully and as it 
seemed an agreeable pastime to him I never interfered, 
but seemed to accept it all as gospel. The brickmakers 
in the meantime got a Kaffir to help them, and progressed 
well. I paid them at the usual rate, a pound per thousand, 
and they found themselves. Joe was nothing remarkable ; 
but Jim was a fine young fellow, and when I was at times 
in want of help, showed himself to be a good practical 
farmer. He kept his own place, was never pushing, but 
had a frank hearty manner that was very taking. 

A few days after Mr. Sparrow's departure I had ridden 
to and from the valley, and coming back late, long after 
dark, owing to having to go out of my road considerably in 
order to avoid a grass fire, I remarked that Eclipse was 
ill. He carried me well, but I knew even before I got off 
him that he was going to have an attack of a peculiar and 
dangerous kind such as he had had a short time before. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 199 

I got him into the stable and applied all necessary remedies 
as quickly as I could ; but the poor horse was in terrible 
agony, and at last I thought I should certainly lose him. 
We all the coolies excepted sat up in the little ante- 
room to the stable, and at length, after a heavy dose of 
opium, he got better, and we were just thinking of leaving 
him and going to supper it was about eleven o'clock 
when we heard a scrambling sound amongst the rocks 
and bushes below where we stood, and then a voice asking 
if this were Grii nfoiitein. On our answering in the affirma- 
tive, a man and horse made their appearance, and the man 
presented himself as Mr. Sparrow's partner. He had 
ridden on in front of the waggon I had sent under the 
charge of Mosamma and Dahl Nell to fetch him and his 
things, and had lost his way. We all adjourned into the 
little sitting-room after I had seen his horse given food, 
and after supper the German retired to the stable, and 
Mr. O'Grady made up a bed for himself in the house, in 
company with Mr. Egerton and Jimmy. 

Mr. O'Grady was an Africander, and a very singular 
person. He had a perplexing habit of answering at 
random at times, like a person who is deaf or who is 
listening to a foreign language ; yet he was not deaf, and 
he habitually spoke English. He was fond of using long 
words, and had a disposition to laugh in an unreasonable 
and unaccountable manner. He might have been taken 
to be very simple, or very deep. He affected rather to 
patronize Mr. Sparrow, who in his turn spoke of him 'in 
like manner. He was certainly very obliging and good- 
natured. He informed me that Mosamma and Dahl had got 
drunk together, and had behaved very badly, on the road. 
The waggon came in the next day, while Mr. Egerton and 

2oo A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

I were at work thatching the pigsties. I called Dahl 
Nell up to me, and in Mosamma' s presence gave him a 
good blowing up, laying stress on the fact, that disgrace- 
ful as it was for a man to get drunk at all, the disgrace 
was still greater when a black man was his boon com- 
panion. I did this, partly because I knew it was a rebuke 
Dahl would wince under, partly because I saw it was 
necessary to snub Mr. Mosamma; not because I thought 
there was really any sense in what I said, but then it 
would evidently have been throwing pearls before swine 
to have taken high ground in talking to my two auditors. 
They were both very angry, and yet felt very much 
humiliated, which was just what I wanted. 

A few days after Jimmy complained to me that 
Mosamma had called him " Jimmy," and had been dis- 
respectful to him ; and on my speaking to my friend on 
the subject, he got into a terrible fury, and said that I 
was his mistress, and that he would always treat me with 
respect, but that as to the others he was as good as they 
were, with all their masters and mistresses ! This, from a 
low-caste Indian, who knew that I knew what he was in 
his own country, for I had spoken to him in Hindustani, 
was strong, and I put him down pretty smartly. The 
result was that two days after, having finished their 
month, the two worthies departed (I heard them as they 
passed Jimmy and Mr. Egerton say derisively, " Good- 
bye, Mister; good-bye, Master"), and Jimmy having to 
leave for Fahl-plas the day after, I was on the eve of 
being left in the lurch once more for want of labour, as 
two men cannot manage ploughing, and sowing, with 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 201 


IT was evident that something must be done under the 
circumstances, and that quickly. The German said he knew 
where he could get good Kaffirs to work, at a missionary 
station. He told me the name. It was eight hours on 
horseback from Griiufontein. I sounded him a little as to 
whether he would walk there to get them ; evidently he was 
not disposed to do so. I had no horse but Eclipse, and he 
was not well ; besides, even without its being horse-sick- 
ness time, I had no fancy to trust Eclipse to a stranger ; 
I knew he would make a battle of it between his rider and 
himself at some part of the journey, and if he were the 
conqueror, where should I get my Kaffirs ? If the rider 
were the conqueror, it would only be after severe punish- 
ment had been inflicted, and I did not care for my horse 
to be punished by any one but me. However, the horse 
as it was could not go ; he was still weak from his attack 
of colic. In this dilemma I bethought me of Mr. 0' Grady, 
and of his horse a sorry brute, but if there be any truth 
in the theory of salting, it certainly was salted. It had 
been through the Zulu war, had had horse-sickness, and 
had recovered. I asked him if he would lend me the 
animal, I of course taking all risks ; and he very kindly 
consented. The German set forth on a Saturday, and the 

2O2 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

next morning Jimmy too bade me good-bye. So Mr. 
Egerton and I were left sole possessors of Griinfontein. 
There was plenty of work for him in the garden, and for 
me in various ways. I had no one to help me now, for 
Reva had gone, as I think I said before, and she only 
washed for me, and I had been unable to get any boy to 
mind the sheep. There were several who would have 
come, and played noisily all day near the house or in the 
garden with other little Kaffirs, whom they would have 
invited to spend the day and have dinner with them, but 
there was not one who would mind the sheep, so I pre- 
ferred doing without them. 

Mr. Higgins's sheep were constantly coming astray by 
twenties or thirties into my kraal, and his cattle were 
constantly causing me damage by trampling down the 
sides of the leading water-furrow. Numbers of Mr. 
Higgins's sheep got lost on the mountains, and at last one 
of his Kaffirs asked me to go and count them out of the 
kraal one morning, to see how many were away. I did so, 
and found more than a hundred missing. I cleaned the 
house and the pots and pans, and washed up the dishes, 
counted the sheep out of the kraal, cleaned Eclipse and 
the stable, cooked dinner, calling Mr. Egerton from 
the garden occasionally to look after the sheep when they 
wandered to an unhealthy part of the veldt, or to help 
with lifting the big pot and kettle, for the fire was on the 
ground, and I had a tendency to tumble into it if I had to 
move anything heavy ; then towards evening, after I had 
washed up the things, I cut Eclipse's bed for the night, or 
helped in the garden at clearing the weeds. After supper 
Mr. Egerton and I played chess on a small pasteboard 
chess-board which I made, with absurd little chess-men 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 203 

that he had cut out of wood, and \ve talked of all sorts of 
things of which I had not talked since I came to Africa. 
Mr. Egerton was very fond of painting, and of reading, 
and I think it was as pleasant to him as to me to meet 
with a person to whom he could talk about anything 
except every-day topics. 

Days went on, and the German did not return. On 
Friday, Jim came to the cottage to buy some meal. 

" Strange that German not a coming back," said Jim. 

"Yes/' I said. 

" I'm a thinking he must a taken the wrong road," 
said Jim. 

"Why what wrong road?" asked I; "he knew the 
road. I don't think he can have taken the wrong road/' 

Jim's eyes twinkled, " Well, I was a thinking as he 
might a taken it on purpose," said Jim. 

"What!" I exclaimed. 

" Well," continued Jim in a stolid sort of way, although 
with a twinkle in his eye, " I said to my mate when I 
saw him a ridin' off on that there horse, as how he'd 
never come back." 

" Do you really think he has stolen the horse ? " I 

" Lor bless you, ma'am, yes," said Jim, smiling at my 
simplicity. " I did say to my mate as how it would be 
well if we was to offer to let our Kaffir go for you to get 
boys from his kraal ; but then, you see, I said it certainly 
was no business of ours." 

" I wish you had warned me, Jim," I said. " I never 
thought of his stealing the horse ! " 

" You have to be very particular in these parts, ma'am," 
said Jim, " more especially with them furriners. I knew a 

204 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

Frenchman as jumped a horse " and he paused reflec- 
tively. " No, ma'am, I've no manner of doubt as how 
he's in the Free State now with that there horse." 

This was pleasant. I went down to Mr. O'Grady 's 
little canvas house below the spur where the hut stood. 
Mr. O'Grady still believed in the German's honesty. So 
did Mr. Egerton. But days went on ; Saturday came, and 
Sunday, and passed. Jim was triumphant; we had all 
given up the missing German. He had asked me to give 
him some money for the road, saying, he had none of his 
own, and what I had given him amounted to his wages 
the things he had left behind were of no value. I gave 
him up at last, and I told Mr. O'Grady that he must name 
his price for the horse. He said that there was a salted 
horse for sale, in the valley, for twenty-six or seven pounds, 
and that, if he liked it when he saw it, he would ask me to 
buy it for him. He was to see it on Tuesday. 

On Monday evening Mr. Egerton and I had finished 
supper and were playing chess (Mr. O'Grady lived in 
his canvas house), when the dogs jumped up and barked, 
there was a sound of horses' hoofs and the German rode 
up, with three Kaffirs following him. He had been de- 
layed owing to the difficulty of getting Kaffirs. He said 
he knew that we should all think he had jumped the 
horse. He was very good-humoured about it when we 
confessed we had thought so, made us each a present of a 
handkerchief he had bought at the missionary's store, and 
ate a hearty supper. Two days after I engaged two other 
Kaffirs, and the work went on quickly and well. Jimmy 
used to come over of a Saturday to spend Sunday, 
when we used to be very merry, carrying our conversa- 
tions on sometimes until after we were all in bed at least 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 205 

if Mr. Egerton's and Jimmy's blankets could be called 
bed, the partition between my room and the sitting-room 
not in any way impeding it. Mr. O'Grady, in the mean- 
time, drew a multiplicity of plans and elevations and 
diagrams of doors and windows, and partitions of stalls, 
&c., but I could not get him to give me the specification 
I wanted; he said he must wait for his partner and 
his partner was not forthcoming. 

At last one afternoon he appeared. He was full of 
importance ; he twittered and chirped, and said now 
everything would go on delightfully. I pressed him for 
the specification, and at last a very detailed one was 
offered for my inspection. I went over it carefully, and 
got Mr. Sparrow to give me estimates as to cost. It 
ran up much higher than he had led me to suppose it 
would. It was very hard to bring things to a clear 
understanding, for he twittered and chirped so much 
about his head, and how overtaxed his brain was, and 
made so many digressions about the society he was used 
to, and so many polite speeches to me, that time went 
by, and I was often obliged to interrupt our business 
talks, to go about necessary household duties ; but at last 
I pointed out things I should wish cut out, as merely 
unnecessary luxuries, and the specification was taken back 
to be revised. 

It was drawing near the time when the Higginses were 
to return, and at last I got a letter telling me when I 
might expect them. They had left me the key of Sur- 
prise, and sometimes on Sundays I would walk over there 
to air the house; or sometimes, if the moon was up, I 
would go after work was over, and play on the piano. On 
one of these occasions I remember being struck by Mr. 

206 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

Egerton's delight at seeing a carpet which I had stretched 
out in one of the rooms. He said he had not seen one 
for years, that it was quite refreshing. It was also re- 
freshing to me to hear any one say, as he did, when by 
chance I happened to turn over a waltz and play it, 
" Oh, don't play that stupid thing ; go on with Norma, or 
Mozart's Twelfth Mass/' 

Looking forward to the Higginses' return, I was often 
struck by the curious gulf that lies invariably between 
the European settlers in this country and those born in it 
a gulf which is rendered wider, doubtless, when the 
European settler has been bred amongst all the refine- 
ments of European life, but which exists even when he is 
of the lower middle, or even of the labouring class. To 
the European, life here is an excitement it is a race 
after wealth. There is something of the spirit of the 
gambler in all who try their fortunes out here. They 
may work in the fields sowing crops, or they may tend 
their herds and flocks unexciting occupations you would 
say but all this represents a portion of a game on which 
they have generally staked all they have ; and to all, there 
must be something of excitement in such a game, whether 
it be dice or oxen, cards or seeds of corn, that are the 
counters. Then further ; until a settler here becomes 
demoralized, he always looks forward to something beyond 
what he has it may be to go home ; it may be to bring 
some dear one out to him ; it may be to become very rich 
for the mere sake of being very rich ; but there is always 
something. How different are this man's thoughts, as he 
glances over his cultivated lauds, and at his live-stock, 
from those of the Africander farmer, who, standing per- 
chance by his side, thinks of all his possessions as things 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 207 

that lie lias perhaps won by toil, but with which, now 
that he has them, he is contented, looking for nothing 
beyond. His crops will realize a price which will enable 
him to live as he is living. If they fetch a higher price 
than usual, he can perhaps get a new waggon, or indulge 
in a half-bred English horse ; or perhaps, if he be a very 
enterprising character, he may think he will some time 
take his children to Natal, and let them behold the sea, 
and the great ships that he would be afraid to trust him- 
self on, though, may be, he has faced a lion in his day ; 
his cows will calve, his ewes will lamb, and he will every 
year mark some of their little ones for his own little ones, 
so that when they are men and women they- too will 
have flocks and herds, without having to take away from 
their old father. The two talk of the market-prices, and 
of the oxen, &c., as if they had a common interest; but 
they are as far separated from each other as a gamester 
is from the man who plays a quiet rubber of whist for 
sweets, with his wife and children of an evening. Of 
course if, joined to this, there be in the one the existence of 
a remembrance of all the artistic culture the refinement 
the romance the historic remains which can be the 
portion only of him who has lived in old countries, and 
which is denied to one born and bred in South Africa, 
the gulf is enormously widened. Once this had struck 
me forcibly at Surprise, when Mr. Higgins, looking at a 
representation of an angel on the cover of a photograph- 
book that was lying on the table, said to me, " What 
a beautiful thing ! I wonder if there can exist such 
beautiful things." " I don't think that is so very beauti- 
ful," I said. " One can easily imagine a more beautiful 
angel than that." I remember the look in his eyes as he 

2o8 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

said, ' c Yes, I dare say you can. But do you know, I don't 
think any of us Africanders can imagine much ; we 
haven't got the training ; we never see anything. " 
I felt so sorry for what I had said, but his words were a 
commentary on what I said before as to the common- 
placeness of the country. What training more than that 
which Nature gives him does an Italian, or a Swiss, or 
even many a German or Frenchman want, to render him 
capable of imagining things of beauty ? "What taught 
the Greeks to become masters of the beautiful to all suc- 
ceeding ages ? Mr. Higgins was a man capable of 
admiring nature ; his wife had a most sensitive apprecia- 
tion of natural beauties, but they had never seen beauty. 
The greatest beauty Mr. Higgins ever saw, by his own 
confession, was a sunset lighting up the valley that lay 
below Surprise. I remember, one evening, his asking 
me in good faith if I had ever seen anything to surpass 
it in all my wanderings. 

The consciousness that this great gulf lay between the 
Higginses and myself, struck me painfully now. It was 
irremediable ; but as I looked forward to their return, 
and felt how delighted I was that I should soon see them, 
I could not help lamenting in my heart, that our friend- 
ship should have this flaw in it. 

One evening after dark, Fiervaree came to the door of 
the cabin to say that Mr. Higgins had come, and wanted 
the key of the house. The waggons were to come in 
next day. I had just got the specification from Mr. 
Sparrow, and he had brought me the contract to sign as 
well, but I declined signing it until I had gone to Pre- 
toria to see about the prices of material. Mr. Sparrow 
had urged me to go quickly, and said Mr. O'Grady could 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 209 

go with me, that he would give me every opportunity of 
getting things cheaply, and would save me a great deal 
of trouble. Mr. Sparrow was disturbed in his mind 
about one thing. Mr. O'Grady was, he twittered, a very 
young man a good young man ; he did not like to 
expose him to the temptations to be met with at Pre- 
toria ; could not I suggest any place where he could stay 
with some kind, respectable family ? Mr. Sparrow was 
paternally interested. It struck me that as Mr. O'Grady 
was considerably over twenty, and had been in the 
volunteers, he must have seen sufficient of this wicked 
world and its doings, for his innocence not to suffer much 
from a three days' stay in Pretoria. I said I was sorry, 
but I could only suggest that he could sleep at the 
waggon. Then there was one other little point that Mr. 
Sparrow was uneasy about. He was subject to palpita- 
tions, and he wanted a bottle of brandy, but he did not 
like to put temptation in a young man's way, although 
Mr. O'Grady was sober oh, yes, a strictly sober young 
man indeed, said the little bird, shaking its head at me 
as if it had discovered me in a mental doubt as to the 
young man's virtuous disposition with regard to alco- 
holic drinks. Would I be so good as to bring him a 
bottle of brandy ? Thinking that Mr. O'Grady must be 
a very odd young man if he found no difficulty in re- 
fraining from entering the public-houses of Pretoria, 
but was liable to fall into the error of uncorking and 
drinking out of a bottle of brandy belonging to some- 
body else and entrusted to his charge, I replied that I 
would bring the brandy myself with pleasure. 

I passed the day before I was to start, on horseback, 
for Pretoria with Mr. O'Grady as my companion, princi- 


2io A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

pally at Surprise, taking the plans with me. I went 
there also in the morning on the day of my departure. 
Somehow Mr. Sparrow seemed to take it ill my showing 
the plans to Mr. Higgins ; and he and his partner had 
some disagreement, in which they were mixed up with 
some men they had hired to work, one of whom I had 
cautioned them against, as belonging to the drunken trio 
I had had working on the dam. They seemed irritated, 
and talked a great deal, until I was obliged to cut them 
short and saddle up. I gave Mr. O'Grady a little start 
of me. As I bade Mr. Sparrow good-bye, he laid his 
hand impressively on my horse's neck. " Now remem- 
ber," he said, "you need do nothing, absolutely nothing. 
Mr. O'Grady will save you all trouble. You must just 
let him know where he can find you whenever he wants 
you, at any moment, and he will do everything." I said 
I felt much obliged for Mr. O'Grady 's benevolent inten- 
tions as to my comfort. 

The German had already started for Pretoria in charge 
of the waggon. He could not drive, but had a Kaffir as 
driver, and also a Kaffir foreloper, but of course I wanted 
a responsible man in charge. I only hoped he would not 
become irresponsible at Pretoria. 

I had promised to see on my way to Moy-plas, where 
I meant to sleep, the wife of a certain Fenter, an old 
Boer, whose house was not far from Cucumoor's. Fenter 
had ridden over to Surprise that morning to beg of me 
to do so, and I had promised; but the little Sparrow and 
his partner had delayed me, and it was rather late when 
I started. Added to this, Mr. O'Grady's sorry little pony 
was not up to keeping to a quick canter, although his 
master insisted he was. He would not let me leave him 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 2 1 1 

and ride on alone ; he said he was afraid of losing the road ; 
and he protested that his horse was so fresh he absolutely 
had to hold him in ; although, if I cantered fast for any 
time, I could hear the poor little animal blowing behind me, 
and hear a cut given to it every now and then ; and once, 
when Eclipse got far before it, it lifted up its poor little 
voice and whinnied for him to stop. Of course after that 
I kept Eclipse at a very slow pace, and so by the time we 
had to take the turn for Fenter' s house it was nearly dark. 
The house was a very small one, built of unburnt brick, 
and, as is general with Boer, or even English Africanders' 
houses, stuck down in the veldt without any attempt at 
making its surroundings pretty. Hearing the horse's 
tramp, Fenter, a small, thin, delicate-looking old man, 
came out. He was surprised to see me so late, and sur- 
prised, too, to see me with a companion. I introduced 
Mr. O'Grady as a builder, which explained everything; 
and then I told how I had been delayed, and asked old 
Fenter whether he could give me stabling for Eclipse. 
He said " Yes, for both horses." I did not ask whether 
he could put O'Grady and me up, for, arriving late at a 
Boer's house on such an errand as mine, I knew that to 
be unnecessary; some sort of shakedown was sure to be 
provided. After I had cleaned Eclipse, and given him 
his forage, I adjourned to the house. There old Fenter 
introduced me to Mrs. Fenter. As is very often the case 
amongst the Boers, the lady's proportions made up for 
what was wanting in those of her lord and master. If 
old Mrs. Fenter had been asked to sit in a stall at the 
Italian Opera, I don't think she would have been able to 
get in. She was a jolly-looking woman by nature, but 
just then she looked somewhat woebegone, having ery- 

p 2 

212 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

sipelas in her face not badly, but doubtless enough to be 
very uncomfortable. Old Fenter was deaf. Mrs. Fenter 
having tied up her head in numerous bandages, was so 
artificially. O'Grady sat on the edge of his chair, and 
grinned at nothing in particular, occasionally varying his 
amusement by a chuckle, also at nothing in particular. Old 
Fenter occasionally asked a question of me, or made re- 
marks about O'Grady and myself to his wife not offen- 
sively; personally I have seldom found Boers offensive but 
from a sort of natural rudeness which is in the race, and with 
which, being natural, it would be absurd to get annoyed. 
A little girl who helped in the house, and who I suppose 
was some sort of relation, looked covertly at me, and 
when she caught my eye smiled pleasantly and rather 
shyly, whilst I endeavoured in bad Dutch, to converse 
or rather, to hold a soliloquy. This was a thing I was 
getting accustomed to not very amusing, but good as 
practice. My auditors were generally much what they 
were in this case, only the number of fat women and shy 
little girls with pleasant smiles was sometimes multiplied, 
and a hulking young man or two, or a young matron 
already running to fat, thrown in. The soliloquy always 
had the same headings the big dam I was making (the 
biggest dam in that part of the country, some one would 
always remark parenthetically), the fine span of salted 
oxen I had bought from Mr. Higgins, at which some 
one would always say, " Are you sure they are salted ? " 
and when I said I had been at Surprise when they 
salted, they would wag their heads and say, " Ah, yes, 
that is right," and ask the price, and wag their heads 
again, and say, " Ah, yes, that was not too much for salted 
oxen, real salted oxen oxen that had had redwater and 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 2 1 3 

lung-sick." Then I would tell what crops I was going 
to put in, and ask advice about it (the Boers like an 
English person to ask advice from them) ; and then I 
would tell of how I thought I might get manure from 
Hermann Potchieter's old kraal, which would lead to a 
little discussion between members of the family I was 
talking to, and give me time to think what should be my 
next heading ; and then I would tell how many sheep in 
my kraal had had fever ; and when I was running very 
low, I knew I could always make the whole party laugh 
by saying how I had tried to make bread myself, and 
how bad it was. That point was always a success, and 
led to my being asked whether the Boer bread was not 
nice ; and that led to my saying how very nice the Boer 
biscuits were, and that we did not know how to make 
them in England ; and that was always a second success. 
I flatter myself that my Boer neighbours thought me 
rather agreeable. They certainly thought me cracked, 
but that did not matter in the least. 

Supper on this occasion caused a pause in my soli- 
loquy. It was the usual bread and mutton and coffee. 
Old Fenter said grace. Presently I saw preparations 
being made for a bed on the floor of the sitting-room 
there were only two rooms besides the little kitchen in 
the house. Then old Fenter signified to O'Grady that he 
was to sleep in the sitting-room, and Mrs. Fenter lighted 
a candle and took me into the bedroom, which was door- 
less a curtain doing duty as door. It was a small 
room, with a four-post bed at one side, nearly occupying 
the whole side. This bed had hangings of white calico, 
which shut it in and made a sort of box of it. At the 
other side of the room was a trestle bed. Mrs. Fenter 

214 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

pointed to this as mine. Now, as I had intended to 
sleep at Moy-plas I had taken no nightdress with nie, 
for I knew I could get one there, and I had sent up all 
my small amount of luggage in the waggon to Pretoria. 
As Mrs. Fenter had not given me any garment of the 
sort, I simply removed my shoes, and lay down on the 
bed. I knew that Boers never undress at night, even in 
case of illness, so I was prepared for this ; but what I 
was not prepared for was to see old Fenter toddle into 
the room. Mrs. Fenter had just removed her upper 
dress, and then rolled into bed, raising the curtain to do 
so. The little girl had lain down near the foot of the 
same bed. I lay quietly watching old Fenter's opera- 
tions. I rather wondered what he was going to do. 
There was a light hung on the wall at the other side of 
the four-poster, and I could see the portly form of Mrs. 
Fenter cast in shadow against the white curtain. Old 
Fenter divested himself leisurely of his coat and of his 
feldt-schoons, or field-shoes, made of untanned leather; 
stockings he had none ; and then (having apparently an 
idea that going to bed was a process which demanded a 
certain amount of privacy, although compatible with having 
a small girl in bed with Mrs. Fenter and himself, and a 
strange lady in the same room) he, instead of boldly raising 
the curtain, like Mrs. Fenter, proceeded to creep in from 
the bottom of the bed, very cautiously, on hands and 
knees. A few minutes after, portentous snores proclaimed 
that the three occupants of the couch were fast asleep. I 
went to sleep, too, and slept till dawn. 

I cleaned Eclipse (I always carried his brush and comb 
with me), had early coffee, and O'Grrady and I up-saddled 
in the still dewy morning, and departed. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 215 

We had breakfast at Moy-plas, where I found Harriett's 
pig still flourishing; and after a short rest, saddled-up 
once more. 

I had postponed a little of my talk on business with 
O'Grady, until I should be taking this ride to Pretoria 
with him, for the Sparrow and he, being fond of frequent 
digressions from the main subject of discourse, were apt 
to take up a great deal of time before coming to the 
point, and time was precious at Griinfontem. O'Grady 
seemed troubled in his mind. He at last asked me 
whether I really meant to let him and his partner carry 
out the contract ? I said, certainly I did ; was I not 
going to Pretoria on purpose to get materials for them 
to work with ? He then repeated the kind offer Mr. 
Sparrow had made in his name, to save me all trouble if 
I would only let him know where he might find me at 
any moment. I suggested that this would be difficult, 
as I had a great deal of business on hand, and should be 
here, there, and everywhere during the day. I asked if 
it would not do for me to tell him some particular hour 
when he would be sure to find me at some appointed 
place. O'Grady seemed surprised, he had not known that 
I had business in Pretoria. 

" Not about getting estimates, &c., for material ? " I 

O'Grady thought that he was going to Pretoria for 
that purpose. If I were going to do this business, what 
was the use of his going also? I suggested that two 
heads were better than one occasionally, as also pro- 
verbially; to which proposition O'Grady, with a look of 
thoughtfulness, agreed. 

We off-saddled half way to Pretoria, against my usual 

2 1 6 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

custom, but I was sorry for O'Grady's pony, and we 
reached Pretoria late. 

O'Grady left me, to go to the house of an acquaintance, 
where he had arranged for himself to put up, so that 
I conclude his senior partner's anxieties on his account 
had been allayed. I rode on, anxious to find the German 
and my waggon, and discover whether he had been drink- 
ing or not. I found the oxen grazing on a piece of 
common land towards the middle of the town. The 
Kaffirs were with them, and one of them took me to 
where the German was, with the waggon, on the market- 
square. I then went to the house of my kind friend 
Mrs. Parker, where I had an invitation, and sent Eclipse 
to the stables of the " European " under the German's 

In the ensuing days I found out satisfactorily that 
the cost of material would enormously exceed anything 
that it had been estimated to me at. I found out, too, 
that the German could be as thorough in getting drunk, 
as in doing anything else. This did not surprise me ; 
the former discovery did. Of course, I heard the same 
talk about my purchase of Griinf ontein as I had heard 
before. In the meantime, O'Grady seemed gradually 
getting excited, and at last one evening called on me, 
and after much beating about the bush told me that he 
found he and the Sparrow had been mistaken, that they 
could not execute the building for what they had said, 
and handed me an estimate for nearly double the stated 
amount. The result was, that he went down to Griin- 
fontein next day to tell the fact to the Sparrow, while 
I remained a day behind to attend the weekly auction 
on the market-square. I had never attended an auction 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 217 

before, and I had a vague idea that I was doing some- 
thing very disreputable. I knew that in my new charac- 
ter of an enterprising farmer, auctions were in my way ; 
but I felt rather nervous in taking to this clearly-defined 
line. The German, being sober, looked respectability 
itself, and I kept him close to me, hoping thereby to 
cover myself with a little of his asgis of propriety. I 
wanted a second horse, and the German confided to me 
that he wanted to buy a horse, if I would buy one for 
him, and let him work for it ; in the meantime I could 
use it, he said. I thought I saw a way to killing two 
birds with one stone. In the meantime, one horse after 
another was brought out ; they were none of them good 
horses, some miserable brutes, but the German was 
caught in the excitement of seeing horses, and hearing 
the bidding; time after time he almost begged me to 
bid for some animal : " Its legs are swollen, yes, but 
they will come all right," or, " Its chest is narrow, but 
that won't matter." He was a good judge of a horse, I 
think, but he was excited. At last a very thin, dirty, 
shaggy brown pony was brought out ; nobody seemed to 
fancy him, and it was hard to get the bidding up to 
fifteen pounds, but he was a thorough good little horse 
for all that. I was hesitating whether I would tell the 
German to say " sixteen/' when William Sturton, who 
happened to be there, said, " If you want a horse, that 
one is salted. I happen to know he has come from 
Dammerland." This decided me, and the German walked 
off quite pleased with his prize. 

I left Pretoria early next morning, as early at least as 
the opening of the " European " stables (seven o'clock) 
would allow. The waggon had gone on a little in front, 

2 1 8 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

but I soon picked it up, and had breakfast at the first 
outspann. Then leaving it to follow, I rode on. I had 
much to think of, and not very pleasant thinking either. 
From the time when I arranged to buy Griinfontein, I 
had known that to make it pay a certain class of build- 
ings would have to be erected on it. It was not a farm, 
to the best of my belief, that could be made pay by work- 
ing it in the hugger-mugger fashion of the country. I 
had been careful in making all my calculations before 
going in for it, believing that I was making them on 
trustworthy data ; now I found that I had been grossly, 
although I do not mean wilfully, misled. The meaning 
of all this to me was, that I must give up Griinfontein or 
be ruined. Of course I chose the former alternative, but 
it was very painful. I dreaded parting from the Higginses, 
and going as it were out into the unknown again. I 
knew that Mr. Higgins would be greatly disappointed 
at my not buying the place. I had worked so hard to 
improve it ; had counted labour and hardship as nothing 
if I could but push on the work there ; it was such a 
pretty place for this country ! However, the truth was 
too obvious ; to me Griinfontein meant ruin. I was 
sorry about Mr. Egerton, too. I knew that breaking up 
Griinfontein would very likely throw him on his beam- 
ends again, and that meant probably ruin to him. Then 
what was I to do ? Of course I had to look for another 
farm, but in the meantime what was I to do with my 
oxen, with my sheep, with little Roughy and Moustache ? 
I found Moy-plas bright and home-like, and the usual 
cheery welcome awaiting me. I started after breakfast 
the next day, and it was early in the afternoon when 
I rode up to Griinfontein. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 219 

Mr. Egerton, who was working 1 at a large new fowl- 
house that I was making, came to meet me. He had 
been expecting me, having heard I was coming from 
O'Grady, and had something ready for my tea. I had 
hardly finished telling him the result of my visit to 
Pretoria, when Mr. Higgins rode up on Wellington. I 
felt I was in for it, and I told him, too. I watched him 
anxiously. People in Pretoria had said I placed too 
great trust in his high-mindedness in money-matters ; I 
was putting him to the test. 

If this were not a history of mere facts, without em- 
bellishments of any sort, or any flights of imagination 
if it, moreover, were written for the sake of amusing or 
merely making money, not with a further object of giving 
any one who reads it a truthful conception of this country, 
I should be much tempted to make Mr. Higgins what I 
had imagined him ; but as it is, truth compels me to say 
that he fell a little short of my ideal. He did not oppose 
my leaving Griinfontein, but he did ask for compensation 
beyond the improvement of the crops, and the bricks 
that I left on it. If I had not received much kindness at 
his wife's and his hands kindness which it is not likely 
I shall ever have it in my power to repay I think my 
natural pugnacity would have asserted itself; as it was, 
I paid the compensation, feeling more sorry that he 
had asked for it than that I had to pay it, although I 
was hard up for money too. Only when I was leaving 
Griinfontein for Pretoria, there, as I well knew, to have 
the whole matter discussed, and to be forced into speak- 
ing of it myself, did I tell Mr. Higgins that I thought he 
had not acted quite rightly told him exactly what I 
should say to any one who might force me to express an 

220 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

opinion on the matter, but told him, too, that I hoped 
we should ever remain friends. In truth, I believe there 
is not a man in the country who would have acted better 
than Mr. Higgins, and few who would have acted as 
well. South Africa is a bad training-school for high 
class morality in money-matters or indeed, in any 
matter whatever. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 221 


BEFORE I left Griinfontein various arrangements had 
to be made, amongst others the disposing of the wool 
of my sheep, which I had had lying by for some time. 
I arranged with James Higgins that he was to buy it, 
and I sent it over to Fahl-plas on the waggon, with the 
German in charge. I had discharged the brickmakers, 
Jim promising in case I wanted his services, in any 
capacity, to come to me, and I was only waiting for a 
few days before discharging all the Kaffirs but two, who 
were to act as driver and foreloper to the waggon. I 
had determined upon going to the bush-veldt to trade 
amongst the Boers. The winter was drawing near again, 
and the migration to the bush-veldt was beginning. I 
thought I would go first to Pretoria and meet some 
goods that I expected would be soon there, as I had 
sent to England for them some time before whatever 
was deficient I could buy wholesale there ; that I would 
go to the bush-veldt, taking with me the German, 
Egerton, and the Kaffirs ; that, if I were fortunate 
enough to get rid of the goods quickly, I could leave the 
German in charge of the waggon and oxen, at some place 
where the grazing was good, and, with Mr. Egerton, 
could ride to Pretoria, and when there look out for a 

222 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

new farm. All I should require would be a third horse, 
to carry a blanket or two and the saddle-bags. 

Accordingly, I sent off the wool to Fahl-plas, telling 
the German that I would follow on horseback for I had 
other business there. I saddled Eclipse towards evening. 
He had been hurt by the saddle, and was not quite well, 
but I arranged the saddle on him so that it seemed not 
to touch the sore, before mounting. At the end of a 
sharp canter he seemed uneasy, and I stopped to see if 
anything had gone wrong. Alas ! the sore on his back 
was bleeding. I had no choice but to return home. The 
question now was what was to be done ? When I 
reached Griinfontein, it was too late for me to ride to 
Fahl-plas that evening on the brown pony, even if I 
could ride so far on him at all ; but my saddle did not 
fit him, and I knew a long ride on him would give him 
sore withers. It was, however, necessary for me either 
to go to Fahl-plas myself or send a message. I could 
of course send Mr. Egerton, but there was an objection 
to this. I had an idea that the German was covertly 
jealous of my treating Egerton as my equal when work 
hours were over. Now if I sent Egerton to Fahl-plas, 
Jimmy would be sure to take him into the house and 
have him to dinner, &c., whilst the German would be 
left outside with the waggon ; besides, I should have to 
let Egerton ride the pony Eclipse could not bear the 
saddle and I did not know if this might not annoy the 
master-in-prospect of the other quadruped. Mr. Egerton 
came to my assistance by proposing to walk, saying he 
thought the German might dislike his riding the pony ; 
however, I would not listen to this. The risk had to be 
taken, for I was absolutely obliged to send a message 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 223 

where I could not go myself. Egerton started on the 
pony the next morning early. 

In the evening I saw the waggon coming along the 
road at the foot of the hill. The German was walking 
beside it, and even from a distance one could see that he 
was all bristling with rage. He hardly waited a moment 
after he saw me before his wrath found utterance. From 
living amongst Boers and English for so long, he always 
talked a mixture of German, Boer lingo, and English, 
difficult at times to understand ; but when wrath quick- 
ened his utterance he became quite unintelligible. I 
never knew the immediate cause of this outburst, although 
I could easily divine it ; but the outcome of it was, that 
he vowed he hated Egerton, couldn't wouldn't bear with 
him and that if Egerton were to stay he wouldn't remain 
another day that I could keep the horse myself. Of 
course when any one tells you that you must send some 
one else away if you mean to retain the services of the 
speaker, it means either that there is a legitimate cause 
of complaint, or else that the speaker must go. There 
was no particular cause of complaint even by the Ger- 
man's own admission. His complaint was founded on 
generalities, and so, although he was a valuable servant, I 
said of course if he couldn't agree with Egerton he must 
go as he said, but that he couldn't go immediately, unless 
he wanted to forfeit his month's pay, as he was engaged 
by the month, and his time was not yet up. He saw this, 
like a practical man as he was, although he was in a rage. 

Egerton came home on the pony soon after. It had 
been just as I said. If Jimmy had not been at Fahl-plas 
I dare say the German's pride might not have suffered so 
much, but the English-bred boy made a sharp distinction 

224 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

between the respectable servant and the gentleman's 
prodigal son. The former had been given brandy in the 
store, and had bought more drink. Farther than that he 
had been taken no particular notice of, as he had the 
waggon to sleep in, and his food and means of cooking 
with him. The latter had dined with the family, and 
had coffee under the verandah. Egerton was not a 
careful master for a horse he was not very careful about 
anything, himself included but on this occasion I after- 
wards heard from Jimmy tbat the pony had been treated 
just as I should have treated it myself; still, I dare say 
the idea of his prospective pony having been ridden by 
the man who was treated as his social superior, added to 
the German's anger. 

I was now in a difficulty. Egerton could not manage 
oxen at all, to say nothing of driving, and it was neces- 
sary to have somebody besides the somewhat raw Kaffirs 
to manage the oxen, for I am physically incapable of 
working with such very unwieldy beasts. In this dilemma 
I bethought me of ' ' Jim." He, I knew, could not only 
work somewhat with oxen, but could drive them fairly 
well. I sent him word that I wanted him. In the mean- 
time I arranged with Mr. Higgms that my sheep should 
be herded with his until such time as I could send for 
them. I was sorry, for I knew how little he looked after 
his own sheep, and I could not expect anything better 
for mine. Still I could do nothing else. I had nowhere 
to leave my flock except with him. The German did 
whatever I wanted of him punctually, but I could see 
him talking a great deal to the two Kaffirs I had kept, 
and at last he came and told me confidentially that they 
had told him that they did not wish to stay. On ques- 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 225 

tioning the boys myself, however, I found that they were 
quite willing to go with me to Pretoria, and they even 
said to the bush-veldt. I was content so long as they 
would go to Pretoria. 

