LET’S DISCUSS COSMETICS SAYS A MAN

My typist, a girl in her early twenties, always looks fresh and pleasant. If asked if she used any ‘make-up’ I’d have answered ‘Not in your life!’.

Maybe she uses a little cream at nights and dabs a bit of powder on her nose but she’s a natural type brought up as one of a big family and she knows men hate paint and powder.

On asking her what she did use it came as a bit of a surprise to find that as part of her daily routine she used powder, lipstick, rouge, foundation cream, cleansing cream, witch hazel, hand cream, mascara, nail polish, polish remover, cuticle oil, shampoo, and body talc.

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Though she didn’t mention them I take it that she also uses soap, bath salts, toothpaste, some form of hair oil and probably a few other items. She told me too that she had powder puffs, tissues, emery boards, a nail file, an eyebrow plucker and nail scissors.

On visiting a barber’s shop and watching a dozen men being attended to I noted that besides shaving soap or cream, toothpaste, soap and brilliantine men liked face spray after being shaved, an application of alum or spirit to heal any scratch of the barber’s razor and took a powdering as a matter of course. Most men wanted a little oil on their hair. The barbers appeared anxious to persuade their customers that a little dandruff preparation, a hair restorer or some brilliantine was really necessary to take with them.

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Cosmetics have become as much a part of civilized life as clothes. Even women convicts are nowadays allowed to use a little ‘make-up’ and reports show that this privilege has resulted in a great improvement in morale with consequent better behaviour and more discipline.

We know that cosmetics have been used for thousands of years. The very word alcohol comes from the black antimony powder used by Eastern women in darkening their eyelashes and eyebrows. Probably most prehistoric chemistry was devoted to the search for beauty preparations and spirit, playing a big part, became confused with eyelash darkener.

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With the general use, cosmetic fortunes have been made, are being made and will be made in business. Unfortunately, the immense profits have brought plenty of unscrupulous people into the advertising, manufacturing and selling branches of the cosmetic industry.

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We know or should know that nowadays scents are made from coaltar derivatives more than from flowers.

Hairdye is not only from henna or sage but is from many synthetic substances.

Face powder can be manufactured from zinc oxide as well as from rice, chalk, orris root or talcum.

In hair oils and brilliantine lard, glycerine, beeswax, coconut, castor and olive oils as well as from petroleum jelly and paraffin whilst quite a lot of spirit is also used as is quinine.

Lipstick maybe mostly lard or other heavy fat coloured and perfumed.

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Investigations made under the United States Pure Food and Drug Act show that despite the provisions of the Act there is still quite a lot of harmful substances being used in cheap preparations. Salts of bismuth, of copper and of silver and even really poisonous spirits of lead are continually being found.

All of which proves the necessity of only using the products of world known firms who could never dare the risk of being brought before the Courts for use of harmful or noxious ingredients.

It is surprising how little use is made of the many cheap, easily got or made up materials always next to us. Oatmeal, buttermilk, fresh milk, eggs, Epsom Salts, bicarbonate of soda, lemons, Fullers Earth, glycerine, talcum powder, salicylic acid, lanoline and eau-de-cologne to mention a few.

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Fuller’s Earth

Lemons can and should play one of the most important parts of the toilet table and bathroom. There is no other dandruff remover as effective, it can be used in place of bath salts or in combination with them. Epsom Salts as bath salts and lemon juice is unequalled in cleaning the nails and preparing them for polish and cuticle treatment.

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Whatever preparation helps to improve the appearance of man or woman can be classified as cosmetic – that which aids to adorn. So oatmeal mixed into a paste with a little olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice makes a face and neck cleanser and food which is unbeatable.

Who has ever tried powdered charcoal as a mouthwash and most wonderful teeth cleaner?

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Still, it requires a strong mind to use it as one’s first impression is that the inside of the mouth and the tongue have been blackened permanently. Salt and Bicarbonate of soda, however, combine to form a very effective tooth powder and gargle.

Cosmetics, what they are! To what extent are they used? How do they influence the average person’s monthly budget? How many are employed in the industry? These and a host of other questions and ideas are suggested by the word.

A fascinating world of flower gardens, of laboratories, of factories, is conjured up. How many know that thousands of acres are planted to a species of geranium from which an oil is expressed to form the base of exquisite, very highly priced Parisian scents. How much lipstick will come from whale fat or groundnuts?

How many superlatives or poetry has been and will be conjured from the minds of advertisement writers?

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It is a fascinating subject well worth studying and knowing about.

