Two essentials to successful farm management are trustworthiness and organising ability. It is easy to select and train a Native to become an excellent foreman but can one rely absolutely on any statement he makes? No! And in consequence, nobody would employ a native as a manager even if he possessed the intellectual ability.
Unless a farm manager is able to visualise all his work all the time he is quite useless. Unless he possesses organising ability both his own and his employer’s time is being wasted. Always a manager must be asking himself – can I do with less or with cheaper labour on this, that or the other job? Can it be done better another way or with other implements? If it were my farm would I consider this worth the trouble or that worth the expense?
A Manager’s job is to extract the maximum of efficiency at the minimum of cost from every employee, animal, land or implement. Unless he soaks himself in an atmosphere of trying to obtain efficiency he is certainly little good to his job.
Early rising is a necessary portion of any farmer’s job. If he is the last to come on the scene of farm labour and the first to leave it is obvious that his employees won’t do their full share unless he possesses more than ordinary powers of handling labour.
Any intelligent native can carry out an ordinary farm job if shown how to do it. The white man’s task is to see that every job is done and done properly.
Excuses are never convincing and are usually irritating. Lies defeat the very object for which they’re used. Once a superior catches a junior in a falsehood it’s a good policy for that junior to look for another job – he’s lost the confidence of the man under whom he is working.
So to gain the reputation of a good farm manager a man must needs:
(1) Be absolutely honest
(2) Be interested in his work
(3) Be able to get satisfactory results from it.
(4) Be able to win and hold his employee’s respect regarding
a. his character
b. his personality
c. see his devotion to his job
d. his results
Nothing is more irritating than working with a man in whom one hasn’t confidence. Inspire that feeling of confidence and it is amazing how quickly ones’ troubles disappear.
We refuse to believe that we are the mental deficients most Church Officers treat us as. What is wrong with the Christian religion of today (circa the 1930s) is that Christians are an ill-organised crowd wandering spiritually starved and chilled in an apparently impenetrable ghostly mist?
We know not where we came from, nor to where or what we’re aiming, and our leaders are certainly as befogged as we are. It was never the case before and it should not be the case now. Once upon a time, Christianity was a live force in the world. It’s units perfectly disciplined soldiers led by magnificent generals. For centuries the Christian religion swept on it’s conquering way and those who were its enemies were crushed into nothingness.
Christianity has not exhausted its power but today it is hard gripped by Bolshevistic influences and its officers are as helpless as it’s rank and file. Modern developments have paralysed the Staff responsible for guiding the Christian Army into positions favourable to renewing the offensive against paganism.
Church leaders are in a hopeless position as regards modern weapons for smashing modern defences of pagans. China cannot fight Japan with bows and arrows nor can Christianity win victories with childish promises and ghostly threats.
Modern reason revolts as much at pictures of halo crowned saints playing golden harps as at those of tailed and horned devils uniformed in scarlet, thrusting people we know into wickedly dancing flames.
No normal man who uses his mental powers denies the possibility of the existence of spiritual powers or that he himself is apparently a being in which a spiritual personality inhabits an animal body. It is only logical to presume that man was either created with or in the course of his evolution given his dual personality for some specific purpose by the being who rules the Universe.
There appear to be logical grounds for believing that the ruling power was and is in conflict with some other influence in the spiritual world. Consideration of the subject immediately results in the realisation that we are creations of a spiritual elevating power who is actively opposed by one of a debasing nature.
Man is the Child of Good who is wrestling in a life and death fight with evil. Man was therefore created to help Good. We call Good, God the Father and enlist in our Father’s army. Throughout our human life, we are recruits, cadets, soldiers in training. When considered to be fit for use we will leave the world, our depot, to proceed on active service.
So far we are on plausible grounds but what about the snatching away from life of young children, of life in all stages of preparation? Surely they are victories of enemy agents due entirely to our slow realisation of what our duties are, of the bad generalship of our leaders, and of our own grudging response to the rules and regulations of the Army in which we have enlisted. These are all undoubtedly owing to the idiotic system by which Christians of the Twentieth century are trained on methods found satisfactory to the First.
Jesus Christ a being of the power we call God came down to earth nearly 2000 years ago to reorganize the Army of God, to rearm it with modern weapons and revise its archaic code of rule and regulation. Church officers killed him then. Today they’d put him away in some other form if possible. God could only be recognised, be accepted, by an army so trained to his methods and personality that his presence in the world could not remain undetected.
