From Capetown to Ladysmith by G. W. Steevens


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Page 2

XII. THE DEVIL'S TIN-TACKS.

The excitement of a rifle fusilade--A six-hours' fight--The picking
off of officers--A display of infernal fireworks--"God bless the
Prince of Wales" 106

XIII. A DIARY OF DULNESS.

The mythopoeic faculty--A miserable day--The voice of the pompom--
Learning the Boer game--The end of Fiddling Jimmy--Melinite at
close quarters--A lake of mud 114

XIV. NEARING THE END.

Dulness interminable--Ladysmith in 2099 A.D.--Sieges obsolete
hardships--Dead to the world--The appalling features of a
bombardment 124

XV. IN A CONNING-TOWER.

The self-respecting bluejacket--A German atheist--The sailors'
telephone--What the naval guns meant to Ladysmith--The salt of
the earth 134

THE LAST CHAPTER. By VERNON BLACKBURN 144




MAPS.


PAGE

MAP OF THE COUNTRY ROUND LADYSMITH 95

MAP ILLUSTRATING THE SEAT OF WAR IN SOUTH AFRICA _At end_




FROM CAPETOWN TO LADYSMITH




I.

FIRST GLIMPSES OF THE STRUGGLE.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS--DENVER WITH A DASH OF DELHI--GOVERNMENT
HOUSE--THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--A WRANGLING DEBATE--A
DEMONSTRATION OF THE UNEMPLOYED--THE MENACE OF COMING WAR.


CAPETOWN, _Oct. 10._

This morning I awoke, and behold the _Norman_ was lying alongside a
wharf at Capetown. I had expected it, and yet it was a shock. In this
breathless age ten days out of sight of land is enough to make you a
merman: I looked with pleased curiosity at the grass and the horses.

After the surprise of being ashore again, the first thing to notice was
the air. It was as clear--but there is nothing else in existence clear
enough with which to compare it. You felt that all your life hitherto
you had been breathing mud and looking out on the world through fog.
This, at last, was air, was ether.

Right in front rose three purple-brown mountains--the two supporters
peaked, and Table Mountain flat in the centre. More like a coffin than a
table, sheer steep and dead flat, he was exactly as he is in pictures;
and as I gazed, I saw his tablecloth of white cloud gather and hang on
his brow.

It was enough: the white line of houses nestling hardly visible between
his foot and the sea must indeed be Capetown.

Presently I came into it, and began to wonder what it looked like. It
seemed half Western American with a faint smell of India--Denver with a
dash of Delhi. The broad streets fronted with new-looking, ornate
buildings of irregular heights and fronts were Western America; the
battle of warming sun with the stabbing morning cold was Northern
India. The handsome, blood-like electric cars, with their impatient
gongs and racing trolleys, were pure America (the motor-men were
actually imported from that hustling clime to run them). For Capetown
itself--you saw it in a moment--does not hustle. The machinery is the
West's, the spirit is the East's or the South's. In other cities with
trolley-cars they rush; here they saunter. In other new countries they
have no time to be polite; here they are suave and kindly and even
anxious to gossip. I am speaking, understand, on a twelve hours'
acquaintance--mainly with that large section of Capetown's inhabitants
that handled my baggage between dock and rail way-station. The niggers
are very good-humoured, like the darkies of America. The Dutch tongue
sounds like German spoken by people who will not take the trouble to
finish pronouncing it.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 13:18