OFFICE ROMANCE

After eight years adventuring in the bush and four years soldiering war disabilities forced me into a tobacco warehouse. Through the windows, I could see a patch of unspoilt bush and granite crag. It was just the friendliness, the homely feeling given by that bit of wild that kept my heart from wilting under the deadly monotony, the foreign atmosphere, the unliked occupation of tobacco grading. So often it is some girlish sunbeam in an office that holds the ex College athlete, the Rugby man, the fellow with personality to the dull routine of the ledger and cash book.

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Office romance is not necessarily office neglect. The clerk sees his dream girl in the typist and the typist feels the clerk needs her mothering, feels he would be the good companion down the long trail. He knows to support a wife he must get his nose to the grindstone, she knows that if both make themselves nearly indispensable her man’s position in life is more or less assured, that the memory of her devotion to his interests will always weigh favourably with her employer’s view of her husband.

Even calf love in an office tends to greater efficiency. The office boy deeply smitten by the winsomeness of his employer’s secretary becomes a very knight without reproach. That beauty is only skin deep is just as quickly realised in office companionship as in that of marriage.

Romance disappears very quickly if the atmosphere created by Beauty is unpleasant and the pretty typist whose first week in the office created a chaos of love feelings soon finds her sex appeal has vanished at the almost instant realisation that her inefficiency has brought more than ordinary burdens on her fellow workers.

“Phyllis is leaving to marry the boss and we won’t be sorry to lose her,” is often heard even from the male section of the office who have helped patch up her work – but “Ann is marrying young Jones at the end of the month and we’re awfully sorry to lose her still having a topping kid like Ann to look after will be the making of Jones” is even more often heard.

B.M.L.
Circa 1920s

DONALD

Living as the only white man on a hundred thousand acre section on a Rhodesian cattle ranch has its drawbacks.

Most people one talks to about the Wilds seem to think the chief disadvantages are lions, snakes, malaria and natives – shows what strange ideas people get from reading books and going to picture houses.

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Lions and snakes are a cattleman’s friends really – they help account for a lot of losses it would grieve him to admit to the manager were due to not preserving grazing from fires, or to feeding off grass near permanent water at the wrong time. It looks for more interesting too in one’s returns putting down ten deaths to snake-bite rather than Quarter Evil.

Loneliness is the disease that counts in the Bush. Malaria doesn’t worry a man any more than headaches seem to do a woman, whilst as for natives – my experiences is that whatever savagery takes place is done by the man who catches brother black doing what he shouldn’t.

Most trials and troubles in this world can be conquered by the exercise of a little willpower or a dose of Epsom Salts but loneliness has one beat every time – there is no cure for loneliness and no preventative – the only thing to do when it grips you is to break out of its clutches and run.

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I’d passed a month without seeing a white man when the disease came along – I wasn’t new to its effects but the trouble was where to go if I wanted to escape. On one side of my section there was a country in which one might travel for years and not see a white, on another I knew there wasn’t anybody bar natives for forty miles, behind was Main Camp and if I called there just because I was lonely the probabilities were that I would get the sack and the Manager have heart failure. There remained one side – the East and I’d heard from my natives that there was a white man living about twenty miles from my house.

I rode over one day and found a strange crowd – answering to the good old name of Smith – father, mother, two sons and a daughter, all from Seven Dials. Father was nominally manager of a large Company owned Lodge but it seemed that Ma was the real boss – “she ‘adn’t ‘arf choked the Managing Director off last toime ‘e was raound abart the plice she ‘adn’t.”

The daughter looked healthy – some poor devil will lead a hell of a life one day I thought – anyway she’s yet young and nice to play with.

I rather liked the two boys – good strapping English lads. The whole family were friendly and more than hospitable while their Cockney wit and humour kept me laughing like a schoolboy.

They wanted me to stay overnight but though I’d have liked to there were too many valuable bulls at my camp to risk slipping away without a sound excuse. Finding I was determined to move on the girl asked me whether I’d like a pup to take back with me.

The one thing I was badly wanting was a dog and I’d noticed a dozen animals of assorted breeds about the house. There were big lion dogs, little smooth hair and wired haired terriers with a couple of pointers to put in the medium element.

I’d love one” I answered, “but how can I get it over to my place?”

“Put it in your shirt,” she said “it’s only a tiny morsel of a thing, father a pedigree wire haired and mother purebred smooth terrier. They are both beautiful dogs and the pups ought to be grand.”

Accepting with thanks I accompanied Miss Smith round to the Stables to select the gift. I didn’t hesitate over which I wanted – there were four puppies, three typical fox terriers and one, a real wire-haired.

