What's Bred In the Bone
The voyage to the Cape was long and tedious. On the whole way out,
Guy made but few friends, and talked very little to his fellow
passengers. That unhappy recognition by Granville Kelmscott the
evening he went on board the Cetewayo poisoned the fugitive's mind
for the entire passage. He felt himself, in fact, a moral outcast;
he slunk away from his kind; he hardly dared to meet Kelmscott's
eyes for shame, whenever he passed him. But for one thing at least
he was truly grateful. Though Kelmscott had evidently discovered
from the papers the nature of Guy's crime, and knew his real name
well, it was clear he had said nothing of any sort on the subject
to the other passengers. Only one man on board was aware of his
guilt, Guy believed, and that one man he shunned accordingly as
far as was possible within the narrow limits of the saloon and the
Granville Kelmscott, of course, took a very different view of Guy
Waring's position. He had read in the paper he bought at Plymouth
that Guy was the murderer of Montague Nevitt. Regarding him,
therefore, as a criminal of the deepest dye now flying from justice,
he wasn't at all surprised at Guy's shrinking and shunning him;
what astonished him rather was the man's occasional and incredible
fits of effrontery. How that fellow could ever laugh and talk at
all among the ladies on deck--with the hangman at his back--simply
appalled and horrified the proud soul of a Kelmscott. Granville
had hard work to keep from expressing his horror openly at times.
But still, with an effort, he kept his peace. With the picture of
his father and Lady Emily now strong before his mind, he couldn't
find it in his heart to bring his own half-brother, however guilty
and criminal the man might be, to the foot of the gallows.
So they voyaged on together without once interchanging a single
word, all the way from Plymouth to the Cape Colony. And the day
they landed at Port Elizabeth, it was an infinite relief indeed to
Guy to think he could now get well away for ever from that fellow
Kelmscott. Not being by any means over-burdened with ready cash,
however, Guy determined to waste no time in the coastwise towns,
but to make his way at once boldly up country towards Kimberley.
The railway ran then only as far as Grahamstown; the rest of his
journey to the South African Golconda was accomplished by road,
in a two-wheeled cart, drawn by four small horses, which rattled
along with a will, up hill and down dale, over the precarious
highways of that semi-civilized upland.
To Guy, just fresh from England and the monotonous sea, there was
a certain exhilaration in this first hasty glimpse of the infinite
luxuriance of sub-tropical nature. At times he almost forgot
Montague Nevitt and the forgery in the boundless sense of freedom
and novelty given him by those vast wastes of rolling tableland,
thickly covered with grass or low thorny acacias, and stretching
illimitably away in low range after range to the blue mountains
in the distance. It was strange indeed to him on the wide plains
through which they scurried in wild haste to see the springbok rush
away from the doubtful track at the first whirr of their wheels,
or the bolder bustard stand and gaze among the long grass, with his
wary eye turned sideways to look at them. Guy felt for the moment
he had left Europe and its reminiscences now fairly behind him; in
this free new world, he was free once more himself; his shame was
cast aside; he could revel like the antelopes in the immensity of
a land where nobody knew him and he knew nobody.
What added most of all, however, to this quaint new sense of vastness
and freedom was the occasional appearance of naked blacks, roaming
at large through the burnt-up fields of which till lately they
had been undisputed possessors. Day after day Guy drove on along
the uncertain roads, past queer outlying towns of white wooden
houses--Cradock, and Middelburg, and Colesberg, and others--till
they crossed at last the boundary of Orange River into the Free
State, and halted for a while in the main street of Philippolis.
It was a dreary place; Guy began now to see the other side of South
Africa. Though he had left England in autumn, it was spring-time
at the Cape, and the winter drought had parched up all the grass,
leaving the bare red dust in the roads or streets as dry and desolate
as the sand of the desert. The town itself consisted of some sixty
melancholy and distressful houses, bare, square, and flat-roofed,
standing unenclosed along a dismal high-road, and with that
congenitally shabby look, in spite of their newness, which seems
to belong by nature to all southern buildings. Some stagnant pools
alone remained to attest the presence after rain of a roaring brook,
the pits in whose dried-up channel they now occupied; over their
tops hung the faded foliage of a few dust-laden trees, struggling
hard for life with the energy of despair against depressing
circumstances. It was a picture that gave Guy a sudden attack of
pessimism; if THIS was the El Dorado towards which he was going,
he earnestly wished himself back again once more, forgery or no
forgery, among the breezy green fields of dear old England.
