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0t)^t B^rg and ^^Ut in $auth ^ttic^. 

By HABBIET A. BO CHE. Crown 8 vo, cloth extra, pric 

10s. 6d. Third Edition. 


** A cleverly-written diary of a waggon journey. . . Prom Mrs. Roche's jmge 
gather afar clearer and more detailed picture of domestic life in the Transvaal 
from any work we have yet seen, and her experiences and suggestions wil 
invaluable to any intending traveller or settler in this newly-acquired possessic 

GRAPHIC, May x8. 
"... The experiences are so evidently real, and are told so pleasantly, and 
so much of the minute feminine observation which notices all thmgs while linge 
too Long on none, that in setting it down, we feel quite as if we had been ma 
a long African journey ourselves." 

EXAMINER, June x. 

" Mrs. Boche is the last writer on the subject, but by no means the least interes 
We should not care how many travellers undertook the task of enlightenin( 
about new territories if all discharged it as pleasantly as Mrs. Roche has done in 
litde volume. . . . There is nothing for giving a zest to a book of travels 
comparatively familiar ground like a keen sense of the ridiculous ; and Mrs. R 
has apparency not only thd happy knack of taking a humorous view of the 
comforts and gloomy quandaries of travelling * on Trek,* but the art also of sc 
scribing them as to make her readers laugh with her. ... It is brightly 
fre^y written from beginning to end." 

THE WEEK, May xx. 

" An appropriate contribution to our limited knowledge of the New Colony. . 
To the intendmg colonist this little volume will afford useful practical informt 
. . . and information of that kind which may form the basis of a fnture Man 
Handbook for South Africa." 

ATHEN^UM, May 25. 

"Mrs. Roche has written a gossiping book ... by which those are gainers 
intend undertaking a similar journey, as they will find the information they -? 
and be the more interested because iier narrative is written without exaggera 
and with a vivacity and good humour which impart interest even to trivial detai 

GLOBE, May 33. 

" Nothing dull in this capital volume. Mrs. Roche places her collections of 
cellaneous scraps before them and says, 'Now make a meal of this fare if 
can.* We can promise ... a very pleasant little feast wit^ all manner of ti 
disaed up daintily between the more solid coures. ... A shrewd, keen-sig 
observer. . . . Mrs. R.'s description of the Kafirs is true to the life. . . . F 
fkithful photograph of them and their ways the inquirer cannot do better than 
to the very pleasant and instructive work which Mrs. Roche has compiled from 
hurried notes she has jotted down while * on Ihrek.' " 

"Vivid powers -of description . . . gives a strong insight into the nature ol 
work forced upon us. Mrs. Roche has added to our knowledge of South A 
upon matters little treated of by others." 

" . . . . Which is very interesting." 












m ,^ 



[^All rights reserved,"] 


•/ > 








one of its earliest promoters, and its first Honorary Secretary, to 
whom was most dear the success of a Society, formed with the 
earnest desire to aid hy its influence in riveting still more closely 
the loving links which already hind the Mother Conntiy to her scat- 
tered children in other lands. He was not spared to witness the large 
measore of success which has already crowned its efforts, but I, who 
am left behind, and who trust, God willing, to see the very ftdlest 
realization of his hopes, wish to dedicate to the Institute he loved 
to wen, this first simple effort of my pen. 



^* Annexation of the Transvaal I Where is the 
Transvaal?** many exclaim who certainly 
look as if the whereabouts of that or any 
other placd ought to be no geographical 
puzzle to them, and " Another Colony ! and 
where be it ? ** I overheard a fiistian-clad and 
somewhat ill-conditioned-looking individual 
mutter. " Why, what do us want with 
another Colony? Ain*t the old hen done 
hatching yet ?** meaning, I suppose, Britannia, 
and speaking of that time-honoured and 
revered lady as if she were only a barn-door 

Another Chick I and why not ? Moreover 

viii Preface. 

what would the poor mite do if this same good 
old foster-mother hen did not spread out her 
wings to give it warmth and shelter, to fend 
for it and to feed it ? It has been in sore 
straits of late, little venturesome thing, and 
now gladly responds like a sensible bird to the 
welcome " cluck ! cluck ! '* which means to it 
help for the present, and protection and pros- 
perity in the happy future, which I, for one, 
venture to predict for it. 

Hearing the foregoing exclamations, and 
many similar ones also, set me communing 
with myself somewhat after the following 
manner : — " You have been to the Transvaal. 
You have scraps and scriblets many, written 
by the way, and during your few months of 
residence there, and you have your journal 
with its more detailed account of your varied 
experiences. Why not turn out the budget ? 
Expand, nay, condense its contents if you 

Preface. ix 

prefer it, but at any rate tell any who may 
care to read, what you have already told your 
own more inmiediate circle of friends, of this 
quaint and far-away territory upon the South 
African Veldt. 

" You may have nothing new to relate to 
the few who have gone over the same ground, 
but think of those who have not done so, and 
who, now that the flag of old England floats 
over Pretoria, might like to visit it too. Who 
can tell them better than one who has traversed 
the road, how best to set about the journey, 
what to do, and what to leave imdone ? Don*t 
be churhsh. Even if you get a little laughed 
at for your mistakes, you may save others from 
making the same," &c., &c. 

These and similar arguments have so far 
overcome my scruples — ^bashful ones for the 
most part — that if Messrs. Sampson Low <& 
Co., who of course will know a great deal 

X Pre/cue. 

better than I do, whether my notes are worth 
more general reading, consent to print them, 
I consent to publish them, and I will only add 
that the public, or shall I say "the gentle 
reader," is most heartily welcome to them. 

H. A. R. 

lOth June, 1877. 




Which is chiefly Introductory .... 1 


Natal — Durban Bay — Our first drive — Our first 

night in the Colony 13 


Treats of what to take and what to leave behind — 
Advice to any who may intend visiting the 
Transvaal — Durban — By 'Bus to Pieter 
Maritzburg — Queen's Birthday-week at the 
capital — Sir Garnet Wolseley's ball . . 27 


Leave Maritzburg — The Town Hill — Trek to 
Howick — Umgeni Falls — Curry's — Mooi 

xii Contents. 


Eiver — Of mishaps by the way, and of Good 
Samaritans who helped us out of them — 
Estcourt or Bushman's River — ^Delay there- 
Arrival of post-cart— Colenso — The Drach- 
ensberg, or Dragon's Mountain — The Orange 
Free State — Harrismith — More mishaps by 
the way 62 


Good Samaritans again — Leon Kopje — Oxen 
versus horses — Wounded buck — ^We cross the 
Vaal River — In the Transvaal at last — Our 
first Veldt fire — Ziicker Busch — Change of 
scenery — Sleep under difficulties — Storm by 
Ferguson's — ^Rumours of gold there . . 93 


Pretoria — Productive soil and fine climate of the 
Transvaal— A trip to the Wonder-baum, and a 
visit to a Boer homestead and orange grove • 115 


The Dutch of the Transvaal — Some of their man- 
ners and customs^Courtship and marriage — 
Kill or cure — Religious customs — The Kirk- 
raad — The " Doeppers " — ^Nacht-maal . .129 

Contents. xiii 



The Conmumda-— We leave Pretoria — Among the 

tnoms — ^Bechnima women — Knaar*8 Biver 147 


The Warm-bads — Great storm — ^De Beere's — ^We 
astonish the Natives — Giraffe-skins— Beim and 
whip-making in Soath Afirica — Primitive 
method of threshing and winnowing com, ^. 
Kafir endurance of bodil j pain — Simplicity of 
his diet — How John cored a snake bite — 
Midges and Mosqnitoes — Tractability of the 
South African Trek-ox 165 


German Mission Station — Bands of Kafirs, Amas- 
wazis, &c., and their mode of camping — Birds, 
flowers, and grasses — The Lion Veldt — Sport 
in the Transvaal — The tragedy of Makkapan's 
Cave — «■ The ruined Dorp — A fern-lovers' 
Paradise — Kafir Kraals and Mealie grounds — 
We reach our journey's end .... 187 


Eersteling — Gold-bearing reefs — Quartz-crushing — 
Cost of some of the necessaries of life— A day 

xiv Contents. 





at the mine — Intelligence and docility of the 
Kafir — ^Feeding-time — A little about ostriches 
— Feathered ballet-dancers — Jack the Buzzard 
—A visit to the miU— Night . .. .203 


Our hut and our visitors — Housekeeping dilemmas 
— ^* Boxer " — ^A few words about ants — Insect 
pests — Kafir washing and mangling — Vagrant 
fowls — Oomfan's egg -hunt — True tales of 
snakes, &c. — A cure for baldness — ^Daager 
verstis soap-suds 228 


Illness — We leave Eersteling — Room for doctors — 
Small Kafir visitors — My first night on the 
ground — A storm — Our camp-scene — ^^Warm 
bads — ^Vaal Busch Fontein — Pinaar's River 
Pretoria, &c. — Buck — Bless-bok, Breit-bok, 
Rhe-bok, Spring-bok, Wilder-beest, &c. — 
Our broken wheel — Stander's Drift . . 253 


More Good Samaritans — The South African buck 
as food — Scorpions — The wheel mended at 

Contents. xv 


last— The Vaal Eiver and how we cross it — 
Pera Kopje — Futzammon Berg — Over the 
Drachensberg — Once more in Natal . . 285 


My vermin hunt — An adventurous " trek *' — ^The 
Buffalo River — A coal fire — ^Another custom 
of the little Bushmen — ^Natal Native Police — 
Mr. Shepstone and his influence over the 
natives — The cost of a wife — Fireless again — 
We cross the river — ^Newcastle at last . .311 


Another storm — A musical soiree round the camp- 
fire — Kafir attire — A frog Babel — The cattle 
disease of South Africa — Honeymooning on 
trek — Kafir candles — The Biggarsberg or 
Mud Mountain — How Kafirs hunt buck — 
Sunday's River — Ladysmith — John tells of a 
Kafir bridal custom — ^Blue Krantz — ^Romann's 
fate — Estcourt — Mooi River — Ho wick — Our 
last trek— Briar Ghyll— End . . .333 





Which is chiefly Introductory. 

No one goes anywhere, now-a-days, quite 
without an object, so we, being by no means 
exceptional individuals, had our motive, as a 
matter of course ; that is to say, my husband 
had one of sufficient importance to induce 
him to undertake this journey, of which I am 
about to tell, and my motive was a natural 
consequence of his. I went because he 
went, and because there were no very potent 
reasons why I should stay behind. 

It was a bright, clear-skied morning, early 
enough in the year for Winter to be still suf- 
ficiently vigorous to hold her own against 

On Trek in the Transvaal; 

sweet Spring's feebler efforts for bare exis- 
tence, when Time, the tiresome and inexo- 
rable, warned us that if we seriously contem- 
plated reaching the Transvaal, we must at 
once take the preliminary and necessary 
measure of making a start for it. 

The hall had been cleared to the very last 
package of the luggage which had gradually 
gathered within it, and where it might have 
added to our importance as travellers, but 
where it had sorely incommoded us as indi- 
viduals. Now it was piled by willing hands 
upon the cart which was to convey it to our 
little branch-line station to London. I had 
seen two able-bodied women perform feats of 
strength in their struggles with refractory 
box-lids, and I had heard handv John sum- 
moned in nearly every case to the rescue 
before the final "snick" testified to their 
well-deserved triumph. It was not that, all 
things considered, we had a great deal of 
luggage, indeed it was below rather than 
above the allowance permitted to passengers 
by the Union Line, and we had been guided 
by those who knew something of the country 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 3 

to which we were going, in our selection of 
what to take, but we found by after-expe- 
rience that we had too much. However, 
more of this anon. Where this seven-headed 
monster — ^the actual number of our cases — 
had again to be tackled was when we reached 
Durban, in Natal, and there, if any care to 
follow me, they shall learn what we did 
with it. 

We have still to say good-bye to our dear 
old Hertfordshire home, and truly, friends, I 
find it nearly as hard to do so again on paper 
as I did on that spring morning, when it 
looked so beautiful — beautiful in our eyes 
ever, and beautiful also even to the more 
casual observer as, driving along our coimtry 
lanes,' the old, white-faced manor-house some- 
what grandiloquently peeped out from its fine 
old trees, and seemed to claim some credit to 
itself, for having been required as far back as 
the reign of Stephen to contribute candles 
and sundries to the old church a Uttle below 
it. We had looked iato every nook and 
cranny of our home. We had given our pets 
in turn the tit-bit they each especially co- 

B 2 

On Trek in the Transvaal; 

veted, and seldom failed to get daily from 
their master's hand, but from whose dear 
hand, — how can I write it ? — they can never 
have caress or dainty more. We had heard 
King Charlie neigh his loud "good-bye," 
for had I, as usual, driven him to the station, 
a certain little mist which kept gathering in 
my eyes with vexatious pertinacity warned 
me that between us we might get into mis- 
chief on the road. Therefore we parted with 
him in his stall. Impatient Tommy, even in 
his old age so full of his antics and vagaries 
that he might pass for a young pony if he 
would only keep his mouth shut, impatient 
Tommy, my bonnie white Tommy, munched 
his last bit of sugar and pawed greedily for 
more, shaking his mane at us by way of part- 
ing salute. Even the rooks, respectable 
birds, had had their table laid for them by 
the same provider upon the croquet lawn. 
They had gathered up their crumbs after 
their usual suspicious wheeling-about-before- 
making-up-their-minds fashion, and had cla- 
morously and collectively departed to other 
scenes with just a farewell caw. The moor- 

oTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 5 

fowl in the pond liad glided away as noise- 
lessly as was their wont. The light-brown 
squirrel, and the one which we called, by way 
of distinction, the dark-brown squirrel, gam- 
bolled about pro vokingly closer to our windows 
than before. Carlo, the little dog adored below- 
stairs, but barely tolerated above, had joined, 
as usual, the morning procession aroimd the 
garden, of himself and the two cats, taking 
sly snacks, greedy, because well-fed beast, 
from the bread then lavishly thrown to all 
pensioners. Carlo provoked me by what 
looked suspiciously like exuberant joy at our 
departure, as if he felt a good time was 
coming for him, and that he, and not the 
white cat, should have full possession of a 
reserved seat on a certain soft cushion, from 
which she had valiantly and frequently driven 
him by a successful course of well-directed 
ear-boxings. Big Rover was to be permitted 
to see the last of us, and his canine mind had 
yet to grasp the fact that there was anything 
unusual in our flitting . 

Our village good-byes had all been said 
some days ago. Real " God be with you's I'' 

On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

from honest hearts, accompanied by little 
bunches of violets and primroses, or home- 
tended flowers from tiny cottage gardens. 
"We- thought, may-be you'd like 'em, 
ma'am, seeing they comes from Pelham;" or, 
" They're no great things, sir, but they smells 
sweet, and they're Pelham flowers, anyhow." 
Dear hearts, so lovingly gi'ateful for such 
little neighbourly helps as we could give, 
your flowers are withered, and many of my 
brighter hopes are, like them, withered too ; 
but as a scent still hovers round these poor 
crushed blossoms, so while life lasts will there 
ever remain to me a fragrance from a past 
filled to overflowing with memories of a nobler 
life, in whose iunermost thoughts I, all un- 
worthy of it, was so lavishly allowed to share. 
« « « « » 

I ought perhaps to make some apology for 
devoting so much of my opening chapter to 
what at first sight may not seem to have 
much to do with my subject, but, in truth, it 
has a good deal to do with it. If we had not 
left " home," how could we in the nature of 
things ever have finally got to the Transvaal? 

oTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 7 

I I ^^~^^ 

And tlus actual getting away seemed a deed 
as difficult of accomplislinient as when, with 
broken disselboom and embedded wheels, we 
stuck in the mud on the banks of the Vaal 
River, and knew that the getting out of the 
mess would be managed somehow^ as indeed 
it was. Oh ! have patience with me, and all 
in good time I will take you in imagination 
where we went in the flesh, over Berg and 
Veldt, to England's new possession, the last 
child of our dear old Mother Country, which, 
by its ready acceptance of her protection and 
care, adds a practical testimony to the truth 
of the old adage, " Union is strength !" 

As I have lingered so long at the very 
threshold as it were of my story, I must 
make all the greater haste over the inter- 
mediate ground, so as to land ourselves and 
readers as little tardily as may be in South 

Steamer experiences are pretty much alike, 
go where you will. Although sorely tempted 
to transcribe some of my jottings on board, 
I refrain because I am bound to get " On 
Trek " as quickly as possible. We saw our 

8 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

whale, and watched hini spout ; we saw our 
shark, and indeed we nearly caught him; had 
a fair allowance of porpoises, flying fish, and 
"Portuguese Men-of-War," with their fairy 
sails above, and treacherous feelers below. 
These were our outsiders. Within, we had 
our irrepressible talker, whose tongue was as 
impossible to stop in its career as the far- 
famed leg of Rotterdam. We had our peppery 
fellow-passenger, who played off old chatter- 
box to his own gratification and for the 
general entertainment, and who was forgiven 
his sparks of temper in consideration of his 
sparks of wit. We had our great eaters, 
whose feats at meal-times were simply 
appalling; and we had our dainty feeders, 
who seemed to grow leaner under our very 
eyes. Duly represented was the orthodox 
and very gentlemanlike middle-aged beau, 
and the younger ditto, in that fluffy and 
callow stage of manhood which always moves 
me to extreme pity. The younger only 
got "innings" when the older hand had 
unguardedly come on deck without due 
application of that "wash which is not a 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 9 

dye ! " or had that unbecoming greenish hut 
born of sea-sickness, and which no cosmetique 
can conceal. Whether you are going to the 
Transvaal or not, or, if only to the Cape or 
]^atal, and are given to qualms and flirtation, 
as you imi^t get through that frisky and most 
uproarious Bay of Biscay, take my advice, 
keep to your berth until the bout be over, and 
you can, with healthful tints restored, break 
a fair lance for your lady's favour, tempo- 
rary or otherwise, with Jones minor, whose 
digestion neither winds nor waves can upset. 
Once through the Bay who does not forget 
the petty miseries its boisterous spirits have 
entailed, in the contemplation of the calmer 
glories of a tropical sea ? or once having seen 
them who can forget those gorgeous sun- 
risings and sun-settings, that wondrous moon 
with its subtle links of sympathy with mortal 
moods I those stars which in spite of their 
bewildering numbers, seem each to have its 
friendly message of cheer and hope, and its 
promise of good-comradeship henceforth in 
the new and beautiful land to which we are 
bound ? 

lo On Trek in the Transvaal; 

I have hustled out of sight my notes of 
our Uttle "outing" at Madeira, with those 
funny diving boys and their "One sheeling, 
gentleman ! one seex-pence, sar ! " taking 
one's breath away with their performances 
for either sum. .Of our * stay in Cape Town 
and what we saw there, of Wynberg and 
Constantia, and what we tasted there : dub 
a wine " Cape," and it is like giving a dog 
a bad name, for indeed Cape wines are deU- 
cious, though frequently adulterated in Eng- 
land, I believe, and so a good thing is lost to 
us. Of Algoa Bay, with its town. Port Eliza- 
beth, of Mossul Bay, and East London, I have 
laid my notes of these places, I repeat, on a 
shelf out of my reach for two reasons. One 
is that more practised pens than mine have 
written about each and all before, and the 
other, that I must get " On trek " as soon as 
I can. 

0'vA.t Cape Town we transhipped into the 
smaller coasting vessel for Natal. This 
change is sometimes made at Algoa Bay, but 
both lines of steamers arrange for the tranship- 
ment being as little unpleasant as possible. 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 1 1 

At this point I think I may venture to 
transcribe, just as I wrote them, some pages 
from my note-book, premising this only, 
that I have reason to modify in some degree 
what may seem just a little unjust or over- 
strained, and which might mislead. 

For instance, a friend who read the ac- 
count of our first drive in Natal, inquired, 
" Have they no better roads than that ? " 
the impression left by it upon his mind 
making him draw that conclusion. The road 
to Durban from the Point is a very good one, 
and neither pains nor expense are spared in 
improving it, and making it even better ; but 
our " Jehu *' chose a short cut, and perhaps 
was near-sighted ! who knows ? 

Another friend who knew Natal well, thus 
criticized my " first night " there. " I'll 
give in to your spiders and your cockroaches, 
besides a few other insects of which you say 

nothing; but oh! Mrs. R , not as large ,al 

2, full grown mouse ! Come, now, confess to a 
bit of exaggeration there ! " Reader, I do 
confess that it is an exaggeration to malign 
a cockroach, by comparing him to a mouse 

12 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

whicli has reached years of discretion ; but I 
have seen a mouse so tiny that a Natal cock- 
roach would look a monster by its side. 
Pray see my distinction ! Moreover, one is 
often aghast at first sight at what one soon 
becomes by constant contact thoroughly 
familiarized with. Neither would T cast a 
slur upon excellent Mrs. X., who most 
undoubtedly battles with these tiresome 
intruders right vaUantly; but her house is 
near the bay, which subjects it tx> more 
frequent visits than if she were farther up 
the town, and the smell of food from 
the ever-recurring mealtimes tempts these 
prowlers to feast upon the remnants of the 

plentiful fare Mrs. X always hospitably 

provides for her guests. There are many good 
hotels and boarding-houses in Durban, and 
the* diflSculty of finding rooms vacant at Mrs. 

X *s, proves that no one considers that she 

has any unusual share of the insect pests 
to be met with in every hot climate. But 
perhaps my extracts had better form another 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 1 3 


Natal — Durban Bay — Our first drive — Our first night in 

the colony. 

X^th May^ 1875. — We are steaming along 
famously, and expect to arrive in Durban 
Bay to-night, but whether the " Zulu " can 
get over the Bar or not remains to be seen. 
Coast bold and fine, with tempting-looking 
sandy beaches every here and there. There 
appear to be more trees, especially as we near 
Durban. Through the glass we can see mon- 
keys climbing about the branches, alone and 
in groups. The woods here are said to be 
fiill of them. These thick forests, reaching 
down to the shore, give it more the appear- 
ance of a river's bank than of a sea-coast. 
Our two charges wake up considerably as 
they near their native land. Their eyes 

14 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

sparkle with interest as they try to make out 
the spot at which their home " must be,V for 
their father has changed residences during 
their school-time in England. They are 
wondering whether papa can come out to 
meet them, whether he will find them 
changed, or much grown, &c., with other 
natural little " wonderings," to which such a 
meeting after such a separation would natu- 
rally give rise. 

Two p.m. — ^We have rounded the BlufE, 
which stands out in bold relief, lighthouse 
crowned, at the entrance to Durban Bay; 
but here, we are told, we may have to bide 
rather more than " a wee," for the Bar will 
have no pity upon us for at least another two 
hours more, so the "Zulu" has come to a 
halt in what is termed the outer anchorage. 
One of her Majesty's ships is close alongside, 
and some of her officers came off at once to 

obtain English news. A- handed them 

his latest Times j and other papers were added 
and thankfully accepted. Eager eyes soon 
spied out the little tug-boat putting out from 
the wharf, the excitement waxing greater and 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 1 5 

greater as she neared the " Zulu.'* " There's 
So-and-so, and So-and-so, and there's papa I'* 
cried Minnie and Teddy, in ahnost a breath- 
less whisper. "Yes, there's Mr. L ," 

said several others; "you might know him 
almost at any distance." I could have told 
him to be Minnie's father anywhere, so 
strongly does she resemble him. A busy 
scene ensued. Mail-bags crowded the deck, 
to be despatched instantly; greetings ex- 
changed between relatives, fiiends, and ac- 
quaintances ; questions asked and answered ; 
laughter and sighs minghng strangely. Al- 
though I had neither part nor lot in either, 
still I felt stirred thereby. At four 
o'clock we got over the Bar, and came to 
anchor within the safe haven of Durban 
Bay — as lovely a bay as any other part of the 
world could well show. Arrived at the land- 
ing-stage in a small boat, we found that we 
were too late for the train to the town. This 
train consists of a few carriages and trucks, 
and runs to and fro many times daily between 
the town and Point, and a little further along 
the coast. It is the only railway in Natal — 

1 6 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

a colony which needs one sadly — and is con- 
ducted upon very primitive principles, early 
closing being one of them. 

Mr. L kindly assumed the full direc- 
tion of our movements, as well as those of his 
own party. His wife and younger children 
were grouped together to greet their dear 

ones as they stepped ashore. Mr. L \ 

mule- waggon, it was evident, could not carry 
a single individual over and above themselves, 
but our friend assured us that he would 
arrange for us. This he did very kindly as 
to intention, but after a manner which has 
served to imprint our first drive in Natal 
indelibly upon our memories. 

A neighbour with his " trap " happened to 
be at the Point, and consented to give us a 

lift to the boarding-house at which Mr. L 

had already considerately engaged rooms for 
us. The "trap" turned out to be a very 
loosely constructed cart, hke a large wooden 
tea-tray on wheels, through each plank of 
which we could see every inch of ground over 
which those crazy steeds, driven by a crazier 
driver, wildly took us. A and myself 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Afriau 1 7 

were seated side by side with the latter, a 
young girl occupying a board laid crosswise 
behind us. The tide being low, our road led 
over the firm compact sand, which hardly 
bore a trace of our erratic course. A large 
hewn tree lay close to where we had to turn 
off from our starting-place to the sands 
below, but with ample space for three carts 
abreast, properly driven, to pass by without 
grazing an inch of it. 

Our man took us a flying leap over this, 
unseating the young girl, who fell a helpless 
lump upon the floor (she might almost have 
gone through it had she been thinner, or the 

gaps a trifle wider), and causing A and 

myself to take a bound into the air, each 
seizing the other after the most absurd and 
futile fashion, grappling with one another as 
if each thought the other accountable for the 
involuntary caper we had cut ! 

The absurdity of the whole thing, and the 
droll figures we must have appeared to those 
who were looking on, and who, indeed, rushed 
forward as with one impulse to pick us up, a 
capsize seeming inevitable, so tickled my 

i 8 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

fancy that I turned my head (once assured that 
it was still in its usual place) away from my 
companions, and laughed as noiselessly as I 
could, until the tears fairly streamed down 
my cheeks. It made it the more difficult to 
restrain myself from the occasional peeps I 
took at my husband's injured expression of 
face. He could see no fun in it at all, whilst 
I could see nothing else. My usual want of 
dignity took the sting out of it, I suppose, 
but it by no means took the ache out of my 
poor bones, or the pain out of my side. As 
long as we. kept to the sands, our rigmaroly 
progress mattered little, but presently our 
Jehu turned ofE into what seemed an un- 
trodden bush. He, however, charged it with 
as much confidence as if it had been a finely 
Boiacadamized road. The undergrowth had 
been slightly cut away, and heavy wagons 
may have gone over it before, but the ruts 
and stumps, and elevations and declensions, 
and holes and carriage-traps generaUy, made 
it, even with the most careful driver, a dan- 
gerous thoroughfare. Not so thought our 
man ; and, Johnny Gilpin's ride was nothing 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S, Africa. 19 

to our drive, thought I, as each instant I 
expected that we should be pitched out Uke 
rubbish from a gardener's wheelbarrow. 
Once I ventured mildly to expostulate, in- 
quiring if people in Natal made it a rule in 
driving to go over every bad place instead of 
avoiding it, as being pleasanter to themselves, 
easier for their horses, and less likely to 
increase their yearly bills at the wheelwright's. 
He eyed me with great contempt, saying 
that I "would soon learn a thing or two 
if I stayed long in Natal.'' I replied that 
I hoped my bones would strengthen or 
lengthen, or grow acclimatized somewhat, 
so that I might bear the violent exercise in 
store for me whene'er I took my drives 
abroad in this highly interesting colony. 
We continued our mad career to the very 
gate of the boarding-house, actually without 
an upset. 

We drew up with one wheel wedged tightly 
against the lamp-post, and with a sound as of 
a broken something. That, however, was 
Jehu's fault, not ours ; and I felt consider- 
able reUef when I found myself and my good 


20 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

man safely standing, bruised, but unbroken, 
at our journey's end. 

We arrived at our temporary home too 
near the diuner-hour to enable us to do more 
than make a very hasty toilet, not even to 
change our heavier garments, which we had 
had again to assume on board the " Zulu," 
the sea breezes having become quite fresh 
enough to render warmer clothing desirable. 

We were offered the choice of two rooms, 
one on the ground floor, which had an 
appearance threatening stuffiness, and one 
upstairs much larger and brighter, which we 

selected on the spot. The L 's had 

meanwhile arrived, and the sound of the 
gong bade us to dinner. One long centre 
and one side table were filled as we entered 
the dining-room. The hum-hum of subdued 
conversation rose and fell sometimes mono- 
tonously, sometimes spasmodically. Our 
hostess, buxom and hearty, took her share, 
addressing now Mr. Jones, now Mrs. Smith, 
now Mr. Brown, now Mrs. Robinson, in a 
kind of hap-hazard, slap-dash manner, worthy 
of all praise, combined, as it was, with a 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 2 1 

proper eye to the needful business of the 
moment. It mattered not in the sKghtest 
whether Brown, Jones, or Robinson replied 
to any question or remark beyond the neces- 
sary " Yes, please," or " No, thank you," if 
Jim the Kafir, Sam the Coolie, or Tom the 
little Oomfan, — all equally "Boys," — required 
a little touching up to hasten their movements 
or to tone down their zeal. It was " a 
caution," as the Yankees say, to see the 
activity with which those " Boys,'' the tur- 
baned Coolie, or the woolly-headed Kafir 
went the pace around that dinner-table, 
charging at one another, ducking and diving 
to avoid collisions with dishes, popping corks 
within an inch of your chair, some of which 
flew like missiles about the room, keeping 
one eye all the while comically fixed upon 
their mistress, who had the hardest time of 
all. She had a regular code of signals, to a 
knowledge of which her agile waiters had 
been duly brought. These were eked out by 
words as she was passed and repassed in this 
her hour of trial. There was no lack of food. 
Indeed one could have been satisfied with 

22 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

less in calmer moments. As dinner pro- 
gressed I felt considerably incommoded by 
my warm clothing, and longed to escape to 
the verandah, where an easy cane chair was 
temptingly placed in full view of the lovely 
bay, the waters of which were just rippling 
calmly as those of a lake, as the faint breeze 
stirred them into motion. By intuition our 
hostess divined my suffering, or perhaps she 
saw others gasp as well as myself. Certain 
it is that at one and the same moment she 
afforded me relief and cleared away a mystery 
which had divided my thoughts with my 
dinner until then. She fixed the eye of one 
of her watchful servitors, a lithe-looking, 
finely featured, active young Coolie, who 
disappeared noiselessly, and presently there 
began to move slowly and evenly Uke the 
pendulum of a clock, a long pole with a deep 
chintz fi^ill or flounce attached to it, and 
which resembled the vallance of a gigantic 
bed more than anything else. This I had 
observed suspended fi^om the ceiling over our 
heads, but had not been able to discern why 
it was so placed. This improvised punkah 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 23 

was a clever invention of Mrs. X- 's, and, 

nnomamental as it was, I felt thankful that 
Providence had bestowed upon her an inven- 
tive genius. 

If our first drive in Natal will never be 
forgotten by us, neither will be our first 
night there also. ' 

" What are those black things like large 
lumps of bee's-wax up on the wall near the 
ceiling ? '* 

" Oh ! those are only old hornet's nests I '* 
was the reply. 

" Ugh ! " shuddered I. " But please come 

back, Mrs. X ," I shouted, as I heard 

the good lady's departing footsteps after 
she had bidden me a kind good night, 
"Would you tell me what those — ^those 
things are walking about under the bed 
now where they had seemed to scamper off 
for shelter as we brought the light into the 
room ? '^ 

" Why, those are only cockroaches,'* quoth 
she, evidently thinking me full of fads and 
fancies, and making off speedily lest I should 
interrogate her farther. 

24 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

Only cockroaches ! yet there were some of 
them as large as full-grown mice ! I placed 
a chair at the foot of the bedstead, shook my 
skirts well, seated myself on the iron frame- 
work with my feet upon the chair, and 
gathered my garments together much as one 
does on boggy ground. I wanted a good 
" think," and to tutor myself as soon as I 
could into a toleration of, even if I could not 
attain to a positive liking for, the mixed com- 
pany of insects, and even reptiles, into which 
we should for some months to come most 
probably be thrown. From my perch I saw 
the enemy approach, stealthily and warily at 
first, then boldly and more boldly, in gather- 
ing numbers. "'Tis the March of the 
Cameron men ! " hummed I, in subdued 
tones. I hear the rattle of their armour and 
the clatter of their hoofs. Cockroaches of 
all sizes, from that of the grown-up mouse 
to the tiniest of black-beetles ! Surely the 
whole tribe have turned out in honour of our 
arrival in Natal, and have come to bid us 
welcome. "Not we indeed, vain bipeds,'' 
replied they, by unmistakable signs. " We 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 25 

are only come to gobble up the biscuit 
crumbs you dropped upon the floor when 
you emptied your bag before dinner. You 
have eaten and are satisfied, and we shall 
not be satisfied until we have eaten too." 
The busy herd lost not a moment, and 
cleared away the last crumb before starting 
ofi^ for pastures new, too many remaining to 
be altogether pleasant. Moths nearly as big 
as bats flew about within the room, whilst 
bats bigger than the biggest moths flapped 
their wings against the lighted panes outside. 
" Down came a spider and sat down beside 
her ! " One spider only frightened Miss Muffet 
away. I think poor Miss Muffet would have 
been "beside herself" had she come across, 
or had they come across her, more properly 
speaking, any of these gross, able-bodied, 
unwieldy creatures, which clawed the air like 
crabs, and looked capable of giving a grip 
strong enough to have and to hold whatever 
might have the misfortune to fall into their 
clutches. The getting into bed was not 
accomplished without due precaution, and 

26 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

after a shaking of one's feet, much as a cat 
shakes her hind legs after a wetting, and our 
sluinber wOrld, when we fitfully visited it, 
seemed ahve with creatures. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 2 7 


Treats of what to take and what to leave behind — Advice 
to any who may intend visiting the Transvaal — 
Durban — By 'Bus to Pieter Maritzburg — Queen's 
Birthday week at the capital — Sir Garnet Wolseley's 

May \\t\ 1875. — Daylight ushered itself in 
with a chorus of sights and sounds foreign to 
English ears. "Pad, pad," went shoeless 
feet, and a fumbling, rather than a knocking 
at the panel, announced the early coffee, 
handed in through the partly-opened door by 
a long black paw. This matutinal draught 
at a very early hour is one of South Africa's 
most sacred institutions — ^born of the early 
rising induced by the chmate, and worthy of 
imitation elsewhere, independent of similar 
cause. Dogs barked and cocks crowed, and 

28 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

South African cocks crow more vociferously 
and unintermittently than cocks in any other 
part of the world, I am convinced. ("Ah ! 
you have never been to Borneo/' said a friend 
to whom I once made the same remark.) 
The gong for breakfast was the most welcome 
sound of all, for I was eager to attack the 
work before me, i. e. the reducing in bulk 
and number those dreadful cases, which I 
had already begun to wish were owued by 
any but ourselves. I found a lovely bunch 
of roses on my plate at table, with a card of 
kindly greeting. Natal lias roses. Nature 
knows no stint in leaf and flower, and decks 
her gifts here with hues with which few 
countries can compare. 

The Agent, Mr. Parker, who by pre- 
arrangement had met us on board, and who 
helped us efficiently from that moment until 
we left for Pieter Maritzburg, told us of the 
necessity for forwarding anything we should 
require there, or for our up-country journey, 
with but little delay, as transport was an 
affkir of time, and goods despatched from 
Durban frequently turned up in '*Maritzburg^ 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 29 

a distance of a little over fifty miles, ten days 
or a fortnight afterwards. 

Letters and telegrams of "Welcome to 
Natal " had already reached us, and amongst 
the former an invitation to the Club ball. 

Mr. Parker said, " If you have any inten- 
tion of accepting that, you must despatch 
your portmanteaux to-day." We did so, but 
the Club ball was a thing of the past when 
they arrived at our hotel at the capital. 

Guided by the Agent the business of weed- 
ing out our belongings began. " It all de- 
pends, you see, upon the size of the wagon 
in which you travel up country. If you have 
a large buck-wagon you will have ample 
space for many things which would be of the 
very greatest use to you when there, but 
which in a smaller conveyance would incom- 
mode you greatly on the road. In the latter 
you would have little enough room for your- 
selves and bare necessaries." 

(Travelling " light " may mean speed, but 
oh! reader, it means certainly cramp and 
closeness, dearth and dreariness, and a cur- 
tailment of ordinary comfort, which can be 

30 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

borne smilingly, if not with hilarity, for 
there 's a drollness about it, too, especially to 
a looker-on, for a limited time. But try it 
for six weeks at a stretch, and, believe me, if 
your temper and nerves stand the test, never 
doubt your capacity to endure, or think that 
Job was quite such a marvel that you need 
despair of emulating him, should such be your 
ambition. This interlude has no business 
here at this point, but it has come of an un-» 
Job-hke frame of mind, aroused at re-reading 
notes which tell of the good things we left 
primarily at Durban, secondarily at Pieter 
Maritzburg, and which we often longed for in 
the Transvaal. 

" This side-saddle, for instance, am I likely 
to require it ?" asked I, remembering a journey 
across the prairies of Minnesota, when, as a 
girl, a ride of 600 miles or so seemed a feat 
scarce worth the telling of, but which I cer- 
tainly could not have accomplished without 
that useful article. 

" Well, when you get up there you may be 
glad of it, and I believe there are horses in 
the district," &c. &c. 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 3 1 

Remembering the nuisance that saddle had 
been to pack, for " nothing would go in com- 
fortable alongside it," our John had declared, 
I had a sense of neglected duty in leaving it 
behind, without even using it in South Africa. 
Such was its fate, however, and from that 
moment I never saw it more. All super- 
fluities of wearing apparel both my busband 
and I agreed to leave behind. One or two 
boxes, to meet our needs should we be 
delayed for a few days in Pieter Maritzburg, 
and be asked to partake of hospitalities there, 
must be filled and forwarded. It was done 
accordingly, to the breathless admiration of 

Mrs. X 's good Kafir, " Jim," who, during 

the process, stole up the stairs at intervals to 
gaze surreptitiously. Half my work was 
achieved upon the landing, and now and 
again, if his whole body, time not permitting, 
did not present itself, his nose would reach 
the level of my field of operations, and his 
thick lips would emit a "click" of appre- 
ciation, whilst the whites of his eyes rolled 
with an eloquence requiring no vocabulary to 
explain. The few dresses of quiet, almost 

32 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

Quaker-like hue, upon whicli I prided myself, 
had no attractions for him, but a scarlet 
flannel dressing-jacket, a pair of coloured 
blankets, a scrap of ribbon, and an " end " of 
red tape ! (Can you realize a craving for that?) 
had charms for Jim, which without an inter- 
preter, he contrived to make clear to me. 
Jim had his modest pickings, but they would 
have been dear at half-a-crown. 

It seemed difficult to beheve that we could 
possibly require the large quantity of rugs 
and wraps which took up so large a portion 
of our limited space, but time proved that we 
needed every one, and we should often have 
been thankful for more during our nights of 
cold exposure on the Veldt. Whilst I dis- 
carded everything that had claims only to the 
ornamental, I reserved good, serviceable 
articles, which could stand wear and tear, 
with enough of under-linen to suffice us should 
our stay be one of months instead of only 
weeks, as it afterwards proved to be. I had 
been warned of the rough treatment it would 
undergo at the hands of Kafir washers, so I 
left behind me all mere prettin^fesps, and 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 33 

chose garments "severely simple*' in style, 
and by no means in their earliest youth, so 
that they might go into the rag-bag, and not 
cumber us on our return. Flannel shirts for 
my husband, with only coloured linen ones, 
and a good store of woven vests ; one large 
leather bag, and one small one, one port- 
manteau, and one roll of rugs and pillows 
were the exact sum of our joint baggage for 
the Transvaal. 

We were assured that a compact Uttle 
camp-kettle, or portable canteen, for which 
we had only paid thirty shillings, but which 
contained nearly every requisite for two 
people, would be a useless encumbrance. 
Blindly we trusted to those who we 
naturally concluded knew better than we, 
what we did, and what we did not want. 
The argument which conquered our common- 
sense-clinging to that kettle was this, that 
if we had a light wagon and horses (as 
indeed it seemed almost certain that we 
should), we should take our regular stages 
nearly the whole way to Pretoria, and thus 
always h^ve a roof over our heads; that 


34 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

camping out would be the exception, not the 
rule. Our advisers had only had such 
experience of up-country journeying as the 
post-cart afforded, when a constant change 
of horses or mules makes this programme a 
fairly reliable one, and therefore they spoke 
according to their lights. Neither they nor 
we could predict, what reaUy so often after- 
wards befell us, through the almost fiend-like 
obstinacy with which our animals would 
either refuse to move at all when miles away ' 
from any of the far-apart so-called " hotels,'* 
or the stupidity with which they would knot 
themselves and their harness into a "confusion 
too confounded " for daylight to see us out of 
the hobble. Through the kindness of friends 
our precious canteen reached us in time for our 
rei-z^rTi journey, when very valuable we found it. 
I strongly advise aU who may contemplate a 
visit to South Africa, whilst they avoid super- 
fluities, to be well provided with necessaries, 
compactly packed. Let them bring a light 
macintosh — a lady's should be silk lined ; a 
folding india rubber bath— one not requiring 
inflation is best; an expanding macintosh 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 35 

basin, with a bag to hold it, the soap, 
towel, &c., too, with loops to hang it by, anij 
above aU, a hammer and nails with which to 
make their own Uttle extra tidinesses after 
everything is supposed to be duly arranged 
by the wagon outfitter; a good stout ball of 
string, needle, thread, spare buttons, and 
tapes. All such sundries, common sense 
would suggest, but a reminder can do no 
harm. Tinned food for travelling is most 
requisite ; and so is a spirit-lamp, wherewith 
to heat your coffee or tea when the cruel 
veldt fails to supply you with any fuel more 
lasting than a wisp of dry grass, or the 
pitiful leavings of the old camp-fire of some 
one who has gone on before you, and who 
has been in as great need as yourself of the 
wherewithal to make a blaze. Bring big 
safety pins! when your canvas bags begin 
their mad dance against the sides of the 
wagon, or your hat takes a flying leap from 
the peg upon which you have placed it, or 
your curtains persist in gaping apart — ^bring 
out your store of precious " safetys," and 
thank me for the hint. 

D 2 

36 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

Those who have no thought of visiting the 
Transvaal, may find too much sameness in 
my record of our day-to-day experiences. 
Their remedy is easy : let them skip what is 
tiresome to them. But let those who con- 
template following in our steps read every 
word, for thus they may profit by our mis- 
takes, and avoid our mishaps. 

The Natal route will probably be for some 
time to come the favourite one, or so it is 
generally supposed. Those whose frames are 
not made of cast iron, will, if they are wise, 
eschew that dreadful post-cart with its 
harum-scarum drivers. Tom Sayers, after 
one of his "rounds," could not look more 
bruised, discolored, or used up than a 
passenger in the Natal post-cart straight 
through to Pretoria. So, go by wagon if 
you can, and choose also, if you consult your 
comfort and number more souls than one, 
the large buck-wagon of the country. The 
outlay is very heavy if you purchase one 
" right out," with its span of eighteen oxen 
at about 12Z. a headj but they will probably 
fetch a fair price at the end of your journey. 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 37 

and you could convey goods which would by 
their sale go far towards covering your 
expenses. Choose, if it be possible, the 
season for Veldt travelling, and make a 
bargain with one of the " Transport " drivers 
to convey you and your belongings. If you 
are alone, and can rough it with a small kit, 
needing no waiting upon, trusting to your 
gun for the wherewithal to fill your three- 
legged pot, it ought not to cost you much ; 
and though you may be longer on the road, 
you arrive in condition for immediate work, 
instead of fit for the injury ward of the 
hospital which you will not find at its end. 
Do not dream of a light wagon, for however 
light, you must have six horses; even a 
two-wheeled Cape cart requires four, and % 
is not possible for the same animals to travfl 
continuously so far, and for so many days 
without knocking up. The forage, when you 
can get it for so many mouths, nearly hustles 
you out of the vehicle. One of your horses 
may go lame — ^you cannot leave him, and he 
cannot follow. You may long to take him 
inside with you, anything, rather than be 

38 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

delayed ; but you find it already but too close 
quarters, if you have yielded to the pitiful pe- 
tition of your tired pointer's pleading eyes for 
a lift ! Mem : take a pointer, two if you can ! 
but be careful of him if you love him, for an 
animal's life is precious in a climate diflTerent 
from that of his birth. Before starting from 
your English home, go to your village black- 
smith, don his apron, and jbinker and toil 
with him as much as he will let you, till you 
get a good notion of his trade. Go to your 
wheelwright, and get him to show you his 
trick of straightening a bent axle, how to box 
one, how to cure its crookedness, and to heal 
wheel illnesses generally. Haunt the bench 
of your neighbouring carpenter, till you get 
a wrinkle or two from him. Even your 
butcher and your baker might tell you some- 
thing, that you may thank them for when 
thousands of miles away from them. Be 
a Jack -of -all- trades, with more than a 
smattering knowledge of each, and you will 
save your pocket as well as your patience 
thereby. You may get Kafir labour in 
plenty, but you may also have to go for 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 39 

weeks without any. The servant-market is 
liable to fluctuations, and it is well to be 
independent thereof. White servants you 
will never have. Even if your social status 
in the old country be that of servitude (ever 
honourable), yet 1 venture to predict you 
will, like your neighbours, soon aflier arrival, 
be ordering about your "boys," and telling 
them to do in South Africa, what in England 
you would " think it shame " to see any one 
doing for you but yourself. Your wife, 
good, hard-working soul, who in her old 
home would slave at her washtub and scrub 
her floors cheerfully ; here, if she be so lucky 
as to have floors at all, will make that lazy 
" Jim," or that provoking " Oomfan " clean 
them for her. 

