|Chapter Title||SOME EXPLANATIONS.|
|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|
2 he Great Moer Conspiracy.
A Tale of the Transwaa! ®ar, 18S9-1S00. [ALL RIGHTS' RESERVED.l
By «J. D. Hennessey. Author of ' A Lost Identity' '' The Dishonourable,' ' Wynnuni,' 'AnAus- traltan Bash Track' ? ' The Sea Cliff Towers Mystery,' etc.'
CHAPTER I. . Somu Explanations.
1 confess that until recently, when I unexpectedly came across myold friend TivKeet, of Amsterdam, 1 nad not a suspicion of what, for years past, had been going on between certain Dutch men in Cape Colony and Holland, and leading Dutch Boers in the Transvaal. With all my traditional leanings towards these descendantsof tne Dutch
reformers, and my admiration for the religious struggles of their ancestors (for 1 was born and reared among ^Protestant Nonconformists, and grew up an ardent Forward Liberal, and an admirer of Mr. Gladstone), it was to me a painful awakening to find out the real character and projects of men whom I had regarded as almost martyrs and the patriotic defenders of their liberties against the rapacity and greed of British and other capitalists. Dr. Keet is now a grave man, even for a physician, although he was not always so, and I think it was the amused expression of his fice as I talked to him about Mr. Chamberlain's aggressiveness and the terrible mistake which Britain was making in going to war, that first upseb me a bit and shook my confidence in the views I had hitherto held. We both of us knew South Africa well, and had had not a few adven tures together on the weird, desolate Karroo and High Veldt between the Cape and Johannesburg; but Dr. Keet perfectly staggered me. when, placing - his hand upon my shoulder, he looked down ini o ray eyes, for lie is a much taller man than I am, and said : — 'My dear boy, you don't know anything at all about it, nor do your countrymen yet; and even the promi nent Johannesburg men only half guessed at it, or .they would not have played so completely into Kruger's hands as they have done. For ten years and more there has existed an organised conspiracy in South Africa, the aim of which has been to secure the whole of that country, from the Zambesi to Capetown, for the Dutch,, and, as is .usually the case, there has been n woman at the bottom of it.' Let it be said here that the story told in the following ehapters is almost 1 wholly founded upon^ fact.. I was assured of this while the Doctor told rue' his portion of it, for' there was very much -vhichj; as soon as my ejes were opened, I was able to verify the truth of myself. The verbal dressing is the' author's, but the form oeneath the clothing is a living one. ' Ao Dr. ? Keet said, prefacing his = : story, while he untied some bundles'of letters and . memoranda which he wished to show me, 'The incidents themselves wree so unique^ so startling, and soabsorbing in their interest, that there was no room nor need for the play of imagination. Never,' he' de clared with , emplyisis, 'was there such a romance in - rea l life as that which for a dozen years past had been transpiring between Europe and those highlands of Southern Africa.' '.Do you think Rhodes k'nevv about' it ?' I asked. . . ' Yes and no,' replied the doctor. ' His has been a . most awkward position for many reasiinsj and it is doubtful whether, even if he had: known al), he could have done any thing ; he had his owir' business to attend to, and had no^positive proof.' 'How about Kruaer ?' I said in quiringly. ' My , dear fellow,' exclaimed, my friend, ' Kruger could no more have originated this thing than fly. He has grown up to it' wonderfully ; he was too astute not to' see the chance wlier. it was placed before, hin-, but it was a raore clever and better educated