On to Fauresmith he travelled with less comfort than before in
a rickety buggy of most primitive construction, designed to meet
the needs of rough mountain roads, and as innocent of springs as
Guy himself of the murder of Montague Nevitt. It was a wretched
drive. The drought had now broken; the wet season had begun;
rain fell heavily. A piercing cold wind blew down from the nearer
mountains; and Guy began to feel still more acutely than ever that
South Africa was by no means an earthly paradise. As he drove on and
on this feeling deepened upon him. Huge blocks of stone obstructed
the rough road, intersected as it was by deep cart-wheel ruts, down
which the rain-water now flowed in impromptu torrents. The Dutch
driver, too, anxious to show the mettle of his coarse-limbed steeds,
persisted in dashing over the hummocky ground at a break-neck pace,
while Guy balanced himself with difficulty on the narrow seat,
hanging on to his portmanteau for dear life among the jerks and
jolts, till his ringers were numbed with cold and exposure.
They held out against it all, before the pelting rain, till man
and beast were well-nigh exhausted. At last, about three-quarters
of the way to Fauresmith, on the bleak bare hill-tops, sleety snow
began to fall in big flakes, and the barking of a dog to be heard
in the distance. The Boer driver pricked up his ears at the sound.
"That must a house be," he remarked in his Dutch pigeon-English to
Guy; and Guy felt in his soul that the most miserable and filthy of
Kaffir huts would just then be a welcome sight to his weary eyes.
He would have given a sovereign, indeed, from the scanty store he
possessed, for a night's lodging in a convenient dog-kennel. He
was agreeably surprised, therefore, to find it was a comfortable
farmhouse, where the lights in the casement beamed forth a cheery
welcome on the wet and draggled wayfarers from real glass windows.
The farmer within received them hospitably. Business was brisk to-day.
Another traveller, he said, had just gone on towards Fauresmith.
"A young man like yourself, fresh from England," the farmer observed,
scanning Guy closely. "He's off for the diamond diggings. I think
Guy rested the right there, thinking nothing of the stranger, and
went on next day more quietly to Fauresmith. Thence to the diamond
fields, the country became at each step more sombre and more
monotonous than ever. In the afternoon they rested at Jacobsdal,
another dusty, dreary, comfortless place, consisting of about five
and twenty bankrupt houses scattered in bare clumps over a scorched-up
desert. Then on again next day, over a drearier and ever drearier
expanse of landscape. It was ghastly. It was horrible. At last, on
the top of a dismal hill range, looking down on a deep dale, the
driver halted. In the vast flat below, a dull dense fog seemed to
envelop the world with inscrutable mists. The driver pointed to it
with his demonstrative whip.
"Down yonder," he said encouragingly, as he put the skid on his
wheel, "down yonder's the diamond fields--that's Dutoitspan before
"What makes it so grey?" Guy asked, looking in front of him with a
sinking heart. This first view of his future home was by no means
"Oh, the sand make it be like that," the driver answered unconcernedly.
"Diamond fields all make up of fine red sand; and diggers pile it
about around their own claims. Then the wind comes and blow, and
make sandstorm always around Dutoitspan."
Guy groaned inwardly. This was certainly NOT the El Dorado of his
fancy. They descended the hill, at the same break-neck pace as
before, and entered the miserable mushroom town of diamond-grubbers.
Amidst the huts in the diggings great heaps of red earth lay piled
up everywhere. Dust and sand rose high on the hot breeze into
the stifling air. As they reached the encampment--for Dutoitspan
then was little more than a camp--the blinding mists of solid red
particles drove so thick in their eyes that Guy could hardly see
a few yards before him. Their clothes and faces were literally
encrusted in thick coats of dust. The fine red mist seemed to
pervade everything. It filled their eyes, their nostrils, their
ears, their mouths. They breathed solid dust. The air was laden
deep with it.
