Images de page

there? At the end of the journey he asked for nothing, but took the half-crown offered to him with easy nonchalance. He was certainly much more like a gentleman than the old English coachman,-whose greedy eye who does not remember that can remember at all those old days?

We were apparently quite full but heard at starting that there was still a place vacant which had been booked by a gentleman who was to get up along the road. The back carriage, which was of the waggonette fashion, uncovered, with seats at each side, seemed to be so full that the gentleman would find a difficulty in placing himself, but as I was on the box the idea did not disconcert me. At last, about half way, at one of the stages, the gentleman appeared. There was a lady inside with her husband, with five or six others, who at once began to squeeze themselves. But when the gentleman came it was not a gentleman only, but a gentleman with the biggest fish in his arms that I ever saw, short of a Dolphin. I was told afterwards that it weighed 45 pounds. The fish was luggage, he said, and must be carried. He had booked his place. That we knew to be true. When asked he declared he had booked a place for the fish also. That we believed to be untrue. He came round to the front and essayed to put it on the foot-board. When I assured him that any such attempt must be vain and that the fish would be at once extruded if placed there, he threatened to pull me off the box. He was very angry, and frantic in his efforts. The fish, he said, was worth £5, and must go to Maritzburg that day. Here Apollo shewed,

I think, a little inferiority to an English coachman. The English coachman would have grown very red in the face, would have cursed horribly, and would have persistently refused all contact with the fish. Apollo jumped on his box, seized the reins, flogged the horses, and endeavoured to run away both from the fish and the gentleman.

But the man, with more than colonial alacrity, and with a courage worthy of a better cause, made a successful rush, and catching the back of the vehicle with one hand got on to the step behind, while he held on to the fish with his other hand and his teeth. There were many exclamations from the folks behind. The savour of the fish was unpleasant in their nostrils. It must have been very unpleasant as it reached us uncomfortably up on the box. Gradually the man got in,-and the fish followed him!

Labor omnia

vincit improbus. By his pertinacity the company seemed to become reconciled to the abomination. On looking round when we were yet many miles from Pieter Maritzburg I saw the gentleman sitting with his feet dangling back over the end of the car; his neighbour and vis-a-vis, who at first had been very loud againt the fish, was sitting in the same wretched position; while the fish itself was placed upright in the place of honour against the door, where the legs of the two passengers ought to have been. Before we reached our journey's end I respected the gentleman with the fish,— who nevertheless had perpetrated a great injustice; but I thought very little of the good-natured man who had allowed the fish to occupy the space intended for a part of his own body. I never afterwards learned what became of

the fish. If all Maritzburg was called together to eat it I was not asked to join the party.

I must not complete my record of the journey without saying that we dined at Pinetown, half way, and that I never saw a better coach dinner put upon a table.

The scenery throughout from Durban to Pieter Maritzburg is interesting and in some places is very beautiful. The road passes over the ridge of hills which guards the interior from the sea, and in many places from its altitude allows the traveller to look down on the tops of smaller hills grouped fantastically below, lying as though they had been crumbled down from a giant's hand. And every now and then are seen those flat-topped mountains,—such as is the Table mountain over Capetown,-which form so remarkable a feature in South African scenery, and occur so often as to indicate some peculiar cause for their formation.

Altogether what with the scenery, the dinner, Apollo, and the fish, the journey was very interesting.



On arriving at Pieter Maritzburg I put up for a day or two at the Royal Hotel which I found to be comfortable enough. I had been told that the Club was a good club but that it had not accommodation for sleeping. I arrived late on Saturday evening, and on the Sunday morning I went, of course, to hear Bishop Colonso preach. Whatever might be the Bishop's doctrine, so much at any rate was due to his fame. The most innocent and the most trusting young believer in every letter of the Old Testament would have heard nothing on that occasion to disturb a cherished conviction or to shock a devotional feeling. The church itself was all that a church ought to be, pretty, sufficiently large and comfortable. It was, perhaps, not crowded, but was by no means deserted. I had expected that either nobody would have been there, or else that it would have been filled to inconvenience,-because of the Bishop's alleged heresies. A stranger who had never heard of Bishop Colenso would have imagined that he had entered a simple church in which the service was pleasantly performed, all completed including the sermon within an hour and a half,—and would have had his special attention only called to the two facts

that one of the clergymen wore lawn sleeves, and that the other was so singularly like Charles Dickens as to make him expect to hear the tones of that wonderful voice when ever a verse of the Bible was commenced.

Pieter Maritzburg is a town covering a large area of ground but is nevertheless sufficiently built up and perfected to prevent that look of scattered failure which is so common to colonial embryo cities. I do not know that it contains anything that can be called a handsome building;-but the edifices whether public or private are neat, appropriate, and sufficient. The town is surrounded by hills, and is therefore, necessarily, pretty. The roadways of the street are good, and the shops have a look of established business. The first idea of Pieter Maritzburg on the mind of a visitor is that of success, and this idea remains with him to the last. It contains only a little more than 4,000 white inhabitants, whereas it would seem from the appearance of the place, and the breadth and length of the streets, and the size of the shops, and the number of churches of different denominations, to require more than double that number of persons to inhabit it. Observation in the streets, however, will show that the deficiency is made up by natives, who in fact do all the manual and domestic work of the place. Their number is given as 2,500; but I am disposed to think that a very large number come in from the country for their daily occupations in the town. The Zulu adherents to Pieter Maritzburg are so remarkable that I must speak separately of them in a separate chapter. The white man in the capital as in Durban is not the working

« PrécédentContinuer »