Chapter 197735821

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Chapter NumberX
Chapter TitleCAPS TOWN.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197735821
Full Date1880-01-31
Page Number1
Corrections0
Word Count1154
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleFreebench. A Tale of South African Life
article text

CHAPTER X.

oipa TOWH.

Tbe voyage to the Cape ptgeedted tbfe cnu^ incidents those specially b^loBspfng to that voyage in nt<. tieolar. Tbe GhaureTW9* go6a crossed f-the Ba/ of Bieeay was in * tistfix jr, the xoadstead of Madeira was gay with wfaerrW and beach boats, and tbe deck was made lively by the vendors of bananas, parrote, arm-chairs, and bird-cages. Foachal was visited for breakfast^-and there was an excursion Into the mountains. Bat when the ship steamed away from the white little Portuguese town aad fofrpuo^ rams of cultivated mountains by which It waesurmoonted, the emigrant* bade farewell to •Eurppean life.* In a few boon more they were steering 'through a multitude of little islands, and admiring the Peak of Teneriffe, which is, perhaps, the grandest sight that aay traveller can see. By this time the shipmates had got to know one another, and they organized games-and concertato am use them during the fourteen dayglo which tbey would see no land aod few shipe. The vessel had cot been long at sea before thepassengers became divided into sets. The commercial people of Cape Colony and their wive* tuaallr held together, being mootly a sort of people who were unfitted by taste or manners to associate with the world at large. The young army officers, many of whom were slangy .and un8ooiable,.ke{)t <a idedl to themselves, land refused to mix on terms of equality with yonng men who were emigrating-io search of livelihood. -But there were pleaSanJrgbfitlefoikfton board with whom our bride and bridegroom WET© great favourites. Among these was a young lady, who lad towengaged in Boxope, aod was now on her way to' be married and handed over to ber husband, who had preceded her to the diamond diggingsat Kimberley. She was accompanied by her mother, a gentlewoman of a distinguished family, and by her brother, who bad been out with his future brother-in-law, and had gone home to fetch his mother and sister. Their name waa Scott. " Come up with me* said yottng Scott to our hero ^nd heroine; " Oome up with me to the Diamond Fields. I have two wagon* at C*pe

Town, and am going to buy oxen. My sister's sweetheart will meet us at Cape Town, and they will be married there. I shall then take my mother and sister up in one wagon, and will take your wife too. As for you and me and Bnrnet—thafs the name of the fellow who is to marry my sister—we can walk or ride as we like, -and can sleep under the other wagon when there are no inns. We shall have very few things, and I can take your pergonal luggage as well, and still leave room for a; little cargo, which will go some way towards paying for the trip." Harry and Phyllis were very pleased with the proposal. " But when will you start ?" said Harry. " I shall go about buying the bollocks and engaging two black men and two boys at ence," said Scott. "I suppose the young couple can get married in a week, and-by that time Z shall be ready. Meanwhile do you pat up at the St. George's Hotel, make a few excursions into the neighbourhood, and glean what information yoa can about the new country yon have come to, always remembering that Cape Town* is not South Africa." Harry and his wife were quite content with this programme, and went on discussing at intervals the details of their plan until, as they went on deck one morning, they foond the ship steaming through smooth water towards two toll green mountains rising boldly from tbe sea, and containing, in the hollow between them a little white town, which seemed to be on tbe water's edge, and studded around with little tree-fenced villas rnnning up the slopes of the protecting hills. One of these, on the right, was the Lion, and the other, on the left, was Table Mountain, and the little town was Cape Town. The ship made its way through the broad roadstead into what Nature intended to be a fine harbour, but which, under the moderate heat of October, smelt foul with the filth of the town. The landing was effected on a handsome quay; and Harry, leaving yonng Scott to look after some goods which he brought out to trade

witfc, took the three ladies in a carriage to tbe St. George's Hotel. It is unfortunate for South Africa that Cape Town is usually the first place at which the stranger touches its shores. There are few places so well calculated to produce a melancholy impression on a European. Our little party passed away from the quay by tbe only means of exit, a narrow unmetalled route running through yellow mad, flanked on one side by the harbour, and on the other by mounds of yellow gritty earth which did not nourish a single blade of grass, and frequented by gangs of convicts, mostly Hottentots and Malays. Turning landward to the right, at the end of the causeway, the carriage approached a street, the entrance of which was marked on either side by dismal-looking houses, with heaps of rubbish and broken bottles outside, and ill-dressed white women, who looked besotted with drink, standing at the doors, and breathing an atmosphere which was nasty. The carriage drove op the broad mud-track in the middle of the street, between two rows of irregularly-built brown Louses, some with fiat roofs and others without. Same were '• stores," in which there was, apparently, little to sell, and others were cheerless canteens. ID front of some was a " 6toep" or pavemert raised above the street. Some stoeps were higher than others, and some honses had none at all; so that a foot-passenger bad to cbcoae between the slippery dirt of the street and tbe gymnastic effort of pursuing a sidepath traversed by obstructions a yard in height.

Oar travellers, however, did not observe any one in the street, and, except for the names written up, and the women standing at the doon, the place might be a city of the dead. Higher up tbey saw more signs of life—people on foot, carts and carriages, the General Post Office, with forty pekple applying at one window for their letters, and, opposite, the St. George's Hotel, with its hospitable verandah, where Goverment officials, journalists, travellers, and politicians were lounging over their morning drinks. " I am tha&kfol, r said Harry to Phyllis, as they deposited their handbags in their little room, ^ I am thankful that Cape Town is not South Africa, for this does not look to me like a place where I cat get on. It seems to me in a •tote of torpor or paralysis." I think," said Phyllis, u you'd have a chance with the signboards, for there are plenty of them, and they are very badly done."