If only a band of sensible emigrants would 
come to this country, prepared to use their 
own hands, as if no black labour were to 
be had, they would reap riches in half the 
time than can be possible whilst they 
persist in making the sacrifice, it is that, 
and nothing, or very little else, to that 
dreadful Mrs. Grundy. What a busy-body 

40 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

that ubiquitous woman is, and how dehghtf ul 
it would be if only some one could be found to 
snuff her out utterly 

With all our desire to hasten to the Trans- 
vaal it was impossible to spend even a few 
days in Durban without noting some of its 
beauties, as well as seeing some of its people. 
Only a few of the latter then, however. It 
was reserved for me afterwards, in my sore 
need of help and sympathy, to find it all, and 
more, in kindly Natal: in Durban, as in 
Maritzburg. Warm-hearted Natalians, I only 
half knew your worth at the time of which I 
write ; and I knew less, and that only what a 
passing glimpse could show me, of your nice 
homes, with their refined and, in many 
instances, even elegant surroundings. Then 
you were mere acquaintances, now I am 
thankful that you will let me call you friends. 

I am glad that, as I skim through my notes 
of 1875, now, in 1877, I can bring before my 
mind's eye more than one of your home pic- 
tures. The house by the bay, for instance, with 
its gathered group of fair young Durban girls, 
as deft as their opponents at the well-con- 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 41 

tested game of bowls, which we graver folks 
watched from the broad yerandah. I have 
only to ihui my real eyes to see it all — ^the 
broad bay beneath, with the Uttle upturned 
yacht which had just capsized in the shallows 
close in shore, and which everybody knew 
would soon be high and dry again, being well 
used to these treacherous Uttle wind-spurts ; 
the bright-hued flower-beds, and clever Uttle 
rockeries, in unexpected nooks, with such 
ferns ! the canoe, with its paddles ready for 
use, and "children-signs" about. What could 
a home want more anywhere ? 

You may well boast of your Berea, good 
folks at Durban. Is it not very beautifiil, 
and very health-giving too ? Tour lungs, in 
fact, as the London parks are ours ? What 
wonder that you build your pretty home- 
steads, and make your clearances amongst its 
trees, though you have nearly driven the 
monkeys away, and fairly scared into the 
wilds aU bigger beasts, who not so many 
years agone claimed your range as theirs. 
You have made a wise selection for your 
lovely suburb, and even wiser you, oh ! friends 

42 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

at Sydenham, for are you not repaid by your 
still wider expanse of country, for your longer 
daily drive to town. Your four-legged 
" Paddy " trips it fast and daintily ; and if he 
does not object, why should you ? 

Talk of progress— everything wiU foUow in 
good time ; but have you not already in your 
city your churches of all denominations, your 
public Hbrary, your clubs, your botanic gar- 
dens, your public offices, your gaol, your 
masonic halls, your banks, and your hotels ? 
Have you not %ome street-lamps, and your 
slow, but sure little railway? and if your 
streets are ankle-deep in sand, and you are 
getting the better of that fast, are they not 
very broad and flanked on either side by 
shops and warehouses, of which no colony need 
be ashamed ? And is not your big railway 
coming, the turning of the " first sod " of 
which has been so graphically described by an 
eye-witness ? Was your sod really so brown 
and sunburnt as we are bid to believe ? Some 
purblind Kafir must have lazily grubbed it 
from the side of one of your street-ditches 
instead of from any of the hundred-and-one 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 43 

patches of greenery within arm's length of 
his spade. 

Wih May J 1875. — I doubt if we could 
call ourselves fairly " on trek " when we left 
Durban early this morning, by " 'bus " for 
Maritzburg. " Passengers are requested not 
to take their seats until the driver is upon 
the box." Passengers do take their seats, in 
disobedience to this rule, and mishaps some- 
times occur, as well they may, when the six 
steeds, fresh from their stable, do not always 
think it necessary to wait for that event 
before careermg away towards the road over 
the Berea, which they must traverse at more 
sober pace presently. 

Our driver to-day was treated with due 
respect, and so he ought to be, for he is a 
man of mark in Natal — neariy, if not quite, 
the oldest inhabitant, and a member of the 
Legislative Council. 1 have heard him siace 
" keep the house in a roar," as quaint mem- 
bers have been known to do in more august 
assembUes time out of mind, he hardly moving 
a muscle of his face the while. Who does 
not know Mr. Cato, if he claims any acquain- 

44 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

tance witli Natal at all? To him we had 
what he called most potent letters from our 
own old friend. Sir John Scott, one of Natal' s 
earlier Governors, to whose introductions we 
owed other courtesies than those of Mr. Cato. 
It seems to be an understood thing when he 
is a passenger by 'bus for Mr. Cato to take 
" the ribbons," upon his skill with which I 
believe he prides himself nearly as much as 
upon the many sterling good qualities he is 
so well known to possess. Strangers, who 
do not know this, are apt to be puzzled. 
One, for instance, to-day tendered him a fee 
of Is., believing him to be the bond fide driver, 
so aptly did he fit his assumed character. 
This mistake amused our friend no less than 
ourselves, and on the whole rather stimulated 
him to greater efibrts. 

The account of the Post-cart drive has 
already had its historian, and have I not 
mine, temptingly nigh at hand of its ditto 
by 'bus? but I must refrain — so Natal, 1, 
who would fain linger in my record, even to 
prolixity, over you and your beauties, touch- 
ing your little weaknesses very tenderly for 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 45 

the love I bear you, must cut short my de- 
scriptions, and give paragraphs when I would 
like to give pages. 

How often we changed our six horses, and 
how unclothed were the Kafir grooms who 
changed them, how their jargon could not be 
interpreted by a little boy whom I questioned, 
because their words were "naughty," is it 
not written ? And the scenery — over the 
Berea — over the Inchanga ! dip, dip ! cUmb, 
climb ! Oh, for an adjective wherewith to 
condense my admiration into one word ! Dr. 
Johnson could not find me one, and Lady 
Barker has travelled over the same ground, 
and she has told ybu all about it. 

Dusty and travel-weary we drew up at the 
door of the " Royal," at Maritzburg. Our 
craving was to tumble out of a bath and into 
a bed, as we had tumbled out of bed and into 
a bath in the morning. But no. Britons 
must dine; and dinner was ready, and it 
behoved us to get ready too. We did our 
best, but I am convinced our " best " was bad 
enough. How could we rid ourselves of pounds 
of dust with anything less than a broom, 

46 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

» " 

and even our clotlies-brush "was not" where 
we sought it. How I envied my husband his 
self-possession, when, ushered in to the well- 
filled dining-hall, he shook hands, or nodded 
in friendly greeting to one and another, many 
of them South AfrioanFellowsof the Royal Co- 
lonial Institute, whilst I crept in, cur fashion, 
behind him, with a womanlike-sense of the 
discomfort of not having " changed my dress," 
Puerile but not wholly uncommon, is it ? 

Of Pieter Maritzburg, though it was not 
then what it has become to me since, I 
must say something. " Sleepy Maritzburg ! " 
quotha. Well, if it was asleep, it was, as we 
found it, after a very wide-awake fashion. 
A trifle, no, rather more than a trifle, I am 
afraid I must confess, drowsy as to business ; 
but as to pleasure, it was open-eyed enough. 
It was our misfortune, seeing time was pre- 
cious to us, to arrive during the Queen's 
birthday week. Natal is not one whit behind 
our other colonies in loyalty, and do not our 
colonies know how to honour our Queen ? 

We were eager to get " on trek," but, if 
the need of a nail might detain us to our 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 47 

utte disc omfiture, that nail could not have 
been produced in Maritzburg at the point of 
a pistol in Queen's birthday week. 

" Go the day after to-morrow/* said an old 
resident, " Not a bit of it. You won't go for 
a fortnight." 

This sounded too ridiculous when such 
trifling additions were required to our equip- 
ments. We did not go for a fortnight, 
therefore it was clear that our informant 
knew Natal tradespeople better than we did. 

Queen's birthday week means much to 
Pieter Maritzburg. It is the week of the 
year. It means races, it means bazaars, it 
means picnics, it means shows. We, between 
us, saw all of them, and jointly the ball. We 
were told that Sir Garnet Wolseley's cour- 
tesy had extended itself quite beyond the 
usual limits, but if more Jacks, Toms, and 
Harrys were present than should have been, 
I must own that they were very well behaved 
individuals indeed. 

A ball in a hot 'country is as much an out- 
door as an indoor affair. The verandah is 
part of the ball-room, and the big trees about 

48 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

the grounds offer tempting nooks for strolling 
couples between the dances, so you may 
safely ask your hundred, really hoping they 
may accept, where you would tremble lest 
your fifty should say "yes,'' and fill your 
small drawing-room in Mayfair to over- 

Pieter Maritzburg lies in what looks like a 
hollow with hills mounting up some 1200 feet 
garrisoning it around. It is about the size 
of Durban, and the streets are laid out much 
as those of that town. The houses are many 
of them in shape like bungalows, lofty, and 
thatched, with, broad cool verandahs, flower- 
garlanded into rustic beauty, even where they 
face upon the main streets. Some might be 
larger, but wages are dear and material 
costly, so there is a good reason for very 
large homes being rather the exception than 
the rule. Water-courses run through the 
streets with a cool, refreshing trickle, tempt- 
ing one sorely to off-shoe and paddle therein 
on a hot day. The Kafirs are forbidden by 
law to stand in the streams, which, as they 
provide the citizens with drinking-water, 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 49 

would hardly be improved, should such com- 
fortable little dabbles be indulged in. Water 
is fetched early, and, after due filtering, is 
pure and good, the supply being unfaiUng. 
Those old Dutch pioneers knew how to 
choose well when they selected this spot for 
their city ! 

In a good central position stands the fine 
block of Government buildings. Legislative 
Assembly, Court House, and Post-Office, 
with its broad flight of steps. The streets 
are of good width and lighted by lamps, 
except on moonlight nights. The sale in the 
Long Market Square of weekly occurrence is 
well worth attending, and the Park, where 
the band plays, and which is Maritzburg*s 
Rotton Row as well as Promenade, is good 
enough for any coimtry, and will, as the 
trees grow in height and breadth, become 
even better than many can boast. The town 
does require water-carts, for the dust is its 
bane. The gardens are rich in vegetation, 
seringas, weeping-willows, blue gums, and 
bamboos. Fruit is abundant, and the ever- 
flowering rose-hedges meet your eye every- 

50 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

where. Pieter Maritzburg has several 
churches; nearly all denominations have a 
place of worship, the Roman Catholics 
having a convent and school besides. Fort 
Napier looks down upon the town it protects, 
and when it has its large array of military 
tents pitched picturesquely about it, it gives 
life and variety to the capital of Natal. 
There are excellent colleges provided for 
girls as well as boys, a large airy hospital for 
the sick, with its staff of able physicians, 
and a gaol for its prisoners. 

Government House has a cosy homelike air 
about it as it nestles in amongst its bowers of 
well-grown trees and shrubs, and, but for the 
sentry at either entrance, one could hardly 
fancy it other than the self-planned, self- 
selected, and therefore most comfortable abode 
of one of NataJ's richer inhabitants. Just now. 
Queen's birthday week, and during the brief 
term of Sir Garnet Wolseley's governorship, 
it is the centre of attraction and the scene 
of unceasing hospitality. 

" Drowning the independence of Natal in 
floods of champagne, eh ? " quoted a jolly- 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 5 1 

lookmg guest in the supper-room at the ball 
of balls. "Well, if he does, *tis in uncommon 
good champagne at any rate ! and FU thank 
you, waiter, for another glass ! " 

With all that Sir Gramet has of the past 
and present to occupy his busy mind, he has 

and in the short chat I had with him he ran 
over your names there, old friends, by dozens, 
and took up old links as if he had never 
dropped them. 

This last paragraph warns me that I am 
running away from my subject, so I will 
halt here, and take up my notes from the 
morning of our leaving Maritzburg, and 
getting really " On Trek for the Transvaal." 

E 2 

52 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 


Leave Maritzburg — The Town Hill — Trek to Howick — 
Umgeni Falls — Curry's — Mooi Eiver — Of mishaps 
by the way, and of good Samaritans who helped us 
out of them — Estcourt or Bushman's River — Delay 
there — Arrival of post-cart — Colenso — The Drach- 
ensberg, or Dragon's Mountain — The Orange Free 
State — Harrismith — More mishaps by the way. 

\st June^ 1875. — Off at last! How can I 
describe our start from the yard of the 
Royal Hotel, where amongst the friends who 
gathered around to bid us adieu, so many 
stretched forth helping hands to perform 
what seemed like a magician's task, the com- 
pressing of what must go into spaces which 
appeared already filled to overflowing ? The 
human freight had still to adjust itself, but 
where ? A narrow wedge at one side of the 
wagon, but over which oozed packages, hard 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 53 

as well as soft, attracted my attention. K I 
could but once get into that, and no one but 
myself could do so, that should be my nook I 
Thus my travelling companions, my husband, 

and the Rev. Mr. G , who, on Missionary 

thoughts intent, was bound for Eersteling 
also, would be free to use the two small spaces 
left for passengers at the end of the wagon. 

Our horses had been sent on to the top of 
the town hill, according to the good Natal 
fashion of starting with fresh beasts from 
thence, instead of wearing out the ani- 
mals at the outset of a long " trek." For 
a certain fee oxen can be hired for this pur- 
pose. As our ten, that being the number 
judged necessary for us, gravely jogged out 
of Maritzburg with as true a calculation of 
their given number of minutes to their given 
amount of work, as a hired brougham- 
horse in London, I rejoiced that, thanks be, 
horses, not oxen, were to take us to the 
Transvaal. Before twenty-four hours had 
passed I mentally begged pardon of those 
patient animals, and sincerely wished that 
they, and not horses, had been deemed suitable 

54 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

for the conveyance of ourselves and our 
belongings over the 600 miles of South 
African Berg and Veldt which lay before us. 

The ascent of this hill occupied some hours, 
from its length and steepness, but, as its 
many windiags afforded us peep upon peep of 
Maritzburg cradled beneath it, often quite 
unexpectedly, and always charming us by 
some fresh beauty of form or colour, the time 
slipped pleasantly by, so richly did it reward 
us for the delay. On the summit we found 
our boys — John, with his handsome dusky 
face lighted up by a smile of welcome, and 
Jim his lieutenant, smiling also, awaiting our 
coming, with the horses ready for inspanning. 
To " inspan " is to harness, or to yoke, as the 
case may be, your horses or your oxen, and 
to " outspan " is its reverse. 

Oh, the dust I never did I see— no, I did 
not, could not see — such heavy clouds as the 
feet of the oxen cast up all around and about 
us as we travelled. The front curtain of the 
wagon was lowered, and seemed a tight fit, 
but it could not keep it out, so we scrunched 
and munched it and swallowed it all the way. 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 57 

denly, like the letting down of a curtain. 
Just out of Howick is a steep mountain, and 
up it our horses would not go. They jibbed, 
plunged, and kicked, the leaders, and the two 
behind them, turning round to look at us, 
getting their legs in a confused heap over the 
traces, the hind ones theirs over the pole. 
One was thrown down, and it seemed as if 
his plunges drove the rest wild. Some men 
passing with oxen (all help one another on 
the road, as a matter of course), came to the 
rescue, and by the time we were righted for a 
fresh start it was almost dark. We had 
thirteen miles to go to " Curry's Hotel," our 
next stopping-place. These performances 
continued at every hiU, and we had to stop 
perpetually. Once or twice the wagon was 
stuck in one of the great gullies in the roads, 
from which no amount of whipping or urging 
could induce the horses to extricate us. 
When only five miles from Curry's, we 
agreed to walk, and to leave the boys, as 
we were told to be sure to do, to get out of 
the hobble as best they could. Wfe reached 
the hotel at ten, and about an hour after that 

56 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

4ith June. — ^A chapter of accidents to tell of 
since my last entry. I am taking the oppor- 
tunity of writing whilst a breakage in our 
trap is being repaired by a blacksmith, wheel- 
wright, or rather a farmer who has the happy 
knack of turning his hand to anything, and 
who is good enough to do so upon our behalf. 
Most fortunate for us that pur mishap oc- 
curred where it did. His wife has kindly 
made us welcome to her nice sitting-room, 
with its home-like look of comfort. It has 
its cheffonier, piano, sofa, carpet, &c. ; also 
its harmonium, violin, and flute. We seem 
to have lighted in every sense upon another 
" harmonious blacksmith." The house is situ- 
ated far away from any neighbours, seemingly 
there are none for miles, and in a picturesque 
spot in one of the windings of the hills. 
Ferns grow amongst the rocks and gullies, 
and water gushes out spasmodically every 
here and there 

But I must go back to our start from 
Ho wick yesterday. John's late return post- 
poned our leaving that place until three p.m. 
It gets dark about six, and that quite sud- 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 57 

denly, like the letting down of a curtain. 
Just out of Howick is a steep mountain, and 
up it our horses would not go. They jibbed, 
plunged, and kicked, the leaders, and the two 
behind them, turning round to look at us, 
getting their legs in a confused heap over the 
traces, the hind ones theirs over the pole. 
One was thrown down, and it seemed as if 
his plunges drove the rest wild. Some men 
passing with oxen (all help one another on 
the road, as a matter of course), came to the 
rescue, and by the time we were righted for a 
fresh start it was almost dark. We had 
thirteen miles to go to " Curry's Hotel," our 
next stopping-place. These performances 
continued at every hiU, and we had to stop 
perpetually. Once or twice the wagon was 
stuck in one of the great gullies in the roads, 
from which no amount of whipping or urging 
could induce the horses to extricate us. 
When only five miles from Curry's, we 
agreed to walk, and to leave the boys, as 
we were told to be sure to do, to get out of 
the hobble as best they could. We reached 
the hotel at ten, and about an hour after that 

58 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

our wagon arrived, the men, after taking out 
the leaders, having made the four drag the 
trap, (everything is a trap here,) the rest of 
the way. We were very tired, and glad to 
get to bed. Nothing could equal the perfect 
griminess, I know no word to express it 
better, of our garments. We had been told 
we must give up all idea of feeling clean from 
the moment of our start, and this seems likely 
henceforth to be our fate. The redness of the 
dust makes so deep a stain that it is very 
difficult to get it out. The inn was comfort- 
able and the beds wholesome — a blessing we 
must not hope for much longer. We had the 
same difficulty over again at starting, in the 
morning; the leaders again at fault. Our 
boys said, " Best take 'em out, sir ;" which 
they did, and we got on all day with the four, 
but only for one stage farther, i. e., to Mooi 
river, where we stayed last night. One of 
our horses, which had showed already 
symptoms of lameness, was too bad to- 
day to put his foot to the ground; so, to 
our great loss and inconvenience, we have 
had to leave it there, to graze for awhile 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 59 

before being sent back to Pieter Maritz- 

The Dutch have rightly named this river 
"Mooi," or "Beautiful." As the sun burst 
through the clouds and lighted up the little 
rocky islets which were dotted about, foam 
rimmed, every here and there, I could not 
but think that, deep down under an imper- 
turbable surface, those worthy people must 
have a poetic vein, needing only a magic 
touch to bring it uppermost in spite of them- 
selves. Many other of the names chosen by 
them have touching significance. Think of 
" Weenan," or " Weeping," for instance. 
How pithily does the very name tell the story 
of the tragedy which broke so many hearts 
and cost so many lives there. "Scores 
slaughtered as they slept," women falling as 
they fought by their despairing husbands, 
hoping to save their little ones who were 
snatched from their arms to be dashed to 
death against the wagon-wheels which 
formed their only rampart. As we near 
Weenan county presently, I shall fancy the 
very air laden with the bitter cries of these 

6o On Trek in the Transvaal; 

poor souls who were in sucli pitifiil case there 
some forty years ago. 

A Mr. Macpherson, who with his wife and 
child were stopping the night at Mooi River, 
most kindly offered to leave his pair of horses 
at Oolenso, that we might have their help as 
far as his place, which is beyond Harrismith. 
Another gentleman, Mr. Mansell, one of the 
Inspectors of Police (a force mounted and 
armed), also offered his pair for a stage, after 
which, I fear, we must buy one more to 
replace the defaulter. Oxen die of disease in 
numbers, at this time of the year especially, 
for the grass is not nourishing enough for 
them ; yet some advised us to sell our horses 
and get oxen. Others said, " No ; do the 
best you can with those you have, and per- 
haps as they warm to their work they will 
improve." Our mishap of to-day has nothing 
to do with the horses. The men oiled our 
wheels and bound leathers round our spriQgs, 
but these roads would break anything. We 
are gravely told we shall come back with 
hardly a piece of the original wagon or har- 
ness left. There are large boulders over 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 6 1 

which we bound, gullies into which we dip- 
almost precipices which we seem to overhang. 
Whatever may come in the way we must go over 
it, or struggle through it somehow, therefore 
by the end of our journey we shall have many 
adventures to relate. The drivers appear good- 
humoured, come what may, and they under- 
stand their work. They certainly use whips; 
one long enough for a team, and another of 
one or two sizes smaller, seemingly with but 
little mercy, but it appears useless to expostu- 
late, and indeed the horses would not go 

without. Even Mr. G keeps quiet, and 

says, " Better say nothing ; we must leave it 
to them. Meanwhile let us be thankful that 
we do not understand Dutch," which is the 
language they generally use, although they 
speak English and Kafir as well. Our men 
have very musical voices. I am struck gene- 
rally with the purity of accent of nearly all 
bom in Natal. If anything marks it, per- 
haps it is that it has more of a continental 
than a colonial ring. 

The landlord at the hotel at Mooi River is 
evidently a gentleman, and a clergyman's son 

62 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

is working with him. Mr. G shared the 

latter's room last night, and noted that he 
seemed to have a copy of each of the best 
English poets on his shelves. 

We are informed that the landlord of the 
hostelry at Oolenzo is a retired ofl&cer, so we 
begin to think that our real roughing it will 
not commence yet awhile, for the original 
caste of one's host is sure to influence 
one's fare even in the wilds; and if hotel- 
keeping pays, why should it not be tried as 
a purse repairer as well as trade or gold- 

nth June. Estcourty oir Bushman^ 8 River. — 
We have been here three days, and in all 
probability we shall be here for three days 
longer, I dare not trust myself to express 
half the exasperation I feel at this long de- 
tention for such an inadequate cause. My 
temperament is quite too explosive for South 
Africa, I am convinced, and if I lived — no, I 
should die of it long before that — until T was 
eighty, I do not believe time would ever 
reconcile me to the dead-ahve, leave-it-alone- 
and-it-wiU-all-come-right fashion in which 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 63 

people set about, or wait for somebody else 
to set about, what could as well be done 
speedily if they would but begin it less 
sleepfly. An express train shrieking through 
the cuttings and tunnels of these mountain 
passes — and it is to be hoped that one will 
do so some day shortly — would work miracles, 
galvanizing these dry bones — oh! dear Na- 
talians, do forgive me! — into new life and 
vigour. How some sharp Yankee competitors 
would make your tradespeople " look alive,** 
after a manner hitherto unknown to them I 
Competition of any kind would give the 
impetus wanting ; and Natal, to say nothing 
of the Free State, and the Transvaal, could 
find room and work for shoals of blacksmiths, 
wheelwrights, and handicraftsmen generally, 
if only they would come here. 

Directly we reached our quarters on the 
afternoon of the 4th a judge and jury empan- 
nelled themselves and sat upon (some of 
them literally) our unfortunate wagon — 
making candid remarks which amused them- 
selves, but hurt us cruelly. They looked 
wise as owls as they shook its body, rattled 

64 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

its wheels, weighed its pole; but had not 
competent judges done the same in Maritz- 
burg, and pronounced it fit for service? 
One half of the " things ** they said might 
have been true, but I am sure the other half 
were not. It might be that it had been one 
of " Welch's old 'Bus'es," but as Welch wanted 
one of larger size what more natural than that 
ho should sell the smaller and only half- worn 
one at half price ? Possibly he might have 
taken less for it, but the agent assured us that 
he had purchased it at as low a figure as we 
could possibly get a vehicle of any kind for. 
Many of its defects had been covered over 
with the bright green paint which made 
it look almost as good as new. Its fresh 
tilt and clean lining might have a touch 
of hypocrisy about them, but I for one was 
tlmnkfiil that it had at all events put a 
good face upon it. The pole was too heavy. 
Of that there could be no doubt, so it was 
necessary to have that serious defect reme- 
died before starting, to avoid taxing our 
horses unnecessarily again. 

Now you know the history of our delay, 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 65 

just for a readjustment of the pole, and a 
raising of the body to lighten the strain upon 
the wheelers. 

What is your hurry?" we are asked. 
Take it easily," we are admonished. " I 
dare say you will get oflF the day after 
to-morrow," &c., &c. 

The blacksmith is a German. Probably in 
his own country he would be a smart work- 
man. Here he takes his time like everybody 
else. I haunt that man, hoping that he will 
hasten, if only to get rid of me, to " lay me " 
as an unquiet spirit. Once I tried cajolery, 
praising his nation (with truth, for I admire 
it for its sohd greatness), and telling him of 
a dear German sister-in-law I have in his 
Fatherland. He stopped to listen, so I 
nipped in the bud my flow of eloquence, and 
bid him " good day " with a sudden abrupt- 
ness, which I am afraid caused another pause, 
to consider the reason of it. 

1 p.m. — The post-cart has just come in with 
its jaded and battered-looking passengers, 
who were almost shot out at the door. They 
all have some pet bruise to chafe, or some 

66 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

angle of their persons to guard from chance 
contact. The cook, at the sound of the 
driver's horn, rushes frantically at the sauce- 
pans, tears off their lids, and dishes up their 
steaming contents. Chairs are dragged 
hurriedly up to the table, our morning's 
calm is broken by the clatter of crockery, 
the rattle of knives and forks, and a racket of 
tongues, as the news is hastily exchanged in 
gasps between the mouthf uls the poor things 
hastily swallow with quite a hunted air. 

"There is no peace for the wicked," I 
heard one say, one, too, whose features gave 
promise of a power of patient waiting which 
I would have bought of him at any price 
just then. He had heard the horn as the 
post-cart drew up to the door, and knowing 
he should not have time to finish his bit 
of rather stodgy plum-duff, when, as every 
one knows it is only eatable, liot^ he quietly 
pocketed it for a future occasion. 

Our landlord apologized for some little mis- 
chance, by telling me that his wife was away 
at the diamond-fields. She had been thrown 
out of the post-cart on her way up tp them, 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 67 

and had broken her leg or her arm, I am not 
sure wHcli. (Tliis same individual actually 
met with a similar accident on her return 
journey, and whichever limb she did not 
break going up she contrived to break 
coming down. This I have been told as a 
fact since, and I was sorry to hear it). 
"However slow-going everything else may 
be in South Afinca, the post-cart is the one 
exception," I remark, as a few moments after 
it has left the hotel it appears on the opposite 
side of the river it has dashed through, and 
tears up the hill on its road to its next stage, 
Colenzo. Its advent and its exodus has done 
me a world of good. It has been as reviving 
as a sniff of pungent smelling-salts, or a 
breeze on a stagnant sultry day. Apropos of 
that, let me teU you that although this is 
winter, it is sultry by day, and the sun 
positively scorches one. No sign of rain, 
nor are we likely to have any for weeks to 
come, for this is the dry season. If we return 
in the summer, we may have drenching nights 
to tell of, instead of the cold and almost 
frosty ones predicted for us now. It has 

F 2 

68 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

been very pleasant to find staying at tHs 
hotel a gentleman whose acquaintance my 
husband had made in England, and who is, I 
think, a Fellow of the Royal Colonial Insti- 
tute. Mr. Paterson is the magistrate of the 
district, and until he can find permanent 
quarters, resides here with his wife and chil- 
dren. I had brought out a little packet of 
seeds for Mrs. Paterson from a mutual 
friend, but had no idea that I might have 
the pleasure of meeting her. Thanks to her 
thoughtfulness we have had all our garments 
washed thoroughly and well in the stream, by 
her Kafir, who will, she teUs me, dance upon 
them by way of manghng them. Having 
never seen a live mangle before, I shall not 
miss this opportunity. 

Estcourt is quite an important place. It 
has three or four hotels, and that, here as 
elsewhere, is a fair test of progress. The 
clergyman, Mr. Smith, has been most kind 

and attentive to us, and with him Mr. G 

and my husband have had many pleasant 
walks. A is much interested in pro- 
gress, be it where it may ; and if only his 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 69 

purse were as big as his heart, there is no 
doubt but the fine site chosen for the coming 
church at Bstcourt would not long be in need 
of funds. The Bushmen Oaves, from which 
the rivers (there is a Little Bushman's river 
as well as Bushman's river proper, probably a 
branch of the larger stream), take their names, 
have interested them much, and they long to 
be able to explore more of them, both here and 
elsewhere. The quaint devices, as records of 
the chequered past of these little people, are, 
we are told, well worth days of research. I 
shall get John in talking vein one day, when 
my gentlemen are climbing some hill to ease 
the horses, and ask him about these and 
many other things. I hope he won't fib, or 
invent, for I intend to beheve every word he 
says, and hand it on to you unadorned. 

Our Sunday services were very fairly 
attended in the temporary church, and Mr. 
Smith seems a hearty and eager worker 
amongst his people. Coal and blanket clubs 
are unknown because unneeded, and I doubt 
if a district visitor might not find herself all 
astray hereabouts ; but there are many other 

70 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

paths open to those who would help South 
Afiica. Money to pay more pastors, money 
to build more churches, and plenty of it. Send 
heart-healing, wound-binding gospel truth, 
but keep all schism at home. Send ^^ glad 
tidings " which make the feet of the bearers 
thereof " beautiful upon the mountains." 

lOffe. — The wagon actually ready for our 
start at last! This seemed too good 
to be true, and my friends had quite 
the air of breaking it to me gently, lest 
the exhilaration of such hopeful new6 
might act injuriously. We reached Colenso 
with only one mishap, a measure rarely 
small. Our wheel caught fire, and as it 
needs to be constantly fed with oil, and yet 
retains so little of what is given it, this is a 
catastrophe likely to recur frequently. We 
found Capt. Dickinson's hotel very comfort- 
able, table well served, and our bedrooms far 
cleaner and nicer than ordinary. We break- 
fasted early on the morning of the 11th, and 
about mid-day took our first outdoor meal by 
the Drift beyond Blue Krantz. We reached 
the foot of the Drachensberg, which at this 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 7 1 

point separates Natal from the Free State, 
after nightfall, very tired, very cold, and very 
stiff about the joints. Our horses had con- 
tinued their acrobatic performances at every 
start, and our starts were many, for they 
constantly plunged us into " hobbles," from 
which they refused to pull us out. These 
had occurred continually until we reached 
Colenso, but from thence Mr. Macpherson's 
horses led off gallantly, and by keeping the 
rest in order, saved us from many a mishap. 
We have crossed at least twenty-two spruits, 
wet and dry. Under the head of spruit, 
understand the bed of a river or its tributary, 
a mountain course, or almost any track made 
by water forcing its way across the road. 
Sometimes the descent into these spruits is 
after a very break-neck, tumble-down-stairs 
fashion, huge blocks of stone, great holes, 
mud-pits, and such like having to be 
encountered, before you plunge into the 
central hole, from which you get out some- 
times, and sometimes you doyCt^ until you are 
almost dug out, with your teeth set on edge 
by the rasping of the wheel-tires against the 

72 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

stones; with your ears deafened by the 
shouts of your men, " hup ! hup ! ah, now ! 
ah, now ! " and the cracking of the whip 
with the sound as of a gun fired ofi^ close by, 
while your eyes " see stars," as eyes will 
when the head which owns them seems only 
held by a thread as it were in its usual place, 
for it has been treated like a football the 
while. The poor animals move one to 
pity, in spite of their misbehaviour at other 
times. As we drew up at the "hostelry," 
cramped, cold, and tired, we counted upon 
rest and food speedily. This was what 
greeted us. The door opened at once into a 
large, mud-floored room, with open rafters to 
the ceiling, from which all manner of things 
were suspended, settles around the room, and 
a long table in the middle. A youth — Dutch 
really — ^but to all outward appearance a 
Yankee lad, or would-be-man, of the worst 
type, lounged upon the settle, with a pipe in 
his mouth, spitting adi lihitvm^ and with a 
skill worthy of his Yankee prototype. He 
never rose, until pressed to go and see if we 
could be accommodated, and then he lazily 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 73 

roused himself. "Yes," he ascertained, " the 
missus could have that room," pointing with 
a thumb to a door on the right ; and ** he," 

meaning Mr. G , that to the left. He'd 

" see if we could have tea." At last a maid, 
who might have been own sister to the 
"maiden allforlom" in the story of the "House 
that Jack built," brought us some lukewarm, 
undrawn tea, bad butter, bad eggs, and some 
bread. This unsavoury meal cost us 2s. 6(Z. 
a head. Our. bedroom was indescribably 
dirty. The mud floors we had had hitherto 
had been decently covered, our window-panes 
clear and bright, woodwork polished, and 
bedding clean. Here, cobwebs obscured the 
light — ^the windows can hardly have been 
opened for months; and as the three beds 
had probably frequently held double their 
number of occupants, the concentrated 
essence of stuflfiness is beyond my power 
of description. 

The Dragon's Mountain ! It sounds like 
a fairy tale. I seem here to be " living out " 
one or two of those which memory brings 
back to me from my childhood's store, as we 

74 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

wend our way up that grand old frontier of 
nature's piling. 

There was a delay in obtaining the neces- 
sary oxen for the ascent of the Drachensberg, 
so we did not start until 11 p.m. of the 12th. 

A and I walked a good part of the way, 

but sheer weariness drove me at last into the 
wagon. We are now 175 miles from Dur- 
ban. Our boys with the horses awaited us 
upon the top of the mountain. They and a 
band of Kafir road-makers presented, as we 
approached them, a grotesque appearance 
from atmospheric causes. The Kafirs stand- 
ing to gaze at us, leaning on their picks, 
looked gigantic ; and, being immovable from 
curiosity, seemed more like huge firs or poplars 
than human beings. Once over the Drachens- 
berg we were in the Free State ; out of a dense 
mist, into a steady rain. Oh I the misery of 
it, boxed up in a little curtained wagon, with 

no space for one's legs We are struck 

with the better roads here, and the flatter 
surface we have to pass over, the stones being 
taken out where not wanted, and put where 
they are, or piled ready for removal. 



OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 75 

Earrismith^ 12th. — We reached this at 7.30 
p.m. last evening, lighted bj a bright moon, 
soon after paying our first "toll," a mile 
from the town. This is a local arrangement, 
and makes of a bad bit of ground, a track 
fairly good. The Kafir in charge could not 
tell " right oflF" what we had to pay. This, 
John explained to us, was the cause of the 
excited talk between them. " He can't 
coimt, sir; he says, instead of Bd. a horse, 
and Is. the wagon, — Is. for the first four 
horses, 6d. for the two last, Sd. for the one 
Jim is riding, and Is. the wagon;" the 
amount being only discovered at a cost of 
much questioning and delay. 

iSth. — This hotel is really very comfortable 
for South Africa, or for any other colony I 
might add. There is the general room, with 
its long table and chairs, and a place for a good 
roaring wood fire, of which we shall be glad 
if this cold continues, as it threatens to 
do. There is a smaller sitting-room actually 
boarded and carpeted. Think of that I and 
curtains ! and a sofa ! The landlady is a 
homely Gloucestershire woman, giving herself 

76 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

no airs, and being all the nicer for it. Her 
husband was away, she told us on arrival, 
but was expected soon ; she meanwhile being 
an able manager of the business during his 
absence. Our bedroom has the usual mud 
jfloor, but it is suflBciently covered with cocoa- 
nut matting, the bedding fresh, and the 
sheets white. We must make the most of 
these and other comforts, for after Harri- 
smith, we cannot expect even a roof over our 
heads for some time to come. 

Quite the biggest man in the establishment 
is the Coolie cook and waiter. On Sunday 
he appeared resplendent in an ample waist- 
coat of rich plum-coloured velvet, with a 
chain and appendage which would have made 
any one of our home "Jeames's" die of envy. 
He had new trousers of a shade suited to the 
waistcoat, and chosen with a view to enhance 
its beauties ; but he wore no coat, as it 
might have partly concealed the garment of 
which he was so justly proud. Running 
about the house and garden, in the enjoy- 
ment of perfect freedom, was a little, 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 77 

CooKe girl with finely-cut features, and 
small, graceful fi:ame, clad in a brightly-hued 
print dress, with the white muslin scarf of 
the Coolie race. Our landlady explained 
that she was by-and-by to be her cook's 
wife ; she was already his property, and he 
had to provide for her as if she were his 
child, as to all appearances she might well 
have been. This is no unusual arrangement, 
and as far as the girl is concerned, if her 
owner acts the husband's part as kindly as 
he now does the father's, she will have no 
cause for complaint. 

Harrismith is quite an important little 
town, with substantially-built houses — some 
two or three of them might almost be called 
handsome — and there is a good Dutch 
church. The streets are laid out well. 
They are of a good width, and drained after 
the usual simple Dutch fashion, by a dyke on 
either side to let the water escape. The 
shops are good, and contain a multum in 
parvo. I should empty my ink-bottle did I 
attempt to write the list. Anything fi:om 

78 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

iron-roofing to the gaudiest of head-gear. 
The site of an English church is chosen, and 
its foundations laid. All success to it. The 
young clergyman, Mr. Clarke, strains every 
nerve to complete the work he has begun. I 
cannot speak too warmly or thankfully of his 
many attentions to us personally throughout 
our stay in his district, and until we parted 
from him, an hour or two's trek out of 
it, upon our way to the Transvaal. Our 
travelling companion at every stopping- 
place has naturally sought out a brother of 
the cloth, and possibly we have thus indi- 
rectly owed to his introduction the attentions 
which have invariably followed. The tempo- 
rary building in which the service was held 
was somewhat barn-like in appearance, but 
Mr. Clarke had made the best of the means 
at his disposal. The floor was of mud ; but 
before the benches Kafir mats, bits of carpet, 
or coloured rugs were spread to kneel upon, 
the chancel being marked out by a border of 
green baize, cut in Vandykes. We had peeps 
here and there at the sky through the roof, 
which was of iron and unbearded; but no 

oYy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 79 

one minds gaps and air-holes in this country. 
Our congregation numbered nearly forty, ten 
staying for the sacrament. 

Flat as Harrismith is, there faces our hotel 
a high mountain, one of the many table-like 
formations of the country. Height, size, and 
distance are very deceptive. . There being a 
spare hour one day before dinner, I remarked 
casually, " I should like to stroll up that hill, 
I suppose I could do so in the time." This 
created much amusement. I was told that 
it would take me quite a day, and that I 
should probably lose myself, even if I had 
strength to undertake the climb at all. My 

husband and Mr. G started off once, and 

returned worn out and weary, after a hope- 
less search for some Bushman caves, of which 
they had heard, as containing curious inscrip- 
tions, carvings, and relics of these daring little 
people, whose hands, small as they were, 
seem to have been against every man, as every 
man's hand was against them. Irritating as 
gnat-bites, one can fancy their attacks, as 
they darted their poisoned arrows from their 
tiny hiding-places, often deaUng death from 

8o On Trek in the Transvaal; 

behind a stone barely large enough to conceal 
a good-sized frog, or out of a hole into which 
a hedgehog could barely creep I The South 
African native is so lithe and agile that, be 
he large or small, he has a power of com- 
pression which requires to be seen to be 

14f /^ June. — This morning we were to have 
been off, and had packed up in readiness. 
No such good luck, however ! 

"The horses must be shod, sir,'* says 

Off goes John to the blacksmith, who con- 
sents to set to work (leisurely) to shoe our 
four ; the borrowed steeds, and the odd (very 
odd) one, not needing it. This is fortunate, 
as it is to cost 175. 6cZ. a horse I to say 
nothing of the lengthened hotel bill the 
slowness of the process entails upon us. 
We purchase blankets to cover the poor 
animals as they stand tethered to the wagon 
at night, for the weather has become very 
cold, and sundry enamelled cups, plates, &c., 
besides groceries, &c. We order fodder for 
our animals. This has hitherto not been 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 8 1 

easy to obtain, and now we have it, it is so 
bulky that it incommodes us sadly. My sug- 
gestion of strapping each sack on either side 
the door has not been accomplished without 
some labour, from the want of any good hold 
for the fastening cords, over which the sacks 
oozed ominously, leaving hardly any room for 
ourselves to creep in or out. The horses will 
eat us out of the diflSculty incredibly soon I 
too soon for our pockets. No wonder the 
patient ox is preferred for Veldt travel- 
ling. The roadside provides all the food it 
gets, and if, as at this seasion is often the 
case, grass is scarce, the poor beast trudges 
patiently on, living upon itself as it were, t. e. 
upon any fat it may already have accumu- 
lated. When that stock is exhausted, so is 
the ox ; but its vitality is great, and there 
is more danger of losing your span by 
disease or by Ughtning than by want of 

Xhtlfi. — ^Alas I even nature is against us, or 
we might have been on trek to-day. Eain, 
blusterous wind, and, yes, actually snow. 
I shiver outwardly and inwardly, and we all 


82 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

gladly cower around the large wood fire, 
whicli a Kafir replenishes at intervals. 
Whence he gets the wood I dare not ask. 
I am sure it is costly and difl&cult to procure. 
Old packing-cases, casks, and sundries, con- 
tribute largely. Meanwhile I have had an 
hour of journal writing, which has conveyed 
me, the inward me, thousands of miles over the 
sea, making it seem as if I were telling you, 
instead of only writing tp you, this tale of our 

16ffe. — Another cold, dull day. The moun- 
tain opposite, patched all over with snow, 
gives quite a Canadian aspect to the view 
from our window. So, dear old Canada, we 

think and speak of you this morning 

Mr. Clarke has just come in, bringing with 

him, to call upon us. Sir M. B , an English 

baronet, who has a large property and fine 
farm in the Orange Free State, and who, 
happening to be in Harrismith, from which 
he Hves some two days' journey off, has been 
weather-bound like ourselves. He means to 
start to-morrow, for he has a very light trap 
and four horses, all eager to face homeward. 

ar^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa, 83 

so they will pull gladly through drifts and 
spruits, which our obstinate beasts would be 
safe to balk at. He says we should be mad 
to yenture until we have given the sun 
and wind a day or two longer to dry up 
the boggy places, which we cannot with our 

heavier vehicle avoid. Sir M 's hearty, 

cheery manner, and kind greeting, acted like 
a restorative, and his thoughtful offer of help 
and hospitality should we need it, as we 
passed near his place, drove away the dis- 
mals, and replaced bare resignation with 
hope. He and Mr. Clarke mapped out our 
route clearly, Mr. Clarke promising to escort 
us safely over the first bad " drift " we must 
go through not far from Harrismith, and Sir 

M promising to secure for us the good 

offices of a certain Dutchman, Placide by 
name, not given to help strangers, but who 
would do so when thus requested. Should 
our horses again fail us, we might, thus 
introduced, count upon Placide's oxen to pull 
us through Satan Spruit (suggestive name), 
at the foot of his farm. 

VI tin. — No hope of starting. The roads 

G 2 

84 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

are impassable to us, though a very Kght 

conveyance might venture over them 

The post-cart has arrived from the diamond- 
fields, many hours behind time, passengers 
all weary and mud-bespattered. One poor 
lady has her arm in a sling from a severe 
sprain occasioned thus : — At a roadside stop- 
ping-place all but herself had dismounted to 
stretch their cramped limbs, whilst a change 
of mules was being eflfected. One alone had 
been harnessed, when the remaining five 
darted off from the Kafir grooms, and tore 
helter-skelter up the broken side of a preci- 
pice to the right of the road. The deserted 
mule, seeing no fun in being left out of the 
game, started off after them, post-cart, lady, 
and all. " It is all very fine to say you 
should have sat perfectly still," said she. 
" It was not in human nature to do so when 
I saw myself about to be dragged fco what 
looked like certain death." Without wasting 
breath upon screams, or precious time upon 
fainting, as we women are usually supposed to 
do under circumstances when such childish- 
ness would be suicidal, she lowered herself 


OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 85 

from the seat to the floor, and, seizing her 
opportunity, let herself down upon one of 
the boulders over which the mule had just 
dragged the cart. She thus escaped with 
only this bad sprain. Arnica could soothe 
that, but broken bones would have been 
harder to remedy. 