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“You’re mine” I exclaimed picking him up whilst a dainty black and white mother dog whined anxiously at me.

“That’s the pick of the bunch,” said Miss Smith “He is just like what his father was.”

My horse objected rather strenuously to our passenger at first but gradually settled down so my homeward journey was uneventful. Puppy snuggling contentedly against my body.

Few things in this world are so near perfection as the friendship that can exist between a lonely man and his dog. From the first night, Donald, as I named him slept on my bed, shared my meals and within a couple of weeks, began accompanying me on short walks around my camp. Most of my work was range riding and naturally, a pup couldn’t run very far or keep up with a horse.

At first, the poor little beggar used to howl most dismally at having to remain behind. Then one day returning home after a long ride I found Donald gone.

I was afraid something had snapped him up – a little pup is an attractive morsel to a leopard or hyena and there were plenty about still it wasn’t likely anything would come near the house in broad daylight and Don wasn’t in the habit of wondering. An eagle might easily have taken him but my cook swore that none had been about.

What I worried about most was snakebite – a young animal is always inquisitive particularly a baby fox terrier, and if it was to see a snake basking in the sun there was a certain chance that a pup would go sniffing at the thing and find instant death.

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We hunted around but found nothing so saddling up I went off the way I’d ridden that morning. Five miles from camp I heard a dismal howling and there was Donald too weary to move but gamely facing the direction I had gone.

After that Donald came with me – usually on my saddle with a spell of exercise when there was no need for riding beyond a walk, the runs got longer and longer as his powers developed. It was surprising how soon the wee doggie could do his five to twenty miles, though when hurried or on a long round, it was a nuisance to suddenly hear wild wailing behind and find Donald sitting in the veld announcing to the Heaven’s how tired he was.

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Once he had had enough he would not budge a yard. The horse must come to him and his rider dismount to lift him on to the saddle.

The rains came. I had to ride over a swollen river to see a sick cow. Don followed as far as the stream and I shouted to him to go home then drove my mount into the current. Jove it was strong and deep. To my dismay Donald the wee rascal never hesitated – as we entered the river so did the dog. Naturally, he went whirling downstream and slipping from the saddle I followed. If anyone asked for trouble I certainly did and got it in full measure. Fortunately we had only entered the edge of the current but even so, there didn’t seem a hope especially with boots on – however, the little cherub up aloft remembered I came from seafaring folk and swung me into an eddy. I grabbed Donald and we scrambled ashore half-drowned.

In training animals, experience has taught me that the shaper the intelligence you are dealing with the harder is the trainer’s task. The pupil will persist in trying to anticipate what he is being taught with invariably false conclusions. To teach a mixture of two terrier breeds the work of a setter is above all things an ordeal of time and patience.

My food in those days was principally game and bread. Bird shooting always fascinated me so when time allowed Donald and I had many an hour tramping through the veld looking for Redwing or along the river after pheasants, wild duck and guinea fowl.

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During our walks, we usually put up small antelopes and hares besides birds, and to Donald, everything that moved was to be chased. That sort of thing, however, did not keep our larder supplied so Donald had to learn that no matter what ran, his duty was to remain next to his master until the gun went off.

It was a superhuman job teaching the pup and I learnt that there was a lot of truth in the old saying that chastisement often hurt the administrator more than the recipient. I hated smacking the wee rogue but it had to be done though for weeks Donald couldn’t understand why.

He soon learnt that every time he returned from a glorious chase after buck or bird he got whacked but he could not understand the reason. After the first couple of punishments, the little devil on his return would sit just beyond my reach looking at me and wagging his tail – when I moved towards him he shifted carefully a little further away. Lord! I used to get mad as for a quarter of an hour I coaxed and wheedled him to come and be beaten.

Cautiously manoeuvring towards the pack saying “Doggie! Doggie! Come on Donald – Good Donald – come boy!” was only productive of more tail movements and as I got almost within reaching distance, another change of ground.

But he learnt in time – I’ve had pointers and red setters but never a better dog on birds than Don. Few wounded buck got away from him either and it was wonderful watching him tackle a heavy duiker or reedbuck whose wounds scarcely impaired and rather strengthened it’s fighting powers.

Of course, the big game no small dog dared attempt to fasten on to, but a hurt animal couldn’t run far with a wildly excited terrier yapping frantically all around it. In almost every case the buck would stop and desperately try to gore or kick the confounded little pest – which gave me time to get up and put in a bullet.

