Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
One Scout in particular, got up as a Zulu “medicine man,” gave a splendid imitation of the Zulu “imbongo” or chorus, praising the virtues of his chief with due ceremony.
When I was about ten years old the first diamonds were found in South Africa. The story of it was that a farmer named O’Reilly had put up for the night with a Boer farmer living on the banks of the Vaal River some three hundred miles southwest of Pretoria. He noticed that the Boer’s children had a number of little pebbles which they played with. These pebbles were about the size of a pea, but pointed instead of round and almost transparent. So he asked for one or two, which he took with him to Capetown, and there had them examined. They were diamonds, one of them alone being worth £500.
1 remember a man telling me – though I cannot remember his name – that he was about, that same time near the same place. He had done something wrong in the Transvaal, and was riding hard all night to escape across the Vaal River which was then the boundary between British and Boer country. Just at early sunrise he crossed the river at a ford or “drift,” as it is called in South Africa. As he rode up the opposite bank he noticed something glittering in the path, and looked at it as he passed, but it seemed to be only a little bit of glass.
He went on to the top of the bank, where there was a little inn built of wattle plastered over with dried mud. Here he dismounted and sat down, safe from further pursuit, to have some coffee. He sat outside in the sun, and while waiting for the coffee he noticed another bit of glass sticking in the mud wall of the hut. He prised it out with his knife, and found it to be not glass, but one of these peculiar- shaped pebbles. So he walked down to the drift again and soon found the other which had attracted his attention, and it was just like the one he had. He took these with him to an expert, and found that they were diamonds.
Well, when stones worth £500 apiece can be picked up on the ground, you may imagine there will be several people willing to go and pick them up. In a very short time the news got about, crowds of people made their way up to the Vaal River, and soon large numbers of diamonds were collected.
They then found it still better to dig for them, as those in the river were few and far between, and had only been washed down by floods from the ground where they originally belonged. This ground was only a very small tract, and when workings regularly started here and a town sprang up, it received the name of Kimberley. Lord Kimberley being at that time the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
Among the many men who came there and bought a plot of land or “claim” and dug in it, was a young man named Cecil Rhodes. He had come out from England as an invalid to get the benefit of the bright, clear air of South Africa. He worked hard and got health and also wealth, for he bought claims from other men, who, after a little digging did not find diamonds were so plentiful as they had hoped, and gave up in despair. He, like a Scout, “stuck to it,” and so got on.
He made great sums of money, but he never cared about it for himself. He lived in a very simple way out on the veldt as much as possible; but he liked to spend his money on opening up the country. He equipped an expedition of pioneers to go up into the great territories north of the Transvaal occupied by the Matabele, Mashona, and other savage tribes. These countries were known to be good for cattle raising, because explorers and hunters like Livingstone and Selous had already visited and reported on them.
But although these scouts had prepared the way peacefully with the natives, these became aggressive when they saw the white men wanted to settle in their country, although it was a huge