18f A. — Eeally off. Mr. Clarke did us good 
service with his " sjambok " (pronounced 
shambuck), a whip of such stinging potency 
that even our animals dashed over stones 
and through mud, splash, schwash, schluck, 
sccrrssh, when he "laid on" with it, as 
he literally rode wp at them, every here 
and there, upon his dapper little horse, first 
touching up one and then another of the 
straining animals. We were very sorry to 
say good-bye to our new friend. May he 
have in store for him as happy a future as 
he most richly deserves I 

Placide's Pass, or Satan's Spruit, was our 
next tough morsel. Fortunately Mr. Mac- 
pherson's horses, knowing they were nearing 
home, lead off in fine style, ours almost 
involuntarily following them, John's fine 

86 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

instinct having guided him aright to the 
narrow criss-cross of a fording-place, on^ 
either side of which mishap certainly awaited 
us. Triumphantly landed on the other side 
of this spruit, we outspanned and eat a hearty 
midday meal. One more short trek, and 
then picture us, if you can, camped for our 
first night upon the Veldt. 

Tent travelling in Minnesota was luxury 
to this, I thought, as we made our prepara- 
tions for retiring. Let no grumbling of 
mine mislead. Our discomfort arose entirely 
fi*om the smallness of our wagon. Time 
being an object, it had been thought by 
those who knew the country better than we, 
that horses meant speed. It was the old 
fable of the hare and tortoise over again. 
Could we have kept up "hare" speed, the 
advice would have been right ; but the season 
and other causes were against us. Could we 
have had relays of horses, we could have got 
on faster, but that was not possible, and even 
a team of model strength and behaviour 
could not have done the work continuously. 
Perhaps in the summer, when grass could be 


OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 87 

had for the nibbling, our manner of travel- 
ling might be more feasible. I do not think 
I shall readily forget this our first experience 
of out-of-door bed-making under diflBculties, 
but then it is the first experience which 
generally leaves the deepest impression upon 
the mind. Firstly, we had to turn out every- 
thing that was not fairly under the proper 
level of the seats of the wagon, before we 
could get out the boards, fit them into their 
places, ready to receive the grass-stuflted 
cushions which were to form our mattress. 
Secondly, we had to take them in again, and 
stow them away with ourselves somehow and 

somewhere. Poor Mr. G , who feels the 

cold dreadfully, had to use the half-tent 
attached to the end of the wagon, where, 
on a cork bed, he courted sleep, but I fancy 
never won the drowsy god. Now, a cork 
bed is about as easy as a gridiron. The 
powdered cork tightly packed in ribs takes 
the consistency of iron, and has quite as bone- 
aching an efiect, I assure you. 

On the 19th of June we started early, 
with the good steeds Mr. Macpherson had 

88 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

so kindly lent us, not daring to think how 
we shall get along after we have returned 
them to their owner by-and-by. We reached 
our good friend's store at 11 p.m. No, 
we did not reach it, quite. About tw^ity 
yards from his door was a sluit, into which 
we dived, but out of which it took a yoke 
of borrowed oxen to pull us again, with 
snapt pole, bent axle, and broken harness. 
John, with his big packing-needle, was soon 
seated tailor-fashion, stitching away to repair 
the latter. Then, with help, he lashed the 
pole, and tinkered us up to starting-point 
by the time we had partaken of Mrs. Mac- 
pher son's lavish hospitality. Both she and 
her husband were real benefactors to us, as I 
am sure they would not fail to be to any 
traveller in the same need as we were. Mr. 
Macpherson and his brother offered to ac- 
company us as far as Sir M. B 's, where 

we hoped to be by nightfall. We had but 
four horses to the wagon now, and they, 
missing the leadership which had kept them 
in order for the last few days, began their 
performances at the very outset. Not a half- 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 89 

mile from our starting-point, without any 
visible cause whatever, one wheeler com- 
menced a bout of kicking, which, as if by the 
winding-up of machinery, set the others 
puppet-fashion in motion. The rearer 
reared, the biter behind him bit him for 
fear he should cease rearing, and take to 
kicking, I suppose, which might have in- 
commoded him ; the plunger plunged — till 
more than one was down — Jim, as usualj^. 
in amongst the struggling mass, escaping, 
as he has done again and again, as by a 
miracle, without injury, and John outside, 
with voice g?nd whip, helping him to restore 

Any one who may be tempted to get out 
to look on, or to help, during any of 
these scenes, needs to leap into his place 
with tact and agility at the critical moment, 
a moment which it requires some experience 
to detect, for away may race the whole four 
when seeming most unlikely to do so, leav- 
ing them in the road to pursue and scramble 
into the wagon as best they can at the 
next halt. The drift, or river, was to be 

go On Trek in the Transvaal; 

our ** coining struggle." The animals dashed 
straight into it with an air which promised 
much, arrived within a yard or two of the 
steep bank on the other side, and then could 
not, or would not, budge. I scrambled over 
the driver's seat, and managed to reach by a 
flying leap, the dry land, preferring the risk 
of a wetting to the far from cheering prospect 
of sitting in our devoted trap, whilst, all 
hands were engaged in getting it out of the 

Mr. Macpherson unharnessed his help- 
ful steeds from his trap, and, restoring them 
to their old places as leaders, they all 
pulled us through, after some delay, much 
whipping, and several failures. A hill full of ' 
boulders, with a very imperceptible road- 
line, lay just in front. ** After that all will 
be fairly easy," said our cheery friend, " but 
I've a notion that it will prove a tough bit 
for your beasts ! " Tough ! ay, that it >^ras ; so 
tough that they would have none of it. They 
jibbed at once, and refused to make any effort 
whatever. They were fearfally thrashed, I 
am sorry to say, but with no more effect than 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S, Africa. 9 1 

to make them leap from side to side, or only 
to recoil about an inch from their standing- 

Mr. Macpherson at last said, " One of 

you come on with me to Sir M. B 's, 

and see if we can get him to lend you 
oxen. It must be midnight before they 
reach you, so outspan and await what help 
may come." 

I declined leaving my husband, so Mr. 

G drove on to Leon Kopje, to tell the tale 

of this our last disaster, we crawling into the 
wagon, the wheels of which were " klipped," 
to keep us from running down the hill, 
trying to nap at intervals, and to get warm 
if we could. About 10 p.m. voices roused 
John and Jim, then ourselves, English 
voices ofltering help, and asking what was 
amiss. A Kafir had carried back the news 
to Mrs. Macpherson, and two young English- 
men, assistants at the store, had kindly 
ridden off to help us. They put their horses 
with ours, and after two hours of urgings, 
encouragings, and alas, of scourgings also, 
bit by bit, the cruel hill was conquered, 

92 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

and our wagon was safely landed on the 
plateau above. There, after parting with 
our rescuers, and thanking them heartily, we 
agreed to pass the night. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 9 3 


More good Samaritans — Leon Kopje — Oxen versus 
horses — Wounded buck — We cross the Vaal River — 
In the Transvaal at last — Our first Veldt fire — 
Ziicker Busch — Change of scenery — Sleep under diflS- 
culties — Storm by Ferguson's — Humours of gold 

20thj Sunday. — The morning dawned upon 
us with still much to be accomplished before 
we could fairly lay claim to this as our day 
of rest. The men inspanned early, and as 
the road was good, we made a fairly long 
trek before stopping for breakfast. Whilst 
taking our meal, we spied to our great joy 
Mr. Macpherson's trap, with himself, his 
brother, and our own fellow-traveller en- 
sconced therein. By their side rode Mr. 
Crayneau, Sir M 's bailiff, factotum, right- 
hand, lieutenant, — but indeed it is difl&cult to 

94 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

define wliat he is to his chief, and more 
diflBcult what he is not ! To us, from that 
moment he held forth a helping hand, so 
willingly, that I can find no name good 
enough for him. Mr. Macpherson was on 
his way homeward, and, feeling so sure of 

meeting us, Mr. G had returned with 

him to comfort us with the assurance of a 

kind welcome from Sir M , and with the 

offer of just the help we needed, i. e. a small 
span of trained ^^ salted ^^ (acclimatized and 
inoculated) oxen at a fair price, to take us on 
to the Transvaal. We had resigned ourselves 
at last to the inevitable, driven by hard 
experience to recognize the necessity for 
this purchase, for our horses had proved a 
dead failure. 

I may as well note here the one serious 
drawback to travelling in South Africa, i. e. 
the effect of climate and disease upon animals. 
Natal oxen or horses cannot live in the Trans- 
vaal, and vice versa^ although those of the 
Free State will, I believe, live in the Trans- 
vaal. Ours did at any rate, and lasted, with 
one exception, until we reached Natal the 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 95 

following March, being in good enough con- 
dition to be purchased for an up-country 
journey, to be undertaken soon afterwards. 

A hearty handshake, with many . expres- 
sioiis of gratitude, and our adieux, were 
made to Mr. Macpherson, who promised to 

fetch jfrom Sir M 's our recreant steeds, 

when we shall have made the exchange 
we contemplate, assuring us he will do 
his best to find purchasers for them. Mr. 
Crayneau added his horse to our team, and, 
taking the reins, drove us by a short cut 
known to him, but unknown to John, to Leon 
Kopje, or Lion Mountain — so called from its 
having formerly been the haunt of the King 
of Beasts — now his haunt no more, civiliza- 
tion having driven him farther across the 

Veldt. Sir M most hospitably received 

us — ^had our wagon drawn up in jfront of a 
new house he was building, but which was 
not as yet sufficiently complete iEor his occu- 
pation. We were not the only wayfarers 
thus received under his roof — ^for already 
a retired military officer, on his way with his 
wife and little ones up the country, were 

g6 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

quartered in one part, whilst we had a room 
placed at our disposal in another ; they, like 
ourselves, having come to grief by the way. 
Their needs could not be supplied so quickly 
as ours — for their wagon, being larger, it 
was more difficult to find the eighteen oxen 
they required than the smaller span of six for 

us. Mr. G was to have a shake-down 

at Sir M 's own house. 

" m do the best I can for you,'* said 
our host, as he laughingly helped to make 
our quarters as comfortable as circumstances 
would permit. Up went an iron bedstead — 
down went some skins upon the mud floor 
(planks are IZ. a piece — so guess why they 
rank hereabouts among the luxuries of 
life). " You must make shift with your own 
cushions and rugs by way of bedding, and 
I can let you have a candlestick ! " this 
triumphantly ! An inverted bucket made a 
seat, and our macintosh bath and folding 
basin served each its own comforting purpose. 
After our last night's shivering and cramp, 
how nice to have a roof over our heads — ' 
space to wash in — I had never numbered 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 97 

that amongst my mercies before! and a 
bedstead to Ke upon, to say nothing of a 
comfortable meal, without needing to give a 
thought to its preparation, or of the warm 
welcome which was its best sauce. Never 
was such a comitry for good Samaritans as 
this, say we — ^judging from our experience 
so far. 

2l5i. — The top half of our door opens at 
daylight, and a black paw hands us in the 
morning <5offee. " Tink-tink-tink-a-tink I" at 

our wagon outside. Sir M is himself 

tinkering away, lying on his back at full 
length under it, and at work like any son of 
the soil. As the hammer falls, if a hammer 
can fall upwards, its regular stroke and 
sonorous soimd show it is at no play work. 
If my notes ever should find their way into 

print, I trust Sir M will forgive my 

telling this little episode, for how can I be 
a faithful historian if I leave untold the 
many deeds as well as words of kindness 
which will ever make our stay at Leon Kopje 

a pleasant memory to us both ? Sir M 

burnt up his last bit of packing-case to give 

•» •* ^ * ■\-' J-"* J 


On Trek in the Transvaal; 

us a cheering blaze at night, the fuel of the 
country the "drift" upon which we shall 
have to depend for some time to come being 
too damp and soddened by the late rains to 
be available for the purpose. 

2272.(Z. — Breakfast over, a couple of fowls 

retrieved for us by Sir M 's big dog 

(such a magnificent fellow), half a sheep, 
some potatoes, one loaf and some flour — ^we 
felt we were victualled royally, for some days 
to come. 

"Your traps are ready," said our host, 
" and I think the wagon is good for as far 
as Pretoria." Up came our six fine oxen, 
the wheelers splendid creatures, much larger 
than the others — as is usual. John learnt 
ofi* their names rapidly, " Colbert, Potbert, 
Uppermann, literally Upper man, Vetfort, 
Eomann, Vedermann." Not to know these 
would render driving almost impossible, 
for each ox answers to its own name and to 
the word of command, going to the right or 
lefb as told, its only other guidance being that 
of the long whip — ^never the rein. More 
good-byes and Godspeeds, and we were once 

W to 

• *^ J^^ 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa 99 

more " on trek," Sir M running after 

us with his last gift, and it is true charity 
which parts with what it wants itself, i.e. 
an old yoke's skey (I reaUy do not know how 
to spell it), with which to make our next fire. 
But for this happier after-thought we should 
certainly be without fuel, and could not 
" cook our kettle." I watched the steady 
pad pad of our oxen, and their intelligent 
comprehension of their driver's orders with 
considerable interest, and with a sense of 
thankfulness that come what may in the 
shape of road obstacles, these strong, clever 
big things would go steadily at their work, 
and " slow and sure " might be relied upon 
as our motto henceforth. No frantic rushes 
— ^no dead stoppings — ^no plungings — ^no 
roarings, &c., but progress steady if not 
rapid. Even Potbert's stumpy little tail, or 
what was left of that useful member after 
inoculation, had its interest for me. He was 
eloquent with that little stump, replying by 
a twirl first on one side, then on the other, 
when John addressed him specially, urging 
him to greater efforts, or to take up an equal 

H 2 


lOO On Trek in the Transvaal; 

share with Colbert of that heavy disselboom 
which was thenceforth to be their joint 
burden. Jim had now to act as forelooper, 
to lead by a reim thrown over their horns, 
the right or left fore ox, as directed by the 
driver. The forelooper's is at times a diflfi- 
cult task, having to pick his way safely over 
gulUes and holes, and through rivers, &c., 
but on a plain, flat road the intelligent 
animals need only the word of the driver, 
and usually go forward " straight as a die," 
never diverging unless a rare spirit of mis- 
chief possesses a leader, when of course all 
follow, until the forelooper swift as hght- 
ning seizes the guiding reim, and they fall into 
line once more. Nothing eventful marked 
this day. We found it cold at night, and 
our companion's very teeth chattered behind 
the respirator he wore as a precautionary 
measure, at the thought of his "lodging upon 
the cold, cold ground." We retired happy 

family fashion, Mr. G in his tent, the 

men underneath, and faithful little Flora, Mr. 

G 's dog, with us in the wagon; she 

positively refusing to accept the nook her 

oTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. loi 

master tried to entice her to occupy for their 
mutual comfort by his side. 

2Srd June. — ^Up betimes. One adventure 
only to relate. " Look at that cloud of 
birds," exclaimed one of us. " They're vul- 
tures," explained John; " there's a wounded 
buck for sure ; if he was dead, they'd have 
pitched upon his carcase, instead of hovering 
about Jim as they are doing." Throwing 
the whip upon the grass, ordering a halt, and 
bidding Jim mind the oxen, John, seizing his 
huge clasp knife, bounded to the ground, and 
like an arrow from a bow, was off to the spot 
where the helpless creature lay with broken 
leg and gaping wound, unable to fly from 
the fate which instinct taught was in store for 
him. John and the vultures were of the 
same mind, with this difference — the man 
would kill by a blow at the cost of one pang 
only, whilst the birds were biding their time 
till exhaustion should paralyze their victim's 
powers. They would then devour him piece- 
meal, first picking out his eyes, to make him 
more easily their prey. John reached us, 
dragging the dead buck with him ; it being too 

I02 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

heavy even for him, strong as he is, to carry 
outright single-handed. The creature was 
lashed to the side of the wagon, until time 
permitted for skinning it, &c. The men ate 
voraciously of the buck; but we infinitely 
preferred our mutton, of which we could now 
have a larger share. It was very cold this 
night, although the sun had scorched us 
by day, as we camped by the Vaal River at 
last. The Vaal is really an aflBluent of the 
Orange River, and is the boundary pass 
between the Orange Free State and the 

Mr. G caused us and himself too some 

. fim by an ingenious contrivance for keeping 
out the cold, viz., that of literally lacing 
himself mummy-fashion into his cork bed 
rolled up in his rugs, there being eyelet-holes 
in the large oil-cloth flaps with which 
it is provided. We did not see the effect ; 
but it was easy to picture it, as we heard 
him distinctly panting with the unwonted 
exertion of donning full-length stays! Our 
rallying was taken all in good part, our 
friend sturdily refusing to be laughed out of 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 103 

his novel method of " makiDg the best of 

24i^ June. — Watched the passage through 
the river of some heavy wagons, whose pooi, 
tired-out oxen seemed unequal to their task. 
The river was not deep, but the sand on our 
side made the bank very diflficult to climb. 
Our men readily lent a hand, knowing the 
drivers well. They would have done the 
same in any case. The sand was literally 
dug away from the wheels; and at last, by 
means of a long pull, and a strong pull, and 
a puU all together, amidst a Babel of sounds 
each span dragged up its burden. We went 
through the "drift" (synonym for ford) 
without a hitch, and on the other side con- 
gratulated ourselves that we were in the 
Transvaal at last, although many a weary 
mile from our actual destination. At our 
one o'clock outspan we cooked our mutton, 
and I concocted what I must freely confess 
was a stodgy " something : " component parts 
flour and water, for want of other material, 
and meant to take the place of bread, of 
which we had none left. This evening we saw 

I04 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

our first Veldt-fire — a grand and imposing 
spectacle, whicli we watched admiringly as 
we sat in the wagon awaiting our moonlight 
start. We shall see many more, John tells 
us, as this is one of the grass-burning 
seasons, so I shaU postpone a description 
until we meet with a very large one indeed. 
This grass burning at given times is planned 
for the providing of food for animals on trek. 
About midnight we camped by " Sugar 
Busch Farm," owned by some three or four 
brothers, all dwarfs. " They calls them the 
piggies, missus;" by which I gathered John 
was making a shot at the word pigmies. It 
was a treat when we peeped through the 
wagon curtains in the morning of the 25th 
June, to see the change on nature's face. 
Moonlight had shown us enough to give 
promise of something different to the long 
track trailing its weary length along snake- 
fashion, amidst the long grass of the Veldt, 
or circUng around hill after hill stony and 
bleak, of all of which we had so wearied. 
Now we had trees, chiefly the sugar-bush, 
and possessing no special beauty; but still 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Afrua. 105 

trees. Small kopjes started up here and 
there, as if the Veldt had upheaved occasional 
rocks and stones to relieve some internal 
spasm, but with some sense of order and 
beauty too. Nature had as usual lent a 
finishing touch, by filling up the crevices 
and gorges with mingled vegetation, creep- 
ing and berried. The little people had 
bountifully planted about their own house 
orange and other fruit-trees, and doubtless — 
for we were hardly near enough for me 
to be quite accurate — the blue gum too, 
which is of such speedy growth in this 
fine climate, that a home even in the desert 
may soon be made to possess a garden of 

Having to wend our devious way, all the 
better for being devious, through scenery 
more varied than had fallen to our lot for 
so long a time before, made even the usual 
joltings and jarrings of the spruit crossings we 
could not avoid easier to bear — so Zucker- 
busch-spruit — Klipt — or stony spruit — and 
that of "Reit," or reeds barely elicited an 
" oh," and if we saw as many stars as usual 

io6 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

when the blood flew also as usual to our 
brains, we made no mention of them. Our 
fellow-sufferer's little stock quotation, always 
so apropos, won a smile from us now. " Battle 
your bones over the stones 1 " again said he; 
and I repeat, as they rattled, we smiled ! Our 
midday meal we partook of just before we 
entered Heidelberg, within full view of that 
nice little town, and close to the farm of " The 
Saucy Dutchman." Our men knew no other 
name for him, or if they did, preferred his 
descriptive one. " The Heidelberg folks 
bring their ^ naughty ' servants to him when 
they want them to have a good tanning," they 
told us. The worthy man being, from what I 
could gather, somewhat of a Judge Lynch in 
his way, though stopping short at what caused 
that worthy no hesitation. I will answer for 
the ferocity of his dogs. Could the yelping 
vicious-looking brutes of all sizes, ages, and 
kinds, have reached us, they would have torn 
us limb from limb. The gentlemen walked 
on into the town, while we cleared up; I 
doing lighter "chores" generally, the men 
the heavier part of the business. 

oTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 107 

" Are there many English in Heidelberg, 
John ? " asked I, as we got through a bad 
spruit at its entrance. 

" Yes, missus, a good many. Why if an 
Englishman just puts one brick top of another 
in a place, there he'll stop, sure enough. No 
use trying to turn him out." 

There is much truth in this; but if the 
Englishman likes to stop where he has once 
planted the first brick of his home, he has no 
" dog in the manger " feeling about it. The 
Dutch have so strong an objection to sharing 
with the English, that it is they who move on, 
involuntary pioneers as it were. 

Thus has much of South Africa been 
peopled by whites, in scattered homesteads, 
and upon huge gra^iug-fai^s of many thou- 
sands of acres. 

As we are told, bit by bit, bygone tales of 
the Dutch occupancy of this continent, old- 
world pictures and patriarchal forms start up 
vividly before our mental eyes, and the go- 
ahead progress of our own generation seems 
the more unreal of the two. 

One needs to be living this nomadic life, 

1 08 (7;^ Trek in the Transvaal; 

and to be one of them as it were for the time 
being, to take it all in. Can it be possible 
that there ^s a country where the Edinburgh 
night mail is conveyed at a rate of some fifty 
miles an hour, or where the " Flying Dutch- 
man" rivals its speed elsewhere? What 
rich humour the very name 'here seems to 
breathe 1 

John is especially tickled at the title, and 
seems to think it bristles with sarcastic 
meaning, he being " no scholar," and never 
having read a romance in his life. So many 
of my little " by the ways " I owe to John 
that I had better own at once how much 
is due to him. On first starting we received 
as gospel nearly all we were told of the ways 
and manners of the people amongst whom we 
had come. How to treat our " boys " was 
set forth, but against that I demurred. 

"Those who have been long in a place 
ought to know better than new comers, but," 
argued I, somewhat obstinately, "human 
nature is pretty nearly the same, never mind 
the hue, all the world over, and I cannot think 
that we shall be the better served by pre- 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 109 

serving this prescribed haughty exterior, cold 
distance, and unsociable reticence, or by 
taking as a right what, if accepted with some 
recognition of free will, may be given with less 
stint and the more heartily too." So com- 
mencing by easy stages, after my own old- 
fashioned "please" and "no, thank you" way, 
I got on to hearing a little of our " boys' " 
own up-bringing at the Cape ; how Jim was 
John's foster-brother, how John's Dutch 
father, a gentleman's coachman in Cape Town, 
and his mother from St. Helena, treated Jim 
as one of their own, how John was saving up 
to become a transport-driver himself, hoping 
to possess his own wagon and oxen, &c. Ay, 
and months after on our homeward way, the 
romance having occurred in the interval, how 
he somewhat shyly showed " Missus " a pho- 
tograph of a dusky maiden he hoped some 
day to marry. Well, and what of it ? This : I 
believe that I owe to the good feelingthus estab- 
lished between us, much of what was surely 
heart-service on the part of these two coloured 
men, when my husband, a helpless invalid, and 
myself, depending wholly upon their sense of 

no On Trek in the Transvaal; 

kindness and honour, sadly retraced our steps 
from the Transvaal to Natal. They were 
true as steel to us then, sober and vigilant, 
showing at times almost a womanly sympathy 
for sufferings neither they nor I could do 
much to alleviate, although we all did what 
we could, our best. . . . 

Treat this long digression, an' it please you, 
as a kind of " outspan " on paper ; so, now 
let us " inspan " and get on trek once more. 
My question as we neared Heidelberg, and 
John's reply to it were what started me off at 
a tangent. Heidelberg is altogether too nice 
a little town, and too important, to be rattled 
through without notice. It has its hotel and 
courthouse, its Dutch minister and church, 
its good stores and many substantially built, 
comfortable houses. New streets were being 
laid out, and there was an air of progress 
mingled with that of the usual repose which 
fails not to hover round any place in which 
the Dutch element preponderates. We re- 
plenished our stores there. Bread we could 
not get, only the Boer's meal, i. e., the flour of 
the coimtry. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 1 1 1 

The moon would not rise until ten, so from 
tea-time until that hour we sat in the wagon, 
reading by lamp-light, chatting, dozing, &c., 
until the outer glare penetrated through our 
closed curtains, and warned us of the close 
proximity of another grass-fire ; fire seem- 
ingly coming at a gallop, but though it was 
difficult to believe it, not directly us-ward. 
John had noted the direction of the wind, and 
had the track, bare of aught that could ignite, 
safely between us and danger. A careless 
driver ignoring this precaution runs great 
risks. A lady told me of a narrow escape 
she had once had. By almost a miracle the 
wagon in which she slept escaped catching 
alight. It had been drawn up side by side, 
she afterwards discovered, with two or three 
others containing large stores of gunpowder. 
In her case " ignorance was truly bliss," for 
had she known this during the time of actual 
peril her fears for herself and little ones must 
have been cruelly increased. 

Travelled till 4 a.m. of the 25ife June. 
** Hardly worth while putting up the tent, is 
it?" said Mr. G . I could not help 

112 On Trek in the Tr&nsvaal; 

thinking it was, from our point of view, 
for if the space was infinitesimal for two, 
what would it be for three? However, it 
seemed selfish to say so, and exchanging a 
look of half-comical despair, my husband and 
I assented, or rather did not dissent, thus 
to make a night of it : — 

I wedge myself in on the top of the bundles 
and packages of every kind, which nearly 
reach the tilt, and crosswise I curl myself up 
determined to utter again never a sound. 
The inverted wash-basin is my pillow. Mr. 
G.'s saddle, a purchase en route ^ by-the-bye, 
occupies just the hollow I should like to have 
and cannot, while the stirrups meet me turn 
which way I will. I pat lovingly a little 
softer bit I find, which if I could coax it into 
a better position would add hugely to my 
comfort. I give each of my limbs a turn 
upon it. It is not till morning I discover that 
I owed the few intermittent " forty winks " 
which visited my drowsy lids — to — the 
remains of Sir M.'s saddle of mutton 1 I 
kept the discovery a profoimd secret, lest 
my companions' appetites might suffer, an^ 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 113 

although I did not altogether like the notion 
myself, I forgot it, on principle, at meal times, 
for it was Hobson's choice with us, — " that or 

26<A. — A steady day's work brings us to 
Fergusson's, where we have fortunately a 
thoroughly hearty tea — the mutton of course, 
which was really very tender! Mr. G. is 
anxious to reach Pretoria in time, if possible, 
to take at least one service to-morrow, he 
having been told that there is no clergyman 
of our church there at present. One good 
trek to-night might have accomplished this, 
but it was not to be our good fortune to carry 
out our programme. Rain feU in torrents, 
most unusual at this season, coming upon us 
with startling suddenness. The thunder 
rolled ominously, lightning flashed, and the 
wind shook us, rattled us, upheaved us, 
howled at us, did everything in fact short of 
carrying our wagon bodily up into the clouds 
like a balloon. 

The men curled up like hedgehogs under 
the vehicle, sheltering themselves as best they 
could, and slumbering as profoundly as if 


114 O^ Trek in the Transvaal; 

^^^^^M^^^IM^l^^^— ^i^M^»^^»^«^^^B^^^— ^M^^^^I^^^^M^— ^i^— ^^i^— ^I^M^M^— ■^^^^^■^■^^^^»^^^^^— ■ ■ ■i»^— ^— ^ 

the elements were simply rocking them to 

Sunday dawned, but with the pitiless drip, 
drip of down-coming waters, not as over- 
night with the sound as of bullets fired at us 
from afar, and with a power of penetration 
conveying more actual personal discomfort, 
oozing cleverly through the curtain in spots 
and streams, making tears on our faces and 
puddles in our laps. It was 2 p.m. before 
John thought it of any avail to start, rain 
having at last ceased. Breakfastless and 
dinnerless, for it was useless to attempt to 
light a fire. We could not eat raw mutton, 
and we had no bread. A little " Liebig " in 
cold water, and hard biscuits to munch had to 
sufl&ce us until we reached Pretoria. 

At Fergusson's my husband was told there 
were indications of gold, and indeed that some 
had been found in a creek close by. This 
poor man, we have heard since, has added 
another to the list of post-cart victims, he 
having been thrown out and either killed upon 
the spot, or dying shortly afterwards of the 
injuries he sustained. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 115 


Pretoria — Productive soil and fine climate of the Trans- 
vaal — ^A trip to the Wonder-baum, and a visit to a 
Boer homestead and orange grove. 

Now, how shall I describe Pretoria to you ? 
It was a bright starlight night when, our 
long weaiy trek over, we entered the city. 
Rest at last I thought we, and, oh bliss ! a 
roof over our heads once more in prospect. 
John drew up at the corner of the large 
square which most of the principal buildings 
faced, and hesitated for a few moments, as if 
considering where best to deposit us. Touts 
from the three or four hotels gathered about 
him instantly, and, in Dutch and English, 
offered their hospitality. Haphazard fashion, 
one was selected, and it turned out to be one 
of the best, kept by an Englishman, though 

I 2 

1 16 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

with many of the peculiarities of the country 
to mark it. Mu(J floors, of course. In the 
corner of the sitting-room was a mushn- 
covered toilet-table and glass, for all comers. 
A wood fire crackled upon the hearth, which 
imparted an air of comfort to the somewhat 
nondescript apartment. Food, bath, and bed 
were good restoratives, and the morning 
found us revived and keenly alive to the 
interest we could not but feel in the capital of 
this independent little state. 

Pretoria has its Dutch and its English 
churches, its ParUament House, or " Volks- 
raad," where most oflEicial business seems to 
be carried on ; its bank, some very excellent 
stores, and many good private houses. I 
think every trade is represented and fairly 
thrives, but everything is dear. I gave one 
shilling and sixpence to have a pin put to my 
brooch, and was thankful that we did not 
require to replenish our wardrobes. Meat is 
cheap, about fourpence and sixpence per lb., 
but bread much dearer in proportion. Tiny 
little dykes run criss-cross about the streets. 
If one intercept your path, you leap it, or, 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 117 

maybe, find a stone or a plank to help you 

Pretoria only wants the magic touch of 
British capital and enterprise, in larger mea- 
sure than it can under present circumstances 
enjoy, to become what I hope I may live to see 
it — a magnificent city, the life-giving centre 
of a noble state, peopled by thousands where 
it now has only its tens, its riches developed 
and its wealth reaped by the coming many, 
who, by the use of head and hands, will have 
earned a fair claim to the wage generous 
nature never fails to pay without stint. The 
Transvaal has a fine climate and productive 
soil. These reduce labour to a minimum; 


nature doing so much, man has contented 
himself to do but little. Think, then, of the 
return the doing of much instead of little 
would bring when just planting the seed 
and looking on, produce crops so bountiful. 
Manuring land in South Africa is hardly ever 
heard of. I never heard of it, I know, and I 
think I may safely assert that it would be 
considered a work of supererogation. If 
mother earth were treated now and then to 

1 1 8 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

the life-restoring dose administered to her as 
a necessity nearly everywhere else, I can pic- 
ture the large luscious oranges which weighed 
down the boughs of the fine trees in a de- 
licious shady orange grove we visited, becom- 
ing as big as pumpkins and twice as juicy as 
now, and the monster lemons the size of 
cocoa-nuts ! These are figures of speech, of 
course. My pen-Pegasus will get upon 
figures and comparisons, and then, I confess, 
the creature needs a tight rein. He has 
nearly bolted with me more than once since I 
have been " on trek.'* He is steady as old 
Time when upon facts, they being stubborn 
things, but when he can get a chance of a 
free gallop over open ground, where no one 
need be run down or scared away by his 
scamperings, he will have his fling if he can. 

Pegasus well in hand, let me rather speak 
of the Pretoria we found than of the Pretoria 
as it will probably be ere even a few years 
have passed over it, and, as it is evident fi^om 
the freely expressed opinions of many of its 
present inhabitants, they earnestly hope it 
will become. " Coming events cast their 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 119 

shadows before them/' and it requires no gift 
of prophecy to foresee that many difBcnlties 
are in store for that independent little Re- 
public — little in numbers, not in size — if it 
persists in attempting to meet them single- 
handed. Clouds are gathering, the tempest 
lowers, and already big drops have fallen, 
heralding the coming storm. The scattered 
people of the Transvaal " number 8000 adult 
males, and out of these 5000 alone could by 
any possibilty be put into the field against 
Cetywayo's 40,000 warriors/' Mistake after 
mistake has been made, it seems. Acting 
President Joubert, by his " ill-judged haughty 
messages to this chief, who craves nothing 
more eagerly than to wash the spears of the 
young men of his nation," did much, it is 
supposed, to stir up the muddy waters. End, 
Heaven send that their colour may be red- 
tinted by the dark soil of the country only, 
and never by its heart's best blood ! 

The very thought of native warfare appals. 
Records of it in the past, read at one's own 
fireside, with every sense of personal security, 
have a power to make one shudder ; but here, 

I20 On Trek in trte Transvaal ; 

where it is easy to see what great advantages 
nature and training give the savage, and now 
that, added to the assegai of the past, he has 
the white man's rifle and steady aim, who 
would not shudder at what may be in store 
for them, should the obstinate policy of the 
blind few prevail against the clearer vision 
and better wisdom of the many ? The Trans- 
vaal can as little afford to blunder as they 
" who live in glass houses to throw stones." 
Tractable as the Kafir appears, and is, as he 
goes about his daily round of work in your 
service, singing the while, as if from very 
lightheartedness, nursing your baby child, 
man though he be, with a woman's tenderness 
and love, yet war transforms him ; the wild 
beast of the desert can be no more cruel than 
he. He seems to cast his very manhood as a 
skin, and becomes a fiend incarnate. The 
white man's safety has depended in a great 
degree upon the inability of the native mind 
to grasp the meaning of combined action. 
Cut up into numberless tribes, and always 
with some quarrel on hand, the idea of 
making any great stand against the whites 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 121 

lias not entered their thick heads. They 
have a confused notion that we are not such 
god-hke beings as they once thought us. 
They have spied out the joints in our armour; 
they have read official caution in our dealings 
with them for pusillanimity, and once let 
them tax us with that, our moral influence 
over them is at an end. 

We are on heavy ground, Pegasus, my 
steed. It is not for us to decide the fate of 
nations, however it -may vex our prophetic 
souls and sympathizing hearts to think of 
what yet may befall these kindly new friends 
of ours, if a wiser policy do not prevail. 
Neither you nor I, that we wot of, have as 
yet come under the shadow of a Transvaal 
magnate at all, and it is only from the little 
droppings from other lips that we have drawn 
our deductions. It may be that some with 
whom we have talked of these things were 
just a trifle faint-hearted. Let us hope so ; 
for although, God willing, we may be thou- 
sands of miles away when the tempest bursts 
in its fury, if it be not mercifully averted, 
upon this plucky little community, it would 

122 Oh Trek in the Transvaal; 

bo grievous news to reach, us in our safe 
haven in Old England that the despairing cry 
had been uttered in the far-away Transvaal, 
" Come over and help us I " when English 
ears could not hear, nor could English hands 
save I The solution of the riddle will never 
fall to our share ; that much we know, so I 
will make an end alike of my hopes and my 
forebodings, and you, old dunderhead, must 
mend your pace and carry me and as many 
as can be induced to mount behind me away 
some hundred and fifty miles beyond Pretoria 
as fast as you can. 

My note-book must again tell its own 
unvarnished tale, and this time, if possible, 
without digression. 

}lonM.^^ 28<A June. — Oh! the luxury of 
ck^n clothes, a breakfast already prepared 
aykI wmting for you, a civil landlord, new 
^ic^ W $tudv, and new ideas to exchange ! 
lt^sfi^^^^^($!$^ tempered by civilization, and 
^ wwaltiiesses we had so lately ex- 
^^H^^^ing to us as no roughness at 
^% ^(Vl»^*f^^ dtslightfully new and quaint ; 
lVW*t^ ^ftd kindly in their greeting. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa, 1 23 

More English than Dutch voices reach our 
ears, and Kafir laugh and song, with their 
now famihar ring, meet us at all points, from 
the " tchaia I hamba ! " (I cannot spell it) to 
the dog which is poking its nose into the 
cook's porridge pot, to the graver greeting 
of ** Inkosi," or chief, as a Kafir meets one 
of his ** betters " in the street. Then, luxury 
of luxuries, English letters I As we read 
them, Pretoria, its past, present, and future 
melts away from before our very eyes, and old 
England, with the dear ones it holds for us, 
rises up instead for the short luxurious hour 
we devote to the devouring of the messages 
loving hands have traced so many thousands 
of miles away. 

How many really nice people there seem to 
be in Pretoria, resident or otherwise ! I do 
not like to write their names in full, and if I 
multiply initials I shall puzzle you sorely. 

You will be investing Mr. Q with Mr. 

T 's attributes, and making httle Mr. 

Z do things only the very tall Mr. X 

could accomplish. Some of these nice " ini- 
tials," including the two clergymen, for 

1 24 Oh Trek in the Transvaal; 

instead of none there were two of the cloth 
in the place, made up a pleasant party to 
show us the " Wonder-baum,'* a tree of such 
surprising dimensions that no one could 
quite agree as to its exact size and height, 
though many hundreds of people have con- 
gregated under its branches, with their 
wagons and belongings, on the occasion of 
some public demonstration. The tree is a 
" Banyan," and has been destroyed in many 
parts most barbarously by some Dutch Boers, 
possessing no taste for the beauties of nature, 
but standing in immediate need of firewood. 

The branches have arched out grandly; 
then, mother earth having seized them where 
they have laid themselves, like weary young 
giants, to rest upon her bosom, she has 
nourished them into new life just then and 
there, and lo I another arch has made another 
span, until you seem to have ready to your 
hand a natural church, with aisles, and 
chancel, vestry, and belfiy complete. 

After inspecting this real " wonder " tree, 
and, in spite of its church-like aspect, partaking 
hungrily of bread and butter biscuits, &c., 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 125 

under its shade, listening the while to the 
chattering noises issuing from the rocks and 
smaller trees behind, and hoping for a sight 
of some of the baboons which live amongst 
them, our party started for a visit, our first, 
to the house of a real Dutch Boer. This 
was a very favourable specimen, I was told, 
much cleaner and neater than is usual 
amongst them. It might have been cleaner, 
certainly, but then it might have been dirtier. 
We all filed in one after the other, I, humbly 
entreating to be amongst the hindermost, 
partly from modesty and partly in conse- 
quence of a bright little idea, over which I 
chuckled, that as we had to shake hands all 
round, from the father down to the baby, I 
might somehow come better off after the first 
shine had been removed by the five friendly 
shakepaws which would thus precede mine. I 
never appreciated gloves so much as then, 
especially as I neared the " tinies," for 
children up to six are liable to stickiness, and 
Dutch children, like their parents, are washed 
only once a week upon principle. 

Introduced by Mr. Sharley, who, being the 

126 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

clergyman, and one to whom our thanks are 
specially due for much kind attention during 
our stay in Pretoria, may surely have his 
name in full, we were cordially welcomed, 
and the hand -shaking over, according to the 
correct rules of etiquette, the father first, 
never the mother, which would be an error 
of breeding not readily forgiven, we were 
seated formally around the room or house- 
place. The Vrau never rose from her seat, 
to which she might have been beeswaxed, so 
firmly rooted to it did she seem, her feet on 
the usual pan of charcoal, and herself fast 
developing that necessary amount of fat 
which renders a Dutch wife beautiful in her 
husband's eyes. She was very affable, and 
talked, though I understood not a syllable, 
with considerable volubility. By her side on 
the table, in whose drawer she safely deposits 
and withdraws again never, if she can help 
it, any stray coin her husband dutifiilly hands 
to her, she being purse-keeper, was a "Weir's 
hand sewing-machine, about some disarrange- 
ment of which she had some hope I might 
enlighten her. Could I have understood her 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 127 

I might liave done so, but silence was my 
best wisdom, and I expressed my inability by 
dumb show. A rattle of cups and saucers 
announced the cofEee, which is served without 
fail as a mark that you are received as one of 
the family. I had rather dreaded this cere- 
monial, having been warned that I might not 
quite like its every detail. I certainly did 
not. A young girl, one of the daughters, 
superintended the repast. Between the 
filUng of each cup, she dipped it into a small 
pudding-basin, holding more coffee-slops than 
water, by way of cleansing it. In her hand 
was a rag the size of a child's pocket-hand- 
kerchief, and the colour of the liquor itself, 
with which she smeared it. This might 
have been borne with some measure of 
equanimity, but to see her wipe her own face 
leisurely at intervals with the same, was just 
the one drop too much which made the cup, 
our metaphorical cup, overflow. This hap- 
pened to the literal cup, by a sleight of hand, 
which probably procured me a character for 
awkwardness, but which spared me a nau- 
seous draught. 

128 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

Before leaving the farm we saw its fine 
grove of orange and lemon trees, and bore 
away bags full of the dehcious fruit, besides 
eating as much as we liked. They were paid 
for indirectly, I believe, by one of the party 
who understood best how such delicate 
transactions are arranged amongst the Boers. 
Probably the coin itself was small which 
found its way into the house-mother's money- 
drawer, for rich and luscious as these oranges 
are, they have the additional virtue of cheap- 
ness too. 

Our return cavalcade arranged itself in the 
same marching order as in the morning, 
with this difference, that the *' grey," which 
had so strongly objected to convey me when 
outward-bound, testifying its objections 
thereto without scruple, pirouetting round at 
each little sluit, or ditch, with an eye to the 
stable in which he had idled for weeks, now 
stepped out freely, and even indulged me 
with a pleasant little canter or two after we 
had first mounted up, and then " shthered " 
down the stony kopje, which stood between 
the Wonder-baum and the capital. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S, Africa. 1 29 


The Dutch of the Transvaal — Some of their manners and 
customs — Courtship and marriage — Kill or cure — 
Edigious customs — The Kirk-raad — The "Doep- 
pers " — ^Nacht-maal. 

I MUST find a niche somewhere amidst my 
jottings for my little " scrap-bag" of odds and 
ends about the Dutch of South Africa, and 
their old-world ways, which I gathered here 
and there, sometimes from one, sometimes 
from another; sometimes from answered 
queries of my own, sometimes from the 
" chit-chatteries " of the hotel table and 
general room ; and notably from John, whose 
powers of observation are of no mean order. 
Why might not this chapter be my niche, as 
well as another ? 

To understand this quaint people, and how 

130 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

it happens that they differ so much firom the 
colonists of any other part of the world, it is 
necessary to take an imaginary kerchief, and 
with it to wipe away from the mind's tablets 

somewhat more than two centuries of time, 


and with them all the progress other countries 
and people have made therein. The Dutch 
of South Africa to-day probably differ very 
nearly as much, not quite, because of their 
national phlegm, from the Dutch of Holland, 
as they do from ourselves. Had an offshoot 
of our nation planted itself as a community, 
like these old Hollanders did years ago in 
some far-away land, inaccessible, partly be- 
cause they chose it should be so, receding 
as others advanced, because they would not 
be meddled with, and content to do as their 
forefathers had done before them; should not 
we, I ask you, cut about as sorry a figure as 
they, when the outer world poimces upon us 
at last, and has its laugh at our antediluvian 
ways? Their very mode of living, that 
veritable living in tents, accounts for much 
of all this. When a wagon has formed your 
home for weeks, nay months, and even years 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 131 

in some cases, would not even a one-roomed 
house seem spacious quarters ? If you have 
not sat upon a chair for all this time, why 
need you be ashamed to squat? Habit 
becomes second nature, as we all fcaow. 
Another habit of these good folks may even 
have its excuse- In their joumeyings on 
and on, seemingly without aim, but really in 
search of " pastures new," water at times is a 
rare commodity, and has to be husbanded with 
care. The barrel slung under the wagon is 
liable to emptiness. A Dutch family wagon 
is usually packed full as any beehive, with 
human bipeds of all sizes and ages, and 
in every stage of unwashedness. Where 
buckets-full would not cleanse, what could a 
thimble-f uU do ? Hence the faith put in the 
halE-fiUed pudding-basin, and the tiny rag as 
a means of purification. The economy of it 
recommends itself to the Dutch mind, whilst 
to the Dutch body it is all-suflBcient. Again, 
may we not find another excuse for this flaw 
in these our brothers ? The old Dutch Bible 
supplies the sole literature they need. They 
take the simple words, each and all in their 

K 2 

132 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

barest and most literal sense, without the aid 
of commentator or note. Frequent mention 
they find of the old custom of washing the 
hands, face, and feet as a ceremonial more 
than for any other purpose, so, they argue 
possibly — at least, I fancy it would be like 
them to do so — that if that suflBced then, 
why wash more now ? 