man who conceived and planned the conspiracy, and it was onginaliy sug- * gested to him by an accomplished and fascinating woman. 1 have met her, know all about her ; in fact, not six months ago 1 dined with them after a splendid reception in 'Jr. Kreed's palatial residence at Amsterdam.' I started at this, for I was beginning to guess the position of things. 'Co on, doctor,' I siid, 'although 1 should like to remark that the intro duction of the lady into t'jie business seems a little far-fetched.' 'You're mistaken th^re,' he replied quietly, 'ambitious women have al ways been stirring factors in affairs both public and private; The Boer women will back their sons and hus bands and sweethearts in the coming war for all that th,ey are worth, and woe bet\de them if the British beat them. I hear i hat Mrs. Joubert is arranging to go to the front with, the General. And you will remember it was the women who incited the men to the fight and victory of Majuba Hill ; no, the women are in it right enough, and you will be a bit surprised per- V haps, when you hear how much, and how far they are in it.' ' But you review for a moment the general position,' he continued You \ can put it all into a nutshell, and tna . astonishing thing to me is that the leading statesmen of Great Britain .have been so blind. T won't say any thing about the more religious of the great middle-class British public, who ?'? have never seen, nor heard, nor smelt a nineteenth century Dutch Boer of South Africa, but wiio are prejudiced overwhelmingly in his favor because of his Presbyterian ancestors, who in the 17th centuiy struggled for life and liberty and religion, against the power of Phillip of Spain. But, bless you, while I have nothing particular against the average Boer, you cannot get over, the fact that, they aie 4 degen erates.' Thpy can tight well, after a certain fashion, and believe in retain ing their independence — no blame to them — and have strong religious pre judices, but you can no more comptire them with the reformers whochnstened themselves ' Beggars,' and defeated the Spaniards at the height of their power, than ycu can compare a Cape mule with a thoroughbred race horse.' 'You are not far wrong there,' I conceded ; for I had both seen, and heaj;d and smelt them, as the doctor quaintly put it. 'But, see,' said Dr. Keet, ' bow the fickle goddess fortune has favoured these Boers. In them she absolutely chose the niost unlikely people in the world to be the recipients of her pro digality. Maybe she hit upon them so that she might cast ridicule upon the modern races so eager to become quickly rich ; but she must hate got a bit of a surprise when Kruger nobbled her. so deftly.' ' Look here,' said he, turning fully upon me, his eyes glistening; 'you write books'; it's a gift I believe, for somehow I can't do it myself ; but this Transvaal affair is to me most extra ordinary; the materials for romance, I think, were never heaped together - anywhere in such profusion. I'll give you thfe facts, and you shall write the N story, for I tell you its something the public ought to know, and I should ad vise you to call it 'The Boer Con spiracy against British Supremacy in South Africa. You might as well hit \ the nail tight on the head while you are about it.' ? * . *' * Put- into slightly altered language, , the following is the Doctor's story, supplemented here and there by ex tracts from letters and memoranda with which he. furnished ice, and also
the sequel winch cumo to my know ledge afterwards by oth^r me ins. CHAPTER IT. A A'ISION ON THI5 I'll on Veldt. Far awily from civihsntion, in the . heart of S.rnth Afri.-a, tho dreamy : Boer, herdsman sees visions mthe w^ird . . uplatxls, known as the High Veldt, on : .. which h.* feeds his stock. Here, fiotn four I o five, thous.'uul feet above the S'ja Nlovel,- and etglit hundred or a thousand away from the coast, the rarity v'of .the atmoapltere makits it a luxury to ??r;;:,:-.^i-.brcathe.and live.. The mces-sanfr .sun shine and e\tietne flivne^s -»f the cli ;;^vv . .;TOate begets in the life of the Boer a ic: :.- ?listless laziness of character, while the --.great silence, and continual need to be on gu.ud, qui--keiiN the intellect- and vs : ~ fires the fancy. v. I have, scarcely once met with a Boer r^?.