|Chapter Title||A VISION OF THE HIGH VELDT, SEPTEMBER, 1889 AMSTERDAM.|
|Newspaper Title||The Hillston Spectator and Lachlan River Advertiser (NSW : 1898 - 1953)|
|Trove Title||The Great Boer Conspiracy. A Tale of the Transvaal War, 1899-1900|
lhe Great y'BmrA^mffiracy^ '
& YaB© of the.-' T|rahsvaal;-Warv:\i899-19Q0. LALL RIGi^'RESERVEi).]
4 .--.By-JV'D. Hennessey-: * jLuthor of ' A Lost Identity' ' The Dishonourable' ' Wynn^i,'' ' An Aus tralian J3ui-h Tiack,'. ^ T/ie Sea Cliff Towers ' Mystery' etc; -
; ! CHAPIER III. ! (Continued) : - v j \ ' A Vision of the High Tel dt, | ~ Sepiemblr, 1889.' i 7' xYmsitrdam ;
'f Albeit Van Berg, although younger ifchun myself, had a few years before' c been an intimate friend and companion, ^ 9-nd tie partial severance which had occ'iried botween us was due more to my absence from Amsterdam and ; v reverse of fortune, which had . caused me to neglect my friends, than to any thing pise, Fifteen-years before 1 had I visited Holland and Germany for the purpose of completing my education, and had then become fast friends with
ray kinsmaiij who was a young man of eminent talents, and one of a great firm of wealthy merchants and ship owner. Owing to the death of his betiothed he had lemamed unmarried, and living at home with his father, devoted himself to his sister Barbara, j -? who was several yearn younger than himsflf. 'You are quiet, lU-g,' he said, re- i curring to the familiar nomenclature of college c-ays. 'Am I, Beit?' I leplied, smiling, 'well, I have that upon my mind just now to make me qtmt ' We were justcrossmg tliehigh bridge over to Amstel, and I looked out. upon tne gieat city of isI mds and brigades and encircling canals. It was a pleas ant picture with the sun shining upon lis many tree-lined water ways, and j green meadow lands, and/busy streets, and perfect fjrest of masts, which told — — of its immense ...and growing trade. ' Amsterdam is getting to be a great 1 place,' I said, abruptly. ' Yes,' replied my cousin with pride, ' the last census shows an addition of over 80,000 to our population during Lhe past decade, and our Netherland impoits have turned £100,000,000.' ' j.hen you must have over 400,000 people in this city,' ] said. ' What is ib that is pushing you ahead so rapidly?' ? Three things,' he answered. ' Our colonies, South Africa, and the revi\al of our enterpiisc as a commercial - people.' At this he leant over to me with a smiling face, and said, ' Bert, be thank ful that you have Dutch blood in your veins. We are only a small country and people, but we are one of the great 1 est commercial centres of Europe, and it is hard to say what we may not at 1 tain to by-and-bye.' - 1 looked into Ins intelligent, thought ' fjjl, hoix^sfc f;u)e, and my heart warmed / fo him, and' I detei mined then and theie te take him into my confidence; for somehow I had a strange foreboding us.; r.,-in regard to the matter I had in hand, and 1 felt that I should be safer if I told it to a friend. A quarter of an liour afterwards we ^ weie snugly seated in Albert's library ; - and smoking room, tnen I showed him the lettei and told him what I had surmised. After having eagerly listened to all I told lum, he smoked in silence for several minutes, and then said, 'How a comes it that the letteiv was posted to you from The Hague, while the mes sage was delivered here in Amsterdam V ' Ah J I thought of that; but the ^ ?* person who wrote ib has servants and agents here and there, and may this very day be in this city. ' You're a British subject, old fellow V he next said, a note of interrogation in . : . his voice turning the statement into a quevy. ' I am,' 1 replied, 1 and I don't know that I wish to be anything else.' lie shrugged his shoulders and said ?- — ' But you are an Afrikander of Dutch extraction, born in Cape Coloay,'
' My mother was an English woman; and tho daughter,of a proud Nice,' I replied. . , ' ? . ' Ah, but your sympathies are all with your father's people,' lie said ' conlidently, ' and if you can render any service to your fatherland you ought to do it.' I made no i.inswer to - this, but turned the convertation into another channel. ' It is pity, Bert, you Iibvo never visited the Cape,' I said. 4 It is,' lie replied frankly, for we do a lot of business there.' ' I believe you met the President,' I said, ' when lie was over.' ' Yes, he dined with the Count.' 'What did you think of him?' 1 He's a strong man, not educated, but endowed with great moral courage, and strong common sense, and -firm faith in himself as the divinely ap pointed leader of the Dutch of South Africa.' i 'Yes,' I said, ' you have hit ii there, ? but you don, t know him, or his people either, as I know them. My dear boy, they are exactly two centuries behind you people of the Netherlands, and for those two hundred years they have shut themselves up with inferior races; and insteid of. elevating the ; blacks they have k-.t them pull them down morally and intellectually, fhey pre eminently, before everything else -in the world, believe in themselves, and their l-Vesident is fatuous enough to pit his two-century old provincialism against the whole strength of the greatest moral and material force of modern, days — the British nation. Ancilam aft-aid your Government is going to suggest this to him, and back him up in it— and you advise me to be a party to what is little less than a national crime.' Albert was about to'reply warmly to this, for hv,- had taken his pipe out of his mouth, and holding it in his hand arose to his feet ; but at the moment there came a knock upon the door and a servant entered. Addressing my cousin, he said, ' Miss Van Bsrg, sir, awai s you in the drawing room.' ' I'll have it out with you presently,', said he, ' but we must not keep Bar- j ! bara waiting.' , ' j CHAPTER IV. Barbara Yan Berg. Beyond an occasional slow.ness of personal movement . and thoughtful deliberation of speech there has al ways seemed to me to be very little of what is commonly supposed to be typi cal' of the Dutch about my Cousin Barbara. 1 - Probably her features . would have been more rounded, and her eyes less full of expression, had the ordinary routine of liousehold management and superintendence chiefly engaged her attention. But unlike most Dutch women of rank, she was content to let a' stately housekeeper entirely manage ordinary matters in her I father's mansion, only stepping aside from her favourite studies and pursuits to insist that the grounds around the house should be relieved of some of tii« orderly primness, and fantastic and even grotesque appearance, common t-o Dutch gardens. The love of cleanliness and order and other virtues on the prim lines of patience, and perseverance, andpunctu ality, are doubtless inseparable from the Dutch, as found in their native land. Their natural surroundings in the lowlands have made them a quiet, straight going people. In their cen tu.iy-long fights with the inroads of the ocean, they have learned the value of stolid patient resistance — of which the very dykes which wall out the sea, and preserve their homes from destruction, ara adail^ example to them.