On Saturday Jimmy made his appearance as usual. 
Jim was with him, and had a little donkey, that he had 
bought and trained while with me, packed up with his 
various traps. As they came up I noticed that Jim had 
got himself up very smart, and I was disagreeably surprised 
by his putting out his hand to greet me in Boer fashion. 
I hate snubbing a man publicly, and the German and 
Egerton were near me when he came up to me, besides 
Jimmy, so I took the proffered hand, reflecting that he 
must have been getting spoiled since I had last seen him. 

It was drawing towards evening, and presently Jimmy, 
Egerton, and I had supper. The German had long 
before asked me to give him board-wages, and let him 
cook for himself. 1 then called Jim to supper, but 
he said he was going to have supper in Eclipse's ante- 
room with the German, and would make his bed there. 
Jimmy was eager to come with me on my trading expedi- 
tion ; but my prospects were too unsettled and uncertain 
for me to consent to this, as he had a very good berth at 
Fahl-plas : we sat up late, discussing plans for the future. 
The next morning we were having an early breakfast, 
when Jimmy, who was sitting so that he could see 
through the open door, said suddenly, 

" I say, you had better go and see what's up ; there's 
Jim packing up his donkey." 

I went out immediately. Jim and the German were 
standing under the wild fig-tree with the donkey ready 


226 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

" Why, Jim," said I, " what's the matter ? I was just 
going to call you in to breakfast." 

Jim looked a little this way and a little that way. 
Then it came out. "He had heard heard things he 
saw he shouldn't get on," &c. ; but I was determined to 
get to the bottom of it, and the bottom of it was that 
the German and he had been talking, and that he had 
heard that Egerton was treated differently from one of 
them, and that he wouldn't stand it. He admitted that 
he knew that Egerton was a gentleman by birth and educa- 
tion ; he admitted that I made no difference between him 
and any other man while they were at work, but still he 
would not stand it. Once that I made him speak out 
and spoke out myself he was quite reasonable, and per- 
fectly respectful. He took his own view of the matter ; 
it was one I could understand. With Jimmy he said he 
would work side by side, and treat him as a young 
gentleman ; but Egerton had brought himself down to 
his (Jim's) level, and there he should remain he had 
lost his title to social superiority. Jim was very igno- 
rant, and he expressed this in his own language, which is 
very different from mine ; but that was the meaning of 
what he said. 

I said that I could not take his view of the case ; that 
Egerton was doing his best to work well, and to redeem 
himself; and that I was bound to stand by him, such 
being the case. 

"I'm afraid, ma'am, as you'll be the loser by it," said 

" I'm afraid I shall, Jim," said I ; " but right is right, 
whatever comes of it." 

"Yes," Jim assented. "You be light there, ina'aru ; 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 227 

but I couldn't work with him like that it would be no 
use my trying ; but I wishes you all success, ma'am, as I 
am sure you deserves it." 

And with that Jim and I shook hands, and he and his 
donkey departed down the hill. 

I had moved from under the tree to the bridge, as I 
spoke to him, so as to be out of Egerton's hearing. I took 
a stroll in the garden before I returned. That spiteful 
little German had determined to pay me out for discarding 
him rather than Egerton; and he was doing so. 

When I returned to the cabin Mr. Egerton inter- 
rupted some remark I made as I opened the little half- 

" Mrs. Heckford," he said, looking very pale, " I must 
leave you I am ruining you." 

I said, " Nonsense ;" but I felt there was a good deal 
of truth in what he said. 

" No," he went on, " you may say that ; I knew you 
would; but as an honourable man I have no choice in the 
matter, and can leave you none. You must see this 

There was more truth in this than even in his former 
remark, and yet it was but superficial truth after all 
such truth as passes current in the world but not real 
truth ; for ruin can never come to any one through doing 
what is right, and it is undoubtedly right for one weak 
human being to stand firm against the tide of ignorance 
and selfishness which will always set in against any other 
weak human being, who having once fallen publicly, tries 
to rise, even though it may be by dint of hard labour, 
and though his efforts may be made in a spirit of all 
humility, as were Mr. Egerton's. Surely there can be 

Q 2 

228 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

no dictate of honour which should tell such a one that he 
must cast aside the help that is voluntarily held out to 
him by one, who, fully estimating the cost of what he 
does, is prepared to do it fearlessly. It cannot be honour- 
able wilfully to throw away the chance of redeeming one- 
self ; and if any one here is disposed to say that a man 
ought to be able to do so without some external help 
when he has once fallen, I would advise that person, 
before he is quite sure in the matter, to come out here 
and see whether, after studying life in Pretoria for a 
little, he will not change his mind. 

It is not easy to make all this evident to a man of 
delicate susceptibilities, with the usual ideas about honour, 
which, however strong they may be, are in nine cases out 
of ten very vague in men's minds, and who is smarting 
from a severe and recently-inflicted wound. I almost 
despaired of dissuading Mr. Egerton from packing up 
his small stock of goods, and starting then and there for 
Pretoria ; but I gained my point in the end. 

Jimmy remained with me until I left Griinfontein. 
I could not let him go ; it was hard enough to have to 
bid good-bye to him and to the Higginses at all, with- 
out dividing the good-byes. I paid off the German, and 
let him go; packed the waggon, killed one pig, and 
sold the other; loaded up my fowls for the Pretoria 
market ; counted my sheep, with poor Hans and my 
pretty little pet ram, to Mr. Higgins ; commended Ada's 
cats to Augustus's mercy ; and then, having bid good- 
bye to the Higginses and to Jimmy, and started the 
waggon off, Mr. Egerton and I mounted our horses, and 
left pretty Griinfontein with little Roughy and Moustache 
as our companions. Moustache cared not a pin, but 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 229 

Roughy evidently felt much as I did that he was going 
away from what he knew into a dreary unknown region, 
where there would be no more little Kaffirs to bark at, as 
they danced on moonlight nights ; no more fowls to 
chase, no more trots over to Surprise and games with 
Fido. Poor little dog ! A presentiment of evil seemed 
to have taken possession of him. He could hardly be 
got to leave the place, and when he at length followed 
us, it was with a drooping tail, and with a little mise- 
rable yelp every now and then, as if he was crying 
for pretty Griinfontein and homelike Surprise. I could 
have cried as I turned my back on them, if crying had 
been of any use. 

230 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


IT was a bright afternoon as Mr. Egerton and I rode 
towards Pretoria ; and as I looked at the waggon with 
its indifferent driver, and utterly untutored forelooper, 
at Mr. Egerton, who knew as little about oxen and 
waggons as I did, and at the span of splendid oxen com- 
mitted to our joint charge, I wondered in my heart 
whether I were not a great fool to go in for the under- 
taking I had just entered upon. But, as I have said, it 
was a bright afternoon, and if there was risk in what I 
was about to do, there was also the excitement that always 
attends risk ; and before I was many miles from Surprise 
I felt that the whole thing was rather enjoyable. We 
outspanned for the night near to Cucumoor's farm. There 
was a new moon ; and although it was chilly, it was still 
pleasant for sleeping out. The waggon was too full for 
me to be able to sleep in it, if I had wished to do so ; but 
I dislike sleeping in a waggon when there are horses 
and oxen to be looked after, unless I have very trust- 
worthy attendants. My Kaffirs were not trustworthy, I 
knew, and Mr. Egerton, when he was once asleep, was very 
hard to waken. I had my blankets spread near to where 
Eclipse was tied to the waggon for he had an objection 
to being tied, and was accustomed to a loose stall, and 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 231 

I thought it probable he might require my ministration 
during the night, which, in fact, was the case. It was a 
long time since last I had slept in the open air, and I 
enjoyed it. The next day, early, we passed Moy-plas, 
where I paid a visit. John Higgins was there ; he laughed 
as he bade me good-bye. " You'll be well salted by the 
time you come back from the bush-veldt/' he said. I 
picked up the waggon and Mr. Egerton a little before 
we had to pass the Crocodile. The oxen took the waggon, 
through well ; but I could see that the driver was not up 
to much. That evening we outspanned close to Dass- 
poort, so as to be able to get in early to market next 

I had forage and seed oats, pumpkins and fowls for 
sale. As I sat on Eclipse, close by the waggon, waiting 
for these various articles to be sold, two or three persons 
whom I did not know, spoke to me by name. Presently 
one man, who seemed to know me quite well, though I 
had not the least remembrance of him, was accosted by 
a very goodnatured-looking man with a brown beard. 
I saw them both looking at me, and then heard the man 
with the beard ask who I was. " Oh ! " said my unknown 
acquaintance, " don't you know ? that's Mrs. Heckford ; 
let me introduce you ;" and so he did. The man with the 
beard was Mr. Hans Felman, and his introducer told 
me if I wanted to hear about farms he was the very man 
to tell me about them. Mr. Felman then spoke very 
politely, saying if he could be of any use to me he should 
be most happy. I asked where I could see him if I 
wanted information. He told me where he lived, and 
asked me to call on his wife. I had much to do, having 
after the market to deliver the things I had sold ; then 

232 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal 

to find out where my English goods were, and to load 
them up (they had just come up to Pretoria, and were 
still on the waggon that brought them) ; then I had to 
select and buy other goods, so as to have a fair stock to 
take to the bush-veldt. Then I had to unpack all these 
goods, and write out a list of their selling prices ; besides, 
I had to get a third horse. The packing out and pricing 
of the goods I did at a farm close to Pretoria, belonging 
to a young Englishman, where I had obtained leave to 
outspann. There was very little grass to be had; but on 
his farm the grazing was still pretty fair. I slept in the 
veldt, and we had our camp-fire, and cooked for ourselves, 
of course. Indeed, the house was at some distance from 
where my waggon was. It was a house of only two 
rooms, and a little kitchen outside. In it the young farmer 
with his young Boer wife and two little children lived. 

I got through all I had to do at the end of a week. 
My new horse was a big, bony, unkempt colt, barely 
three years old, and only half-broken. He had excellent 
points : but one thing I saw would always spoil his beauty, 
he had a fiddle head, so I called him Violin. He was very 
thin, and rather depressed in spirits, as well as in con- 
dition, but he had a vicious way of rolling his eye back, 
and an equally vicious way of flicking his tail straight up 
and down, as if he had a hinge in the middle of it. 
Mr. Egerton hated him from the first, and prophecied 
that he would turn out badly ; and Violin, I suppose in 
consequence, never liked him. He soon learnt to know 
me, and would let me handle him as I liked ; but he was 
a troublesome beast with most other people. After some 
bargaining, I bought this animal for fifteen pounds, and 
I was now ready to start. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 233 

Mr. Egerton and I were eating our supper by the camp- 
fire ; I had been showing him a photograph of myself, 
which I had had done in Pretoria at Mrs. Higgins's 
request. I had a presentiment of evil hanging over 
me, and the look of this photograph displeased me, and 
strengthened it. It was a very nice photograph as a 
pleasing representation of myself I was more than satisfied 
with it but the individual represented in it struck me, 
as I looked at her, to be absurdly unfitted for a " Smouse," 
as a trader in a waggon is called here. Looking at that 
picture, it struck me that I was not only doing a foolish 
thing, but a ridiculous thing. Mr. Egerton had told me 
that he had heard some talk between the boys about 
wanting their pay raised. In the midst of my meditations 
they broached the subject. They said if their pay was 
not raised they would not leave Pretoria. I knew their 
game. They had waited to tell me this till all was ready 
to start. The time for the bush-veldt trading was going 
by ; other traders were getting in before me they 
thought they could extort money for drivers were 
scarce in Pretoria then Kaffirs, as a rule, not liking to go 
away from their kraals in the winter. I told them 
plainly that I should not raise their wages a penny ; and 
we all turned in for the night soon afterwards. The 
next morning my friends said they were going. They 
hung about, however, apparently waiting for something, 
I meanwhile saddled up to ride to Pretoria to look for 
another driver, leaving Mr. Egerton in charge of the 
waggon. Then they asked me to pay them their wages, 
but I pointed out to them, that when servants left one 
at a moment's notice, even though towards the end of 
their month, they forfeited all pay. They knew well 

234 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

enough that I could have them put in prison, so they 
held their peace, and I rode off on the brown pony Dandy. 
I had arranged the saddle so as to fit him as well as 
Eclipse ; and he was a better horse for work in Pretoria, 
Eclipse being too larky to be left standing alone if I had 
business indoors. Dandy was full of spirit; but although 
quite young, he was quietness itself. 

All that day I hunted for a driver, and other people 
kindly hunted for me, but I could get none. Day 
after day passed; every morning I saddled up, and 
bade Mr. Egerton good-bye : every evening I rode back to 
the waggon, to see him waiting by the camp-fire, that 
showed me in the half-darkness where the waggon stood, 
as I cantered over the veldt, always to tell the same story. 
I rode over to neighbouring kraals : it was of no use. 

I had got the gentleman on whose farm I was out- 
spanned, to have my oxen herded with his oxen. Mr. 
Egerton and I slept by the loaded waggon; got up 
early ; and while he lit the fire and made early coffee, I 
cleaned the horses alone, until, coffee being made, he 
took his share of the work. Then I saddled up for my 
hopeless search. It came on- bitterly cold ; every morning 
the grass was white with hoar frost, and so were our 
blankets. In the middle of all this, one evening I felt 
unwell, and the next day I was choking with a violent 
attack of bronchitis. I went on my quest as usual that 
day, and for several succeeding days but I could hardly 
speak. The nights were very bad. I would have gone 
into town to sleep at a friend's house but for two reasons, 
one, that I had the horses to look after ; I was afraid of 
leaving them altogether to Mr. Egerton's care. He 
had been so long in South Africa that he had acquired a 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 235 

good deal of South African carelessness as to horses ; 
besides, I thought, as he must remain at the waggon, 
it was only right I should not shirk roughing it. I 
shall never forget that man's kindness at that time ; how 
he would get up when he heard me coughing, and get 
me whatever he could to relieve me ; and how jolly he 
was over it all, as if it was the pleasantest thing in the 
world to turn out of his bed and walk about in a bitter 
cold night. He did all this in such a perfectly natural and 
unaffected way, so that it seemed as if it were an every- 
day occurrence for him to have to act nurse to a bronchitic 
lady in the open veldt. 

At last, after I had spent about a fortnight there, I 
determined to try to go into Pretoria, instead of remaining 
on the farm I seemed no nearer than before to getting a 
driver. I. got the gentleman on whose farm I was out- 
spanned to lend me a driver ; Mr. Egerton acted forelooper, 
and I led Violin and Dandy, and rode Eclipse. 

I had, some days previously, called on Mrs. Hans Felman. 
She received me very kindly ; and she and her husband 
did all they could to help me out of the dilemma I was in. 
Mr. Felman was a Boer from the old colony, his wife a 
Transvaal Boer. They had three children two girls and 
a boy. Their house, on the outskirts of Pretoria, was 
built after the usual fashion of Boer farmhouses. It stood 
on a large piece of ground, or erf, with fruit and other trees 
round it, and would have been a very pretty house and 
place only that numbers of Kaffirs were allowed to con- 
gregate there, in return for their doing a little work, and 
they kept the whole surroundings of the house in a mess 
with the heads of oxen, a favourite dinner with them, 
partly because it is rather a cheap dish, and partly, I 

6 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal, 

think, because it gives them plenty of fiddle-faddle work 
to prepare it. I may mention, incidentally, that I have 
seen Kaffirs throw away the brains as nasty, although they 
will eat the intestines with the dung just pressed out ! 
The horns of these numerous heads, old bones, and old 
rags, bestrewed the Felmans' otherwise pretty erf. One 
evening, by moonlight, I happened to walk across it : it 
looked like a charnel-house ! In one corner of the erf, 
the farthest from the farm-house, was a diminutive house 
of one room, measuring about nine feet by seven, but 
with a fireplace. As it was impossible for me to put up 
at any hotel in Pretoria, and desirable that I should have 
some place of abode (for the waggon was too full to 
accommodate me), I arranged to take this eligible domi- 
cile for thirty shillings a month. It was not a very 
inviting-looking residence. It had a small window, closed 
by a shutter, and the door opened directly upon a swampy 
sort of pond. It was a peculiarly damp and low-spirited- 
looking spot ; one where, if you dug a hole for a stake, 
the chances were that a frog would hop out of it, and 
that a series of other reptiles of the same species would 
periodically make their appearance from it, whilst the 
stake would decline to become fixed. The liveliness of 
its general appearance was enhanced by a gap in a neigh- 
bouring quince-hedge having been filled up with the skulls 
of oxen. The fact that this place commanded a rent of 
thirty shillings a month, tells sufficiently plainly that 
house-rent in Pretoria was rather high. Its advantage to 
me was that the Felmans allowed me to bring my waggon 
into their enclosed erf; also to let my horses graze in it 
and these were two things of great advantage to me, par- 
ticularly as most audacious stealing goes on in Pretoria. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 237 

Of course there was no furniture in the room. Mr. 
Egerton and I rigged up a table, and made seats of pack- 
ing-cases. My bed was made on the floor. Mr. Egerton 
slept outside and a funny picture it would have made of 
an evening, when Mr. Egerton was cooking our evening 
meal, whilst I lay on the blankets on the floor, playing 
with the dogs and talking. But coming to Pretoria did 
not seem to bring us any nearer to procuring a driver ; 
neither could I hear of any farm likely to suit me j so 
at last, in despair, I began looking about for a house in 

Houses of five or six rooms sometimes fetched more 
than that number of hundred pounds ; and I know of one 
nice cottage of five rooms, standing, it is true, in a very 
large and productive garden, which, shortly before the 
war, fetched two thousand five hundred pounds. I did 
not find it easy to get a house to suit my taste and mv 
pocket. At last I heard of one which had a stable 
attached, a thing I was particular about ; and just at the 
same time a gentleman, previously unknown to me, called 
at my funny little abode, and told me that he heard 
that I was in want of a driver, and that he could re- 
commend me a good one, a bastard or half-caste, who 
had served with him while he was the Government trans- 
port officer. I was really delighted. The man came to 
be inspected a fine-looking man with a good face, and 
who spoke English : his name was Hendrick. I engaged 
him at the wages he had been receiving from his former 
employer, viz., half-a-crown a day. He brought me a 
Hottentot of the name of Hans, who, he said, was a good 
forelooper, and to whom T was obliged to give one-and- 
sixpence a day; and Hans besought me to engage a 

238 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

small Hottentot boy (also a Hendrick) who had been left 
to his charge. This I eventually did, at ten shillings a 
month. I was now ready to start, when suddenly I got 
an offer of a very nice farm close to Pretoria, at the rent 
of sixteen pounds a month. There were some law diffi- 
culties in the way of my concluding the bargain the 
lease had been mortgaged. I was in too great a hurry 
to get the waggon out of the village to stop, (for drivers 
andforeloopers have a pleasing habit of getting drunk 
in Pretoria,) so I arranged that I would take it out a 
day's trek, leave it in Mr Egerton's charge while I rode 
back with Hendrick to settle matters, and then rejoin the 

It was a beautiful moonlight evening towards the end 
of June, when at last, after so many troubles, I started 
for the bush-veldt. I was more than a month later than 
I ought to have been : however, I was glad to be off late 
though it was. We outspanned for the night about 
three miles out of Pretoria, and I was wakened out of 
my first sleep by a lively riding-party from the town going 
out to a farm-house near. The next morning early we 
started again, and outspanned for breakfast at Derde- 
poort a pass through the Magaliesberg where we were 
almost cut in pieces by the sharp wind which seems to be 
always blowing in this spot. Here I met two men coming 
from Waterberg with waggons loaded up with leather. 
They bought some pipes and some sugar from me, and I 
remember them particularly as having been my first 
customers. We inspanned after breakfast, and a long 
trek brought us, towards evening, to a missionary station, 
where there was a good-sized kraal of Kaffirs, supposed 
to be Christianized. Whatever progress they may have 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 239 

made in Christianity, they had made but little in civiliza- 
tion in general. Their kraal was on a bare slope towards 
a small river. There was little shelter to be got from 
the cold wind but we had a good supper, and were all 
soon asleep. 

I started the next morning by the light of the setting 
moon for Pretoria. It was bitterly cold, but as long as 
the moon lasted I did not mind so much, for we could 
canter. At last, however, the moon failed us, and, as the 
dawn was yet about half-an-hour off, we had to walk. Just 
before the waning light of the moon failed altogether, I 
had felt my watch-chain, which was tucked inside my 
habit, get loose, and before I had time to put it in again, 
it swung as I cantered, and seemed to catch on some- 
thing. When at last the day broke sufficiently for me to 
be able to distinguish objects clearly, I found that it had 
broken, and that some keepsakes I had on a ring, through 
which the chain was passed, were lost. I suppose there is 
a lurking superstition in all of us ; anyhow, I confess that 
I could not help feeling that the loss of these trinkets 
that I had carried with me for years, which had been 
my companions in many vicissitudes, and which, of no 
great value in themselves, were dear to me from the 
memories attached to them, was like a bad omen. 

I reached Pretoria just as the Felmans were going to 
breakfast. I was perished, and sat by the kitchen-fire 
sipping some hot coffee with great gusto, whilst kind 
Mrs. Felman got me some bacon and eggs, which I 
thoroughly enjoyed. The treaty about the farm fell 
through, and I had only just time to leave word with an 
agent, that he might offer four hundred pounds for the 
house in Pretoria, which I previously mentioned, before 

240 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

I had to start out to the waggon. It was already late in 
the afternoon, but we pushed along sharply, and got to 
our destination about half-past nine, very cold indeed. 

Mr. Egertou had shot a hare and had some hare-soup 
awaiting me, which I, and Hendrick, also enjoyed ; and so 
I was fairly in for my bush-veldt experience, for we were 
to start early next morning, and to get to the outskirts 
of the bush-veldt the day after. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 241 


WE made but one trek the next day, and outspanned by 
the Apis river, in a thick and rather pretty bush, near to 
the other waggons one, the property of a Boer, going 
to Pretoria with a load of planks for sale ; the other, 
belonging I think also to a Boer, but an Anglicized Boer. 
The former gentleman was very fat, and toddled about 
like a barrel on legs (a common thing with the Boers) . 
He bought some trifle, I forget what, and told me that 
his wife was dead, and that he had always to take his 
little boy about with him. The said boy was a shy 
bright-eyed child, with a strongly developed taste for 
sweets, in which his fond parent somewhat sparingly 
indulged him; whilst I, prompted thereto by his mother- 
less condition, indulged him freely. The other people 
outspanned at this place also came to the waggon 
and bought something; but I remember them chiefly 
because, later in the evening, a spanking pair of horses 
in a spider, brought the sheriff from Pretoria to serve a 
writ on them. 

The night was very dark, and I was almost startled as 
we sat round our camp-fire to see an individual suddenly 
illuminated by its ruddy light, who asked in English 
(and Hibernian English too) where was the nearest water. 
He and his companions, he told us, were old Australian 


242 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

gold-diggers they were going to' Zoutpansberg, gold 
prospecting ; they were travelling alone, except for their 
donkeys, and none of them could speak Dutch or Kaffir. 
I sent one of my boys to show the way to the water, and 
afterwards this man sat and talked for a while, and had a 
cup of coffee. 

Early in the morning we inspanned. We had to make 
a long trek that day to get as far as the Eland river for 
the evening outspann. Our gold-digging acquaintances 
were just putting the packs on their donkeys ; they were 
going a different road from us. I was looking at the 
way that one of their packs was padded, so as to avoid 
any chance of the animal's back being hurt by it, when 
Mr. Egerton uttered an exclamation of delight, caused by 
his having discovered tsvo birds, and, jumping off Dandy, 
he threw the reins to me, and before I had time to 
gather up the assembled reins of Eclipse and the two led 
horses, he fired, quite close to them. I certainly was 
greatly gratified at the manner they all stood fire, but, 
whether it was owing to his finding a report close to his 
ears disagreeable or not, I cannot say, but, after that 
Dandy never would stand still when his rider dismounted 
to fire, but would instantly trot away with his head well 
in the air to prevent his tripping over the bridle, and 
refuse to be caught. He had a comical way of looking 
behind him to see the exact time when he must quicken 
his pace so as to avoid being caught ; and many a time 
after that, was poor Mr.Egerton's temper tried by Dandy's 
antics and my amusement thereat. After this we slightly 
lost our way, but coming to a farm-house, were directed 
rightly, and crossing the Pinaar's river, on a very rickety 
bridge, we outspanned for breakfast. The bridge was 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 243 

made of logs and sods, and the Pinaar's river was only a 
small affair then, but, as. I afterwards saw, could become 
a tremendous torrent in an hour. 

When we started again we were fairly in the bush- 
veldt, and very uninteresting bush-veldt it was. Thick 
bush was on either side of our narrow road, but there 
was no fine timber ; and as all the trees were thorn-trees, 
the effect was infinitely monotonous. There was no 
game of any sort to be seen; once we heard a sound 
of an axe, and going in search of its proprietor, found a 
young Boer cutting firewood, with his horse browsing 
beside him. Of course he looked a little surprised at 
seeing a lady, and asked who we were, and was farther 
a little surprised at hearing that I was a " Smouse." 
He told us that there were a lot of traders on in front, 
and that trade in the bush-veldt was slack. 

We reached the Eland river about an hour after noon, 
much in advance of the waggon, and off -saddled. Mr. 
Egerton took his gun and went off; I lay down to watch 
the horses browsing, and to look at the view, there being 
nothing else to do. A long line of tall reeds marked the 
course of the river between high banks. The ground 
was clear of trees for about a hundred yards on the side 
where I was sitting, but on the other for much farther. 
On my side the ground soon began to undulate, but on 
the other the hills were a long way off. Sheltered 
amongst the scrubby trees on my side, and about a 
hundred and fifty yards off from, where I lay, were tents 
of Boers, stationed there with their flocks and herds. 
The grass was very dry, and near where I lay it was 
much eaten off, it being the usual place for outspanning, 
being near to a drift, where the cattle could easily go 

R 2 

244 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

down to water. After I had had two or three half-dozes, 
and had watched a large flock of sheep being driven 
towards the tents by a Kaffir, and when the sun was 
getting low, I saw the waggon emerging from the bush. 
This meant dinner, whereat my soul rejoiced. 

The next morning early, I made up my mind to ride 
over to the tents and inform their occupants that I was a 
" Smouse." I did not particularly enjoy the prospect of 
doing this, for novelty is not always charming, though it 
certainly was something quite new to me. 

Moustache and Roughy of course announced my ap- 
proach by a little skirmish with some of the Boers' dogs. 
Boers are not very demonstrative : they generally stand 
in a stolid manner near the tent, and say good-day in an 
equally stolid manner, although they may be really dying 
of inquisitiveness about a stranger. The individuals in 
the first tent I went to did this exactly, and when I told 
them that I was a " Smouse," and asked if they wanted 
anything, they said "No/' in a manner so completely 
exhaustive, that 1 felt it would be useless to attempt 
conversation, so I rode on to the farther tent. Here I 
found two women and several children. Both the women 
were big, strapping, peasant-like women. They asked 
me into the tent. The men of the family, they told me, 
were in Pretoria, and they expected them out next day. 
They gave me coffee, asked numbers of questions as to 
what had brought me out to this country ; whether I was 
married ; whether I had any children with me ; whether I 
had ever had any children ; who the white man with me 
was ; and a great many others of a similar nature. They 
said they would come to the waggon and buy, and they 
displayed all that they had to display, namely, their little 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 245 

children and their pets two little night-apes : funny 
small beasts, all furry and soft, and with such big eyes 
and ears, and such long tails, that they remain on your 
mind as having eyes, ears, and tails, and nothing else. 
The night-apes are very agile, and the Boers are fond of 
them as pets ; the orthodox way of displaying them to 
admiring friends being, to swing them about by a piece 
of string attached to a collar round the small beast's 
neck. The Boers say the animal has no objection to the 
proceeding in fact, rather likes it but perhaps they 
may be in error. The springs the little ape makes, whilst 
undergoing the process, are very surprising, considering 
that it has nothing to spring from. 

I was very glad to perceive that I could make myself 
fairly understood by these women, and could understand 
them fairly. I was not only anxious to be able to do so 
because it was necessary for my success in trading, but 
also because I was desirous of knowing something of the 
people. Up to the time of which I am now writing, my 
knowledge of the Boers was small. I had seen numbers 
of them, and had even been kindly received at their 
houses, but our conversation had been necessarily very 
limited. I had been able to observe that most of them 
are dirty and untidy even the relations of the famous 
Paul Kriiger, living in a state of dirt and disorder, that 
reminds one of an Irish hovel ; while at the same time, I 
had heard many accounts of their absurd ignorance of 
how they believed the earth to be flat, and that the 
sun and stars were made expressly as lamps for our 
benefit, &c. ; and I had been amused to learn that Paul 
Kriiger had privately expressed his opinion, that the 
footman of his noble English host was both a better 

246 A Lady Trader in tJie Transvaal. 

dressed and better mannered man than his master ! 
Horrible tales had also been told to me of the brutality 
this Paul Kriiger and others were capable of, when left 
to themselves, by men who had, in the olden time, served 
under or with them against the Kaffirs : of how they had 
taken little babies, too young to be easily reared, away 
from their mothers, who had perhaps been slaughtered, 
and had thrown them all into a heap in a kraal, and, 
covering them with dry grass and bushes, had set fire to 
it ; of how they had shot nursing mothers in cold blood, 
and let them linger in misery for days, if the shot had 
not proved immediately fatal ; of how children had been 
dragged from their mothers' arms and taken away as 
slaves, the mothers being shot if they ventured to run 
after the capturers, and annoy them by their despairing 
wailing. I had heard that the Boers were a treacherous, 
lying, hypocritical people, with all the faults but with 
none of the virtues supposed to belong to rough peasants; 
and I had even spoken to a Boer who, a very few years 
ago, dragged a Kaffir to death tied to his horse. I thought 
1 would now begin to learn a little of them from my own 

I had not long returned to the waggon, and I was 
sitting on the grass, when the two women came up. 
They sat down by my side, and asked me if I had some 
cotton of a particular size. I said I would look. Then 
they asked if I would take eggs in exchange. Having 
expressed my willingness to do so, they asked if I had 
needles of a particular size ; and I said once more that I 
would look. Mr. Egerton had to do the looking, by-the- 
way, and did not much enjoy it ; my department was the 
talking business ! My customers now expressed their 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 247 

desire to see some " kommekies " (be it understood that 
a " kommeky " is a small bowl used by tlie Boers instead 
of a cup handles being inconveniently given to breaking 
on trek) ; I said I had, and then they asked what was 
their price. I named it, but my visitors threw up their 
eyes in horror. " Oh ! " they said, " that is more than 
we give in Pretoria." I ventured to remark that the 
bush-veldt was not Pretoria. Then they asked what 
would I give for eggs. I said a shilling a dozen. Once 
more they were seized with surprise and horror ; they had 
never heard of such a low price; all traders gave more. 
But I was obdurate. How those women did haggle over 
a penny more or less in the price of a few " kommekies " 
and a few eggs ; the penny having to be subtracted in 
the former and added in the latter case. At last, to get 
rid of them, I let them have the coveted little bowls at 
almost cost price, and got the eggs at my own. But my 
customers were aggrieved they rose to depart, and, as 
they wished me farewell, the elder woman patted her 
pocket fondly. 

" Ah ! " she said, addressing her companion, " I have 
plenty of money in it I wanted to buy but the woman 
gives so little for eggs, and her things are so dear ! " 

Mr. Egerton and Hendrick were indignant, and I made 
them worse by laughing at them ; but the best of the 
joke we had to find out afterwards half of the eggs were 
addled ! 

Not long after this, two Boers, father and son ap- 
parently, rode up to the waggon and dismounted. The 
father held his hand out to me across the disselboom, 
evidently expecting me to get up to take it, but I was 
too comfortable lying down. 

248 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

" I can't reach so far/' said I. 

" No more can I/' quoth he. " Have you any boots ? " 


" What is their price ? " 

" Eighteen shillings." 

" You must not tell lies/' remarked my visitor. 

I assured him I was adhering strictly to truth ; upon 
which he said I might show him the boots ; but they 
were not strong enough for his fancy ; and he and his 
son rode on to another trader, who was, I heard, 
stationed not far off. 

Then Mr. Egerton's wrath against the rudeness of 
Boers in general, and of this Boer in particular, burst 
forth, regardless of my endeavours to point out to him, 
that, as friends and relations, in Boer-land, constantly 
recommend each other (in a friendly spirit) not to lie, 
the expression was doubtless only a playful allusion to 
the fact, that traders are in the habit of making as good 
bargains as they can. 

Soon after we inspanned, and Mr. Egerton and I 
riding on in front, we presently came upon the encamp- 
ment of the trader we had heard of. He was stationary 
there for a time, and had set himself up very comfortably. 
After a few words we rode on, following the right bank 
of the Eland river, towards its junction with the Elephant 
river. The bush was thick, and the banks were so steep, 
that although we were close to the river the whole time, 
we were not aware of it ; and here I may remark that it 
requires to get one's eye accustomed to the bush-veldt 
before one can discover where the course of a river 
or the source of a spring lies, and also where a Boer 
encampment lies, for the Boers draw up their waggons 

A Lady leader in the Transvaal. 249 

and pitch their tents often in the midst of thick bush ; 
and a trader's eye must often be as practised as a 
hunter's, to see the little white speck they present 
amongst the green foliage. 

Mr. Egerton and I overshot many at our first outset, 
giving Hendrick a laugh at our want of experience when 
he came up with the waggon. 

The next day brought us to a Kaffir kraal. The river 
ran between it and us, but I halted the waggon, and sent 
Hendrick over on Dandy to ask if I could get mealeas 
for the horses, and whether the Kaffirs would care to 
buy. He soon returned, escorted by a troop of whooping 
and yelling children, all nearly, and many quite, naked, 
who evidently looked upon the arrival of a " Smouse " as 
a delightful interruption to the monotony of their ex- 
istence. They were closely followed by numbers of men 
and women : the former dressed in every variety of attire, 
from a worn-out European suit to a strip of rag round 
the loins ; the latter wearing girdles of leather, fringed, 
and more or less ornamented with beads or brass buttons 
round their waists, without any other covering in the 
case of their being young girls ; the married women had 
in addition skins thrown round their shoulders or passed 
under one arm and fastened over the opposite shoulder. 
Many carried baskets containing mealeas, pumpkins, &c., 
on their heads, and babies in their arms. 

This motley crowd of men, women, and children, literally 
besieged the waggon, chattering and screaming like so 
many monkeys, and clambering up on the wheels, and 
jumping backwards and forwards across the disselbooin 
in an ape-like manner. As their excitement abated, and 
as they fell into groups, the coup d'oeil was effective 

250 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

the women, in their quaint costumes, and with their arms 
and legs decorated with beads and bangles, being the 
leading feature in it. Many of the men spoke Dutch, 
but none of the women could speak that language, so 
that I lost the fun of hearing their observations. One 
of the women was very graceful and pretty, with a turn 
of the head and neck that reminded me of the hunting 
Diana in the Vatican. She was quite conscious of my 
admiring glances, and took advantage of the knowledge 
they conveyed to her, to wheedle me into buying a pump- 
kin at a preposterous price. 

I never saw so grotesque a caricature as these Kaffirs 
presented, of scenes I have observed at Swan and Edgar's, 
and Howell and James's. Some absurd-looking savage 
in a blanket, would ask to see a shirt, or a coat, or a pair 
of trousers, or perhaps a hat. The assembled multitude 
would become all attention. He would be turned round 
and round, the critics would fall back a pace or two, and 
look at him with deep thoughtfulness, while he watched 
their faces anxiously : no, there was a bulge in the back ! 
or the brim was a little too narrow he must try another. 
Or perhaps when the critics were satisfied, the purchaser 
would screw himself round, and gazing down his own 
back, say, " Don't you think it would be better if it were 
a little more this or a little less that ? " and his friends 
would discuss the matter, gravely walking round him 
with their heads on one side, until it was settled to 
general satisfaction. The trying on of boots was very 
fine the would-be purchaser often having very little on 
him except the boots. After pulling them on, he would 
promenade backwards and forwards in them, trying 
how they felt. When the purchase, whatever it might be, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 251 

was concluded, the purchaser frequently celebrated the 
event by a " break-down," amid universal applause. I 
stayed at this amusing place until the next morning, and 
then continued my route along the Eland river. 

We passed several Boer encampments, the tents being 
pitched a little away from the path, and close to the river. 
I rode over to them to ask if their inhabitants wished to 
buy anything, but none of them did. They were very 
civil to me, however. One gaunt old lady, at whose tent 
I dismounted and had some coffee, was much interested 
in politics, as well as in all my private concerns ; and 
farther wished to induce me to buy an ox at an exorbitant 

" Why," said I, " you are asking war prices ; no one 
will give you ten pounds for an unsalted ox in peace 

" Ah/' said she cheerfully, " we all mean to keep our 
oxen until the Kaffirs break out again : they are sure to 
break out quite sure." 

We outspanned for breakfast near the encampment of 
an old infirm Boer of the name of Prinsloo, who had a 
very jolly-looking wife. Prinsloo himself looked like a 
gentleman, and they seemed nice people in their way. 
They came over to the waggon, after I had paid them 
a visit in their tent, and bought a bottle of brandy from 
my private store ; for I had none for purposes of sale. 

It was near this place, but I forget exactly where, 
that two waggons laden with planks from the wood- 
bush came along while we were outspanned. W r ith them 
was a tall young Boer, who evidently had a very good 
opinion of himself, and thought it the correct thing to 
swear most villainously in all the English he knew. This 

252 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

prepossessing specimen of young Boerdom halted his 
waggons, and, swaggering up to Mr. Egerton, asked him 
his name ; then whether he was the owner of the waggon. 

Mr. Egerton pointed to me, upon which my friend 
swaggered over to where I was sitting on the grass, and 
proceeded to survey me as if I were a curious animal of 
some unknown kind. Then he said, 

ff So, you are a Smouse, are you ? Well, you will howl." 

(N.B. The same word " heul " is used in Dutch for 
either crying or howling.) 

" Indeed/' said I. 

" I want some brandy," said he. 

" I'm sorry for that/' said I ; " because I can't give 
you any." 

This disconcerted him, and he called to his oxen, and 
departed, swearing at them in English as long as he 
was within hearing. 

For the next few days nothing remarkable occurred. 
We passed several encampments and one trader and 
once I was most agreeably surprised by finding Mrs. 
Farquarson in a tent instead of a Dutch woman. Her 
husband was surveying neighbouring farms, and she, 
with her baby, was enjoying the free bush-veldt life as 
a change from Pretoria. I kept along the Eland river 
still, but I found that trade was bad, a great many 
traders being just in front of me ; and so I determined to 
change my route, and turned across, past Schildpots- 
fontein, towards Waterberg. 