----.:-:~inau. ?. or woman — who was not. a Man}' of them absolutely live i»sy--2- a -patriarcmal life on the same lines as the- early cescemiants of Abraham ; fv-'1-- - : they use old Testament phraseology ; v - they regaixl themselves and their pos -sessions as under the peouhir guidance . and protection of the Deity; the ?jj't-'. ; v-Traus vaal is theirs by covenant from ::: v.'v.: v;the Almighty; the natives are given : ; ' ; into their hands to be hewers of. wood ,v -and drawers of water, while the Uit :,-l!Xnders-- a»*e the Philistines, with whom WAif i . they must have no dealings, or as little / as posiible, and who on occasion,- when opportunity offers, aie to be smitten) hip and thigh. ) . ' , 'I refer now to the old Boers who j v ' ' despise learning, hate change, and have no interest for politics or anything else except theii families and : their , ' farms. Even these people see visions on the High Veldt; but they are cir cumscribad by their religious beliefs and daily sui roundings, for the soul of the average Transvaal herdsman is little troubled by ambition or ''con ^^v structive imagination. ' I must not sun on like this, how ever, but get to my story. You say you don't know Amsterdam , well, it's a fine city, and in many lespects a ' ? v really, wonderful place. But_at the \ time I am about to refer to, 18S9, I was not very happy there. 'My God, Jack, what an awful ? thing it is for an educated indolent man like myself, used to the good . - things of life, to be poor ! And it was i ' not merely the poverty, but the know ledge that I had been worsted in the fignt — that I had been out-generalled - by less capable men th'in myself, and / driven up one flight of stairs after : auDther until at last I. had fairly capitulated, and was domicled in the highest flat of a high, Dutch pile of orick buildings near the North Hoi-1 c . : land canol, with a few barren relics of brighter and more prosperous days ?vv«.::-...r. around ine in the shape of books and s . china and furniture. ' But I need not dwell upon that vs.?v;:^s?..?..,??now,,, he said, glancing around upon - our comfortable, not, to say luxurious ?;v, : surroundings, and helping himself to a glass of expensive dry sherry grown at the Cape, preparatory to lighting a m :;v : ? cigar which none ouo a man possessed :i-w --:, of a couple of thousand a year, steady income, would dream of smoking. ' 1 '? There are somethings in your life,' k ho continued, 'that are never oblite rated, and I think I see myself that v ni^ht in 1889 as I put my hand into ; ? my coat pocket .and drew out a letter which I had picked up at the Post Office near the Niewue Kerk. I was h- 1 : having my letters addressed there, for ? io was not exactly convenient for me tc have them deliv- red at my lodgings. . 1 'You know, by the way, that I was always fond of championship, feminine ir-:, ? of my own species preferred ; but that I . , . costs money, and I was not equal to ' having it the way I liked it best, so I was just then doing with a cat — a fine ; ' feminine of the species— and she was : very fond of me. I was sitting at a .^ -- little table-under a gas bracket, where ft 7 I used to write, and Swansdown — that ; : was the cab — was sitting on the corner of another table, *bit somnolent, when '? z I looked curiously at the face of the ? letter before opening it. I thought, not unnaturally, that ib might be from ^ . a dun, but then the paper was thick ' and oreaipy, and it was not tho sort of
h.-ind writing you expect froiii a lawyer or tailor. So I broke the seal, remark ing to Swansdown that it was about time t had a change of luck. 'She was a French .cat,, and I was always a bib doubtful as vj whether she properly u-H.l'erstov)d German but a minute after .1 jumped cfT my seat with an. exclamation, which combined both Dutch, French, and XJermnn, and tne cat jumped up, too — and purred. ?' There was a letter of credit in my hand upon a well-known Netlierl:\:ul bank for ten thousand guilders I ' Will you believe die, I sat for fully ten minutes stariny at tlie money and stroking the cat, oefore I read' the let-', ter. I t whs overeiiiht hundied pounds English .money, ard ;it that time, to nie, the cri^p bit of brightly printed paper was a fortune. I sab, 1 say, for fully ten -minutes and stroked the pur ring Swansdown, and thought. of a fair sweet womaii' who might be all the hapf&fcr for niy getting that -money ; and upon my soul ! I was almost afraid to read the letter, less it should contain something to spoil uiy dreams. ' However, I opened it at last. . It was written in French in a free, eas/ hand, and' was headed : 'A.- Vision, of the High Veldt,,. September, 1889.' To be Continued.