To train humanity to recognise God, to fear him and to reverence him, it is vital to teach Man that he is a being under a modern spiritual military training, a recruit to the noble profession of Arms. That he or she is not a miserable sinner existing only through the infinite compassion of God but a very proper decent lad or lass who will revel in a spiritual army life once he or she understands the Whys and Wherefores of spiritual discipline “God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son to the end that man be saved.”
A soldier attends parades properly dressed, clean and smart in appearance. Absence from the parade, slovenliness on parade, improper attitudes are offences against army rules and regulations providing for the maintenance of discipline.
As soldiers of God, we commit an offence by being absent from Church, by praying in improper attitudes, by parading before our Commander-in-Chief in fatigue or undress uniform.
Our fathers understood this perfectly. We, so near the time of the Great War, so well organised in Defence Force systems, sporting organisations, Guides, Scouts, V.A.D.s and the like, surely we do not need to be told with what impatience God must regard the parades and drills by the present rabble known as the Christian army.
Prayer, fasting, abstinence, Good works, make up the spiritual drill necessary to turn us into soldiers. In ordinary armies half-hearted drilling is punishable and so it is in the Roman Catholic corps of that of God. But even here we find that Catholic officers, the priests, are afraid to enforce more than nominal penalties. An order to an ordinary penitent nowadays to walk ten miles with peas in his or her shoes would meet with a bitter and sulky reception if not with desertion from the unit.
Whose fault is it? The fault of those who refused to treat the men and women of today as reasoning beings and train them properly. Of those who strive to officer educated men and women as though they were children. Who is so afraid of desertion and so distrustful of their rank and file that they prefer training for the parade ground rather than the battlefield.
Small forces of badly trained soldiers accompanied by hordes of derisive spectators never won a great war. Big offences have never been successful without cadres of well-trained soldiers in good heart and spirit. To train such for God’s army it is little use eternally impressing men in the training depot with their natural rottenness, with their dependence on God’s charity but to imbue them with the knowledge that they are being honoured by their selection for training to help in God’s offensive action against Evil in the world beyond the mists.
Every South African newspaper contains advertisements for travelling representatives and with the cry of Buy British a field of unlimited possibility is open to the English Public School Boy and well educated and adventurous Britons of both sexes.
Britishers abroad are full of British sentiment – a travelling representative of an agricultural machinery firm will often do a large amount of business simply because he was at Christchurch. He will meet hundreds of Public School fellows in a country like Rhodesia or Kenya and an evening spent laughing over Bluecoat scraps with those who jeered at their uniform might nett him a tractor sale.
British-built Vickers tractors in the early 1920s were equipped with a sunshade
for export to Australia
His host will probably introduce him to Rugby men – to Winchester chaps – to a stray from Eton or Harrow – and all will give him orders.
Unlike the American trained salesman, he will endeavour to arouse clannish instincts rather than make direct appeals to business considerations. He will feel that he is a member of the British Diplomatic Corps and that his mission is to show the world that British workmanship is worth more than glaring advertisements – that a few pounds more or less in buying a car or tractor don’t matter when such a purchase is a help to Blighty.
Let us take direct instances. I myself found that service with the 9th Division gave me a standing with every Scotsman in the district I was working for an agricultural implement firm. My lines were British implements of undoubted excellence, but travellers far more experienced than myself were busy selling American implements at cheaper rates than my firm could consider.
At one farm I was offered accommodation for the night but told that I hadn’t a chance of pushing the tractor my employers were handling. I left the subject of agricultural machinery and remarked that my hosts’ accents gave me a memory of South Uist. I wasn’t allowed to leave for two days. Sold a tractor, a windmill and some hundred feet of piping – was introduced to a dozen Highland folk and tipped as to their requirements.
Comparing notes with a fellow traveller I found that he had secured orders amounting to thousands of pounds solely because he had met a man who like himself had been at the Merchant Taylor’s School.
Salesmanship and Journalism are kindred spirits. In both human appeal is irresistible and there are few unsophisticated folk left these days and a man knows that no trashy article can possibly survive the strain of competition.
Ten travellers may work a district with the same type of article – one will place all the orders he can deal with and nine will fail – why simply because the successful traveller is of the people with whom he is dealing.
By AN EX-COMMERCIAL TRAVELLER
21st October 1930
An article published in the Rand Daily Mail, South Africa circa 1930s.