Schildpotsfontein is a very muddy fountain in the 
midst of a large Kaffir kraal or town. The chief is 
named Andreas Mayepee (I spell as the name would be 
pronounced in English), and the principal feature of the 

A Lady Trader in tfie Transvaal. 253 

place is sand. I never saw such a sandy place; you 
waded through sand wherever you went, you were in con- 
stant danger of getting your waggon stuck fast in the 
sand, and had to pilot it in its course to the outspanning 
place, as carefully as if it were a ship amongst shoals. If 
there was a breath of wind you were choked with sand ; 
but, although not otherwise an inviting place, it re- 
commended itself to me by its inhabitants doing a good 
trade with me, although another trader came there a few 
hours after I did, and also did a good trade. The chief 
was but a poor specimen of a chief, and kept a general 
store. His subjects paid him scant respect, and said his 
store had not much in it, and what little there was, was 
dear. The Kaffirs here were not half so amusing as 
those at the Eland river, although laughable enough. 
There were Kaffirs in European dress, and Kaffirs in 
blankets, and Kaffirs in shirts. I don't remember any 
naked Kaffirs here, and the women, girls, and children, 
were attired, or not attired, like those at the Eland river. 
The men mostly spoke Dutch, but the women only Kaffir, or 
rather " Makatees ;" for there are many Kaffir languages. 
I may here remark that the Makatees' language is a very 
unpleasing Kaffir dialect, and that the Makatees people 
are, by universal admission, a very nasty Kaffir people. 

I remained here several days, and then went on a short 
distance to a Missionary station. Here the women and 
girls wore European dress, and many of even the little 
children were clothed. I think it was here that I was 
amused to hear Mr. Egerton trying to convert a Kaffir to 
republican principles. The fellow admitted that Andreas 
Mayepee was, so far as he knew, of no particular use, and 
yet that all his subjects had to pay him tribute ; but there 

254 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

he stuck fast. "One must have a chief some chief 
we couldn't get on without a chief," he said ; and farther 
than that he could not be got by any arguments. 

We had a long- trek without water between this place 
and the next water at Marullo-kop, or Marullo-hill, so- 
called from a picturesque hill crowned by a large marullo 
tree near the spring of water. Oxen do not care to 
drink late at night, or early in the morning, so, as one is 
obliged to outspann once between the Missionary station 
and Marullo-kop, we started late, in order to outspann 
after dark. The trader I mentioned before (Mr. N.) treked 
along with us. I left Roughy in the waggon, for he was 
rather footsore, and Mr. Egerton and I rode on ; but to 
my dismay, when the waggons came up, I heard that the 
poor little dog had jumped out, and run after me as. the 
boys supposed but in fact had lost himself. It was 
pitch dark, but I hoped he might find his way to the 
camp-fire. Morning, however, came, and no Roughy. T 
could not keep the waggon waiting, for there was no 
water for the oxen, and it was useless to ride back to the 
kraal, as, even if I had found him there, he was too 
heavy to carry far on the horse, and too bad a runner to 
run after me, so I regretfully had to leave him to his fate, 
and go on. 

We saw several spring-bucks as we rode along, but 
none near enough to allow of Mr. Egerton trying his 
skill as a marksman ; and early in the day we got to 
Marullo-kop. The little precipitous hill rises suddenly 
from the flat thickly-wooded plain, and the spring 
of water makes a very little lake at its foot. Tucked in 
among the trees were some Boer tents ; saddles, skins, 
and dried quagga flesh were hanging on the trees close 
to them, and various implements, strewed around, showed 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 255 

that one at least of their occupants carried on the trade 
of a blacksmith and a mender of waggons. 

This individual came to greet us, as Mr. N., Mr. 
Egerton, and I rode up. He was a fine, sturdy-looking 
fellow, with an open smile and a yellow beard. After 
greeting him, I led my horse to where I wished the wag- 
gon to outspann, off-saddled, and sat down, while Mr. 
Egerton departed with his gun. Presently the pleasant- 
looking Boer came over from his tent with a glass of 
wine in his hand, and accompanied by Mr. N. He said, 
that, at home, he would have offered me something 
better, but here in the bush- veldt he had nothing else to 
offer. I thought more of this attention afterwards, when 
I learned from himself and others that he was a leader 
amongst the malcontents. His name was Barend Engles- 
berg. I went with him to his tent, and was introduced 
to his wife, an enormously fat woman, with a very merry 
face, also to his daughter-in-law, Liza, and to several 
other women and girls relations of his. 

The waggons soon came up, the goods were spread out, 
and a great deal of bargaining ensued ; also a great pull- 
ing about of goods, during which we had to keep our eyes 
about us ; for it is a well-known thing amongst traders 
that Dutch women and girls are very light-fingered. 

Barend Englesberg told me there were numbers of 
wild quaggas about, but that they were shy and difficult 
to get close to. He also told me that there were several 
lions, and that they often came down to the water at 
night. He evidently wished to frighten me. In the 
evening he even took the trouble to send me over word 
that he had heard a distant roar, and that I had better 
be on my guard; but that was all I heard of a lion 
during my stay. 

256 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

On leaving this place Mr. N. and I parted company 
he taking one road into Waterberg, and I another. My 
road led through thick bush until we crossed a chain of 
hills and descended into a wide valley, intersected by 
the " Nilstrom/' or Nile river, and saw, in front of us, the 
magnificent, solitary, and precipitous hill, called " Kranz- 
kop " whilst, across the valley, the view was bounded by 
the range of the Waterberg hills (for they cannot be 
called mountains). 

We outspanned for dinner near to a Kaffir house in the 
valley, whence a woman came with a cup of coffee for me, 
and told me, she had seen me while I was with the 
Jennings. She had relations living on their place, and 
had been there on a visit. She was dressed in European 
costume, and talked Dutch. She told me she belonged 
to the Mission station, which I could see tucked away in 
a fold of a hill just opposite, where she informed me I 
should find a very nice lady, the wife of a German Mis- 
sionary, who had passed me on his way to Andreas 
Mayepee's while I was outspanned at Marullo-kop. She 
said also that I should do a good trade, not only at the 
Mission-station, but at the Kaffir kraals round Kranz-kop. 

It was sunset as we rode up to the pretty little Water- 
berg Mission-station, which will ever remain impressed 
on my memory, with its little cluster of white huts, its 
mealea gardens, its rambling parsonage, shaded by blue 
gum-trees, and its little church with a tiny spire, all 
nestled in amongst the hills as the prettiest although 
not the most striking picture I have seen in the Transvaal 
a picture that was sadly pleasant, as reminding one of 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 257 


THE next morning I went to pay a visit to Mrs. B , 

who received me most kindly. The whole house spoke of 
true homely comfort ; the face of the mistress of it beamed 
comfort at you, although she was still crippled from the 
effects of the fever which had desolated Waterberg that 
summer, and which had made her desolate by the loss of 
her baby ; but she had many older children, and they 
looked as if they had just stepped out of a German 
" Randzeichnung," or of Retzsch's etchings to the " Lied 
von der Glocke." There was something wonderfully 
refreshing and wholesome about the whole establishment, 
and the Kaffirs in this place were certainly the best I 
came across mainly, I fancy, from the good influence of 

Mr. B and his wife, of whom I heard a high character 

from every one, and of whom I can only say that it is a 
sad pity there are not more missionaries like them. 

Their flock were certainly fond of them ; but Mrs. B , 

and afterwards Mr. B , told me that the Kaffirs were 

very disobedient, lazy, deceitful, selfish, and grasping in 
their dealings, even with them ; and that many whom 
they had helped at great personal inconvenience at the 
time of the fever epidemic, had afterwards refused to 
assist them in putting their land in order, even for pay. 


258 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

They never varied in their kindness, however, towards 
these people, although they were firm with them. This 
was the character I heard of them from their neighbours 
among the Boers, and my own observation certainly 
tallied with it. 

On returning from my visit I found Mr. Egerton and 
Hendrick doing a roaring trade; and this was kept up 
for the whole day, and for some succeeding days, Kaffirs 
coming in from the neighbourhood to buy. Some of these 
were " Knopnase," perfect savages, with tassels of fur 
tied on to their woolly heads, and a girdle, with a fringe 
of wild cats' tails, as their only garment: We spent Sun- 
day here. The service in the church was conducted in 
the Makatees' language, and some of the girls and young 
men came out very smart. After a few days we moved 
down the valley, trading at various Kaffir kraals and 
Boer farms (for now we were out of the bush-veldt), then 
crossed the Nile river, and traded amongst the wild 
Kranz-kop Kaffirs, until I had no more Kaffir goods left. 
I remember being greatly amused one evening, at the 
astonishment and delight caused by my appearance on 
horseback amongst some girls and women we met on their 
way to a kraal. They clapped their hands and danced 
about the horses (I was leading Violin), crying out, " Oh, 
the missus ! the pretty missus on the horse ! " And when 
I broke into a canter, their screams of delight, as they ran 
after me, made me laugh so much, that I had to interrupt 
the performance, and return to a walk. 

Having got rid of all my Kaffir goods, I thought I 
would try to get rid of a few more of my Boer goods 
before returning to replenish my stock at Pretoria. I 
therefore passed through the mission station again, and 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 259 

followed the course of the river towards Makapans-poort, 
thus once more getting into the bush-veldt. 

At one of my outspanns I came across a man who 
lived near Noitgedacht. I was riding Eclipse and lead- 
ing Violin, and Mr. Egerton was on Dandy, when we 
rode up to his encampment He asked me if I would 
sell Eclipse ; and on my saying that I would not part with 
him, asked me if the other horses were for sale. I said 
he could have the pony for thirty, the colt for eighteen 
pounds that the pony was salted. He said I asked a 
dreadful price; but later on, after he and some other 
Boers had done a little trade with me, he said a friend of 
his, De Clerc, wanted Violin. There was a deal of bar- 
gaining, for he wanted me to exchange him for two 
oxen, and at last we struck a bargain. I was to have the 
oxen and some money to boot ; but in the morning he 
changed his mind he would have Dandy instead. I 
insisted upon having the full sum in cash for Dandy, and 
this was a sore point. It turned out that it was not 
De Clerc who was buying the horse ; he was buying him 
for his son-in-law, Willem de Plessis. He tried every 
way to get me to lower the price ; but I was really sorry 
to part with the pony, and I stuck out. They had him 
up, and asked me if he would stand fire, upon which I 
told them he always trotted away when his rider dis- 
mounted to fire ; so young De Plessis tried him, and found 
my statement to be correct; but he still wanted the pony. 
At last the money-bag was pulled out, and the counting 
out began. He got up as far as twenty-eight pounds, 
then his courage failed him. He asked could I not take 
twenty-eight pounds ? I said I could not. He said it 
was all he had got. I said that was all right, then ; I 

s 2 

260 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

should keep the pony. He got up from the disselbooru, 
on which he had been sitting alongside of me, and going 
to another Boer who was standing a little way off, 
brought the two sovereigns, and gave them to me. 

" Give him the pony," said I to Hendrick. " Take off 
the saddle and bridle/' 

" Oh, but you will include them in the price," said he ; 
but I shook my head. " Then you will let me have the 
stable head-stall ? " 

"No, not unless you pay for it." 

" But the knee-band you will give in ? " 

[It is the fashion in Africa to spancel a horse by 
tying its head to one of its legs, and a knee-band is often 
used to prevent the leg from being frayed by tying the 
reim round it.] 

" No," I said ; " not unless you buy it." 

" You will, at least, let me have the reim ? " 

I let him have that. It was worth about sixpence. 
He looked at the gold lovingly as I put it into my bag. 

" You will give me a written guarantee that he is 
salted ? " he said ruefully. " It is a terrible lot of 

" No, I won't," said I. 

" Then, at least/' said De Clerc cheerfully, " you wil 1 
sell us a bottle of your brandy ? " 

" Yes, if you will pay me ten shillings ;" and they did 
so, and departed rejoicing. 

I did not go much farther along the river, for I met 

Mr. N , who told me that there was no trade to be 

done with the Boers farther up ; and, as I said before, my 
Kaffir goods were exhausted. My last outspann, before I 
turned back, was close to the encampment of an old 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 261 

woman of the name of Nell, related to the De Clercs and 
Engelsbergs in some inextricable manner, as is often the 
case with Boer relationships. This is natural, when it is 
the custom for people of both sexes to marry so often 
as they do in Boer-land, for each succeeding wife to 
call her actual husband's mother " ma," her former hus- 
band's or husbands* mother " ma/' and her husband's 
former wives' mothers "ma." The husbands observe the 
same rule, one that includes the various fathers as well, 
who are called " pa " by a variety of people hardly 
related to them according to our ideas. The relationships 
become still more bewilderingly intricate, when one con- 
siders that the "pa" and " ma" may marry half-a-dozen 
times themselves, and may thus multiply their children's 
fathers or mothers, and grandfathers, and grandmothers 
to an appalling extent. I once made, or at least attempted, 
a calculation of the number of grandmothers a Boer might 
have, but I felt that to grapple with the subject was to 
court insanity, and so desisted. 

The old Mrs. Nell had had several husbands, and it 
was an endeavour on her part to make me understand 
how a certain individual I knew was related to her, 
through his being related to some relation of a former 
wife of one of these husbands, that started me off on the 
above-mentioned calculation. She was an old woman 
who wished to do business, and evidently thought me 
very verdant as I was in those days still her expecta- 
tions were beyond my merits, for when she wished me 
to purchase an old and rather vicious bull, and explained 
to me that all I had to do to get him to walk along with 
my waggon was also to buy a cow or two I respectfully 
declined. A grandson of hers was a boy with a sharp 

262 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

turn for business, which I suppose he had inherited from 
her. I had bought a young falcon and a pair of turtle- 
doves at the mission station, and I conclude the fame of 
that purchase had reached this young gentleman' s ears. 
On riding up to old Mrs. NelFs tent I remarked a sort 
of magpie tied to the stump of a tree close by. In the 
course of conversation Mrs. Nell directed my attention to 
it, and said her grandson had caught it. I said it was an 
amusing pet ; and she said that it was so indeed. Some 
little time after she hinted that perhaps if I liked to have 
it her grandson might be induced to part with it, but I 
took little notice of the remark. Later on she came with 
the grandson and the magpie to my waggon. I admired 
the bird, to please the boy as I thought, but was rather 
amused when he suggested that I should give him a 
bottle of sweets for it. I assured him that if I had the 
misfortune to own the bird, I would give him a bottle of 
sweets to take it away. This disconcerted him, and I 
heard him whisper to his grandmother, " If the aunt " 
[Little Boers call all women " aunt "] " won't buy it, 
what shall I do with it ? " He then returned to the 
charge, and at last came down to begging me to give 
him threepence for the bird. Finding that I would not 
give him anything, he walked off looking very sulky, 
carrying the poor bird ; and I heard afterwards from Mr. 

N (who was at Mrs. Nell's tent when he returned) 

that he said it was a horrid shame of the aunt not to 
buy the bird when he had caught it expressly to sell 
to her and forthwith proceeded to wring its neck. On 
my way back I traded two cows, which I sold afterwards 
at a gain, but otherwise trade was very slack. 

Mr. N picked me up on horseback, as I was riding 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 263 

in front of the waggon on my way from the missionary 
station back to Marullo-kop. His waggon was on in 
front, and shortly after we caught sight of a large herd 
of wilde-beests, and chased them. It was a magnificent 
sight to see them bounding through the bush, with their 
tails flying, the bulls tossing their long black manes. 
They do not look like animals of the antelope species 
when thus seen. 

Mr. N had no gun with him, greatly to his regret 

and my delight. He raced after them farther than I did, 
and we parted company in consequence. I then remarked 
how very easy it would be to lose oneself in the bush. 
In the excitement I had not remarked which way I 
was turning. I only knew that I had left the road to my 
left when I darted into the bush ; and when I found 
myself alone (having pulled up owing to Eclipse 
putting his foot in a hole), I should not have had any 
idea of where I was had it not been that the line of hills 
I had just crossed, with the top of Kranz-kop looking 
over them, gave me my direction. When I got to 

Marullo-kop I found Mr. N already there, and he 

and Barend Engelsberg had made up their minds that if 
I did not soon arrive, they would set out to look for me, 
as they said lions had been seen close to where he and 
I parted company. For the truth of this statement 

I should be sorry to vouch, although Mr. N 

believed it. 

The Engelsbergs gave me a hearty welcome, and Liza 
felt that her acquaintance with me had developed suffi- 
ciently, to allow of her asking me to lend her some money, 

to buy jam from Mr. N . I suggested that as there 

was no knowing when we might meet again the trans- 

264 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

action was likely to be a losing one to me; but she cheer- 
fully answered that I should no doubt come again that 
way, and then she would see me. 

A little Engelsberg, of about twelve, with a very 
innocent face, also distinguished herself by taking Mr. 
Egerton in. She came up to me as I was walking away 
from the waggon, and asked me if Mr. Egerton might get 
her an article which cost two shillings. She knew the 
price, for she had asked it before ; so I said " Yes." She 
then went to the waggon, and on Mr. Egerton handing 
her the article she tendered one shilling, telling him that 
she had just asked me if she could not have the thing for 
a shilling, and that I had said " Yes." Mr. Egerton 
having seen her speak to me, believed her, and she took 
her purchase away, no doubt much pleased with her 

Mr. N and I came into Andreas Mayepee's kraal 

together, and found there another trader, a very jolly 
young fellow, who spent the evening by my camp-fire, 
telling stories of hunting adventures and smuggling 
adventures in which he had been engaged. My driver, 
Hendrick, had served the firm to which he belonged for 

a long time, and Mr. S , the young trader, gave me 

a very high character of him, and told me one of his 
great recommendations was that he could be trusted to 
go trading alone with a waggon amongst the Kaffirs. 

I inquired here about my little dog, but all I could 
hear, was that he had been seen some days after I left. 
I felt pretty sure that he was hidden away in some Kaffir 
hut; for Kaffirs have a great fancy for pretty little dogs. 

We three traders parted company the next day, and 
I took my course once more towards the Eland river. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 265 

That evening I rode over to a Boer encampment to ask 
if I might outspann near it for the night. The owner, 
a fine-looking man, who was just putting his sheep 
in the kraal, answered courteously in the affirmative, 
and, after I had ridden back to the waggon and told Hen- 
drick where to outspann, I cantered once more towards 
the tents, with a view to paying a visit to their occupants, 
when I suddenly saw a little black and white dog stand- 
ing looking at me and flourishing his tail in a most 
surprising way. It was my Roughy ! I jumped off the 
horse and caught the small beast up. He screamed 
with delight as he cuddled up to me, then suddenly leapt 
down and performed a frantic dance round me, letting 
off such a volley of little barks that I thought he would 
have choked, whilst the Boer family looked on in high 
satisfaction. It seems that, some time before, the poor 
little thing had come across the river to their tent, thin 
and so footsore that he could go no farther, and they had 
taken him in and cared for him, and had refused to sell 
him once, because they wanted to find his true owner. 
The name of these good Samaritans was Briet. Very 
nice people they were, clean and tidy in all their arrange- 
ments, and keeping their little adopted child (a rosy 
urchin of four, with laughing black eyes) as neat and 
fresh as any English child could be very unlike the 
generality of Boers, whose children are filthy. 

I stayed there the whole of the next day. They told 
me that, owing to the want of rain causing the grass to 
be dry, their sheep and young lambs were dying. Just 
across the river were the broad lands of an enormously 
rich Boer, a man who counts his cattle by thousands, as 
also his sheep, who has numbers of large farms, and 

266 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

plenty of money in hard cash besides. His name is 
Erasmus, and he is know in Boerdom as the " rich Eras- 
mus. " Now it so happened that, some time before, the 
grass on the other side of the river had caught fire, and 
he had sent to ask the Briets to help him in putting it 
out. They had done so, toiling all through the night with 
might and main. The burnt grass had now shot forth 
sweet green leaves, such as sheep delight in, and the 
Briets asked if they might hire a run for their starving 
flock but were refused it by the old miser ! I heard 
that this enormously rich man refuses himself sugar in 
his coffee, and wears his coats until they almost fall into 

There were some pretty young girls, relations of the 
Briets, in a tent close by. When I was starting the 
next day, one of them in a pretty coaxing way asked 
me to make her a present as a remembrance of me. She 
was too pretty and too yonng to rebuff, so I said I 
would give her something, I forget what. 

" No," she said, holding my hand, " you must let me 
choose my own present/' 

For the same somewhat unreasonable reason as before, 
I said she should do so, when judge of my astonishment 
as she tried to draw a valuable ring off my finger, saying 
" You shall give me this ! " 

" No/' I said, " I can't give you that." 

" Oh, but I don't want anything else," she answered ; 
and she looked very much disappointed when I explained 
to her that the ring was a keepsake, and under no cir- 
cumstances could be removed from my finger. 

A Lady Trader in tJic Transvaal. 267 


NOTHING worth relating occurred on my road to Pretoria. 
When close to the town, I rode to a house built close to 
the road, and situated on a farm where there was very good 
grazing, to ask whether I might outspann the waggon, 
and let the oxen feed there, while I was in Pretoria. It 
turned out that the farm had been lately leased by an 
Irishman, who had served in the volunteers along with 
Mr. Egerton, and who now was trying his hand at a 
Kaffir store and a suburban hotel, together with farming. 
He asked me in, and I stayed for some days at his hotel, 
riding into Pretoria to do my business, and was much 
amused at his efforts at keeping his house, and a partner 
he had, in order. It was a decidedly bachelor's esta- 
blishment, but was also decidedly preferable to any hotel 
in Pretoria; and my host did all he could, with true 
Irish hospitality, to make me comfortable. However, 
I soon moved into Pretoria, and my own house being let, 
pitched a tent in the Felman's Erf, where I still retained 
possession of the eligible residence I mentioned before. 
This, however, I did not now occupy, but used as a 

I had determined upon parting with Mr. Egerton, as, 
in the life I was now leading, I no longer required his 

268 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

services. I think we were both sorry to say good-bye; 
and I was the more sorry, because I could not see any 
chance of an opening for him. He got an employment 
of a very laborious nature before I left Pretoria once 
more, and I left him the key of the eligible residence, 
which he determined to use as his domicile, so as not to 
incur the expense of an hotel. And this brings me to 
what has been my reason for recounting so much of Mr. 
Egerton's history ; a reason which, if he ever reads this 
record of my adventures in South Africa, I believe he 
will deem a good one. His story points the moral of 
what I am about to remark. 

For two years before I bade good-bye to Mr. Egerton, 
and, as an act of friendship, offered him the key of 
that miserable little hole, wherein to eat his meals and 
make his bed, subscriptions had been asked for and 
obtained for the erection of a new church for embellish- 
ments of that new church and even (if I mistake not) 
for an organ for it ; and from its pulpit had been thun- 
dered forth denunciations of the drunkenness and conse- 
quent vices, only too common, alas ! amongst the dwellers 
in Pretoria. These denunciations were so frequent, that 
they became the topic of general conversation, and reached 
the ears of even those who, like myself, never heard them 
from the pulpit ; but no effort was made to provide the 
means to enable men (not exceptionally determined) to 
avoid being dragged into the cardinal vice. 

It is not an easy thing for a man to avoid frequenting 
a canteen when he comes as a stranger to Pretoria. He 
cannot get furnished lodgings there are not such things 
to be had the nearest approach is board and residence 
in a family ; and not only is there no comfortable reading- 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 269 

room to be found in the hotels, but the bedrooms are 
small and uncomfortable. The natural and almost in- 
evitable resource is the " bar," where he can find com- 

If he does not get employment at once (which is very 
possible) , or supposing that on arriving in Pretoria he 
has but a very little money in his pocket (which is often 
the case), then, not being able to afford to stay at an 
hotel, he must try to get a bed or some sort of shake- 
down at a canteen, where he is bound to drink or he 
would not get the shake-down. 

If he does succeed in procuring employment, but with- 
out getting introduced to some quiet family where he 
can board and lodge, the difficulty of spending his 
evenings anywhere but in a " bar " remains, for there is 
nowhere else to spend them if he does not sit in his bed- 
room. If he does not succeed in getting employment, 
or can only procure work for which he receives pay too 
small to meet his daily expenses, (even rough living is 
expensive in Pretoria,) then it is not easy for him to avoid, 
after a time, finding it expedient to take his blanket 
and make his bed upon fine nights under a rose-hedge 
in the vicinity of the town, so as to save the expense of 
a bed ; and when in the chill, damp morning he gets up, 
I personally do not wonder that the temptation to have 
a " tot " at the canteen is too strong for him. The time 
may very easily come when he cannot afford to look 
whether the night be fine or not, before making his bed 
under the rose-hedge, and then the morning "tot" seems 
still more alluring, I fancy and so on, and so on, until 
he becomes one of the denounced. 

Would not (under these circumstances) a subscription 

270 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

to start a cheap but self-supporting lodging-house, with 
a restaurant and reading-room attached, be more to the 
point than a subscription for an ornamental church, from 
whose pulpit the poor homeless victims to a strong tempta- 
tion may be denounced, after a hymn has been sung to the 
accompaniment of an organ also bought by subscription ? 

As I regretfully shook hands with Mr. Egerton, in the 
market-square of Pretoria, with the moonlight streaming 
over it, and turned after my waggon, once more on my 
way to the bush-veldt, I wondered whether, were I he, 
I should have the strength of mind to go back to that 
dismal hut by the swamp, every evening, to cook my 
dinner with wood I should have to gather and blow into 
a flame after a hard day's toil, and, having eaten, to sit 
down on a box to read, by the light of a single candle, 
unless I spread my blankets on the ground and went to 
sleep, amidst the litter of a store-room. This too with a 
dreary consciousness, that I should wake up in the grey 
morning, to discomfort, loneliness, and toil while, all the 
time, there were lights and there were warmth and rest to 
be had in many a canteen, and something to drink which 
meant to feel jolly for a little time, and to go to sleep 
without thinking of the morrow. 

I believe it is a fact that gentlemen's sons go more 
quickly and certainly to the dogs in this, and I suppose 
in every, colony, than the sons of working men. Putting 
aside that they cannot obtain work so easily as the latter, 
the reason is self-evident ; they cannot battle so strongly 
against the privations and discomfort they are exposed to, 
and hence they are more liable to seek temporary solace 
in drink. The habit once formed, will hardly be abandoned, 
even if the origin of it ceases. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 2 7 1 

I do not mean to say that all the drunkenness which 
prevails in Pi'etoria is originally caused by a desire to 
forget discomfort, but I am confident that a great deal 
of it is, and that much misery and vice might be pre- 
vented by the adoption of some such plan as I have 

Before leaving Pretoria, I had dismissed Hans, my 
leader he was too fond of smoking " daccha," an in- 
toxicating leaf, the constant use of which drives its 
votaries at times almost to insanity and in his place I 
had engaged the services of a Zulu Kaffir called Pete, 
recommended to me by my driver, Hendrick. The boy, 
little Hendrick, remained with me by his own desire ; 
and I was glad to keep him, for he was a bright, in- 
telligent, and yet wonderfully innocent-minded child. 
When he first came to me he used to amuse me by 
turning out of his blankets of a morning without a scrap 
of clothing on him, although the sharp wind might be 
blowing, and the hoar frost be lying thick on the ground, 
reserving his dressing arrangements until after he had lit 
the fire and set the kettle on to boil, for early coffee ; but 
by this time, he was beginning to think it incumbent upon 
him to put on his shirt before he performed these duties. 

Another change had come o'er the spirit of my dream. 
I was now the possessor not only of a house in Pretoria, 
but of a small farm, about twenty-five miles from Pre- 
toria, going the shortest way, and which carried with it 
the right of free grazing and water on the large farm of 
which it originally formed a part. The place was noted 
as being healthy for horses and sheep, and was an ex- 
cellent stand for a Boer-store; and I got it for a price 
which even the Boers near considered cheap. 

272 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

My load consisted principally of Kaffir goods, and T 
had a barrel of Cape brandy up as well. This speculation 
I had been recommended by many who knew about 
trading, and I had been asked for brandy so frequently 
by Boers, that I thought I would try it. So I took out 
a bottle licence. This reminds me of an absurd old 
magistrate who gave me the said licence, and who took 
me up very sharp for wanting a bottle and not a retail 
licence (I think that is the correct name for a licence to 
sell by the glass). 

" I don't want to sell by the glass," said I. 

"Oh! don't you?" quoth he; "but I am very much 
afraid you will." And he held up a long finger, and shook 
it and his head, in a manner that would have suggested 
to a by-stander, that I already stood convicted of several 
similar offences. 

" It is not probable," I remarked, " that I should like 
to have a lot of tipsy Kaffirs round my waggon." But 
up went the fore-finger again, and with a terrible shake 
of the head he answered, 

"Well, mind, if I catch you at it, I shall fine you 
heavily very heavily." 

" I will give you permission to fine me as heavily as 
you like, when you catch me," said I, pocketing my 
licence; and I conveyed to my old friend, doubtless, the 
idea that I was a hardened sinner, up to all the dodges 
necessary to evade the law successfully. 

There was another thing about this brandy which 
amused me. A friendly store-man at the store where I 
bought it, who had previously given me many little hints 
about trading, beckoned me aside when it was loaded up. 

" When you get well out from amongst the Boers," he 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 2 73 

said " for I understand you are going right in amongst 
the Kaffirs this time just fill up the cask with water ; the 
Kaffirs won't remark it. I wouldn't advise you to put 
tobacco into it ; that I don't think right. But just fill up 
with water ; it won't pay well enough if you don't." 

I thanked him and departed. 

This time I took my way through Buckonoo's kloof (I 
spell as pronounced in English), instead of through Derde- 
poort. It was a very pleasant change; the gorge, or 
kloof, with its craggy sides so thickly wooded that only 
here and there a bold mass of grey rock could be seen, 
jutting oat at some curve of the river, or of the road that 
ran between them, looked quite delightful in the morning 
light ; and I several times stopped to look at the pretty 
picture the waggon made, as, with its long team of oxen, 
it wound its way through the chequered sunlight and 
shadow. There were thousands of monkeys in this leafy 
retreat, and they hooted at us as we went by, not coming 
close, however, but affording an immense amount of excite- 
ment to the dogs and to little Hendrick, who was riding 
with me on Violin. On emerging from this gorge we 
came to several pretty farms ; at one of them I was hos- 
pitably received by an old Dutchman and his family, who 
were in favour of English rule. They had a farm on the 
high-veldt, and used this farm only as a bush-veldt farm. 
I went along slowly, trading as I went, at the various 
places I had visited before, a"nd at last got to Harullo- 
kop. The Engelsbergs seemed very much pleased to see 
me, and I met young De Plessis there. He had come 
over to have something done to a waggon of his, and had 
brought his wife and his youngest child with him. As I 
sat in the Engelsbergs' tent, waiting for the waggon to 

274 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

come up, the men amongst whom, if I remember aright, 
was De Clerc talked much of the Beeinkommste that had 
just been held, to discuss the advisability of starting Boer 
stores, the goods to be imported direct, so as to oust 
English traders from the Transvaal. Barend Engelsberg 
said he had promised to subscribe 100Z., and mentioned 
the names of some other Boers, who were going to sub- 
scribe different amounts. There was a doubt about 
whom they should import from. They said that the 
Americans and the Germans had made very liberal offers. 
My friends in the tent seemed to think that the American 
offer would be accepted. I had been listening to the 
men talking, while the women chatted about their babies 
and other domestic topics. I doubt whether they thought 
I understood much of what they were saying, so that 
there was a little hush of surprise when at this point I 
said " I think the plan you propose, or that has been 
proposed at your Beeinkommste, is a very good one, and 
you will, I dare say, get your things much cheaper than 
you now doj but I would advise any of you who may 
have any influence with the committee you speak of, to 
avoid dealing with the Americans ; they are first-rate men 
of business, but they would be too sharp for you probably. 
I think it would be much safer for you to deal with the 
Germans." It was a great surprise to them, in more ways 
than one, to hear me say this ; and some time after De 
Clerc asked me if I was born English. I said, " Yes, I 
am born English at least an English subject; but I was 
born in Ireland, and my parents were both Irish." Upon 
which he said, " Ah ! " as if he were making a note of it 
in his mind. 

The next morning, as I was sitting by the waggon a 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 275 

number of girls of various ages came over, and sitting 
down, after they had made some purchases, talked to me. 
One of them, who seemed rather a nice girl, had bought 
a pair of gloves I remember, and she laid them on the 
grass between herself and her two little cousins. These 
two little girls bade me good-bye before she did, and, 
when she rose to go, she missed her gloves. She searched 
everywhere for them in vain. At last she said, " Oh, I 
remember; they were close to my cousins; they have 
taken them." And I saw the tears in her eyes. 

' ' Well," said I, " then you can get them back ; they 
will have found them amongst their things." 

" Oh, no," she said simply ; " you know of course they 
will keep them. That was why they went away so 

"Then tell their mother," I suggested rather indig- 
nantly, " and get them given back to you." 

The girl almost laughed at my ignorance. " Why that 
would be of no use," she said. " She would never give 
them to me, even if she knew they were there." 

I found that the beauty of Eclipse was a constant theme 
among the Boers, and that my prowess in riding him was 
greatly extolled. On one occasion Barend Engelsberg 
brought another Boer over to the waggon, expressly to 
admire the horse, and to ask me to show how I could do any- 
thing I liked with him without his kicking me. Boers as a 
rule are very fond of horses, although they are somewhat 
careless of them, as indeed they are of themselves and their 
families, and our common taste soon established a sort of 
freemasonry between us, the men being always ready to 
listen to all I had to tell of my horses, and to recount 
long tales of their past and present horses in return. 

T <> 


276 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

I reached the mission station I found that Mr. 
had resigned his position as missionary, and was 
just removing to a farm at some distance, called Sand- 
fontein. He came to see me at the waggon, but I did 
not go to the house, as I was very busy trading and had 
no time. Pete, my leader, distinguished himself by 
getting drunk on Kaffir beer while I was here, and sitting 
under the waggon the following day, loudly deploring his 
headache and general wretchedness, caused partly by the 
drink, and partly by the disgrace I kept him in. 

My way now lay past some warm springs, of which 
there are several in Waterberg, to Makapan's-poort. On 
my way I once more passed the encampment of the De 
Clercs and young De Plessis, the size of which was 
increased by the addition of several tents and wae-o-ons 


belonging to Boers who had been encamped further along 
the river, but were now on their way from the bush-veldt 
to their farms on the ur-veldt or elsewhere. Amongst 
these Boers was old Mrs. Nell, who had tried to sell the 
bull to me. 

The stories about lions being in the vicinity, and having 
killed horses and cattle, belonging in some cases to Boers 
whom I knew, were so numerous, and so well authenti- 
cated, that I thought it best to keep fires burning all 
night, and that we should sleep in a ring round the 
horses, leaving one boy to sleep by the fore-oxen. I saw 
Dandy again, and he knew me, and could with difficulty 
be got away from the waggon, but he was evidently well 
cared for and kindly treated. I must describe his master 
and his master's family. They are the best Boers I have 
come across. Young De Plessis himself a man of about 
middle height, wiry, and full of energy, with bright 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 277 

laughing eyes, a merry mouth, and clustering hair, with a 
manner in accordance, bold and free, and with something 
pleasantly boy-like in his way of enjoying a joke or asking 
a favour was known amongst his mates as a sure shot, 
a daring hunter, and a first-rate horseman; yet always 
ready to help his wife with the baby (she told me herself 
he always weaned the children for her), and withal a 
most diligent and energetic farmer. He was the only 
Boer I ever saw who groomed his horse regularly every 

His wife was tall, and made on a large scale ; but her 
every movement was graceful. Her face, with its regular 
features, large steady eyes, with long dark eyelashes 
and pencilled eyebrows, was a picture of serene cheerful- 
ness, and the set of her well-shaped head on her finely- 
formed neck and bust was statuesque. I have seen her 
doing all sorts of little domestic work with the air of a 
Juno, except that Juno, according to Homer, never can 
have looked serene. She was always dressed neatly, with 
a fresh kerchief folded across her breast, and her hair was 
always tidy, her hands always clean, and she never seemed 
disturbed or hurried about anything. Her tent was a 
model of neatness, and her children never looked dirty. 

The baby was a delightful baby, with big brown eyes 
and round cheeks ; and it was always speckless. I am 
sure I don't know how she kept it so, but I never saw 
that infant otherwise than spotlessly clean from the top 
of its head to the tip of its little pink toe ; and its gar- 
ments always seemed to have been just put on. There 
were two older urchins one a handsome dark-eyed fellow, 
as brown as a berry, and full of mischief; the other blue- 
eyed and shy, with a tendency to hold by his mother's 

278 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

apron and put his fingers in his mouth when in the pre- 
sence of a stranger, but a pretty child. These youngsters 
were often superficially dirty, but one could always see 
their little white shirts peeping out at their collars and 
cuffs, and when, at meal-times, they were told to wash 
before sitting down, a very little soap and water made 
them look refreshingly clean. I have described this 
family, not as a type of Boer families, but because it is 
the only Transvaal Boer family, amongst the many I have 
seen, of which all these nice things could be said, unless I 
except the Briets, and the Briets were rich, whereas 
young De Plessis was very poor. I dined one Sunday in the 
De Plessis' tent, and had a very nice dinner, of wild buck's 
meat and a sort of sweet suet-pudding with cinnamon in 
it, served up with thick meat-sauce. Several neighbours 
came in, and we were very merry. De Plessis and his 
friends were laughing over a " grand spree " they had 
had the night before, when, as a finish up, they had 
smeared each other's coats all over with fat. Some very 
distinguishable marks of the practical joke yet remained. 
Trade was good here, and I stayed for some time. 

There was one man, of the name of Jan Smith, who was 
always coming to the waggon to beg me to sell him a 
" tot," and when I said I could not sell one, begging me 
to give him one. It was wonderful how these Boers 
would beg of me to infringe the law, and assure me that 
they would never tell of me, and that no trader minded 
adhering to it. I soon began to be sorry I had got 
brandy up, for, when they found that I would not sell 
them <( tots," they would club together and buy a bottle, 
drink it in a surprisingly short time, and come back for 
more, until the whole encampment was several sheets in 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 279 

the wind. They were only gay and festive during the 
day, but at night I rather think they used to quarrel ; and 
in order to get rid of the liquor, which I saw would prove 
a bother to me, I offered it to the whole encampment at 
cost price, and said I would trade it in cattle. They were 
much inclined to take it, but could not quite make up their 
minds as to how they would manage to bottle it off, aud 
so, much to my regret, the thing fell through. 