Four years past. I had a pointer given me also pedigree smooth-haired terrier, a lady named Betty, who almost supplanted Donald is my idol. Donald married Betty and the two presented me with many children amongst whom was Mick a perfect son of his father.

Hector, the pointer, was the odd man out as regards the family and his life was an unhappy one. He came of good stock and instinctively obeyed the traditions of his race. Donald and Betty scorned him, bit him and continually tormented Hector in the home, but when I took the three for a run into the veld, the terriers let Hector hunt around at his will.

Suddenly the Pointer would begin quartering the ground – halt and stiffen to the orthodox “point”. Betty and Donald who had stood watching his work would dash directly into the bush or clump of grass which Hector guarded – away would scamper a hare, or with a whirr up would fly a covey of Redwing – and Hector sitting down would howl with heartbroken sorrow.

741I HUNTING FOX TERRIERS

One day I was out with Donald and rode into a mob of sable antelope – dismounting I stalked them and fired. One big cow, staggered but went off galloping strongly with Donald yapping furiously after.

Running back to my horse I swung into the saddle and dashed in the direction the cow was going. In some thick bush, I heard Donald’s battle cries and jumping off the horse ran into the thick thorn.

Everybody gets careless sometime or other and, though an old hunter I never worried about the danger of going after a wounded sable antelope into a broken bit of ravine thickly defended by ugly looking for thorn trees – my recklessness was paid for – breaking through some scrub I came right on the wounded cow at bay – I stopped simultaneously with her charge and blazed at her – shakey and panting with the run and sudden change of position one shot missed, the second grazed her neck.

Another second would have been my last – a tiny ball of white flung itself at the sable –  with a lightning twist of the long deadly horns the cow  transfixed and hurled the little annoyance in the air – but the instance’s pause was her death – two heavy bullets bit into her chest and with a convulsive spring she went crashing headlong to the ground.

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I bent over Donald, wiping the blood froth from his lips – he wagged his stump of a tail once – God I lay down and wept like a babe.

B.M.Leffler
Written on Valley Farm circa the 1930s
Based on an experience as a 17-year-old
P.O.Brooklyn
Pretoria

LONELINESS

Published in the Cape Argus circa 1930s

Well, I know them, the cattle rangers where it is a long day’s ride to a neighbour – the prospecting camp’s far in the fever-stricken Bush, the native trading store where a mounted trooper perhaps once in three months is the only link with the world of civilisation.

A lonely life – Aye – It might seem so to those who have never lived the life of the Bush. It never seemed so to me or to those I met in the lands beyond the Pale.

I’ve felt the loneliness more in enemy camps herded with forty thousand other captives than in the Bush – I felt it greater than ever today living on the fringe of a city.

It is strange indeed that one should feel desolate and alone in the midst of thousands. It is strange that discontent should reign where one’s wants are supplied by the mere lifting of a telephone receiver.

Out in the Wilds many were the meatless days because the grass was too long for hunting – often one lay wet and chilled to the bone, one has craved and prayed for a little shade, a drink of cold clear water, a pipeful of tobacco, news of the world – But there a man is free – changes of Government, Parliamentary Budgets, The Conventions of Man, the Laws of Nations all were but whispers in the wind.

When hungered a man sought for food when a thirst he looked for means of quenching it. The stars above, the Hills and rivers, the glades of the Bush and the never-ending, always changing pictures of Nature filled his soul with content.

Civilisation, a mess of potage – What can it offer for loss of man’s birthright – Freedom?

Not health of body or of mind – one eternal battle to pay butcher, baker, chemist. Pay, Pay and continue to Pay – friends who seek one to gain some benefit for themselves – Nothing for Nothing and little of value for what one pays.

Caged one from the Wilds lies watching the people go past his bars – sees them eat when hunger is far from their minds – live by the stroke of the clock, eye one another with longing to possess this or that.

Lonely – God in His Heaven alone knows how lonely is the soul who for fancied security for wife and child forsook the Wilds his home and betrayed his faith in Nature the Holy Father desolate and forsaken from behind his bars he watches his fellows – a herd born and bred to slave conditions unwitting of their fetters happy in the prison yard of Civilisation.

“I will arise and go unto my father and will say unto him Father I have sinned.”
Luke 15:18

 

 

Rhodesian Mining Law and a Wedding

End of Part 1: Perhaps it had broken the wedge and pushed the bottom half deeply into the material.

Nobody in the District but Mr Baird believed that there remained a portion of the reef below the granite but as only Mr Baird owned the mine and was paying for the exploration nobody interfered with his search nor discouraged his theories – It was nobody’s business but Mr Baird’s.