Every stockman handling valuable animals requires to know something about food values. The subject is a fascinating one and a student instinctively compares the haphazard treatment accorded human stomachs with the carefully worked out feeding methods used in feeding animals.
Human bodies need very much the same essentials as do those of animals. Protein, carbohydrates, fats, mineral salts and water are required by both and wrongful proportions immediately cause harmful reactions. Instinct guides us roughly to the food our bodies need but a little knowledge is of far greater help than instinct if we would get the utmost value in the cheapest way.
An average man requires about three and a half ounces (100grams) of Protein, 1 pound (450grams) of Carbohydrates, an ounce of mineral salts (28grams) and two ounces of fat (57grams) to maintain himself in a healthy condition. If a manual worker, he requires more food than one engaged in a sedentary occupation. Old people require less and children more than middle-aged and young, women, less than men.
One often hears and knows of small men with remarkably large powers of food consumption. In such cases, there can be no doubt that the small man’s body or diet is deficient in some essential – in the majority of cases a mineral salt.
Most ills to which mankind is subject are digestive or bodily disorders caused by wrong dieting. Meals consist of too much of one element, too little of another resulting in the over-accumulation of waste matter, non-renewal of tissue and a general choking and fouling of the system. Again it might be that deficiency of fat, of protein or of mineral salts is responsible for upsetting the functioning of the digestive organs.
A meal of oatmeal with sugar, eggs, milk, bread and butter is an example of a well-balanced feed. The salts and protein are present in the eggs, oatmeal and milk, the carbohydrates in the sugar and bread; the fat in the butter and milk. Cheese and bread make an excellent combination for cheese is the most valuable concentrated foodstuff man knows and ordinary bread is almost pure carbohydrates.
Every individual’s diet should be considered from the maintenance and productive sides. So much fuel is required to maintain health so much to create the necessary energy to do his work. To ensure proper assimilation of vital elements meals must be sufficiently appetizing to enable them to be eaten with relish.
When however excess fuel has been loaded the body demands that it be used or got rid of. Long walks or any extra exercise will consume the surplus but neglect will always result in some disorder of mind and body.
The importance of the various salts needed by the body is seldom sufficiently emphasised. Lime, common salt, iron, phosphorous, sulphuric acid, chlorine and magnesia are vital to the human and animal body and cheese, milk, eggs, pulses, fresh fruit and green vegetables are the chief suppliers.
We all know how often cod liver oil, Parrish’s food and various manufactured foods are ordered by doctors for children and invalids. In many cases, they are given as being more economical and easier than attempting to reorganise a diet.
Often neglect of properly balanced food has so strained or impaired the digestive organs that only concentrated foods can be given.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
It is a fascinating subject well worth studying and knowing about.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Written on Valley Farm circa the 1930s
Based on an experience as a 17-year-old
Battledore and Shuttlecock Fireplace or wall tile by John Sadler, Liverpool, 1757-1761. Probably the most intriguing aspect of the game was that it was a cooperative sport with the players trying to see how long they could keep the shuttlecock in the air. It did not pit the player against player, a rather refreshing concept in the 21C. The game was usually played by children, families, and young adults during the 18C.
Morag McDonald curled up beside the ancient sea chest read again the faded writing on a yellowed sheet found amongst her mother’s treasures.
3rd November 1896
A Mining Company has offered me £5000 for a twelve-month option on the reef I wrote you about. Urquhart, their engineer knows me well and was very satisfied on his visit which resulted in the Company offer. I am however doubtful for I’m certain that a good partner who has a small stamp battery would be a better proposition. A quartz reef four feet wide going 30dwts gold to the tonne is worth a lot more than a few thousand pounds.
I’ve my mind on a likely partner but he’s scared of coming out as the Matabele are rather threatening just now and there’s talk of a rising. Hoping a few mails hence will bring you gladsome tidings.
Your affectionate brother,
Laying down the letter the girl picked up another also faded but good stout paper headed from one of the British South Africa Company’s Administrative offices.
March 10th 1897
I regret to inform you that no further information regarding Mr Donald MacDonald, Prospector, is available other than that his name is amongst those of outlying whites who are posted as missing. It is my painful duty to inform you that no hopes can be entertained of his still being alive.
As regards your query re Mr MacDonalds’ mining claims we find that two blocks of ten claims each are registered in his name.