One day my driver Hendrick told me, in a very 
mysterious manner, that young De Plessis had got the 
plumage of an ostrich, which he would like to sell to me, 
taking three quarters of the payment in goods. I said 
he could bring the feathers, and let me see them. Then 
Hendrick said he would bring them that evening, but 
that I must be very careful not to let any one see them. 
I asked why, when he informed me that as a rule Boers 
were very envious of each other, and that if it were known 
among young De Plessis' friends and relatives that he had 
had the luck to shoot an ostrich, he would be annoyed by 
them. In the mean time the feathers were brought and 
approved, and young De Plessis, with his wife and her 
mother, Mrs. De Clerc, came over in the evening secretly, 
chose the goods, and got payment, and also showed me 
how to pack up the feathers nicely, this process being 
performed very secretly in my tent. Before he left I 
asked him the reason why he observed so much secrecy, 
for I did not believe Hendrick's version. 

" You see," said De Plessis, " it is against the law/' 


"Yes, it is breeding-time now, and although it is true 
that that cock bird had lost his mate, yet I should be 
liable to a fine of 500Z. if it were known I had shot a bird 

280 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

during this season. Besides, my father-in-law promised 

that he would shoot that bird for Mr. L (a trader), and 

if he knew I had shot it he would persecute me. So pray 
don't say anything about it, for I should be utterly 
ruined if I had to pay 500Z. In fact, I could not pay it, 
for I have not got it." 

" Well," said I, " I am sorry that I have helped you to 
do an unlawful act ; however, as I have, I will keep your 
secret, even if I have to depart a little from the truth. 
It is no secret of mine, and I should be sorry to harm 

" Oh, but," said he, " it is your secret as well as mine. 
You are as guilty before the law as I am." 

" Oh ! " said I ; and in my own mind I thought that 
altered the case very much. However, I resolved to keep 
the feathers until I came back from Makapan's-poort. I 
knew I should see De Plessis on his farm in Waterberg 
as I returned, and I need tell no lies, nor talk about the 
feathers until I got to Pretoria, and wanted to dispose of 

De Clerc used often to come with other Boers to my 
waggon. He was an oldish man, but handsome in a 
rugged sort of way, was a bold hunter and a good horse- 
man, and a leading man amongst the Waterberg Boers, 
being a fairly well-educated man for a Boer, and having 
held office under the Boer Government. He used often 
to talk politics to me, and always introduced me to his 
friends as an Irishwoman. Once one of the friends 
remarked that the Irish hated the English ; upon which I 
told him that I did not, and that although I thought that 
in many ways the English Government had behaved badly 
to the Boers, yet that if ever it came to war I should take 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 281 

the English side. De Clerc said he understood nay feel- 
ing ; that he believed it was best for the country that the 
English should govern it ; that England was a strong and 
rich country, and that the land would be more secure and 
more prosperous under her auspices than it would other- 
wise be ; but that yet in his heart he felt sore about the 
English dominion. He went on to say that he always 
dissuaded his friends from any thoughts of fighting ; that 
he meant to bring up his boy as a friend to the English ; 
that he believed that fighting would only end in a com- 
plete overthrow of the Boers ; but yet and I could see his 
dark eyes flash under his shaggy brow that, if there was 
fighting, his life and all he had should be thrown into the 
balance for his own race. " I quite understand that," I 
said ; " it would be the same with me were I a Boer." 

" But you are English, and of course if war comes you 
will go with your nation, as I with mine," he answered. 

One evening I walked across to the Boer encampment, 
crossing the river by a little plank thrown over it. I 
found De Clerc paying a visit to a very fat and rather old 
woman, who had just presented her husband, an old man 
with a white beard, with a first baby. There was an 
attempt being made to galvanize a sentiment about 
this unfortunate infant, but as its parents had had hus- 
bands, wives, and children before, the attempt was 
a failure. However, I gave the mother a present of a 
bottle of brandy and some raisins, and everybody was 
very much pleased. The invalid was in the waggon where 
the baby had been born, the happy father was sitting at 
the back, and De Clerc and I sat on chairs in front of him. 
It was a beautiful afternoon, and the trees, the river, the 
green grass near, the waggons and tents peering out 

282 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

from the foliage, and the blue sky, made a pretty picture, 
and put me into a very good humour. 

" Well," said De Clerc, " we are going to have a lion- 
hunt this evening or to-morrow. A cow has been killed 
close here, and we must find the lion and kill it." 

"Oh dear," said I, "how I should like to see the 
hunt ! " 

"What do you say to my proposal?" said De Clerc. 
" We will bring you the body of the lion just as it is 
killed, and you shall give us 5Z." 

"And the skin?" 

" Oh, no ! If I give you the skin you must give 
us 10Z." 

I laughed at the absurd demand. "No," said I; 
" it is nothing to me to see a dead lion, for I have seen 
many live ones in cages, and I don't much care for his 
skin. But I'll tell you what I will do. Take me with 
you on the hunt, and I'll give you 10L, and a bottle or 
two of brandy to have a spree with afterwards." 

" Done ! " cried De Clerc. " What will you ride ? " 

" Eclipse." 

" But is he accustomed to lion-hunting ? " 

" I'm sure I don't know," said I. " If you can spare me 
a horse that is accustomed to it I should prefer it." 

"You can have my horse, and let me have Eclipse." 

" No, no," I answered ; " no one rides my horse but 
myself, particularly where there may be danger." 

" Hear her ! " exclaimed De Clerc ; " that is how an 
Irishwoman speaks. But are you sure you won't be 
frightened ? " 

" I'm sure I shall be frightened, horribly frightened," 
said I ; " but I'm sure I shah 1 do whatever you tell me 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 283 

to do, and that I shall not run away, or scream, or do 
anything of that sort." 

Then there was some talk between the men as to how 
the hunt was to be arranged, and during this I observed 
that De Clerc was envious of De Plessis, who was the 
sharpest and boldest hunter among them. Presently 
two youngsters rode up at a canter. 

"We have got the spoor (or track), but we cannot 
follow it ; we can only make it out in one place. Shall we 
get the horses up, and try again all of us, as it is not too 

It was agreed that it was too late, and that they had 
better wait till morning. As I went back to the waggon 
I said to De Clerc, who walked a little way with me, 
" You won't deceive me, will you ? " 

" Oh, no," he answered. " I think you had better be 
ready about nine. By-the-way, there is one of those nice 
hats you have ; I want one so much, but I have not the 
money to buy it. Won't you give me one as a remem- 
brance of my taking you with me on the hunt ? " 

He had asked me to bring the hats over that he might 
choose one, but had not fixed upon one, and little 
Hendrick was still with me, with the hats in his hand. I 
saw through the old fellow, and was inclined to say that 
he should have the hat when I returned from the lion 
hunt ; but I still had clinging to me some of the politeness 
which was instilled into me in my youth, but which it is 
advisable to discard in Boer-land, unless you mean to be 
victimized at every turn; so he took his hat and departed. 

I waited there for several days afterwards, but no lion- 
hunt took place. 

Before my departure I bought Dandy back again, 

284 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

giving Violin and some money for him. De Plessis was in. 
want of money to pay off a debt, and I found that Dandy 
was a great loss in Pretoria. Violin was a capital horse 
for a gallop, but, with anybody but me, he was inclined to 
be vicious, and required careful breaking in to become a 
good horse, whereas when I had but him and Eclipse 
I could hardly ever ride him, and the boys were spoiling 
him by riding him badly. Dandy seemed delighted to 
be once more with me. The last I saw of De Plessis was 
after I was already on my road, when I heard a " Halloa ! " 
behind me, and turning, beheld him coming along at a 
gallop on his new acquisition, flourishing a black bottle 
in his hand. He was delighted with Violin's performance, 
and said he must buy one more bottle of brandy just to 
let them all have a spree on my going away. So I stopped 
the waggon, and, while he was getting his brandy, poor 
Violin, for the last time, searched my pocket for bread. 

I was now approaching the last tent belonging to white 
men. After passing one of my old acquaintances near to 
the warm baths, I entered a country prettier than any 
I had traversed before. I rode along a wooded valley, 
skirting the hills that bounded it at one side. The scene 
was a mixture of wildness and resemblance to an English 
park. There were many very good trees, the bush was 
thick, and there was a sprinkling of tropical-looking and 
enormous cacti or cactus-trees. One day I came on a 
group of Kaffirs on their way to the diamond-fields, 
sitting under a spreading tree. I knew that I was near 
water the horses were very thirsty but I could not 
make out where the spring was ; the course of the rivulet 
coming from it, was in parts dry, and in parts spread out 
into a half-marsh thickly overgrown with reeds. One of 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 285 

the men volunteered to show me the way. The spring 
was some distance from the spot, deep and clear, and 
Eclipse plunged into it eagerly. 

" I have brought you to the spring," said the Kaffir, 
while I sat enjoying the enjoyment of my horse and little 
Hendrick and Dandy in the cool water. I took out a 
small piece of money to give him. 

" I did not want any money/' he said; " I merely said 
I had showed you the water." And he seemed quite 
satisfied with thanks. I afterwards gave him and his 
companions some brandy, and one man came forward 
after they had all drunk, and said they wished him to 
thank me very much. These were very raw Kaffirs, and 
could hardly speak anything but Kaffir, but they were 
wonderful in the matter of courtesy ; for Kaffirs generally 
are either rude like monkeys, or like Boers and the latter 
is a very bad and disagreeable form of rudeness, 
characterized by much staring, talking of and laughing 
at anything which may strike them as unusual in a 

My last outspann by a white man's tent, was on a 
beautiful evening, and the scene struck me very much. 
I emerged from a thick wood on a delicious greensward, 
almost like an ornamental lawn, interspersed with a few 
fine trees. The road wound through this, and it was 
bounded on one side by the thickly-wooded hills, on the 
other by the forest. A large herd of cattle were making 
their way to three white tents pitched on the border of 
this, and partially concealed by its foliage ; and the last 
rays of the sun, as it sank behind the hills, were tinting 
all near objects with gold, while in the distance the hills 
of Makapan looked blue and misty. 

286 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

The family from these tents soon came to see me. 
Three of the men had been severely injured by fire. 
They had been hunting on the hills, and had set fire to 
the grass to hunt out the animals ; but the wind suddenly 
rose, and, in rising, changed its direction, so that the fire 
hunted them out instead. 

Early the next morning I passed the last white habita- 
tion ; the owner was a woodcutter, and had pitched his 
tent under a superb tree, not with the intention of cutting 
it down, however. Close by I saw a very curious animal. 
It was an enormous lizard, so large that it was like a 
little crocodile. It was close by the path when I saw it, 
and I frightened little Hendrick very much by riding up 
to it. He assured me that it had extraordinary power in 
its tail, and that if it struck Eclipse it would kill him. 
The little beast looked at me for a moment, then, slashing 
his long scaly tail in a most extraordinary manner, ran 
away with extreme agility, the tail vibrating from side to 
side all the time. I followed it on Eclipse, but it suddenly 
disappeared, I suppose down some hole. Our mid-day 
outspann was by the side of a rivulet, and in such thick 
bush that, no sooner were the oxen and horses loose, than 
they were lost to sight. It was said that there were 
lions close to this place, and thieving Kaffirs also, so I 
cautioned Pete and little Hendrick to keep the animals 
in sight, whilst Hendrick prepared the food. When it 
was prepared, and he went to call them to eat and 
make a fresh start, they were nowhere to be found, and 
neither were the animals, and it was some time before 
they came up. I had eaten, and was impatient to start, 
so I told them to up-saddle and inspann at once. I rode 
Dandy and led Eclipse this time, and I did not look 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 287 

specially at the latter until I had ridden a little way, then 
I saw he was sweated, which excited my suspicion. It 
was late when I reached Moer-drift, the place for out- 
spanning. The valley here begins to narrow, and the 
hills of Makapan's-poort can be plainly seen ; the valley 
itself is but little wooded, but the hills are covered with 
trees, and the effect is very pretty. I off-saddled, and it was 
not till almost dark, that the waggon came up. Pete was 
running in front of it, and a glance showed me that he 
was quite drunk. The oxen were hardly outspanned 
when he fell down under the waggon and went fast 
asleep. I perceived also that little Hendrick was tipsy. 
I asked Hendrick how this was, and he told me that 
Pete had taken little Hendrick to a Kaffir kraal, instead 
of minding the animals at the last outspann, and had 
given him some of the beer upon which he himself had 
got tipsy. I said nothing about Eclipse, but I felt sure 
now that Pete had either ridden him, or hunted him very 
hard on Dandy. I called up little Hendrick and told him 
that I would give him something to make him remember 
that the after-consequences of drink were disagreeable, 
and ordered Hendrick to give him some good cuts with a 
reim; Pete had to be left till morning. In the early 
dawn I saw him arise, wrap a blanket round him, loose 
the oxen and take them off to graze. ' ' He is trying to 
get into favour," thought I. I also heard little Hendrick 
laugh at him slily for having been thrown by Eclipse so 
I was quite sure about my affair now. The boys thought 
I was asleep, for I did not move. 

I had breakfast, but no Pete appeared: At last I sent 
Hendrick on horseback to look for the oxen. He found 
them far off, but Pete was missing. However, I had no 

288 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

mind to wait for him, so inspanned and got on near to a 
settlement of Knopnase Kaffirs, where I outspanned and 
was trading with them when Mr. Pete slinked up. I was 
too busy to speak to him then, and presently inspanned 
to go on to Makapan's-poort. 

It was a pretty ride, and when I got to the place itself I 
thought it a very pretty place. Right in the middle of the 
pass, a precipitous hill, crowned with Makapan's kraal, 
forms a sort of natural fortress. A small river (the Nile 
river, I think) winds round its base ; trees of various sorts 
cluster round, and are scattered over it, and the ruins of a 
once large mission station, and the pomegranates, syrin- 
gas, and other shrubs of the garden that used to be, add 
a charm to the scene. Numbers of women and children 
stared at me as I crossed the river with the two horses, 
and waited for the waggon to come up, for I did not 
know where to outspann. Hendrick could not talk the 
pure Makatees, spoken by these Kaffirs, sufficiently well 
to trust entirely to him, so I had taken a Kaffir from the 
mission station to act as interpreter and guide. This 
Kaffir's name was Nicholas, commonly called " Clas." 

So soon as the waggon arrived, Clas showed me a 
pretty little dell at the foot of the hill, where we out- 
spanned. I sent him to the kraal, with the present of a 
bottle of French brandy to Makapan, and a message 
that I wished to have his permission to trade with his 
tribe. And in return the chief sent me his thanks, and 
said that he was glad I had come, and would protect me. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 289 


MAKAPAN, or rather Clas Makapan, for the latter is only 
his surname or family name, is the son of a chief who, 
after a fearful massacre of the Boers, was at last reduced 
to submission by them. Clas was taken as hostage, and 

/ o * 

brought up in a Boer family. When his father died the 
Kaffirs determined to get the child back, and, fearful 
that the Boers would not give him willingly, they stole 
him one night, and having got him, made peace with the 
Boers by paying for him in cattle. One of the old Kaffirs 
told me that the little Clas had been very much frightened 
when he found himself a prisoner amongst the Kaffirs, 
and had cried and kicked to get away. 

I soon found that unless I traded for corn, I should be 
able to do but little here, for the taxes were just being 
called for by the Government, and the Kaffirs were very 
much afraid of not having money to pay them in, as cattle 
were taken at a ridiculously low value for the amount, if 
the cash was not there when called for. I determined 
therefore to trade for mealeas and Kaffir corn, as I got them 
very cheap, and they were likely to fetch a good price in 
Pretoria. When I made this intention known, the Kaffirs 
came in swarms, the men walking in front, followed by 
the women and girls, bearing on their heads baskets filled 


290 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

with grain. There were hundreds assembled, between 
those who came to trade and those who came to look on ; 
it was hard to prevent their crowding too close to the 
waggon, and many a time had Pete to rush at the ever- 
narrowing circle formed round it, with a big whip to keep 
the intruders off. 

It takes a long time trading for grain, for the grain 
has all to be measured off into sacks, or sometimes by 
buckets-full; besides this, one has to examine its quality. 
The din of all these savages, talking, yelling, laugh- 
ing, was deafening, and at the end of a day's work, 
which lasted without intermission from seven o'clock in 
the morning until the same hour in the evening, I was 
not only tired in body, but I felt nearly mad. This 
lasted several days. It was amusing, however, and I had 
a good opportunity of observing the Kaffir in his natural 
state. The women were dressed much like those at the 
Eland river, except that they had two long, thin pieces 
of leather hanging from their girdles behind like tails. 
These were ornamented with beads, brass or white buttons, 
&c., according to the taste or means of the wearer, and 
the young ladies were in the habit of holding one of these 
appendages in one hand and switching it about. I may 
here remark that Makatees young ladies are as fond of 
flirting as any other young ladies I have had the pleasure 
of studying. The girls were rather graceful, and had a 
way of entwining their arms round each other and falling 
into groups, which was absolutely artistic. I remember 
one group which seemed to have arranged itself with a 
consciousness of "The Graces." These three young 
ladies had rubbed their bodies and their hair or wool with 
a mixture of fat and red earth which, although it does 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 291 

not sound nice, was by* no means unbecoming. Mother's 
darlings were also to be distinguished from urchins who 
were not darlings, by the former being reddish-brown 
and the latter of a natural black colour. The girls wore 
a variety of ornaments, some very prettily made of grass 
and wire, also of beads. A disease much resembling 
scabies called, I believe, Kaffir-pock was very prevalent 
at Makapan's-poort, and I observed that the persons of 
those who rubbed themselves, or were rubbed by their 
fond mammas, with the unguent I have described, had 
escaped it. 

The men wore all sorts of costumes. Some of the 
aristocracy of the place wore European dress, others 
skins curiously sewn together and prepared, others 
blankets, others girdles fringed with the tails of wild cats, 
others again a shirt, sometimes tied by its sleeves round 
the neck, sometimes properly worn ; while many had 
just a rag or a little strip of soft leather round the loins. 
Many had their wool ornamented with little rosettes made 
of the tail of the rock rabbit, or by meer-cats' tails, tied 
on like tassels. I often saw the men going out hunting, 
armed with assegai and tomahawk, and often with a rifle. 
They would start off early in the morning, whooping and 
dancing, with a troop of dogs after them. 

One day I noticed a girl who was quite pretty, and also 
modest-looking, in the crowd that surrounded me, but at 
a little distance. I took aim at her with a small circular 
looking-glass, and successfully. She was delighted when 
she saw herself, but after giving me one beaming smile, 
she turned shy, and ran away. 

From that moment I had no peace. The girls were not 
so bad as the women, who had no excuse, for they were 

u 2 

2 92 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

all ugly. One old wretch who, although she had been 
brought up amongst the Boers for years, and had been 
accustomed to dress, now wore a fringed girdle and a skin 
over her shoulders, pestered me every day for a glass. 
At last I said, " You ask me why I gave that young 
woman one, and won't give you one ? That is easily 
answered. She is pretty, and has some use for a looking- 
glass ; whereas you are old, and if you had one, would 
have nothing pretty to see if you looked in it : when I was 
young I often looked in the glass, but I don't now : 
looking-glasses are for young people/' 

How that woman laughed, and clapped her hands, and 
laughed again. Then she called several of her friends, 
and told them ; and they cried out, " True ! true ! " and 
laughed until I began to feel that I had perpetrated a 
wonderful witticism. They were, however, quite as 
anxious to get a peep into a looking-glass afterwards as 
before, though no elderly female ever asked me for a 
glass again as a present. 

I had almost forgotten to tell about Pete. 

On the evening of our arrival at Makapan's-poort, I 
went over to the camp-fire where the boys were sitting, 
although it was very warm, and the moonlight was as 
bright as day, and said, " Pete, this is your second 
offence ; and you made it worse by attempting to ride my 
horse without my permission ; now remember, I never 
speak three times ; the third offence I punish ; and as I 
object to punishing either a servant or an animal, I never 
punish either, unless I give them something they are not 
likely to forget in a hurry." Pete stared hard at me, and 
said, "Yes, missus;" and I walked off. I may here 
remark that although I have always found the giving of 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 293 

a certain grace a good plan with European servants, I 
have found it a bad plan with African servants. I think 
personally that they are too much like animals to be 
treated in this way, and that the best way to manage 
them is to punish severely the first offence (I mean, of 
course, an offence whose culpability they understand) just 
as one does with an animal one has to train. At the time 
of which I am now writing, however, although I greatly 
doubted whether a Kaffir ought to be treated otherwise 
than as an animal, I thought it right to give him the 
benefit of the doubt. 

The heat even at night was now very great ; and the 
irritation caused by the biting and crawling over one of 
microscopical ticks was very great. I found it difficult to 
sleep at night, and I have often got up and walked about 
in the moonlight, or watched the sleeping horses lying 
comfortably by the waggon, and sometimes giving little 
ghostly neighs in their sleep that testified to their dream- 
ing. I never slept in the tent, for I was always afraid of 
some robbery going on, and once my suspicions were 
aroused by missing Pete from where he ought to have 
been sleeping. He turned up shortly after, however, so 
I thought no more about it, as I noticed nothing else 

A serious difficulty now began to claim my attention. 
I had been led to believe that I should be able to get 
meal from some of the Boer houses in Waterberg (at the 
other side of the mission station), but I had not been able 
to procure any, and in consequence of finding very little 
game and no meat towards and at Makapan's-poort, the 
meal I had was beginning to run short. I could buy 
but very little milk ; and the coffee was getting low. I 

294 -^ Lady Trader in tJic Transvaal. 

determined to start for Pretoria, but deferred my de- 
parture a little in order to be present at a grand feast 
which Makapan was about to give. He was to " make 
rain " for his clan, and there was to be a grand dance. 

Although brought up amongst the Boers, Makapan 
has not adopted any substitute for the 'superstition of his 
father and his tribe, and he has a pronounced objection 
to missionaries. He came to pay me a visit the day 
before this feast. He is a big man, with coarse features. 
He was dressed in a short coat, riding-breeches, gaiters 
and boots, and a felt hat. Of course I gave him a " tot ;" 
and gave one also to his head-man, called " Stiirman," who 
was dressed like himself. He said he hoped I would visit 
him before I left the place ; that he had heard that I said 
that I would not visit Makapan before Makapan visited me, 
and that now Makapan had come. I said I would go to 
his kraal the next day. I was greatly surprised to see 
how unceremoniously his subjects, and even my driver 
Eendrick, were allowed to treat him, and felt that it 
was difficult to know how to treat as a chief, a man who 
allowed my driver to shake hands with him ; however, 
I promised to go, and then Makapan asked for another 
tot. I have heard that such chiefs as Cetawayo and 
Sekocooni are approached by their subjects in an abject 
posture, and are never spoken to by them unless per- 
mission has been given. I can only suppose that chiefs 
like Makapan, who have adopted European costume, are 
by degrees losing the consideration of their subjects. 

The morning of the great feast-day broke splendidly, 
and, before the sun was up, groups of young warriors, 
dressed in their best, came past my encampment on their 
way to the chief's kraal. I was no sooner dressed than I 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 295 

ordered the horses to be saddled, and taking Clas as my 
companion, started for the kraal. I had been told that 
one could ride up, and indeed I had seen that ,Makapan 
and his suite had ridden both up and down. After 
turning a little round the hill we began the stony 
ascent, through a maze of little Kaffir huts, from which 
the children came forth yelling, at the sight of me, 
followed by their mothers, some trying to stop their 
clamorous vociferations, while others did their utmost 
to add to the din. At last, after a desperate scramble, 
which landed me on a shelving piece of rock with boulder 
after boulder rising above it, I declined to endanger the 
horses' feet any longer, and dismounting, told Clas he 
must lead the horses back, and give them in charge to 
some decent Kaffir until his and my return. At this 
moment, however, I saw Makapan descending from his 
eyrie to greet me, with a staff in his hand, which he 
offered to me to assist me in climbing. Having passed 
within the low wall that bounds his kraal, I found myself 
in a labyrinth of huts, each with an enclosed yard 
attached, and traversed by narrow paths. Makapan led 
me past a large stockade, and through various enclosures, 
each with a hut in it (his harem, or whatever it may be 
called in Kaffir), to his own house, a cottage built of 
bricks, and with a verandah in front. He took me into 
his bedroom (the house had only two rooms, I think) and 
asked me to be seated. 

The dark and dirty room was furnished with two or 
three chairs, a little table, and a common bedstead, on 
which were thrown a mattress, some gaudy blankets, and 
a " caross," or large mat made of skins curiously stitched 
together, and with the hair left on. He asked me if I 

296 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

would have coffee, and brought me some in a cup ; then, 
after talking about various things, he said he hoped that 
I would make him a present of a very handsome rug I had 
for sale. I did not like to refuse, but I said I thought he 
ought to make me a present too ; he said he would do so 
gladly, and sent one of his officers to get me an ostrich 
feather a very indifferent specimen. I then asked him if 
I might attend the feast that he was about to give that 
day. He seemed much pleased at this proposal, and said 
that I should be surprised at seeing what swarms of 
warriors would be there. He also told me that he should 
kill an ox in the course of the day, and that he would send 
me some of the meat ; this, for aforesaid reasons, I was 
very glad to hear. He asked me several times whether 
I was not surprised to see such a large place as his kraal ; 
whether I did not think it very strong ; and told me that 
I should be surprised at the number of his warriors. 
Before I went away he asked me if I would not have 
something to eat, but this I declined. As he was escort- 
ing me to my horses, we met a singular-looking old Kaffir 
carrying herbs. Makapan said, laughing, "That is my 
doctor, and those are his medicines ; he will help me to 
make medicines for my Kaffirs to-day." He seemed to 
think the whole thing rather amusing ; and indeed I doubt 
whether he was not aware, as I was, of the absurdity of 
his conjuring away diseases and conjuring up rain. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 297 


IT was still early when I got back to the waggon. The 
dance was not to begin till noon a curious time, by-the- 
way, for a dance, for the heat was very great. In the 
meantime I had ample opportunities of observing the 
different costumes of the savages, numbers of whom came 
over to talk to my boys before taking their way up the 
hill-side to the kraal. Some of the young men presented 
a very picturesque appearance. Their loins were girt 
with leathern girdles, fringed with magnificent cats'-tails, 
their heads were decorated with rosettes and tassels ; a 
warhorn beautifully and curiously worked in brass, copper, 
or tin wire, sometimes all three together was hung round 
their necks and thrown behind them ; a bright coloured 
scarf thrown over one shoulder and passed under the oppo- 
site arm ; their legs were covered with buskins made from 
the white skin from under the belly of a buck, and each 
carried an assegai, often ornamented with wire embroidery 
on the handle, a short club, also ornamented, a tomahawk 
or a rifle, or sometimes an assortment of these different 
articles. At a little before twelve I took Clas with me, 
and began the ascent of the hill. I went by a different 
way this time, one which led me in and out of rocks and 
boulders, overhung by trees, a scrambling, delightful way, 

298 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

giving one pretty glimpses of the valley and of the Kaffir 
huts clustering at the base of the hill. Every now and 
then some of Makapan's warriors would rush by me with a 
leap and a bound, and as they scaled the hill rapidly I 
could hear their yell and the discharge of their rifles as a 
salute to the chief's stockade as they entered it. Groups 
of girls also passed me, their arms intertwined, chattering 
and laughing until they saw me, when they would stare for 
a minute and then go on. 

About half-way up I discovered that Moustache had 
followed me. He had kept in the background until he 
thought he was far enough from the waggon to avoid being 
sent back ; he now came forward with a conscious air, 
wagged his tail, and gave an awkward sort of hop, as much 
as to say, " I hope you won't be angry ; but I'm here, and 
you can't send me back now;" and trotted on in front. 
He distrusted those men with rifle and assegai though ; 
he did not bark at them, and rush furiously after them, 
showing his white teeth by a vicious curling up of his 
nose, as was his wont with Kaffirs ; he put his head on 
one side, drooped his tail, cocked bis big flap ears, and 
endeavoured to take in the situation, but unsuccessfully. 
We at last got near the outer wall of the kraal, and heard 
a hum as of a mighty bee-hive, broken every now and then 
by a yell and a discharge of fire-arms. Moustache began 
to keep very close to me ; we were inside in a moment, and 
at the same moment amid a throng of excited men, 
women, and children, who filled up the narrow alleys 
through which we made our way to the stockade ; the 
hum was getting louder and louder ; I caught up Mous- 
tache, who looked around savagely as he sat up in my 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 299 

Makapan met me at the entrance of the stockade, and 
spoke to me, but I could not hear what he said for the din. 
Lining the stockade was a dense mass of women and 
children, talking, laughing, singing, yelling, and clapping 
their hands. Makapan made way for me to the front 
ranks and got me a chair. Just opposite to me there was 
a crowd of men, some dressed as I have described, some 
with bright coloured shirts, some with a waistcoat and a 
girdle of cats'-tails, some with only a woollen comforter 
crossed over their breasts, and a rag round their loins as 
their holiday costume; others again in half-European 
dress, and others painted, some to represent skeletons, 
some merely daubed with colour, but all armed. Ever 
and anon one or more of these would rush into the area of 
the stockade with a yell, and dancing the war-dance, then 
enact some scene of warfare, casting himself on the 
ground, looking around cautiously, taking aim, firing, then 
perhaps tomahawking or assegaing his imaginary foe with 
such savage exultation, that it made my blood curdle, 
while the women clapped their hands, yelled, and even 
sometimes becoming over-excited rushed into the arena 
and did a frantic war- dance. Then after each exhibition 
there would be a race of a group of girls from one side 
to the other, before the next performer stepped forth, 
evidently to compare notes with friends as to the relative 
merits of the dancers. Four men particularly attracted 
my attention, not by their costumes, but by their 
good acting. One of these acted alone. His play 
was that he was defending the stockade from enemies 
who were creeping up through the mass of rock and 
tree below. He would look over the stockade, taking 
cover carefully, peer hither and thither, then swiftly level 

300 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

his rifle, and fire. He always killed his man, and then the 
haughty way in which he would throw up his arm as he 
turned on his heel and pretended to reload (for I conclude 
they were firing blank-cartridge) was more expressive of 
defiance and satisfaction than any war-dance. The other 
three acted together. They were defending themselves 
from enemies who were close around them, but their 
imagination had transformed the stockade into brushwood, 
the sand that strewed it into long grass. I then, for the 
first time, saw what we have all read of at some time, I sup- 
pose, in some novel about the North American Indians I 
mean the snake-like movement of a savage as he draws 
near his victim. These three savages darted into the arena 
and looked cautiously round, then suddenly dropped on 
the ground, their every muscle tense, their eyes strained ; 
suddenly one, raising himself a little, appeared to catch 
a glimpse of something, his eyes literally seemed to start 
from their sockets, ,nd as he grasped his comrade's arm 
with one hand, and pointed with the other towards some 
imaginary object, he trembled with excitement ; then 
each grasping his arms they all moved how, I really 
cannot say they did not rise from the ground, they 
wriggled quickly along it like snakes ; in longish grass all 
that one would have seen would have been a slight waving ; 
now they were close to the stockade ; to bound up, fire, 
and fall prostrate once more was the work of a moment. 
These men were actors by nature. Sometimes their fire 
told, sometimes it did not ; sometimes an enemy would 
fall near them, and they would tomahawk or assegai him 
with savage delight, but with no waste of time ; at last 
one of them was wounded; he crawled painfully back, 
and was helped by his comrades ; and that ended their 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 301 

play. But numbers now were rushing forward ; the arena 
was a mass of yelling, whooping savages ; and Moustache 
began to think affairs looked serious. 

Just then Makapan asked me to excuse him, he said he 
had a dog of a friend of his under his charge, that he had 
just heard it had broken loose, that no one could catch it 
but he, and that he must go and do so. As he was turn- 
ing away, my attention was suddenly arrested by seeing 
a gentleman, apparently an Englishman, step from the 
crowd and speak to him. Makapan shook h ands with 
him, and clapped him on the shoulder, then turned, and 

introduced him to me as Mr. N . He was a trader 

coming down from far up country with oxen, cows, 
and sheep, which he had traded. He was an Austrian, 
not an Englishman, and an educated, gentlemanly man 
a wonderful person to meet in this out-of-the- way part of 
the world. 

As Makapan left me he clapped his acquaintance once 
more on the shoulder, and I blessed my stars that I was 
a woman, for I suppose it was owing to this fact that 
Makapan did not testify his friendly feelings to me in 
the same manner. I do not remember what became of 

Mr. N , for my attention was occupied with the 

savages ; I imagine he went away. Not long after, one 
of the men, painted like a skeleton, made a set at me : 
first he glared at me till he caught my eye ; then he took 
me as his imaginary foe, and ended by bringing his 
assegai within half an inch of my nose. I think he was 
disappointed that I did not scream. Another savage 
thought he would try whether I should be proof against 
a ritie brought into close proximity with my head; finding 
that I did not faint, he turned it towards a group of girls, 

302 A Lady Trader ik the Transvaal. 

who screamed loudly enough to satisfy any one. I regret 
to state that Moustache's nerve failed him at this crisis 
he made a violent effort to bolt, and had to be held, 
cowering and trembling, under my chair for the rest of 
the time I stayed in the stockade. 

Shortly after this, the sun being very hot, the odours 
from the crowd oppressive, and considerable monotony 
prevailing in the performances, I rose to depart, when the 
woman who had asked me for the looking-glass, and 
who could speak Boer dialect, told me I ought to remain 
until Makapan led his guard, the flower of his warriors, 
into the stockade ; that, she said, would be a very 
splendid sight. I waited accordingly. Presently there 
was a lull amongst the savages, and the crowd opening 
nearly opposite to where I sat, a band of fine-looking 
Kaffirs, all be-cat-tailed, armed to the teeth, and with 
their long shields slung on their arms, advanced, dancing 
their slow war-dance, singing the accompanying war- 
song, and rattling their assegais against their shields. 
There is a peculiarity about this dance and song. I had 
seen and heard them once before, performed by some 
Kaffir levies on their way to the Zulu war. The dancers 
move very slightly, and their song is a chant more than 
a song, but it gives one the creeps to see and hear it ; 
it looks like the movement of men held in a leash, im- 
patient for it to be slipped ; and it sounds so threatening, 
like the muttering of a storm : one can imagine the yell 
that would burst forth if the leash were slipped and the 
blood-hounds let loose. They advanced thus into the 
middle of the arena, a hundred men perhaps ; then 
opening their ranks Makapan and Stiirman jumped forth 
from their centre. Oh ! such a pair ! Makapan was 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 303 

carefully attired in a gentleman's morning wrapper 
brown, edged with red and the girdle with its tassels 
bobbed up and down behind him ; under this he had a 
riding-suit and heavy boots with gaiters; on his head 
was a white French hat, very narrow in the brim and 
well turned up, with three ostrich- feathers stuck in it, all 
pointing straight forward ; a kyrie (or short club) in his 
hand, completed his "get up," and in this attire he did 
the clumsiest "breakdown" I have ever witnessed, 
dancing opposite to his admiring subjects, and followed 
by his savage guard, who I think must have despised 
their leader. 

Stiirman, in the meantime, dressed in a riding-costume, 
booted and gaitered, with a pith helmet on his head, a 
red handkerchief round his throat, and a kyrie in his hand, 
did a very frantic breakdown indeed so frantic, that 
it made him very hot ; so he pulled off his neckerchief 
and threw it aside, then flung away his helmet ; and the 
last that I saw of Mr. Stiirman in the arena, just as I 
left the stockade, was that his attire had diminished to 
his shirt and breeches the former article of dress having 
been freed from its confinement in the latter. The break- 
down was as frantic as ever. 

Moustache's delight when we got outside the precincts 
of the kraal was very great, but he showed it in a 
chastened manner, -not by leaps and frisks, but by rub- 
bing himself against me, looking at me wistfully out of 
his little pig's eyes, and waving his absurdly long tail in 
an undulating manner. He was evidently offering up a 
canine thanksgiving for a special deliverance ! 

As I was going down the hill I met some women 
coming up, and they spoke to Clas. I asked him what 

304 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

they had said, and lie hesitated. This of course made me 
inquisitive, so I pressed the point. Then he told me 
that these women had said that the feast was not yet 
ended ; that as a finale an ox was to be killed ; that one 
of its fore legs and one of its hind legs were to be hacked 
off at the hip and shoulder, and that then it was to be 
goaded until it died. This was to be the finale of the 
scene of which I had been a spectator. This was to be 
the culminating-point of the entertainment I had par- 
ticipated in the bonne-douche reserved for the people I 
had spoken to in friendliness ! 

I could not attempt to describe nay feelings. To do 
Clas justice he expressed utter horror of the hideous idea. 
He said he had learnt better things since he knew the 
Christian religion that he knew it was a sin to torture 
an animal; and although I am certain missionaries have 
done a great deal of harm in some ways in Africa, if 
they only did this one piece of good, taught but this one 
lesson they have certainly done one great work. 

When I reached my encampment I found a good many 
Kaffirs assembled talking to my boys, many of whom 
understood Boer dialect. I told Hendrick what I had 

" Mind," said I, " if Makapan sends me any beef as 
he said he would, send it back, and say that we English 
do not eat the meat of an animal that has been tortured 
to death, or let it be eaten by our servants; that we 
would rather starve than encourage such an atrocity as 
he allows to be committed in his kraal." 

Hendrick remonstrated in a low voice, to the effect 
that it was not prudent to offend Makapan ; but I was too 
much disgusted with the savage and his savages to care ; 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 305 

and, as from Hendrick's remarks I became aware that 
the Kaffirs understood what I was saying, I said some- 
thing stronger for their benefit. The result of this was 
that Makapan sent me some goat's meat, and a message 
to the effect that not only was it not his custom to kill 
oxen as above described, but that he had killed no ox at 
all on this occasion only a goat. I knew this was a lie 
told to calm me down, and I said so to Stiirman who 
brought the message. As to the meat, I let the boys 
eat it, and contented myself with some fat pork I had 
bought the day before and horrible greasy stuff it was. 

506 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


I HAD traded too much corn to take on one waggon, but 
I heard that I could get a waggon and oxen at the 
Mission Station to bring it up to Pretoria for me. I 
bought several large closed baskets of a curious manu- 
facture special to the Kaffirs, to store what I had to leave 
behind me in, and Makapan promised to take care of it 
for me. He and Mapeela, a greater chief than Makapan, 
who came to visit him, rode down to my waggon the 
next day. Makapan wanted me to lend him one of my 
horses, but I told him I never lent my horses. The 
chiefs and Hendrick had a shooting-match with their 
rifles and my rifle for a bottle of brandy ; Heudrick, not 
I, to stand the brandy. I think Mapeela won ; I do not 
quite remember whether it was he or Makapan. I left 
them to their own devices, as they thought fit to let my 
driver enter into competition with them. Mapeela pre- 
tended not to be able to understand Boer dialect, but he 
could both understand and speak it. 