And THIS was the diamond fields! This was the Golconda where Guy
was to find six thousand pounds ready made to recover his losses
and to repay Cyril. Oh, horrible, horrible. His heart sank low at
And still they went on, and on, and on, and on, through the mist
of dust to the place for out-spanning. Guy only shared the common
fate of all new-comers to "the fields" in feeling much distressed
and really ill. The very horses in the cart snorted and sneezed
and showed their high displeasure by trying every now and then to
jib and turn back again. Here and there, on either side, to right
and left, where the gloom permitted it, Guy made out dimly a few
round or oblong tents, with occasional rude huts of corrugated
iron. A few uncertain figures lounged vaguely in the background.
On closer inspection they proved to be much-grimed and half-naked
natives, resting their weary limbs on piles of dry dust after their
toil in the diggings.
It was an unearthly scene. Guy's heart sank lower and lower still
at every step the horses took into that howling wilderness.
At last the driver drew up with a jolt in front of a long low hut
of corrugated iron, somewhat larger than the rest, but no less dull
and dreary. "The hotel," he said briefly; and Guy jumped out to
secure himself a night's lodging or so at this place of entertainment,
till he could negotiate for a hut and a decent claim, and commence
At the bar of the primitive saloon where he found himself landed,
a man in a grey tweed suit was already seated. He was drinking
something fizzy from a tall soda-water glass. With a sudden start
of horror Guy recognised him at once. Oh, great heavens, what was
this? It was Granville Kelmscott!
Then Granville, too, was bound for the diamond fields like himself.
What an incredible coincidence! How strange! How inexplicable!
That rich man's son, the pampered heir to Tilgate! what could HE
be doing here, in this out-of-the-way spot, this last resort of
poor broken-down men, this miserable haunt of wretched gambling
Here curiosity, surely, must have drawn him to the spot. He couldn't
have come to DIG! Guy gazed in amazement at that grey tweed suit.
He must be staying for a day or two in search of adventure. No more
than just that! He couldn't mean to STOP here.
As he gazed and stood open-mouthed in the shadow of the door,
Granville Kelmscott, who hadn't seen him enter, laid down his glass,
wiped his lips with gusto, and continued his conversation with the
"Yes, I want a hut here," he said, "and to buy a good claim. I've
been looking over the kopje down by Watson's spare land, and I
think I've seen a lot that's likely to suit me."
Guy sould hardly restrain his astonishment and surprise. He had
come, then, to dig! Oh, incredible! impossible!
But at any rate this settled his own immediate movements. Guy's
mind was made up at once. If Granville Kelmscott was going to dig
at Dutoitspan--why, clearly Dutoitspan was no place for HIM. He
could never stand the continual presence of the one man in South
Africa who knew his deadly secret. Come what might he must leave
the neighbourhood without a moment's delay. He must strike out at
once for the far interior. As he paused, Granville Kelmscott turned
round and saw him. Their eyes met with a start. Each was equally
astonished. Then Granville rose slowly from his seat, and murmured
in a low voice, as he regarded him fixedly--
"You here again, Mr. Billington! This is once too often. I hardly
expected THIS. There's no room here for both of us."
And he strode from the saloon, with a very black brow, leaving Guy
for the moment alone with the barman.
A NEW DEPARTURE.
A fortnight later, one sultry afternoon, Granville Kelmscott found
himself, after various strange adventures and escapes by the way,
in a Koranna hut, far in the untravelled heart of the savage Barolong
The tenement where he sat, or more precisely squatted, was by
no means either a commodious or sweet-scented one. Yet it was the
biggest of a group on the river-bank, some five feet high from
floor to roof, so that a Kelmscott couldn't possibly stand erect
at full length in it; and it was roughly round in shape, like an
overgrown beehive, the framework consisting of branches of trees,
arranged in a rude circle, over whose arching ribs native rush
mats had been thrown or sewn with irregular order. The door was a
hole, through which the proud descendant of the squires of Tilgate
had to creep on all fours; a hollow pit dug out in the centre served
as the only fireplace; smoke and stagnant air formed the staples
of the atmosphere. A more squalid hovel Granville Kelmscott had
never even conceived as possible. It was as dirty and as loathsome
as the most vivid imagination could picture the hut of the lowest
Yet here that delicately nurtured English gentleman was to be
cooped up for an indefinite time, as it seemed, by order of the
black despot who ruled over the Barolong with a rod of iron.