"I wish you could have seen a Dutch 
wedding whilst you were in Pretoria," was 
once remarked to us. As we did not, 
I must tell what was told us of the 
manners and customs thereanent. "First 
catch your hare," applies as aptly to the pre- 
liminary step in matrimony, as it does to its 
ditto in cookery. But after what a dull, 
prosaic, dead-alive fashion does a young Boer 
maiden enter the toils ! Dumbiedikes might 
have been a Dutch changeling, or Sir Walter 
Scott might have visited South Africa in his 
dreams, otherwise how could he have pic* 
tured such a suitor ? Fancy its being pos- 
sible for it to be a matter of uncertainty, 
amidst a bevy of sisters, until the very hand- 
kerchief is thrown to one of them, which is 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 133 

the object of tlie swain's adoration! Yet 
such is the case usuaUy, and it is harrowing 
to think of the pangs which might thus I 
caused to six or more maiden hearts, if each 
should have laid the flattering unction to her 
soul that she, and she alone, was the lode- 
star of love-sick " Pieter's " dreams. Not 
being a Mormon, " Pieter " (it saves an 
initial, and Pieter will serve our purpose as 
well as any other name) must, choose one; 
and, in spite of taciturnity, who knows but 
that the cunning fellow has long made up his 
mind which sister he shall ask to become his 
Vrow? His caution and his pride alike 
deter him from making the venture at all, 
until he and his family have some assurance 
that she and her family are pretty safe to 
come to terms. Pieter is very yoimg, but 
that is no obstacle to his success, Pieter is 
bashful; and if he were not, it is ordeal 
enough to render him so, when the actual 
moment has arrived for him to make his 
proposals in due form and in person ; for I 
need not say that if getting a wife depended 
upon Pieter' s writing a love-letter, he would 

134 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

undoubtedly end his days a bachelor. Arrived 
at the house of his father-in-law-to-be if 
fortune favours him, he " off-saddles " by 
invitation, (you have no manners if you do so, 
be you who you may, uninvited,) and enters 
the "fore huis," or general room. He is "got 
up" regardless of expense, as far as his own 
clothes and his animal's accoutrements are 
concerned, and somewhat sheepishly he goes 
through the usual round of hand-shaking. 
Does he, or does he not contrive to convey 
by that dumb magic, which can make even a 
hand-clasp eloquent, the whole tale of his 
hopes to t}ie maiden he desires to win pre- 
sently? Deponent sayeth not, and the chances 
are that Pieter feels too many eyes are upon 
him, to risk even the little bit of comfort that 
tender finger-questioning might procure. Pity 
our poor Pieter, then, as he sits patiently 
until bedtime comes, often not uttering a 
syllable, and then only to reply to questions 
apart as the poles from the object of his 
visit. But, supper and prayers over, he 
knows it must be now or never with him. If 
he is invited to remain, he is sure of the 

t?r, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 135 

consent of the father and the mother^ and 
here let me venture this little remark : — 
Women's rights have never been agitated 
for or against in South Africa, that I know 
of; but this is probably because women 
have so full a share permitted them. No 
Dutch husband dreams of deciding anything 
in matters of business, or which can in 
the remotest degree affect the welfare of his 
family, without consulting his wife ; and he 
thus reahzes the truth of another good old 
adage, "Two heads are better than one." 
Pieter asked to remain, then takes the first 
step permitted him. " He has managed to 
find out which of the doors leading out of 
the Hving-room (in a large Boer house there 
may be four or five,) leads to that which she 
occupies. There he stands, or sits, if he is 
wise, and there is anything to sit upon, until 
she passes in. "Now for it, Pieter, pluck 
up your courage; * Faint heart never won 
fair lady,' neither will you, without a bolder 
front than you have been able to wear for 
these last few weary hours." 

A whisper, and kind of a struggle which is 

136 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

no struggle at all, and a " no '* wliicli is so 
like a " yes," that it wiH do just as well, and 
our Pieter has won the day; no, not the 
day, for it is night, and the question 
which he has asked, and which after all is 
equal to the question of questions, is whether 
she will "sit up and keep company with 
him ! " If she has consented to do • this, 
she has virtually consented to " sit up " 
with him a;s long as they both shall live. 
There is a primitive simplicity about this 
which robs it of all guile, and lest it should 
shock the sensitive nerves of any tenderly- 
nurtured, duly-chaperoned young lady in this 
our England, where " such things would not 
be tolerated," let me assure her that our 
young folks have less chance of whispering 
their sweet nothings unheard, than any nine- 
teen out of twenty engaged couples here, 
where more outward fences bristle around to 
guard them from the faintest appearance 
of even a harmless indiscretion. Pieter is 
human, so, gi^^u the opportunity, he would 
probably like fo kiss Gretchen, and Gretchen 
would probably like him to kiss her too; 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 137 

why shouldn't she ? But think of the giggles 
of the five disappointed sisters, from the 
" ha, ha 1 " in sardonic tones of the one who 
really for awhile did think Pieter had peeped 
out of the comers of his eyes at her, more 
frequently than he ought to have done, consist- 
ently with his not choosing her after all; to the 
downright not-to-be-choked-down, bubbling- 
over laugh of the youngest of all, to whom 
the whole thing is simply a good joke, out of 
which she at least will take her share of fun. 
The high, raftered roof is a rare conveyer of 
sound ; therefore, oh ! Pieter, and oh 1 Gret- 
chen, muffle your kisses, or kiss not at all. 

Ke..r-, tik ar^ not ended ye, for here. 
as in more civihzed lands, the bridegroom 
has the worst of it on his wedding day. 
Why should this be, I wonder ? 

Their wedding day has come, and there is 
much to be done before they subside into the 
private, humdrum, every-day life which lies 
before them, back in the old home — her home, 
for Pieter' s wife takes him, not he her, to the 
old roof-tree, which might be made of india- 
rubber, so unlimited are its powers of expan- 

138 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

sion. They will not start house-keeping for 
themselves ; not they I Their flocks and 
their herds, the produce of the small number 
of young ewes, heifers, &c., branded with the 
special mark of each in their babyhood, are 
now joint property, and it is only when their 
riches increase with these that at last they 
may, as comparatively middle-aged folks, 
with olive branches many, move off into a 
homestead of their own. We will fancy the 
" Dorp," or town where the ceremony is to 
be performed by their Dutch minister, or 
Predikant, to be Pretoria. According to the 
distance they live from the capital have they 
taken from one to eight or ten nights on the 
road, their " royal^'* road to matrimony. 
Arrived in the Plaas, or square, in which 
their church is its most prominent, but by no 
means most beautiful, object, the wedding 
party outspan, sending their oxen to graze 
outside the town, tended by a Kafir herds- 
man, while they prepare for the great event 
which has brought them so far. The bride 
arrays herself as a bride is bound to do, veil, 
orange-blossoms, and all ; but, beyond these, 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 139 

I doubt if she makes any more purchases 
by way of trousseau. Pieter, poor soul ! 
hires his wedding garments, and a pain and a 
weariness of the flesh are they to him. He 
is only thankful to know that as long as his 
Gretchen lives he need never, no, never, 
suffer such discomfort more. Should she 
die, which of course he hopes she will 
not, why then, you know — . A Dutch 
widower considers three or four months a 
long and tedious time of mourning. What 
better compliment can he pay the dear help- 
meet whom he has really loved and faithfully 
cherished after his stolid way for years than 
to replace her as soon as possible ? Look at 
our Pieter, then ; he would not know himself 
in the glass, did he possess one, and it is on 
the cards that he may not. An unmitigated 
"topper," stove-pipe, or whatever the real 
name of that unsightly head-covering, of 
which our civilized nations have never got 
the better, crowns him. His unaccustomed 
feet are stuffed into stiff, shiny-leather boots, 
instead of his dear old, easy-going "Veldt 
sohoons'* of home manufacture, his hands 

140 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

into gloves, and the rest of his body is en- 
veloped in a swallow-tail, black cloth coat, 
white waistcoat, and trousers of a size so 
accommodating that if they be hired by a 
lean man of ordinary height he must put up 
with their bagginess and take a reef in them 
somewhere to shorten them, so that a bigger 
than he may wear them too if so disposed. 
Tlio ceremony over, Pieter and Gretchen 
have to exhibit themselves to an admiring 
world in their new characters as man and 
wifis Arm in arm they parade through the 
principal streets of the town, the husband 
tnking the wife's arm, which may or may not 
bo symbolic of the order of precedence which 
f\\^\ bo tlioir rule hereafter. 

A ftnv liours of further sacrifice to the 
XS\Ak\\ Mvb. Grundy and our wedding party, 
l^tn HWBuming the homely attire they will 
W\HW tlo\ibly appreciate, inspan their oxen, 
V^NSy^ bio botnowards, where, let us hope, they 
yt'iW i^ul thoir days, story-book fashion, " hap- 
(WiftH ^^w^' Hftorwards." 

't^^ iKi^ uninitiated it might appear as if all 
Ij^jv^'^ l^ilios were connected by ties of blood 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 141 

from their custom of addressing one another 
in terms of relationship. The young folks 
call their seniors " Oom " and " Tanta," 
uncle and aunt, and the seniors, their juniors 
"cousin," the same name being applied to 
the latter amongst themselves. Any other 
title, such as we use, is never heard, except 
when an Englishman forgets their etiquette, 
and substitutes a Mr. or Mrs. for the more 
famiUar appellation, and he must submit to 
being considered proud and reserved in con- 
sequence. It is a great drawback to getting 
on with the Dutch not to know their lan- 
guage. They are suspicious of some " arriere 
pensee " when words are used which they do 
not imderstand, and they dislike legal docu- 
ments or business papers being in a tongue 
they do not know. Whether they have 
grounds for believing that they have been 
deceived I cannot tell. In a country where 
Dutch is so generally known and understood, 
it would be a small . concession to make to 
meet them fully "half way" on a point so 
simple as this. Except Kafirs, there are none 
here who reaUy rauK as servants. A neigh- 

142 On Trek in tJie Transvaal; 

bour with a smaller purse and fewer flocks 
and herds will accept an invitation to live 
near at hand, with the understanding that for 
certain privileges he shall render certain ser- 
vices. The capacity of these good folks for 
taking medicine is a proverb in South Africa. 
If one dose fails to cure, they take two, 
and then a third, and a fourth, &c. If 
these still fail, they mix up several together 
on the " kill or cure " system. 

A storekeeper once told me of a trait 
of Boer character which, at first hearing, 
somewhat startled me, the more so as it 
was related of my own sex more especially. 
In our country, amongst the higher classes, 
where such a tendency has at rare intervals 
shown itself, it has been dubbed "klepto- 
mania," and the remedy has been simply 
entering upon the bill the missing articles, 
which, like the sailor's kettle which fell 
in the sea, can hardly be called lost when 
one knows where they are. Now in South 
Africa the disease is dealt with as deli- 
cately as though it were just an epidemic 
kleptomania. It is expected, and therefore 


or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa, 143 

it is provided against, and the tradesman 
protecting himself from loss by charging the 
article as a hona fide purchase — secure of 
payment without remonstrance or excuse. 
This is not considered in the light of a sin, 
but rather an amiable weakness, or a species 
of practical joke. Goods obtained at a store 
are usually paid for in kind ; sheep, wool, 
skins, and produce generally, being received 
instead of money. This brings higher profit 
to the merchant than would hard cash, and 
saves trouble too, for the Boer head would be 
as sorely puzzled to count out the money as 
his fingers would tingle to relinquish it. 

The Boers are a religious people, with views 
narrow, but clearly defined. Their children 
are simply taught God's own truths as in His 
revealed Word. They end, and I believe 
commence, each day by prayer, and their 
meals are untouched until a blessing has been 
reverently asked. Their church is the Dutch 
Reformed Church, and their love and respect 
for their minister is a marked feature of their 
characters. They submit with much humility 
to the recognized authority of their " Kirk 

144 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

Raad," or Council, composed of men like 
themselves, only with a preference given to 
those who have won a position amongst them 
by their wealth, superior education, or more 
. marked piety. Matters of business, quarrels, 
and the breach of any social law is laid before 
the Raad, and its decision accepted as final. 
The Doppers have seceded from the Re- 
formed Church. I had fancied they were 
simply a lower class of Boer, not knowing 
that the difference was mainly a religious 
one. Their worship is conducted even more 
dismally than that of the section from which 
they have separated, singing being excluded 
as wicked. They adopt a style of dress which 
of itself is a blow to vanity, and the faintest 
approach to mirth, even in private Kfe, is 
treated as a sin. 

" Missus would like to see a * Nacht-maal,' " 
said John, one day. 

" What may that be ? " ask L 

" It's when the Dutch come into town, 
once every three months, to go to churchy 
and take the Sacrament, and get their 
babies christened, and the girls and boys 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 145 

confirmed, and they buy their goods, and 
sell their wool, and they visit one another. 
Oh ! there are lots of wagons outspanned in 
the square then, and the place is full, full 1 " 

This Nacht-maal is a great institution, and 
has come of the necessity for occasional, social 
intercourse amongst a people who, living so 
wide apart in their scattered homesteads, and 
upon farms so large that it is a day's journey 
to visit a neighbour, would otherwise never 
interchange an idea outside their own family, 
except when visited at long intervals by a 
travelling merchant who, like the Trouba- 
dour of old, is sure of a hearty welcome and 
of being fed upon the fat of the land, so glad 
are they to have him as a guest. Transac- 
tiona of e,e^ H.d are o^ed on during 
Nacht-maal, and as far as a Boer can be lolly 
he te joUy then, and so ..-e hU servants, J 
SO are his young folks. Who knows but that 
it might have been at " Nacht-maal *' that our 
Pieter first saw his Gretchen ? and we know 
what came of that. 

For undisguised inquisitiveness the Boer 
matches the American. Dutch fashion, he as 

146 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

plamlj asks you, " Who are you when you 
are to hum ? " as any Yankee. Neither mean 
any offence ; so it is better to volunteer as 
much information as possible, to save time 
^nd to enable one to get upon good terms the 
more speedily. Your style of travelling is of 
itself an introduction ; the appearance of your 
wagon, the number and look of your ani- 
mals, speak in your favour or otherwise. An 
Englishman who cannot converse in Dutch 
meets with no warm welcome as a rule, 
though there are many exceptions to it. At- 
tempt a visit on foot, and no "tramp '* could 
be treated with greater scorn and contempt. 
My niche is nearly filled, but it has still a 
vacant crevice. What I have related of the 
Boers is of them generally as a class. Many 
clever, educated Dutchmen are to be met 
with in the Transvaal and the Free State, 
and I have heard speeches in the Natal 
Legislative Council fi:om their lips, clever, 
pithy, and combined with a droll gravity 
which could not fail to add weight to their 
real words of wisdom. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 147 


The Commando — We leave Pretoria — Among the thorns 
— Bechuana women — Pinaar's Biyer. 

Peetoeia was unusually empty at the time of 
our stay there. The Commando had cleared 
it of its men to a perceptible degree, and the 
Busch* Veldt had attracted from it many 
families, much as Brighton or Ramsgate 
tempts the town-tired Londoner for change 
of air and scene. One or two pleasant even- 
ings we spent at the house of a well-known 
leading merchant, who, in spite of his wife's 
absence from home, entertained quite a large 
party of us most hospitably. His house was 
well furnished and very comfortable, with so 
many of the refinements of life that it was 
diflScult to believe how far up. in the wild 

L 2 

148 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

Transvaal we were. New books and good 
photographs of many lands lay on the table, 
and the handsome furniture was so nicely 
arranged that the cleverly concealed mud 
floor never betrayed itself. Our host's kind- 
ness did not end with our first visit to Pre- 
toria. It was he who was amongst the fore- 
most of those who gave us active help and 
ready sympathy when, six months after, I, 
with my poor invalid, had again to stay 
awhile there on our weary trek homewards. 
Mr. Kisch (I hope he will forgive me for 
writing his name in full ; I cannot let him 
off with an initial, he was so good to us) 
even offered us the use of his house then, 
and when, circumstances rendering it advis- 
able for us not to change from our wagon and 
tent-life again until we reached Natal, we had 
to decline availing ourselves of his thoughtful 
proposal, soups and beef tea came to oiir 
little camp daily from his kitchen. Nor was 
Mr. Kisch alone in this. A lady to whom 
we were perfect strangers was equally helpful, 
and oh ! what good Samaritans were Mr. 
Hall and his family ! Mr. Hall and his son 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 1 49 

had been our feUow-passengers in the 
" Zulu," and it was like a whiff of a home 
breeze to hear, all unexpectedly, the hearty 
tones of their voices in Pretoria when I had 
thought they were days of travel away in the 
unwholesome region of Delagoa Bay, giving 
their best energies, as they being what they 
are would be safe to do, to the construction 
of the railway, the success or failure of which 
shared the interest as a current topic with 
the prospect of Kafir fightings, and who next 
might be " commandeered |' for active service. 

" What would you do, if your wagon and 
oxen, your men, ay, and even your husband 
were * requisitioned,' as they are liable to be 
at a moment's notice, for you have exceeded 
your limit of exemption, forty-eight hours in 
the Transvaal ? You are all right yourself, 
you know, and so is your fellow-traveller, he 
being a clergyman r' 

I naturally repudiated the idea of its being 
possible to be " all right " myself, should such 
an untoward circumstance occur, and stoutly 
averred that they would infallibly have to 
requisition me too, whether they wanted me 

1 50 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

or not. I could load their guns and fire 
them off also, if hitting any special object 
was of no moment, and I might do odd 
jobs in Laarger and earn my salt in some 
way. Kind fate spared us all this, and thus 
we were more fortunate than had been a 
troupe of Christy minstrels who were just 
making a good thing of it, when their excel- 
lent performances sealed their doom. Had 
they done less well, their services might not 
have been coveted as a band to the little 
force raised in the place ; but such was their 
fate, and every one but themselves enjoyed 
the joke hugely. 

The English church of Pretoria is a nice 
little building, and the services are well con- 
ducted and fairly attended. The Transvaal 
is a wide new field, and one worthy of the 
occupying by earnest church workers and 
teachers, of whom now there are only too 
few, scattered sparsely over its wide area. 
But these, like many other good things, are 
in store for it, let us hope and expect. 

Here I think I had best betake me to my 
journal again. 

or J Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 151 

30ife June. — The wagon was brought 
roTind to the door to be packed before start- 
ing for our last trek of eight or ten days if 
we are fortunate, many more if the reverse, 
to our destination in the district of Maraba« 
stadt. A larger one had been sent to meet 
us by the manager of the Gold Mining Com- 
pany, with whom my husband would have 
business relations, rendering our stay upon 
their estate necessary for some time. This 
second vehicle will afford us all three the 
greatest possible relief, easing our rickety 
old trap of much it had groaned under before, 

and giving Mr. G the comfort of a 

movable home of his own, with a bed on the 
swinging cartel which will be ever ready to 
his hand, under the shelter of a firm roof, 
instead of the make-believe covering which 
was all the half-tent or flap has hitherto 
afforded him. The nights are very cold, in 
spite of the day's sunshine, and the frost, on 
awaking, shines like stars on the natural 
carpet around us ; so guess if it be not 
pleasanter to lie upon a mattrass several feet 
above the ground, instead of on a cork bed 

152 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

upon it. The men mind nothing, curling up 
like hedgehogs and sleeping anywhere, rolled 
in a blanket and great coat, with a huge com- 
forter around their heads and throats. As 
for the oxen, tired beasts, they slumber as 
placidly after their hard day's labour in cold 
as in heat; as well in rain and wind as 
under the clear bright stars, which look twice 
as big as our little " twinklers " at home, or 
under that large motherly moon which smiles 
so searchingly yet so benignly upon our 
small camp, which I should hke to sketch for 
you, so smiled upon, if I could I The Com- 
pany's agent has thoughtfully laid in the 
stores for ourselves and " boys ;" bread, meat, 
and a sackful of rusks, so I may be spared 
what had become a tri-daily nuisance, the 
separating from our own their flour, coffee, 
&c., at our feeding-times. I have made bags 
for everything, which at our stopping-places 
can be put down bodily upon our table, (?) 
each one helping himself, the last to do so 
being expected to tie up their mouths and 
replace them in their proper receptacles, the 
large canvas pockets around the wagon. 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 153 

Many gathered around us to "speed the 
parting guests," and it was not without much 
regret that we saw the last of those who had 
helped to make our visit so agreeable. Mr. 
Sharley, the vicar, started with us, intending 
to stay with us for the night, and to walk 
back on the morrow if he did not succeed in 
borrowing a horse at some Dutch house on 
his road. 

Pretoria looked well as we ascended the 
hill. It really lies high, but being upon a 
broad expanse of table-land it has the appear- 
ance of flatness, which suggests marshiness 
also, yet it could ill spare one drop of its 
water I opine, nor did we heai* any complaint 
of its unhealthiness. At first it seemed that 
our road promised to be a counterpart of 
much that we had travelled over before, lull 
after hill, for the city is sentinelled as it were 
by them, over which we must climb, or round 
which we must skirt, until the crowning flat 
be reached, and passed, then again over 
boulders and into holes and watercoiu'ses to 
table-land again, and so on ad libitum.^ It 
is not to be so, however, for we shall soon be 

1 54 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

amongst "the Thorns," or, groves of mimosa- 
trees bristUng with thorns as with weapons, 
some of them of three or four inches in length. 
I have had given to me a specimen of a stout, 
twisted thorn-creeper, which the Dutch use 
in their houses as we do hat-pegs in our 
halls, and an uncommonly firm and good 
substitute it might be. This night's camping 
was my first experience of its being possible 
to almost enjoy — I speak advisedly, for I dare 
not say quite — ^wagon travelling in South 
Africa. To begin with, we were really clean, 
and to those who have never been otherwise 
it may seem a superfluous fact to mention, 
but one very easy to realize, all things con- 
sidered. One hand-basin between three; a 
wagon tilt with restless curtains, which are 
as likely to fly up and give a full view of its 
internal economy with no notice at all, for 
each to retire to in turn, the baking sun 
making it cruel to keep any one outside for 
an unnecessary moment ; a modicum of 
water, unless one would drive poor Jim per- 
petually to the stream ; a piece of soap which 
always found its way into the last place it 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 155 

ought to be — I bit it for a rusk in absent 
mood one day ; or else the stream itself, than 
which the market square of any county town 
could hardly be more public, and have we not 
our excuse? Good folks, we liked it no 
better than you would, but I think you would 
have to put up with it as we did ; and if, after 
all, you must swallow your traditional " peck 
of dust " before you die, it may be that here, 
like a nauseous draught, you are doomed to 
take yours wholesale instead of by instal- 
ments, in at your mouth, in at your nose, and 
in at the pores of your skin as well. We 
were clean to begin with, then, and as some 
measure of shade and shelter was in store for 
us, we hoped to continue fairly so to the end 
of the chapter. Another reason why our 
first night out from Pretoria seemed to pro- 
mise better things was that our good friend 
Mr. Sharley performed miracles of handiness, 
fetching out the bread and the cold fowl, 
lending a hand with the fire, seating us 
round it in picturesque attitudes, one on a 
rug, another on a water-barrel, a third on the 
enamelled basin upside down, and himself on 

156 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

a sack, ending by stowing everything away 
in good order again. 

Isf July. — Surely among the farms and 
homesteads which we saw scattered here and 
there yesterday, nestled in the hill-sides, never 
very near the road, but each with its track to 
connect it therewith, our " Vicar " will pro- 
cure a steed, or at least bread and coffee to 
eke out the small modicum of cold chicken, 
which was all we could induce him to take 
from our stores. Let us hope so, and mean- 
while let us attack some of those luscious 
oranges with which he stuffed every spare nook 
in the wagon he could discover after sub- 
stantials had been duly placed. We are 
amongst Basutos or Bechuanas now, who 
can only partly understand Zulu, the differ- 
ence of dialect being chiefly idiomatic. Mr. 

G has seemed to hold converse with 

them, and John could interpret their words 
to me, so I imagine there must be much 
similarity between the two tongues. The 
Zulus are the "big swells" amongst the 
Kafirs, and are deemed by white people to 
possess greater intelUgence, and to be 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 157 

altogether of higher calibre than other 
natives. I believe the Kafirs generally to be 
more naturally gifted than it is allowed that 
they are, and I am sure, like an Irishman in 
the witness-box, they are clever at adapting 
a stupid air of " don't understand you " when 
it suits them, they understanding you very 
well the while. 

I am writing with my back against the 
wheel, trying to think that it afibrds me some 
shade, and that none of the oil from the 
insatiable axle-box is trickling down my 
neck. Chatter, chatter, chatter in shrill tones ; 
women's voices in voluble Kafir. We have 
outspanned near their kraals and mealie 
grounds, and two or three of them with a 
man (young women are accompanied always 
by an attendant, sometimes an old woman of 
the tribe), have just stopped to gaze and to 
enter into converse with our men. Upright 
as a dart, these coloured sisters of mine poise 
gracefully on their heads, with no help from 
their hands, the clay-drinking vessels in 
which they have just fetched water fi:*om 
the spruit which trickles pleasantly within 

158 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

earshot. Mr. G joins them, and shouts, 

nay, shrieks of delight reach me. They 
are peeping through his opera-glass, and 
their huts and gardens, and people and dogs 
seem to come nearer and nearer to them 
until they think it witchery. The glass 
removed, why I they are as far away from 
home as before they put it to their eyes ! 
One more trial ! yes ! there they are again 1 
If the Inkosi does not look about him sharply, 
the coveting of that glass may end in its dis- 
appearance, for its charms are irresistible, and 
what wonder ? . . . They have found me out 
now, but what can I produce that could 

astonish and delight like Mr. G 's magic 

glass ? I have a wish that I could rival him 
with a large ship's telescope, and by bringing 
their lord and master, whom probably they 
share with some twelve or fourteen others at 
least, before them, make them run away with 
fright lest he should beat them for lingering 
on their errand. They clap their hands, and 
throw back their heads, and their lips emit a 
sound which I can only render thus, " sst-tss I 
oh I e-eeuch " as they point, not at me, but 

or, Over Be^^g and Veldt in S. Africa. 159 

seemingly over my head, at my poor old hair 
comb which after sundry shatterings has its 
ornamental parts lashed together by cotton as 
near the colour of tortoise-shell as I could 
find, but not near enough for the difference 
to be disguised. They probably imagine it is 
a large, ill-formed bone which has protruded 
from my brains during our joltings on trek, 
and they would like to know if more are 
coming by its side ! 

They are putting on coaxing airs now, and 
rubbing themselves as though they had an 
internal vacuum which they wish me to fill. • 

" John, what do they want ?" I inquire, 
almost pettishly, for I want them to go, as 
my little wash of clothes and towels is over, 
all dry enough too for packing up again ; 
and we ought to have been off* half an hour 

" They want missus to give them something 
to eat ! " 

Now these women have plenty to eat of 
their own kind of food, and we might run 
short if we are not frugal^ so for awhile my 
miser-hke instincts prevail, and I will not 

1 60 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

understand. Finally I yield to their blandish- 
ments, and hand them a few rusks. They 
repay me with exclamations of extravagant 
delight, even saying distinctly, — 

" Tankee, tankee, missus ! " and by march- 
ing off, jabbering loudly, single file and erect 
as they came. 

Old Carolus, the company's man who 
drives the larger wagon, takes the lead, as he 
knows the road, and to John it is now new and 
strange. Still, I would back John's instinct 
against the old fellow's experience any day ; 
for already we can perceive that we slacken 
speed, outspan longer, and altogether take it 
more easily than our younger man likes. 
We had our evening meal by "Preller's 
Farm," near which, in the gloaming, we could 
see the scattered tents and camping-grounds 
of the Pretoria families, who come here, as I 
have before related, for their yearly change 
of air and scene ; their husbands riding out 
from town from Saturday till Monday, to 
share the dehghts of a picnic in the Busch 
Veldt with them. The cattle are left here to 
graze and for comparative shelter, as this is 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa, 1 6 1 

the winter; although by day, it is hard to 
believe it, and grass is more plentiful here 
than elsewhere. 

Near Pretoria grows a noxious plant, 
called toolk (or toolp), which is fatal to oxen 
at a certain stage; and it was with some 
anxiety we watched lest ours should be 
tempted to their death, as so many have 
been before them, and will be again ere 
it can be exterminated. "John, what is 
Carolus shouting so for, and why are we 
stopping?" we ask, as so soon after our 
start, this time in the dusk, we seem to come 
to a standstill. John and Jim listen for a 
moment, and then burst out into roars of 
laughter. They understood every word of 
the torrents of execration the old man was 
pouring out upon the devoted head of his 
unfortunate young Kafir forelooper; ending 
them by leaping off his wagon in his rage, 
and brandishing his long ox- whip, which I 
trust never even grazed the offender's body. 
The boy did not understand forelooping well, 
and Carolus, not being so young or clear- 
sighted as he used to be, could not make up 


1 62 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

for his deficiencies. The result promising to 
be a disastrous termination to our day's 
work, the word was passed on to outspan 
and wait till morning. 

July 2nd. — Whilst breakfasting, I asked 
our man at what time we had started. 
His reply was a poem of itself : *' Before 
the morning star was up, missus ! " And 
so we had ; but having the wagon to our- 
selves, there was no need to move from our 
recumbent, position, nor to make even a pre- 
tence toilet before we could present ourselves. 
The sensation was just a trifle queer as we 
pitched head foremost — for our pillows were 
near the driver's seat — into holes, or down the 
steep banks of spruits, until our heels were 
where we should have preferred our heads 
to be. It was rather a nuisance*^ having ^J^ 
to make frantic rushes to save the various ^ 

articles which broke loose from their fasten- 
ings, which had seemed so secure when we were 
quiescent, but practice wiU make us perfect, 
and to-morrow I hope I may record, " Noils 
avons change tout cela / " I have a leather strap 
fastened, so that I can slip my arm through 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 163 

it as a support when a more break-neck piece 
than usual has to be encountered, at which 
John calls out warningly through the curtain, 
" Missus had better hold on ! '' thus saving 
me many a bruise. 

Pinaar's River will be one of oiir outspans 
that I shall remember most vividly always, 
although it was not until I saw the impression 
it made upon my husband that I was so pecu- 
harly struck with its beauties and their acces- 
sories. We had accomphshed the ford easily, 
and from our bank could watch the passing 
over it also, stopping to drink midway, of herd 
after herd of cattle, oxen, sheep, goats, &c., 
driven by their attendant Kafirs, each with 
his gun to protect his charges from hons, 
jackals, and other wild beasts. There were 
children, Dutch and clothed, a n ^ Kafir and 
unclothed, or nearly so, and dogs innume- 
rable. A Dutch camp was pitched just on 
the other side, the white tents glinting 
amongst the trees. The water, sparkling.and 
bubbling, we could . hear- better^ than •we .could 
see, as the.overhanging-foliage upon.its wind- 
ing banksgealously from distant gazers; 

M 2 

1 64 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

whilst adding to its charm on a nearer viewi 
As we left our camping-place, other wagons 
had just crossed the river, taking our place 
upon the sward. My husband seemed as 
though he could not tear himself away, ^ 

fascinated was he by the scene. " H ," 

he said, when that far-away look had died/ 
out of his eyes, which had shown me how^ 
his thoughts had wandered, and whither^ 
" we have been living out as it were a chapter? 
of old Bible history to-day. It is almost too 
vivid ! * And they were dwellers in tents,' '* 
he murmured, as this living tableau of patri- 
archal times was shut out from our view bj^ 
the windings of the road which led us awajT 
from Pinaar's River. 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 165 


The Warm-bads — Great storm — De Beere's — We asto- 
nish the Natives — Giraflfe-skins — Beim and whip- 
making in South Africa — Primitive method of 
threshing and winnowing corn, Ac. — Kafir endurance 
of bodily pain — Simplicity of his diet — How John 
cnred a snake-bite — Midges and Mosquitoes — 
TractabiUty of the South African Trek-ox. 

3rc? July. — This day is memorable for the 
second great storm we have had since we left 
Natal, and a storm at this season is of very 
rare occurrence. We had made up. our united 
minds to earn the rest we promised ourselves 
to-morrow, Sunday, by a trek of unusual 
length to-day. We passed the " warm-bads," 
or mineral springs, without stopping for 
more than a passing glimpse at the wagons 
encamped around them, belonging to those 
who sought to benefit by their health-restor- 

i66 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

ing properties, and which, by-and-by, when 
the Transvaal is more thickly peopled, will 
probably make the fortune of some enter- 
prising capitalist, who, if he wills it, has a 
Baden Baden ready to his hand. We were in 
raptures over the lovely scenery, as we wended 
our way through park-like glades, shaded by 
fine mimosa-trees, far loftier and more out- 
spread than any we had hitherto seen. We 
are nearing the Waterberg range, which, un- 
like the hills we have passed, are wooded 
from crown to base. The fancy seized me, 
as I gazed at them, that they were as the 
vanguard of an army which had thrown out 
scouts and outposts, through all of which we 
had passed unchallenged. The latter had 
been either in mufti^ or so simply uniformed^ 
that no one connected them with the mighty 
band of warriors behind them— that grand 
old range itself, clad in its war-paint, and 
bristling with its weapons. The fancy grew 
upon me as the black clouds, of whose 
threatening we had taken so little account, 
emptied their waters upon us with such over- 
whelming force, that it seemed as if we must 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 167 

be flooded off the track before we could reach 
even the dangerous shelter of the fine tree, of 
which I will, if I can, contrive to send you a 
sketch. Oh, the roaring of that thunder, the 
flashing of that blinding lightning, the clatter 
of those bullet-like drops, which deafened us 
. so that we could not hear one another speak 
as we huddled together under our canvas 
roof, and the howling and whistling of that 
wind! — wind which uttered screeches, and 
groans, blustering shouts, and, during a lull, 
weird-like whispers — wind which scolded us, 
and wind which soothed us — wind which 
threatened us, and wind which first deceived 
us by a regretful heaving, like the sobs of a 
naughty child begging to be forgiven, and 
then changing its soft utterances to de- 
moniac laughter at our guUibility ! The wind 
had not half done its worst, not it. It seized 
boughs and patches of dry or burnt black 
grass, and sent them off in mad dances in 
mid-air. It first checked, and then hustled 
forward and backward big birds, as they 
struggled to reach some refuge-haven, making 
them utter shriU cries for mercy ! It made 

- - - V 
■* " J ^ 

1 68 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

the Kafir dogs, which shrunk by us, crawl 
with tail between their legs, as dogs do else- 
where when they dread your anger, and wish 
to deprecate it. The wind had its "high 
jinks," and played its pranks, until the deluge 
drowned all the nonsense out of it ; but when 
that came we almost wished it back again. 
For nearly four hours the battle raged, " hea- 
ven^s own artillery," opening fire upon us, 
making us realize, as surely no storm can do — 
which has not to be faced, where only nature's 
handiwork surrounds you — our utter insigni- 
ficance, our helplessness, and our entire de- 
pendence upon Him in whom alone " we live, 
and move, and have our being." 

During a short lull we arranged our couch 
by lantern-light, the rain continuing steadily 
nearly the whole night through, only mode- 
rating towards morning. 

Sv/ndayy the 4th. — SKght storms at intervals 
during the day; clouds and sunshine seem- 
ingly at a game of hide and seek, the sun 
making the clouds cast pall-like shadows in 
places, all round and about which it smiled 
gladly. One mountain tip would be all aglow. 

!• •! ••• ••• • • 

•• ! •? • • • • 

* • ! !•-•"' 

• • • • . . 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 1 69 

while its vis-d-vis kopje, one of the nigh-at- 
hand sentinels, would be wrapped in gloom. 
The sturdy army had stood the attack bravely, 
and showed no signs of being worsted in the 
fight, or none that our eyes could see. . 

The long grass made it impossible for me 
to go for more than a few yards from the 
wagon, though I short-coated, gaitered, and 
macintoshed myself as completely as the gen- 
tlemen did when they made their two attempts 
to wade — I cannot say to walk — as far as the 
" Warm-bads " for abetter view of them than 
our futile haste of yesterday permitted us. 
As they appeared in the distance, return- 
ing from their fruitless errand, they looked 
comically like two disappointed storks, pick- 
ing their way over bog and morass, now hop- 
ping up, now sinking down, as the long grass 
hid froin sight the inequalities of their path. 
Our little service over, during which we had 
heard our men's voices in confab with some 
visitor, we had to go through a hand-shaking 
match with a Dutch youth from a farm not 
far off, who came to visit our camp, and to 
tell us that they could not spare us either 

1 70 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

bread or milk, upon both of whicli we had 
fondly counted. We had heard distant 
sounds of rejoicings, firing ofiF of guns, &c., 
before getting ofiF to sleep, when the storm of 
last night had shghtly abated, and had won- 
deringly inquired their meaning of John. 

" It's a wedding, I expect, missus ; for I 
saw a minister go by yesterday, and the men 
with him were all dressed up as Dutch people 
only do when there's a marrying going on." 

The guests, I suppose, had been hungry, 
and made a clean sweep of every edible ; but 
" we will not go fasting, nevertheless," think 
I, as I contrive a hodge-podge of meat, vege- 
tables, and rice, warmed in a good gravy 
from a tin of condensed sOup, which, if it 
tastes as good as it smells now as it simmers 
in the pot, will go far to make us forget the 
discomforts of last night. I have a suspicion 
that the beef may prove a trifle tough ; but is 
it to be wondered at that an old trek ox, 
which has served man faithfully during his 
weary lifetime, and borne his lash without 
remonstrance, should venture to disagree with 
him when death oflfers him this one chance of 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 1 7 1 

mild retaliation without dread of further pun- 
ishment ? A few pudding raisins for dessert, 
and, this being a kind of gala day, our last 
bottle of sheny opened, that we might drink 
a loving toast to "absent friends," and we 
shall have c^ed royally presently. 

hih July. — Eeading, chatting, and even 
singing, after our short evening service, 
ended our yesterday ; we all, by one consent, 
" turning in " early, with a view to shorten 
that day and to lengthen this by being up 
with the lark. We breakfasted by a farm at 
the foQt of the first hill of the Waterberg 
range, to which we had seemed already so 
close during the storm, but from which we 
had been in reality two good hours' trek 
away. The grasses were remarkably fine 
just here, and in great variety. Fine trees, 
blue gum principally, planted only some four f tHY 
or five years ago, but over fifty feethigh ' \.^ ""^ 
already, bounded the homestead on one side, 
and a beautiful orange-grove the other. 
Several wagons were outspanned amongst 
the trees, with women sitting sewing and 
children playing, as much as Dutch children 

1 72 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

CHii play, around them. Altogether the spot 
swinod more inhabited and village-like than 
any but the actual towns through which we 
had passed. The dreary isolation which had 
chilled us as we had looked back upon the 
lonely homes to which these people of free 
will had banished themselves, and in which 
wo had seemed to leave them more lonely 
still as we trekked slowly by, was not so 
striking here, and these good folks looked all 
the brighter and keener- witted in consequence. 

" Better not buy anything there," suggested 
John, who has known every place, person, 
and thing upon the road hitherto, but now 
acts as echo only to old Carolus ; " there's a 
farm in front much better kept, nearly as 
good as an * Englishman's.' " 

With this hint we defer our raid upon this 
orange-grove, counting upon a supply at the 
farm of the model Dutchman. Before we 
arrived at the abode of that worthy, a rather 
comical scene awaited us. Some five or six 
Kafir women, who were marching along erect 
and majestic, bearing their clay vessels upon 
their heads, suddenly spied our cavalcade. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 1 73 

and, after standing for one brief moment 
spell-bound, dashed down their burdens and 
ran like startled deer away, again standing, 
at safer distance, for one more look at the 

cause of their discomfiture. Mr. G , 

thinking they had seen a snake, stopped the 
wagon and . got out to do battle with the 
beast, valiantly as any knight of old for 
damsel bestead. No sooner did they see him 
than their fears reached their climax, and 
they scudded off with shrieks of terror. Our 
men were beside themselves with amusement. 
They laughed until they nearly fell off* their 
seats, and their mirth was infectious, for we 
all laughed in concert, until reflection showed 
us a sadder side to this little adventure. 
*' Why," asked we of one another, " should it 
be possible to these poor souls to conceive 
that any harm could come to them from 
white people, be they whom they may — Dutch, 
English, or Portuguese — ^if there were not 
some sense of injury unrequited, and which 
they fancy has still to be paid for upon the 
heads of their generation ? or have they some 
knowledge of a coming struggle which may, 

On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

they fear, have commenced elsewhere and 
made ua already their open foes, they as yet 
not knowing it ? else why so ready to fly at 
the faintest approach of danger?" No 
satisfactory answer suggesting itself, we 
reached De Beeres with the riddle still 

The first object which caught our eyes was 
a huge banyan-tree, of great age and beauty. 
Trom its boughs were suspended a large 
number of giraffe-skins, looking gaunt and 
lanky, and, at first sight, as if they were the 
animals themselves. These were drying, 
previously to being cut into strips, which 
ps go through several processes before 
iffge into reims and whips — whips of 
frlacerate and sting which it makes 
J think of, and rouses one's aym- 
(the poor animals who, many of 
Ltheir scars to the grave. That 
I my meaning, A South African 
J a grave. Where he falls there 
nd Death releases him, and then 
\ l3i e air finish what the jackal 
ft be works until he can work 

or^ Oz^er Berg amd Vrldi im S. Afriau 1 75 

no longer, and tl2€ii man Lis master ente bim 
also, only in more civilized and 

form. The sjambdlL, pronounced shambok, 
of this coantrr is a whip to be remembered. 
The strips of which it is made go through 
repeated and continued soakings. They are 
then suspended from an iron hook in llie 
centre of a gibbet-like erection, and a Kafir, 
possibly more than one, hangs on to them, 
leaping, and jumping, and swingmg round 
and round upon them, looking like a dancing 
Dervish or a black acrobat in training, until 
each strip has acquired its expected hardness 
and is stretched untU it can stretch no fur- 
ther. Telling of this process reminds me of 
another, equally primitive, one which was 
described to me, and which I may as well 
mention here. It is that of thrashing and 
dressing the com. The sheaves are thrown 
upon the ground of a cleared circle of large 
circumference, and into this circle are turned 
ten, twelve, or even. more, unshod horses, a 
boy standing in their midst with a long bam- 
boo whip to see that they tramp about briskly 
until the thrashing is satisfactorily accom* 

1 76 On Trek in the Transvaal ,* 

plisbed. The winnowing, &c., is managed 
after as simple a method, merely by rubbing 
the com through the fingers, and letting the 
wind carry off the chaff at the same time. 

De Beere's farm deserved all the praise 
which had been bestowed upon it. His gar- 
den, unlike the Dutch gardens usually, had 
every kind of ordinary vegetable, as well as 
its vines, its fig-trees, and its small coffee- 
ground too. As a rule potatoes are alone 
deemed worth the culture here, and that to 
no great extent. Give a Boer his meat, 
bread, coffee, and his pipe, and who so con- 
tent as he? We filled our canvas wagon 
pockets to their mouths with delicious 
oranges, many as large as small melons and 
twice as nice as they. We met at this place 
two young Englishmen who had returned 
from a trading trip far beyond Marabastadt, 
but lately hailing from that district. They 
addressed us by name, telling us that we had 
been expected many days ago. One of these 
two gentlemen looked fearfully ill, although 
he pronounced himself nearly well after an 
attack of South African fever, which had 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 177 

reduced him almost to a skeleton. This 
malady is so long in its effects, and repeats 
itself so often, that it is greatly to be dreaded, 
and the districts where it prevails carefully 
eschewed. Quinine for fever, and strong 
ammonia for snake-bites, should be carried by 
every traveller, and let me suggest a little — ^no, 
a good big bit — of sticking-plaster too. , The 
little forelooper who tried poor old Carolus*s 
temper so sorely a few nights ago cut his 
foot a horrible gash with his hatchet. Out 

came our roll, and Mr. Gr plastered him 

up cleverly, he hobbling off to his bare-footed 
tramp again as if he had had a new foot to 
make a fresh start with. It is astonishing 
how quickly a Kafir gets over any injury, 
and how unflinchingly he bears any surgical 
operation when he knows it is for his good. 
I was told, in Maritzburg, of one whose head 
had been crushed by the falling of stone in 
some quarry. The bone was cut away and a 
silver plate put in. (" The beggar will run 
away with it if I don't keep my eye upon 
him,'' said the doctor who operated upon 
him.) He walked off after all was over, and 

178 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

was weU in a month. Much of this may be 
attributed to the simple diet and habits of 
the native of South Africa. Nothing but , 
mealy meal porridge from year's end to year's 
end. Meat he so rarely tastes that it almost 
intoxicates, so potent a food does it become 
when thus seldom eaten, and then with such 
avidity and in such incredibly large quantities 
that the result is hardly to be wondered at. 
This meal, from the Indian com ground, 
must have great Uf e-restoring properties when 
men of such caUbre as this " noble savage" 
are nourished into manhood by it. 

Our driver told me how he had once cured 
a Kafir from a venomous snake-bite, which 
but for his presence of mind would have 
cost the man his life in half an hour. "I 
just whipped out my knife and cut open 
the place, put in some gunpowder from my 
flask, and set it alight. Puff 1 whiff it went, 
and then I knew, if I could get enough brandy 
to make him stupid and go to sleep, he'd be 
none the worse.'' The mischance occurring 
at one of the stopping-places where the horses 
of the vehicle he was driving were changed, 

or. Over Berg amd Veldt in S. Africa. 179 

lie was able to procure the remedy. The 
man became stupid, did sleep for hours, and 
when his turn came next day to take his 
share of the groom work he was " all there," 
albeit somewhat stiff, and limping perceptibly 
upon the convalescent leg. 