Hendrick informed me that he wished to buy Eclipse ; 
I could see in his eye that he coveted the horse as he 
looked at him ; but whether he offered a hundred pounds 
for him as Hendrick said, I do not know, for I refused 
any offer that he might make. I fancy his offer was a 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 307 

high one, for he looked surprised at my refusal. At that 
moment I admitted distinctly to myself that trading was 
not my forte. Fancy a " Smouse " refusing to make eighty 
pounds clear profit ! After this I found that it was a stand- 
ing joke amongst Boers I passed, that I would not sell 
Eclipse for any money. I think they somehow respected 
me for it, probably because it gave them an idea that I 
was very rich I don't think it could be for any other 
reason. Thinking of Eclipse, I was very near forgetting to 
describe Mapeela. He is a big, sensual, and violent-looking 
man. He was dressed in a riding-suit and a white French 
hat ; wore his waistcoat a little open, and showed a white 
shirt ; had a necktie and a pin in it, white cuffs, and a 
ring on his finger. He affected more airs and graces than 
Makapan, and I liked him less. 

And now, before leaving Makapan, I must record two 
things : one, that it struck me that Hendrick was a little 
afraid of these wild Kaffirs ; and secondly, that my 
brandy gave me a great deal of trouble. The difficulty 
I had to prevent myself being forced into doing what I 
had said I would not do, was a constant worry. It was 
impossible to sell by the bottle, for the good reason that 
my purchasers had no bottles, or at least very few. They 
had old tins that had once had paraffin in them, and old 
oil tins, and tin mugs, and little and big gourds hollowed 
out, and sometimes they had small medicine bottles, or 
old sauce bottles. Then they would worry me perpetually 
to sell them sixpence worth of brandy ; but this I always 
refused to do ; and I used to hunt them away from the 
waggon when they wanted to drink brandy there. 

" We won't tell/' they used to say. Of course I knew 
that. " Every trader sells us ' tots ' what is the law 

x 2 

308 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

here ? " they would say. Of course I knew that too. 
One old gentleman, after vainly begging me to sell him 
a sixpenny " tot," paused, then said, " I want to make 
you a present," and offered me a sixpence. This is a 
common way of evading the law ; you don't sell, you 
accept, and give a present ! I astonished the old gentle- 
man by dismissing him summarily. He was a curious 
specimen. He had been brought up amongst the Boers, 
had lived amongst them and dressed like them for years, 
and now he was accustomed to walk about in the most 
outrageously light costume, not from poverty but from 

The day I left Makapan's-poort, as I was crossing the 
stream after the waggon, which had gone a little ahead, 
I heard horses' hoofs coming rapidly after me. The 
riders were Makapan and an attendant bearing an empty 
paraffin tin. He wanted another pull at the brandy ! 
He got it; shook hands with Hendrick and Clas, then 
put out his paw to me, as Mapeela had done the day 
before. That affair about the ox made me extremely 
dislike to touch the savage ; but one can hardly refuse 
to give a man one's hand when one has voluntarily gone 
into his territory ; so I held out mine, which he shook 
heartily ; and turning our horses we cantered away in 
opposite directions. 

The bush-veldt was now a desert, all the Boers had 
treked to their farms. It was getting late in the season, 
the weather was very hot so hot that it was impossible 
to trek in the middle of the day. At noon one lay under 
a bush, or under the waggon if one could not get a leafy 
bush (and most of the bushes are thorn and don't give 
much shade), and panted. Under these circumstances, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 309 

to be reduced to eat rice and pig's fat, and drink tea 
without milk, for breakfast, luncheon and dinner, is the 
reverse of agreeable, but there was nothing else to eat. 

One morning as I was riding in front of the waggon I 

saw Mr. N outspanned and having early coffee. I rode 

over, and as I did so a young zebra frisked up to Eclipse, 
and turned up his pretty little nose at him with a vicious 
grin, which affected Eclipse's nerves so much that he 

pretended he was going to rear. Mr. N asked me 

to dismount, and while he was giving me some coffee the 
zebra tried to upset the sugar-bowl, and being hunted 
away, watched his opportunity, kicked the little table 
over, and having broken some crockery, and sent the 
sugar-bowl flying, ate up the sugar, and then trotted up 
to his master in a perfectly artless way, and rubbed his 

taper white nose on that gentleman's coat. Mr. N 

had a young leopard there who excited Roughy's curiosity, 
and who nearly caught hold of Roughy's tail, to the 
great discomfiture of the latter. 

A little farther on we met a Boer, going, I think, to the 
wood-bush. Hendrick managed to get some Boer biscuits 
from this man, who came over afterwards to my waggon, 
and to whom, at his request, I gave some pig's fat. He, 
and a friend who was with him, had not tasted anything 
but biscuits for several days, so the fat was a luxury to 
them, and the biscuits were a luxury to me. 

A little farther on Mr. N picked me up. He 

wanted to buy some Kaffir corn and came to my waggon. 
His zebra came with him, and thought he would like to 
taste the corn as it was being measured out ; so he put 
his head in the sack and twirled round and round, with 
his head representing a pivot, kicking the whole time 

3 1 o A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

until lie had gratified his fancy. He kicked even at liis 
master, whose feelings were so hurt that he asked for the 

I rode into the Mission Station with Mr. N . We 

met a young missionary, to whom I bowed, and asked him 

whether Mr. and Mrs. B were still at the station, 

or had moved permanently to their new farm of Sand- 
fontein. He said they had moved. It happened that I 

had heard Mr. N speak in German to him before 

I addressed him, and so I spoke to him also in German. 
He was the new missionary ; judge of my astonishment, 
when I heard from himself and others that he could speak 
neither English, Dutch, Boer dialect,nor any Kaffir tongue; 
and yet he had been some time in the colony and was a 
missionary ! 

While I was at this place, an incident happened which 
gave me some concern. One evening Hendrick asked 
me if he might go a-visiting, and I gave him leave. 
Then little Hendrick asked me if he might go and play 
with some friends, and I said he might on one condition. 
The hut or cottage he was going to was not far from the 
waggon, and I told him I should hang up a piece of candle 
at the back of the waggon in the lantern, and that when 
he saw that it was burnt out he must come home and go to 
bed. These two had not long departed when Pete asked 
me if he might go. I said he might not ; that I objected 
to being left alone, in case of anything going wrong with 
the oxen. He submitted with a good grace, and to show 
him I was pleased with him, I said, " I know it is a little 
hard on you, Pete, as this is the last night you will be 
here, but it can't be helped. You have been behaving 
well lately, so here is a ' tot' for you, and go to bed." 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 3 1 1 

I drew him a " tot/' then lay down on my own bed, 
which I had made just behind the waggon, near the cask 
of brandy, and also near the horses. I heard Pete lie 
down towards the front of the waggon. I remained 
awake, for I made it a rule never to go to sleep if any of 
the boys were away. Little Hendrick came back so 
soon as the light was put out, and lay down alongside 
of Pete. Shortly after Eclipse got uneasy. I called 
Pete, but getting no answer I got up and went to ascer- 
tain what was the matter with the horse. He had been 
apparently startled by something. I thought that I 
would go and see whether Pete was in his place. It was 
very dark, but at last I made out that he was not. I woke 
little Hendrick after waiting for a while, but found he 
was too stupid with sleep to understand anything. I 
did not like to leave the waggon, so waited until Hen- 
drick>came back, which he did soon. I saw he had had 
rather too much Kaffir beer. He was not drunk, but 
excited. I told him that Pete was missing, and added, 
as I was going to lie down again, 

"It seems he is determined to get his five-and- 

At this moment Pete himself emerged from the dark- 
ness, and said, 

" Oh ! am I to be punished for no offence ? I only 
went away for a minute to that Boer's waggon that is 
outspanned there." 

The waggon was at a very little distance. 

" You have been some time away, Pete," said I, " and 
if you had only been to that Boer's waggon, you would 
have heard me call you, for I.called you repeatedly. I 
am quite certain you are telling a lie, and that you went 

312 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

away to get drink ; but you have not been very long 
away, and you are not drunk, so I will not punish you 
this time, for I have no absolute proof against you. It 
is a lucky thing for yourself that you failed in getting 
drink, or when I treked out of the village to-morrow I 
should have had you tied up and given twenty-five lashes. 
I never told you what my punishment for you would be. 
Now you know it, and will, I hope, remember it. Now 
go to bed." 

But instead of going to bed I could see Pete by the 
flickering light of the lantern dancing and shifting about 
in the most remarkable manner, and with an expression 
of very great dread on his face. 

" Don't make a fool of yourself," quoth I, " but go 
to bed at once, unless you wish to make me angry 
with you/' 

" He is going to beat me with the double whip," he 
said, still dancing about. 

I turned, and there I saw Hendrick with the long 
driver's whip in his hand also dancing about. I saw 
their tactics then. Hendrick was trying to get a sly cut 
at Pete, and Pete was taking cover. / was his cover. 
Hendrick, in his excited state, looked rather demoniacal; 
but I could hardly keep my gravity in spite of the 
unpleasantness of the situation ; for those two savage - 
looking wretches dancing about in the dark, and the idea 
of how the group would look if I could only see myself 
between them, tickled me amazingly. 

" Put that whip down, Hendrick/' said I. " You must 
not touch Pete without my orders/' 

" He is my forelooper," quoth Hendrick, " and I must 
correct him." 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 3 1 3 

And the dancing went on. 

" That is not the way that I allow my servants to speak 
to me," said I. " Give me that whip directly." 

He hesitated a moment, then with a sullen look gave 
me the whip. 

" Now both of you go to bed at once, and do not let 
me hear a sound from either of you," said I. 

And I saw them both in their blankets before I lay 
down again; but hardly had I done so when I heard 
Hendrick's voice. 

"You had better be quiet, Hendrick," said I, "or I 
shall punish you." 

" Pete is only waiting for me to go to sleep to knock 
my brains out with a yoke-skey," said he. 

" It's a lie," growled Pete. 

"You've got one ready in your hand," cried 

I stood up once more, and went over to the two 
worthies. I found that Pete was up again. He said 
that he was afraid of Hendrick, and he looked as if he 
were. If he had had a yoke-skey in his hand he had 
none then. I stooped to try if I could find any missiles 
in his bed, and my eye was caught by a hat, which was 
unlike any hat belonging to my boys, lying close to 
Pete's blankets. 

" Whose hat is this ? " I asked, on the point of taking 
hold of it, when a dark face peered from under it. 
" Who are you ? Get out of this at once ! " I exclaimed. 
But the face scowled, and the figure it belonged to rose 
gradually. " Quick with the double whip, Hendrick," I 
cried. " You shall get it hot ! " 

Hendrick was by the side of my bed where the whip 

3 1 4 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

lay, and back in an instant ; but the fellow was too quick. 
He had bolted into the darkness, and to my astonishment 
not only he, but another ruffian, who rose from my very 
feet. I must almost have trodden on him. Of course 
Pete was astonished, and Hendrick was astonished. 
There was no proof, but it did not look nice. I suspected 
Pete, and Hendrick averred that he did. 

The next morning I had business at a farm lying at 
some little distance. Just as I was saddling, the Boer 
whose waggon had been outspanned near mine asked me 
to sell him two bottles of brandy. I drew the brandy 
for him, and mounted my horse. Now I always carried 
the key of the tap of the brandy-cask and the key of tho 
waggon-box in a leather pocket on a broad belt which I 
wore day and night, and it was so much my habit to put 
my finger in this pocket every time I mounted, to see 
that all was safe, that it had become purely a mechanical 
movement. I cannot absolutely remember whether I did 
this or not on that occasion, but I have little doubt that 
I did. I rode to and from the farm pretty sharply, for I 
was in a hurry to get back to the waggon. When I got 
back I found the keys were not in my pocket. I looked 
everywhere for them fruitlessly, but at last I discovered 
that the stitching of the leather to the belt had given way 
in one part, and although it would have been difficult for 
the keys to slip through, still I had ridden at a very 
sharp canter, and it was possible. This was vexatious, 
but it could not be helped. 

I started the next day for Pretoria, taking the direct 
Waterberg transport road. I found that I could not 
get a waggon to return for the corn left at Makapan's- 
poort, and I had only to make up my mind to return for 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 3 1 5 

it from Pretoria, after selling what I had up. I started 
the waggon, and rode over to Sandfontein myself to bid 

good-bye to Mr. and Mrs. B . After having no one 

to talk to except Boers for a long time, it is refreshing to 

get amongst such people as the B s. I remained to 

dinner, and then delayed, talking and thinking very little 
of the time, until the rays of the setting sun shone into 
my eyes through the window, and awakened me to the fact 
that I had a long ride across country before me, and a 
country that I did not know into the bargain, and that I 
had not an hour of daylight, or even twilight to count on. 
I was off as soon as possible. I knew that I had to keep 
in towards the Waterberg hills, until I came to a road 
running close to their base through thick high bush. 
The wind had become very high, and there were heavy 
clouds gathering swiftly. I rode as fast as I could, but 
it is not easy to ride very fast over a feldt full of holes, 
covered with long grass, and thickly studded in many 
parts with little thorn bushes ; besides, it was soon pitch 
dark. However, I got the road, and, soon after crossing 
a stream, I saw a light which I knew must be in the 
farm-house of Jan Steen, near which my waggon was to 
outspann. After a few minutes more I was greeted by 
Hendrick and Pete. The camp-fire was made in a hollow 
of the ground to try to keep the wind off, but it was 
blowing a hurricane now, and the fire had become so 
disorderly that cooking was not to be attempted, and 
Hendrick had cooked and kept nay supper for me in the 
house of an old Kaffir " Swartboy," Clas's father, and 
a retainer of De Clerc's and De Plessis, whose houses 
were quite close to Jan Steen's. Young De Plessis came 
over to the waggon, and asked me to sleep in his ho use 

3 1 6 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

but I felt too anxious about the waggon ; besides that, 
in such a storm, the horses, or at least Eclipse, were likely 
to get frightened, and to listen to reason from me alone. 
So I slept close to the waggon under an enormous tree, 
and sheltered by its trunk. Behind it I could not sleep, 
the sand was driving so furiously before the wind. 
Dui'ing the night the dogs seemed restless, but I could 
neither hear nor see anything. To say the truth the 
wind roared so much, and the darkness was so dense, that 
it would have been strange if I could. 

The next day it was evident that rain was near heavy 
rain too. The Boers were very unhappy about my having 
lost the key of the tap, because I could not get them any 
brandy. They tried to put an old tap which had a key 
into the barrel, but it did not work. Then they showed 
me a way of displacing the tap, drawing off a bucket of 
brandy, and replacing it without its appearing to have 
been removed ; and this suggested certain novel ideas to 
me. They got their brandy, however, and were happy. 
There was a perpetual trotting backwards and forwards 
from their cottages to the waggon. A Boer or Boeress 
delights in buying by driblets, thus spinning out the 

On one of these occasions I asked De Clerc if he could 
sell me a sheep. He said he would consult his wife. 
After a time he came back, and said that sheep were 
scarce, but as he regarded me as a friend, he would let 
me have one for a pound ; and of course I had to give 
him the pound, which he pocketed, assuring me all the 
while that if his father had not taught him that he 
ought to help travellers he would not have let me have 
the sheep at all. He then asked me to give him a "tot," 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 317 

but as I found that the giving of " tots " was a very 
losing concern, I declined. He looked very angry. 

" Well," said he, " it is of no consequence. I have 
plenty of money to buy with ; but if you do not help 
others you cannot expect others to help you. Who can 
tell ? a little act of kindness done to me might pay you in 
the long-run," &c., &c. 

He evidently wished me to see the giving of " tots " in 
the light of a Christian duty. 

" Now/' he went on, " I let you have that sheep." 

This was rather too much. 

"I think, Mr. De Clerc," said I very politely, "you 
forget that I let you have that hat for nothing, for you 
did not even take me to the lion hunt, and all because 
you said you had no money, but wanted it very badly." 

The old fellow collapsed at once. 

" You are right," he said, looking very sheepish. 
" Let us talk no more about it. I will buy a bottle of 

He did so. 

" Now," said he, " let us drink to our friendship." 

" I will pledge you in water, if that will do," said I. 
So we pledged each other. 

I have not described De Clerc. He was a tall, athletic 
man, with a trace of his French origin still lingering 
about him. A handsome man, with grey beard and hair, 
a well-cut nose, fine, rather cruel-looking lips, and blazing, 
black eyes under shaggy eyebrows. 

A little later on he was lolling against the waggon, and 
some remark was made by me as to the untruthfulness of 
the Kaffirs. I think I was guilty of uttering some plati- 
tude to the effect that honesty is the best policy. 

3 1 8 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

De Clerc turned his black eyes on me, and said in an 

"Then how about this treachery between you and 
Willem ? " meaning De Plessis. 

" Oh ! " said I, " I thought you were supposed not 
to know about those feathers. You mean that, I 
suppose ? " 

" Don't talk 'so loud," said he. " I will keep your 

" Thanks," said I, " there is no secret of mine to be 
kept. It is De Plessis's secret, not mine ; for now that I 
know that it was unlawful in me to buy them, I shall 
either declare them, or not keep them/' 

"You had better not do that," said De Clerc. "I 
will keep your secret." 

" What you had better do/' said I, " is to come over 
to Willem's, and hear what I have to say to him about 
the feathers. I am going there now." 

De Clerc said he was just going home, and departed. 
I went to De Plessis's cottage, not a stone's throw from 
De Clerc's, and awaited him there, but he did not come. 

I must say a word about this cottage. It was a mud- 
hut, of small dimensions. The little bedroom was only 
curtained off from the other room that is to say, there 
was but one room in the house ; but going into that hut 
you felt as if you were in a drawing-room. There was 
very little furniture, and it was very simple ; but every- 
thing was clean and fresh. 

Having waited for a time I thought I had better begin 
about the feathers. I said, 

" Your father-in-law spoke to me about those feathers 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 319 

" My father-in-law ! " gasped De Plessis. " What, does 
he know of them ? " 

" Didn't you know he knew ? " asked I. 

Poor De Plessis's face was sufficient answer. In this 
dilemma they (Willem and his wife) sent for Mrs. De 
Clerc. The old gentleman had kept the matter dark 
from her as well as from them. I began to supect that 
he had some deep game in hand, but I said nothing. 
His three relations were in dismay. 

" Now," said I, " you see I did not know that I was 
doing an illegal act when I bought those feathers. I 
know now that I am liable to a fine of 500Z. if it is found 
out that I did buy them. When I get up to Pretoria, 
and want to sell them, people will ask where I got them/' 

" You can say you bought them in driblets from the 
Kaffirs," suggested Mrs. De Clerc. 

" Unfortunately that would not be true/' I remarked. 

" Oh ! it don't matter about that," said De Plessis, quite 
simply. " You have only to tell them so; they won't 
find out." 

" Unfortunately," said I, " I have an objection to 
telling lies." 

" It's a mere matter of business," said De Plessis. 

" It may be your way of doing business," said I ; "it 
is not mine. That being understood, I will tell you what 
I am going to do, and then you can tell me what you 
are going to do. I am going to do one of three things. 
I will return the feathers to you if you will return the 
money to me. I know you worked hard for that bird, 
and that you have a struggle to keep up this nice little 
home as nicely as you keep it ; therefore, I will take off 
whatever profit I made on the goods, and let you have 

320 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

them at cost price. If you will do this the affair* ceases 
to have any farther interest to me, as I shall be rid of 
the feathers. Or, if you choose, I will go with you to 
the Landrost of Nilstrora, and we will tell him the story 
as it stands. You say you can swear that the bird's mate 
was dead. Perhaps that makes a difference in law, and 
he may decide in our favour, and let matters stand 
as they do. If you don't like either of these plans then 
I shall go to the Landrost of Nilstrom, and tell him that 
I bought the feathers without knowing that I was 
doing an unlawful act, and ask what I am to do with 
the'm, and whatever he tells me to do I shall do. I shall 
not mention your name unless I am forced to do so ; but 
I may be forced." 

The three looked very blank. Then there commenced 
a grand pow-wow. It is no use denying that this paying 
back of the money was a very serious affair to poor De 
Plessis. He was still in debt and in debt to his father- 
in-law; and it seems that the father-in-law used to make 
himself unpleasant about the debt. Living as these 
Boers did, and as most Boers do, all squeezed up 
together seeing each other constantly with the terrible 
habit of running in and out of each others' houses, 
developed to an alarming extent, an unpleasant father- 
in-law assumes the same proportions as an unpleasant 
mother-in-law in better regulated communities. 

I was very sorry for De Plessis. He, on his part, was 
overwhelmed by his misfortune, and to do him credit, 
he seemed to be most deeply affected by his father-in- 
law's perfidy. " He wants to ruin me," he went on 
saying, "and I never have done him any harm.'" Under 
these circumstances the two women took the matter in 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 321 

hand, and the deliberate advice given by two very ex- 
cellent specimens of the female Boer a people, we are 
told by themselves, and some others, remarkably Chris- 
tian was, that De Plessis should go with me to the 
Landrost and swear take his solemn oath that he had 
found the ostrich dead in the feldt. They urged this as 
the best and safest proceeding, using all the little arts 
they knew of to make it out a very venial deviation 
from the truth. 

Willem and I sat listening to them. I assumed a 
" know-nothing" expression ; De Plessis listened eagerly. 
When they had said all they had to say, he sat quite 
still I could see his face working ; there was a great 
struggle going on ; then his eyes filled, and with a catch 
in his voice he said, 

" No ! I cannot forswear myself for sixteen pounds ! 
Mrs. Hedwick (his version of my name), I will pay you 
the money ; send the feathers back secretly to-night." 

(c I am so glad you say that," was my reply ; " I should 
not have liked to know that you were not an honest 
fellow, Willem. Now you understand why I would not 
tell a lie about those feathers ; a lie to me is what a false 
oath is to you." 

De Plessis said, " Yes, I understand," and we shook 
hands. " But," he added, " never again do I go into that 
man's house. He may come here, but I won't go there." 

He did go, however, but I don't think it was willingly. 

I had not done with this little incident yet, for I had 
made up my mind to have it out with De Clerc ; so, after 
leaving De Plessis, I walked over to De Clerc's house. 
This was very different from the one I had left. It was 
much larger, and there was more furniture in it. I think 


322 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

there were two rooms, but it had the frowzy look common 
to Boers' houses. I found De Clerc alone, which was 
just what I wanted. He was delighted to see me, and 
we sat down and began to talk. After a while I said, 

" Oh ! about those feathers/' 

' f Don't let the matter trouble you," he replied ; 
" you can trust me, but still, if you really think it better 
and safer for you not to keep them, you can let me have 
them and I will give you fourteen pounds." (N.B. Two 
pounds less than De Plessis had asked for them. This 
had been his game all through.) 

" Thanks," said I ; " I have just been speaking to your 
son-in-law on the subject, and we have settled the matter 
satisfactorily. Although it is unnecessary to give par- 
ticulars, I may say that both he and I shall lose by our 
arrangement, but that we shall have the satisfaction of 
knowing that we have behaved honestly." 

The old fellow looked at me. 

" But," I continued, " this is not what I wanted to 
say with regard to the feathers; do you remember a 
conversation we had before I went to Makapan's-poort, 
when you asked me where one could find a more Chris- 
tian nation than yoiir nation ? " 

" Yes, I remember." 

" Well," I continued, " as an influential member of 
that nation, I should like to know whether you consider 
it Christian-like to spy out your son-in-law's errors, and 
afterwards, instead of speaking of them to him, to try 
to make mischief by talking of them to a stranger like 

De Clerc began to stammer out excuses without look- 
ing me in the face. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 325 

" It is no use trying to get out of it, Mr. De Clerc," 
said I ; " what I want you to tell me is, whether this is 
the sort of thing that the Bible tells you is right ? Look 
up to Heaven and tell me whether you think that 
in doing as you have done by your child's husband 
you believe you have done right in the sight of 

De Clerc hesitated, then said, 

" No." 

" And now/' said I, " do not you think that it is very 
disgraceful of you, who, you told me yourself, are a 
leader amongst a nation that prides itself on its Chris- 
tianity, to require a lesson in Christianity from one of a 
nation which you hate, and consider beneath you in this 
respect?" He had tried to interrupt me, saying, 
" Pray let that be," but I went on. For a moment he 
sat silent, then he said, 

" Yes, I thank you for the good lesson." 

I put out my hand, and he took it. I said, 

"We can shake hands now. Do you remember that 
we pledged our friendship a little while ago ? If I had 
not pledged you, perhaps I should not have spoken to 
you as I have just done ; but having once called you my 
friend, I could not do otherwise/' 

I believe the man understood me, and I know he 
seemed to like me much better after this affair, but it 
did not prevent his calumniating De Pies sis and trying 
to make me dislike him. He told me that De Plessis 
had neglected Dandy while he had him, had overworked 
him, and given him no mealeas or forage. He knew this 
was a tender point with me. 

His wife was present when he said this, and she 

T 2 

324 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

immediately said, " He lies. Willem gave Dandy forage 
every day/' 

I said, "You must not tell me that, Mr. De Clerc. 
I only required to look at the horse to know that he had 
not been overworked, and that he had been fed well 
while Willem had him/' 

I may mention that I incidentally found out that Dandy 
had once belonged to De Clerc' s brother, who had taken 
him to Dammerland, and there sold him to the man who 
put him up to auction. His name had been " Rennevinn " 
in those days. I think it was in the afternoon of this 
day that I rode over to the farm of a neighbouring 
magistrate, a very respectable Boer, descended from a 
German family. His wife, who was similarly descended, 
was a very good woman, and the children were all well 
brought up. They were not at all like Boers; quiet, 
gentle people, very superior in every way. Their farm 
was very pretty to look at, but was spoilt for practical 
purposes by the failure of water. Some years before, 
it, in common with the rest of Waterberg, was well 
watered. Now all the springs are drying up. This is, 
perhaps, due to some of those curious caprices observable 
in volcanic countries, for Waterberg is very volcanic. 
In many places signs of this are obvious, without taking 
the hot springs into account. 

On returning late from this farm I missed Pete, and 
on asking where he was, I heard that he had left the 
oxen committed to his care, to stray where they would, 
and had disappeared. Now at this time of the year 
a plant grows in certain parts of the feldt which 
is poisonous to oxen, and I was very much displeased. 
He did not come back either that night or the next 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 325 

morning. On cross-questioning little Hendrick, he said 
that he had heard Pete's voice in a large Kaffir kraal 
which was on Jan Steen's farm. I felt sure that ho 
wanted to hide away until I had gone, being afraid of 
punishment, so I went to the magistrate I have men- 
tioned above, and requested that Pete might be caught 
and punished. Two Kaffirs were despatched secretly to 
the kraal to catch him, in the meantime I looked at 
some oxen, and arranged to buy them. The magistrate 
was at De Clerc's house paying a visit, and two of the 
oxen were his. Presently there was a general stir 
noticeable among the Kaffirs hanging about the place, 
and I knew that Pete was coming and the next minute 
I saw him running, with his hands tied behind him, in 
front of the two Kaffirs who had been sent for him. I 
felt I was in for it now. I had said that this man was to 
have twenty-five lashes the next time he offended, and 
he had offended very grossly; of course, he must have 
them, but it was the first time I had ever seen a man 
flogged. The instant that Pete reached the waggon, 
looking like a hunted baboon, Hendrick flew at him, 
tripped him up, and had him tied to the disselboom by 
his wrists in a twinkling of the eye. The demon in the 
man was loose, he looked as if he would have liked to 
tear Pete to pieces, and he scowled at me when I made 
him untie the prisoner, and told him to wait until the 
magistrate should come. In the meantime I explained 
to Pete that he was going to get his twenty-five lashes 
all the same. How that fellow did grovel to me, to be 
sure ! How he called me his dear missus ! his good, 
kind missus ! How abjectly he twisted himself about 
before me ! At last he started the happy thought that 

326 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

he would pay a fine to me, which was absurd on the 
face of it ; for he had to my knowledge no money, having 
drawn on his wages for clothing until all I owed him 
was about four shillings. In the meantime the magis- 
trate and the other Boers, besides a crowd of Kaffirs, 
had arrived on the scene of action. Jan Steen, a funny- 
looking man with a crumpled up face, bristling black 
hair, and bead- like eyes, looked like a weasel that has 
caught sight of a rat ; De Clerc had a bloodthirsty look 
about him, and gloated hungrily on Pete; even Willem 
De Plessis looked excited. The magistrate alone was 
calm. He began to examine Pete, and asked him 
whether he had any complaint against me. Pete said, 

" No ; never have I had such a good mistress ; I eat 
the same food that she does ; and even the other evening 
she gave up some of her own dinner to me because she 
thought I had not had enough." 

The men sent to fetch him deposed that they had 
found him in the kraal, and that he had pulled out a 
knife and resisted fiercely until they tied his hands. Of 
his repeated offences there could be no doubt ; it only 
remained to be decided what his punishment was to be. 

" Twenty-five lashes," said the magistrate. 

There was an eager movement amongst the Dutch; 
Jan Steeii seized him. 

" Sir ! sir ! " cried Pete; " I will pay I will pay/' 

" Stop/' said the magistrate ; " what did you say, that 
you will pay ? " 

" I will pay three pounds," cried Pete. 

" Don't let him ! off with him ! flog him ! " snarled 
the assembled Boers. 

" He can't pay/' said I, " for he has no money." 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 327 

" This man will lend me money," cried Pete, pointing 
to a Kaffir, who that very morning had assured me that 
he had no money and wanted me to let him have a pair 
of boots on credit. 

"Stay," said the magistrate, "by law, Pete, if you 
can pay three pounds you can escape the flogging." 

The Boers were furious, and between them and the 
Kaffirs, all of whom were talking at the top of their 
voices, it was very difficult to make my voice heard. 

" Have I, as Pete's employer, any voice in this 
matter ? " asked I. 

" Of course you have," shouted the Boers ; " flog him ! " 

" But have I by law ? " I asked again. 

The magistrate hesitated, then said, 

"Yes; you can insist on his being flogged if you 

" Then," said I, " I do insist," 

" I daresay he will be better in future," said the poor 
magistrate, whilst the assembled Boers scowled at him. 

" I don't think he is likely to be improved by finding 
that I don't carry out my threat, or by another man 
paying three pounds to get him off," said I ; ' f you have 
said I can choose his punishment, and I choose twenty- 
five lashes ; the quicker he gets it, the quicker this 
painful scene will be over." 

They were round him in a minute those Boers and 
Hendrick, like hounds round a fox. They tripped him 
up, they pulled him about and yelped over him. 
Jan Steen was the foremost. It was a disgusting 

" Look here," cried I, in a rage, " if you don't leave 
that man alone I'll send every one of you away from my 

328 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

waggon ; he is to be punished not tortured ; stand back 
all of you." 

A very cool speech, as it struck me afterwards, con- 
sidering that my waggon was outspanned on these men's 
ground, but they stood back. He got his five-and- 
twenty. I waited to see him get up before I made up 
my mind as to whether I would keep him in my service 
or not ; as he stood up, he turned savagely to me, 

" Thank you, missis/' he said, " give me something to 
drink ; I am almost dead." 

He had not had a severe beating by any means, but 
his rage was almost killing him I could see. 

" Give him some water quickly," I said, but he dashed 
it from him. 

" I want brandy, brandy," he said hoarsely, and then 
in Zulu he said, what I understood (and rightly) to be, 
that he would complain of me in Pretoria, which under 
the circumstances was of course absurd. 

I took the money I owed him out of my purse and 
gave it to him. 

"I may stop, may I not, missus?" he said. 

He was cooling rapidly. 

"No," I said, "you have had your punishment and 
been insolent now go," and he went. 

I was sitting by the waggon in the evening, at the 
camp-fire, little Hendrick and a few Kaffirs from the 
kraal were squatted chatting. They were talking Boer 
dialect, and as I sat apart from them they probably, if 
they remembered that I was there at all, thought I could 
not understand them. A little time before I should not 
have understood their gabble. One man was telling how 
Pete had bought a goat, and some fowls, and how he 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 329 

had seen him pull a handful of sovereigns out of his 
pocket. I let the fellow go on until he changed his 
subject ; then I called to him and asked him to repeat 
what he had said about Pete. He instantly shuffled, but 
as 1 told him that I had understood what he had said at 
the fire, he repeated it all correctly to me. I then sent 
him back to the others, got out my account-book, and 
examined my money. It was all quite correct the in- 
ference therefore was, that Pete had been robbing the 
waggon, and selling. I knew that he had no money, 
honestly come by, and this discovery only corroborated 
a suspicion I had conceived when his friend offered to 
pay three pounds for him. I said nothing, but the next 
morning, instead of starting, I told what I had heard to 
the magistrate, and he agreed that Pete should be caught 
again and examined. The Kaffirs said they were afraid 
to go to catch him, and the gentle magistrate was 
obliged to ask me to bribe to the extent of half-a-crown 
each if they brought him ; to this I agreed. 

This time there was a grand conclave in Jan Steen's 
cottage a cottage as large as De Clerc's, but more untidy 
and dirtier. The whole Steen family, although related 
to the De Clercs, were very low-class Boers. The 
magistrate had papers and ink, and witnesses were called, 
and everything was supposed to be going to be con- 
ducted in a strictly business-like manner. 

After the prisoner was brought in (in a very defiant 
state of mind) everybody began talking at once; then 
the magistrate called to order, and in the course of 
examination the examination being conducted by all 
the assembled Boers according as an idea struck them 
Pete called De Clerc " uncle/' upon which De Clerc re- 

33 -A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

marked he was not his uncle Pete, while there was a 
pause in the proceedings, owing to one of the witnesses 
being absent, sat down on a chair, and was indignantly 
told to stand up or squat Hendrick, who was present 
as a witness, and old Swartboy, who was present as a 
spectator, began to chaff each other; Jan Steen joined 
in, and no order at all could be restored until I told 
Hendrick that I should send him out of the room if he 
were not silent. He was the chief offender on this occa- 
sion, but yet, as I looked at him, I could not but admit 
in my mind that he was the most gentlemanly-mannered 
man in the room. After a sitting of several hours, it 
was made evident that Pete had stolen articles from my 
waggon, and had disposed of them to the Kaffirs, and 
had afterwards treated them and been treated in return 
with brandy bought from me, and not only this, but at 
the very time that we were searching for Pete gold had 
been brought to Jan Steen by a Kaffir of his own, to 
be changed into silver, the money being brought from 
and returned to Pete. 

I must here remark that there is a law in the Trans- 
vaal which says that no intoxicating drink may be sold 
to a Kaffir, without permission from his master, either 
written or verbal, under a heavy penalty. The law is 
broken every minute of the day in Pretoria, under the 
very nose of the Landrost, but Landrosts in the country 
parts are more particular. Jan Steen, however, had 
given me leave to sell as much brandy to his Kaffirs as 
they liked to buy. The Boers were very angry most 
virtuously indignant they talked, until it was time to 
go to bed, over the necessity of making an example of 
the kraal Kaffirs ; they said if such villainy as that were 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 331 

to be allowed to go on, they might go so far as to rise 
against their masters and murder them. De Clerc with 
flashing eyes, and Jan Steen with glittering ones, uttered 
all sorts of vague threats of the terrible reckoning they 
were going to have with those kraal Kaffirs; and De 
Clerc said he would sleep with his rifle by his side close 
to the waggon to protect me from them, but he did not 
do it. In the meantime, Pete was committed for trial 
before the Landrost of Nilstrom. I may here mention 
that I found out on taking stock that I had lost about 
50Z. worth of different sorts of goods. 

As the trial of Pete could not come on for a few days I 
was obliged to postpone my departure. This was incon- 
venient. Rain had not fallen, but it was evidently im- 
minent. There was a long stretch of turf -country to be 
crossed country which is frightful to pull through, except 
after a long continuance of dry weather. The waggon 
was very heavy, and -so full that it would be impossible 
for me to get any shelter by creeping inside in case of 
rain. Added to this the weather was intensely hot, and I 
felt the fever beginning to creep over me. Under these 
circumstances I determined to buy from De Plessis a very 
good new waggon with a tent on it, to make two spans of 
the old span and of those oxen I had recently bought, and 
to divide the load. 

On the day of the trial I rode over to Nilstrom early in 
the morning. Nilstrom, the capital of Waterberg, con- 
sisted then of four rather tumble-down buildings. One 
was the prison, another the Landrost's office, a third his 
dwelling-house, and the fourth the church. The ima- 
ginary town is situated in the ugliest part of Waterberg 
that I have seen, and in a particularly unhealthy locality. 

33 2 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

The Landrost, an educated German gentleman, must, in 
my estimation, be a pei-son of very decided character, not 
to have (at some unguarded moment) committed suicide. 
Pete would not confess, and, on account of his contumacy, 
was sentenced to twenty-five lashes as well as six months' 
imprisonment with hard labour. As he got out of the 
crazy old prison before many days, and disappeared, his 
punishment was not a particularly severe one ; and as his 
trial had nothing remarkable about it, except that the 
ordinary unpleasantness of a little police-court was 
aggravated by the odour attached to black people, I 
may here conclude the history of Pete by mentioning that 
when I asked Jan Steen and De Clerc what they were 
going to do about the kraal Kaffirs, they said that they 
thought I would prosecute them, but that if they did, they 
were afraid the Kaffirs might murder them. The next 
day I started. Some of the oxen I had bought had 
strayed, and were missing. But the people said they 
would send them after me to my first outspann, and I 
could get on well without them till I got into the turf. 
The next morning, however, they had not arrived; so, 
before the sun was up, I started back to fetch them. I 
had breakfast with the De Plessis, and the oxen having 
been found, Willem De Plessis, De Clerc's young son, and 
I started for the waggon, driving them in front of us. It 
was now very hot, with a hot wind blowing ; and in the 
evening, as I was sitting by the waggon, I remarked a 
fever sore coming on my hand, and I knew I was in 
for it. 