What had led Granville Kelmscott into this extraordinary scrape
it would not be hard to say. The Kelmscott nature, in all
its embodiments, worked on very simple but very fixed lines. The
moment Granville saw his half-brother Guy at Dutoitspan, his mind
was made up at once as to his immediate procedure. He wouldn't stop
one day--one hour longer than necessary where he could see that
fellow who committed the murder. Come what might, he would make
his escape at once into the far interior.
As before in England, so now in Africa, both brothers were moved by
the self-same impulses. And each carried them out with characteristic
Where could Granville go, however? Well, it was rumoured at
Dutoitspan that "pebbles" had been found far away to the north in
the Barolong country. "Pebbles," of course, is good South African
for diamonds; and at this welcome news all Kimberley and Griqualand
pricked up their ears with congenial delight; for business was
growing flat on the old-established diamond fields. The palmy era
of great finds and lucky hits was now long past; the day of systematic
and prosaic industry had set in instead for the over-stocked
diggings. It was no longer possible for the luckiest fresh hand
to pick up pebbles lying loose on the surface; the mode of working
had become highly skilled and scientific.
Machines and scaffolds, and washing-cradles and lifting apparatus
were now required to make the business a success; the simple old
gambling element was rapidly going out, and the capitalist was rapidly
coming up in its stead as master of the situation. So Granville
Kelmscott, being an enterprising young man, though destitute of
cash, and utterly ignorant of South African life, determined to
push on with all his might and main into the Barolong country, and
to rush for the front among the first in the field in these rumoured
new diggings on the extreme north frontier of civilization.
He started alone, as a Kelmscott might do, and made his way
adventurously, without any knowledge of the Koranna language or
manners, through many wild villages of King Khatsua's dominions.
Night after night he camped out in the open; and day after day
he tramped on by himself, buying food as he went from the natives
for English silver, in search of precious stones, over that dreary
tableland. At last, on the fourteenth day, in a deep alluvial
hollow near a squalid group of small Barolong huts, he saw a tiny
round stone, much rubbed and water-worn, which he picked up and
examined with no little curiosity. The two days he had spent at
Dutoitspan had not been wasted. He had learnt to recognise the look
of the native gem. Once glance told him at once what his pebble
was. He recognised it at sight as one of those small but much-valued
diamonds of the finest water, which diggers know by the technical
name of "glass-stones."
The hollow where he stood was in fact an ancient alluvial pit or
volcanic mud-crater. Scoriac rubble filled it in to a very great
depth; and in the interstices of this rubble were embedded here
and there rude blocks of greenstone, containing almond-shaped
chalcedonies and agate and milk-quartz, with now and then a tiny
water-worn spec which an experienced eye would have detected at
once as the finest "riverstones."
Here indeed was a prize! The solitary Englishman recognised in a
second that he was the first pioneer of a new and richer Kimberley.
But as Granville Kelmscott stood still, looking hard at his find
through the little pocket-lens he had brought with him from England,
with a justifiable tremor of delight at the pleasant thought that
here, perhaps, he had lighted on the key to something which might
restore him once more to his proper place at Tilgate, he was suddenly
roused from his delightful reverie by a harsh negro voice, shrill
and clear, close behind him, saying, in very tolerable African-English--
"Hillo, you white man! what dat you got there? You come here to
Barolong land, so go look for diamond?"
Granville turned sharply round, and saw standing by his side a
naked and stalwart black man, smiling blandly at his discovery with
broad negro amusement.