This night we camped by the "Nile." 
Alligators are sometimes to be met with in it, 
but we met none. Lions are to be encoun- 
tered hereabout too, but we encountered 
none, nor, indeed, anything worse than mos- 
quitoes and midges, which, like the petty 
worries of life, have a power to irritate and 
annoy equal to griefs and perplexities which 
are called by bigger names. Hitherto we 
had been very free from these pests, but this 
we owed to a careful selection of camping- 
grounds as far from rivers, spruits, and 
morasses as possible, consistent with sparing 
Jim the labour of • long . water-f etohings. 
Sometimes these were inevitable. The ani- 
mals, of course, keen-scented creatures, sought 
their own drinking-fountains, the one leading 
off, and the rest generally falling into single 
file behind him, as if seized with thirst as by 

N 2 

i8o On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

one impulse. How I liked to watch these 
our trusty friends, and note their idiosyn- 
crasies and distinctive characters, for that 
each ox had a mind of its own, in spite of his 
share of the collective mind he owed to edu- 
cation, I am morally certain, Potbert, for 
instance, who might have been Colbert's twin 
brother, judging by the hkeness between 
them, but that Colbert had quite a present- 
able tail, the inoculation not having punished 
his so severely as it had poor Potbert*s, which 
had literally decayed in the process. It was 
easy to see that Potbert was by far the more 
cunning of the two, and by far the lazier, 
letting Colbert take the bigger share always 
when no one marked him, and, when the 
whip touched him up, or John's voice shouted 
his name in remonstrance, did not he put on 
an air of ill-usage and answer with a peculiar 
grunt, by which he hoped he would arouse our 
sympathy and spare himself the lash, shaking 
his long horns and twitching about his earp 
at the same time to add impressiveness to his 
appeal ? Colbert meanwhile would pad, pad 
along steadily and willingly, seldom hearing 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 1 8 1 

Ids name except in terms of encouragement 
or to guide him slightly to the right or the 
left, as might any good-natured, easy-going 
fellow who is ready to work double-tides to 
save a weaker or indulge a lazier mate for 
whom he has a regard, or whom so to help 
had grown from use into second nature. 
Romann and Normann, were alike and yet 
different also. The latter had his skittish 
moods, and would suddenly lead, off to the 
right, irrespective of track or visible tempta- 
tion, Romann following simply because he 
was his yoke-fellow and must needs go too, 
but testifying his objections, as any one could 
see with half an eye, as well as saying, dumb- 
alphabet fashion, " I told you so," when irate 
Jim had them by the leading-reim and marched 
them back into place again, sparing no term 
of reprobation, by way of marking his opinion 
of their misconduct. 

Uppermann and Vedermann plodded on 
with small show of emotion, just following 
suit as from their position they could hardly 
help doing, but later on our own homeward 
way, when Vedermann lost his comrade by 

1 82 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

fell disease, and had to be cast loose to follow 
us dutifully, he manifested his sense of the 
dehghts of Hberty very comically. At first 
he kept side by side with his four working 
brothers, as though all unconscious that he 
was not working too. Gradually it dawned 
upon him that he must have dropped his 
heavy yoke somewhere, and that the wagon 
was no affair of his. He rattled his big 
horns against those of the leader first, as 
though he would say, "Look you there, I 
can go ahead as well as you," then he would 
draw back towards the wheeler, and intimate 
to him it was quite at his option to go or 
stay by him. John's whip would be a gentle 
reminder, for long as the whip is, a driver can 
lead as well as drive by it, that this was 
going too far, he must keep with his span- 
fellows even though he eased them of nought 
of their burden, so long as the master's eye 
was on him. But this was not always pos- 
sible. John being caught metaphorically 
napping, off trots " Yedermann" for a nibble 
at a tempting-looking patch of grazing-ground 
which no ox could resist. Jim, who knows 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 183 

he will have a long jaunt to bring him back, 
and yet is in too lazy mood to run after him 
at the moment, shouts in stentorian tones 
"Vedermann" (pronounced "Faydermann'* 
the Dutch V taking the sound of our F, and 
the " mann," being like the same word in 
German or as a Scotchman pronounces our 
" man"). At this, habit conquers inclination, 
and back trots the truant and takes his place 
as before, to remain till opportunity turns 
him from saint to sinner once more. After 
a few tastes of the sweets of freedom he 
becomes thoroughly demoralized, and from at 
first having stood to listen and to retrace his 
steps for a few paces, even at my voice, from 
the back of the wagon, he disregards Jim 
now, who may shout himself hoarse, for the 
moment he sees him and his long whip, which 
had not failed to bring him to a sense of 
duty at the beginning, away he goes, even 
kicking up his hind-legs in the air derisively. 
Fairly caught, he knows resistance to be 
useless and submits to the inevitable — ^the 
farce being re-enacted at intervals to Jim's 
entire disgust, until we reach our destina- 

p84 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

tion, this little episode fortunately having 
happened to us within a few days of our 
doing so. I note it here because of its fitting 
in with my present text— as my Kafirs and 
my Dutch tales fit into it in their season, in 
addition to what I may find crop up in my 
notes as my narrative progresses. I have 
more to tell of the virtues of South Africa's 
faithful slaves and most trusty servants 
before I end my chapter. Their docihty on 
being fetched back when inspanning time 
requires their services again, or when night 
closing they have to be fastened each in his 
own place to the trek-tow is interesting to 
see. With very little remonstrance do they 
leave the sweet grass upon which they have 
been feeding, at the command of the man 
who herds them in, all following, directly the 
leader they seem to have elected as such 
gives the sign to march wagonwards. Once 
there the reim is thrown round their horns, 
and as the name of each ox is called he turns 
or backs himself into the position he knows 
is his own for the night, and does not try to 

ovy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 185 

leave it again. If the summons is for a fresh 
start, the joke is raised and the name called, 
and the gentle, big thing bows to it literally 
and accepts his burden as a matter of course. 
Now and again if he is not quick enough he 
may get a thump from impatient fists which 
makes him clatter the trek-tow chain, causing 
it to appear as if it were not all free will; but 
this admonition is seldom needed, fractious- 
ness in the beast clearly showing ill-temper 
and its result, ill-usage, on the part of the 
man who tends him. Oxen manifest great 
terror at the most distant approach of a lion, 
which they are usually the first to perceive. 
They do not need to hear him roar to 
know that he is near. Panic-stricken they 
fly helter skelter, yoked or unyoked, with 
the wagon or without — anywhere I any- 
where 1 to get away from the enemy whom 
instinct teaches them so greatly to dread. 
Man who, as food, ranks but second best, 
the white man a notch lower still than a 
black man, being less savoury, in his lion- 
ship's estimation, runs as great risk from a 

1 86 On Trek in tJu Transvaal ; 

scare amongst his animals as if he met the 
foe face to face. Let us hope we may be 
spared an encounter as we pass through 
the special haunt of this monarch amongst 
beasts, upon which we are so soon to enter. 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 187 
y y ^ » C 


German Mission Station — Bands of Kafirs, AmaswaziS|>/ 
cand their mode of camping — Birds, flowers, and^ 
^grasses — The Lion Veldt — Sport in the Transvaal — ^ 
JThe tragedy of Makapan's Cave — The ruined Dorp-^^J^ 
c-A fern lovers' Paradise — Kafir kraals and Mealiew>^ 
-grounds-f-We reat;h our journey's end^ 

6f A July. — " Our lines have fallen in plea- 
sant places," say we, as we start after our 
breakfast from the German Mission Station, 
bearing with us as gifts the contents of a 
huge pan of oranges, of which refreshing 
fruit we do not tire, although we eat them 
wholesale. I could not be induced to call at 
the Mission house with my husband, and Mr. 
G , partly because I had to be washer- 
woman and maid of all work, and partly 
because my vanity forbade. Who that has 
travelled out of beaten tracks does not know 

1 88 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

the weather - browned, sun -burnt coating ^ 

which creeps over the face at first, and which 
finally hardens itself into a mask ? Darwin's 
theory, when looking at a visage sun-coloured 
into a rich mahogany, does not seem so 
utterly preposterous after all. This little 
personal bit I should have expunged from 
my notes but for the thought that as surely 
as men will by-and-by come to people the 
Transvaal, women will come likewise, and 
why should they not know what is in store 
for them ? Let them protect their faces as . 
they may, the air will tan them ; therefore let J w^ .. 
them provide themselves, as I failed to do, I Wi^ 
with something to soften and relieve themy r >( M^;^ 
We were very pleased with the Mission ^^ 
station in every respect. There was an aif, 
of settled repose, and yet of growth good, 
to see. The Kafirs, men, women, and chil-^ 
dren all clothed, the* women engaged in, 
domestic labours, and the children trooping 
to school at the sound of its cheerful bell, as, 
naturally as any of our English little ones at^ 
home. A foundation is laid for a churchy 
and in its eventual uprising amongst themi 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 189 

/the Kafir inhabitants of the place manifest 
onuch interest. It is their loving hands 
nirhich plant flowers upon and tend the well- 
/Icept grave of the pastor who has been taken 
rfrom them, and to whose memory they 
^hus love to testify their enduring respect, 
"lions are in full force ahead," we are 
warned, " and you had better keep a sharp 

Our dinner-hour and its after siesta found 
fus amongst fine, forest-Uke trees with spread- 
ing branches, some of which hung so low, 
interlacing avenue-wise over our path, that 
had our wagon-tilt not been tight as a drum, 
it must have been rent to pieces over and over 
again dm'ing this morning's trek. " Lots of 
Kafir camping-places here," remark our men. 
" Some of their fires are still aglow, so they 
cannot be very far ahead." Over spread- 
out boughs long grass dried into straw had 
been placed, forming excellent protection for 
night and day. Ten or twelve Kafirs sleep 
round the central fire they kindle, each 
with his feet to the blaze, like the spokes 
of a wheel. 

IQO On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

Birds of all sizes and of brilliant plumage, 
chirped and coquetted around us, seemingly 
without fear. Hawks, eagles, buzzards, and 
the secretary-bird, besides many smaller sorts; 
none of the latter keeping up a continuous 
song, but twittering conversationally and 
apparently all in high good-humour with one 
another. Several of the parrot tribe peeped 
down upon us with that quizzical air common 
to their kind, as we fed under the boughs 
upon which they perched. 

The secretary-bird is the great snake- 
killer of South Africa. With keen eyes it 
spies its victim from afar, pounces upon it, 
and seizing it just where by instinct it knows 
it can best paralyze the creature's powers of 
resistance, flies up into the air with it, and 
drops it from a considerable height, again 
and again, until life is extinct. 

lilfh. — ^We have actually no lion adventure 
to record, and yet we are passing through 
their well-known lurking-places, and through 
the scene of more than one dread encounter. 
That we have escaped unscathed is not owing 
to any vaUant defence we have made, for we 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 191 

were called upon to make none, and, let me 
whisper it, we positively had not a gun 
between us, so what would have come of it 
had we been attacked I leave you to guess. 

Hearing that a blaze was a safeguard, a 
blaze last night we determined to have. All 
hands collected huge piles of wood, so as to 
ensure three good fires at least. The oxen, 
our number having been increased by a relay 
of eight at the mission station, which had 
been sent there for our use, were fastened to 
the trees, instead of as usual to the trek-tow 
of the wagons, lest, in case of a scare, they 
should do the latter, and ourselves within 
them, damage diflBcult to repair. 

Dawn usually finds the enemy on the 
glert, so as it neared dawn we opened our 
curtains to see whether our bonfires were as 
bright as they should be. Hardly a spark 
glimmered to tell where they had been I 
Shout after shout seemed to have no effect in 
rousing either our men or the Kafirs, so at 
last my husband got out and insisted upon 
their bestirring themselves, and Ughting up 
the ashes anew, firewood in piles, of our last 

192 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

evening's gathering, lying ready to their 
hands. Game must have been "plenty" 
farther away, and therefore our oxen escaped. 
Tigers are met with about this and other 
localities through which we have passed, and 
through which we must pass presently. 
Traffic and sport have driven these crea- 
tures farther away into the wilds, and it is 
principally when scarcity of game makes them 
reckless in their hunger, that downright 
attacks from any wild animal are to be feared. 

We heard story upon story of adventures, 
some of quite a late date, showing that the 
wild animals of South Africa are by no means 
extinct. They prowl round habitations and 
seize their prey when they get a chance, but 
it is man who goes out to slay them whenever 
a "spoor," or footprint, marks that the thief is 
at hand, never resting till his skin is brought 
home icL triumph. 

Wherever there are baboons I was told 
there will be tigers, and this applies to smaller 
game generally, so the country may count 
upon its tigers for many generations to come. 
Those who love sport can have it, pure and 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 193 

simple here. No battues, no " dilly, dilly, 
come and be killed" style of fun, but an 
exciting hunt, narrow escapes, sudden sur- 
prises, &c., requiring keen sight, steady aim, 
and an Al rifle. Add to these, good powers of 
endurance, an appetite above squeamishness, 
which can even swallow uncooked food at a 
pinch, when fire is unprocurable (tinned food is 
too bulky for saddle-bags), unlimited climbing 
and walking capabilities, and an honest, whole- 
hearted love for an adventurous life, and what 
more can your thorough sportsman require ? 
Indeed, I heard stories by the side of which } Huv»^ii,l| 
Gordon Oumming*s become almost tame and I 
insipid, and we all know how few beUeved his 
were other than just travellers' tales, merely 
because they had never seen such things them- 
selves, nor read of them before. One must 
hear everything for the jir^t time, therefore 
why give credence only to repetitions ? 
Tigers, or as they should more properly be 
called leopards, hunt in couples, as do the 
lion and lioness. Thus, killing one foe does 
not always ensure an end to the fight. 

Both yesterday and to-day we have passed, 

1 94 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

and then they in turn have passed us, over- 
taking us at our outspans, band after band of 
Kafirs, of many tribes, our men say— but prin- 
cipally the Amaswazis — ^who, being friendly 
to the Dutch, count upon them as allies 
against those of their own colour, whose 
hands in consequence are against them. 
These, with hardly an exception, carried 
guns, in addition to their " kit " strapped 
on to their backs, and which, as it mostly 
consisted of heavy karosses or skins, seemed 
cruelly heavy and oppressive under that 
burning sun. 

Kafirs think nothing of walking forty or 
fifty miles a day, at a good swinging pace, 
keeping it up continuously, amtil their destina- 
tion is reached, stopping at given times for 
their siesta, and gossip seasoned by snufE- 
taking, — snuff concocted out of almost any- 
thing, so long as it is of a potency sufficient 
to cause what is very dear to the Kafir heart, 
a series of sneezes, so long and so loud that 
the hills resound with them. 

I took the echo for that of the cries of wild 
beasts in throes of anguish, until longer ac- 


OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 195 


quaintance cleared up the mystery, and we 
knew that the unearthly sounds came simply 
from some twenty or thirty Kafirs snuffing 
round their camp-fires, revelling in the 
ecstatic sensation, which to the beholder 
seemed to follow writhings fi:*om an internal 
spasm. The hills are in a measure answer- 
able for this, echoes always being tale- 

These groups, peopling so quaintly the 
glades and park-like roads we are travelling 
over now, add just the touch they have 
wanted hitherto. Now we can desire . no 
more. Life in plenty, animal and vegetable, 
and a sky of such blueness overhead that 
not one floweret or one blade of the varied 
grasses but seems to have on its holiday 
dress, and to say saucily, " Grather me, gather 
me ! and let the folks in England see how 
pretty we are ;" while the birds as they prink 
their bright feathers in the sunshine, take up 
the refrain and twitter, " If you can shoot us 
you may stuff us, and send us home, too, to 
let our sad-coloured brothers and sisters see 
what bonnie creatures we are ! " They know, 


196 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

cunning things, that we have no gun, or they 
would not dare to flout us so. 

%tlfh July. — We reach at breakfast-time 
Makapan's Poort, or the " Gate " to the terri- 
tory of the chief of that name, the scene of a 
fearful tragedy about twenty years ago, when 
the natives, driven to desperation by Dutch 
oppression, retaliated after a manner so hor- 
rible that the memory of its sickening details 
ought alone to be kept alive for the warning 
it may afEord against a harsh policy in future. 

The man Potgeiter, whose lawless raids 
upon the natives brought matters to this cruel 
cUmax, almost deserved his fate, for what 
mercy could be expected at the hands of 
people whose children had been kidnapped and 
sold for slaves, and whose rights to the lands 
of their fathers, or even to the spoil their own 
hands had won for them, had been wholly 
imrecognized, or if recognized quite dis- 
regarded? Simple death was no vengeance 
worth having, thought these savages, lashed 
by their wrongs into the committal of ghastly 
cruelties, too harrowing for me to tell of, or 
for you to read. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 197 

The innocent ever sufEer with the guilty, 
therefore, those who were nigh at hand, for 
trading purposes only, shared the fate of these 
marauders, who had dared theirs, and must 
have been in some measure prepared to meet 
it. News of the massacre reaching Potchef- 
stroom, volunteers were quickly found to 
avenge it. Makapan and his tribe hid them- 
selves in the fastnesses of the mountains, and 
in one of the caves, some of them 2000 feet 
long by 400 or 500 wide, of which there 
are so many. Here they stood the siege. 
Rocks were blasted above them, hoping to 
crush them in the f alUng ruins. This measure 
failed, so starving them out was tried. This 
failed likewise; and not until the more 
desperate measure still, of literally building 
up the mouth of the cavern, and burying 
them alive, was nearly, at a cost of immense 
labour, completed, did the beleaguered tribe 
come out to die, numbers having already 
succumbed within it. 

Whether the ruined village we saw this 
morning met its doom at this time I could 
not quite gather ; possibly later. Its inhabi- 

198 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

tants had been massacred by Kafirs, all but a 
remnant, which was struck down to the last 
man by fever. It was pitiful, here at the 
very scene of the calamity, to think of their 
fate, and how much they must have suffered 
before the end came. The Uttle " dorp," or 
town, had been a considerable one, judging 
by the size, and even importance, of some of 
its houses, all built of the dark-brown mud of 
the country, but with a somewhat ambitious 
attempt at ornament. The gardens still had 
defined fences and limits, and in many of 
them were trees yet capable of blossom and 
fruit-bearing, though fast becoming wild and 
sorely needing culture. Their beauty nothing 
could destroy. The walls were studded 
with bullet-holes, and bore other evidence 
throughout of having stood a siege, and testi- 
fying that their owners had not yielded with- 
out a struggle. 

Shall I ever forget the fairy nook, or the 
httle stream, so placid to-day, but which 
could, in the rainy season, become a torrent, 
by which we breakfasted this morning ? It 
must have been the water-supply to the little 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 199 

town whose sorrowful history I have given 
you. Sitting on its steep and winding bank, 
it was easy to picture the fever-stricken few, 
growing daily fewer and fewer, dragging 
their weary limbs to its brink, with barely 
strength left to fill their vessels with its clear, 
sweet waters, so that they might, whilst they 
could, slake the burning thirst of those dear 
ones who were hourly fading away firom 
before their eyes, and whom they were sure 
only too quickly to follow. 

" Patches of vivid green like feathers ! 
what can they be every here and there, in the 
nooks and crannies of the rocks ? " Maiden- 
hair ferns in wild luxuriance ! What a fern- 
lover's paradise is South Africa ! 'Ware 
snakes, however, if you are greedy, and must 
gather all that charms your eye. Bulbous 
plants in plenty, bulb-fanciers I but bring 
a pickaxe at least if you must fetch away 
your prize. 

I have of late ceased to appeal to your 
sympathies in re bumpings and thimipings, 
joltings and jinglings. These, if anything, 
have increased rather than the reverse, for 

2CX> On Trek in the Transvaal; 

all these natural beauties have the effect of 
rendering the roads execrable and torturing 
our poor bodies proportionately. There is 
ever hanging over us the dread of the wagon 
not holding out until we reach our journey's 
end. When it has groaned more than usual, 
and has come down with a scrunch and a jar 
of more threatening import than at the last 
boulder which it had surmounted, John taps 
its wheels, shakes its body generally, and 
takes a survey throughout to ascertain the 
amount of damage, before we start hopefully 
on our course once more. This is our last 
day out, and, thanks be I there is a black- 
smith at Eersteling who can tinker us into 
shape again. Kafir gardens and mealy 
grounds at the foot of hills and kopjes ; 
round these we wend, and we are told that 
one trek more will actually be our last. It 
sounds too good news to be true, and when 
old Carolus suggests our outspanning for the 
night, so as to arrive with a flourish, as it 
were, in the morning, this being the proper 
thing to do, I stoutly resist. I cannot have 
bath, bed, and a roof over my head too soon. 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 201 

My companions applaud my resolution, and 
uphold me in carrying it out. So, in the 
dim twilight, so nearly dark that the glimmer 
of lamp and candle from the windows of the 
houses in the little mining settlement we 
enter seems as a welcome, we, weary wan- 
derers that we are, reach the " haven where 
we would be " and sink to sleep, oh I so 
thankfully, oh I so restfiilly 1 with our heads 
upon the real pillows, and our bodies between 
the real sheets which had been thoughtfully 
and kindly provided for us at the Company*s 
house, the head-quarters of the manager of 
the mine. 

Reader, here at this point, in transcribing 
my notes, I must lay down my pen for awhile. 
A very weariness creeps over me, mental, 
indeed, but akin to that physical weariness 
memory recalls so vividly that I almost feel 
it in every nerve as I write. Maybe the mor- 
row may bring to me a power of utterance 
which fails me now, that I may tell you 
somewhat of our experiences here and further 
up the country still, before I touch lightly, 
but sadly and tenderly, upon the waves of 

202 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

trouble which rolled over our heads, and 
which ended in stranding me upon life's 
shore alone, with much of its journey still to 
run, if God so wiUs it, but which bore him, 
my husband, all buflfetings over, to that Eest 
in which He giveth His beloved sleep ! 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 263 


Eersteling — Gold-bearing reefs — Quartz-crushing — Cost 
of some of the necessaries of life — ^A day at the 
mine — Intelligence and docility of the Kafir — 
Feeding-time — A little about ostriches — Feathered 
ballet-dancers — Jack the Buzzard — A visit to the 
mill — Night. 

20f A July. — ^We have now been a fortnight at 
Eersteling, and its natural beauties grow 
upon us daily. Hills are around and about 
us everywhere, some in ranges, with here a 
gap and there a gap, or alone, standing out 
boldly with grand outline, and with smaller 
kopjes nigh at hand, bearing a fantastic 
resemblance to a huge old hen with a brood 
of overgrown chicks, fossilized for their 
greediness in the very act of meddUng with 
man's own particular right, scratching and 

204 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

grubbing for the gold which Mother Earth 
so cunningly hides and sometimes so unex- 
pectedly reveals. It gives one a curious 
. sensation, at least while the novelty lasts, to 
think of the untold treasures one may be 
at the very moment trampling under foot. 
Even to the least covetous there is music in 
the chink of the precious metal, and a beauty 
in its yellow tint; and who minds how 
gnarled, and bent, and be-holed may be the 
nugget, so long as it is a nugget? or who 
grudges the labour of seeking the " darlint " 
so long as it is found at last ? 

Though its gullies and spruits have been 
the home of many a nugget, and possibly 
hold the secret of many more yet to be 
revealed, yet Eersteling has more of reef than 
of alluvial gold. Some reefs have already 
been worked, others are in process of work- 
ing, and more will be opened up when these 
are exhausted, if a further search confirms the 
promise which now indicates that there are 
treasures below worth the vast labour the 
search for them ever entails. Do any of you 
picture us sauntering about under our broad- 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S, Africa. 205 

flapped hats and big white but colour-lined 
umbrellas, picking up here a nugget and there 
a "nobbly bit" of stone, flecked with yellow, 
putting them into our pockets as one does 
pebbles or shells upon the sea-shore? Not 
so, inquirer ; gold is not to be had for the 
bare stooping for it, although you may pick 
up a bit of quartz and cast it away again as 
valueless, all unknowing in your inexperience 
that a tiny speck was there nevertheless. 
"It is the mickle which makes the muckle" 
ever, and gold-bearing quartz is no exception. 
As cart after cart passes and repasses us, we 
know that the big stamps will have to pound 
away upon tons' weight of the burden each 
carries to produce at the end of the several 
careful processes yet to be gone through one 
of those handsome-looking cakes much about 
the size, and of much the same appearance as 
the slabs of ginger-bread dear to the school- 
boy heart. One was handed to me once with 
the somewhat late caution, as my hand nearly 
dropped it, from its unexpected weight, 
" Look out ! it is heavier than it appears I " 
And truly, who could have thought so small a 

2o6 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

thing could have been so weighty or could 
have cost so much time and labour to 
procure ? 

I think I might give here one day as a 
sample of this fairer half of our Eerstehng 
life, before our horizon was darkened by 
trials, especially our own, and before I had 
to encounter the minor difficulties and petty 
disagreeables which, after aU, I only shared 
in common with every ** new hand " at South 
African housekeeping in the wilds, and which 
is common to inexperience all the world over. 

During our stay in comfortable quarters, 
at the excellent house built for the Company 
by the manager, and occupied by him, we 
knew nothing of the roughing it in store for 
us. Given a well-stocked store-room, a good 
gun, and the secret of opening a Dutchman's 
hand by way of his heart, and it is astonish- 
ing how few of the necessaries of life a 
dweller in the Transvaal need miss, in spite 
of the long distances which his stores have to 
travel when they require renewal, and how. 
costly the transit makes them. Sixpence 
per lb. upon the carriage of washing soda or 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 207 

the commonest kind of rice makes either a 
dear article, and one to be used with thrifty 
caution. White flour, too I Give lOeZ. per 
lb. for it, and then see how " chary " of it 
you would be. Give Is. per lb. for your salt, 
and your pepper in proportion, and pray 
would you not be content with a trifle less 
seasoning to your soup ? Would you sugar 
your tea with white sugar when it " stands 
you " at twelve pence a pound ? What work 
would you not accomplish by daylight if 
lighting up your room by candles at 2s. per 
lb. was not only costly to yourself, but very 
inviting to the winged creatures outside your 
windows ? Would you trouble about starch- 
ing your skirts to a stiffness worth naming if 
you had to purchase the means of doing so at 
3s. per lb. ? Would you not be content with 
less of a "lather" in your wash-tub when 
you buy soap at 2s. per bar ? But I will not 
multiply my figures. These charges are the 
necessary consequence of the isolation of the 
Transvaal, its distance from a port, and its 
want of capital and population to open out 
its large resources. With the demand will 

2o8 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

come the supply, and by-and-by my " quota- 
tions '* will sound as absurd to the dwellers 
therein as they probably do to you now. 
Moreover, these are not, that I am aware of, 
Pretoria prices. 

Suppose it early morning, 5 a.m., when 
you, were your clocks the same as ours, would 
be all wrapped in slumber or lazily opening 
your eyes for the sheer pleasure of shutting 
them again, knowing that no one is astir, 
and that therefore you need not be so either. 
It will be a good two hours more before your 
kitchen-maid slowly flaps her door-mats 
against the area rails, that she may prolong 
her morning's chat with the milkman, while 
your milkman himself is probably the only 
man who serves you, who is as yet about his 
business. With us all this is reversed. 
Every one is up and doing. At this luxu- 
rious stage of our sojourn I may as well con- 
fess that we were not such " early birds," 
but then we had our worms gotten for us. 
Later on we had to scratch for our own, and 
often came off second best, as you shall hear 
all in good time. 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 209 

The steam whistle, shrill and loud as that 
which deafens the defenceless traveller await- 
ing his turn at any of our home junction 
railway stations, as the express flies scream- 
ing by him, "went" at 5 a.m. to the 
minute, to call up all hands to prepare for 
the labours of the day. Soon voices and 
footsteps passing the verandah announce 
that its call has had a quick response. The 
Cornishman and the Africander, as those 
bom here, whatever land their parents may 
hail from, are called, the Dutch employ^ 
and the Kafir, are trooping by — some to the 
null, where many hands are needed in the 
engine department as well as about the 
pneumatic stamps, some to continue the 
building of the second new chimney, which 
gives our little settlement a factory-like look, 
some to the quarries, some to the shafts, and 
some to the reservoirs, newly commenced as 
old ones dry up. 

Oxen are fetched for the carts, and soon 
return, as they will be doing all day, except 
at the intervals for rest, yoked to their 
burdens, and hauling the quartz which will 


2IO On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

yield the precious powder, some of it is but 
little else, about wluch. all this pother has 
to be made. 

I am more and more struck with the 
intelligence, within certain limits, of the Kafir. 
His is an unquestioning obedience to the 
order of the moment— give him two orders 
and he will remember none of the second. 
The sequence cell in his cranium is unfilled ; 
but say to him, " Go there," and he will go, 
or " Do this," and you may be sure he will 
do it, and that not grudgingly or of neces- 
sity. It comes to him naturally to obey you. 
Humour your Kafir, let him sit down and 
snuff now and again when he has a mind to 
do so, and he will do all you tell him, with 
an air of cheerfulness and alacrity not com- 
mon to white human nature, but do not trust 
him with piece-work, or let him allot his 
own hours of labour. Give him his fellows 
to shovel with him the earth from the banks 


of the reservoir, or watercourse, he is aiding 
you to construct in which to gather and 
husband the precious store at rainfall, or to 
load the carts with quartz for the mill, and 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 211 

let a steady-going white man not only over- 
look him, but work with him as his " boss," 
and believe me, you have a good servant of 
dusky hue, who for small wage will do a 
good day's toil, and who while content with 
a well-filled porridge-pot for his every-day 
fare, will think it princely of you to grant 
him the offal from the slaughter-house at 
your weekly " killing," and " salaam " you 
with folded hands in token of ecstatic grati- 
tude if you but give him snuff, real or imita- 
tion with which to tickle his nose, and pro- 
cure for him that beatific sensation which 
sometimes culminates, not always, in that 
long series of sneezes with which he can 
awake the echoes, as he croons his tales 
around his camp-fire at night. 

"It is good for you that you do not 
understand Kafir," I was told once, " or you 
would think somewhat less highly of the 


" I am glad I do not," I replied, " for I do 
not want to think less highly of them than I 
have reason to do now." 

Their language probably is not fit for Bel- 

p 2 

212 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

gravian drawing-rooms, nor perhaps for 
polite ears generally. Possibly they know 
no other name for "a spade" than "a 
spade ;" but I doubt if an innuendo which 
indicates the same article on dainty lips in 
select circles, may not have as clear a 

At 8 a.m. an hour for breakfast is 
given. The white men go to their several 
houses and huts, or, if Cornishmen, one of 
whom only has his wife with him, to their 
own barrack-like quarters, with a central 
hall for a living and eating room, their 
Kafir having fetched the water from the 
stream, and helped " the missus " to get 
ready their meal. Hungry . as hunters are 
they, and should the weekly beef not have 
taken to the coarse salt kindly, testifying to 
the fact after a fashion of its own, of which 
no one would rob it, it goes down without 
more than a passing notice ; for what sauce 
like appetite, and what sweetener like honest 
toil ? 

Bach gang of Kafirs, each tribe, if possible, 
working apart to save clashing from incom- 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 213 

patibility of temper or its like, has its cook to 
attend to the Commissariat. We have been 
listening to the monotonous tones of the store- 
keeper, as he counted into the sacks' mouths 
to ea<5h claimant his given number of measures 
of mealies. These he will first grind at one 
of the mills placed here and there for the 
purpose, and then in the form of mealy meal 
will convert it into the porridge he and his 
brethren love so well, but which to me is so 
suggestive of the bill-sticker's paste-pot, or 
that yeUow-looking compound with which in 
such frantic haste our railway attendants 
be-butter our wheels at Paddington or 
St. Pancras. We have had our early coffee 
kindly provided for us by our hostess's order, 
but our real breakfast is to come. Mean- 
while other live things want theirs, and the 
ground around the spot where the rations 
have been distributed literally swarms with 
animals and birds. The dogs may get a scrap 
of meat from the hands of one of the men 
who has come for some to carry home with 
him, €fa rmite^ or as in the case of the three 
dingy sheep, with tails absurdly too long for 

214 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

them, and upon whicli, (their bodies not their 
tails, I mean,) hang our sole hopes of coming 
mutton, they may have come just to see what 
is going on. They are there however. Flocks 
of pigeons swoop down cooingly, flirting their 
little fan-like tails so prettily and coquettishly, 
that I long to take them up and lay their 
soft wings against my cheek. What a feast 
they have, and with what a satisfied air do 
they wheel off into space, as they are warned 
off the premises by the later arrivals, the white- 
winged geese, and those large, grey goslings, 
heralded by the lordly cackle of the old 
gander, whose masterful deportment might 
have earned the praises of Mr. Turveydrop 
himself, and which had quite taken me in until 
his hiss of warning and of seeming derision, 
turned into a scream of positive terror. This, 
communicating itself to his wife and little 
ones, ended in their ignominious retreat 
before the coming foe. " What huge things 
are these ?" I inquire ; " how unwieldy is their 
gait ! how clumsy their stride ! and yet how 
jaunty their airl Why they are ostriches, 
I declare 1" as a memory of exhibited speci- 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 215 

mens of the genus at our own Zoological 
Gardens throws a little light upon the matter. 
High is their " action," as though each time 
they touched the ground they found it burn- 
ing as with living coals, and jerky is each 
movement, as if their joints were hinged like 
those of the cardboard figures which caper at 
the touch of baby fingers upon the string 
which unites their heads to their bodies, and 
then permeates down to their toes. On the 
top of their stilt-like legs is the large body 
upon which, in spite of its draggle-tailed 
appearance, grows the rich crop of feathers 
which fetches so high a price in the home 
market, and which become the biped in 
borrowed plumes better than the biped upon 
whom nature originally bestowed them, at 
least in the stage at which I beheld the latter. 
The long, crane-Hke neck which moves with 
undulations half serpent-like, half swan-like, 
does not look as if it could form a passage 
for the large, hard objects it oftentimes con- 
veys below to the scene of the creature's 
marvellous feats of digestion — a soda-water 
bottle gliding down easily, and a few ten- 

2 1 6 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

penny nails being only like the pepper to it. 
Who would think that those mild-eyed, 
amiable-looking birds, giants though they be 
of their kind, could, if angered, or in self- 
defence, strike a blow powerful enough to 
slay with those long legs of theirs? They 
have such soft, baby faces, and such trustful 
eyes that one might credit them with every 
amiable instinct. While these four tame 
ostriches of the manager's are making a rapid 
** bolt " of the spilt mealies, let me just say 
one or two words about theii* own habits and 
those of their species in the wilds. Now 
ostrich-farming has become a special industry 
of South Africa, much more is known of their 
"tricks and their manners" than of old. 
What they Hke, and what they do not like, 
what is good for them, and what is not, is 
now ascertained to a nicety ; for a disregard 
of seeming trifles in rearing them makes all 
the difference between good and bad returns 
upon the necessary outlay. The value of a 
chick of a week old being from hi, to lOZ., 
who would care to risk losing its immense 
rise in value (I am told it is at the rate of 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 217 

Is. a day at first, and even more afterwards), 
by failing to supply it with, the alkaline 
element so wholesome for it? Limestone, 
carted to supply the want of it on the farm, 
it refuses, but crush up old bones, adding 
sulphur and salt, and offer your chick the 
feast, and see how much of it he will leave I 
Your bird wiU thrive weU on Lucerne, clover, 
maize, cabbage leaves, grain, and even crushed 
quartz. I can't help wondering if these have 
put away a little gold amongst their gather- 
ings ! but artificial means are after all only 
supplementary to those of nature's pwn pro- 
viding in soil, water, herbage, a wide scope 
for wanderings by day, and a warm kraal or 
enclosure by night. Your home bird may 
only have one wife, or, if you are not virulent 
against polygamy, you may permit him two. 
But there is this against it besides the prin- 
ciple of the thing. Mr. Ostrich takes a full 
share of the domestic labours requisite to 
unsheU the little ones his better halves people 
their joint nest with, and therefore he had 
better weigh the subject well before he 
assimies such heavy matrimonial fetters. 

2i8 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

Like the old-fashioned cottage weather- 
glasses, when the lady is in the gentleman 
is out, and mce versd^ and he has also to keep 
guard over the sitters during the night lest 
evil happen to them. 

In a wild state the husband must have a 
rare time of it, for he thinks nothing of 
undertaking four or even five wives, and to 
help them hatch, and to defend them from 
the many ills' ostrich flesh within the shell or 
without is heir to must be no joke. Tigers 
will have them if they can, and crows will 
even fling down stones upon the eggs at a 
great distance if they get the chance. 
Worms destroy and climatic changes afiect 
their well-being much. Dr. Watts might 
have named ostriches in his little verses 
on bad temper, with which we were all so 
well acquainted in our childhood, instead of 
the dogs which occasionally " dehght to bark 
and bite," for when they fight it is apt to be 
to the death, and think of what loss to their 
owners comes of this giving way to their 
angry passions 1 If in fine condition, and at 
the right season, their feathers which they 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 219 

maul so terribly in the scrimmage may be 
worth a price varying froiri 30Z. to 60Z. the 

From a very early age the little ones are 
turned out to grub for themselves as much 
as possible during the day, a young Kafir 
boy herding them with his long wsgid — a 
loafing kind of life much to his taste. His 
charges testify much affection for their care- 
taker, and he has hardly any difficulty in 
driving them home to their kraal at night. 
The first time we witnessed these creatures' 
performances upon being emancipated from 
watch and ward at early dawn we laughed 
immoderately, and never looked on gravely 
when we saw the absurdity repeated. They 
resembled nothing that we could think 
of so much as four gigantic but rheumatic 
ballet-girls, as they literally waltzed round 
and round, sometimes drooping one wing 
sometimes another, knocking against each 
other recklessly, but keeping up the dance 
until they reeled tipsily, and wound up 
the fun by nearly dropping like expiring 
teetotums to the ground. We threw them 

220 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

no bouquets, and if they curtseyed to us as 
we cheered them by our plaudits they did so 
involuntarily, before gravely marching away 
at the word of command of their small black 

One more applicant for any pickings which 
may yet be left, and I will close my hst: 
" Jack," or, as he is playfully called here, " the 
Manager's Canary." Jack is of the buzzard 
tribe, and I must confess that when apart 
from any member of his owner's family, 1 
am afraid of that bird, and I consider myself 
a long way off from being a coward. He 
exercises a strange fascination over me never- 
theless, for he is " a character," has as many 
tricks as a monkey, and is as thievish as a 
jackdaw. To hear him scramble over our 
" Gospel Oak " manufactured zinc roof yoa 
would think a dozen burglars were trying to 
effect an entrance through it. It is only 
Jack, however, who, having stolen the car- 
penter's rule or a bit of savoury meat from a 
pot over some unwatched fire, lifting off the 
lid and putting it on again being one of his 
accomplishments, has retreated out of man's 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 221 

reach with his prize; but tin roofs are slippery, 
and will-he n ill-he down goes clumsy Jack, 
who can get no safe hold for his big claws. He 
flies at you, seemingly straight at your eyes, 
when no one he fears is near. Once he spied 
me walking alone, and from a distance of 
several hundred yards made at me from 
behind, nearly knocking off my hat, and it 
was with much ado that I kept my feet from 
the suddenness of the attack. A bird's wing 
in my hat might have been the inducement, 
but I rather think it was just Jack's fun, one 
of his practical jokes. A shout brought me 
help, and by some well-directed stone-flinging, 
my assailant was driven away, after perching 
more than once with an air which threatened 
another raid. 

It is our breakfast-time now, and Jack 
knows it to a minute. As we sit at table 
we hear an unearthly sound which defies 
spelling, and through an empty stove-pipe 
hole appears the long beak and neck of my 
torment. It is a matter of calculation for 
him to get through the aperture unstrangled, 
but the wretch does the trick, and is rewarded 

222 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

by huge pieces of meat from his master's 
hand, which he cleverly catches and bolts with 
small show of effort. I am amused at Jack 
viewed at that altitude, distance lending en- 
chantment to the view I thus obtain of him. 

This day we take a trip to explore some 
distant parts of the estate, which are reported 
favourably upon as promising a future golden 
harvest. Four oxen are inspanned to the 
" trap," a large, high, two- wheeled affair, 
which might be a gig, or a cart, or a jaunting 
car. A jolting car it is safe to be, for we go 
over places which have no pretension to be 
called roads at all, and it all turns upon 
your powers of preserving a due equilibrium, 
whether you remain in the vehicle or are 
pitched bodily out of it. " Ride and tie '* 
is the rule with all but myself, the luncheon 
basket, and the small miner's picks with 
which to break up any hopeful-looking 

Our stony gatherings are deposited in the 
well under the seat for more leisurely inspec* 
tion, and for after pounding in a huge mortar, 
the pestle of which is guided by a Kafir as it 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 223 

hangs suspended by a stout string to the 
bough of a tree, its weight being too great 
for its continuous use unaided. The pow- 
dered quartz, Mr. B., whose practised hand 
and eye never fail to find the gold so long 
only as it is ffeere, washes in a prospecting 
basin. To our inexperience he seems at 
first to be recklessly flinging everything 
out of it into the big tub of water over 
which he works -and into which he dips 
it, at first frequently with a plunge, but 
towards the end of his labours very cau- 
tiously and by thimblefuls. When seem- 
ingly nothing is left, we are invited to inspect 
the tin bottom of the vessel, and there are 
the little, tiny flecks of gold, not sparkling 
as we had expected to find them, but with 
the warmth of colouring, and with the unmis- 
takeable air of being the real Simon Pure 
himself, and not any of his many bastard 
brothers which have enough of the family 
likeness about them to delude at first sight 
even old hands. The mark of a copper-nailed 
boot on the clear white granite looks pro- 
vokin^ly like gold, but what need to quote 

224 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

"All is not gold that glitters," a proverb 
sure to be suggested by our surroundings. 

I will not attempt a description of our 
visit to the office of the assayer, or of the 
process of amalgamation, &c. Mr. Pol- 
kinghome, amongst his little pots and 
moulds, with the blaze of his furnace lighting 
up his face, might have been a Soyer amongst 
his saucepans, but away from the fires, his 
fingers deftly handling his- bottles, his acids, 
his "tests," and his scales, he might have 
been an alchemist. That he was an able 
amalgamist, and by the magic of his art 
could turn all these tiny grains into the 
solid cakes of massive gold we handled, was 
a fact which needed no telling, for we saw 
and believed. 

The masons have lost not a moment over 
the big chimney which seems to have become 
taller already, though our trip has not taken 
more than a few hours, and which is to over- 
top its fellow alongside. The Kafirs have 
piled higher and higher their stacks of the 
wood they have been chopping for the use of 
the mill. The engineer and his subs must 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 225 

have had a hot time of it amongst the 
machinery. As they are sensible men, they 
have doubtless aired themselves during the 
^^Jj by taking an occasional turn in the 
cooler "blanket-washing" department. I 
do not allude to a laundry, believe me, but 
unless those blankets were washed, pray 
where would the gold be? for they are 
traps for the precious dust, which they hold 
jealously, in spite of volumes of water being 
poured over them by the connecting ma- 
chinery, as they lay in their long, sluice-like 
boxes, which are kept locked to guard their 
contents against next " washing day." 

Before returning to our evening meal, we 
have a look at the cunning old horse which 
has to go round and round, treadmill fashion, 
to supply the water needed by the mill. If 
the flow ceases, or is irregular, it is well 
known that Bob is standing napping, or 
lazily bhnking his eyes as preparatory 
thereto. A footstep, ever so light, and a 
Kafir's bare foot upon the thickly-strewn 
white sand, gathered after the quartz-crush- 
ing, makes no soimd, and ofi* starts the steed 


226 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

with the innocent air of one who has known 
no intermission from his laborious task. 

We meet party after party returning from 
their day's tasks, the same whose outgoings 
had aroused us soon after dawn — kind with 
kind you may be sure. The Kafirs of each 
tribe assorting together, but all alike in the 
manner of their march. Single file nearly 
all of them. Some shouting, leaping, or 
haranguing eloquently in sing-song tones; 
some chanting loudly, some wrapped in a 
kind of majestic gloom as if heavy thoughts 
weighted them. Only "as if," for no 
thought for the morrow troubles them, and 
their pensive air arises most likely from a 
consciousness that the large snuff-tube they 
carry through the oblong sKt in the lobe of 
their ear is empty, and they have not the 
wherewithal to fill it. We shall hear the 
tum-tum of their drums presently (I must 
call them by that name, although I never saw 
the instrument which emits the drum-like 
sound), and see the hght of their camp-fires, 
but not for very long. Nine or ten o'clock, 
at the latest, and the whole of our busy 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 227 

commuiiity will be wrapped in slumber ; no 
sound awaking the echoes of the night but 
the occasional "laugh" of a stray hyena, or 
the frantic barkings of Carlo and his com- 
rades, as they tear in hot haste after a poach- 
ing jackal or a stranger dog which has no 
right of entrance here. 

Q 2 

228 On Trek in the Transvaal; 




Our hut and our visitors — Housekeeping dilemmas — 
" Boxer " — A few words about ants — Insect pests — 
Kafir washing and mangling — ^Vagrant fowls — 
Oomfan's egg-hunt — True tales of snakes, &c. — 
A cure for baldness — Daager verstis soap-suds. 