We treked that night, and I felt very ill. Little 
Hendrick had to act forelooper, and so I rode Dandy and 
led Eclipse. I did some trade along the road, but pushed 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 333 

on as quickly as I could, fearing that the rain would catch 
me before I got through the turf. It was very hot, and 
there was very little water to be got, some of the springs 
were quite dried up. The fever came on strong, and I 
was soon all covered with fever-sores, which made it very 
painful to ride, particularly as I had a led horse. But 
at last we were through the turf and through the Pinaar's 
river. As I crossed it the river was barely up to the 
horses' knees in the deepest part, and was a mere little 
rivulet running between very high banks ; but the sky 
was heavy with clouds, the sun sometimes scorching, 
sometimes hidden, and there was a gusty wind. I off- 
saddled near to a Boer's house, and threw myself down 
on the grass quite exhausted. I had been wondering 
whether I should be able to keep up until I had passed this 
river, for an hour or more ; it was done now. Presently 
the waggons came over, the oxen looking very much 
knocked up. They had had nothing to drink for nearly 
twenty-four hours. By the time that they and the horses 
had to be tied up for the night, the first drops of the 
storm were beginning to fall. I saw the horses well 
blanketed and with their hoods on, then got into the 
tent-waggon myself. That night the rain came down in 
floods, and the next morning when I emerged from the 
waggon I saw an enormous lake stretching far and wide, 
with the tops of trees showing like little islands here and 
there with the current swirling round them. The waters 
were out over miles and miles of country along the little 
rivulet of the day before. 

For the next few days it rained off and on, and I was 
laid up with fever. I used to crawl out of the waggon 
occasionally, but it would have been impossible for me to 

334 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

ride. The Boers, whose home was close by, were not very 
nice specimens, but were civil enough. At last the 
weather and I were sufficiently improved for a move to 
be made, and two days after, late in the evening, I rode 
into Pretoria, though still burning and shivering with, 
fever. The weather was still uncertain, and that very 
day I had had to ride through the rain, owing to there 
being no one but myself to mind the horses. I passed 
my Irish acquaintance's house as I rode in, and he gave 
me some wine, for which I am still grateful to him, and 
told me that the Basuto war had broken out, and that 
grain of all sorts was commanding a high price; so 
my speculation of trading grain turned out a success 
so far. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 335 


BEFORE I left Pretoria on this expedition Mrs. Felman 
had told me that I might have the use of the stable, and 
of a very tiny room partitioned off from it by a half-high 
wall, for my own occupation. This had two advantages 
it saved me expense, and allowed of my being near the 
horses and the oxen and waggons. During my tenure 
of this room I repeatedly pressed her to receive payment 
for it, and for the stable, as well as for my food (for I was 
always invited to join the family at meal-times), but she 
persistently refused. 

To the Felmans, therefore., I betook myself on this even- 
ing, and was greeted heartily. Going out to see to the 
oxen in the dark, I tumbled against Mr. Egerton. He 
still lived in my mansion by the swamp, but soon after 
this he left it, and went off with the volunteers to Basuto- 
land. I had meant, after selling my loads, to return with 
the waggons for the grain I had left behind, but the fever 
had me in its grip now. I would never lie by completely, 
but the weakness and the intense pain from the dreadful 
sores quite prostrated me. I hired a groom (a half-caste 
Hottentot) called " Soldat," and sent the waggons back, 
with a few goods to trade with the Boers and Kaffirs, 

336 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

under the charge of Hendrick, and a son of Swartboy's, 
called " Boy," whom I had engaged as driver to the new 
waggon at Jan Steen's farm. He had been brought up 
amongst the Boers there, and they gave him an excellent 
character. I was very averse to trusting these men 
alone, but under the circumstances I did not know any- 
thing better to do, considering the high character I had 
received of Hendrick, a character confirmed to me by 
various Boers. 

Jimmy was in Pretoria now. He had left the Higginses' 
store, and had got employment as clerk to a surveyor. 
So soon as I felt a little better, although still far from 
well, I determined to go and put my new farm a little in 
order. So I bought an old half-tent waggon cheap, and 
a span of salted oxen. I had a long time to wait before I 
could get the oxen, and then there was a difficulty about 
getting a driver for most of the drivers were off with the 
volunteers to Basutoland. 

There was beginning to be a feeling of insecurity in 
Pretoria. There was nothing to be seen, but people felt 
that the air was electric. I was pretty sure that the Boers 
would fight, after a certain conversation I had with De 
Clerc at his farm. On this occasion he had been talking 
with me about political affairs, asking me if I thought the 
Boers would be supported by any of the European powers 
or by America ; and he suddenly said, " But in any case 
we shall fight ;" then after a moment's pause continued, 
"I will tell you our plans. I don't count you as an 
enemy. This is what you will hear. Some man will 
refuse to pay his taxes ; then your government will seize 
property to the amount of what is due ; and then we shall 
rise ; and we shall take that property out of the hands of 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 337 

the authorities, and if they interfere with us we shall fight ; 
but until then we have done with talking." 

" I should be sorry if you did what you say/' I replied. 
" We have not many troops in the country now ; but for 
you to go to war with the English nation is like a little 
child going to fight a man." 

He assented to this, but in the conversation that ensued 
he told me that the Boers were not afraid of our cannon. 

"We don't fight as you do/' he said. "What is the 
use of cannon against men who scurry round singly on 
horseback, and who shoot at you from behind stones and 
trees without your seeing them ? We shall not meet your 
troops in the open Urfeldt, don't you believe it ; we shall 
go into Natal to meet you." 

On my return to Pretoria I was still so impressed by 
De Clerc's words and manner, that I considered whether 
it might not be the right thing to do, to tell what I had 
heard and who I had heard it from, to Sir Owen Lanyon. 
But I determined not to do so, as I had not stopped De 
Clerc when he said he did not count me as an enemy, and 
had not cautioned him that I would not undertake to 
observe secrecy in respect to what he was about to tell me. 
Just before I started for Jackallsfontein the news came 
from Potchefstrom that a Boer had refused to pay his 
taxes, that his waggon had been seized in consequence, 
and that the Boers had taken violent possession of it in 
defiance of the law. Then I felt quite sure of my affair. 
The De Clerc programme was going to be attempted. 

My waggon was ready packed ; I had got my new driver 
and leader, and had kept them under my eye all the 
morning to take care that they did not get drunk. I saw 
the oxen brought up to span in, and then, having to tran- 


338 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

sact a little business before starting, I told the driver that 
he was to meet me in a quarter of an hour at a particular 
store, and cantered off. My business was with the tenant 
of my house, a matter which I should have transacted in 
five minutes, but by the time I was at his door a tremen- 
dous and sudden storm had burst over the town, and it 
was half an hour before I could get away. As I rode into 
the market-square I saw the waggon rounding a corner 
into it, the oxen all mixed up together, the driver drunk 
and swearing at them, the leader drunk and running about 
in front of them, entangling them more hopelessly every 
minute. They were turning another corner by the time 
I was alongside of them ; the waggon was 011 the point of 
being upset. " Pull out the fore oxen straight out ! " I 
am afraid I shouted in a very unladylike manner, to the 
horror of some Pretorians who were spectators. The 
leader answered with a drunken laugh. There was no 
time to be lost. I gave him a sharp cut with my riding- 
whip, and he sprang forward pulling the oxen out. But 
it was no good, the two fellows were too hopelessly drunk 
to be fit for anything. I got the waggon on to an open 
space and outspanned, left Soldat and his Kaffir wife, 
" Clara," whose services I had engaged, in charge, took the 
oxen to the Felmans' kraal, then looked up Jimmy, and 
asked him to oblige me by sleeping at the waggon for that 
night, which he did. The next day the driver and fore- 
looper were sober, but the man, although he was said to 
be able to drive, could not, and broke the disselboom 
before we were out of the village. I then dismissed 
him ; and had to get the disselboom mended, and also to 
get a new driver. After considerable trouble I got one 
fairly recommended, but when I took him to the waggon 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 339 

I found the forelooper had run away. However, I 
managed to get another forelooper, and early the next 
morning we started. Hardly had we got on the camp- 
common when the leader threw up the tow, and leaving 
the waggon, sat down on the grass. I rode up and asked 
him why he did so. 

" I am going no farther/' he said. 

" Indeed," said I, " you forget that you engaged to go 
to the farm with me." 

The end of it was that I put Eclipse at him, and having 
made him stand up, hunted him, although he tried 
doubling, up to the head of the team, and then rode along- 
side with my whip raised. So we got out of the village. 
I never saw anything so bad as that man's driving. It 
was a wonder that the waggon was not upset and the 
oxen hurt. We did seven miles in five hours, and then 
stuck hopelessly in what is called the "seven-mile spruit," 
close to what is called the Red House a place which has 
a tragic interest attached to it now. 

The spruit was an absurd place to stick in, but the oxen 
were bullied by the bad driving, and had been too long 
in the yoke. I outspanned them, and off-loaded. Shortly 
after the guns and military train that were being sent to 
Potchefstroni came over the hill and down to the spruit, 
and crossed, the men looking at my waggon in disgust, 
for it was a good deal in their way. To the credit of the 
men be it said that only one swore at it, and he was 
reproved by a comrade, who remarked that probably I 
was more annoyed by its sticking than they were. They 
pitched their camp close by, and as soon as the oxen were 
rested I inspanned and tried to drag tJie waggon out. 
But my wretched driver only got the oxen more hope- 

z 2 

340 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

lessly entangled than ever, and at last I had to ask the 
Boer on whose farm we were to pull it out, which he very 
kindly did. I saw the things loaded up, and then told 
the driver to saddle the horses and take his blanket, as I 
was going to ride back to Pretoria. The sun had set, but 
there was a beautiful moon, and I got into Pretoria in 
good time. The next morning I discharged the driver 
and engaged a new one; and in the meantime Jimmy 
turned up, and told me that his employer had discharged 
him, having no farther need of his services, and that he 
was unable to obtain any other employment, as every- 
thing was very slack in Pretoria. Under these circum- 
stances I proposed to him to come with me, to which he 
gladly assented. So in the evening we started ; Jimmy 
and I riding, and the new driver, a half-caste named 
Andreas, walking, and carrying his own and Jimmy's 
bundles. We were only on the outskirts of the village 
when we saw that a great storm was imminent, and 
turned back to the Felmans' house just in time to escape 
it, fortunately, for it was very severe. The next morning 
we started again, and when we arrived at the waggon, 
found Soldat, Clara, and the dogs anxiously expecting us ; 
and here I must beg to introduce a third dog to my 
readers. He was a sort of sheep-dog, black and white, 
called " Nero/' a most unappropriate name, for a milder 
dog never existed, although he was a very good hunting 
dog. I had bought him, and a splendid half-bred mastiff, 
Prince, for waggon dogs. Prince had gone with the 
waggons, but Nero gave the boys the slip, and ran back 
to me. 

There had been heavy rain at the Eed House as well as 
at Pretoria, and the spruit was very much swollen. The 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 341 

worst was that the weather looked very threatening. I 
inspanned after lunch, and started. This time the oxen 
pulled much better, and it was evident that, although not 
a good driver, Andreas was much superior to his two 

We had only got a few miles, however, and were on a 
bleak hill-side, when the storm I had seen approaching 
for some time, burst upon us. It was something terrific. 
There was no making head against it. I had the oxen 
outspanned, blanketed the horses, and sheltei-ed them as 
well as I could in the lee of the waggon. The flashes of 
lightning and the roar of thunder were almost continuous, 
the rain poured down in torrents, and the wind howled 
and raved until I thought the waggon would have been 
blown over. I was afraid that the horses would get 
alarmed, and stood by them until the fury of the storm 
abated, which was not for some hours. The rain was still 
falling heavily, and it was quite dark, when, at last, 
drenched through in spite of my mackintosh, I crept into 
the waggon along with Clara, whilst Jimmy made his 
bed (such as it was) under it, in the wet. When I woke 
next morning the rain was still falling, nor did it cease 
till midday, when it cleared up. The waggon had sunk 
very deep in the soft ground, which was slippery for 
the oxen's feet, and after various efforts to pull it out, I 
was obliged to make up my mind to off-load partially 
again. The evening was very fine, and I trusted to being 
able to load up in the morning after pulling the waggon 
out. The whole ground was so wet and swampy that I 
determined to let the horses and oxen remain loose 
during the night; the moon was bright, and from time to 
time I inspected them. The morning dawned beautifully, 

34 2 ^ Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

but hardly had the first rays of the sun become visible, 
when I saw a heavy bank of clouds, which threatened 
hail, sweeping rapidly up from the horizon. I ordered all 
haste to be made to get whatever had been off-loaded up 
on the waggon, but before everything was ready the storm 
burst such a storm, almost worse than the previous 
one, although the thunder and lightning was less severe. 
Fortunately there was but little hail, for about this 
time there were hail-storms in other districts, which 
would have cut the tent of the waggon into shreds, and 
killed or maimed the animals and us. The rain poured 
down the whole day. Clara at last managed to make a sort 
of little tent with a tarpaulin and some sheets of iron roofing 
I had with me, and got some coffee made, which Jimmy 
and I, crouching in the waggon-tent together, were very 
thankful for ; and she also managed to make some very bad 
griddle-cakes, but the only wonder was that she was able 
to make them at all. Night came on, and it was still 
raining and blowing it was useless to attempt to tie up 
the animals, the waggon was standing in a swamp, so 
they had to take their chance. Jimmy and I slept in the 
waggon, the tent of which had begun to leak, and little 
Eoughy and Moustache begged so to come in also, that I 
let the poor little brutes have their desire. When the 
morning dawned it was still raining, the horses were in 
sight, but the oxen were gone, and so was the leader. 
I sent Andreas on foot and Soldat on Dandy to look for 
them, and while they were away, seeing two government 
waggons going to Potchefstrom with strong spans of oxen, 
I asked the conductor to pull my waggon out, which he 
obligingly did. 

It rained on and off the whole day, and in the evening 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 343 

the two boys returned, having seen nothing of the oxen. 
Soldat reported that the spruit was at flood. I deter- 
mined to go to look for the oxen the next day myself, as 
I very much suspected that they had treked off to the 
farm they had been feeding on shortly before I bought 
them. This is a favourite pastime of oxen. Unfortu- 
nately I did not know where this farm was, and hence I 
knew it would be necessary first to go to Pretoria to see 
the man I had bought the animals from, and inquire 
the way to it. The next morning was Sunday, and the 
weather was beautiful. Jimmy and I saddled up early, 
and taking Nero with us, started for Pretoria. We got in 
there about nine o'clock, and having found the gentleman 
I wanted, and got the direction to the farm, and a note 
to its proprietor, we rode to the Felmans' to give the 
horses a rest and try to get a little breakfast for ourselves. 
On our way I met a Kaffir who had just come in from 
Waterberg, and he gave me a letter written by " Boy," 
who had learned to write at the Mission station. It was 
a very funny production, but Mrs. Felman and I managed 
to decipher it, and it corroborated what I had previously 
heard from a Boer, viz., that Hendrick was doing a good 
trade, and that the oxen were well. 

We were, as usual, hospitably entertained at the 
Felmans', who had pressed me to come to them whenever 
I should be in Pretoria, and had told me that I might 
always consider the little room next the stable as my 
own, although I had given up the mansion by the swamp 
after Mr. Egerton left Pretoria, Mrs. Felman having 
taken charge of all things which I had not loaded up on 
the waggon to go to the farm. These articles which sho 
took charge of, were goods for trading, which I did not 

344 -A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

care to take there until I had got the place into some 
order. It was very hot when Jiminy and I started once 
more. The road was rather pretty, and for a time was 
sufficiently good for us to be able to push along pretty 
quickly. At last we came to a very steep decline, and 
after following the road in its windings between the hills, 
we saw a thick line of brushwood marking the course of 
the river we had to cross, and at the same time heard the 
rush of the water, telling of its being in flood. The 
spruit we had crossed in the morning was part of this 
river that was before us ; where we had forded it, we 
had not found it very deep, but it was evident that it 
was considerably deeper here. When we rode down to 
the ford, it looked very ugly. There was a farm-house 
on the opposite side, and presently a small boy made his 
appearance, and looked across at us. I hailed this boy, 
and inquired if the ford was passable ; his answer was, 
" Come across/' It was not altogether a satisfactory 
answer, because he might be a truculent young Boer, 
anxious to drown the enemies of the liberties of his nation ; 
but as no other answer was to be got from him, I put 
Eclipse at the stream. Eclipse did not like the look of it 
at all, sniffed and snorted, and even, when he got into the 
full current, wanted to turn back ; however, we got through 
with a good wetting, Jimmy followed, and poor Nero 
swam through after a struggle, for the current was very 
strong. Arrived on the bank, I said to the boy that I had 

a letter for Mr. P , and felt much gratified by hearing 

that Mr. P 's farm was some way down the stream on 

the side I had just left, so we had to ford back again ! 

A short canter took us to Mr. P 'a house, 

where we were very kindly received. Mr. P is an 

English Africander, I believe. Mrs. P gave us some 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 345 

coffee, which was very acceptable after our wetting, but 

Mr. P could tell us nothing about the oxen, except 

that that morning, looking with his field-glass for some 
oxen he had lost, he had seen, on a hill-side far away, a 
number of oxen which he had not recognized as his or as 
any belonging to his neighbours. The hill was in the 
direction of my waggon, so I thought this sounded 

hopeful. Mr. P told us that a number of his sheep 

had been killed by the late storms, and that several of 
his oxen were missing. We mounted once more, and 
fording the river again at the same spot, took our way 

towards the hill Mr. P had pointed out to us, when 

suddenly Jimmy exclaimed that he was sure that he could 
see the oxen grazing in a valley at some distance. I 
could not make them out ; but he was so confident that 
we altered our course, and presently coming to a farm, 
we asked the Boer who owned it, if he had seen any strange 
oxen, and he told us that he had seen fourteen strange 
oxen that morning with their heads towards the spot 
Jimmy had indicated. Thus encouraged we pushed on, 
and soon came in sight of our friends peaceably grazing. 
It is an odd thing that oxen who play truant know 
quite well when they are found out. They are wonder- 
fully sly about sneaking away ; if they mean to run away 
in the daytime, they do not do so ostentatiously. They 
will graze quietly until they think they have lulled sus- 
picion, and then walk off more quickly than any one not 
accustomed to their ways would think it possible for them 
to do. If they mean to run away at night, they set 
about it very softly, so as not to wake any one, but when- 
ever they go, their expression upon being found out is 
the same. They do not, like the Elfin page, " fall tn the 
ground," oxen being of a less emotional and demonstra- 

346 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

tive nature than elfins, but if there be any expression in 
an eye, they most unmistakably mutter to themselves, 
" found, found, found," and having so muttered, they 
visibly, to the least imaginative observer, turn round, 
"form," to use a military expression, and move off in 
front of their captor. In the case of my oxen, there was 
one daring spirit of the name of "Blauberg," who 
had always been mutinous. He now maintained his 
character by perpetually trying to run away, tossing his 
head, and flicking his tuftless tail for, like many of his 
brethren, he had lost a portion of that appendage during 
the illness consequent upon inoculation with " lung-sick- 
ness." We had to take the oxen over the veldt to the 
waggon, which was not an easy operation, for we did not 
know the country, there was no road, and our only guides 
were the slopes of the hills. Added to this the night was 
coming on quickly, and the moon did not rise until late. 
Blauberg's antics were, therefore, very inconvenient, and 
caused feelings the reverse of charitable towards that 
erring ox to arise in Jimmy's breast and my own. At 
last, some time after it was dark, Jimmy caught sight of 
our camp-fire, much to my delight, and after we got the 
oxen tied up, and the horses blanketed and fed, we sat 
down to the dinner Clara had been keeping warm for us. 
She had, by my orders, bought a sheep from a neighbour- 
ing farmer during my absence. 

We started the next morning ; but to make a long story 
short, we had a miserable trek. The weather was very 
bad ; the road was very bad in places ; the drift or ford 
of the Yokeskey river, which we had to pass, was in 
such a state, that I had to hire a span of oxen from a 
neighbouring Boer to put on to my span, and then, with 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 347 

three drivers, the oxen had a difficult job to pull the 
waggon out. I do not think that this Boer would have 
hired me his oxen had it not been for the persuasions of 
his goodnatured wife. His name was " Darks." He had 
a good reason for not wanting to hire them, for they, and 
all the young cattle, were being used for tramping out 
the corn : rain was threatening, and it is no joke for rain 
to come on while the corn is on the tramping-floor. Of 
course, the fact of rain being imminent made it very 
desirable for me to get across the river, and kind, fat 
Mrs. Durks saw this. 

The rain did come on heavily shortly after I outspanned, 
but the weather cleared after an hour or so, and we treked 
again; to add trouble to trouble Jimmy was taken ill, 
and had to go in the waggon ; so that I had to ride 
Dandy and to lead Eclipse, as well as drive the two loose 
oxen (for I had yokes for twelve oxen only with the 
waggon I was using). That evening we outspanned by 
the farm of an English Africander, of the name of 
Williams. He was from home, but his wife was very 
kind, giving us nice bread, milk, and eggs, which were 
all very acceptable, the more so as one required a little 
inner consolation to withstand the rain and wind which, 
coming on shortly after we outspanned, continued nearly 
all night. I here met a man who had just come from 
Waterberg, and who told me that the storms there had 
been something terrific. I afterwards saw in a paper 
the intelligence that "the public buildings at Nilstrom 
had been blown down by the hurricane ! " 

We at last reached Jackallsfontein in a storm, and 
found, alas ! that the cottage had shared the fate of the 
" public buildings at Nilstrom." It had been blown down ! 

348 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


THERE is not much to describe in Jackallsfontein in the 
way of scenery ; no comparison between it and Griinfon- 
tein could be instituted. Jackallsfontein is undeniably 
u gty > it I* 68 on a gentle slope of what, in England, we 
should call the " Downs " of the Wittwaters-randt. The 
few trees around it have all been planted, and not only 
around Jackallsfontein itself, but in all the country for 
miles round. But to counterbalance this, the material 
advantages of Jackallsfontein over Griinfontein are 

At Jackallsfontein horses can be safely bred ; they can 
be let run summer and winter without fear; sheep, too, 
thrive well, not being plagued with the ailments or by 
the ticks which render their lives a burden to themselves 
and to their proprietors, on the slopes of the Magaliesberg, 
and in a great part of the Transvaal. No herbs poisonous 
to cattle or sheep grow near Jackallsfontein, and that is a 
point greatly in favour of any farm in the Transvaal, 
where poisonous herbs are very common. Although I 
took great care of my sheep at Griinfontein, I had lost 
several through their being allowed to stray into pasture 
which was poisonous ; and not far from my property there 
(although at too great a distance to endanger my oxen) 

A Lacty Trader in the Transvaal. 349 

a farmer had in one day lost sixty head of cattle through 
the carelessness of his herd, who had let the animals in 
his charge stray on to unhealthy grazing. Added to the 
above-mentioned advantages, the quality of the soil at 
Jackallsfbntein is excellent, the water good, and the site 
very favourable for opening a general Boer store. Kaffir 
labour there is none, but Boer labour can be easily 
obtained from adjoining small farms, whose owners are 
glad for younger members of their family to earn some- 
thing to assist in the general housekeeping. 

jly house being uninhabitable, I was obliged to engage 
a room in the house of some Boers whose farm adjoins 
mine. The name of these people is De Plessis, but they 
are no relations of Willem De Plessis. Their house con- 
sisted of three rooms and kitchen, and one of these rooms, 
separated from the family sleeping-room by a half-wall, 
they made over to me. It was not a very eligible apart- 
ment, having no window, and the door being composed of 
dilapidated reeds however, it was better than nothing. 
I pitched my tent as a room for Jimmy, the servants had 
the waggon, and the horses were accommodated at night 
in a deserted house at a little distance, which once had 
been a dwelling of some pretensions, having several 
rooms, and bearing traces on the walls of the sitting- 
room of having been tastefully painted. There was yet 
another cottage quite close to the one in which 1 lodged, 
tenanted by members of the same family as mine hosts, 
and numberless small farms were dotted about the en- 
virons. The owner of the deserted house I have men- 
tioned was an English Africander, who, T was told, was 
bankrupt, and the property was held by his creditors. 

I cannot give a very lucid account of my hosts and 

350 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

their neighbours, they were all so mixed up, owing to 
the curiosity my appearance excited having a stimulating 
effect on the custom amongst Boers of running back- 
wards and forwards between one anothers' houses. There 
was a very large number of dirty little children of all 
ages, and a sprinkling of dirty but helpful boys boys 
who could drive a plough, or hold it, as well as their 
fathers ; there was an entanglement of slatternly women 
with loud voices, who have left shadowy pictures on my 
mind, as bearing the more or less depressed expression 
common to the Boeress. With a life of dull toil stretching 
from childhood to the grave, it is no wonder that it 
should be so ; and yet, those who have known the 
peasantry of other lands, must feel the question arise in 
their minds, " Why should the Boer peasant-woman look 
depressed, when the South Italian peasant-woman (for 
instance) does not ?" I think the answer to the question 
is, " Look at the men/' It is not want of education, or 
rather of book-learning, that makes a life of toil dull, and 
the men and women who live such lives generation after 
generation incarnations of dulness. It is but in the 
latest generation that a gleam from the sun of knowledge 
has fallen on the peasantry of South Italy, yet who would 
have ever called them c< dull ? " who would have dis- 
covered that their women wore a general air of depres- 
sion ? The women of a race will not look depressed if 
the men be not "dull;" and vice versa, if the women 
look depressed the men must be " dull/'' 

Although the Boers are in many ways cunning, any one 
who has any knowledge of them will corroborate the 
statement, that the vast majority of them are dull, and 
that the vast majority of Boeresses bear a stamp of de- 

A Lady Trader in the 'Transvaal. 351 

pression, although in the elder women this stamp is some- 
what effaced by a tendency to fat, which on first sight 
gives an appearance of jollity. I do not mean to say 
that I have not seen cheerful women amongst the Boers, 
but they are rare exceptions. 

Besides the children, lads, and women, there was a 
group of big, rough-handed, grimy-looking, rough-voiced 
men, the only individual member of which I can dis- 
tinctly remember was " Lo," a fine stalwart fellow, with 
kindly blue eyes, and whom I distinguished sufficiently 
from the general relationship to know that he was the 
son of mine host, and that he was unmarried. 

These people were very kind in their way, but very 
annoying at the same time. They were willing to help 
at settling my room, so as to make it inhabitable, and 
willing also to help with the ploughing and sowing that 
had to be done; but they invaded me incessantly. To be 
certain of privacy, I had, from early dawn until the family 
retired to rest, to tie the reed door to with a piece of 
string, and then an enterprising youngster or an inquisi- 
tive female was as likely as not to push the reeds aside 
and peep in. Of course as there was no window the 
door had usually to be left open to afford light, and then 
the whole troop disported themselves from morning till 
night. If I did not talk to them, or even if I was en- 
gaged in writing, it did not matter; they would talk 
amongst themselves, and the children would scramble 
about at their mothers' feet, and the men would smoke, 
whilst all would spit on the ground in a manner trying 
to weak nerves. They, as indeed all the Boers I have 
met, treated me to a certain extent differently from the 
way in which they treat most people. They never called 

352 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

me by any familiar name, although they were all very 
friendly. Perhaps they had some vague perception that 
if they had attempted to do so I should have stopped 
them ; whatever the reason may be, although playful 
conversation amongst the Boers is frequently what we 
should consider both coarse and impertinent, I had only 
twice any occasion to check any acquaintance of mine. 
This point being attained, I felt that it would be 
unwise to try to put limits, marked out by my sense of 
the proprieties, upon conduct which these people con- 
sidered as a proof of their friendly feeling, and which 
besides afforded to them a source of innocent amusement. 
I felt this to be the more imperative owing to the 
dislike existing between the Boers and the English; a 
feeling which in so thinly populated a country as the 
Transvaal, each individual settler could either augment 
or diminish ; for it is wonderful how trifling information 
respecting individuals spreads in the Transvaal. I may 
mention an instance of this in illustration. 

In the month of April I had telegraphed from Pretoria 
to my banker's in London to ask how my balance with 
them stood. In the following September old Mrs. Nell 
in Waterberg asked me why I was trading when I had 
so much money in the bank ! Neither is this a solitary 
instance of private matters, connected with an unknown 
in dividual, being subjects of common conversation amongst 
people who perhaps never saw him or could be supposed 
to take any interest in him. Certainly, so far as my ex- 
perience goes, a Boer loves gossip as well as any man or 
woman in existence. 

Lo De Plessis and Jimmy soon became quite chums, 
and I was glad to hear the latter improving in speaking the 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 353 

dialect of the country every day. In the meantime I 
rode to see various neighbours, and everywhere met with 
a kindly welcome, and heard a wish expressed that I 
should open a store at Jackallsfontein. The men were 
anxious to know all I knew of what was being done at 
Potchefstrom, and as to the general attitude of the Eng- 
lish Government, while all professed an utter ignorance 
of occurrences either at Potchefstrom or elsewhere. I had 
no news to communicate, but I felt certain that they 
had ; and their reticence only confirmed my opinion that 
the programme indicated by De Clerc was in progress. 

The weather continued very stormy, and it was with 
anything but pleasure that I looked forward to having to 
ride back to Pretoria. Still it was evident that I should 
have to return thither, for my waggons from Waterberg 
were nearly due, and, of course, I had to be in Pretoria 
to meet them ; so, after waiting as long as I could at the 
farm, I made a start. 

The morning was so stormy that I could not saddle up 
until the day was far advanced, and hence I did not get 
into Pretoria until about ten o'clock at night. I rode to 
the Felmans as usual, but they had gone to rest, and I 
was only able to get into my little room, and put the 
horses into the stable. To my sorrow I found that the 
forage I had put by for them before leaving Pretoria had 
been used, so my poor animals, as well as their mistress 
and the boy, had to go supperless. I had taken Andreas 
with me instead of Soldat, as 1 did not wish to leave 
Clara on the farm without her husband. Andreas the 
next day went "on the spree/' and never turned up 
again, so that I had to look after the horses myself. 

In the meantime the tenant I had had in my house 

A a 

354 -A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

left Pretoria ; and as, owing to the unsettled state of 
affairs, it was a bad time to let a house, I determined to 
prepare it for my own occupation, at least temporarily, 
although, with a view to the possibility of an outbreak, I 
determined only to put the most necessary things into it. 
The garden had been much neglected, and I employed 
two Kaffirs to set it in order. 

Day after day passed, and my waggons did not come 
in, and in the meanwhile alarming rumours were on the 
increase. The very morning that I left Jackallsfontein, 
a Boer had ridden over from a neighbouring farm with 
news that Paul Kriiger and Pretorius had sent a message 
to the effect that every man who could, ought, in the 
name of God, to attend the now famous meeting at 
Perdekraal, which was to be held forthwith. Great ex- 
citement had been caused the messenger had bargained 
for a saddle from me, whereon to ride to the meeting. 
Lo De Plessis and all the other men were going ; they 
had pressed upon me the desirability of loading up my 
incoming waggons with various articles of consumption, 
and bringing them to the Beeinkommste, assuring me 
that they would guarantee a good trade to me. This 
plan I had revolved much in my mind. I had no doubt 
that it would be a good speculation, but I finally abandoned 
it, as I thought it would be hardly an honourable position 
for me to accept. 

It will, I daresay, be remembered that the meeting of 
the final Beeinkommste had been fixed for the 8th of 
January, and was suddenly abandoned, much to the sur- 
prise of many of the Boers themselves, including my neigh- 
bour at Jackallsfontein ; hence my plans, as well as those 
of a good many others, were considerably disconcerted. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 355 

One morning I had walked from the Felmans' early, 
to see whether the Kaffirs were at work in my garden, 
when I was told by an acquaintance that Robert Higgins 
and most of my old friends from the Magaliesberg had 
come into Pretoria, having been warned by the Boers 
that if they remained on their farms their lives would not 
be safe. I thought this was but one of the many false 
reports flying about Pretoria, but resolved to go to the 
house of old Mr. Higgins and inquire. On my way there 
I met Robert Higgins himself, who confirmed the report. 
That day and the following one the whole of the village 
was greatly agitated, and there was a great demand for 
waggons amongst people who thought that their lives, in 
case of an outbreak, would be safer out of Pretoria than in it. 
I determined to seize the opportunity of selling my 
old waggon, and the oxen I had lately bought, at a good 
price ; and, saddling the horses, I started for the farm, 
riding one and leading the other. Andreas having 
levanted, and there being no boy to be got at the 
moment, I had no choice but to do this, for volunteers 
were being raised in Pretoria, and horse-stealing was so 
rife, that had I left Dandy behind me I should probably 
never have seen him again. 

As owing to the torrents of rain which were continually 
falling, the Yokeskey river was likely to be at flood, I did 
not much relish the idea of crossing it with a led horse. 
I had hardly got to the outskirts of the village, however, 
when I saw a storm approaching, and turned back only 
just in time; and the next day I was fortunate enough 
to get a boy to ride Dandy, and to act subsequently as 
leader to the wag-gon, which I intended Soldat to drive, 
an office which Jimmy would otherwise have had to per- 

A a 2 

356 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

form. It was on Monday, the 13th of December, that at 
seven o'clock in the morning I started for Jackallsfontein. 

The morning was fresh after the rain, and I pushed on 
pretty quickly, taking a shorter road to the farm than I 
had taken with the waggon, and hopeful of escaping 
rain, although very heavy masses of cloud were lowering 
round the horizon. I was already near the Yokeskey 
river, and the rain appeared not far off, when I met a 
Boer on horseback. We both drew rein, and he asked 
me where I was going ; I told him to my farm. 

<c Then," said he, " you will have to swim the river, 
there is no passing it otherwise." 

He then asked me if I meant to stay at the farm or 
return to Pretoria. I told him that I was going to bring 
up my waggon to sell, with, I hoped, a light load of farm 

" Look at the clouds ! " said the Boer ; " the river is 
impassable now, and if it rains, as I think there is no 
doubt it will, it will be still deeper by the time you get 
your waggon back to it." 

It struck me that what he said was true ; so, much 
disgusted, I turned my horse and we rode alongside of 
each other for a short time. My companion asked me 
if I had heard any news of the deliberation of the Beein- 
kommste at Perdekraal (Perdekraal was within a ride of 
my farm). I told him that no one in Pretoria had any 
news about it. He then asked me whether it was true 
that no Boers were allowed to enter Pretoria, saying that 
such was the current report ; and this I was able to con- 
tradict. Shortly after he bade me good-bye, and cantered 
off across the veldt in one direction, whilst I held on, 
likewise across the veldt, towards Pretoria. 

My way lay past a large farm-house, belonging to a 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 357 

well-knowu man amongst the Boers called Guillauine 
Pretorius. As I was passing he came out, and 1 stopped 
and saluted him. He asked where I was going, and I 
told him how 1 had turned back from going to my farm. 

" If you mean to get into Pretoria, then," said he, 
" you had better push on : the Beeinkommste is broken up, 
and the commando rides to-day to Pretoria." 

" Does it? " said I ; " then I am in luck ; I should like 
to see it." 

The old fellow looked at me with an odd expression 
I think he did not quite know what to make of my 
speech. He had never seen me before, although I knew 
about him, but with that habit of hospitality which has 
become a second nature to a Boer, he said, " Will you not 
off-saddle ? although perhaps you had better push on if 
your horses are not tired." 

At this moment we both caught sight of the Potchef- 
stroui post-cart approaching the house, which was a post- 
station, and a minute after I recognized Mr. Cooper, the 
attorney, as one of the passengers in it. Our rencontre 
was a mutual surprise, and as he shook hands I noticed 
that his feet were bare, the result of the cart having been 
upset, one of the mules having been nearly drowned, and 
the passengers having to scramble and shift fco set things 
straight in fording the river. Mr. Cooper introduced me 
to his fellow-passenger, the Attorn ey-G-eneral De Wett ; 
and, hopeful now of hearing some authentic news from 
Potchefstrom, I dismounted, off-saddled, and went into the 
house with the others, while the fresh horses or mules for 
the post-cart were being brought up and harnessed. 
Seated in a large and rather comfortable sitting-room at 
the back of the house, the three men talked of the present 
and coming events, and I listened. 

358 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

Mr. De Wett told us that the commando was not to 
ride into Pretoria until Thursday, and then only in case 
no compromise had been arrived at. He said that the 
Beeinkommste had appointed all necessary officers, both 
civil and military, and had despatched a messenger to 
Pretoria that very day to tell the administrator that if 
the Government offices were not delivered over to the 
republic on Thursday, they would be taken by force, and 
that on Thursday the heads of the new government would 
ride into Pretoria with the commando to take possession. 
Mr. De Wett assured Pretorius that he had seen the Boer 
leaders, and that he was certain that by a little tact things 
might still be arranged. It struck me that it was very 
little use to think of compromises when things had come 
to such a pass, but I held my peace, and listened, whilst 
Pretorius expressed himself to the effect that the Boers 
would accept of no compromise so far as the complete 
restoration of their independence was concerned. This 
Pretorius struck rne as being a good old fellow, rough 
enough, but yet a superior man to the ordinary Boer. 
All this time we had been sipping coffee brought to us 
by Mrs. Pretorius, who must have been good-looking in 
her time, and been looked at by two or three pretty little 
girls, in much neater trim than the generality of Boer 

The post-cart being now inspanned, Mr. Cooper and 
Mr, De Wett started ; I waited, for I was anxious to hear 
what Pretorius would say when they were gone, as I 
observed that he spoke with reticence before them, and 
I thought he might perhaps speak more freely when 
I was his only English listener, I talked first about 
my farm, which he knew, and was interested in, then a 
neighbour came in, and the conversation drifted back 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 359 

again to politics, while we removed into another more 
homely sitting-room, and, upon hearing that I had had 
no breakfast before leaving Pretoria, Mrs. Pretorius 
brought me some Boer biscuits and more coffee. 

It has always been my opinion that although the Eng- 
lish Government were perfectly justified in annexing the 
Transvaal, the manner in which it was annexed was not 
only an unjustifiable blunder but an unjust act. My 
reasons for thinking that the annexation in itself was 
justifiable, are based on general principles, which it would 
be a hopeless task to attempt to explain to any Boer I 
ever met ; but my reasons for thinking that the manner 
of annexation was altogether wrong are completely within 
the grasp of every one of them. In any expression of 
opinion to them, they inevitably missed my allusion to 
the general principles, which were unintelligible to them, 
and only remarked that I coincided with them in thinking 
that they had been very badly treated. All the Boers I 
knew spoke before me with great frankness, and when 
(in order to prevent the idea that I sided with them from 
obtaining) I said that in case of war I should, in spite of 
what I had expressed, side with the English,, they accepted 
that as simply an inevitable consequence of my not being 
able to change my nationality, and it would have been 
a useless task to attempt to explain to them that under 
given circumstances I should feel myself bound to side 
against my own nation; but that in the Transvaal case I did 
not feel myself so bound. I confess I often felt seriously 
annoyed and depressed by this state of things in my 
intercourse with the Boers, so much so, that in the case 
of De Clerc, Willem De Plessis, Pretorius, as also of 
Barend Engle.sberg, all men superior to the common run 
of Boers, I should have attempted what I yet knew was 

360 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

impossible, namely, to explain my opinion thoroughly to 
them, but for my still imperfect knowledge of Boer lan- 
guage. That language is unfit in itself for the expression 
of abstract thought, because formed by people who never 
think abstractly; and this deterred me from the effort 
whenever I felt impelled towards it, and in after-reflection 
I always admitted that it was well that I had been 
restrained from so doing. 