"It's a pebble," the Englishman said, pocketing it as carelessly as
he could, and trying to look unconcerned, for his new acquaintance
held a long native spear in his stout left hand, and looked by no
means the sort of person to be lightly trifled with.
"Oh, dat a pebble, mistah white man!" the Barolong said sarcastically,
holding out his black right hand with a very imperious air. "Den
you please hand him over dat pebble you find. Me got me orders.
King Khatsua no want any diamond digging in Barolong land."
Granville tried to parley with the categorical native; but his
attempts at palaver were eminently unsuccessful. The naked black
man was master of the situation.
"You hand over dat stone, me friend," he said, assuming a menacing
attitude, and holding out his hand once more with no very gentle
air, "or me run you trew de body wit me assegai--just so! King
Khatsua, him no want any diamond diggings in Barolong land."
And, indeed, Granville Kelmscott couldn't help admitting to himself,
when he came to think of it, that King Khatsua was acting wisely in
his generation. For the introduction of diggers into his dominions
would surely have meant, as everywhere else, the speedy proclamation
of a British protectorate, and the final annihilation of King
Khatsua himself and his dusky fellow-countrymen.
There is nothing, to say the truth, the South African native dreads
so much as being "eaten up," as he calls it, by those aggressive
English. King Khatsua knew his one chance in life consisted in
keeping the diggers firmly out of his dominions; and he was prepared
to deny the very existence of diamonds throughout the whole of
Barolong land, until the English, by sheer force, should come in
flocks and unearth them.
In obedience to his chief's command, therefore, the naked henchman
still held out his hand menacingly.
"Dis land King Khatsua's," he repeated once more, in an angry
voice. "All diamonds found on it belong to King Khatsua. Just you
hand dat over. No steal; no tief-ee."
The instincts of the land-owning class were too strong in Granville
Kelmscott not to make him admit at once to himself the justice of
this claim. The owner of the soil had a right to the diamonds. He
handed over the stone with a pang of regret. The savage grinned to
himself, and scanned it attentively. Then extending his spear, as
one might do to a cow or a sheep, he drove Granville before him.
"You come along a' me," he said shortly, in a most determined voice.
"You come along a' me. King Khatsua's orders."
Granville went before him without one word of remonstrance, much
wondering what was likely to happen next, till he found himself
suddenly driven into that noisome hut, where he was forced to enter
ignominiously on all fours, like an eight months' old baby.
By the light of the fire that burned dimly in the midst of his
captor's house he could see, as his eyes grew gradually accustomed
to the murky gloom, a strange and savage scene, such as he had never
before in his life dreamt of. In the pit of the hut some embers
glowed feebly, from whose midst a fleecy object was sputtering and
hissing. A second glance assured him that the savoury morsel was
the head of an antelope in process of roasting. Two greasy black
women, naked to the waist, were superintending this primitive
cookery; all round, a group of unclad little imps, as black as their
mothers, lounged idly about, with their eyes firmly fixed on the
chance of dinner. As Granville entered, the husband and father,
poking in his head, shouted a few words after him. Another native
outside kept watch and ward with a spear at the door meanwhile, to
prevent his escape against King Khatsua's orders.
For two long hours the Englishman waited there, fretting and fuming,
in that stifling atmosphere. Meanwhile, the antelope's head was
fully cooked, and the women and children falling on it like wild
beasts, tore off the scorched fleece and snatched the charred flesh
from the bones with their fingers greedily. It was a hideous sight;
it sickened him to see it.
By--and--by Granville heard a loud voice outside. He listened
in surprise. It sounded as though Barolong had another prisoner.
There was a pause and a scuffle. Then, all of a sudden, somebody
else came bundling unceremoniously through the hole that served for
a door, in the same undignified fashion as he himself had done.
Granville's eyes, now accustomed to the gloom, recognised the
stranger at once with a thrill of astonishment. He could hardly
trust his senses at the sight. It was--no, it couldn't be--yes, it
Guy Waring, sure enough; as before, they were companions. The
Kelmscott character had worked itself out exactly alike in each
of them. They had come independently by the self-same road to the
rumoured diamond fields of the Barolong country.