Enquiries confirm your statement that these claims were inspected by the Bubi Mining Company‘s engineer and that the Company offered to take them on a £5000 option. Investigations have been made but we possess only the vaguest information regarding the location of Mr MacDonald’s claims and so far the search has proved fruitless.
We will bear in mind your letter and communicate immediately if any information reaches us.
I am Madam,
Your Obedient Servant, John Smith. Secretary
“Thirty-four years ago,” murmured Morag, “Father wrote several times but neither Donald’s mine or anything of him has ever been found. Now I’m alone and four hundred pounds to use as feathers for my wings. What’s the use of staying here? There’s nobody I’d like to marry and I’m sick of typing in Glasgow. If Amy Johnson can fly the Atlantic alone what’s to stop a strong healthy Hebridean lass travelling comfortably to Rhodesia to look for an Uncle’s grave and his mine.”
Morag MacDonald was Celtic whose vivid imagination worked as impulsively as any in her cousin’s race of Erin. Born and bred in Uist two years of typing in a Glasgow Shipping office had filled her with a distaste for the crofting life of her people. I’m Hielan through and through, as Hebridean as the Tangle she would laughingly declare “but I’d rather be singing “The Road to the Isles” than taking it, except for a holiday.”
A month ago her father had been lost at sea in a fishing boat, yesterday her mother had been bedded within the stone-walled enclosure over which the storms drove the Atlantic spray; her four brothers lay in bloodstained tartan under the poppies of Loos and Longueval. “Uncle Alan can have the Croft for the hundred pounds he offered and Father MacEachern will give me letters to the priests and nuns of Rhodesia” murmured Morag closing the chest. She went into the living room where waited, her Aunt and Cousin.
Father MacEachern as Morag had thought offered no opposition to her plans. An ex-Army Chaplain and an ex-Missionary the old priest had travelled widely about the world, a Gael who knew and understood his race the Father shrugged his shoulders when Morag’s tale was told, took snuff voluminously and patting her head told her to be of good cheer and comfort.
“There’re are aye Hielan folk wherever one goes in the world girleen and there’s always a Catholic Church. You’re a good looking less but your head’s not an empty one. I’ve brought you up in the knowledge of right and wrong and whilst you remember that you’re Catholic and McDonald no harm will come to you. When will you be faring forth Morag?”
“Within the month, Father, I hope! Uncle Alan and I will be going to Inverness the day after tomorrow and as soon as the business of transferring the croft and settling the estate is over I will book my passage.”
“And I will be coming up to London to find Rhodesian people to talk over the country with you and help as far as an old wanderer can.” said the priest violently blowing his nose as after shaking hands he watched the slim figure face the boisterous Atlantic Wind.
So, well furnished with letters of introduction to Hebrideans and Catholic priests scattered about Africa, well-stocked chests and suitcases of goods and gear recommended by members of the Rhodesian High Commissioner staff Morag McDonald waved a cheerful farewell from the second class deck of a Union Castle liner as the tugs drew her from the Southampton Wharf.
Morag was wholly unused to mixing with strangers a feeling that she was free to do as she liked. Her life in Glasgow had been lived with cousins whose interest was centred on their parish church and the Clan gatherings in the Highland Institute. Men had played no part whatever in her 22 years of life but Morag was quite aware that she was attractive and rich red blood flowed strongly through her veins.
Father MacEachern had seen to it that her cabin mate was one of her own Faith a Rhodesian lady of Irish extraction but Mrs O’Connor was a cheery happy-go-lucky lady still young and possessing a number of friends aboard.
She and Morag took to one another at sight. “Heaven be praised, Miss MacDonald! When Father O’Reilly asked me to look after a young Scottish girl I thought my good nature was going to land me with some uninteresting kid who’d spoil my whole voyage. You and I are going to be friends, however. Let’s wander around and see what sort of men we’ve shipped.”
A tour of the vessel proved quite satisfactory to the Rhodesian. “Three excellent bridge partners at least, Colonel Devereaux to look after our chairs and cushions, several charming boys for you to play with – and they’ll all be very nice to me or I’ll shoo them away from the bonnie wee lassie. Quite satisfactory Morag, my dear. Now let’s go and see what frocks you possess.”
Mrs O’Connor shook her head over Morag’s wardrobe – “Looks as though you let the nuns choose it, Old Dear!” she laughed “Fortunately what you have is good and I’m excellent with the needle beside possessing a few spare frocks we could alter. Jane and no-nonsense about her has a thin time these days Morag.”