The party assembled in Pretorius's house talked, as 
usual, freely before me; and I heard it confidently asserted 
that if the public offices were not given up on the appointed 
day an attack would be made on Pretoria, and that even 
the presence of women and children would not deter the 
Boers from fighting from street to street until they had 
occupied the whole town. The innocent blood shed 
would be on the head of the English Government. As 
to all English on outstanding farms, Pretorius, his 
friend, and his wife (who took an animated part in the 
conversation), seemed to think that those who remained 
strictly neutral would be left unharmed, or even protected 
in case of necessity. Having heard all I needed, I 
changed my mind as to returning to Pretoria. Eain or 
no rain, it was evident that I must give Jimmy a choice 
whether he would remain on the farm or run into 
Pretoria before it was too late, for I felt sure that an 
outbreak was imminent; so, saddling-up once more, I 
turned towards the Yokeskey river. 

I did not, however, take the way I had retraced, 
but struck off across the veldt for Durks' Drift. It was a 
long way out of the direct path, but this plan offered two 
advantages, first, that I should possibly find the drift 
so that I could get across without swimming, which, con- 
sidering that I had never swum a horse across a river, and 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 361 

that I knew that Eclipse was rather shy of deep water, was, 
the wetting apart, a matter well worth considering ; the 
other, that I should, by fording the drift, be able to judge 
whether it would be worth while to attempt to bring the 
waggon to Pretoria or not. At Durks' farm the Yoke- 
skey river winds, so that one has to ford it twice in a few 
hundred yards, but at neither place was the water higher 
than the flap of the saddle, and I pushed on quickly to 
Mrs. Williams's, where I off-saddled, and met with a kind 
and hospitable welcome. I did not stop long, however, 
but after the horses had had some forage and a roll, 
saddled once more, and started for Jackallsfontein. 

Just as I got on the highest part of the raudt, the wind 
and rain came whirling up, but it was only the tail of a 
storm which went roaring away over the hills to one side, 
while another storm was pouring its fury on the distant 
hills at the other ; and by the time Eclipse was picking his 
way down the stony slope above the De Plessis' cottage, 
all that remained of the rain was a watery sort of haze, 
gradually dissipating under the rays of the moon, which 
did not allow the party assembled outside the house, to 
see me until I was close to it. Then I was welcomed 
with a cordiality which would have made a stranger sup- 
pose that I had known, not only Jimmy, but the Boers, for 
years, while little Roughy, after executing some antics 
highly creditable to such a soft little mass of hair as he 
was, discharged a volley of little barks, and rushed at 
Moustache, who had offended him by espying and wel- 
coming me first, and bit his long ears until they were 
forcibly separated, Nero, the while, wagging his short tail 
and giving little bounds indicative of satisfaction. 

What a chattering; what an anxious asking and 
answering of questions ; what a retailing of my news to 

362 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

each member of the small community who, hearing of 
my arrival, hastened to the cottage took place that night 
by the light of the moon ! My last evening in the yet 
unmade home, before all the plans that I had carefully 
thought over, and toiled hard to realize, were to be swept 
away into a past as remote as if years lay between it and 
to-day ! 

At last, after I had retired to the interior of the cot- 
tage, and had eaten my supper, surrounded at first by the 
whole family, but with a gradually diminishing company, 
as sleepiness caused first one and then another to drop off 
to their beds, until Lo De Plessis bade me good-night, I 
was alone with Jimmy. Then for the first time I con- 
fessed to him that I was anxious, and told him all that I 
had heard with regard to the treatment the Boers had 
it in their minds to bestow upon the English ; told him 
not only what Pretorius had said, but what a farmer, 
whose cottage I had passed between Pretorius's farm and 
Durks' Drift, had said. This farmer's name was Joubert. 
He had called to me as I was riding past his cottage, and 
I had ridden up to the stoop, where he and some members 
of his family were congregated. A big, bony, black- 
haired man was Joubert ; with a stubbly beard, high jaw- 
bones, and eager eyes. 

"Where are you from ? " he cried, as I drew rein. 

" From Pretoria/' 

" What is the news ? " 

I told him. 

" Yes, yes," he exclaimed, " that is well. Will your 
Government give up the public offices, think you ? " 

" I am in no position to know what are the intentions 
of the Government," I answered ; ' f but I do not think it 
likely they will." 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 363 

He drew bis breath, and said, in a savagely suppressed 

" Then the streets of Pretoria shall run with blood like 
water on Thursday." 

He asked me eagerly what I thought of the action of 
the Government ; asked if I were going back to Pretoria ; 
called Heaven to witness that the blood spilt would cry 
vengeance on us ; his eyes glittering, his whole frame 
absolutely quivering with passion. He had laid his hand 
on my horse's neck as he spoke ; there was a look in his 
eyes unlike anything I had ever seen before a blood- 
thirsty look that made me involuntarily shiver. 

" Then you don't think they will give us the country 
back ? " he cried again. " Then we will fight ; we will 
drive you from the country ; not one of your nation shall 
remain alive ; your blood shall run as water on Thursday ; 
we will kill all all of you ! Where are your troops ? sent 
away to fight against the enemies that are attacking you 
the Russians the Irish the Americans." 

" No, no," said I, " now there you are mistaken/' 

The blood rushed to his head, suffusing his very eyes 
until they looked red. 

" Now I know you lie," he cried, his voice shaking with 
passion. " There is your path begone ! " 

" Not like this," said I, not moving. " I am not the 
Government. I wish the Boers no harm, and although I 
am English and you a Boer, there is no reason for our quar- 
relling personally. Give me your hand before I go ;" and 
I held out mine. Joubert looked hesitated then out 
came the rough paw ; and he bade me a civil good-bye. 

All this I told Jimmy ; and told him he must choose for 
himself whether he would remain on the farm or return to 
Pretoria with me. He chose the former alternative ; and 

364 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

after a sleepless night, I called up Soldat and the Kaffir at 
four in the morning to span in. I had packed up some 
things I required to take with me, but the waggon could 
not have got across the Yokeskey river with even a 
light load on it. The Boers before leaving me in the 
evening had promised that, in the event of hostilities 
breaking out, and of my being detained in Pretoria, they 
would protect Jimmy, and had also promised to give him 
his food until I returned, for Clara was going with me 
as well as Soldat. 

The early dawn was just breaking when the waggon 
started, and I, mounted on Dandy, and with Eclipse by 
my side, bade Jimmy, who was holding Roughy in his 
arms, good-bye. They both looked so forlorn as he 
stood there in the cold, faint light. " It is not too late 
to change your mind yet," said I ; " you have only to 
say the word." But he preferred remaining, and indeed I 
thought myself it was safer for him where he was than 
in Pretoria. The words I had heard that morning, 
when some movement I made had wakened the sleepers 
in the next room, were still in my ears. 

" She is getting ready to inspann," said a sleepy female 
voice. " Well, she will never come back." 

" Ah," remarked another equally sleepy female voice ; 
" and if she don't, then who will pay us for the little 
Englishman's food ? " 

We forded the Yokeskey in a torrent of rain, the current 
running strong and deep, and outspanned at Durks' farm. 
Nero and Moustache had' broken loose, and followed 
me. Nero was nearly washed away, and little Moustache 
was only saved by being caught by his neck as he was sink- 
ing the leader himself could hardly keep his legs. Mrs. 
Durks was friendly, her husband civil. He advised 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 365 

me, if my waggons had come in, to come out of Pretoria 
with them on Thursday as early as I could. He said even 
if I met the commando that I, as a woman working for 
herself, should be let pass, with the waggons and oxen, if I 
explained that I was going to my farm; but that if I 
remained in Pretoria I should hold my life in my hand. 
They gave me some milk and bread ; and shortly after 
I inspanned, and that night I outspanned about three miles 
from the Red House, by a spring of water. 

The moon was at its full, and I inspanned before 
dawn, and came into Pretoria as the clock was pointing 
to seven in the morning to find, alas ! that the whole vil- 
lage was in a panic, and that not only were most places of 
business shut, but that the auction I had counted upon for 
selling my waggon was postponed, owing to the unsettled 
state of things. My Waterberg waggons were not in ! 

I left the waggon at the auctioneer's for private sale ; 
but I saw that, as I had failed in selling it on Wednesday, 
it would, in all probability, be too late to sell it at all ; 
for, after Thursday, people were afraid to leave the vil- 
lage. In the meantime I took possession of my house, 
and sent for a carpenter to make shutters for the win- 
dows, in order to bring thither with safety the goods I 
had left in Mrs. Felman's care. I had only a rough 
shake -down for a bed, a chair or two, and a rough table j 
for, in the unsettled state of things and in the absence 
of my waggons, I did not care to go to any expense; 
indeed, could not have done so without incurring debt. 

The dreaded Thursday came and passed quietly. I had 
gone to bed, when, at about eleven o'clock, I heard a tap 
at my window, and the voice of my next neighbour call- 
ing me. I got up and opened the door. 

"I hope I did not frighten you/' he began, in the 

366 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

usual formula, " but I have just had news that the Boers 
are coming in to-night;" and he told his story. 

His great point was that the band-master's wife, whom 
he knew, and whom he had been to visit, was sitting up, 
expecting the signal to be given to go into camp for pro- 
tection, and that she had told him that the colonel's wife 
was doing the same. He said that the Boers were coming 
over the hill singly or in small parties, to avoid detec- 
tion, and were to form at a given spot and attack the 
town ; that all sorts of preparations were being secretly 
made, and that the signal for going into camp was to be 
a bugle call. 

I thought the whole story sounded odd, particularly 
the bugle call as a signal. 

" It is odd that no notice has been given publicly of 
the likelihood of an attack, and of the signal to seek pro- 
tection in camp/' said I. 

" That is because there are so many traitors about," 
was the answer. 

My neighbour was deeply impressed evidently, and I 
thought it best to take some precautions ; so I waked 
Soldat and Clara, told Clara to put a few things together 
for herself and for me, in case of our having to run for it, 
and then dressing myself, I started to walk down the 
village to old Mrs. Parker's cottage, for I knew that she 
was likely to be alone, her sons being in the country, and 
I thought I might be able to be of use to her in case of 
a sudden alarm. I told Soldat that, as soon as the bugle 
sounded, he was to saddle the horses and bring them, 
down sharp to her cottage, after leaving Clara with my 
neighbour's family to be taken into camp with them. 
My oxen were all kraaled in Mr. Felman's kraal, so 
nothing could be done about them. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 367 

It was a beautiful moonlight night, by no means a 
favourable night for a surprise, and I knew it to be 
against the usual tactics of Boers to attack at night at 
all ; and as I stepped out I felt pretty sure that there 
was some mistake. As I passed my neighbour's cottage 
I saw lights inside, and through the open door I was 
aware of some commotion. 

I had not gone far when I saw two orderlies with a 
saddled horse at the door of a cottage. I thought I 
might as well inquire of them if they knew of any report 
as to the Boer attack. They said that they had heard of 

nothing, but that in another minute Captain C would 

be coming out, and that he would be able to tell me. I 
waited accordingly. There was no special report as to 
an attack, only the possibility of such an event caused a 
certain anxiety. The officer was just on his way to visit 
the outposts, and seemed much amused at the idea that 
a bugle call had been suggested as an improvement on 
the three cannon shots always fired as a signal of danger, 
whereupon I went back and to bed. 

The next day I heard that Mrs. Parker's sons had 
come in. The village was in a state of suppressed panic ; 
but as I had a good deal to do in the matter of setting 
my garden in order, I went out but little the next 
day or Saturday, when at last my waggons came in late 
in the evening. They brought bad news. A good deal 
of the corn I had left at Makapan's-poort had been 
damaged by the floods of rain that had fallen there. 
Hendrick had traded grain and cattle, but on coming to 
the Pinaars river had found it impossible to cross it 
with heavily loaded waggons, or with loose cattle. He 
had therefore waited for it to run down, until he had 
been told by the Boers that if he did not get the waggons 


68 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

into Pretoria by Saturday, they would seize them and 
the oxen. He had then left the cattle and part of the 
loads behind with some Kaffirs, and had swum the oxen 
through, the loads getting partly wet. It was a comfort 
that the oxen were in splendid condition, but a terrible 
disappointment otherwise. 

The next day, Sunday, I spent writing, when, 
towards evening, Hendrick, who had been " on the 
spree," as is the custom with drivers in general when 
they come off a long trek, rushed up to me in a state of 
wild excitement. The Boers were coming in the market 
square was being fortified rifles were being given out 
we should all be massacred that night the danger for 
the half-castes and Kaffirs serving in Pretoria was even 
greater than for the English they must all have rifles, 
&c., &c. He quite took my breath away, but then I saw 
he had been drinking, although he was not absolutely 

I ordered Eclipse to be saddled, and rode into the 
village, taking Hendrick with me on foot. My house lies 
at the outskirts, near to the camp ; but I was soon close 
to the market-square. Then I saw that Hendrick had 
not exaggerated. Crowds of Kaffirs, superintended by 
an engineer officer, were hastily throwing up earth- 
works round the church in the centre, whilst a mass of 
frantically excited white men and lads of all ranks, was 
rushing after and crushing round a cart laden with rifles, 
that was being driven through it to the place appointed 
for distributing them. 

It was with difficulty that I made my way through, 
and learned from an acquaintance that no rifles were to 
be given to the coloured population, till all the white 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 369 

population had been provided. The rifles in the cart 
were not nearly sufficient for those who crowded round 
it, so it was not worth while staying. I turned into the 
square, and approaching the little group of officers, 
waited till the one in command was at liberty. I then 
asked him whether it was true that an attack was ex- 
pected that night. He said that there was reason to 
believe that such would be the case ; and I then inquired 
what provision had been made for the protection of the 
horses and oxen belonging to people in the town. 

" Where are you going for refuge ? " he asked, dis- 
regarding my question. 

" I was not asking about protection for myself, but for 
my oxen and horses," I answered. 

" But what ward are you in ? " he asked. 

I said I did not know, but that my house was near the 
camp common. 

" Well, then, you had better go to the convent," he said. 

" I shall remain at my own house," I answered. " What 
I want to know is, whether any place of comparative 
safety has been appointed for the oxen in the town. I 
have three valuable spans ; I don't want to lose them/' 

" Oh ! " he exclaimed, " have you any waggons ? " 

Yes three." 

" I am greatly in want of waggons for barricading," 
he went on eagerly. " The best thing you can do is to 
bring them up here to me." 

" But the oxen ? " I remarked. 

" I think," he answered, " the best plan for them would 
just be to let them loose in the square." 

" Between the barricades and the earthworks ? " I said, 
"just let them go loose?" 


3/o A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

" Yes," was the reply. 

I thanked him very politely, and rode off, thinking to 
myself how singularly beneficial to all parties it would be 
to have thirty-eight oxen, maddened with fear, rushing 
about a small square that was being desperately defended ; 
unless, indeed, one looked upon the arrangement from a 
Boer point of view. 

When the waggons were mentioned I had glanced in 
the direction of my old waggon, which I had left at the 
auctioneer's. It was gone; and the next day I dis- 
covered it in the barricade of one of the streets approach- 
ing the market-square, from whence, of course, I was not 
allowed to remove it 

Having been unable to get any information from the 
engineer officer, I cantered quickly towards the camp to 
try to find Colonel Gildea, for it seemed almost impos- 
sible to me that some plan for protecting the large num- 
bers of oxen and horses belonging to people in the 
village had not been devised, considering that in case of 
a siege of even a few days' length, such a provision was 
of the greatest public importance. 

On my way across the common I met Mr; Hudson, the 
Colonial Secretary, hurrying down to the village on foot, 
behind a hand-cart drawn by Kaffirs, and full of rifles. 
He told me that Colonel Gildea was not in camp ; he 
did not know where he was, but as to the oxen, he said 
there was no place set apart for them ; that he thought 
the best thing I could do was to let them run about 
the town loose that night. As this idea seemed in- 
admissible to me, I asked him whether, in case of an 
attack, the fire from the guns at the camp was likely to 
be directed so as to injure my house, which I pointed out 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 371 

to him. He said he thought it was in a safe position ; 
so I determined to keep my oxen with me. 

I had, since the arrival of my waggons, brought my 
other oxen from the Felmans' kraal, and let all the spans 
feed together ; so now I had them all tied to the yokes 
inside the erf, barricaded the entrance to it with the two 
waggons, made my boys sleep close to the stable and the 
oxen, and determined to sit up myself. 

The streets, by the time I was returning from the 
common to my house, were full of people wending their 
way to the various places of refuge ; men with rifles on 
their shoulders, going off on patrol; women and girls 
carrying hastily-made-up bundles, mattresses, and infants, 
and dragging little children after them. There was no 
attack, but the morning brought the" news of the massacre 
of the 94th ; and the panic and excitement increased. 

I managed that day to get old muzzle-loading rifles for 
my boys from the Ordnance Department ; and, as I was 
riding back from camp, I saw a commissariat officer 
superintending the moving of stores into camp, in prepara- 
tion for the siege which was now undoubtedly imminent. 

There was evidently a great deficiency of waggons to 
convey all the stores, and yet haste was imperative, for 
the news that the Boers were close by was expected at 
any moment. All coloured men seen in the streets were 
being seized; horses, waggons, and oxen also. Now I 
had been revolving in my mind whether or not I would 
save my property by a trick. My waggons I did not 
think of moving, but my oxen were all grazing far out of 
the village. I had only to mount little Hendrick on 
Dandy, and with him as my companion ride out to them, 
drive them through a poort at some little distance, and 

B b 2 

372 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal, 

not much under observation, and get them away to my 
farm. I knew pretty surely that what Durks and other 
Boers had told me was true there was but little danger 
of the Boers robbing me, unless in some case of necessity; 
and should I meet the commando, I had little doubt that 
by speaking fair I could induce the commander to let 
me pass, even if I could not wheedle him out of a safe- 
conduct, which I deemed it very probable I should be 
able to manage. It was a temptation to do this, not only 
on account of my own pecuniary advantage, but because 
I am very fond of my animals; and I thought it likely 
that they would get hard usage in government employ ; 
but on the other hand it seemed, and seems to me, that 
when matters have been brought to the war-test in any 
country in which one happens to be residing, one is 
bound in honour to side distinctly with either one or the 
other of the combatants. On general principles I be- 
lieved, and believe, that a vindication of British authority 
in the Transvaal would benefit, or rather would have 
benefitted the majority of its inhabitants ; and hence I 
determined not to ask favours from the Boers, but to do 
all that lay in my small sphere of action to help the side 
that I felt was the one I ought to wish to win. I there- 
fore, of my own accord, offered my waggons and oxen to 
the officer in question. He gladly accepted the offer, 
telling me that he should like to have the waggons and 
spans in an hour's time; and I sent out for my poor oxen, 
and by the given time had delivered them and their 
drivers and foreloopers over to the government. I did 
not know that such would be the case at the time, but by 
doing so I gained several advantages which, had I not 
come forward in this manner, I should have missed. And 
as I am on the subject of my animals, I may as well say 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 373 

that I succeeded in saving my horses from being seized 
for mounting the so-called volunteers, by offering them 
to the government for a special service which service, as 
matters turned out, was never required of them. 

Everything was now confusion. The streets were full 
of waggons, Kaffirs, half-castes, and white people, inter- 
mingled here and there with officers, orderlies, or volun- 
teers on horseback. In every house the women were 
busy packing up, unless they were stupefied with fear, as 
they were in some cases. Arrests were being made every 
now and then on charges of conspiracy with the enemy, 
which were in some cases I know of made very lightly, 
although the suspicion may have been strong. Numbers 
of farmers from the immediate vicinity of Pretoria had 
come in with their families for protection, and swelled 
the already thick ranks of the emigrant population. I 
rode to the Felmans, and found them in a state of distrac- 
tion. I had meant to speak about my goods, but it was 
impossible to obtain a hearing. 

On Tuesday the order circulated that all the inhabitants 
were to go into camp, and we were also told that all those 
who adhered to the loyal cause should receive full com- 
pensation for any loss they might receive from so doing. 
I hastened to the Commissariat Yard, to see if I could 

get Major W , who was in command, to let me have 

back my large tent- waggon. He was not there, but as I 
was riding away I heard a horse's gallop behind me, and 
turning saw him. He said he had seen me, and guessed 
what I wanted, so had followed me, and we cantered to 
where the waggons were working, and he gave me the 
order I required. The oxen were to be sent to him again 
the next day. 

Once more I loaded up, not leaving anything in the 

374 A Lady Trader in tJie Transvaal. 

house, and just as the oxen were inspanned, we heard the 
report of a cannon. Oh ! the terror of those boys of 
mine ! The Boers were upon us ! We should not be in 
time to get into camp ! All the roads to the camp were 
crammed with ox-waggons being hurried along, with 
mule-waggons dashing along, with people on foot, 
women, little children, some carrying a bundle, some a 
mattress, or a chair, some pulling a hand-cart piled up 
with articles hastily snatched from their dwellings; and 
all this in mud, and with the thunder growling overhead. 
Suddenly a rattling peal came through the poort near 
the camp, and a cloud of thick rain driven by the wind 
came sweeping towards us from it. 

" The Boers ! look at the smoke of the firing ! " cried 
the boys. 

But soon a torrent of rain showed them their mistake. 
Through this pelting shower I, and the rest of the Pre- 
torian wanderers, made our way to headquarters, and were 
there told what ? That there had been a mistake as to 
onr going into camp that day, that the camp was not 
ready to receive us, that we must go back and return the 
next day. So all the poor women and little children, 
who had toiled up through the mud and wet, had to toil 
back again to the homes they had dismantled. It was a 
sad procession to look at. That evening, I, as having 
but little to move, a horse to ride, and last, not least, no 
little children, wet, cold, and tired, to console and feel 
anxious about, was probably the happiest person in 

The next day we all fairly went into camp and prepared 
for the siege. 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 375 


ANY one who lias paid me the compliment of reading this 
story of my adventures will, perhaps, remember that in 
the earlier chapters I mentioned that I was writing in the 
besieged camp of Pretoria; and, indeed, the principal 
part of my book was written there, partly with a view of 
recording facts which might prove interesting, and possibly 
instructive, to a few, and partly to while away the time. 
I am finishing the story when the war, of which the siege 
formed a small episode, is a thing of the past a past 
which, if I do not mistake, will have an important in- 
fluence on numbers to whom the Transvaal is, and will 
remain, utterly unknown, except as a small part of Africa, 
which gave rise to a peculiar exhibition of political inca- 
pacity on the part of those who sway the British nation 
at the present time, and have swayed it for some time 
past. Our colonial policy is not a thing of to-day, nor 
are the ideas which have had their outcome in a conven- 
tion which, if it has not pleased, has certainly astonished 
everybody ideas of sudden growth. 

Before attempting to describe the life we led in camp, 
I must try and describe the camp itself. Although I 
talk of the camp, there were in reality three camps on 
the hill above Pretoria, exclusive of the camps formed in 

376 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

the convent, and in the prison within the village, of 
which I knew little. On the hill there was the military 
camp, which, although composed in great part of civilians, 
was called military, partly, I fancy, because most of 
the able-bodied men attached to families quartered in it 
were either members of the mounted volunteers, or in 
what was called the Reserve Force, and principally 
because it was circumscribed by the military lines. At a 
short distance from this, there was what was called the 
civil camp, the able-bodied men in which belonged to no 
corps, but had to do picket-duty ; and at some distance 
from it, higher up on the hill, was a camp inhabited by 
coloured people. Just below the military camp was the 
great kraal where the cows and slaughter cattle were 
kept at night, and a little above it was the so-called 
Government kraal, made of waggons impressed by the 
Government, or belonging to them, in which the Govern- 
ment oxen, and all the impressed trek oxen but mine, and 
one span belonging to my old acquaintance, Mr. Brown, 
of Rustemberg, were kept. I may here mention that Mr. 
Brown had come on business to Pretoria, where his wag- 
gon and oxen had been impressed, and he himself stopped, 
whilst poor Mrs. Brown was left in Rustemberg. His 
oxen and mine were the only spans that had their own 
drivers and foreloopers, and hence they were kept sepa- 
rate from the others, and were always tied to the yokes 
of the waggons they served with, instead of being kraaled, 
which was a great advantage. The native camp was 
composed of tents pitched round an old hut or two, and 
from its position it certainly struck me very forcibly that 
it was very possible for continual communication to be 
kept up between it and the insurgents. It is an absolute 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 377 

fact that their leaders knew most of our movements, and 
as it certainly was impossible for any doubt to exist that, 
if so inclined, a Kaffir could any night have slipped in 
and out of the camp without being observed by the out- 
posts, I have very little doubt that such communication 
took place. 

The civil camp was composed of waggons with awnings, 
or side-tents made to them with buck-sails or other 
canvas ; of tents, and of a few little canvas houses, 
although these last were only erected a week or so after 
the siege commenced. Some of these had boards put down 
for the floors, and were in some cases divided into rooms. 

The military camp consisted of all these elements, and 
besides of the ordinary soldier's bungalows (long, low, 
stone buildings), and of other so-called bungalows, made 
of wooden framework with canvas drawn over it. All 
of these bungalows were given up to accommodating 
the women and children who could not be accommodated 
with tents, or who had no waggons of their own in the 
military camp ; and the beds in them were almost 
touching each other. Every night the women and chil- 
dren of the civil camp had to come up to one or other of 
these bungalows to sleep, so as for them to be within the 
military lines in case of attack; and wretched work, indeed, 
it was for the poor things on wet evenings and mornings. 

The first evening that the order came out, it happened 
to rain, and to continue raining all night. At the last 
moment it was found that there was not sufficient accom- 
modation for all of them. Some, after standing in the 
wet, were obliged to paddle back through the running 
water to the civil camp, others got into tents not yet 
properly protected by trenches from the rain, and I saw 

3/8 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

them in the damp morning shivering with cold, their 
bedding, which they had had to bring with them, soaked 
through, and the floor of the tent one big puddle. On 
the whole, however, I think, considering all things, the 
camp was well managed as far as the comfort and health 
of its inmates were concerned. With a number of people 
all crammed together in a confined space, discomfort is, 
of course, unavoidable ; and the discomfort naturally tends 
to cause irritation between the members of the commu- 
nity. I had my own waggon in the military camp, and 
made a comfortable side-tent to it, and had besides the 
advantage of having my waggon at the end of a line of 
waggons facing a main road through the camp, so that I 
was not subject to the same annoyances as most of my 

A most miserable sight was that camp, early on a 
rainy morning, when I would be coming back from the 
lines where the horses were picketed, with my waterproof 
over me, and the water running, very likely, over my 
boots. Women of various ranks emerging from their 
tents, or from their waggons, slipping in the mud, or 
plashing into the water so soon as they stepped on the 
ground ; making their coffee, or preparing the breakfast 
over the little fire some shivering Kaffir was trying to 
blow into a blaze, while a little child, perhaps, held on to 
them and cried, or bewailed itself from within the tent. 
In many cases numbers of people were stowed away in 
one waggon, and both in these waggons and in the bunga- 
lows ablutions had to be very much restricted, and many 
people both looked and were very dirty. 

Against this picture I may set that of a fine evening, 
after the band had ceased playing. Then all the various 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 379 

habitations were alight, and one caught glimpses of illu- 
minated interiors, with dashes of bright colour in them, 
arranged in long vistas. The camp-fires burnt cheerily, 
and one heard nothing but merry voices and laughter from 
the groups of coloured people assembled round them and 
from the promenaders, whilst here and there a gay party 
would be assembled, and one would hear snatches of 
song and even, in one bungalow, the sound of a piano. 

Of course there was an unlimited amount of scandal 
and gossip of all sorts, and of course there was also an 
unlimited amount of squabbling, more or less serious, 

varying from the quarrel between Mrs. A and Mrs. 

B , which raged femininely and furiously, but neverthe- 
less privately, to the noisy vociferation between another 
pair of ladies, which woke the neighbours from their 
slumbers for some fifty yards around the scene of warfare. 
Besides these quarrels there were, of course, occasional 
rows between the inhabitants of the bungalow where the 
less aristocratic members of society were accommodated, 
which took the form of unparliamentary language, and 
which, when human patience (in the shape of the sentry 
on guard ) could endure it no longer, had to be suppressed 
by the master of the ward. 

These ward-masters had a hard time of it, I fear. 
They were civilians, appointed over different blocks of the 
camp, to see that the orders issued from headquarters 
were observed, and to be general referees on disputed 
matters. The smoke grievance, which was perpetually 
recurring, must have caused many of these persecuted 
mortals to become prematurely grey. It was a general 
conviction of the camp-mind that the owner of a fire 
could prevent the smoke from the said fire drifting into 

380 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

his neighbours' nostrils. This peculiar mental epidemic 
was not peculiar to females. Many a time an indignant 
head of the family would exclaim, appealing to his parti- 
cular ward-master, "It is outrageous. I cannot allow 
the ladies of my family to be inconvenienced in this 
manner." And then, if the bewildered official shrugged 
his shoulders in despair, an appeal would be made to the 
camp- quartermaster. This office was held by a youthful 
officer, who, I think, had a quiet enjoyment of a joke a 
young officer who, although he never in my presence did 
wear them, always impressed me with the idea that he 
wore pale kid gloves a young officer who never appeared 
to be in a hurry, although he worked hard, and who (as 
I learnt from many a conversation) had a singularly 
exasperating effect upon minds excited by the influences 
of camp-life. I remember seeing this young gentleman 
seized upon in his tent by an infuriated neighbour of 
mine, and carried off to decide a smoke dispute between 
her and an equally impassioned neighbour of hers. 

" The smoke of that lady's fire absolutely suffocates 
us," cried the one. 

" I declare I can't endure her smoke any longer/' 
retorted the accused. " You really must do something 
to alter this state of things, Mr. H ." 

But it was not only on the subject of smoke that the 
camp-quartermaster was assailed. Once, when he was 
speaking to some one just in front of my tent, a well- 
dressed woman rushed at him, exclaiming, 

" Mr. H , I want some soap. Where can I 

get it ? " 

I must give credit to the ward -masters for keeping 
their wards very fairly clean. There was one ward in 

A Lady Trader in the 7 ' ransvaaL 381 

particular which was particularly nicely kept, but of 
which the ward-master was of course particularly 

Then there was the light grievance. At first all lights 
had to be out at nine, but the hour was advanced to ten. 
Of course there were refractory spirits who would not 
put out their lights, if only to show their free and inde- 
pendent spirit. 

" Put it out now, ma'am/' I have heard the soldier 
who went the rounds say. " You can light it again after 
I'm gone." 

But then sometimes the ward-master or the quarter- 
master was inconveniently active, and one was caught, 
as I was once, and had my candle ordered out, inter- 
rupting me in a species of hunt attended with much 
anxiety in camp, viz., the flea-hunt ! If the camp was 
not a paradise for man and beasts, it certainly was for 
fleas and flies. Not but that there were many human 
beings who enjoyed the camp thoroughly. I have heard 
more than one girl and child aver it would be " nice " to 
have it over again. There were lots of flirting and lots of 
playing to be had. Every day was a holiday to the chil- 
dren, who swarmed to the gates of the camp to see the 
volunteers, the soldiers, and the cannon go out, as if they 
were going on parade who swarmed there too, I am 
sorry to say, in a state of half- amused, half -frightened 
excitement, to see the wounded men and horses come 
in. They became wonderfully knowing did those 

" Hark to the boom of the gun," I said to a little girl, 
as we were watching the engagement at Henning Pre- 
torius's camp ; " do you see the smoke ? " 

382 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

" That is not firing," replied the little wretch, quite 
confidently. " That is dynamite. They must have got 
to the lager, and be blowing it up." 

One great event every day was the getting the rations 
at the booth appointed for the purpose in each ward. It 
was a frightfully tedious affair, and a most grotesque 
picture did it offer. Old and young men and women 
Kaffirs with the name of their employer written on a 
piece of paper, either in their hands or fastened on to 
them, some carrying baskets, some dishes, cups, all sorts 
of things; all crowding round the unfortunate men who 
had to serve out the rations. There was plenty of 
grumbling, and also plenty of joking. One old farmer 
of the name of Cockcroft, who had been in the camp at 
Durban when the Boers besieged it, had a standing 
joke with me when any one grumbled about the meat 
being bad or the rations being small. 

" They'll be glad to come to dine with us presently," 
he would say, chuckling. " I'm glad you've got that 
leather fore-tow. It'll make good soup yet." 

He remembered eating soup made of the same ingre- 
dient, just before relief came to that gallant little band 
in Natal. 

Mr. Cockcroft was a very fine old fellow, and very 
touching it was to see him leading his blind wife. 
They had lately bought a fine farm not far from 
Pretoria. They had worked hard and had got on well, 
and had invested their earnings in it. Their son was in 
the volunteers a hard-working young farmer. When 
we were listening to the firing from Swartkopjee, two 
officers rode up to where he was standing near to me. 

"Heavy firing, Air. Cockcroft," said one of them, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 383 

" I'm afraid there won't bo much of your house left ; 
they must be just close to it." 

" Let it go/' cried the old man, with kindling eyes ; 
" if only it gives some shelter first to our poor 

" Ah ! " exclaimed one of the officers, " that's the 
right sort of spirit, Mr. Cockcroft." 

Yet this gallant old farmer is now a ruined man. 

As time went on, little concerts, bazaars, and theatrical 
entertainments were got up in camp open-air perform- 
ances of course and there was a little camp newspaper. 
The band of the 2 1st played every evening, except, 
indeed, for some while after the disastrous fight at the 
Red House, for then there were many dangerously 
wounded, and it was thought that the noise would disturb 
them. There were invitations to dinner also occasionally, 
and on one occasion there was a grand birthday festival 
given by a certain old gentleman, who, on rising to make 
his speech returning thanks, remarked, " Little did I 
think this night sixty-two years ago, when I was born, 
that I should live to see," &c., &c., thereby, of course, 
bringing down the house. 

My time was taken up in a routine, of which the follow- 
ing is the outline. I got up at dawn, and went to see 
the horses fed, and then walked to the Government kraal, 
to see how the oxen were. Early coffee. Went to fetch 
the rations (for by going myself, instead of sending a boy, 
I got better rations) ; then breakfast ; afterwards rode 
down to the village and let the horses graze, while I 
generally lay on the grass and either worked or did 
nothing, except when I would take pen and paper with 
me, and write some of this history. Home to dinner at 

384 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

about five ; looked to the horses being settled for the 
night, inspected the oxen ; then paid visits. 

There was a great gathering of people from all parts 
in the camp. Mrs. Parker and Mrs. Farquason had 
waggons not far from mine ; so had the young farmer 
and his wife on whose farm I had been outspanned 
before I went to the bush-veldt. The Robert Higginses 
had a waggon and a little house in the civil camp, which 
was shared by old Mr. Higgins and his family. Next to 
them was old Mr. Sturton, with his wife and his un- 
married children. Alice Higgins had been married before 
the war, and had been at Potchefstrom, but had escaped 
thence to the Cape Colony. John Higgins and his family 
had gone also, but James had been stopped, and was a 
sort of prisoner at Fahl-plas. Arthur and William Stur- 
ton, and also Mr. King, had been seized by the Boers on 
their way into Pretoria, and carried back to their farms. 
I may here say that when, at the end of the war, we 
learnt what had been happening to them, we were re- 
lieved to find that they had been well treated; but in 
the meantime the anxiety about them was very great, 
although after two months of suspense a Kaffir managed 
to get through to them and then back to us, and brought 
us word that they were well ; brought us word also, alas ! 
that every head of cattle, every sheep, all ripe crops, all 
fruit, had been swept from both Surprise and Moy-plas, 
whilst in the case of the latter, every article of furniture 
had been seized, and the whole place laid desolate. 
Robert Higgins and old Mr. Sturton were both obnoxious 
to the Boers. Half of my sheep, too, were reported as 
being gone. My old friends Sam and Dick had been 
impressed by Government, and poor Sam lost his life at 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 385 

the fight at the Red House. Wellington was impressed 
also, as indeed all the horses in Pretoria but mine were. 
He was always ridden by whoever was in command of 
the Pretoria Carabineers ; and, strange to say, Captain 
D'Arcy was wounded severely, and Captain Sanctuary 
mortally, whilst riding him, whilst he was only slightly 

The weather was very stormy, and children and delicate 
people suffered severely. Many a coffin was taken down 
in a cart to the little graveyard with a few mourners 
walking after it; a few flowers plucked from some deserted 
garden strewn on it. Poor, inglorious martyrs, sacrificed 
for nothing ! The number of deaths was at last so great 
that there was difficulty in obtaining planks for the 
coffins, and those earthworks in which wood had been used 
as a support, had to be demolished to supply what was 
necessary, the earthworks, being replaced by brick walls. 
I never thought the village of Pretoria so pretty as I did 
when riding through its deserted streets, in which the 
grass grew knee-high, until cut for hay for the horses in 
camp, whilst the neglected gardens bloomed in glorious 
luxuriance. The Felmans' erf was now beautiful to be- 
hold, the thick luscious green herbage covering up all 
signs of former disorder and dirt. The stores were all 
closed, the streets almost deserted. Sometimes I came 
across the Government horses and mules, sent out to 
graze under guard ; and sometimes a few dropping shots 
would be heard, and they would be hastily collected and 
brought near to camp for fear of some sudden raid. On 
the hills around, the cattle were pastured under the sur- 
veillance of a guard, and they too were often to be seen 
hurrying home for fear of capture. Sometimes a store- 

c c 

386 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

keeper would obtain permission to leave the camp (all men 
had to obtain passes), and would half open his store for a 
few hours ; then the place would be thronged by people, 
mostly women. 

By order of the Government, mule-waggons plied be- 
tween the camp and the village three times a day. I 
never tried them, having my horses ; but I heard that 
those who drove in them suffered excruciating torture, 
owing to their being springless. Sometimes Mrs. Parker 
used to visit her pretty cottage (it looked so sad to see it 
deserted), and then she used to ask me to a picnic there. 
Once when I was at my own erf, and the horses grazing 
quietly near me, I was a spectator of a small engagement 
quite close to the village. A party had been sent out 
as an escort to a mowing-machine. The Boers made a 
raid, reinforcements were sent out to our men, but the 
Boers had the best of it. They captured the mowing- 
machine ! 