A people born and bred by the side ' of straight cut canals; over wlii^h the burdeh of their great business traffic move noiselessly ; who close their eyes tc sleep at.night with ' the knowledge that the church spires which overlook their towns and cities are- below the level of the stormy German Ocean ; who hear the incessant creak and clatter of the sails of windmills pumping water from .the drains into the; canals'; these, and- a hundred
other things peculiar to. Holland (which name it will be remembered, is an abbreviation of hollow land), com bine to give th6 Dutch a more pro nounced and distinctive national character than any .other race of men beneath the sun. ' . And it is not surprising to find that they do not readily adapt themselves Lo changed conditions, Or assimilate themselves with, other .peoples! In whatever part of . the world he may' settle, the Dutchman continues to be a Dutchman still, and instead of suiting Himself to new conditions he will, wherever he goes,- as far as possible,; surround himself with a new Hol land ; with, canals, and gardens, and residences, and household customs, as; nearly as possible like those ol his birth-land, as may be seen in Batavia, Colombo, and Cape Colony. And the singular thing is that if circumstances force him into places where the. orderly.- 'and waterwashed surroundings of his native lowlands are entirely absent, as: for instance in. the Transvaal, his character seems to so far miss these daily features' of his European life as to lose much of its characteristic force and straight going. In Holland the Dutch are clean in their personal- habits, quiet in de meanour, and up right, and down
right and straightforward in general character as their own canals the opposite of all this is found, however, in the average Dutch Boer of South Africa. They improve with an ad mixture of British or other blood (and I don't say this from any personal feeling, although I am half English and. half. Dutch myself)- What I thus assert is a simple matter of fact, known to all who are acquanted with the people of whom I am speaking. In my opinion a pure bred Dutch man never does himself justice outside the Netherlands. There he is estimable, and as a people admirable, possebsing all the solid virtues which go to build up a successful nation. But locate a Dutchpian outsicle of Holland and lie will develop in himself and family qualities which are* either the exagger ation of his former virtues, on their very opposite, Away from the singular Hiivironment of r,hfi Netherlands, where
simple existence makes a eoutinual demand upon the traits of character al-. ready referred to, the Dutchman be comes an altogether different man. With no ocean to subdue, and with native slaves at his beck and call, he. becomes indolent ; his children grow up in self conceited ignorance ; rough roads and stubborn mules and oxen, instead of the smoDth and quiet traffic of canals, makes him noisy, olustering, and violent of speech. There is little
water, so lie ceases to, wash himself ; no straight -fines' upon the landscape, so he loses the straightforwardness of his old-time character, Let ah im partial mind study the average Dutch ? dopper farmer of Sou ^h Africa, and he will find himself confronted with an anthropological problem which, I will ' answer for it, will take him all his time to solve. .But all this is a digression, for I was about to speak of my cousin, th- fair and clever Barbara Van' Berg.' . I may tell you at once that this' girl - cousin had also been a bit of a problem to me. I would have, trusted her with my life.. I. relied upon her good judg ment and discretion ; she was at tractive, interesting, and sometimes fascinating; b(ut she s^emeci to me to be a woman to be a(lmired and rever- ' enced, rather than to be loved. - A woman must have a bit of devil- ? merit in her, or at any ; rate archness which seems like it, for a man to really love her. The angel light is very worshipful ; but in Heaven, w-. are told, there is no giving in marriage. - - : ; Here on earth there, must be.a little r of what the poet calls ' human nature's ? daily; food,' and: it was just this that my cousin Barbara seemed to be lack iirg in. I never could imagine myself - nor. any- other man-, stroking her hair, pressing her hand with a 1 over's fond ness, or kissing her lips. Yet it was a fair and noble woman who held out her hand cordially to greet rr.e in that old-fashioned, richly furnished, Dutch drawing-room. ' Di. Keet, I am so glad to see you.' ?'.Thank you, Barbara, but not more I ^lad tiian I am to see you again.' x ~ 1 I The girl's face flushed with pleasure, I for I was ever masterful, and although
she did not at hrst so address me, she would hayfi felt slighted had I called her other than by her Christian name I grasped, and, for a moment, held .? '' her hind, firmly aiid frankly, as if it had been a brother's. We perfectly ' - . - understood each other and she immed iately said, ^ . ' You have not changed one bit, Reginald.' To be Continued.