Liking her new friend, feeling her judgement to be trusted and full of feminine desire to be at her best Morag made no demur to her companion’s advice and devoutly thanked her patron saint that so good at friend had come her way. Morag possessed a slim well-rounded figure, beautiful brown eyes, a mass of silky black hair, a perfect skin and firm white teeth.
Dressed by Mrs O’Connor and finished off by the Liner’s barber, the girl proved as irresistible to the menfolk aboard as honey to bees.
Three weeks of games, dances, whist drives, and concerts, Morag ever laughing and merry, the pet of all aboard. The honour of taking tea on the Captain’s Bridge, the fun of the sitting betwixt two grinning tars helping to paint the ship, her violin and voice much in request at concerts, and her pick of partners at dances. “Heavens Mrs O’Connor just think if I’d stayed on the croft or gone back to the office.” cried Morag.
The other laughed “It’s good fun, isn’t it? But the party’s soon over and cake gives place to bread and butter. Another fortnight and we’ll all be in harness scattered over the length and breadth of Africa. What are actually your plans, Morag, all I know of you is that you’re travelling to Bulawayo in connection with an Uncle’s mining property? They’ve shoals of MacDonalds in Rhodesia especially Bulawayo and as I don’t know many of the mining people I haven’t questioned you – this shows what an unfeminine woman I am. My husband’s ranching as you know and I’ve begged you to come to us for as long as you like. Where do you intend staying?”
Morag laughed “You’ll think me entirely daft, Mollie, but here are the facts. I’ve four hundred pounds and one of my uncles was a pioneer who found a rich gold mine. He was killed in a rebellion amongst the natives but neither the mine nor his body was ever found. I’ve come to look for them.”
Mollie O’Connor held up her hands. “Morag you foolish little devil buy a hundred tickets in our Unity Club and the Dublin Sweepstakes, put the rest of your money in the bank and come and live with me till I’ve found you a husband. Rhodesia’s full of lost prospectors’ bones and gold mines and if one does find a mine one’s troubles have only begun. The country’s full of topping youngsters who’ll look on you with more favour than on any mine that’s ever been found and you’d make a bonnie Rhodesian.”
Many thanks, Mollie. I’d love to spend a few weeks with you if I might, but I’ve a queer feeling that instinct or my Uncle’s spirit will lead me to the Ben na Conn claims.”
“More likely into losing your money and getting a typist job, you goose.” announced Mrs O’Connor “anyway I’ll look after you.”
As Mollie O’Connor said the party was nearing its end. A few more days and Morag watched a looming mass of white cloud and grey rock showing through the dawn. Table Mountain with its flanking peaks towering over the ancient Tavern of the Seas warning the happy crowd of ships’ friends that the time of parting had come.
A wonderful week at the Cape with Mollie, “you couldn’t afford to miss it, Morag.” declared her friend “I’ll wire Pat that I am unavoidably detained to look after a friend.” So a party of merry Rhodesians surfed in the long lines of smashing waves amongst the thousands of bathers at Muizenberg, climbed the dizzy heights of Table Mountain and travelled restfully down in the wonderful aerial railway; yachted in Table Bay, explored quaint Dutch Villages hidden in mountain glens amidst a wealth of oak and vine and fruit blossom; flirted, laughed and sang.
Then ‘Bundle and Go’ on the bagpipes cried. Mollie and faces turned Northwards as she and Morag watched hills and orchards flit past the thundering mail, looked down the giddy depths of the Hex River Valley and stared wonderingly out at the wastes of the Great Karroo.
“What’s come over you, Morag?” asked Mrs O’Connor. The Highland girl shook her head “I’ll be alright soon” she whispered “but och the country is waesome and unfriendly. Nothing but graves and stones and ports and bigness. I’m seeing kilts waving, the bayonets flashing in the hills, the pipers sounding on the march and at the onset and I’m hearing nothing but Lochaber No More and Mo Dachaidh being played over poor torn bundles of tartan. Thanks be, my brothers sleep in the flowers and kindly soil of France but there’s plenty of my kin lying in the ground we’re passing.”
Mollie swallowed hard “I’d one brother – Away Morag what matters where a soldier lays his bones or a Rhodesia either. The veld is kindlier than a town cemetery. Let’s wander into the Dining Saloon. Kimberley of the Diamonds, then grass and trees taking the place of a desolate waste of stones, hills and tiny bushes. Bechuanaland with the country growing forestlike and every halt filled with interest as the swarming hoards of scantily dressed natives strove to find customers for their toys and skins and fruit.