There was great demoralization among all the coloured 
people in camp. Very stringent orders had been 
issued against any violence being used to them, and the 
upshot of this was that they became very insolent, 
and that their masters and mistresses were afraid of 
punishing them. I openly punished a leader of mine 
more than once for neglecting my oxen, and was not in- 
terfered with, and I must say that my servants were 
better than most in camp ; but I everywhere heard com- 
plaints, and saw myself that some very bad influence was 
at work among the coloured people. The drunkenness 
among them was very great, and this while civilians, 
not volunteers, could not obtain wine or spirits unless 
they got a special order from the Provost Marshal 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 387 

on a particular store, or an order from the doctor. Of 
course it was supposed to be the rule that no liquor at all 
was sold to coloured people, unless they presented a 
written order from their employers, and the requisite 
order from the Provost Marshal as well ; but the rule 
was openly and constantly disregarded, whilst the store- 
keepers were obliged to be very strict with white people. 
For instance, I once wanted some Pontac wine, so I went 
to the Provost Marshal and asked for an order. He 
asked me what wine I wanted, what number of bottles 
I wanted, and at what store I was going to buy the wine. 
I told him, and he wrote out the order, and I went to the 
store ; then it turned out that at this particular store 
there was no Pontac, so my order was of no use. In 
the meantime my groom often got enough liquor to get 
drunk upon. The fact about the coloured population was, 
I believe, this. The authorities were afraid of them, and 
winked at their sins. The immense number of them in 
camp helped the general demoralization, and there were 
doubtless many messages sent backwards and forwards 
between the Boers and their secret friends in camp, by 
means of these people. 

One day my driver " boy " told me that a friend of his 
had come in from Waterberg, and had brought word that 
Mapeela had broken out and had driven off numbers of the 
Boers' cattle, had also put all the women and children of the 
Boers in that part of the country into a sort of lager, and had 
provided for them, saying, that he would show his respect 
for the English by treating them well ; but had dragged 
a man, whom he had found hiding among them, outside 
the lager, and killed him then and there. It seemed odd to 
me to think of this self-same Mapeela sitting by my 

c c 2 

388 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

waggon in his smart dress a short time previously. I 
heard afterwards that the Boers in part of Wat erb erg had 
cruelly ill-used unoffending Kaffirs during the war, and 
this I learnt from the Landrost of Nilstrom, who came 
into Pretoria after the war was over. He told me he had 
seen them seize a Kaffir, tie him up, and give him fifty 
lashes on his bare back for no fault. 

On Thursday, the 6th of January, the first sortie 
from the camp took place. This was the occasion when 
the fighting occurred near Mr. Cockcroft's farm. The 
troops and volunteers went out long before dawn : we 
heard the firing early in the morning. This was our one 
successful engagement. In the afternoon the wounded 
and the prisoners were brought in. We had four killed. 
The prisoners were all Waterberg men, but I was glad to 
learn that none of my old acquaintances were among 
them. Their leader, who was severely wounded, and a 
prisoner, caused a good deal of, not very creditable, non- 
sense, as it seemed to me, to be talked in camp. I believe 
it is true that he had allowed his men to fire under a flag 
of truce, still I think it would have been better, had there 
been no talk as to the desirability of curing him of his 
wounds in order to hang him afterwards. This was, of 
course, purely unofficial talk, but it was argued that as, 
according to the proclamation of the Government these 
men were rebels, and as he, as chief, had allowed the white 
flag to be violated, it was evident that he must be hung, 
and I regret to say many who spoke thus seemed to hope 
he might be so treated. Now began the piteous sight of 
women, watching with pale, anxious faces, to catch the last 
glimpse of their dear ones, as they rode out in either the Pre- 
toria Carabineers, or Nourse's Horse; hastening from point 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 389 

to pointto seethe lastof their re treating figures, gazingwith 
aching eyes and hearts at the little column until it was lost 
to sight, and then going back with pinched faces to their 
waggons and tents, to wait to hear the first gun, and so to 
wear away the day until the first few rode in to tell the 
fortune of the warfare. I used to admire those women ! 
There was no ostentatious anxiety or grief, but you would 
see their poor trembling lips, and nervously clasped hands, 
and eyes strained bravely to try to keep back their tears, 
as they hastened to where they could get tidings of those 
who might perhaps be destined never to return, or to return 
only to die. On Friday the funerals of those who had lost 
their lives cast a gloom over all, still we had been success- 
ful, and that was something. Two of Mrs. Parker's sons 
were in the Pretoria Carabineers as officers, and one was 
slightly injured in this engagement. Mrs. Farquason's 
husband was also an officer in this corps. 

This was the only success we had. There were other 
small sorties without any engagement taking place, be- 
tween the 6th and the 16th of January, when an attack 
was made on Henning Pretorius's camp, situated on the 
randt within view of our camp. An attempt was made to 
distract the attention of the Boers by exploding dynamite 
in an opposite direction, and the ruse partially succeeded ; 
but after some heavy firing, which was watched with intense 
interest from our camp, we were obliged to retreat. 
While almost all our available men were absent, there 
was a sudden alarm that a body of Boers were advancing 
to attack the camp from the side opposite to Henning 
Pretorius's position. A shot or two from our guns caused 
them, however, to retire. On the return of our men we 
heard that two wounded men had been left in the hands of 

390 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

the Boers, and great dissatisfaction was expressed by the 
volunteers as to the management of the whole affair. 
The next day a Kaffir brought a flag of truce from the 
Boer camp, to say that we ought to send an ambulance 
for these two wounded men. This Kaffir said that 
Henning Pretorius was severely wounded, and that about 
thirty Boers had been killed. 

With regard to the dissatisfaction of the volunteers, I 
may say that it increased as time went on, and that, so 
far as I know, the regular troops were dissatisfied also ; 
and I think, from what I heard and observed, they had 
reason on their side. The volunteers said that they were 
sent on far in front of the guns and troops, riding in file, 
and were never properly supported, besides being often 
employed in work unsuited to their capacities ; for that 
it was useless to try to take a lager with irregular or 
regular cavalry. The troops complained that they werd 
shown off to disadvantage, being kept back from being 
engaged, and not receiving orders as to what they were 
to do. This particularly applies to the disastrous sortie 
on Saturday, the 12th of February. 

Early in the morning of that day I heard sounds 
among the horses, indicating that there was going to 
be a move, and presently I heard the tramp and clank of 
the horses being harnessed to the guns ; then that of the 
volunteers riding past my tent to headquarters. I got 
up and looked out. There they went tramp, tramp, 
through the dark; and, as I looked at them, I felt one 
of those presentiments of evil, which may or may not be 
true, but which nevertheless affect one painfully at 
times. This was a large sortie, and was supposed to be a 
very secret one j but all the time the Boers knew all that 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 391 

we were planning. Colonel Gildea was in command. Cap- 
tain Sanctuary, mounted on Wellington, rode at the head 
of the Pretoria Carabineers for the last time. I give my 
account of the action from what I was told by a volunteer 
officer who was present, and I have had corroboration of 
what I say from others. The Boers were quite prepared 
for us. Colonel Gildea was wounded early in the action ; 
the second in command lost his head. The volunteers, 
pushed on in front as usual, were exposed to a galling 
fire from the Boers, whilst the troops and guns remained 
aloof, and took no part in the engagement. 

Captain Sanctuary was shot through the leg, and Mr. 
Mackenzie Walker took command. His men were waver- 
ing ; the only orders he could get from the officer who 
had taken Colonel Gildea's place was an exclamation, 

" Oh ! what a mess we are in ! " and then " Retire." 

But Mr. Walker rallied his men to keep the Boers in 
check, and to try to save the ambulance, behind which 
the doctors were dressing Captain Sanctuary's wound. 
He pointed out to the commanding officer, that if they 
retired the ambulance would be taken ; it was of no use, 
so, on his own reponsibility, Mr. Walker formed his men, 
and tried to rescue the ambulance. 

As he passed some infantry, he exclaimed, "Good God ! 
why don't you fire ? " 

" We have no orders, sir," answered one of the men. 

Captain Sanctuary's wound was not yet dressed ; the 
troops were retiring; the Boers cutting the volunteers 
off from the main body. 

" Better put him in/' cried Walker, " and let us try to 
save him and the rest;" for there were other wounded. 

No, the doctor thought he would finish the dressing 

39 2 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

first; and in despair Mr. Walker had to retire and leave 
the ambulance, the wounded, and the doctors. One of 
the Boers levelled his rifle at a man in attendance on it. 

" For shame/' cried the latter ; " do you fire on the 
hospital ? " 

But fire he did, and killed the man; another shot at 
the ambulance wounded a man already wounded, who 
lay in it. In the meantime the volunteers, having pro- 
tected the retreat of the troops, retreated themselves. 
They found a mule-waggon deserted on the road by the 
troops who had been in it. One of the mules was killed ; 
the men had jumped off and fled, so the volunteers cut 
the dead mule loose, and one of them drove the waggon 
into camp, or it, too, would have fallen a prey. 

When the news of this defeat came into camp, great 
was the grief and dismay. The greatest sufferer was an 
old Boer lady; her only son was the man wounded a 
second time while in the ambulance, and left a prisoner 
among his enemies ; his father, a Boer from the old 
colony and a faithful English subject, was very obnoxious 
to the Transvaal Boers. The name of the wounded man 
was Desiderius (commonly called Deesy) Erasmus. He 
was one of a large family the youngest, and the only 
boy, and was the darling of his sisters, and the very 
apple of his father and mother's eye. A fine, young 
fellow, broad shouldered and strong, but a mere boy in 
years and in innocence. His father had gone to Colonel 
Gildea when Deesy had joined the corps, and had so be- 
sought him in the name of the boy's mother and his own, 
to place him in the reserve, that the colonel had at last 
consented; but the young fellow held firm. 

" No, father," he said ; " I have never disobeyed you 

A Lady Trader in tJie Transvaal. 393 

or caused my mother grief before, but now I must do so ; 
this is a matter of honour ; not even for your sakes can I 
let myself be called a coward." 

Nothing would move him, and so he rode out after 
Captain Sanctuary on that dark morning ; now he was a 
prisoner, and doubly wounded, in the hands of his enemies. 
His mother and one of his sisters (the wife of Major 
Ferreira, who had gone to the Basuto war) went to Sir 
Owen Lanyon, and prayed to be sent to the Boer camp 
under a flag of truce to see him, and the Administrator 
granted their petition, and placed a mule-waggon at their 
disposal. It was the act of a kind-hearted gentleman, 
but surely hardly an advisable act, particularly when the 
enemy had been openly styled rebels. When the ladies 
arrived at the Boer outposts and told what they had 
come for, the message was sent up. to headquarters, and 
presently some of the chief men came to them, and laughed 
at the idea of allowing them to see the boy; but the 
mother and sister would take no refusal ; they wept and 
prayed, and besought these men, by all they held dear, to 
let them see their darling, and at last they prevailed. 
They were taken to where he lay, and all night long they 
nursed him in a tent, the Boer commander coming in 
occasionally, and asking if he could assist them in any 
way. Outside in camp, all was joy and festivity over 
their victory, and the captured ambulance. 

In the morning the ladies returned to Pretoria, bringing 
a message, that if we wished for the prisoners to be given 
up, we must release the prisoners we had taken at our 
first engagement, and must agree to send back the am- 
bulance to the Boers, after it had conveyed the wounded 
to our camp. And so it was. 

394 <d. Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

The next day the prisoners were brought in, the Boers 
sending a slaughtered sheep along with them, which (I 
was told by one bred amongst them) was a covert insult ; 
and all the Boer prisoners were released. One of them, 
going to Lydenburg, was fallen upon by Kaffirs, and torn 
in pieces. There were many wounded, most of them 
were severely wounded. Captain Sanctuary's leg was 
despaired of, and Deesy Erasmus' life, besides that of 
others. He had received a wound (which grazed the 
stomach) through the body, besides one in his leg. At 
first he seemed to rally, but it was a false hope, and in 
a few days he passed away, conscious and calm to the 
last nay, almost cheerful, although he knew he was 
dying. One of his comrades, a Mr. Simpson, died the 
day before, an artilleryman had died before him, and 
Captain Sanctuary, after his leg being amputated, lingered 
to the 7th of March, and then followed his companions in 
arms. There was a profound feeling of sorrow through 
all the inhabitants of the camp on the day when the body 
of this kindly and gallant officer was borne, with military 
honours, to the little graveyard in the valley. 

In the meantime we had had news of the reinforce- 
ments that were coming to relieve us, and we were count- 
ing the days until we should see Sir George Colley ride 
through Bobian-poort at the head of a victorious column. 
Some said one day, some said another, would be the likely 
one for the welcome sight to greet our eyes, but none 
doubted that we should see him. 

On the fifteenth (Tuesday) we saw about twenty 
waggons, under escort, defile through a poort to the east 
of the camp, and crossing the vallej", outspann on the 
opposite ridge, while a Boer, bearing a flag of truce, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 395 

rode towards us. Colonel Gildea, who had only just risen 
from his bed, rode out to meet him in company with other 
officers. They brought back letters for the Administrator, 
and a Dutch newspaper, printed in the Free State ; and 
the rumour that our troops had been defeated, and that 
Sir George Colley was killed, flew from mouth to mouth. 
But many would not, could not, believe it, and I was one 
of these. It seemed too dreadful, too incredible, to believe, 
until official confirmation came. Alas ! it came too soon. 
We were now put on half -rations, but still there was 
enough to eat. 

There was an armistice now, and it was very dreary. 
I used to wonder how the Administrator and some others 
could have the heart to play polo of an evening. The 
true state of affairs was not known generally, and all sorts 
of rumours were continually flying about; still, there 
was enough known to cause a great feeling of depression, 
though no one expected what followed. 1 

On the evening of Monday, the 28th of March, I was 
sitting in Mrs. Parker's waggon talking to her, when a 
girl rushed up, and told us hurriedly that three officers 
had just ridden in from Newcastle; that there had been a 
great battle, in which Sir Evelyn Wood had completely 
defeated the Boers, and that he and some of the Boer leaders 
would be in Pretoria the next day to discuss the terms of 
peace. Oh ! I shall never forget that moment ! To leap 
from the waggon and hasten to headquarters was but 

1 It was commonly reported that Sir George Colley's reason for 
pushing on, without waiting for reinforcements of cavalry, was that he 
believed the people in Pretoria to be starving ; had, in fact, said to his 
officers that he knew he was about to make a desperate effort, but that 
when women and children were starving, men must not hold back. 

396 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

the work of an instant. Crowds were pouring towards 
the same goal. It was quite dark. Arrived in the square, 
we all waited breathlessly for the news to be proclaimed. 
The officers who had ridden in were with Colonel Gildea, 
the Administrator, and Colonel Bellairs. We waited and 
waited, but no sign was given, and then I heard whispers 
that there had been no victory, that peace had been con- 
cluded on the terms dictated by the Boers, that the country 
was to be given back ! It seemed incredible ; but a chill 
struck through all those assembled, and they dispersed 
gradually and silently, to wait until the morning should 
bring them some distinct official information. How well 
I remember that morning ! I woke early, as usual, but 
with a dull, listless feeling of impending misfortune. I 
had then no reason to believe that personally I should be 
a very heavy sufferer. It was not for myself that I felt 
the bitter ache at my heart, it was for the honour of 
England, a thousand times worse than any pain caused by 
personal loss : the one I could retrieve by courage and 
steadiness, but it made me feel almost mad to think that 
I was powerless to move so much as a feather's weight to 
retrieve the other. I went as usual to see to the horses, 
and as I stroked their sleek necks I thought with a keen 
pain, almost amounting to agony, how glad, how really 
thankful / was that I had been able to win a reprieve for 
my pets from having been uselessly, and therefore cruelly 
sacrificed, while many a mother was being ground to the 
very dust by the crushing torment of knowing that her 
boy, whose life she had told herself in the midst of 
her woe was lost in upholding a cause she cherished, 
had in reality been sent forth, recklessly, wantonly, to 
swell the ranks of death. For what ? For the dishonour 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 397 

of that cause. A volunteer, an 'Englishman, one who 
had no stake whatever in the Transvaal, but who, happen- 
ing to be in Pretoria, had joined Sanctuary's corps, spoke 
to me as I stood there. " So it has come to this," he said ; 
" we have been fighting for nothing ! The country is 
given back." 

" It can't be true/' I cried, although, after the dead 
silence at headquarters the previous night, I knew in my 
heart it was, " I won't believe it till I see it in general 

' ' It is there now," he answered ; ' ' young S has just 

seen it ; he is almost mad. He was a rich man in his own 
belief yesterday ; to-day he is little better than a beggar." 

Yes, it was quite true. I went to see the oxen. I was 
luckier than most. By hard work and incessant watch- 
ing them, so that I got for them every nibble of grass 
that was to be got while they were not working, by buy- 
ing the stalks of mealeas out of private gardens for them 
at an enormous price, by covering them with rugs if they 
seemed ill, I had brought most of them through, when 
other oxen working for government were dying in 
numbers ! I was the luckiest person in camp, and I felt 
almost as if I were selfish as I walked through the lines 
of tents and waggons on my way back, thinking of the 
ruin that had fallen on almost all in them. I went to the 
Higginses' little shanty. They knew they were ruined. 
They tried to take it bravely, did take it bravely, but 
you saw that the knowledge struck home. They had 
staked all, on their faith in English trustworthiness. 
They had believed implicitly in the repeated asseverations 
of the Government that the Transvaal should remain 
British territory ; they had broken utterly with the Boers, 

398 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

they had lost all their oxen and cows, all their sheep, all 
their crops, all but two of their horses, and they were 
destined henceforth to be subject to the men whom we, 
by our promises, had tempted them to turn from friendly 
neighbours into enemies. The Sturtons were close to 
them in their waggon and tent. It was the same with 
them, only worse. Their very house had been despoiled, 
and they were old very old. ' But it is useless to parti- 
cularize. Wherever you turned in that little camp you 
saw faces, heard voices that told you of ruin ; sometimes 
the thought of it was patiently borne, but the thought of 
the disgrace, which seemed to have been thrust on 
them, roused the anger of these men and women. 

" Look at those fellows," cried one old tradesman as two 
officers rode past ; " look at them with their well-groomed 
horses and their dandy airs ! It's all they're good for 
to look pretty. We wouldn't have disgraced ourselves." 
" You'd better take off your coats," cried another, as he 
passed some other officers ; " you're only carrying about 
the badge of your disgrace." 

Even the Kaffirs jeered at us. In the midst of all this, 
a large body of Boers were seen riding close past the 
camp. I was walking through the volunteers' lines as 
they did so. The excitement was great. Some cried 
out to muster and charge them, not to submit to the 
insult that was being thrust on them ; some swore ; others 
cried out that they cared for nothing now, but would go 
and get dead drunk. This excitement had hardly sub- 
sided when Henning Pretorius, Joubert (I think), and 
Hendrick Schumann rode up to headquarters, on their 
shaggy nags, then rode through the camp to greet old 
acquaintances. How proud those men must have felt that 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 399 

day, when the handsomely dressed gentlemen in military 
attire had to acknowledge them (whom they had termed, 
and unjustly termed, "rebels") their virtual conquerors. 
It was of no use trying to hide the fact under the cloak of 
generosity ; the Boers knew in their hearts that we should 
not have attempted to fight if there had been any gene- 
rosity in the matter, and so did we all, and we both knew 
also, that we had found them a harder nut to crack than 
we expected, and that the Government at home had 
considered the game not worth playing out. I knew 
Hendrick Schumann, but I could not, and would not greet 
him then ; but I saw him meet his only sister and kiss her, 
and that was a pleasant sight even to my eyes. But it 
was not pleasant to see men who had truckled to the 
English, now truckling to them and that I also saw. 

The next morning, I determined to take my waggon 
out, and return to my house. The whole camp was break- 
ing up. I rode through the streets of the village early in 
the morning. Groups of Boers were riding about, look- 
ing proud and contented, a little insolent, perhaps, but 
that was not to be wondered at. Numbers of Boer 
waggons laden with produce had come in to the market. 
I saw Hendrick Schumann standing by his waggon in the 
midst of a knot of Boers, so I went up and spoke to him. 

" I am sorry for the peace," I said, ' ' it is a disgrace 
to my country ; but so far as my feelings towards you are 
concerned, I heartily congratulate you ; you have fought 
well and have got your reward." 

He took my hand. " What you say is true," he said, 
' ( and I thank you ;" and his friends gave a united grunt. 

The village now became a scene of disorder. The 
canteens opened, the whole population, black and white 

400 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

crowded into them, and things got worse instead of better 
the next day. For some reason, the coloured men who 
had been impressed by Government wore not immediately 
paid off. They wanted to get away to their families, but 
they had to wait, and in the meantime, having nothing 
else to do, they drank. The streets were full of howling, 
reeling wretches. All order seemed gone. Horses were 
stolen in the most daring manner. If one, with a saddle 
and bridle, were left for a moment, whilst his owner turned 
his back, as likely as not he would be seized and carried 
off in broad daylight. Mr. Higgins, after getting back 
Wellington safe, nearly lost him thus ; and would have lost 
him entirely, if, leaping on a horse without a saddle, 
that stood close by, he had not pursued and caught the 
robber. Others, less fortunate, lost their horses altogether. 
Numbers of families had to be sent to their desolated 
homes with government oxen having lost all their own. 
Many would not go, knowing that, without oxen to plough 
their land, it was of no use going to their farms. Men met 
me who told me that they had seen whole teams or 
individuals of a team of their own oxen, marked with 
their brand, in Boer waggons, bringing produce to the 
market, but they could not claim them ; one man even 
showed me the oxen he spoke of. I met men who 

seemed crushed by the disaster at every turn. Mr. N , 

the trader I had met at Andreas Mayepee's, with his 
young Boer wife, almost wept as he said, " It has been 
cruel to us cruel ! If the country was to be given back 
after all the solemn oaths that it should for ever remain 
English, why go to war ? Why force us who must live 
amongst the Boers to declare openly against them, or be 
disloyal? It is not only that we are ruined, it is our 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 401 

domestic happiness that has been destroyed. I am but 
one amongst numbers who have thrown up the ties of 
relationship, of old friendship, only to be cast off like an 
encumbrance. Numbers like me have turned love into 
hatred, have closed doors upon themselves which were 
. ever open to them before." And what he said is true. 
Heavily as the destruction entailed by the peace has fallen 
on us English in the Transvaal, the real sufferer is the 
loyal Africander, and the loyal Boer. Our policy has 
robbed them not only of their property, but of their home, 
of even their country ; and they, unlike us English, cannot 
face the thought of leaving the land they have been bred 
in, to cross the sea and carve out a home for themselves 
elsewhere, but, if they mean to gain a livelihood for them- 
selves and their children, must bend their necks to the 
taunts which will be lavished by the Boers on those, who, 
having fought for and been discarded by the English, are 
now dependent on them. But the one person I dreaded 
seeing in Pretoria was Mrs. Erasmus. She had been a 
fine-looking old lady before Deesy died. Now she was 
bent, shrivelled with grief. I often saw her, but it was 
ever the same sad wail that I heard, and what could I, or 
any one, say in answer to it ? " Oh ! if only he had died 
for any purpose ! Oh ! I clung to the thought that I had 
given him for his country's sake ! But he was sacrificed 
murdered ! Why should they have sent my boy to be 
killed for nothing ? " His father wandered about silent, 
the decrepitude of grief stealing over him visibly. Only 
once he spoke to me of his son's loss, when asking me to let 
my waggon and oxen take a simple tombstone to his grave. 
" I could bear it," he said ; " but his mother ; oh ! his 
mother ! " and he turned away. 

D d 

4O2 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 


IN this my concluding chapter I trust my readers will 
excuse me if I enter into some details as to the manner 
in which the war and its results affected me personally. 
The narrative will hardly be entertaining,but, as hundreds 
have been ruined in a very similar manner, it will afford 
an illustration of how the process has been carried out 
in the Transvaal generally. 

Not long ago an officer who sat opposite to me at 
breakfast in an hotel, speaking of the ruin that had be- 
fallen numbers in that part of the world, asked me 
whether I had suffered severely, and on my reply in the 
affirmative, asked whether the Boers had looted largely ? 
I told him that they had in some few cases, but that in 
my case, and in the case of the majority of the sufferers, 
ruin was not the result of being robbed ; and he then 
stated that he could not conceive how this could be 
the case. 

If any one who reads my story is of the same way of 
thinking, perhaps the end of it may throw a little light 
on the question. 

The animals impressed by Government were all valued 
some time after they were impressed, and had been 
working hard, while their food was stinted ; they had in 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 403 

consequence become thin. Even in the state they were 
in, the valuation fell very much under the real value of 
the animals in a number of cases; for this reason, no 
allowance was made in favour of salted animals. I cannot 
blame the Government for this, for, as there is no abso- 
lutely distinctive mark left by lung-sickness, red water, 
or horse disease, to have attempted any such valuation 
would have been impossible. In the case of lung-sick- 
ness, it is true, the tail of inoculated animals is often 
distorted or lost ; but then animals who have the disease 
naturally do not suffer in this way ; and in the case of 
the other two diseases, although people who study such 
matters can make a pretty good guess from the general 
appearance of the animal whether it is salted or not, still 
it is but a guess at best. Yet the fact of an ox or horse 
being salted produces a very large effect on its price, 
and real value. My oxen were known salted oxen, but 
they were valued as unsalted, and they were but a few 
amongst a great number of others similarly valued. The 
consequence of this was that most people, including 
myself, refused the valuation. It is true that I should 
under no circumstances have sold my oxen to Govern- 
ment, for the government animals are very cruelly treated, 
and I am afraid there is no remedy in the matter ; but in 
this I am an exception. 

When the peace was declared, I, and others, appliedto 
have our animals returned to us, and there was consider- 
able delay in the matter of the oxen. We also applied 
for hire of them and the waggons. We were told that 
the Government did not intend to adhere to English law 
in the matter, but to Roman Dutch law the old law of 
the Transvaal ; and that the question whether by it 

i) d 2 

404 -A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

we were entitled to payment had been referred to the 
Attorney- General for his decision. That decision was 
not given for almost three weeks after the declaration of 
peace. In my case, and no doubt in others, this was pro- 
ductive of evil ; for my already thin oxen had to be kept 
in Pretoria until, the decision being given, I could leave 
the village. I wanted to take loads to Natal, and the 
winter was coming on apace, while owing to there being 
hardly any grass to be had near Pretoria the poor beasts 
were getting thinner daily. 

If the Government had given over the country to the 
Boers at once without reserve, the results of the peace 
would have fallen less heavily on us ; but as it was, all of 
us knew that the Boers would never consent to any parti- 
tion of the Transvaal. The Boers themselves said so openly, 
but, in the face of the terms of the Convention, every one 
believed that England meant to retain a portion of it, 
and this we all knew meant a renewal of war, and an 
alliance between the Free- State and the Transvaal. This 
knowledge determined numbers, at great personal loss, 
to leave the Transvaal, if only for a time. My belief 
in this eventuality made me determine to risk taking 
my poor oxen to Natal with loads, rather than take them 
to Mr. Higgins's farm for the winter; my own farm 
would have been too cold for them in their impoverished 
state . 

The belief that war was imminent was prevalent 
amongst the military as well as civilians, and was in- 
creased by its being known that the forts round Pretoria 
were being strengthened. The Boers, too, spoke of the 
great probability of war; and indeed what official in- 
telligence we received breathed the same thought. All 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 405 

work was at a standstill in Pretoria. All those who 
could were leaving the town. Owing to the uncertainty 
with regard to the settlement of the country all credit 
was at an end, and people were obliged to realize at a 
great loss in order to meet current expenses. Numbers 
of waggon-loads of goods had been stopped on the road. 
The loads that were coming up to me had been stopped 
and warehoused at Newcastle. I had to pay for their 
warehousing, and now they were coming up, at heavy 
rates, to be thrown on my hands, when there would be no 
market for them, and I should only have the choice of 
selling them for a quarter of their value, or warehousing 
them. The only things which were saleable in Pretoria, 
at a fair price, were horses and fat oxen, and of the latter 
the Boers brought in numbers ; the value of everything 
else was wonderfully depreciated. The auctions were 
crowded with articles for sale, but there were no buyers, 
for there was no money. I saw a cart which would have 
been cheap at thirty-five pounds sold for five; a handsome 
silver-mounted biscuit-box (it was real silver) sold for less 
than ten shillings ; a very nice house with a large well- 
stocked garden, put up without reserve, and not a single 
bid made for it. There was absolutely no money in Pre- 
toria. The shops were offering goods for cost price, to 
get rid of them without loss, for loads which had been 
stopped on the road during the war were now coming up 
to them, and the market was diminishing daily. The 
whole village was in a fearful state of demoralization, and 
it was hard to keep one's boys in hand at all. I have 
had to go personally to force a boy away from a canteen, 
and as a rule they were all either half or quite drunk. 
Thieving too was going on to a great extent in the 

406 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

village, for, onee outside it, the thief could defy tlie law, 
so that the temptation to rob and bolt was very great. 

The Felmans' house had been, I heard, broken into 
during the siege; I wanted Mrs. Felman to go there 
with me then, and see whether any of my things had been 
taken, but she always made some excuse, and refused to 
let me have the key of the house to look. I had told 
her husband that if I was not allowed to investigate 
the matter in my own interest then, so as to be able to 
make an affidavit as to my loss and ask for compensation, 
I should be obliged to hold him responsible. At the end 
of the siege it turned out that all my property was gone, 
but it was of no use holding him responsible, for he was 

Mr. Higgins had gone to Surprise, to see how things 
were there. He brought me back word that all my 
lambs were gone dead or stolen ; that seventy of my 
sheep, including all my wethers and my best ewes, were 
stolen, some of them having been taken after peace was 
proclaimed, and that my ram was also gone, poor Hans, 
too ; and he said that the remaining ewes were in a piti- 
able condition from neglect. All his sheep were gone, 
so I asked him if he would care to buy mine cheap. He 
answered that he had no money. Mr. Sturton had lost 
his sheep, but he too had no money to buy any, and, in- 
deed, was living in Pretoria in his waggon, unable to 
leave, for it would have been useless for him to go, with- 
out oxen, to his desolated farm. 

It appeared that the Nell family had been rejoicing 
greatly over the discomfiture of the Higginses and had 
been purloining freely. So much for gratitude ! 

Added to this, a notice had been sent to Mr. Higgins 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 407 

from the neighbouring Boers, telling him that all his 
standing crops, and indeed everything he had, was con- 
fiscated to the Boer Government, and that he was held 
responsible for nothing being wanting until the sittings 
of the Conference should come to an end, when he would 
be communicated with. I saw the letter stating this 
myself. Mr. Higgins returned to Pretoria, and reported 
the matter to the Administrator for the time, Colonel 
Bellairs. Hendrick Schumann heard of it, and declared, 
on the part of the Boer Government, that such a letter 
was utterly unauthorized ; also that the seizure of my 
sheep was an act of violence not authorized by the Boer 
leaders ; but in the meantime Mr. Higgins and I were 
the sufferers. 

I sent a waggon to Jackallsfontein, to bring Jimmy 
up, and was delighted to find that he had been kindly 
treated, and that two oxen which I had left on the farm 
had been kept safe. Little Roughy, too, came up flourish- 
ing, but nothing remained of all the crops I had sown. 
Of course his host made a good penny out of his board, 
&c., but I was in no humour to haggle only too glad to 
see him safe and sound. 

Lo De Plessis came up to pay me a visit, and try to 
borrow some money, in which he failed ; and the way he 
asked for different articles sweets and snuff, &c. to be 
bought as presents for him was very amusing. Jimmy 
and I gratified him in this. I knew of one case where a 
woman had been turned off her own farm by the Boers, 
under pain of being hung, and had had to walk forty 
miles into Pretoria, and I felt very grateful that Jimmy 
had been spared. 

I was getting anxious about the answer from the 

408 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

Attorney- General. It was very bad for the oxen to remain 
in Pretoria, the grass being all eaten off ; and every day 
the boys were going from bad to worse ; besides, there 
were no means of making any money, for all work was at 
a standstill. Rumours of a fresh outbreak of war were 
rife, and as tne Boers all vowed that they would not yield 
up any of their country, while it was stated distinctly 
by Government that this was one of the conditions ol 
peace, it seemed likely that the rumours were true. 
Every day also brought accounts of the dissatisfaction of 
the Kaffirs, and threats of a general rising against the 
Boers, if the Transvaal were given back to them. People 
did not know what to do, and numbers were leaving 
every day for Natal. I determined to do the same, and 
agreed to take loads down there. It was the only way of 
making money ; but the danger was, that the oxen, 
already overworked, would not stand the journey in the 
winter. Every day now was of importance, so as to get 
over the Drachensberg before the great cold set in and 
still the Attorney- General sent no answer. 

My oxen were already drooping from bad feeding, and 
I even lost one of them, a favourite of mine ; Hendrick, 
too, was taking to very bad courses, and I had more than 
once discovered him in theft, but I contented myself with 
speaking to him, for it was almost impossible to get 
drivers, and I did not want to lose him. One evening, 
after a very hard day's work, I felt ill; I had been 
on my feet, packing up, so as to be ready to start at a 
moment's notice, when the decision about the hire of the 
oxen should be given, and had been in the saddle, too, 
looking after the oxen that were feeding at some dis- 
tance, and after the boys, who were all drunk except little 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 409 

Hendrick. The next morning I had hardly got up when 
I was obliged to lie down again, and from that day I was 
unable to leave my bed for three weeks ! The news of 
the decision came two days after. It was what I ex- 
pected. No one was to receive a penny for the use of 
their oxen and waggons. The Government decided to 
act on the old Boer law, and by it no hire is allowed in 
time of war ! I believe that it was in consideration of 
my having given up my oxen and waggons voluntarily, 
that I was allowed seventy -five pounds as compensation 
for deterioration in the value of the oxen and waggons. 
I was told by other sufferers that no such compensation 
was allowed to them. It was a terrible blow to those who 
had counted on being paid, and to me the delay in giving 
me the answer was fatal. 

During my illness of course everything went to the 
bad, and at last I heard that Hendrick was stealing my 
oxen. 1 was getting better; had just been moved on to 
the sofa-chair, and was fortunately more capable of acting 
than I had been. I had him and the oxen caught, and so 
escaped this loss ; but Hendrick bolted. Weak as I was, 
I saddled up, and pursued him as far as Derde-poort, 
taking my revolver with me, but he had the start of me 
on horseback, and I had to turn back. As it was, I was 
shaking in the saddle as I rode into the village. I 
managed after some delay to obtain two drivers (" Boy " 
and my other driver had left me to go home), neither of 
them good ; and, although still ill, I started, taking Jimmy 
with me, and discharging Soldat and Clara. My goods 
had not yet arrived, but I could wait no longer, for the 
season was too far advanced as it was. 

It was a terrible trek. I rode by the side of the oxen 

410 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

myself to see that they were tenderly treated, and not 
over-driven. I saw them blanketed every night before 
lying down, and often I have got up of a cold night from 
where I slept close to them, to see that they were covered. 
I watched them as if they were children rather than 
oxen, but all was vain, one by one they drooped, and lay 
down and died. The weather was very cold. Some I 
left behind in charge of farmers, but I knew they were 
doomed. They came to know me so well that I could 
not only work with them, myself, but they would come 
up to me as I sat by the camp-fire, would rub their 
noses on my shoulder, or take mealeas out of my hand, 
and it was real grief to me to see them wasting away. 
If it had not been for this, I should often have enjoyed 
the picture round the camp-fire of a moonlight night 
before they were tied up, for the horses top would come 
and stand with their noses close to my shoulder, and often 
would try to take a piece of bread out of my hand as I 
was eating. 

It was an unlucky trek throughout. Poor little Eoughy 
was bitten by a snake, and handsome Prince shot through 
the heart by a Boer. At last my spans were so decimated, 
that at Harrismith they fairly gave in. I had to arrange 
for the loads to be brought on for me, and at first deter- 
mined to try to take the oxen loose over the Drachens- 
berg and try to get them on to a warm farm, while I, for 
a time, once more tried my fortune as a governess, in, if 
possible, the employment of the owner of the farm, so as 
to be able to watch over them ; but the one day that I had 
to remain at Harrismith before starting with them showed 
me my error. It would have been cruelty to have ex- 
posed them to the long, toilsome ascent of the Berg, 

A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 411 

where numbers of them would have lain down in the cold 
never to rise again, whilst I had an offer of selling them 
to a man who had sheds to shelter them in, and plenty of 
good forage to give them. So I sold all but two of them 
at a third of what I paid for them, and left all of them 
together with a gentleman who buys half-dying oxen as a 
speculation, having the means of caring for them, and 
having a fancy for looking after them. The last thing I 
saw of them was comforting to a certain extent. They 
were all busy eating loose forage which was thrown to 
them with a lavish hand, and seemed to be enjoying 
themselves, although one of them (one of the two I left as 
boarders) left his forage to come over to me when he 
caught sight of me, and put his great wet nose against 
me in sign of friendship. 

The depression of trade in the Transvaal was making 
itself felt even at Natal. Firms there were offering goods 
as cheap as you could buy them in some cases in Eng- 
land, and this applies to Harri smith as well. Large 
stocks of articles had been sent over to firms for trans- 
mission to the Transvaal, and were now left on their 
hands. Crowds of emigrants were coming down from the 
Transvaal, and the market was overstocked with people 
wanting employment. There were no good prices being 
offered for anything except fat oxen, and garden or dairy 
produce, which latter, strange to say, always commands a 
high price in South Africa ; and instead of being able to 
sell my waggons well, as I had hoped, I could get no 
more than about half value for them. The depression 
was so great that the auctioneers often refused to sell 
rather than let articles go so much below their real value, 
as they would have done by accepting the highest bid. 

4i 2 A Lady Trader in the Transvaal. 

I think what I have told will show those who read it, 
how ruin has come to numbers owing to the war and the 
subsequent Convention, without being due to any looting 
on the part of the Boers. The compensation offered by 
the Government, even if it be paid, which is doubtful, will 
come tardily, and only direct losses are to be admitted. As a 
fact/ most of the people who have been ruined, have been 
ruined by indirect losses, and this without counting the loss 
entailed by the depreciation in value of landed property, 
which is such that properties which would have fetched a 
high price before the war are now unsaleable. It would be 
impossible so far as I see, for any government to con- 
template compensation for indirect losses, but it is hard 
that a government can sign away that which numbers 
have toiled hard to earn ; and yet this is what has been 
done in the matter of the Transvaal. All that I have to 
add is, that I took Jimmy with me to Natal, where he 
got a fairly good situation ; and that Eclipse and Dandy, 
and little Moustache, are well, and still belong to me. 
Herewith I make my bow, and end my story. 



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