29th September, 1875. — J will gather up the 
thread of my story which I dropped before 
we started upon a pleasant trip to the 
Haupt Busch Berg, or Government forests, 
some sixty miles away, here, in the funniest 
and queerest abode any Uving creature surely 
ever inhabited, and yet which has capabilities 
of comfort not apparent at first sight, airi- 
ness being one of them. To begin with, in 
shape it is like a Dutch oven with a pointed 
roof, and two square holes by way of windows. 
It is built Kafir fashion, twisted twigs plas- 

oVy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa, 229 

tered with mud form its round walls, and 
twisted twigs over rafters covered with coarse 
grass its roof. In these twigs live and labour, 
ceaselessly, myriads of insects called "Borers," 
and as they work, perforating the wood, down 
come showers of their saw-dust upon our 
heads and paper if we are writing, or into our 
teacups and iipon our plates as we eat. No 
name could be more fitting from our point of 
view as well as from their own. Other 
" borers " we have likewise. Lizards, tired 
of sunniQg themselves on the rocks outside, 
peep at us with their sly little eyes, and scud 
away when we return their stare. An occa- 
sional toad loafs in and out, and the long- 
bodied, many-legged African centipede, with 
its hard, ringed coat would as soon crawl up 
our walls, as along our mud floor, where, if 
we touch it, it curls up round and tight as a 
snail, pretending to be dead, but never making 
us believe him nevertheless. We generally 
prefer to toss him out of the door Uke a 
pebble, to scrunching him up under our feet. 
Indeed, unless my intruder is young and 
tender, I usually find I suffer more than he 

230 On Trek in the Transvaal^ 

does from my violence. Snakes have so far 
treated us respectfully, but we hear from 
others of too many snake experiences to count 
upon entire immunity from their visits. My 
husband put his hand upon one on the top of 
a post the other day by accident. The crea- 
ture darted down it and away into the water 
in a second, both parties being equally 

astonished, but, as A declares, the reptile 

manifesting more presence of mind than he, 
his horror of snakes being as great as my 

A long cart-rope, from end to end of which 
hangs a chintz curtain, of a pattern so defined 
and distinct that its huge stripes might serve 
for the blue and yellow partition-posts of a 
travelling circus, divides our sitting from our 
bed-room, both of which are furnished with a 
contempt for luxury, and an absence of pre- 
tension, which Diogenes himself might be 
tempted to envy. No, I wrong him. A 
qualm of conscience warns me of the fact. 
I would not rob him of a laurel from his 
crown. He drank out of his hands, history 
records, to show that even a drinking- vessel 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 231 

was not a necessary of life. We were glad of 
ours, I freely confess, and we should have 
been glad of many other things which to the 
Cynic were superfluities. Could we have 
brought up from Natal all the comforts we 
had procured in England, we should not have 
been put to so many shifts now, but of none 
of them separately, nor of the whole col- 
lectively, have I material wherewith to make 
a grievance. The comic element predomi- 
nates so far. When I make a little pudding 
out of the dried peaches I get at the store, I 
make it in one of our breakfast-cups, and the 
pudding must be eaten if we want a cup of 
tea ! My rolling-pin is a black bottle, and by 
easing off the stroke as one nears the neck 
end, it answers its purpose rarely well. 
Until I summoned courage to borrow a baking- 
tin, I saw staring me in the face the dure 
necessity of toasting my joint at the end of a 
stick, much as men on bivouac use their 
ramrods. Our table-cloth is made of towel- 
ling sewn together, and when it is dirty I* 
wash it out, dry it in a twinkling, let the 
Kafir-boy dance upon it amongst other things 

232 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

to mangle it, and who is to know but I have 
a dozen other lavender-scented fellows to it 
reserved amidst my stores ? Of com^se I have 
not, but that is my secret. " My kingdom 

for a jug," I exclaimed one day, and Mr. P , 

my ever-ready helper, sent me his only one, 
which lost none of its usefulness, if you were 
cautious at pouring-out time, because friction 
or legitimate service had worn away its lip. 
It is a puzzle where to stow away my stock 
for gravy, soup being a great feature in our 
menage^ if at the same time that rare treasure, 
a pint of milk, should fall to our happy lot. 
From the bed end of the bedroom we cannot 
see our larder, but we know it to be there, 
pickle-tub and all, and talking of the pickle- 
tub, a loan of great price in our extremity by- 
the-bye, let me snip out a sheet or two from 
home letters, which has a touch of apropos 
about it. 

227itZ September, 1875.— .... "Before 
I allude to your last letter, date 4th August, 
which arrived to-day, let me make you laugh 
over a funny opening scene in our new 
quarters. You know what an unconquer- 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 233 

able dislike I have to raw meat — a butcher's 
shop being only a degree more repugnant to 
me than a fishmonger's — would that either 
of those respectable folks lived round the 
corner, by-the-bye ! We had had nothing but 

pork for three days, and as pork is A 's 

pet abomination, extending itself even to the 
living beast, you may guess how thankful I 
was to be promised beef in the course of the 
day, for an ox was to be slaughtered. To 
begin with I heard the poor wretch shot, 
and in what seemed no time at all, a large 
pan, a prospecting dish really, of almost 
quivering flesh was brought to me as our 
week's allowance, the Kafir popping it down 
on the table right under our noses. It had 
to be turned into something, as the vessel 
was wanted as a butcher's tray elsewhere. I 
had nothing but our wash-basin, and into 
that I let the man place it until I could cast 
about what was to become of it and mo. 
Larder I had none, and to sleep in the same 
room with some fourteen or sixteen pounds 
of almost living meat I could not. Seeing 
my despair and disgust tempered an it was 

234 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

with a chastened spirit of thankfulness for 

baked meats to come, Mr. G , who with 

Mr. B was paying us, the one a business, 

the other a neighbourly visit, most good- 
naturedly offered his assistance. I shrewdly 
suspect he had as little inclination for the 
work as myself. I fetched in a board, the 
axe, and one of our three very blunt-edged 
knives, turned up the table-cloth (?) from our 
parlour table (?) and the struggle began. He 
hacked, he sawed, he chopped, but the 
result as far as getting a steaky bit, or even 
the resemblance of a joint from it, seemed as 
far off as ever, for the trek-ox was tough, 

and our tools required grinding. Mr. B , 

looking up from his business talk with my 
husband, spied out our dilemma, and in a 
second had his sleeves up, gave a chop here 
and a chop there, here a cut and there a cut 
— and I had three small joints and a steak 

ready to my hand. Through two Mr. B 

bored holes, and sKpped some string where- 
with to hang them up under our eaves • 
There, it is true, the ants will swarm over 
them, and the sun will dry them to an appear- 

or J Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 235 


ance not appetizing ; but still the result is less 
to be dreaded than if that beef were to share 

our sleeping accommodation. Mr. B 

will send us up a pickle tub — the tub — 
shortly, and he has left me two long loops 
with which to . lower joint No! 3 into the 
brine. Should no such helper be at hand 
next week, I must tumble the whole mass 
into that pickle-tub with a pitchfork, and 
trust to chance hands to fish it out 
again. . . ." 

Let me introduce " Boxer " to you — why 
so nicknamed I cannot tell. Boxer is our 
general servant indoors and out. More out 
than in, because Boxer has a mousy-like 
odour pervading him, in common with his 
kind, for which he is not to blame, and 
by which it is easy to, discover when he is 
trying to sneak noiselessly by the window on 
some private fi'olic of his own, leaving me 
and my household work to take care of our- 
selves. Everything has its uses you see. 
Boxer may be aged anywhere between ten 
and twelve — ^he may be four-foot-nine— he is 
thereabouts, at all events. His wool sets 

236 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

thick and close to his round bullet of a head, 
his eyeballs are, if such an anomaly can be, 
whiter than white, and his even teeth almost 
glisten as his wide mouth opens for a broad 
grin ; and when he does not assume an air 
of supernatural gravity, a sure prelude to 
coming mischief. Boxer is usually grinning. 
The boy's forehead is round, and his nose 
flat ; but his countenance has no other very 
distinctive "nigger" feature to mark it. 
Set Boxer down in a London thoroughfare 
with a white skin instead of a black one, and 
with a knowledge of the " patter " needfiil 
for his enrolment in the band, and none of 
our street " gamins '' could hold a candle to 
him for capers and antics, for mimicry or for 
repartee, for cajolery or for impudence. Not 
that he is ever impudent to us, and if his 
opinion of us is an adverse one he wraps up 
his expression of it in such uninteUigible 
" clicks " that our feelings are not hurt 
thereby. Boxing Boxer's ears was a trial 
to me I confess, but I came to that at last, 
and repeated the dose when I once dis- 
covered its eflBlcacy. I had been before but a 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 237 

poor thing in his* estimation. At the first 
box, which made my hand tingle, but which 
I am sure, as Topsy said of Miss Ophelia's 
mild castigation would not have killed a 
" skeeter," I rose ten, then twenty, and at 
the end of the process fall fifty per cent, in 
his estimation. His little black shoulders, 
one of which always would peep out of his 
blue-checked shirt, his only and sleeveless 
garment. Boxer elevated as close to the point 
of attack as my hand permitted, but no 
other sign of remonstrance made he. All 
over, a subdued air and resigned demeanour, 
added to a more rightly-directed activity, 
testified that his cure for the nonce was 

On the first morning of my hero's arrival 
at our hut door, he came out of the eight- 
foot square shed which forms our kitchen 
with a face expressive of excruciating pain, 
showing the whites of his eyes, making his 
limbs totter as if from weakness, and open- 
ing his mouth to a cavern-like width quite 
appalling, pointing down the chasm with the 
fingers of one hand, while with the other he 

238 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

chafed tenderly his tight little drum of a 
stomach. Had a snake bitten him? had 
he cohc? what ailed the boy? Thinking 
he had had his rations allotted him, I could 
construe his pantomime into nothing but a 
sudden attack of illness. Words being at 
that early stage of our acquaintance useless, 
I despatched him with a note to the " In- 
kosi," asking him to physic him, or else to 
persuade him that there was nought the 
matter. To my relief off bounded Boxer 
like a hare, — all limpness of limb gone, pain 
vanished, the muscles of his face relaxed 
into smiles of beaming satisfaction, — to return 
shortly with his bag of mealies, the very 
elixir of life to him. 

The endless string of relations who visit 
Boxer, — women with their babies, and a small 
fry of tiny runabouts of all ages, men full 
grown, and youths in every stage of growth — 
have become quite a nuisance, and I am fast 
losing the mild courtesy and ready smile of 
welcome which have, "though I. say it as 
shouldn't,'* distinguished my greetings to 
them hitherto. I have even waved my hand 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 239 

to a whole row of them dismissingly, utter- 
ing in tones of decision not to be misunder- 
stood, in spite of a limping accent, " Hamba 1 
Hamba I " and on not being at once obeyed, 
have fired off the words double-barrelled as it 
were — " Hamba ! Hamba ! Taate,'' a kind 
of quick-march order which even a dog 
understands here. Boxer having been in 
service before has picked up a few English 
words, and these he loves to air when an 
opportunity occurs. I ask him, on discover- 
ing without the use of my eyes that visitors 
have arrived, " Who is that ? and that ? and 
that ? " &c. " Him, brudder of me." He 
grins as he sees me count my own fingers 
over and over again, by way of express- 
ing that I might count them for ever and 
yet have none left for the last arrivals. His 
father, a petty chief, has fourteen or fifteen 
wives, so no wonder that Boxer in duphcate 
is perpetually turning up. Love for the 
porridge-pot has much influence over pater- 
nal and even maternal affections. Into it all 
dip alike, one spoon sufficing. No crockery 
is needed for your servants, and it is asto- 

240 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

nisliing how one saves in breakages by this 
fact, and also from having so little crockery 
to break. To wash is to " Soola," spelling all 
hap-hazard. Shall I tell you how Boxer's suc- 
cessor, a smaller edition of him, and a better, 
by-the-bye, in spite of my little story, once 
" Soola-ed " a frying-pan ? I peeped through 
a crack in the door, and thus was I served 
out for my pains. " Oomfan," literally boy 
or youth, first of all clicked with delight 
at spying some greasy leavings. These he 
chased round and round with his finger, 
licking it again and again as it arrived at the 
starting-point, until no grease was to be 
seen. There might be a vestige left, how- 
ever, thought the lad, and " Oh I how nice 
for my wool." Upside down went the pan, 
hat fashion, on his pate which he whirled 
like a mop therein, until I expected to see 
him drop from giddiness. He did nothing 
of the kind, and although to his mind no 
further cleansing was needed, yet, just a 
finishing touch with the tail of his shirt 
might give it a shine, and that should not be 
denied it. With a parting sigh of regret, 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 241 

Oomfan hung the pan upon the nail appro- 
priated to its use; where the ants soon 
swarmed over it in myriads, vainly believing 
that it was a feast spread for them. 

So many of my minor worries I owed to 
these pests, especially at the last house we 
occupied in Bersteling, that I forgot what 
had so interested me in their marvellous in- 
stinct and industry on our way to the 
Transvaal, and frequently since during our 
strolls about the place, and could only think 
of them as just pests and nothing else, — not 
as the most wonderfiil builders and architects 
in creation. The Veldt over which we had 
travelled had, at times, been covered so 
thickly with their habitations, that, but upon 
the track itself, no wagon could have passed 
through them. Some were six feet high or 
more ; some broad at the base, tapering up- 
wards ; some like a long funnel or post with 
a hole at the top. To watch these workers 
had been my great delight, the little dog. 
Mora, by my side even getting quite excited 
as the busy things fetched and carried long 
straws and bits of twigs, mud, or material of 


242 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

all sorts, handing them down lengthways 
when athwart had proved a failure, to the 
little workers below, I had restrained Flora 
when she, wanting to share, or rather to 
spoil the fun, would attempt to lay her paw 
upon a few dozen at a time; or whisk all 
their labour into nothingness by a flourish of 
her feather-like tail. What must she think 
of me now, when she sees me of malice 
intent, and with an angry glare in my eyes, 
put on the kettle, " cook it *' till it boils 
furiously, and then empty its contents upon 
the thousands upon thousands of these, my 
enemies, which devour my substance, crawl 
over my person, and almost make my very 
life a burden ? No lid will keep them out of 
your saucepans, and unless you can swallow 
them by dozens in your food, you may 
dwindle away into a skeleton, ant-driven into 
your grave ! Much of their power is owing 
to the free use made of their own material in 
the construction of our habitations. This 
gives them a right of entrance indisputably. 
Of such a hardness and consistence is the 
mud of their walls, that it costs man no little 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 243 

labour to possess himself of the fruits of their 
toil and adapt them for his. Gunpowder has 
sometimes to be used to hollow out one of 
these ant-hills to make it into an oven, than 
which none could be better. 

If ants teaze, do not fleas rival them ? 

If the one insect will not let you eat, 
neither will the other let you sleep. Fleas 
swarm, become almost tame, though never 
tractable, and are only to be caught after 
surfeit. Driven to desperation for want of 
rest at night, I would exclaim in my ex- 
tremity, " What have I done that I should be 
turned into a grazing-ground for these re- 
morseless httle wretches?" As daylight 
dawned the torments, having done their 
worst, would feel sleepy. Theti would come 
my time. Custom brought me surprising skill, 
and the basin ever ready to my hand, would 
show in the morning a sediment of drowned 
corpses of a depth and stillness which brought 
me a rich reward. Let no one intending to 
come to the Transvaal be daunted by any- 
thing I may tell of these petty irritations. 
Nimibers will work a wonderful cure, and 

B 2 

244 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

by providing material will reduce each one's 
share of discomfort to a minimum. 

The end of October sees us again, tempora- 
rily, in far more comfortable quarters vacated 
by a family leaving for Natal. Oh ! the luxury 
that move secures to us — a whole house, and 
that of several chambers, six in all, high, 
open thatched roof, and actually one room 
with a boarded floor. A store-room was a 
possession I never thoroughly appreciated 
till now. Our John has contrived me a 
hanging safe, which actuaUy keeps the ants 
out, but tiat is in part o^g to this house 
being much freer from them than those on 
the other side of the estate. Over the open 
window he has nailed gauze. Thus our food 
prospects have brightened, and if I can only 
get enough, I do not fear our powers of keep- 
ing it. 

Flora and Mr. B 's big Carlo, who 

has adopted us, and of whose friendship I 
am proud, while I object to his stealing our 
provisions, had escorted the band of Kafirs 
as they brought over, piece by piece, all our 
belongings from the hut to our new house ; 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 245 

and now have a quite-at-home and " we'll- 
take-care-of-you air," comforting to witness. 
.... My food diflSculties are increasing 
rather than diminishing, now that I have a 
place to husband it in. The weather gets 
hotter, and somehow I get more easily 
wearied, and have a longing for one of my 
own good old home servants to take my work 
in hand, and to give me a spell of rest. 
Turning our big " Kafir-grass " mattress tries 
my strength sorely. I generally sink upon 
it when its right end lias yielded at last to 
my continued and somewhat puny efforts, 
and has consented to come uppermost ; and 
the washing of my garments is effected at 
the cost of many a weary sigh. The result 
is ever that streaky and coffee-coloured linen 
must be worn by me, or none at all. Neither 
soda nor soap do I spare, and yet lamentable 
are my failures. Of course I am not bound 
to do my own washing, or half of the 
drudgery I voluntarily undertake ; but much 
as I admire the noble savage as a savage, and 
admit his many capabilities for taming and 
teaching into great usefiilness, I confess I am 

246 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

not the woman to tame or to teach him, nor 
do I care to have him more about my home 
and person than is strictly necessary. A 
washing Kafir is allotted me whenever I 
request his services from the overseer, and 
what he returns after hard rubbings on a 
board on the bank of the stream, and a good 
sousing in its waters, is of a clearer hue than 
that which has had less of elbow pohsh in 
my india-rubber bath within doors. He 
often has to take back an armful of rejected 
shirts, skirts, and towels for wash No. 2, — ^an 
order he obeys without remonstrance; but, 
on the whole, he acquits himself at his task 
l^etter than the "Inkosigas," who bungles 
hers so sadly. Hear him sing as he leaps 
and dances upon the linen afterwards to 
mangle it, and you would think he was 
loudly proclaiming the excellence of his own 
performances, and jeering at the failure of 

On taking possession of our new house, we 
purchased some poultry as a resource when 
other meat shall fail. The hens treated us 
generously at first, but South African hens 

oTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 247 

tiii.i I- ■ — ^..» ^,_^_^„_.,,i^_.„,,._^^,^^^^_^^__^_^_^_ _^^^-^»^^»— . 

are sad gad-abouts, and indifferent as to 
where they deposit their eggs. The supply 
failing, I locked the hen-house, thinking to 
remedy the matter thus. Losing the key, a 
mishap not confined to country or climate, I 
applied to Oomfan in my difficulty. " Whatl 
dismayed by a trifle like that ! " seemingly 
pooh-poohed he in voluble Kafir. He darts 
from the door of the kitchen to that of the 
hen-house, lays himself down on the ground, 
and elongating his body and compressing his 
bones by a " somehow" known only to himself, 
he wriggles through the hole, the hens' own 
private entrance, and out again, with several 
unbroken eggs in the tail of his dirty little 
shirt. The resources of that child are end- 
less 1 One day, my poultry having decreased 
alarmingly in numbers, Oomfan returned 
from a fruitless search after the delinquents. 
By gestures he eked out his few English 
words so descriptively, that he made me as 
clearly comprehend his adventures as if I had 
witnessed them myself. " Me look ! look, 
look, missus," he said looking here, there, 
and everywhere, with clever pantomime. No 

248 On Trek in the Transvaal : * 

wonder he failed, for they had been made a 
clean sweep of by thievish hands : possibly 
by a gang of our own Kafirs, who, whUe 
strictly honest during their term of engage- 
ment, on leaving for unknown parts might 
have recouped themselves for their good 
behaviour when beyond fear of punishment. 

One of our oxen has been bitten by a puff- 
adder, whUe grazing in the Busch Veldt, I 
feel as if I had lost a link between us and 
home. This is the second ox so killed since 
we arrived. Big snakes, and venomous, are 
abroad ; several have been seen, shot or other- 
wise destroyed. Our men stonedone in avacant 
hut, of which the vermin had taken posses- 
sion. They opened the window and heaved 
in a stone, and when the forked tongue 
hissed at the assailant there, through a crack 
in the door would come another small 
boulder, until he was fairly done to death. 

We lent our wagon to the Manager and his 
family, for a little trip they wished to take 
for health's sake, our John acting as their 
driver. The oxen, by instinct, just avoided 
treading upon a huge snake lying basking on 

oVy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 249 

the track, but disturbing him to fiiry. John 
tried to reach him with his whip, but had to 

leap aside, shouting to Mr. B at the 

same moment. The sound of the answering 
voice attracted the enraged creature to the 
back of the wagon, to the level of the curtain 
of which it had already reared itself for its 

deadly attack, when Mr. B , with ready 

presence of mind, fired oflF both barrels and 
killed it instantly. I could .enumerate tales 
and true histories ad infinitum^ of snake 
adventures and narrow escapes, of valiant 
deeds in the hunting-field, and of hardihood 
and endurance on exploring " treks," for 
have we not in our midst our faithful story- 
tellers, who have gone through, themselves, 
or have witnessed others going through, each 
and all of these, and have we not our Baron 
Munchausen too ! I say this in all kindli- 
ness, for what amusement has not the good 
baron aflForded his ready listeners ; and who, 
once having heard his relations, does not like 
to get him in the vein for more and yet 
more ? He has shot lions by the dozen, 
and leopards by the score ; has been nearly, 

250 On Trek in the Transvaal, 

never quite, thanks to a clever shot in the 
nick of time, killed by rhinoceros and by 
buffalo. Three times he has been struck by 
lightning, once at the cost of every hair upon 
his head. He has now a splendid crop, but 
it is not every one who dare risk so 
dangerous a cure for coming baldness. Talk 
of hair-breadth escapes after that ! Once, 
on the Veldt, a friend with him was killed by 
Ughtning as they rode side by side. Fearing 
lest the jackals should scratch it up, if he 
gave the body only the scant burial time and 
weather could permit, the baron lashed the 
corpse of his comrade to the tail of his 
faithful steed, and away the living rider and 
the dead scampered through the pitiless 
storm. All these, and more, I must leave 
unrecorded: for the budget from which I 
take my notes, will not thin in proportion to 
that other budget, which threatens to out- 
grow the limits to which I must restrict 

One omission has just occurred to me, and 
I may as well add it as a tag to this chapfeer, 
on my housekeeping difficulties in th« '^ ^ 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 251 

vaal. Picture my feelings upon the first 
occasion, when a Kafir came to " daager " or 
smear our floors. In his hand was a battered 
old zinc pail, and inside it was, not whole- 
some soap and water, the very steam of 
which promises healthfiil cleanliness ; but an 
unsavoury Hquid decoction, which you can 
obtain — should you wish to test its effect 
upon the floor of your wood shed or tool- 
house, nowhere else, pray! — ^from the fields 
where your cows graze, or the stable where 
you house them at night. The Kafir's hand 
served aU purposes of scrubbing-brush or 
flannel, as he gravely and patiently plastered 
the stuff over the necessary places — filling up 
cracks, and leaving wave-like patterns upon 
the lower part of the walls, where skirting- 
boards would be, if here they did not rank 
amongst superfluities. The floors really re- 
quire this process, or no one would submit 
to it, and it is surprising how soon the 
odour departs* You are driven out into the 
verandali for a few hours; but then may 
8a£a|^ ff|i|ifij to walk over your newly- 

-fithout fear of leaving 

252 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

footmarks — thankful as you replace article 
by article, all you have stowed carefully away 
to avoid contact, if you cannot trace the 
operator's progress by the prints of his dirty 
fingers. If they are there, they have not 
come of intent, for a Kafir treats your 
belongings respectfully, and never dreams of 
robbing you of them .... unless quite sure 
of never being found out. If you have a 
looking-glass in your room, take a peep at 
your man as he stands before it, gazing at 
his own reflection, lost in self-admiration, or 
self-contemplation, or both. If you have left 
a long hair-pin about, I think he might run 
it through his wool, to adjust it into the little 
ridges, or rolls, or furrows,, or whatever 
especial fashion his hair-dresser, another 
Kafir, has chosen for his adornment, if he 
does not happen to have a porcupine quiU or 
a long Mimosa thorn handy ; and if you have 
caught him in the act, pray shake your toilet- 
cloth, if you have one, or scrub your table, if 
you have not. 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 253 


Illness — We leave Eerstelilig — Eoom for doctors — Small 
Kafir visitors — My first night on the ground — A 
storm — Our camp-scene — Here or there — ^Warm 
bads — Vaal Busch Fontein — Pinaars River — Preto- 
ria, Ac. — Buck — Bless-bok, Reit-bok, Rhe-bok, 
Spring-bok, Wilder-beest, Ac. — Our broken wheel — 
Stander's Drift. 

If I am to make my little record intelligible, 
I must not leave wholly in blank the weeks 
which intervened between my last date and 
that which found me sad and heavy-hearted, 
bracing myself for the task before me, i. e. 
conveying my poor husband, now alas! a 
helpless invalid, across that weary Veldt to 
the home he longed for, until illness or resig- 
nation deadened the desire which at first had 
been almost as a pain, and which had made 
him, as its realization seemed more and more 

254 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

improbable, moan so sadly, and as I now 
know, so prophetically "I shall never see 
England again ! You can never get me 
home ! '' 

All this came true. I strained every nerve 
to cany out the promise with which I tried 
to reassure him, asserting and reasserting 
in my hopeful blindness that " I would ! I 
would ! " A higher Hand than mine haa, 
taken him home, over paths rough and thorny 
indeed, but what wayfarer thinks much of 
the crookedness of his path when his haven 
is reached and he has entered his rest ? 

Increase of population will ensure to the 
Transvaal the supply of what is now a crying 
need — ^medical help in larger measure than 
is possible under existing circumstances. A 
doctor cannot always cure, but he can gene- 
rally alleviate. If he cannot do much for 
the patient, he may give confidence and sup- 
port to the watcher by the sick man's couch. 
There is room and plenty to spare for you, 
oh doctors ! who are casting about for an 
anchorage in well filled old England. Come 

oVy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 255 

over here, and if you do not exactly make a 
fortune by your drugs, they will help you to 
competence, and what with land or bird 
farming, gold grubbing, or a sleeping part- 
nership in merchandise, it will be your own 
fault if you do not prosper. 

29fA. January^ 1876. — ^A slight improve- 
ment in my invalid warranted my leaving 
him, under Jim's care, almost for the first 
time for weeks, but both Mr. Polkinghome, 
who had acted as my husband's deputy since 
he was first laid up, and Crowl, the mining 
captain, wished me to go with them through 
the works, which had so lately been accom- 
plished with such satisfactory results, i. e. the 
tunnel which connected shaft with shaft and 
through which we could pass from end to 
end of the opened-up part of the mine. They 
were anxious for me to be able as an eye- 
witness to report upon the progress so far 
made, to their chiefs at home. I returned 

to find A worse, and thinking himself 

so, his having ceased to utter a plaint for so 
long makes his doing so now the more dis- 
tressing in the face of the coming journey, 

256 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 


when he needs courage and endurance to sup- 
plement the remnant of strength his iUness has 
left him. I have written these two names, Mr. 
PoUdnghome and Mr. Crowl, in fiill, and I 
think they will pardon me for it. I might grave 
them in gold for the honoiu- 1 would do them 
in my gratitude for their help and counsel in 
this hour of bitter trial. The tongue dreads 
to utter what the heart yet feels to be true. 
Thus few knew what grave cause I had to 
fear that this illness might be unto death, 
until it was patent to other eyes than mine 
that so it might be. Until then I had spent 
nights of lonely watchings, with no human 
help within call; but these kindly hearts 
would not have it so any longer, and at first 
upon skins thrown on our mud floor, and 
afterwards with the slightly increased com- 
fort of a stretcher bed, Mr. Polkinghorne 
eased me of half my load of care by being at 
hand to share my watch and ward, by doing 
thoroughly for our patient many of those 
offices which I, weakened also by illness and 
anxiety, had been able to perform so imper- 
fectly. By day Growl was ever at hand. 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 257 

sharing the hours he could claiin as his own, 
lightening even my household labours ; thus 
freeing me for my sad watch or for the 
snatches of sleep which were so diflBcult to 
obtain, only leaving us when he had left 
nothing undone that his hands could find to 
do in oiu- service. . • . . 

The wagon has been at our door for some 
days, and thanks to Crowl, who has attended 
to its internal arrangements, a mattress can 
be so placed that the sufferer will feel the 
jolts as little as possible, and it will not be 
necessary to shift him much at night. Home 
help too has come, so my husband is free to 
depart. The canteen which we so missed 
on our way up the country has been thought- 
fully brought to us by his successor, and we 
shall return to Natal in far better travelling 
trim altogether than we could boast of on 
our way hither. Failure is a rare sharpener 
of wits, and no teacher is so impressive as 

Mr. Polkinghome, with his chiefs kind 
consent, has arranged to go for the first two 
or three days' trek with us. Words cannot 


258 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

express how I am heartened up by the thought 
of this help and companionship at the outset. 
For the rest I must leave the issue in higher 
Hands. I have faith in the good feeling and 
honesty of purpose of our boys, and my own 
powers of endurance have stood the trial test 
so far well, that with God's help I cannot 
beUeve they will fail me now at my greatest 

We shall travel over so much of the same 
route as that by which we came hither, that 
I need only transcribe a jotting from my 
journal here and there, until it tells of new 
ground. Visitors to the Transvaal are as 
likely to come by the one way as by the other, 
according to the season, or according to their 
inclination, for I do not think there is much 
difference as to distance. Your driver may 
be told by one in charge of a returning 
wagon, " Grass bad by the Free State route, 
better go by Newcastle," or vice versd ; and 
without preamble he turns his leaders' heads 

2nd February. — It was not until about 
12.30 that all our good-byes were over, and 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 259 

I with my invalid laid upon liis mattress, took 
our first step towards home, and the health 
to which I fondly hoped it might restore him. 
The steady puff-puff of the engine sounded 
in our ears long after the big chimneys were 
out of sight, and I took the gruff music for 
kindly good wishes of "God-speed" to. the 
travellers. Mr. Polkinghome, in his trap 
and pair of horses, overtook us before we 
reached our first halt. At our dinner-hour we 
were visited by a troop of small Kafir boys, 
driving herds for their chief, Makkapan, or his 
successor, as the case may be. They assembled 
close to us to gaze at our proceedings, 
squatting one behind the other, on their 
haunches, almost upon one another's knees, 
quite a tight fit, hardly uttering a sound, so 
intensely were they interested in the spectacle 
before them. Our man made at them at in- 
tervals with his long whip, which he cleverly 
brandished so as to scare but not to hurt 
them. At his approach they would scatter to 
the right and left amidst shrieks of laughter, 
and then reassemble to gaze as before, until a 
fresh raid was made upon them. 

s 2 

26o On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

Bain threatened before we inspanned, but 
we thought it well to push on. This we did 
valiantly for some time, but had at last to 
give in, for the downpour became a regular 
deluge, carrying all before it. The half -tent 
or fly was hastily thrown over the end of the 
wagon for me, and my cork bed and oil-cloth 
thrown down, and arranged as well as cir- 
cumstances and narrow space would permit, 
upon the drenched ground, literally splashing 
as they fell upon my bedroom floor (?). My 
feet and clothes were already soaking, and of 
course not a chance had I of drying or re- 
moving them : thus my first night's experience 
of tent-life in South Africa presented its worst 
aspect at the very outset. My invalid hus- 
band's weakness made it absolutely necessary 
that he should be kept dry and as comfort- 
able as could be in the wagon, but we could 
light no fire, and had to content ourselves 

with cold tea for our supper, Mr. P and 

myself eating, standing in the puddles, cutting 
our bread and meat, plough-boy fashion, with 
one knife, all we could get at, between us. 
This kind friend, crawled imder the wagon 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 261 

with the men, where he must have passed a 

most wretched and uncomfortable night. 
% % % % 

4th. — Sun shone out by about 9, 
when we breakfasted, dried what garments we 
could, and started again upon our travels. . 

Passed our old outspanning places in the 

Lion Veldt, but heard not a roar, nor did we 

trouble ourselves about the chance of coming 

across any lions, as we might most certainly 

have done. The terrible anxiety I felt lest 

my poor husband's strength should not suffice 

for the long journey before him made all 

other risks appear insignificant. 

« « « « 

Extract 2. — 5th February. — (We had camped 
by the Mission station.) We have only made 

one trek since morning, Mr. P "s horses 

being so knocked up that he dare take them no 
further; so we settle to camp here, and be off 
on our several ways by daylight to-morrow. 
We have just obtained forage for horses, and 
some eggs for ourselves. A man fi'om the 
wood bush(Haupt Busch Berg) has passed us, 
five days out from Pretoria. John says if 

262 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

Pinaar's River be fordable at the short cut, 
and we escape heavy rains, he calculates 
upon getting us there in three or four. The 
roads to-day have been of heavy sand, trying 
the animals greatly. The men are not over- 
pleased at our having to lose one trek to-day, 
but that they speedily recover their good- 
humour, and seldom need to make the eflfbrt, 
I am glad to record. 

Shall I picture our little camp and its 
surroundings ? We shall form many a time 
just such a group before we enter into civi- 
lized life once more. The wagon is drawn 
up near the shade of one of the few trees, 
surrounded hke its companions by low, 
straggling bushes, but not near enough to 
afford much shelter from the pitiless heat of 
this scorching South African sun. But for 
the breeze which the wagon catches funnel 
fashion, the curtains . at either end being 
lifted to admit every breath of it, I could not 
be scribbUng now seated as I am on the door- 
step with my knee for a writing-table, and a 
stump of a pencil — my priceless treasure, for 
my stock has run low — ^by way of a pen. 

oVy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 263 

The tent, which, not requiring ourselves, we 
had lent to the Comishmen who preceded 
us to Eersteling, Edington's strongest-made 
" Emigrant's home," pitched • just on the 
other side of the track, has lost all its early 
freshness, and looks stained and travel-worn, 
but nevertheless not wanting in picturesque- 

ness. Mr. P 's high, two-wheeled trap, 

over which he had hastily rigged up a calico 
tilt to save him from the sun, stands jauntily 
on end, although its make-shift curtains have 
somewhat of a ragged and forlorn appear- 
ance, which would warrant a more dejected 
air in any country but South Africa. Here 
the "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity " prin- 
ciple applies to vehicles even more than to 
people, and the roads all travel through alike 
account for any scars or wear and tear 
traces whatever. It is flat ground mostly 
close to us, with marsh and occasional lakes 
of water, or what, to make my picture mor^ 
worth the looking at, I will call lakes. They 
look like them although probably of no depth. 
High grass and long reeds wave gracefully 
about in the breeze, and marsh plants gene- 

264 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

rally abound. In sight, but about half a 
mile away, stands a Dutch farmer's home- 
stead, upon which our hopes centre as we 

count over our failing stores. Mr. P > 

must have meat to take back with him, and 
when our tongue is devoured, as it certainly 
will be presently, we must have some to take 
on with us, for I want to reserve our two 
fowls, which are now walking about scratch- 
ing for food, having made a clean sweep of 
their mealies, for greater straits. Large 
cranes flock about the marshes, making great 
havoc among the varied creatures of all kinds 
which people the swamps. Nothing eatable 
has fallen to our gun — one between us is our 
small allowance ; but we hope for a taste of 
guinea-fowl in a day or two as we cross 
athwart their haunts. Until we get to 
Pretoria we must husband our small store of 
ammunition. A lazy mood, born of the 
great heat, is upon us all, man and beast 

alike. Mr. P lies stretched under a 

thorn-bush, upon a rug, like Joseph's gar- • 
ment of many colours, enjoying a siesta, a 
book having fallen from his hand, as if it 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 265 

too was tired of imparting information, and 
could likewise relish a doze. John, whose 
scarlet shirt becomes his handsome dusky 
face and lithe figure well, drones a song 
between his intervals of tobacco- whiffing, as 
he too half recUnes upon the ground, 
lazily happy, with enough of the Kafir in 
him not to care one jot what the next hour 
may produce so long as this one is pleasant. 
A rare lover of the " Dolce far niente " is 
John, although none can be more active than 
he when circumstances require it. Jim and 

Mr. P 's Kafir, David (an old member of 

the Natal Native Police by-the-bye), gather 
sticks for the fire, which they must make 
soon, but which they evidently are in no 
hurry to do at present. "Ah I I thought 
so." Down they sit as I write, for a yam 
and a smoke. I hear their voices humming, 
humming, mixed with the various cries, songs, 
and whistles of the many-hued birds around, 
and " caw I caw 1 caw 1 " Why, have our dear 
old Hertfordshire rooks come to welcome us 
home once more ? With a sob half of plea- 
sure, half of wonder, I awake to find my 

266 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

precious bit of "H.B." rolled on to the 
ground at the foot of the wagon, where after 
a hunt and many a thorn-prick I find it, my 
scribble-book upside down with leaves awry, 
my old brown hat tilted over my nose, and 
myself in South Africa ; whilst my mind, to 
say nothing of my heart, had been dream- 
haunting the home we love, and which we are 
straining every effort to reach. Our little 
camp is all astir. The fire crackles and 
bums furiously, for thorn-bushes blaze up 
quickly, rendering " cooking the kettle " a 
short process. We shall be glad of our 
meal, a nondescript affair, which we may 
call by any name we please, dinner, tea, or 
supper, so long as we get it. 

The meal over, we stroll about, never going 

far; Mr. P to the farm, myself to the 

stream to wash out a towel or two, and the 
men, two of them, to drive the oxen and 
horses nearer to the wagon, to the trek-tow of 
which they are nightly tethered. 

The glorious moon rises, and the sun, 
whose departing rays were unspeakably 
beautiful, taking away the great heat with 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 267 

them, leaves us a picture with softened tints 
indeed, but one no less worth remembering 
than that of which I have tried to give you a 
glimpse during its noontide splendour. 

By daylight on the 6th Mr. Polkinghorne 
had to inspan for his return to Eersteling. I 
concealed from him as well as I could how 
much I felt the parting from one upon whose 
goodness I had so rehed, and which I should 
now so sorely miss. That I was deeply 
gratefiil he needed no telling, and I am sure 
that both he and Growl will follow us in 
thought, during our wanderings day by day, 
with nearly as much accuracy as if they were 
actually with us. 

We are stocked by the kindness of Mr. 
Byer, the Pastor at the German Mission Sta- 
tion, with bread, milk, eggs, and a large pan 
of grapes and peaches. Of the latter we had 
been having quite a feast from the Company's 
good garden at Eersteling, where bread and 
grapes had quite sufl&ced me for food of 
JLauC • • • 

^tlfh February. — We have passed the * * Warm 
Bads," Vaal Busch Fontein, Pinaar's and 

268 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

Aapes, or Ape's Eivers, &c., &c., and we have 
readied Pretoria, after a very speedy journey, 
John's eagerness to push on keeping pace 
with my almost feverish desire to get medical 
advice. ... I have had it, and were I of less 
buoyant temperament, or perchance 1 less 
blind it would make me despair. This I will 
not do. Strength may be granted us to win 
through,and brighter days may yet be in store. 
In my previous notes I touched upon the 
goodness shown me in Pretoria, on leaving 
which, after our protracted delays for repairs, 
we seemed to be starting almost afresh. T 
had occupied the tent by the side of the 
wagon during our ten days' stay in our 
enLpm»t, only leaving it twice; lest the 
men might be tempted to absent themselves 
together. This they never did, however, 
even while I was there, without express per- 
mission, so I need not have mistrusted them. 
The heat by day made my canvas-house 
unendurable, so I seemed only to live at 
night, when lighted by the bright moon I 
wrote my English letters and journal, holding 
the paper in my hand, and using a pencil. 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 269 

Some of my scrawl is almost undecipherable, 
and no wonder, for clouds will flit by over 
the brightest moon, and one's left hand forms 
by no means a firm or reliable desk. A 
Ughted candle brought in troops of insects on 
wing, and might prove as tempting to the 
venomous as it did to the more innocent 
reptiles which harboured in the beautiful, wild 
rose hedge and little running stream close by, 
therefore I rarely made use of one for more 
than a moment at a time. 

All our wheels had been taken off and 
renewed at Pretoria, and two green blankets 
were nailed inside the tilt to soften the glare 
and keep the wagon cooler. 

21s<. — Third day out from Pretoria. . . . 
John has shot one buck and wounded another, 
not beyond cure I trust, for it limped off on 
its three legs pluckily. I was only sorry the 
poor thing was hit at all. We outspanned 
on the spot, so that the men might skin and 
prepare the meat, i. e., cut it up ; one joint to 
hang outside the wagon, and the other pieces 
to be cut into strips to be salted and sun-dried 
for the men to heat in the ashes, and eat thus 

270 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

roTiglily dressed. This meat will be a great 
help, as what we brought from Pretoria, though 
the men like it, is uneatable by us. They 
still cook and devour the sausages, and like 
the salt pork, none of which I can touch. 
Having no proper place to keep it in, I know 
that the men stow it away indiscriminately 
with their boots and trousers, dirty blankets, 
and tobacco pouches. 

I have seldom named the frequency with 
which herds of deer cross our path, and yet I 
have revelled in the sight of them. Thou- 
sands at a time often, each kind differing 
from another, and yet with a strong family 
hkeness existing between all. John knows I 
like to watch the pretty, graceful creatures, 
and never fails to point them out even when 
he is not on murderous thoughts intent. 
Far away on the horizon sometimes we see 
them grazing, walking, or running, nearly 
always single file, with here and there a break. 
That each has its leader, and inferior oflScers 
to enforce by example his laws, is plain enough. 
Their demeanour betokens intense curiosity, 
and a desire to know all about us if they can, 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 271 

without risk to themselves. As a wagon 
approaches they stand erect and listening, 
snuffing the air, immovable like a long line 
of statues, but as it nears them the word is 
passed on for a stampede, and then almost as 
if they kept step they bound away out of ^ 
sight. Bless-bok, reit-bok, rhe-bok, wilder- 
beest; and the graceful little spring-bok or 
antelope — I believe we have seen them all. 
The first herd or two of the latter which 
crossed our track in the Free State in June 
last moved us all to expressions of rapturous 
delight as they bounded over the road, treat- 
ing it as though it were a chasm or a river, 
one after the other choosing exactly the same 
spot for his leap. The horns of the buck of 
South Africa are not so branching as those of 
the deer we are accustomed to, but they seem 
just fitting to the well-posed, well-shaped 
head they surmount. The wilder-beest or 
gnu is more clumsy, and has a far more for- 
midable look than any other of its species. 
Its meat is good. There seems a great risk 
of all these noble creatures dying out wholly 
in course of time, so indiscriminate is their 

2/2 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

slaughter. Some of the lower class of Boers 
live almost entirely upon their flesh and the 
sale of their skins ; so to obtain enough they 
build themselves "hartebeeste huts/' which 
are miserable hovels, and there, with neither 
bread, flour, vegetables, or even salt, they 
exist upon the finiits of their wholesale 
destruction. Hunting parties on trek we 
occasionally meet, the skins of the animals of 
all kinds which fall to their gun being a large 
source of income, and well worth the hard- 
ships and exposure those must, more or less, 
endure who seek to obtain them on the 

The delay with the buck made our last 
trek, which was a long one, very late in end- 
ing, and the consequence was our night pre- 
parations had to be made in the dark — the 
result much discomfort. I had the half-tent 
only, and it was most unevenly pitched. It 
should be in the form of a V when up ; but 
one half of the V being drawn too tightly, too 
much of it taken up in the process towards 
the one wheel, the other half would not nearly 
reach the other ; consequently on one side I 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 273 

seemed sleeping in the open air. This state 
of things was bad enough while a bright moon 
was shining, and I could see the stars blink- 
ing, and the wagon and oxen as clearly as by 
day ; but when, about midnight, aU clouded 
over and distant growls announced a coming 
storm, I cannot say I appreciated the situa- 
tion. The wind soon began to blow a perfect 
hurricane, and the rain to fall in torrents. I 
had to hold on to the flying saiZ, which flapped 
about furiously, place my heavy bags, drag 
myself and bed upon whatever piece of the 
frantic rag I could seize between each gust, 
and make myself as strong and heavy as I 
could to keep my house over my head at all. 
The biscuit-tin containing our knives, &c., 
gave me endless trouble (which sounds 
absurd), for I could leave go of nothing to 
save it, and it danced and rattled about as if 
enjoying the fun, whilst I could only fear the 
steel might attract the vivid lightning, which 
was blinding in its brightness, to our more 
immediate vicinity — the wagon being the only 
object for many miles above the height of the 
unbroken ground.- I dare say I may have 


2 74 O^ Trek in the Transvaal : 

many more such nights, but this one will not 
be likely to be forgotten. Experience too will 
teach me to camp early whenever a storm 
threatens, and I shall take very good care, if 
I sleep in my V tent, that that letter is im- 
printed upon the Veldt in a more upright and 
scholarly fashion than it was on the night of 
February 21 st, 1876. 