Breaking hundreds of tons of solid rock four hundred feet below and hauling it to the surface of the earth is expensive work. When there is a streak of other rock containing gold amongst the broken stone it is certainly worth the expense, always provided the gold is sufficient in quantity and in a form which is not refractory to ordinary methods of gold extraction.

The Baird reef was free of arsenic, antimony and other bugbears of the miner. So it’s owner had never worried about the cost of following it into the earth breaking it from the rock in which it was embedded and bringing it to the surface nor did Mr Baird grudge the cost of crushing his ore into powder or of washing it over the shaking copper plates.

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The yellow gold which mercury would catch from the agitated mass paid all the cost of mining and left a good deal over to pay the cost of a pretty daughter and all the comforts Mr Baird wanted.

But when there was no milky stone there was no gold and Mr Baird was distinctly worried. True it would take a year or two to break out all the quartz above the granite and there was another year’s work in recovering gold which had escaped the mercury and would only yield to cyanide treatment.

Two courses lay before Mr Baird – one to acknowledge that his reef had come to its natural end and to concentrate on cleaning up – the other to gamble. Mr Baird decided to gamble.

Eric Ferguson stood at the headgear of the Mascot with a boyish figure in oilskins.

“Not scared, Eunice?” he asked as a wet little truck emerged from the shaft. A remarkably pretty girl shook her chestnut hair as she clambered in.

“No fear – I like going down a little property – the Baird’s like Dad a bit too imposing.”

“Anyway hang on – we’ll go right down to the 5th level, the boys should have cleared away the night shift’s blasting. I’m into some pretty stuff. Jove Eunice if only the blessed reef would widen a bit.”

Down into the darkness dropped the truck and the miner slipped a protecting arm about the slim shoulders a small hand felt and found Eric’s hardened calloused one – In the mirk and drizzle of the mine shaft, a girl’s soft lips met her lovers’.

Down ever down sped the truck its steel rope singing to the winding drum above in the tiny patch of yellow that marked the surface.

A landing stage lit by spluttering candles marking a right-angled drive where naked black men white with clay toiled demonically loading a waiting truck – again a lighted stage, quiet, deserted, a black hole yawning at it.

No. 2 Level – No. 3 – No. 4 – With a jolt, the truck halted and a brawny native wet and clay covered grasping Eunice helped her to a wooden platform – a signal and the truck dropped into the darkness below.

“We’re down another 100 feet – just beginning to drive.” said Eric “We’ve worked out the first 4 levels and have just really begun to stope out the reef in this – the fifth.”

“Yes, what is it Boy?” as a perspiring grinning native spoke asking the Boss’s attention.

The native’s words tumbled out “Baas, we’ve driven into a big reef – plenty money.”

“Come on Eric” cried the girl snatching a candle from a ledge of rock “Hamba Boy, hamba pambeli“.

Grinning the native turned and trotted into the darkness the boy and girl behind.

“Eunice, will you keep quiet about it until I tell you to loosen up?” Eric’s voice though quiet held a worried note.

“Sure. But Oh! Eric! I thought you’d be dancing with delight – the reef’s as big as the old Baird and looks perfect – Poor Old Dad – he’s a broken man since the Baird pinched.”

“That’s the Baird,” said Eric grimly.

Eunice gazed dumbfounded at the great mass of white gleaming dully through the dark.

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“The Baird Eric?” she gasped.

“Aye – a wall of granite broke its thread and pushed the reef over into my claims.”

“But Dad’s down 700 feet, Eric, and he’s driven into both walls.”

“Well, sinking and driving he’s missed the reef – maybe by inches.”

“Then it’s yours now,” murmured Eunice drawing close against her lover’s form.

“I’m not too sure,” muttered Ferguson, “There’s a clause in the Rhodesian Mining Law about extra lateral rights – if two distinct reefs are being developed on adjoining properties the owners can follow their own reef underground right into one another’s claims. I’ve never heard of it happening but that’s the law.”

“Oh, Eric” cried the girl “if Dad gets the Baird again I’ll be forced on Colin.”

“Your Dad hasn’t got the Baird yet – it would be a deuce of a thing to prove anyway – and he’d have to prove it from his side of the mine,” said the miner grinning.

“He can’t come down my shaft, walk into my drive and say “Hullo there’s the Baird – I’ll start a  shift on it right away Fergie me boy.””

“I see” Eunice looked thoughtful – “Eric can you raise a couple of thousand?”