“Seven o’clock tomorrow, Morag and the fun’s over” laughed Mrs O’Connor.
But at Seven next morning, Morag felt that the fun had only begun. Pat O’Connor was a denizen of the new world into which she was entering and he, large sun-blackened and picturesque in Double Terai hat, shorts and khaki shirt seemed a fitting person to introduce her into it. Laughingly Pat waved aside his wife’s suggestion of the Majestic “What’s wrong with the old Criterion, Molly? I’ve got a room there as usual and Malcolm will fix up Miss MacDonald – here’s the porter he’ll see to your gear.”
Morag liked the atmosphere of O’Connor’s choice of hotels and after a steaming bath and change set down to make an excellent breakfast with half a dozen Rhodesian men who seemed to her like masquerading schoolboys. The O’Connors were undoubtedly popular and well known. Men came from all parts of the dining room to shake hands with and tease Mrs O’Connor, brought chairs, cups of tea and plates of food to further crowd their corner, argued over cattle, mines and contracts.
Puzzled and amused the Hebridean girl listened to the gay chatter wondering how on earth so queer a collection could be found. Some seemed rich and others poor, some were owners and others workers, some employers, some employed yet all used one another’s Christian names, ignored if they possessed, any social differences and treated each other and apparently life in general as one huge joke.
“Take Miss MacDonald up to the Mining Commissioner, Joe,” called Mollie when breakfast was at last finished “She’s come out to look for a lost mine found by one of the pioneers.”
“Gosh,” said a burly individual in shirtsleeves and khaki trousers “Is Miss MacDonald one of our crowd? I’ll sell you as bonnie a mine lassie as anyone can wish for the £6000 pounds I’ve put into it.”
“And taken £2000 out.” laughed a short, unshaven tough looking specimen.
“Now Miss MacDonald I’ve…”
“No, he hasn’t – come on Miss MacDonald.” following her guide whom Morag took to be a workman, the girl was amazed to find him provided with a big expensive car amongst whose luxury fittings were tossed picks, shovels and two cases one marked gelignite and the other White Horse Whiskey.
“Push the cases out of the road Jock” ordered the burly one called Joe – the short unshaven man obeyed.
“Climb in next to me Miss McDonald, Jock can cuddle the dynamite or the whiskey – we’ve all the world’s curses in the car, Miss MacDonald.”
“What are they, Mr… Mr…?”
Maxwell commonly called Joe answered the other “a pretty girl, a case of whiskey, one of dynamite and a bar of gold worth £2000” and he kicked at a plain wooden box – “lift it, Miss MacDonald.”
As Maxwell started the car Morag tried to lift the little box
“Oh,” she exclaimed, “It’s lead.”
“Hope the Bank doesn’t think so.” Roared the others, “It’s my month’s output of gold.” Awed Morag gazed at the box.
“Oh, I hope I find my Uncle’s Mine” she cried as the car stopped a little way above the hotel.
“Well here’s where you’ll be a regular caller then Miss MacDonald – come and be introduced to the Mining Commissioner.
Morag introduced to a quiet and courteous gentleman thought of Mrs O’Connor’s hint. Her story told, the Mining Commissioner proceeded to end the fun.
“The story of Mr MacDonald and the Ben Na Conn claims is a well-known one Miss MacDonald.” said the Commissioner “A score of prospectors have hunted over the supposed locality of the claims. We know that property well and that the claims must lie within a certain small area. Both geological formation and areas in which men still living were working, limit the locality to an area which has been industriously combed. Neither threats nor promises of reward have extracted any information from natives in and about the area. It’s heavily timbered country, badly broken by erosion and through geological causes. One might hunt for years and never find the reef for quite likely there were native lands in its vicinity and the natives ploughed or hoed over the claims concealing all signs of them ever having been worked. If you take my advice, Miss MacDonald, you’ll have a trip to the Falls and the Matoppos, take a run to Zimbabwe and Umtali then either accept a billet or return to Scotland. If you’ll keep in touch with me I think I can safely promise you a fairly decent office post. In the meantime, if you’d care to meet my wife I’m sure she’d be delighted to call on you. May I bring in one or two experienced mining men who will undoubtedly confirm my opinion?”
The Mining Commissioner spoke truly. The three cheery gentlemen asked, expressed opinions that confirmed the Commissioners….