Tuesday i the 22nd. — I got the men up at 
4.30, for I was eager, soaked through as I 
was, to leave my wretched quarters. Had to 
strap up my rugs, &c., wet as they were. It 
usually takes from half to three-quarters of 
an hour to outspan and oflF, when tents have 
to be strapped to the wagon, although the 
men have done it in less, but a good deal 
depends upon how sleepy they are when 
called, how light it has become, and on num- 
berless trifles ; among the latter, whether I 
have felt equal to the strappingrup of my own 
belongings, so as to leave them no excuse of 
having anything to do beyond their own more 
immediate duties. 

Those who know what nursing is in their 
own homes with every appliance and help 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 275 

from others, a servant or a nurse to do all the 
Kttle ofl&ces an invalid requires, and which a 
man in health can do for himself, can hardly 
form an idea of the diflSculties attending the 
same, on a wagon journey upon the open Veldt, 
with only the occasional rough though very 
ready assistance of two half-caste "boys." 
Our treks have been long and weary ones, and 
oh ! so hot and parched were we the while I 
A — ' — kept entreating to outspan, and beg- 
ging for water. Sometimes the water is 
horrible. Live things like miniature crabs 
and snakes, and all forms of Kving things the 
imagination could suggest, seem to swarm in 
it. Sometimes it is only as thick as milk and 
water, but when one is parched with thirst 
even liquid mud is palatable. We had trekked 
for the second time for two hours, when John 
called out, " Look here, missus, it*s worth your 
while to get out to see the work of that fine 
fellow, who called himself a blacksmith, at 
Pretoria." The wheel which had cost so much 
had a broken tire already. The iron had 
burst apart, leaving a gap of one and a half 
inches. Should it come quite ofE, as of course 

T 2 

2 76 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

it must, unless even John's resources extend 
to the power of mending iron without a forge, 
the spokes will get loose, and down will come 
the wagon. 

We are many days away from help, and, as 
the Yankees have it, in a " considerable fix *\ . 
John has bound it round with a good stout 
reim — " to reim " is a verb peculiar to South 
Africa — I cannot but think the first stone, 
keenly sharp as these stones or pieces of rock 
are, will sever the hide, thick as it is. We 
cannot help ourselves, however, so we must 
be content to go jolting on trying to believe 
all right, until the bump comes which will 
testify that all is wrong. 

On to a reedy creek for an hour's trek — flat, 
bare patches of rock between patches of grass. 
Another " dab wash " in the streamlet — ^keep- 
ing my weather eye open for snakes, &c. 
Signs of a coming storm, so we settle to go 
no further to-day. Tent put up and all made 
" square " for the night. Patter-patter falls 
the rain, thunder rolls loudly, wind pitilessly 

Wednesdjay^ 23r(Z. — Luckily I had the big 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 277 

tent up last night, but how it has stood 
throughout that terrible storm I cannot tell. 
The door of it was turned away from the 
wagon on account of the wind. The oxen, 
stilled by the tempest, never moved, and 
much as they usually disturb me by rattling 
the trek-tow, grunting, snorting, knocking 
their horns together, &c., I could have wel- 
comed the sounds as familiar if not wholly 
pleasant, rather than the unearthly howls 
of the wind amidst the reeds and long grass, 
and the whistling of the same through the 
ropes of my tent. The supporting poles 
shook and swayed about threateningly, so in 
anticipation of the moment of their fall, and 
feeling sure that in spite of all turmoil I 
must from sheer weariness certainly drop 
asleep, I placed my pillow over my face, 
leaving free one little peep-hole only for 
breathing purposes, to ensure myself from 
injury as much as possible. 

I never can recall realizing more vividly the 
sense of being so thoroughly alone before. 
" The master '' and one man were in the 
wagon, the other underneath it, but they 

2 78 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

miglit have been miles away for all feeling 
of companionship afforded by their proximity. 
Had I shouted my cries would have sounded 
to their ears as but one of the many utter- 
ances of the night, had they shouted I should 
probably hare said of their voices that the 
sound was " almost human 1 *' Sometimes 
I could have declared wild beasts were 
quarrelling close at hand, or in a lull, that I 
could hear the snuffle of one poking its nose 
under the flaps of the tent. Fancy of course, 
but with such weird surroundings and with my 
mind tried and anxious, I do not wonder that 
I gave the reins somewhat unreasonably to 
my imagination. Strange to say fear never 
mingled with my fancies. I seemed to be 
acting in a drama, of which some one, not I, 
was the heroine. 

On awaking, for the thunder had ceased 
and a steady rain set in, I saw it must be 
hours before we could start. We managed to 
get some breakfast, — coffee and biscuit be- 
tween the heavy showers. The clouds began 
to break, and about one we thought we might 
venture a start, it having cleared enough to 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 279 

give us hopes of a fine afternoon. We had 
a trek of three hours, stopping by daylight. 
Saw great herds of buck, John making 
several ineffectual attempts to shoot one, but 
could not get near enough. Had big tent 

Thursday^ 24th. — I called the men at five. 
Trekked to a farm, where Jim kept us one 
hour and a half for our coffee. There was 
no " firing " of any kind, he said, not a scrap 
of " drift " (dried cow-dimg), and no wood 
for "love or money.'* It is absurd to see 
the avidity with which we pounce upon even 
old whitened bones, when thus in fear of 
going fireless I At a farm within a hundred 
yards of us John begged a sackful of this 
dried manure, the sole fuel of the country, 
and now Jim has no excuse for keeping us 
starving and parched, as we literally were. 
I could hardly get out cup or plate when our 
meal came. The farmer gave us some hope 
of our getting the wheel tinkered at a farm 
one hour and a half on horseback, i. e. about 
three times less than by ox wagon. ^ 
the usual way of reckoning 

28o On Trek in the Transvaal; 

Jolm's constant "reiming'' makes it just 
hold, but it is very shaky. 

We start off in hope and not stopping 
for dinner, at last reaching our longed-for 
help. A nice-looking farm, with quite good 
out-buildings presented itself. Says John, 
" I'm sure, missus, that must be an English- 
man's, it's too good for a Dutchman's," 
but he was wrong. A Dutchman's it was, 
and a surly, cross-grained one to boot. All 
the reply he would vouchsafe was, "No I 
— ^bellows broken." A fib, no doubt. John 
had said we were English, and that was at 
the bottom of the refusal. A German who 
happened to be there, said that if we went 
on " two and a half hours on horseback," 
we should come to the store by the Vaal 
Eiver, and there we should be *'put to rights." 
Off again, and passing a regular Dutch 
square-built, dark brown, windowless farm- 
house, Jim succeeded in buying us a loaf 
for Is. 6cZ., not quite cooked unfortimately, 
but we were none the less very glad of it. 
Trekked on for another hour, then out- 
spanned for dinner — some buck stewed with 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 281 

rice, and not bad eating. ... It has been 
getting colder and colder every day since the 
storm. During the night no ru^ are suffi- 
cient to keep us warm. We expected to 
have but one trek to the store, upon which 
now our loog-delayed hopes are fixed. Our 
not having broken down, although the spokes 
seem all starting out of their sockets, makes 
ns beheve that we shall not break down, for 
on . no better basis than that can we found 
our expectations of lasting out. 

Pound ourselves bound to camp for the 
night, although we prolonged our trek be- 
yond its usual limits. Had half-tent made 
very small and drawn very closely to the 
wheel, and thus managed to sleep pretty well, 
the "fly" of the big tent being thrown over 
the wheels. John lies under wagon. If there 
should be anything to shock the sensibilities 
of tender minds at home accustomed to the 
(oh, to be envied 1) privacy of bed and 
dressing-room, in the fact that the man 
and I make believe to have a room apiece, 
whereas our "pai'ty wall" is formed of two 
very wide, open wheela»|i|^tLHybig gap be- 

282 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

tween, my heels nearly touching the same — 
be it known to them that I duress to go to bed, 
instead of vice versd ; that we have no light 
but that of moon or stars, and that when 
John (or Jim) crawls to his repose, before 
his last leg has disappeared under his very 
dirty blanket, snores sonorous and loud 
announce that slumber enfolds him, as with 
a curtain, and my voice must be shrill and 
loud before I can arouse him at day-dawn. 

Endless bucks, in immense herds, to-day. 
John had a good many trials to get one, 
but without success. He lamed a " Wilder- 
beest," which limped q.wb,j. The wilder-beest 
is large, and something like an ox or buffalo, 
from what I could see of it. Once I said, 
" Look I there's a dog following us." " No, 
missus, that's a jackal." It trotted demurely 
in our wake, and then turned off to feast on 
the remains of a deer, which had evidently 
been only lately killed, but which was already 
nearly picked clean by the crows or hawks 
which swarm around it within a few minutes 
after an animal has fallen, hastening its end 
if the gun has not quite completed its work. 

or, Over ±>erg and Veldt in S. Africa. 283 

Later on in the day we saw two more 
jackals, with their dog-like shape and striped 
skins, just in front of the wagon. 

Friday^ 25th. — Our seventh day out from 
Pretoria. Trekked again from 10.30 to 1.30, 
when we reached the longed-for " store " 
safely, by dint of frequent wheel-tinkering 
and reim applications ; but not one yard 
further would the poor, long-suffering thing 
convey us. Again we are told that there is 
no one on the place who can repair it. 
Picture our condition I John went into the 
store to make inquiries before we removed 
the oxen, and brought out the dismal news, 
with, at the same time, the offer of any help 
in her power from Mrs. Schwikkard, the store- 
keeper's wife, such as milk, bread, eggs, &c. 
This offer of kindness came like a refreshing 
shower upon a thirsty soul, for, oh I I have 
thirsted for a word of sympathy for some 
days past. 

John's suggestion, that I should " see the 
lady. myself,'' was an echo of my own wish ; 
and indeed I had once got out of the wagon 
with that view, but had retreated on seeing 

2S4 On Trek in tJie Transvaal,' 

so many men, traders, Kafirs, and others 
around a wagon-load of skins, over which 
they were gesticulating and busily employed, 
seemingly occupying the master's full time 
and attention. I then did not know of the 
coming kindness which was so soon to be 
shown me, and a record of which I had 
better reserve for another chapter. 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 285 


With good Samaritans — The South African buck as food 
— Scorpions — The wheel mended at last — The Vaal 
River and how we cross it — P^ra Kopje — Futzam- 
mon Berg — Over the Drachensberg — Once more in 

The instant I spoke to Mrs. Schwikkard, 
whose warm, kind tones greeted me in pure 
English, with just a dash of German accent, 
I felt sure I had found a friend whose help I 
could as freely accept as it was freely oflFered. 
I was more glad to outspan than I could 
have believed possible, had I known an hour 
before that as far as the wheel was con- 
cerned it would be a useless stoppage. The 

wagon was drawn up near Mrs. S- 's 

house, where I was made welcome at once. 
From that moment, until we left Stander's 

286 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

Drift (or Standerton, its newer style), four 
days after, gifts were literally showered upon 
us. The list would be too long to write; 
but I believe daily, mom, noon, and night, 
some good thing found its way to us. Eggs, 
milk, fre^h butter, so delicious after our long 
abstinence therefrom; bread, not only the 
brown bread from the Boer's meal of the 
country, but actually white bread — ^the first 
we have tasted- since we left Natal the 1st 
of June last year, now nine months ago ! 
Added to all these good things, was the nice- 
ness with which they were arranged. A real 
tray, covered with a pure white tray-cloth (I 
had been used to make a towel of doubtful 
bleaching answer my purpose), and bearing 
dainty dishes, not one, but many, would 
arrive at our wagon door at each of our 
fi-iends' meal-times. 

No one who has not gone for so long a 
time without tasting anything prepared in 
the least degree as it ought to be, or indeed 
entirely without so many things coimted in 
England as the bare necessaries of life, could 
understand the thorough appreciation of 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 287 

tliem such a deprivation tends to cultivate. 
Nice things, nicely served I why I had quite 
a curious hesitation at fingering the pretty 
china ware placed before me. I feared my 
unaccustomed fingers might clumsily drop 
the clear, white milk-jug, or crack the glass 
dish which held that home-made jam I The 
knives, too, had a polish which dazzled me, 
and the plated forks were pleasant to look at. 

Never shall I forget the true kindness 
which must have animated these good 
Samaritans, making them so helpful and 
generous to perfect strangers, stranded upon 
their shores. I had not looked for help, 
much less for sympathy until I could reach 
those dear ones who were anxiously waiting 
for our home coming to bestow it in large 
measure upon us ; but here it was and plen- 
tifuUy shown by those who did not even 
know us a few days ago, but of whom I shall 
ever think as friends for always, whether we 
meet again on this side the grave or not. 

I cannot leave my record of Mrs. Schwik- 
kard's hospitality as finished without telHng 
of her wonderful skill as a cook. She had 

288 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

no meat whatever but buck, nor has she had 
any other for many weeks past. The variety 
of dishes she contrives to make out of that 
one animal is astonishing. One day it was 
roast buck, plain and undisguised, then buck 
cutlets, with %^^ and bread-crumbs, looking 
and almost tasting like veal, only as if the 
veal had become, like myself, somewhat sun- 
burnt and weather-beaten. Another day the 
buck was cooked like hare, with a gravy and 
a kind of wine-sauce, which completed the 
illusion. Her hashed buck was very good, 
and now I have ready for the journey a joint 
of boiled salted buck, strangely like beef to 
the taste, and undistinguishable from it by 
sight. Through Mrs. Schwikkard's good- 
ness we have renewed our acquaintance 
with fritters, batter-pudding and sauce, 
apple pasties, rice puddings, to say nothing 
of mashed potatpes and other vegetables. 
The Schwikkards have no garden, so she 
must either grow these things in her back 
kitchen, or say " Heigh presto ! " and out 
they must tumble from a band-box or a 
pickle-tub. Crosse and Blackwell had 

oTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 289 

nought to do witli it, I know. I had also 
a feast of apples and peaches. Now surely 
there must be necromancy somewhere, for, 
on these bare flats we have not for many 
days, nor are we hkely to meet for many 
days still, with any larger signs of vegetation 
than the coarse, tall grass of the Veldt, with 
the pretty and varied wild flowers peeping 
between. Not a tree or shrub higher than 
Tom Thumb, and not a wild fruit of any 

Talking of people living so much upon 
buck — " Bless-bok,'' " Spring-bok,'* and 
" Wilder-beest " — reminds me to say how 
seldom animals such as sheep and oxen in 
these wilds are to be bought. John tells 
me that the Dutch, with a kraal or fold full 
of sheep, go out after game rather than kill 
one of their stock. They like to accumulate 
— to get an immense herd — ^mostly, I fancy, 
for the sake of the wool. The Kafirs, again, 
also reckon their wealth by the number of 
their sheep, goats, &c. ; but they literally 
keep them to look at, neither eating them 
themselves, nor sufiering them to be eaten, 


290 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

nor do they sell the wool. They will perhaps 
once in a twelvemonth sacrifice an ox, in pre- 
ference, useful as it is, to one of their precious 
sheep, and invite all their Kafir friends, 
far and near, to a feast, for which they brew 
Kafir beer by way of having a real jollifica- 
tion. A most nauseous-looking compound 
this said beer is, by the way. Maybe no 
other such feast takes place for a year, 
during which they subsist on their mealy 
meal porridge, or on any roots or herbs they 
may find. A Kafir never stops eating so 
long as a mouthful remains. He likes to 
feel himself so distended that he can hardly 
move before he realizes that he has made the 
very most of his opportunity. My small Kafir 
servant-boy used to jfrighten me at first with 
the quantity of porridge he could stow away 
into his small body, which positively visibly 
increased in size in the process I 

But to "return to my muttons," a most 
difficult thing to do literally where such 
excellent food is not to be met with. 

Finding there was no chance of our wheel 
being repaired at Standerton, and realizing 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 291 

the fact that not one yard farther could it 
take us, much less over the Vaal river close 
by, I fear I uttered one or two almost 
despairing groans before once more casting 
about for a remedy. The assistant in Mr. 
Schwikkard's store examined it, hoping good- 
naturedly to turn his talent for odd jobbing 
to account on our behalf. He shook his 
head over our rickety condition, and pro- 
nounced it impossible to do anything without 
full blacksmith's appliances. We seem for 
days to have had an invisible policeman always 
bidding us to "move on!" Bach attempt 
at obtaining help being always responded to 
by the assurance that so "many hours on 
horseback'* farther on, " So-and-so " might 
do what we required. " So-and-so " passed 
us on in like manner ; and here again 
even these " So-and-so's," so anxious to 
help, so able and willing to do so in every 
other way but this aU-needful way, were 
obliged to say regretfully " move on " too. 
But how were we to move on ? that was the 
question. Three wheels could not take us, 
and our precious freight requiring such 

u 2 

292 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

tender care and watchfulness 1 I had one of 
my good "thinks," and asked myself, if 
Mahomed could not go to the mountain, 
could I contrive to bring the mountain to 
Mahomed ? The blacksmith, " two hours 
zauid a half on horseback, but three times that 
by ox-wagon, away " — might be induced to 
come to us, but he could not bring his forge 
with him — so that thought was dismissed. 

It was suggested finally that if a cross- 
grained Dutch widow could be induced to let 
out her horse and trap for the purpose, the 
wheel might be taken off and sent over to 
the forge to be cured. I despatched John 
instantly to the widow, trusting that he 
might not be above any blandishments to 
move what hitherto had not been considered 
a tender heart. But John returned with his 
handsome dark face many shades darker 
from vexation and disappointment. "No 
use, missus — she won't ! " I began almost 
to think at this " She won't,' ' there would be 
indeed "an end on't;" but Mrs. Schwikkard 
said, " We won't despair. My boy shall go, 
and see what he can do." Young Schwik- 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 293 

kard, a bright, clever young fellow of about 
fourteen, returned, waving his cap as he 
crossed the Vaal river with an air of tri- 
umph. The perverse widow had consented, 
on condition that she was to receive 2Z. IO5. 
for the job. Her Kafir must drive, but our 
man might go too. 

It was a case of " needs must,V so con- 
sentiug to the extortion, it was arranged 
that by simrise next morning the costly old 
rattle-trap was to start. We were by no 
means sure that the blacksmith would be at 
home, or, if he were, that he would do the 
necessary work even if he could, still we 
could but try. John borrowed a screw 
wrench and fixed the wagon upon it, having 
removed the invalid wheel ready for the 
morning start. He then asked me if he 
might take four of our oxen, to help a Mend 
whose wagon had stuck in the Vaal. I could 
not say no, knowing how Hkely we should be 
to require the same good office from others. 
It was getting quite late (for us), 9 p.m., 
and still no John, only the sound of the run- 
ning waters of the river, and the shouts and 

294 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

yells of the people at the wagon trying to 
urge the poor animals to greater exertions. 
It is a long job getting out of a regular 
South African " stick-fast." Presently John 
arrived, leaving his friend's wagon stiU 
sticking in the mud. He was beginning to 
fasten the oxen to the trek-tow when down 
went the screw-wrench, letting the wagon 

fall all on one side. Fortunately A was 

oui of it, and thus was saved what might 
have a good deal shaken him. We had our 
animals fastened to a stake driven into the 
ground, and some packing-cases were placed 
under the axles as an extra support. 

26f A. — John is off with the wheel, which he 
had to roU down to, and then over the river, 
to prevent a delay in getting horses and trap 
across to fetch it. No hope of getting him 
back to-night. Jim had to be absent for 
three hours after our cattle, which had 
wandered for miles. I was, thanks to our 
kind friends, independent of his cookery, 
and so could manage well. On his return he 
washed his own clothes, and a few of ours, 
a shirt, a table-cloth, &c. I also, in spite 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 295 

of the heat, and by making little dashes at 
my work, washed out, in the india-rubber 
bath, some garments of my own. I should 
be sorry to be cross-examined as to their 
colour 1 Any way they had a goodj look at 
three waters, a large share of s6ap, and as 
much " elbow polish " as my poor tired 
arms could afford them. Turned out wagon 
— ^rearranged mattress. Another supper tray, 
cutlets and mashed potatoes this evening 1 

28f A. — ^A dreadful thimderstorm last night, 
but by covering myself entirely in two oil- 
cloths, I kept pretty dry, although, as I got up, 
I shook off pools of water from them. Did 
not sleep much, expecting the tent would fall 
down upon me every moment. Got " off *' 

before daylight. At six A 's call from 

the wagon brought me out. He too had had 
a sleepless night. At 3 p.m. young Schwik- 
kard came within a few yards of us (they all 

respect most delicately A 's desire to see 

no one), calling out " Mrs. R , the wheel 

is coming," and very soon John arrived, say- 
ing, ^^ Missus, we must start now," bustling 
about to put it on. Mrs. S , on my 

296 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

running over to tell her of our thus hurrying 
off, said, "You cannot, cannot go. IVe 
two white loaves baking, a joint boiling, an 
apple pasty preparing, your potatoes to get, 
some milk to boil to fill your bottle with, 
&c., &c., and, besides, look up 1 a storm is 
coming." John had to yield, but his wish 
was to cross the Vaal before the storm came. 
About seven I called to bid " good-bye " to 
our friends, feeling real regret at parting. 
John had to come for me with the umbrella, 
as the storm had commenced again in full 

29fA. — Shrove Tuesday of Leap Year. 
Mrs. Schwikkard sent us two nice cups of 
coffee with cream. I then packed up bath, 
basin, dried cork bed, and rugs, and while 
folding my red shawl, to my horror I saw a 
mouse-coloured crablike-looking object, soft 
and yielding to the touch (if touched), and I 
felt by intuition, though I had never seen 
the creature or its relations before, that it 
was a scorpion. Jim instantly stamped upon 
it, saying, " Yes, missus, that's a scorpion, 
sure enough." John, hearing him, called 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 297 

out, " Why, missus, I killed a big black one 
in your tent last night, when we were shelter- 
ing there during the storm." This was 
pleasant hearing 1 I must have had the 
thing carefully cuddled up somewhere very 
near my neck all night, during which I had 
fidgeted, arranged, and rearranged the wraps 
and oilcloths continually, trying to keep out 
the wet, and might easily have put my hand 
upon it. This little episode will not add to 
my comfort, or promote my slumbers when I 
retire to my nightly quarters. I had nearly 
recorded a day or two ago how odd it was 
that although people about me were daily 

seeing and killing snakes, &c. (Miss S 

saw one in their house, her brother killed 
one only yesterday, and our men have killed 
several at different times), yet I had come 
across nothing venomous myself. Now I 
have done so in such close quarters, I cannot 
say I like the sensation. 

" Standerton is a horrid snakey place, 
missus," says John. 

By-the-bye, while so often quoting the 
men's words, I must mention that the 

298 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

" Missus " is in constant use. For instance, 
I should not be asked, " Would you like the 
fire lighted, missus ? " It would be, " Would 
missus like the fire lighted?" or, "Did 
missus call ? '* " Missus had better hold on, 
bad place coming,*' &c., &c. 

Our friends gathered on their bank of the 
Vaal to see us go over it; John perfectly- 
positive that however others might stick in 
the muddy and steep bank on the other side, 
our oxen would pull us through. We crossed 
the river easily enough, but hardly had they 
planted their feet on the other side, when, in 
spite of shouts and whip-crackings, and the 
frantic tugs of the poor and reaUy willing 
beasts, it was soon evident that we were to 
come off no better than our fellows. Jim 
lost his footing, and let go the trek-line. 
How he did not get trampled under foot, 
I cannot think. The leaders turned directly 
round. One rolled over just by the wheel 
instead of being twenty yards straight in front, 
catching itshomsinthe spokes, nearly wrench- 
ing it off in its attempts to free itself, and in 
its frantic plimges snapped like a thread our 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 299 

huge " dissel-boom " or pole, lamed itself a 
little, and by its example demoralized the 
others, who all crowded together, plunging and 
Struggling to keep their feet. The "look- 
out '* soon spied our mishap, and sent their 
own two Kafirs to our help. I was glad I had 
rejoiced the hearts of these men over-night 
by one shiUing a piece, to them a fortune, 
over which they had clapped their hands, and 
lauded me to the skies as a tip-top " Incosi- 
gas." They had hardly come, when, as if 
from the sky, helpers, white and coloured, 
literally swarmed around us. I should think 
we had ten or twelve. One, the step-son of 
the surveyor, sent off for six of their own 
oxen to add to ours, he and John splicing 
the dissel-boom meanwhile with those won- 
derftd reims. After a hullabaloo loud enough 
to deafen one, and after I had insisted that 

A should be lifted out when our turning 

over seemed inevitable, the whole twelve, 
from having been in a crowd here, there, 
and everywhere but in their places, suddenly 
ranged into proper form, and with one frantic 
struggle our poor little wagon was hauled up 

300 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 


the bank. It had been literally imbedded in 
mud, the Kafirs digging away the clots from 
wheels and door-step before the final pull 
took effect. Settled into his place again, 

A and I finished our " tifl&n," which we 

had solemnly commenced whilst sticking in 
the mud, he eating his rice-pudding, and I 
taking occasional nibbles at the large apple 
pasty Mrs. Schwikkard had provided for 
us. Their big Kafir fetched me ^^Mooshla 
Manza" (nice water) from the river, and 
seeing me holding my own muddy india- 
rubbers and A 's slippers, which had 

some mud on them also, he took them from 
me without my asking him to do so, and 
with a big white jaw-bone, teeth and all in it, 
which was lying by, scraped them, rubbed 
them finally quite clean in the long grass, 
and, turning them upside down to dry 
in the sun, left them by my side without even 
looking for a word of thanks. Young Mr. 
Scrubin had sent for two iron bolts or 
clamps, and he and John made more perma- 
nent repairs, but the breakage of the dissel- 
boom closer to the wagon could only be spliced 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 30 1 

with reims, and with it thus we must make 
our way to Newcastle, where it is to be hoped 
we may procure a new one. We may have 
to go through horrible places with this dila- 
pidated pole, but one learns to take these 
kind of things very easily, never doubting 
that if we come to grief again, John will find 
some way out of the difficulty. It was 11.30 
when we waved our last adieu across to our 
friends on the other bank, and fairly started 
on trek once more. 

Stopped at 2 p.m. at Cat-bush Spruit, and 
shortly after at "Footpath Spruit." I am 
sure any foot set thereon would have soon dis- 
appeared beyond redemption. However, our 
pole stood the strain, and this promises well 
for its strength in struggles to come. Camped 
at 7.30. Growls of thimder and flashes of 
lightning, but only slight rain fell. Had 
half -tent, and a dry night fortunately. John 
and Jim had a scorpion hunt before I retired 
to rest. A trap and pair of horses, with a 
Kafir driver and a young Dutchman (both 
had helped us in the morning), had come up 
to us. As they have shot a buck, our men 

302 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

have saccessfally begged of them a leg 
thereof, to their great delight. We had 
seen them every now and then, on the 
Veldt, now here, now there, the horses 
actually being made to pursue the buck, trap 
and aU at frantic speed. John told me that 
they often did that. I asked if they did not 
frequently upset. He said, laughing, " Oh, 
yes, missus ; but they don't care." 

March ist. — Roused the men at 5.10. 
Got off at a quarter to six. Trekked till 
7.30. Outspanned for breakfast by a Dutch 
wagon, and bought a pan of hard, tasteless 
peaches for a shilling. Still they are better 
than no kind of fruit or vegetable. The men 
cooked for themselves a store of bread, i. e. 
fried pancakes — not bad eating either. 
Had a very long trek to a Dutch farm, where 
was a garden and fruit-trees, but only a 
Kafir happened to be at home, so we could 
not purchase bread or fruit. Our scenery 
now has quite changed. We are skirting in 
and out among picturesque, though not very 
high hills ; and the relief is great after the 
endless miles of unvarying flat, our road 
like a huge serpent winding before and be- 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa, 303 

hind us, and the monotony of our journey 
broken only by occasional floundering in the 
mire, over the rocky bed of an empty 
spruit, or through a full one, neither being 
perceptible until we are close upon it. We 
have been shaken mercilessly just now ; our 
course, to avoid a swamp lower down, being 
round a part of the base of a hill which re- 
sembled a huge stone staircase, over which 
we had to get somehow — jolt, jar, scrunch, 
jingle, bump, thump, until we literally landed 
upstairs 1 One fine Kop or Kopje we passed 
upon which grazed an immense herd of fine 
oxen and heifers. As the sun cast the 
shadow of some flitting clouds upon its top, 
travelling down its sides, causing their re- 
flections to flicker over the feeding beasts, I 
longed for the ability to sketch the scene, so 
as to convey some notion of its wild beauty 
to friends at home. This P^ra Kop or 
Horses' Hill (Pfera being the Dutch for 
horse, consonants all Continental) is so called 
from the numbers of horses always grazing 
there owned by a Dutch farmer who goes in for 
horse-flesh on a large scale, and is actually 
nicknamed the " iMyrse deviV* 

304 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

Trekked till seven — at the last lighted partly 
by the young moon. Crossed the rocky bed 
of a bad spruit just before outspanning. The 
driver always tries to get over any bad place 
at night, so that the oxen may have a rest 
and start fresh in the morning. Mosquitoes 
very troublesome. I am much bitten; 

A does not complain, so I fancy they 

do not visit the wagon so much, which is 
more closely shut up, and no lights admitted. 

March 2m?.— Off at 5.30. Trekked till 
seven ; going through one place so bad and 
boggy that Jim sank above his knees. I 
could not help trembling for our pole. We 
got through all right however, and out- 
spanned for an hour, but could have no fire. 
Managed to cut a sandwich of our nice white 

bread and salt buck, so A and I had a 

very good meal, washed down with the cold 
tea I always keep in our flask. We have ex- 
hausted our lemons, I am sorry to say, but 
may get more farther on. From now we 
may meet with stores and farms nearly all 
the way, but at the stores only imperishable 
eatables are to be had. At the farms bread 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Afrua. 305 

and milk may occasionally be procured, but 
usuaUy as a favour, and granted grudgingly 
to the English. The hills, as the rising sun 
lifted up their several curtains of mist and 
cloud, looked very beautiful this morning, as 
we threaded our way along the flats beneath 
them. Sometimes the valley would be a 
small one, more closely embraced by the 
kopjes around ; then would follow a broader 
flat, and the hills would seem to have receded. 
We are now at the foot of the " Futzammon 
Berg," and a storm has come on just as we 
were about to inspan. John says, " Missus, 
if it doesn't soon clear, we won't get up the 
Berg to-day; too slippery." This is bad 
news ; I had so counted upon . reaching 
Newcastle on Saturday. As I write I am 
watching the angry clouds, which look spite- 
ftd enough to keep us prisoners till morning. 
It is only 1 p.m., and we have already been 
here three hours. I had the misfortune, at 
our last stopping-place, to leave behind the 
top of Our canteen, which formed of itself a 
cover to canteen, a stew-pan, a wash-basin, a 
dish, and sundry other things. I had used it 

3o6 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

to wash my liands, and thinking I might be 
glad of another dip, left it on the grass out- 
side. The men inspanned suddenly, and both 
they and I forgot to look around as we 
usually do so strictly. 

We are now just opposite Gibson's store, 
and a man, building a larger one close by, 
gave our boys some shavings and a little 
piece of plank — ^no mean gift where wood is 


so costly. Jim tells me he has no coffee 
roasted ; I have had to give him tea until he 
can find time to brown his berries in a frying- 
pan, and between two flat stones to grind 
them. . . • . 

The men are stowing away their things, 
so I suppose they mean to venture. They 
are whistling and singing duet fashion as 
happily as possible, in spite of being wet 

Two p.m. — ^We are inspanned and just off, 
although it rains steadily, but with a prospect 
of clearing. We are first to mount the side 
of the Futzammon Berg, then descend again 
round its other side ; very steep it promises to 
be both ways, John says quite as steep as fhe 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 307 

Berg, the Dracliensberg, or Dragons' Moun- 
tain, which we hope to cross to-morrow, and 
which divides the Transvaal from Natal. We 
shall cross the Drachensberg in another place, 
less steep than that by which we travelled to 
Bersteling. By this route we cut off the 
Free State altogether 

3.45 p.m. — The sun has shone out, and we 
have accomplished the chief part of our task. 
We are nearly but not quite over the Fut- 
zammon Berg, having come to grief at a 
horrible little spruit, or mud-hole, directly in 
our path. We got through it, but at the cost 
of our pole, which snapped in another place, 
and I cannot see how John will ever repair it 
for us to go down the Berg to-morrow. It 
was terribly short before, now it will not be 
the length of the hind oxen 1 He has many 
resources however, and has just started off to 
borrow some tool he requires from a wagon 
which has been stuck for the last five days in 
the spruit, 300 or 400 yards below us, and 
which we must get over somehow to-morrow. 
The thunder is rolling loudly, resounding 
through the hills.. There are trees in the 

X 2 

3o8 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

kloof, or small ravine, between their different 
peaks and risings, the first we have seen, 
with the exception of the few peach-trees 
in the farm gardens, for many a day. We 
are told that the Buffalo River, over which we 
are shortly to cross, has been very full, that 
a fortnight ago a number of wagons were de- 
tained there for ten days or more, and that one 
was carried away bodily and never recovered. 
This reconciles me a good deal to our delay 
at Pretoria, for had we not stayed there we 
should most likely have had to wait on the 
banks of the Buffalo B,iver without provisions, 
and with greater discomfort than was possible 
there. . . . John has come back and is tin- 
kering the pole, but as the rain is pouring 
down I suppose we shall make no attempt at 
moving to-night. . . . We are not to go, my 
tent is being put up already. 

3r(Z. — We have had such a wet night. The 
tent was soaked through, and it was with the 
greatest difficulty that I could keep even 
tolerably dry. Started at ten minutes to five. 
On till nearly seven, when our pole and trek- 
tow gave way at a nasty, short, mud-place, the 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 309 

oxen being freed at the first snap. John has 
been over to a farm, and for five shillings has 
bought a young tree which he is now con- 
structing into a dissel-boom. I do not think 
we could possibly get over the Drachensberg 
without it. As John works 1 tell him how 
the men used to go ashore when going up 
the rivers from York Fort, Hudson's Bay, to 
Manitoba, to cut down a new mast whenever 
their old one came to grief, and he seems much 
amused at the coincidence. 

Our broken old pole provides us fuel to 
cook our breakfast with. Without it we could 
have had no fire, and must have been content 
with cold tea. 

Again we are warned that Buffalo River 
is full I Grievous news indeed. The wagon 
we have just left sticking in the mud 
which we passed bravely through, was kept 
there twelve days. It seems the water comes 
down with a rush, and the rain we have been 
having has of course caused it to rise con- 

3.30 p.m. — ^We have crossed the Drachens- 
berg, and as it now towers above us I am 

3IO On Trek in the Transvaal; 

almost wondering to find that something akin 
to regret mingles with my emotions of grati- 
tude that that stately range stands between us 
and the Transvaal, and that our feet are safely 
planted once more upon the soil of fair and 
kindly Natal. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 311 


My vermin hunt — An adventurous "trek " — The Buffalo 
Eiver — A coal fire — ^Another custom of the little 
Bushmen — Natal Native Police — Mr. Shepstone and 
his influence over the Natives — The cost of a wife — 
Fireless again — ^We cross the river— Newcastle 
at last. 

Peopeblt speaking, my tale of our " Trek in 
the Transvaal " should end at the last word 
in my last chapter, but as it would never have 
been written at aU had there not been some 
hope of the record proving of use to others 
who might travel over the same ground, I 
should surely leave much of my task uncom- 
pleted did I not tell of our trek to it and 
from it, as well as in it ; so, I will take up my 
notes where I laid them aside, at our first 
outspan on Natal soil on the 3rd March : — 

312 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

The men are amused at my " vermin 
hunt " at night. This morning as they 
rolled up the tent they spied a wee frog outside. 
Says John rather roguishly, pointing to it, 
" This little frog didn't see missus last night, 
or he'd have got into missus's tent." Out- 
spanned in the pouring rain, no thunder, but 
a steady downpour, by a store where we could 
obtain nothing, as only a Kafir was in charge. 
Many mountain streams have crossed our 
track to-day. They added to its picturesque- 
ness, but they rendered it nearly impassable. 
We have come down almost perpendicular 
heights, just broken by stony stairs. ^ The 
jolting can be guessed at pretty accurately 
from that fact. This would be followed 
by a plunge at the bottom into a rocky or 
muddy stream, just narrow enough to seem 
to swallow up our two front wheelsj which 
had to be violently tugged out first, the hinder 
ones following in their train, by the willing 
though whip-urged animals, which dared not 
be allowed to stop a moment, lest the struggle 
should be harder, if not impossible. Even in 
spite of my " holding-on " attitude, so that I 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 313 

might not be tossed quite off my insecure seat, 
I could not but gaze admiringly at the natural 
rockeries covered with lovely ferns, none of 
which I could get, and at the lights and shades 
cast by the fitfiil clouds over the many hill- 
tops mounting one above another all around 

4^A. — The rain turned to more of a drizzle, 
none the less soaking. 

We can see no hill-tops for the mist. 
The curtains I have admired on the distant 
hills, as the sun raised them each morning, are 
anything but beautiful on a closer acquaint- 
ance. They wet one like rain, even if one is 
fortunate enough to have escaped the latter. 
12.45. Since our start at a quarter to eight 
this morning, t^ have had a most adventurous 
time of it, going over roads (or rather no roads), 
to which those of which I have hitherto told 
are as molehills to mountains. We are now, 
have been for an hour, and are likely to be for 
an unknown time to come, stayed upon the 
side of a precipice on what is called by 
courtesy a road, with eight or ten huge buck 
wagons, heavily laden, and in the transport 

314 On Trek in the Transvaal*: 

- - - - -* - - — - - — 

trade, blocking our way. Some of them are 
stuck fast, others blocked like ourselves. But 
I had best be circumstantial, and tell my day's 
history from the beginning. . . . 

Within half an hour of starting we were so 
fortunate as to procure of an English farmer 
a loaf of bread for one shilling and sixpence, 
and a fowl for one shilling. Bread dear and 
somewhat coarse and bitter, but fowl very 
cheap, and even if it should turn out tough, 
is a feast to look forward to. We had also a 
gift of a bottle of milk. We got on fairly for 
another hour or more over boulders and 
through mud, with the usual bump, thump, 
jingle, jolt, getting safely through spruits 
and even through the Buffalo River and 
another, or a branch of the same very near 
it. On for half an hour, when there ap- 
peared a steep hill in front, but not looking 
worse than many others. We certainly saw 
a wagon sticking fast, and heard the usual 
ominous shrieks, howls, yells, and whip- 
crackings, which are supposed to be the most 
eflBcient way to induce oxen to pull harder 
and yet harder still. Our men called out 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 315 

laughingly to the Kajfir drivers, and cheered 
our oxen on by their side. I .must own to 
experiencing a kind of patronizing pity for 
them myself, and an eagerness to show how 
cleverly our six fine animals would drag our 
little wagon " over the course" 1 The 
thought had barely crossed my mind, as they 
were bravely tugging us over the boulders, 
huge ones like rocks by the sea shore (" sich 
a getting up stairs as I never did see," and 
certainly never /<?Zf) when ss-ccc-rrr-sh, try to 
pronoimce it, and with a wrench which 
" burred " through one's brain hke the tug of 
a dentist's forceps, this was what happened 
to us : — 

The pole had held on firmly enough, but 
the whole of the ironwork, bar, &c., to which 
pole and trek-tow are fastened had given 
way utterly, and there the wagon stood, with 
its hind- wheels firmly set against a big rock, 
the rattling dehns of the wreck hanging to 
the fi:*eed beasts. It had been a trial which 
was the stronger, rock or oxen. The oxen 
had done their very best, without the stripes 
and shrieks their comrades close by were 

3 1 6 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

enduring, but the rock (as rocks usually are) 
was immovable, and won the day. John and 
Jim set to work at once with reims, literally 
tying on the pole and trek-tow to anything 
they could lay hold of, on one side to one of 
the springs 1 and thus, held by a thread as it 
were, we have had to come on, knowing that 
this most terrible hill must be descended, and 
that we can get no better repairs till we get 
to Newcastle. 

Meanwhile the poor oxen of the other 
wagon were being thrashed cruelly, making 
my heart ache for them as they struggled 
very hard to pull their load "upstairs." One 
orTwo we wise enough to turn right round 
and strike out at their persecutors. I ad- 
mired them for it, and only hoped it would 
gain them some immunity from their cruel 
punishment. At last a companion wagon 
sent ten more oxen to help, and the difficulty 
was overcome by twenty-six which had 
baffled sixteen 1 

We trekked on steadily over rather better 
roads, till we came to the top of this hill, the 
hill which John had already told me was a 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 317 

very bad one indeed. No words can describe 
its badness. I insisted upon walking down, 
as every pound weight saved would relieve 
the strain upon our patched dissel-boom 
during our perilous descent. • 

About midway, the pass being very narrow, 
two wagons had to pass us. One went by 
easily, being light, the other heavily laden, 
had literally thirty-six oxen, (three spans) to 
tug it up. We drew to one side, and as I 
watched most anxiously, I saw that it would 
be a miracle if our little wagon were not 
" scrunched up " by the big one, or shunted 
over the precipice which yawned below us. 
The oxen were crowded together, the horns of 
some of the middle ones getting hitched into 
those of our wheelers, sending their yokes up 

in the air. Seeing this, I insisted that A 

should be lifted out. Most thankful I felt 
when I saw him safely placed upon a 
boulder, for, from weakness, his movements 
are tremulous and slow, and I feared that 
the crash might come before he could get 
free of the door-step. It was curious to 
see the thirty-six animals at last steer clear 

3i8 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

with their load, nearly the whole of them 
being driven right up the opposite bank, 
leaving us at last actually uninjured. 

Where we now are outspanned is in a 
safer place, as much on one side as can be, 
whilst all those troublesome wagons bar our 
way. We had hoped to get to Newcastle 
to-night, as but for this delay we could 
easily have done. We have another river 
to cross first, and we do not know if it be 
full or not. At Newcastle we shall probably 
be detained for repairs for two or three 
days. Another bill to add to the big one at 
Pretoria 1 

htli March. — We did not get off till 4 p.m. 
yesterday, and travelled over fairly flat 
ground after having first descended our 
stony precipice with its running spruit at the 
very bottom, before ascending the opposite 
hill with the usual bumpetty, thumpetty 
accompaniment. About six we approached 
our next descent, and how we achieved it in 
safety will ever be a matter of Tvonder to me. 
The strain upon the oxen and the patched- 
up pole must have been very great. There 

oTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 319 

was no drag to keep the wagon back, and the 
pole and chain were only loosely held to it by 
the leather thongs tied any way. We were 
often as it were on our beam-ends. Now 
side-ways, now comer- ways, would come 
more and more stone stairs to tilt us up, 
until it seemed as if we should never get 
righted again. Had the catastrophe which 
finally overtook us occurred coming down 
instead of at the foot of the hill, we might 
have been very seriously injured, for the 
wagon must have rolled down the steep side. 
The moon had barely risen (what there is of it 
now), and the daylight was waning, but Jim 
is a good forelooper, and moreover implicitly 
and instantly obeys John's instructions, all 
safety on trek depending upon this prompt 

At the foot of the hills are deep fissures 
caused by the water, which in storms rushes 
furiously down, making huge gaps where 
it gathers before taking a fresh leap, and 
careering off again. When these gaps come 
close together, as they constantly do, no 
good steering can avoid them, and the 

320 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

luckless wagon must go in, and the poor 
oxen must tug until they get it out again. 

It was in one of these that we stuck last 
night. Again came the ss-ccc-rrr-sh and the 
wrench, when the dissel-boom, and a still 
larger portion of the iron work, was parted 
from the wagon, leaving us helplessly im- 
movable. Oxen seldom shy, and behave with 
the greatest philosophy under any adverse 
circumstances, only getting restive when 
thrashed too unmercifully. My first feeling 
was one of great thankfulness that the last 
mishap of the day, which I had been expect- 
ing would occur every moment, had taken 
place where it did, and that nothing but 
further delay, much inconvenience, and a 
good deal of expense could result, instead of 
broken bones or broken heads, as might have 
been the case over any one of the numberless 
places we had passed during this really 
eventful day. Fortunately, we had no rain ; 
yet we have had no entirely dry day and 
several entirely wet nights for nearly a week. 

bth^ Sunday. — I almost forget what Sunday 
is like, it is so long since I have been inside 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 321 

a church, and but for my diary, I should 
miss the day itself, T fear. At Pretoria the 
church was closed, no clergyman being there 
now. At Eersteling no service for many 
weeks latterly, and on the Veldt the Sabbath 

has nothing to mark it. In A 's state of 

health I cannot think it wrong to move on, 
when remaining still provides us with no heal- 
ing influence, and it is of such vast moment to 
us both to get the journey over, and medical 
care and treatment as speedily as possible. 
John has gone off a three miles' distance to 
some wagons, or perhaps even as far as 
Newcastle for help to get us on to the near 
bank of the river, which we are now told is 
full, and " that we cannot possibly cross it for 

One good thing we have, i. e. a coal fire ; 
Jim is busy roasting his coffee over it. Coal 
he can get almost for the picking up. The 
place, rightly named Newcastle, abounds 
with it, but transport is so dear that but 
little is conveyed elsewhere. 