The miner shrugged his shoulders – “If I had something to show, yes.”

“Offer Dad £2000 for the Baird – it’s what he reckons she’s worth now.”

“Has he stopped looking for the reef Eunice?”

“Closed down yesterday and is taking the pillars out from tomorrow.”

“Then there’s no time to waste – I’ll take some samples and we’ll get up.”

“Then you’re prepared to give me a months option on the property Mr Baird?” Eric looked with pity on the man whose twelve-months fruitless hunt had made him look the four and seventy years he’d lived.

The old miner looked troubled.

“What do you want her for Eric – think you know how to find the reef?” a sneer crossed the speaker’s features. “I guess no Ferguson will succeed where I’ve failed.”

“I’m reckoning on pickings – the Mascot’s widening and needs a five-stamp. What with pillars and stringers I reckon the Baird’s got four or five thousand in her – thought £2000 was a good price and I take the one battery over on twelve-month credit – together with the big boiler.”

“You wouldn’t lose” grated Baird.

“I’m not a philanthropist – but you’re fed up with it and I doubt whether there are many buyers.”

“Had two fellows out this morning.”

“Aye! They told me they weren’t doing anything.”

Bair snorted “Have you the money?”

“Can raise it – is it a deal?”

“Aye” – lifting a bottle on the table between them Baird poured two measures of whiskey and pushed a siphon to his guest.

“Take a trip down the Mascot, Mr Baird – I’ve a strange problem at No. 5 Level.”

“To Hell with mining,” answered the other – “I’ve no interest in it.” and the old mine-owner’s head dropped on his breast.

“Come on Daddie” called a fresh young voice “I promised Eric I’d go down and he’s awfully eager to show you the reef.”

Protesting yet curious Baird walked with his companions silent but observant – now and again his eyes rested kindly on the fair girl chatting merrily with the powerful clean looking man.

“She might ha done worse” muttered Baird “Colin’s no altogether her sort – bit dour and wantin that girl from the hills.”

Down into the bowels of the earth rumbled the skip – past the levels stripped of their ore to the one where fresh stoping was beginning.

“She’s opening up a bit Eric,” remarked Mr Baird gazing curiously about him “Ten years since I’ve been down – good little property she’s been £300 a month for fifteen years isn’t a bad output” agreed the Mascot’s owner – But what do you think of this Mr Baird?”

Turning a corner of the drive the three were next to a great mass of quartz at which a dozen natives were busy.

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“The Baird The Baird” shrieked the old miner stumbling to his reef.

Eric his arm about the girl drew next to the kneeling figure feverishly working at the rock face.

“Mr Baird”

“What’s it you’re wanting Ferguson – it’s my reef I tell you – I’ve got lateral rights Ferguson – that deal about the Baird’s off you scoundrel.”

“Steady on Mr Baird I was only joking or I wouldn’t have brought you down – its Eunice I’m wanting.”

The gaunt white-haired figure covered with clay and mud rose to his feet.

“We’ll go halves in the Baird Fergie – you’re a white man – and I’ll chuck Eunice in to clinch the bargain.”

Baird held out his hand.

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Copy of the original in Bernard’s handwriting

 

 

Extra Lateral Rights

I am watching a video with a Year 10 class called Storm Surfers in it one of the big wave surfers comments on how finding never-before-surfed breaks is like prospecting for gold. 

A glance at a fissure in a cliff or even a wall – following it from the top it will probably run down more or less vertically. It may be almost a straight line – it may be only a surface split – may go halfway down or right through to the bottom. Gold reefs are the fissure veins.

The dip here is heading ever downward.

David Baird owned a gold mine in Southern Rhodesia – he also owned an eighteen-year-old daughter a fact which filled Eric Ferguson on the adjoining mine with all sorts of longings quite unconnected with gold mining.

Eunice Baird liked Eric which was not very surprising for he was tall and broad-shouldered, had blue eyes and was in his early thirties all factors which to lonely young females make an excellent base around which to weave romance.

Eric shaved every evening and bathed with the aid of a bucket – neither of which acts are looked upon as essentials by all men who live far away from civilisation. Eric also never wore a white tie with a dinner jacket though why he or anyone else wanted a dinner jacket at all frankly puzzled Eunice’s father.

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Mr Baird was also tall and broad-shouldered and had blue eyes but he was not in his early thirties. David Baird was in his early seventies and not the sort of man who needed a pension though he usually needed a shave and quite often a bath.

But though Mr Baird did not consider razors or baths to be essential in his life he did believe that life without the Baird Reef and Miss Baird would be a very miserable existence.