It was some minutes, however, before Guy, for his part, recognised
his fellow-prisoner in the dark and gloomy hut. Then each stared
at the other in mute surprise. They found no words to speak their
mutual astonishment. This was more wonderful, to be sure, than even
either of their former encounters.
For another long hour the two unfriendly English-men huddled away
from one another in opposite corners of that native hut, without
speaking a word of any sort in their present straits. At the end
of that time, a voice spoke at the door some guttural sentences
in the Barolong language. The natives inside responded alike in
their own savage clicks. Next the voice spoke in English; it was
Granville's captor, he now knew well.
"White men, you come out; King Khatsua himself, him go to 'peak to
They crawled out, one at a time, in sorry guise, through the narrow
hole. It was a pitiful exhibition. Were it not for the danger and
uncertainty of the event, they could almost themselves have fairly
laughed at it. King Khatsua stood before them, a tall, full-blooded
black, in European costume, with a round felt hat and a crimson tie,
surrounded by his naked wives and attendants. In his outstretched
hand he held before their faces two incriminating diamonds. He spoke
to them with much dignity at considerable length in the Barolong
tongue, to a running accompaniment of laudatory exclamations--"Oh,
my King! Oh, wise words!"--from the mouths of his courtiers. Neither
Granville nor Guy understood, of course, a single syllable of the
stately address; but that didn't in the least disturb the composure
of the dusky monarch. He went right through to the end with his
solemn warning, scolding them both roundly, as they guessed, in his
native tongue, like a master reproving a pair of naughty schoolboys.
As he finished, their captor stood forth with great importance
to act as interpreter. He had been to the Kimberly diamond mines
himself as a labourer, and was therefore accounted by his own people
a perfect model of English scholarship.
"King Khatsua say this," he observed curtly. "You very bad men;
you come to Barolong land. King Khatsua say, Barolong land for
Barolong. No allow white man dig here for diamonds. If white man
come, him eat up Barolong. Keep white man out; keep land for King
"Does King Khatsua want us to leave his country, then?" Granville
Kelmscott asked, with a distinct tremor in his voice, for the great
chief and his followers looked decidedly hostile.
The interpreter threw back his head and laughed a loud long laugh.
"King Khatsua not a fool!" he answered at last, after a rhetorical
pause. "King Khatsua no want to give up his land to white man.
If you two white man go back to Kimberley, you tell plenty other
people, 'Diamonds in Barolong land.' You say, 'Come along o' me
to Barolong land with gun; we show you where to dig 'um!' No, no,
King Khatsua not a fool. King Khatsua say this. You two white man
no go back to Kimberley. You spies. You stop here plenty time along
o' King Khatsua. Never go back, till King Khatsua give leave. So
no let any other white man come along into Barolong land."
Granville looked at Guy, and Guy looked at Granville. In this
last extremity, before those domineering blacks, they almost forgot
everything, save that they were both English. What were they to do
now? The situation was becoming truly terrible.
The interpreter went on once more, however, with genuine savage
enjoyment of the consternation he was causing them.
"King Khatsua say this," he continued, in a very amused tone. "You
stop here plenty days, very good, in Barolong land. King Khatsua
give you hut; King Khatsua give you claim; Barolong man bring spear
and guard you. No do you any harm for fear of Governor. Governor keep
plenty guns in Cape Town. You two white man live in hut together,
dig diamonds together; get plenty pebbles. Keep one diamond you
find for yourself; give one diamond after that to King Khatsua.
Barolong man bring you plenty food, plenty drink, but no let you
go back. You try to go, then Barolong man spear you."
The playful dig with which the savage thrust forward his assegai
at that final remark showed Granville Kelmscott in a moment this
was no idle threat. It was clear for the present they must accept
the inevitable. They must remain in Barolong land; and he must
share hut and work with that doubly hateful creature--the man who
had deprived him of his patrimony at Tilgate, and whom he firmly
believed to be the murderer of Montague Nevitt. This was what
had come then of his journey to Africa! Truly, adversity makes us
acquainted with strange bedfellows!