Here comes John, alas 1 without the tools 
he hoped to borrow The wagons were just 


322 On Trek in the Transvaal : 

preparing to cross the river, and did bo 
before he left. These heavy buck wagons 
can get through, the water coming a good 
depth inside them ; but we must wait, as our 
small vehicle would be instantly carried away. 
How the boys will mend the dissel-boom 
I cannot surmise, still I am sure they will do 
so, "somehow," although they have exhausted 
all our large stock of reims. " Can we take 
missus's tent-poles and ropes ? " they ask. 
Of course they can and do. I most ear- 
nestly hope they may not break, for without 
them I shall be roofless to-night. No make- 
shift of a pole could withstand hurricanes such 
as my canvas house has had to hold its own 
against with the greatest difficulty hitherto, 
and will have to do often again. 

We are surrounded by Kafirs, their kraals 
and gardens, and have bought some mealies, 
and six fresh eggs from them. They 
keep coming around, talking to our boys ; 
men and women too, with their babies rolled 
up in either great warm furs, skins, or 
blankets across their backs, but they seem- 
ingly ask for nothing. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Afrua. 323 

** Would missus like to know how the little 
Bushmen women cany their babies?'' 
Missus would like to know, and is told that 
they cut a hole in the arm, and another in 
the side of each girl-child, for her to carry 
her baby in when she is old enough to Have 
one! This sounds very horrible; but it is 
asserted with great gravity, and I am fain 
to believe it, while I rejoice that civilized 
manners and customs are so much more 

Three or four Natal native policemen have 
just gone by. Over their white blouses, 
neatly trimmed with braid, and lettered 
according to their division and rank, they 
wore the military overcoat so dear to the 
Kafir heart, and which, upon black, trouser- 
less legs, has such a comical, not to say start- 
ling appearance. They- were "after" some 
Kafir defaulter. On my expressing surprise 
at a Kafir catching a Kafir, the men laughed 
and said, " they'd go after their own father, 
if only Mr. Shepstone told them to." 

I suppose in no colony has any one man 
ever attained to such power and influence 

T 2 

324 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

over the native mind as Mr. Shepstone has 
over the Kafirs'. He is their lord, their 
master, their king, and they have for him 
the still dearer title of their father. Issuilig 
a mandate, he has only to say, " I am Shep- 
stone, who are you ? " and the expression 
means volumes, and is understood in its 
fullest significance. For over forty years 
has Mr. Shepstone been employed by the 
Imperial Government in native affairs at the 
Cape, and at Natal. It has been well said of 
him by one who had a good right to say it — 
that of long personal experience — "without 
Mr. Shepstone the Natal government, in its 
administration with the natives, would be as 
a ship without a rudder." This is high 
praise ; but surely only what is due to one 
who has, by his tact and delicate handling, 
often averted war and its horrors from the 
land of his adoption, keeping in check the 
wild passions of the thousands which would, 
once let loose, crush with overwhelming 
force the handful of whites who alone could 
oppose them. 

A wee little Kafir boy, with nothing upon 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 325 

him but his " moochie," or tails, drives by a 
herd of calves. As he hops, skips, jumps, and 
" antics " along, he seems — the little, dark- 
skinned Puck — a fitting attendant upon the 
miniature troop. Just before him, astride 
on a young ox, rode a bigger boy of about 
ten years old, driving a herd of young heifers. 
Until to-day I have never noticed the ox 
used thus before, and only twice as a sub- 
stitute for a pack-horse. These animals are 
intended to buy brides with by-and-by, and 
are cherished accordingly. The transaction 
is an open and acknowledged one, and the 
lady is proud to go at a high figure. It is 
the only sense in which she cares to be dear. 
I am reminded here of another curious Kafir 
custom. A Kafir has certain people whose 
names he dare not utter — ^his mother-in-law, 
for instance. If he has to make an allusion 
to her, he has to beat about the bush in a 
most absurd manner. Should her name in 
Kafir be " Cow," he might say, " the mother 
of a calf!" A wife may not utter her 
husband's name. Should it be " Hange," or 
the Sim, she must find a synonym for it. 

326 On Trek in thei Transvaal; 

If ** Fire," she may describe a fire indirectly ; 
but, " Oh no ! we never mention it," must 
be her motto. Such names being very com- 
mon amongst the Kafirs, I leave you to 
guess how much their readiness of wit must 
be taxed. A young wife is forgiven a few 
slips at first ; but any after ones are visited 
upon her as crimes, for then she would be 
considered to be wilfully calling down evil 
upon her husband's head. 

&th. — ^We did arrive near Newcastle last 
evening, just before a sHght thunderstorm. 
We were Uterally pulled over many a rock 
and stone, over three spruits and several 
holes, by the oxen lashed just by ropes, 
tightly twisted to the end of the dissel-boom, 
which was also in its turn thus simply lashed 
to the springs and to any unbroken iron pro- 
jection which could be made available; the 
trek-tow upon which the full force is always 
spent not being fastened to the wagon at all, 
only to the end of the pole. However, here 
we are on the bank of the river, looking 
at Newcastle over the way, and hoping that 
we may be enabled to cross before many 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 327 

days are over — to-day we could not. I am 
going to send John across in the boat for 
provisions, i. e. bread, meat, biscuits, and 

7<fe. — John returned last evening with — oh! 
rare treat — two most delicious white loaves, 
just like English ones. Meat also, a large 
joint for three shillings. The nien can eat 
large quantities of meat (at Eersteling 
they were allowed twenty pounds a week 
each), but they go very cheerfully without 
any at all if none is to be had, and it is often 
their sole food. John has brought me letters 
forwarded from Eersteling by Mr. Polking- 
home. Home letters always, greedily as I 
s^e them, and longingly as I look for them, 
leave me with a sore heart, so I could not have 
written a line after receiving them yesterday. 

This morning, having no fuel whatever, we 
breakfasted with cold water as our beverage. 
I have sent Jim four miles back to our old 
camping-place, i. e. ^^ Mud-hole Creek,'* where 
coal was to be found. He has brought a 
sackful on his head, enabling us now, at 
twelve, to have a comfortable meal. 

328 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

The river rose rapidly from the great 
storm yesterday — Kafirs having to swim 
over with their bundles on their heads. A 
young Englishman rode up to our wagon- 
door, asking, " Is the river crossable ? '* " No, 
you must swim your horse, or stop on this 
side, as we have to do/* " Thank you. Til 
see if I can get him into the boat ! '* I sup- 
pose he did, for we saw him no more. John 
reports a slight lowering of the water, but 
our wagon dare not venture until it is quite 

Mosquitoes terribly troublesome. Says 
John, "Missus, I was properly bit last 
night ; " my reply was, " John for several 
nights I have been very * improperly bit.' '* 
There are some small flies which devour one 
also night and day. On Jim telUng me 
apropos of some occurrence on the road, 
"No, missus, John wouldn't help a Butch- 
Wjwn^^ I said, " Why he is half a Dutchman 
himself.'* The answer was, " He don't mind 
that, missus, the Dutchmen are too cheeky. 
If you ask how far to water, they say, ^ Oh ! 
half an hour,' when most likely it's half a 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 329 

day. They always tell you stories on pur- 
pose." Last night we were kept awake by 
three or four visits paid to our oxen by a 
large herd of about a hundred of their 
brethren, which in spite of John, his whip, 
and my own frequent rushings out from 
my tent to shake my skirts, and shout, 
" Shoo ! Shoo ! " would return to surround 
us and to give "bellow for bellow" to the 
beasts chained to our trek-tow, so far demo- 
ralizing them, that they would not keep still, 
and made the noisy remonstrances which 
drove sleep from our weary eyes. The 
stranger animals very nearly had my house 
over my head from their catching their feet 
in the ropes. 

%ih March. — 5 a.m. I was up at 4.30, and 
down at the river to make my own private 
observations. Current very strong. Oxen 
drinking therein, sinking deeper and deeper. 
John has placed a stone to mark the gradual 
decline of the water. Only when that is 
visible shall we attempt to cross. On my 
way back I picked up the almost infinitesi- 
mal shavings of wood which nothing but 

330 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

reckless extravagance on the part of pre- 
vious travellers would have permitted them 
to leave at their out-spanning places, none 
bigger than a lucifer match. An old gentle- 
man trader, whose wagons camped by us 
last night, passed me to have also a look at 
his chance of crossing; "Good morning," 
said each of us, I showing my small gather- 
ings, hardly perceptible without spectacles, 
in the palm of my left hand, added, with a 
lugubrious shake of my head, " a very diffi- 
cult matter to light a fire." His reply was 
uttered with an expression of face, such as 
we each tried to outdo the other in producing 
when we played as children that absurd game 
commencing " the Emperor of Morocco is 
dead." We parted after this depressing 
interchange of civilities, and I believe we 
both sighed for the next five yards of our 
separate ways. Firelessness means ineffable 
discomfort. I gathered about five more 
scraps to bear back triumphantly to Jim, 
who was struggling to set his damp coals 
alight, and who received my treasures with 
due gratitude. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 33 1 

6.15 a.m. — A storm has commenced — ^wind 
again enough to blow down the half -tent, and 
steady rain. I fear aU hope of crossing to- 
day has come to an end. John, unfortu- 
nately, has got out his concertina. I do not 
like to stop his amusement, because so much 
depends upon the good will and kind feeling 
of the men. They love to whistle and sing 
too. Of songs they seemingly have an end- 
less repertoire, mostly the airs, which they 
hum and whistle duet fashion without words. 
They have each a good ear and a great talent 
for mimicry, especially John, who siugs and 
plays all he hears, imitating voice, manner, 
and style, man's bass or woman's contralto, 
with ludicrous fidelity. 

At 9.45, rain ceasing for awhile, John said 
if we hastened to inspan he thought we 
might cross the river. Hurry, skurry, and 
all was packed, portmanteau, &c., mounted 
on top of mattress, so that if the water came 
in nothing should be injured. I had some 
difficulty in getting my poor invalid to con- 
sent to go in the ferry-boat, but the pole 
was so insecurely fastened, the current so 

332 On frek in the Transvaal ; 

strong, and big holes known to be just below 
the fording-place, it was not safe for him to 
remain in the wagon. After we were picked 
up on the other side, and as we were passing 
a running ditch, snap went our fastenings, 
though knotted and twisted five ropes thick, 
and again all our oxen were free, walking off 
a yard or two with our iree-dissel-boom, and 
trek chain. We were only 500 or 600 yards 
from our destination, the blacksmith's, but we 
had to sit in our ditch for another strapping 
together before we could make our not very 
triumphal entry into Newcastle. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 333 


Another storm — A musical soiree round the camp-fire — 
Kafir attire — A frog Babel — The cattle disease of 
South Africa — Honeymooning on trek — Kafir 
candles — The Biggarsberg or Mud Mountain — How 
Kafirs hunt buck — Sunday's Kiver— Ladysmith — 
John tells bf a Kafir bridal custom — Blue Krantz — 
Eomann*s fate — ^Estcourt — Mooi River — Howick — 
Our last trek — Briar Ghyll — End. 

8f A March, Newcastle, 1 p.m. — It is a com- 
fort to be here, although stuck ignominiously 
in a mud-hole. A store close at hand supplies 
us with new ropes wherewith to haul us out 
and convey us to the door of the blacksmith's 
shop, where we shall probably have to spend 
the next three or four days. 

4 p.m. — ^My tent is up but swaying about 
in the rough wind, which is preluding a 
coming storm. Clouds black over hiUs, 

334 On Trek in the Transvaal : 

thunder rolling, lightning flashing. We are 
literally on our hind wheels, the front ones, 
iron-work and all, being at the blacksmith's, 
blocks supporting the wagon instead; mos- 
quitoes gathering in multitudes, ready for 
their nightly onslaught. 

^ih March. — We had a very severe thun- 
der-storm last evening, lightning very vivid, 
and thunder deafening. The ground, which 
had dried from the hot sun and wind, after 
the morning's rain, again wet and disagree- 
able in tent, but as it ceased raining soon 
after getting into my bed I kept tolerably 
dry. The nights and early mornings are not 
so cold as on the Veldt. By way of enabling 
me to calm off quietly to sleep the man told 
me that the old gentleman with whom I had 
so dolefully discoursed on tbe shortness of 
fuel, had on his upward journey lost nine 
oxen out of a span of sixteen by one stroke 
of lightning close by, and that a short time 
ago, on the dreadful hill where we had been 
delayed so long, eight oxen had been killed 
in the same way, the driver and forelooper 
being both much injured. He added, to 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 335 

comfort me, that our trek tow was a chain, 
and not the new kind of wire, twisted, 
Atlantic cable fashion, which attracts 
lightning so readily. I am glad to hear that 
that terrible hill-road is to be blocJcedy and all 
transport (or baggage) wagons are hence- 
forth to go round by the Wakkerstrom route, 
chiefly because of the jfrightful strain upon 
the poor oxen, and the shocking scourgings 
and ill-treatment they receive to get them 
over the pass. This morning the wind is 
boisterous, the wagon shakes as if it must 
blow over, and my tent flaps about threaten- 
ingly. The blacksmith says we shall be able 
to start on Saturday afternoon, and do the 
one trek to the first of the two or three 
rivers we shall have to cross, all very fuU 
from these storms, and we may have to 
wait at each for many days ! The roads, we 
are warned, are execrable for over seventy 
miles, chiefly from mud. We need not dread 
that so much as the rocks and stones, or the 
narrow and deep sluits, for our trap is light, 
aud our oxen are strong, mud therefore tells 
less upon us than upon the big buck- wagons. 

33^ On Trek in the Transvaal; 

We are to have a raisin loaf made for us 
at the baker's, and meat and bread ready for 
our start on Saturday. 

10^^. — ^We had a lovely moonligtt night, 
and no rain. John has hopes from this that 
the rivers may be lower than when last we 
heard of them. This report has this morning 
been confirmed. I have put a patch over a 
hole in my tent to keep dogs and cats out, 
both of which try to get inside, puss even 
scrambling over my fraU roof making dismal 
"miaux," and perfectly unscared by my 
loudly uttered " Shoo ! shoo !" the usual cry 
of dismissal to such intruders in this country. 
To-day has been a very weary one, no books 
left, and I find I can borrow none. Concer- 
tina " going ! going ! " I wish almost I could 
add gone, only John would be inclined to weep 
at its loss. The boys have a select audience 
stretched around orjr camp-fire, listening to 
" Sweet spirit, hear bay prayer !" " Beautiful 
Star! ar!" "Kathleen Mavourneen," inter- 
spersed with " Oh ! Bob Ridley oh ! " and 
" TheEong of the Cannibal Islands," a great 
favourite of theirs. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 337^ 

Various Kafirs keep passing us, driving 
wagons with horses or oxen, or carrying 
messages, &c., all clothed (or not clothed) 
very queerly. Legs are nearly always left 
bare, and from their colour and shine one 
might easily mistake them for rusty black 
trousers. Eeally black they are not. A shirt 
some only sport, others a coat, of tener military 
than civil. Some have caps, felt principally, 
and seldom without a feather or some orna- 
mental object hanging around and about them. 
If no hat, a few quills and feathers stuck into 
their wool, or even bits of red flannel or ribbon 
knotted therein. Some carry their assegais 
or spears, or a knob-stick. They all leap, 
and jump, and " antic '' along, shouting some 
Kafir song at the top of their voices, not 
wholly discordantly, but very monotonously. 
The words are probably bombastic enough. 
Judging by their warrior-like deportment, 
they are either chanting the praises of the 
immortal " I," or of some great doings, real or 
imaginary, of their tribe. The blacksmith's 
two Kafir assistants have amused me a good 
deal by the business-like manner which is in 


338 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

such strange contrast to the savagery of their 
general appearance. 

Wth. — ^About 10 a.m. the wheels, &c., 
were brought, the front piece renewed and 
greatly strengthened, and surely strong 
enough now to carry us to Natal without 
needing further repairs, all done at a cost 
of 6i!., making a total of 15Z. for mendings 
%o fa/r^ besides the agent's additional bill alt 
Pretoria. The young man who had most, to 
do with setting us on our wheels again 
kindly lent me the local papers, which had 
just arrived by the post-cart. 

I ought not to part from Newcastle without 
giving some little account of it. It is built on 
.a square, the houses, twenty-one in number, 
dotted about every here and there, seemingly 
regardless of order and method, yet the streets 
of the future may, in reahty, be clearly defined. 
It boasts seven stores, one hotel, one court- 
house (post-office included), and one small, 
red-brick building, used as a church by the 
inhabitants, without a clergyman generally, 
but with one when kind fortune happens to 
bring him Newcastle way, where he is ever 

OTy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 339 

sure of a warm welcome. Music the small 
congregation have in the shape of a har- 
monium, and a subscription list has been 
started to obtain funds to build a real 
church in the square. The post-carts from 
both sides arrive and depart weekly, usually 
trying, as far as is possible on these horrible 
roads, to time their coming together for the 
convenience of passengers and mails. All 
the tin,e we ^L in Lwc^tle we could 
obtain neither fresh butter nor milk, but we 
had excellent meat, and white bread of the 
very best, with the real taste of bread from 
an English baker's shop about it. 

Had one long trek of three hours before 
camping by moonlight. We were sur- 
rotmded by grass fires, which give a weird 
air to our surroundings, Hghting up the 
adjacent hills, and making those further 
ofi* more frowningly dark than they other- 
wise would be. The moon, looking unut- 
terably large, seems to take another and 
changeful tinge from the flickering fire- 
light. The constant croaking of the frogs, a 
very insuflGlcient word to describe the endless 

z 2 

340 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

variety of sounds produced by these untiring 
creatures, has become so much a part of our 
nightly experience, that I think I have not 
once named it, for the same reason that 
Londoners, bom within the sound of Bow 
Bells, have been known never once to have 
visited St. Paul's; "they could do so any 
day." Perhaps the fires arouse the frogs, and 
they congregate to concert plans of safety ; 
but certainly such a Babel of sounds was 
never heard in Frogdom elsewhere. None 
in the civilized or uncivilized world are left 
unimitated. The noisy streets of London, 
with every cry and call, from " Murder " and 
"Fire" to "Old Clo" 'and "Hot-cross buns," 
seem all shrieked at the same moment as it 
were by people in every stage of catarrh, or 
else so clearly and shrilly that the sounds 
might be coming from the tiny pipe of a child 
of five years old. All these can be distinctly 
recognized by the exercise of very little 
imaginative power. The uncivilized sounds 
are legion also — shouts and songs of Kafirs, 
lowing of oxen, cracking of whips, rumbling 
of groaning wagon-wheels, cries of birds, 

r: iKf .... .1.. • , ,.,,/ .,. . 



■••• • t;.. 


»• ' 

I ! 


. . W f 

-«.''l. .. 

I • 


342 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

which I write, about sixteen miles from 
Newcastle. One of these was the same 
poor wagon laden with skins which we had 
left sticking in the mud, just after one of 
our break-downs, before we crossed the 
Drachensberg. It had ag^ come to grief 
and was deep in another mud-hole, as firmly 
planted as if to be there were its normal 

Tales are daily told us of oxen sick with 
the great disease of the country, the cause of 
which has yet to be discovered. It is 
believed to be either from something they 
eat or drink. Once the test was applied of 
giving them no grass food at all, whilst work- 
ing between Maritzburg and Durban. The 
disease came to the abstainers therefrom 
equally with the grass-fed animals, so this 
leads one to believe the water to be more at 
fault. Cayenne pepper with garlic seems to 
be the first curative dose given. We con- 
sequently wish we had both, though we have 
still hope that Romann's ailing looks may 
threaten something less serious. We have 
come over very rough, steep places ever 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 343 

since we left Newcastle, and it is well that 
we have been made stronger in every part 
of our vehicle, otherwise we must have 
broken down several times. No sooner have 
we climbed a precipice and descended its 
otier side when another follows in quick 
succession, as if each tried to outdo the 
otler in casting obstacles in our path. We 
haze been through a great many spruits too 
to-day. Soon after starting we met a large 
caup of eight wagons, near one of which 
were seated a young man and maiden, she 
with locks flowing, and he with his arms 
around her waist, both apparently very 
happy and well amused. It was quite an 
Arcadian picture. As we drove by, the lady 
nodded her head to me, and then waved her 
broad hat by way of greeting. I fancy the 
young couple were a bride and bridegroom 
combining business with pleasure, i. e., 
spending a honeymoon, whikt conveying 
goods for a good round sum " up cotmtry." 

In all we met twenty-two wagons before 
ten o'clock, a great contrast to the long 
solitary days we have spent meeting literally 

344 ^^ Trek in the Transvaal ; 

no human being at all. The heat of the sun 
has been great. The sensation it gives is 
more that of being scorched than melted. 
We met also thirteen mounted police on their 
way to the Newcastle district. With these 
white-helmeted and nicely-uniformed men 
was one led horse bearing their food and 
cooking utensils. As we wended through 
one rather narrow pass with long, high 
feathery grass on either side, " Look at 
the avenue, Jim," I heard John say, and 
the comparison was by no means far- 
fetched. To me our driver added, 
" That grass the Kafirs use for candles. 
They gather bundles and dry them, and 
when they want to make their bed after dark 
they just light one, and then blow it out.'' 
By this it is evident that a Kafir's bed- 
making is a very short process. 

At 11.30 we had crossed the Biggarsberg 
or Mud Mountain, rightly so named. Pass- 
ing over one very rocky place we left 
another wagon in difficulties, its disabled 
wheel lying on the ground. A mile further 
on we met its driver, a white man, coming 

ar^ Oz^€r Berg and Vcldi in S. Africa. 345 

at a brkk trot for oxen, Beated on a -irl*ee] 
wbicli iif* liad gone far to borrow, placed 
flatiriBe on tvo pieces of wood, like 
skagii-nninerB. A derer feolution to his diffi' 
cnlhr indeed. 

M-BBinng Bome Kafin^ fiouriBbing tbeir a8M> 
gaaE- 1 inquired if tber could kill bucktf with 
tbemoL Tbe refdr waf^ tbat tbe^' did not 
go bunting Bingh'; but in iinmeuw/ jittrii<?« 
cLoBing round a berd. coufiiiin^ it a^^ il in a 
kraal, witb bmnan beings lor iu wall»5. 'J*l*<* 
prisanfirB fall in numbers under Hhuwiji>; <;f 
asBegaiB skilfuBT tbrovL ai tbefn. Ai \\i^' 
foot of our last deBceu: wa^ tht- w'<;ll l2jti<l^ 
out imd Tealbr nice-looking* ia**!!* — ^;lin*fl v lof 
liie growiiig of tobacco — o' JW*. KnijW'i' -f/j. 

liie bttnkB of BunaaTi- nv<f«. 'J'f^;i^^. biui 


gum and otberb. tmce ujr/r^ h^j^Au^:^: 1 Jii <-y 
OroBsed tte river, rapic auc rt>;r ^ u«i^ rtji;i^ 
low. Observed notice uoara«^ pu: ui jufMinij* 
ontepammig plaeer^ 01 ti^ la^n . tjii Imt-: (;' 
iiiekindwebffveaeeL. Wi jja^ f^u* u-^.«i/»l/*' 
oiSifir fiide^and tbeiia%^-a}Ur<. tui •im^r tt^ i^ 
moonal about ^p.iu. ^^ ij^: r uj ;jii'1 tn^ 

346 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

on a two- wheeled light cart drawn by two small 
horses, tandem fashion, the man leading them. 
They had actually walked the whole way from 
Maritzburg, and were going on to Newcastle! 
How wife and little ones could accomplish 
such a feat under a broiling sun, and with no 
shelter at night, I cannot imagine. There 
did not seem an inch of room left on the 
little trap even to place a child at the cross- 
ing of the various rivers. We trekked till 
eleven, and got to bed about twelve, very 
tired and sleepy. Bought a brown loaf for 
two shillings ! 

On the 14th we reached Ladysmith. This 
town is larger than Newcastle, and the houses 
are of a better stamp, with verandahs and nice, 
well-grown trees around them. The streets, 
too, are more clearly defined. Two good stone 
churches, one English with its little outside 
stone belfry, the other Dutch; several stores, 
one a good butcher's, where we have obtained 
both mutton and beef. Our two-shillings-and- 
ninepence- worth, fills a big dish altogether, 
but no weight was mentioned, that seemingly 
being considered quite unnecessary. 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 347 

A nice-lookiiig Kafir village adjoins Lady- 
smith, with church, schools, &c. On our 
way to it we saw three Kafir women or girls. 
One had literally nothing on but a deep 
fringe hanging loosely from her waist. Her 
hair, cut ofi* flat to the back of her head, was 
piled on the top of it, like a battlement, and 
was daubed with red clay. This John said was 
to show that she was engaged to be married ; 
that her intended husband had already paid 
two cows towards her price, and had more, pro- 
bably eight, to get before he could claim her. 
The marriage ceremonies of the Kafirs are 
curious. John told me of one in which the 
bridegroom has to sit down with endless 
strings of beads around his waist and head. 
The bride elect dances about, brandishing 
knife or assegai, and on coming up to him she 
cleverly and rapidly inserts the knife under the 
strings of beads, cuts them and scatters them 
to the ground. This she does several times, 
and if he winces he is " no man," and not 
" worthy " to be her husband ! Of course he 
does not wince, knowing her skill, and after 
paying so dearly he has an additional motive 

348 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

to bear the trial unflinchingly. The maiden 
next dances off to the cattle kraal, and there 
points with her assegai the first time at one ox 
of her selection, then at another, both of which 
the husband has had to provide for the feast. 
Two goats also are thus chosen, and if in playful 
mood she dances herself into a hiding-place in 
her mother's house or tent, he has to give one 
more goat to get her out again. Once married 
she has no further fun. She must provide for 
herself, children, and husband, who probably 
has other wives. A rich " swell " of a Kafir 
often has twenty. If she should, after a bit, 
sicken of her bargain and return to her mother, 
the husband gets back all the animals he paid 
for her, oxen and goats included, and another 
husband may buy her for two cows ! This 
does not often occur. Mother's love may be 
great, but to have to refund to * so large an 
extent would test a Kafir woman to the utter- 

Left Ladysmith at 3.15, trekking over 
better roads, which were being repaired by 
large numbers of Kafirs under white super- 
vision, many of whom with their tents we have 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 349 

lately noticed. At six we camped by the side 
of my sympathizing friend of the banks of the 
Newcastle River. He had left the town on 
the morning of the day we reached it. 
Although we were detained till Saturday 
evening, and he had a fair start, we have 
now overtaken him. Wagons also which 
passed us a clear week before, leaving us in 
our mud-hole, are, we are told, only just in 
front. Had we not been so delayed we 
should have got to Maritzburg much more 
quickly than many, for when we do trek^ we 
trek well, going steadily forward. 

We arrived on the banks of the Tugela by 
8 a.m., and found our "stick-fast " friends 
just about to cross. Our turn in the punt 
would come next. I watched one loaded 
wagon, and forgetting that those oxen which 
went so unflinchingly on to the movable 
bridge had probably done so often before, 
felt quite easy as to our having no difficulty 
whatever. Alas ! alas ! Potbert had strong 
objections to such a mode of conveyance, and 
walked himself with one wheel of the wagon 
off the punt and into the mud and water 

3 so On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

below. His brethren got into dire con- 
fusion on feeling that they were being 
dragged somewhere^ disliking also the sound 
of their own feet upon the boards. With 
the many ready helpers around, the wagon 
was quickly freed from the oxen. Five were 
on the punt, but Potbert was left seated 
placidly where his stupidity had placed him 
until all hands had dragged the vehicle back 
to the road again, uninjured fortimately. 
I had had almost a spasm of horror as the 
vision came over me of another week by a 
blacksmith's shop, and another long bill of 
repairs 1 Colbert, too, took to misbehaving 
on the punt, refusing to be yoked. Ferry 
fees six shillings and sixpence. 

We are now in the road direct to Maritz- 
burg, from which the Newcastle route 
branches off, and which is old ground to us, 


as the scene of our unrivalled horse exhibi- 
tions on our way to the Transvaal ten months 
ago. I recognized the old landmarks at once. 
Mimosa-trees scattered everywhere, and these 
were quite a relief to the eye. So pleased 
was I to see them again that I was childishly 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 351 

going up in the moonlight to ioMcli one, and 
to stand under the branches of a real tree 
once more, when something glided away- 
through the grass, doubtless a snake, from 
which I hopped aside after a most undignified 
fashion, with all my enthusiasm nipped un- 
ceremoniously in the bud. 

We delayed for some time at Tugela River, 
John finding so many acquaintances among 
the various drivers and Eafirs of all sizes 
and sexes who came about us selling sugar- 
canes and Kafir beer, the girls coqueting as 
much like civilized girls as possible, and with 
a power of repartee, as one could judge by 
the roars of laughter following their replies, 
for which I was quite unprepared, from the 
many stolid specimens of Kafir females I had 
seen at Eersteling. In one of the spruits 
through which we had passed safely yester- 
day, a man, his wife, and two children, with 
their horses, were all drowned very lately. 
Here too we were told of Mr. Hill's mishaps 
since he left Eersteling on September 29th. 
He had three large wagons, and it seems had 
Bent on his passengers by one route, going 

352 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

by Greytown himself to take a load of coal. 
His route took him on the other side of the 
lion Veldt through which we passed. The 
lions kiUed two of his oxen, mangling and 
wounding two more. Later on, nearer Grrey- 
town, two of his Kafirs were killed while 
excavating coal, and two more of his men 
were injured whilst trying to rescue them. 

At 2.30 p.m. we crossed the Blue Krantz 
Eiver, which is a rapid one when full, although 
to-day it was shallow enough. Travellers are 
often detained on its banks for two and three 
weeks before they can ford it. It is a lovely 
spot, and under brighter circumstances I 
could spend many pleasant hours amongst 
its gay flowers and shrubs, its many fine 
gladiolas, and its wild zineas, which lighted 
up the roadside brightly, like poppies amongst 
our corn-fields at home. One flower struck 
me especially. It was of a pale yellow tint, 
very like our primrose in form, though with a 
stem more nearly resembling the polyanthus, 
and with little or no leaf. Something of a 
cross between the jessamine and primrose. 
The wild clematis or what I took for it. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 353 

though of a finer kind than ours, scrambled 
over every bush and shrub, making fairy 
bowers in unexpected nooks everywhere. 
My little pencil stump will only grave words 
upon my tumbled old note-book, but not ond 
of the lovely pictures which my eyes dwell 
upon, never to forget, will it venture to 
sketch for you. 

Poor Eomann is very bad I — " Missus, he'll 
die on the road. We'll have to leave him at 
Blue Krantz." I remonstrate, being loath to 
do so. " G et him on to Mooi River, if you can, * ' 
I entreat, thinking he might be fetched from 
there more easily than from this greater 
distance should he recover, a possibility over 
which John shakes his head dubiously. We 
had barely reached the second and last house 
of the little settlement when it was evident 
that he could go no further. At this farm 
John inquires if Eomann can be received 
upon the usual terms. Answer being favour- 
able, I drew up a kind of agreement with 
quite a legal smack about it. The people 
probably could not read, but they would 
like it all the better for not understanding 

A a 

354 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

a word of it. " Should the poor beast live 
they could on delivery claim threepence 
a day for his hospital fees, or should he 
die, his skin would belong to them." 
Poor Eomann's fate will be decided in a 
day or two at farthest. I say "poor" if 
he lives, but "happy Romann" if he dies, 
for he will never know whip or trek-tow more. 
The loss is ours, but we may think ourselves 
very fortunate if we save five out of the six 
oxen, when many lose a whole span, one after 
anotter, as if a pestilence had seized them. 

Being eager to push on, we trekked 
till long after dark, the moon rising late. 
Something must have gone wrong in a narrow 
steep spruit, for in the glimmering light I 
saw all the oxen loose, but as John and Jim, 
when they had done yelling " Ah, now ! ah, 
now ! " &c., were joking and whistling as they 
inspanned again, I did not even ask what it 
was all about. A little further on we met 
three heavy buck-wagons. It was well they 
were not even a few minutes earlier, or they 
would have been down upon us in the spruit, 
for the cutting was steep and narrow, and at 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 355 


a bend, quite hiding us from view even by 

16<A. Estcourt. — We hurried away after a 
short rest from this place, where we had spent 
such a weary waiting time on our upward 
journey — my poor invalid shrinking from 
seeing even the friends who had been very 
kind to us then ; Mr. Paterson, the magis- 
trate, his very amiable wife, and Mr. Smith, 
the clergyman, who had shown us so much 
attention, and in whose prospected church he 
had felt so warm an interest. I did not like 
to leave him even to shake hands with them, 
much as I wished to do so. John had seen 
a huge snake in the spruit by which we 
breakfasted when here before, and I looked 
carefully about me before I turned washer- 
woman therein, to-day. My earlier notes of 
Estcourt were rather meagre, if I remember 
aright, and possibly of somewhat bilious hue, 
from the state of chronic ill-temper to which 
I was reduced by the procrastination of that 
dreamy blacksmith, and the torpor which had 
seemed to seize every one who had even to 
drive in a repairing nail in our service. 

A a 2 

356 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

By way of treating tliis promising town 
more fairly, I will leave my jottings of to- 
day intact. . . . Fairly off at 10 p.m. Over 
hill after hill, some very steep; but the 
roads are much better than those to which 
we have grown accustomed. A great hurri- 
cane of wind, clouds of dust, eyes, mouth, 
hair, all full. As I gazed down, when the 
dust permitted, upon Estcourt from the 
heights above it, I was much struck with 
its really beautiful situation, and many signs 
of present and future well-being. It is sur- 
rounded by hills, and is fairly wooded. It 
has two rivers, looking like silver threads 
every here and there, stealing through it. It 
has a good bridge of stone, iron, and wood. 
It has its court-house, stores, hotels, and it 
has new barracks. What more need I add 
to assure you that " Estcourt " deserves to 
be printed in big capitals in the next new 
map of Natal ? 

To-day the tents gleaming like white 
specks^ below us, and the groups of Kafirs 
washing in the streams added to its general 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 357 

" Do you know what this thing is, mis- 
sus?" asks John, as he brings to the back 
of the wagon upon his whip a curious-looking 
object, which might have been a miniature 
crocodile, but for its shaded green tint. I 
know it to be a chameleon, for it is not the 
first of its species I have seen ; but I do not 
say so, as John likes to be the first to show 
anything of interest. 

Have I noted anywhere previously the 
primitive method used by the f orelooper to 
check the too hasty progress of his oxen down 
hill? To-day I thought Jim must have 
been run over ever so many times, but he 
was much too agile for such a fate. He 
literally throws dust into their eyes, picking 
up handfuls of it, and sometimes clots of 
mud, which he showers between their horns, 
as they run. The leaders understand it, and 
its result is nearly equivalent to that pro- 
duced by the drag. 

We have seen no bucks for some time, and 
fewer cranes of late; but those ecclesiastical- 
looking birds, the white-chokered crows, 

358 On Trek in the Transvaal ; 

The post-cart passes us, and jokes are 
bandied between its diiver and ours. " That 
fellow is awfully cheeky, missus 1 he says 
he'll give me hi. for our wagon 1 " 

It is dusk before we come to the really fine 
bridge at the entrance to Mooi River, built by 
General Bissett, sometime Governor of Natal. 
Colbert again objects to a wooden road, but in 

less degree than before The thunder 

rolls and threatens, and my tent to-night is 
nearly blown about my ears, the pegs failing 
to get a good hold of the soil. 

We had camped close to our old hotel 
quarters here, and although we had no 
visitors the boys had plenty, and kept the 
ball rolling of fun and frolic, music and songs 
until quite a late hour, the whole company 
being tightly packed amongst the pots and 
kettles, spare reims, and sundries under the 
wagon itself, one after another taking it in 
turn to act stoker to the fire, which the heavy 
drops seem determined to quench. 

Xltlfi. — A steady drizzle, real English 
weather, persistently damps us body and soul 
to-day. One gets spoilt in this fine clime for 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 359 

sucli old-world wettings. The skies seem 
very hard upon us here, when they grey cloak 
themselves, and hide their bonnie blue garb of 
every-day wear, and like spoilt children we 
cry out as if we were ill-used. It is almost 
our last, day on trek, too, so I cheer up as 
much as I can, and try to see only the silvery 
lining to every cloud overhead. 

We reach Howick at 8 p.m. on Satur- 
day the 18th. The bridge, which after many 
failures, is accomplished at last, is a very good 
one, and adds much to the beauty as well as 
importance of the place, which is altogether 
much grown and improved since we saw it in 
June last. It looks more like a good-sized 
EngHsh country village than an embryo town 
of this South African colony. We had then 
seen a picturesque-looking old building, half 
castle, half house, and had admired it and a 
situation greatly. Now it has its verandah 
and turrets painted in bright colours, and 
a general "spick and span" air quite out 
of keeping with the grey old battlements it 
adjoins. A board informs travellers that it is 
the " Castle Hotel," and this accounts for the 

360 On Trek in the Transvaal; 

transformation with which I am so inclined 
to quarrel. 

Nothing can deprive it of its natural beau- 
ties. Its surroundings are fine old trees, 
climbing plants, rocks, and the flowing waters 
winding beneath, murmuring dreamily and 
pleasantly. A rare retreat for the lover of 
nature, alike for the world-weary mind and 
brain as for the young and gay. How 
merrily do those dancing ripples seem to sing 
as they rush joyously on to the fall below ! 
and for the sadder-hearted have they not a 
melancholy cadence, a minor key utterance 
attuned to the load of pain within. Has not 
Nature moods as we have, or do we only 
interpret her after our own ? 

We bid adieu to Howick, its lovely way- 
side flowers, its rushing waters, and start 
upon the very last trek of this our long, long 
journey of six and a half weeks ; down the 
town hill, passing numberless wagons as we 
go ; Maritzburg, nestled beneath, smiles us a 
welcome now, in March, as it smiled us a 
God-speed in June last year ; but we do not, 
as at first planned, go into the town at once. 

or^ Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa, 36 1 

We outspan on the sward outside, there to 
await the verdict of such momentous import 

to us both. . . . 

Here, then, at beautiful Briar Ghyll — ^where 
the hope which had sustained me for so long 
has died utterly away, where so many kind 
hands in active friendship have grasped mine 
in my sorrow, lifting the burden of responsi- 
bility which had well-nigh overweighted me, 
have advised me, helped me — at Briar Ghyll, 
then, let jne drop the curtain, for it is here 
so sadly ends the tale of our trek in the 


« « « « 

Although my tale is ended, and my last 
page somewhat blurred in the telling, yet a 
fair new leaf has just been turned for the 
Transvaal. It tells of old discords healed, 
fears allayed, anxieties set at rest, strength 
taking the place of weakness, and substance 
that of shadow. The Transvaal has lost the 
name of an independence it could not main- 
tain, but it has gained in its place the security 
ensured by the protection of a great power, 
and " the prestige which so large a political 

362 Om Trek in the Transvaal ; 

relationship confers." Who does not know 
what Old England can do for her children ? 
and do they not, one and all, love to call her 
" mother " at last, however shy each may 
have been when first she owned them as one 
of her brood ? 

To whom better, or half so well, could 
have been entrusted the delicate task of 
bringing all this to pass — this intricate 
mission, with its Kafir as well as its Dutch 
complications — ^than to the Queen's High 
Commissioner, His Excellency Sir Theophilus 
Shepstone, the old friend, alike of the few 
who still cling to the forlorn hope of self- 
government unaided by England, as of the 
many and wiser who recognize their only 
safety to be from England? And to the 
Kafirs, who could better be sent than he, 
who has been so aptly described as " their 
own King of Hearts ? " 

My heart, I know, is full of gratitude for 
deeds of kindness shown me when I needed 
them most ; for words uttered, when they fell 
as balm upon an open wound, and for hospi- 
tality, extended by him and his without stint. 

or, Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 363 

Therefore there is an added fervency to the 
Amen, with which I warmly and reverently 
respond to the prayer uttered by so many 
who know and love him, and who care for the 
welfare of South Africa and her colonies: " God 
bless the new Administrator of the Trans- 
vaal, and give a happy and prosperous future 
to this new sister country of ours, which he 

will so wisely and temperately govern 1 " 
« « « « 

P.S. — ^A lady's letter is generally supposed, 
never to be quite complete without a post- 
script ; its, " By the way, I have never men- 
tioned,'' &c. ; " After all, I have forgotten to 
thank you," &c., i&c. Her postscript need 
not necessarily be the kernel to her nut, but 
stiU to despatch her missive without tran- 
scribing her after-thoughts would certainly 
leave her with an uncomfortable sense of 
omitted duty, even although the friend who 
receives it might not only fail to observe that 
anything was left unsaid upon the four sides 
of the sombre-hued rep sheet of note-paper 
with its bright monogram at the top, but 
might even be cruel enough to hint that three 

364 On Trek in the Traansvaal; 

sides would have amply suflSced for all her 
dearest Euthanasia had to say to her ! 

K, then, Euthanasia may have a postscript 
to her letter, pray may I not have one to my 

In mine I would fain record my thanks 
for their aid in setting me right, now and 
again, where I was a little at fault in actual 
fact, date, or detail, where they confirmed any 
of my little " by the ways," or suggested any- 
thing, any way, or any where, by which my 
pages have become in any degree more read- 
able than they might otherwise have been, — 
first of all to Mr. Silver, whose most admir- 
able handbook on the Transvaal is indispen- 
sable to every one who intends to visit it; 
secondly, to Dr. Mann, who is a well-known 
authority upon all that appertains to South 
Africa ; and last, but not least, to the writers 
of two most interesting papers read before 
meetings of the Royal Colonial Institute, in 
1869 and 1875, i. e. Mr. H. J. Barrett and 
Mr. T. B. Glanville. To Mr. Barrett my 
thanks are more especially due for the con- 
firmation he gave then to facts which have 

oVy Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 365 

been told me since, and whicli but for the 
sanction of such a high authority, I should 
have been somewhat afraid to relate, lest they 
should be treated only with the incredulous 
indulgence granted to so-called "travellers' 

And may not trusty John have his thanks 
too ? for, oh 1 what would my book have 
been without his, "Would missus like to 
hear about — ? " and " Shall I tell missus how 
the — ? " &c., &c. 

I am sensible of one or two omissions also. 
Finding that my book was outgrowing the 
limits I had assigned to it, I removed the 
original Chapter XII., which contained an 
account of a trip we took to the Government 
Forests of the Haupt Busch Berg, and thus 
have involuntarily done an injustice to the 
Transvaal and some of its grander natural 
products. Let me remedy my fault now, 
thus late in the day, by stating that in these 
noble forests there is wood and to spare, 
notably the yellow- wood tree (some of those 
we saw measured twenty-one feet in circum- 
ference, and forty feet from base to crown). 

366 Oh Trek in the Transvaal; 

the Sneeze-wood, the iron-wood, Ac., Ac. 
But I shall be attempting to condense my 
much-regretted missing chapter into a post- 
script if I allow my mind to wander back to 
the bewildering beauties of that grand scene 
amidst the kloofs and goi^es, the ascents 
and declivities, the rugged mountain Bides 
and softer glades of the bountifully endowed 
higher lands of the TransvaaL 

Upon the healthiness of the country (and 
excepting in a few of its lower lands, whose 
limits are well defined, it is exceptionally 
healthy) I have not laid sufficieut stress. 
Let me emphasize, then, any and every state- 
ment I may have made, and recommend this 
S of South Africa, in common with its 
, Natal and the Cape, as a safe haven 

I any who may be threatened with weak 
I, or di'ead that fell disease consumption. 

f let any intending visitors to the colony 

I daunted by anything I may have related 
■(be difficulties of the way. Our circum- 
MS were exceptional ones ; and, moreover, 
M. great change which has already worked 
AAt vonders for the Transvaal will affect 

or. Over Berg and Veldt in S. Africa. 367 

traflBc, transit, prices, &c., and smooth the 
way to others which was somewhat of the 
roughest to ourselves. 

Before leaving England, seek information 
from those best able to give it, is my advice 
to you who mean to visit our South African 
Colonies : — apply to Mr. J. G. Rolls, of 79, Cole- 
man Street, who can tell you how ready are 
their Governments to aid new comers, and 
how best to claim that help on both sides the 
ocean ; and an hour in Mr. Silver's warehouse 
will fit you simply or sumptuously, as you 
may desire, but certainly comfortably and 
sujBBciently to meet all your needs, should 
you, following in our steps, think of starting 
" On Trek in the Transvaal." 




he had an appluation. 

Crmau Bmldmss^ i8S» FledStrtti^ lumdm, 

Aprils 1878. 

a Sts(t of Soolid 




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32. Dred. By Mrs. Beechbr Stowe. Double vol., 2s, Cloth, 

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Russell {W. IT., LL.D,) 77ie Tour of the Prince of Wales in 

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Portugal. By W. H. Russell, LL.D., who accompanied the 

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CCBWEINFURTH {Dr. G.) The Heart of Africa; or, 
•^ Three Years' Travels and Adventures in the Unexplored Regions 
of the Centre of Africa. By Dr. George Schweinfurth. Trans- 
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Aries Africance, Illustrations and Description of Pro- 
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Sea-Gull Rock. By Jules Bandeau, of the French Academy. 

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26 Sampson Low^ Marston^ 6* CoJs 

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Ust of .Publications , 27 

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JJst of Publications. 2 9 

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List of Publications, 3 1 

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