Mr Baird did not believe that the Almighty had been good to him with regard to either his mine or his daughter. He took all the credit for himself. As proof that God had nothing to do with giving him the Baird Reef, he pointed to the adjoining claims where Eric Ferguson and his father before him had worked for twenty years on a 9-inch reef.

He David Baird had worked for old Ferguson and studying the formation evolved a theory. In his spare time, Mr Baird had worked on his theory which was that the Mascot reef of Ferguson’s was only a minor fissure near a major one.

This theory resulted from studying the formation in which the Mascot reef lay. Much of the rock walls of the vein contained gold and numerous threads of rich ore ran into it. After long study of the surrounding country, Mr Baird pegged next to Mr Ferguson, dug many long cuttings and found a four-foot reef full of gold just outside his late employer’s boundary. So while old Ferguson and later his son ran a little stamp battery which yielded a living Mr Baird ran a ten-stamp mill which yielded a nett profit of £2000 per month.

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When nearing sixty Mr Baird married the daughter of a bankrupt Irish gentleman who had committed suicide – he thought farming was an easy way of making money and found it wasn’t. Mr Baird bought the farm together with a stock of solid old furniture and a good range of implements. He also erected a handsome granite cross over the resting place of Eunice’s grandparents for her grandmother had died of heartbreak – an example followed soon after Eunice’s birth by Mrs Baird. A Scottish nephew was called in to make the farm pay (and he succeeded). Mr Baird was anxious to keep both farm and mine in his family.

Mr Baird decided to marry Eunice to his nephew Colin but Colin wanted to marry a Bonnie Highland lass in the land of his Father’s. Eunice, though she liked Colin liked Eric more. However, all realised that what David Baird liked was that everybody connected with him would have to like as well.

John van Niekerk, a miner, scratched his head and gazed worriedly at a pile of broken rock next to his feet. Mr Baird on his hands and knees worked frantically with a tiny prospectors pick in the pool of light given by a red candle held by a half-naked black man.

“Don’t stand looking the hyphen fool you are van Niekerk” bellowed Mr Baird looking up to see whether his assistant had found a solution of a puzzle which was causing the aged blood to chill.

“She’s run dead into blue granite,” said the miner with conviction in his tone “That’s why she’s been pinching the last week.”

Blue granite (Credit: MS International)

Blue granite (Credit: MS International)

Mr Baird spat and resting from his labours filled an old black pipe and lit it.

“You cursed fool” he growled – “the Baird’s a true fissure vein it’s only an intrusion of granite that’s pushed the reef over – maybe cut it clean. We’ll find her in place below or maybe the fissure is diverted. We’ll pick her up again John – Don’t you think so Man?”

“Maybe Mr Baird maybe you’re right – there’s always strange things happening in mining.”

The old mine owner glared savagely through the candlelight “You bloody fool” he shouted, “there’s nothing strange about underground earth movement – don’t you know enough ’bout mining to know that when two rock formations are up against one another it’s only reasonable for there to be all kinds of breaks in the contact with the newer rock dovetailing into the rotting older formation.”

“That’s so Mr Baird! That’s so, but even fissures come to an end and when a reef runs into granite…”

His employer rose gripping his pick menacingly “See here van Niekerk the man that says that the Baird’s pinched in the granite will get his neck twisted. Got me?”

“Yes, Mr Baird.”

Alright! Shove on a double shift – sink and keep on sinking, also drive into the walls – the granite mebbe fifty foot thick mebbe ten – she may have pushed in a couple of hundred feet and mebbe only twenty – we’ll pick up the Baird if it costs me every damned farthing I’ve got.”

But as van Niekerk remarked, “Strange things happen in mining.”

Supposing one dark night you or I armed with a lantern walked along the edge of a cliff two thousand feet deep. If we came on a small crack and climbing into it tried to trace it to the very bottom of the cliff our chances of success would be small. A ledge might run across it and yet quite possibly the crack might continue below but then again it mightn’t.

The intrusive bar may have caused our crack to narrow almost to nothing but it could possibly have found a way around the obstruction or be behind it. Quite likely, however, the crack ends for good.

Mr Baird was in the position of such searches. He believed the fissure which contained his gold to be under the bar. But there was no proof to encourage Mr Baird’s optimism. For four hundred feet from the surface of the earth, a hole showed how nicely Mr Baird’s gold reef had behaved – on two sides of the hole a dull white streak stained with oxidised metals showed what a very nice reef Mr Baird possessed.

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Along the roof of many tunnels, the same milky band proved that the reef was a four-foot wide wedge which was like a white wedge that went into a solid mass of grey stone.

What Mr Baird disliked was the thought that all the wedge had been taken out of the material. For years he had broken the milky wedge out bit by bit working from its top until now it seemed suspicious there being none of it taken out – that a molten stream had forced through the middle of the wedge and cooled, melting away only a little of the middle. Perhaps it had broken the wedge and pushed the bottom half deeply into the material.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

A MINING PROPOSITION

“Do you know anything about mining, Mick?” asked Devereaux, a fellow section manager on one of the great Rhodesian ranches.

As it happened I did – not much but enough to know gold from iron pyrites anyway.

“Not a great deal but I’ve done a bit.”

“Well I’ve found an old mine,” said my chum “it may be just abandoned working but I’d like somebody who knows something about mining to have a look at the place. Of course, its understood that Mum’s the word regarding it.”

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“I’ll keep my mouth shut,” I replied.

“Then let’s saddle up and ride over – it’s about six miles away,” suggested Devereaux.

We went at once, cantering some four miles along a road to one of Devereaux’s cattle posts, then turned off into some parklike country – a big basin bounded on three sides by hills and dropping away into the rolling granite country.

A couple of miles brought us against a rocky ridge with heavy timber growing on its slopes. Here Devereaux, after quartering about for a while, brought me to a long outcrop of quartz intersected with old cuttings.

Dismounting we tied our horses to a tree and began investigating the cuttings and a couple of old shafts, neither more than twenty feet deep and both badly fallen in.

I like the look of some of the quartz and the outcrop seemed a thumping long one – well over four feet wide – one half of it pitch black quartz – then some white, well mineralized, running again into the black.

We talked the thing over and took some comprehensive samples which I promised to take over to a small mine near my section to be crushed and panned.

I rode home that night and early next morning went up to the mine and showed the owner my samples. He liked the look of them so we wandered down to his battery, crushed the stuff up with a pestle and mortar, gave it a good washing in the pan and worked out the crushed ore. The tail gave a long stream of gold.

“It’s good stuff, Mick,” remarked the miner “I’ll have a look at the place if you like.”

“Thanks, Mac” I answered, “but it isn’t my mine and the chap who’s got it isn’t taking any risks – wanted to know whether there was any gold worth speaking of in the reef that’s all.”

Mac laughed “Well I don’t blame him – it’s always wise keeping a still tongue in one’s head – you can tell him the average of the samples is running at 8dwt in the pan and will go much better in the assay – there’s a lot of galena and pyrites with it and the gold’s fine. Tell him to cut into the reef in four or five places – take three samples from each cutting – one in the centre and one from each side – mark them carefully and send them into town for assay – well let’s go and have a drink.”

Devereaux was pretty excited when I told him the results and we had a council of war. Neither of us had any cash to use in development or prospecting work nor did we want to risk our jobs.

At last, it was decided that I should approach a friend on a neighbouring ranch and try and enlist his sympathy and help. My attempt was successful. Jack came out with another friend, the reef was examined, samples sent away for assay and we pegged a block of ten claims. These amounted to an area three hundred feet wide by One thousand five hundred feet long and took in the best part of the reef.

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The assay gave excellent results – 20dwts in the centre 7 on one side and 8 on the other. A syndicate was formed, Devereaux got £50 as the discoverer, we engaged a chum of mine as the miner, took on some natives and began the work.

The old shafts showed that the reef instead of going down vertically lay at an incline, so to try and strike it at water level we started fourteen feet away from the reef and dug a shaft straight down into the earth’s bowels.

For days I couldn’t put my mind to cattle. Vision after vision floated before me. What a life I would have – a ranch of my own, only first-class cattle and wouldn’t the section managers have a hell of a time. I knew their tricks alright. God help anyone who came the double on me. I might even give my present manager a job just for the pleasure of sacking him.

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At thirty-five feet we cut in towards the reef to see if we were doing right – at seven feet we found her and both pannings and assays gave satisfactory gold.

The next three weeks I couldn’t sleep nor could the others. Heavens but sinking a shaft went slowly – we engaged more boys so that a night shift could be put on.

At seventy-two feet we struck the reef – two inches wide, no gold and disappearing into solid beautiful blue granite, hard as the hobs of Hades.

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“It’s a gamble is mining,” said my pal the small worker.

B.M.L.

B.M.Leffler
Valley Farm
P.O.Brooklyn
Pretoria
Circa 1930s