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Reminiscences and Reflections of an Octogenarian Highlander Chapter LXV. - At Cape Town


was the way in which I was led to go to Cape Town. Mr John Byles, nephew of my Mr Byles, was sent home to buy an Otley printing machine, types, and other office furnishings for a Conservative newspaper at Cape Town, started by gentlemen who undertook to supply the capital for floating it, and who appointed Messrs Pyke and Byles their printers. These two had previously been the proprietors of a provincial paper at Swellendam, where they were doing fairly well until they were burned out by one of the most destructive veldt fires that had ever taken place in the Colony a fire which burned all before it for a length of three hundred miles and a breadth of twenty or so. The selection of an editor was entrusted to Mr Thompson, a London merchant. I was asked through Mr John Byles if I would take the situation, and at first declined to do so. When I was approached again, seeing that the salary offered was pretty liberal, I said I would, provided if at a year's end I and mine would have a free passage home, as well as the free passage out, should either side wish to terminate the engagement. The free passage home was consented to, which was fortunate for me, because at the end of nine months I got a trouble in my right knee which kept me long in pain before it came to a crisis, and then made me walk on crutches for the rest of my life, which was a sad affliction for a man in his prime, who loved to breathe the air of mountain tops. But I scaled Table Mountain, shot snipe on the Downs, and had several visits through the cleuch to Camp Bay before my ailment began. On landing we were taken to Wynberg, and hospitably entertained in a capital reed-thatched house there, until the office in Cape Town was fitted up, and until I took a house above the Government Gardens, near the waterworks, where on one hand we nad Sir Cristofer Brand, the Speaker of the Assembly, for a neighbour, and below us Dean Douglas, afterwards Bishop of Bombay, with whom I had many walks and talks when he was going to the Cathedral and I to the "Standard" office. He was a man whom it did one good to come in contact with. When we were at Wynberg I explored, besides the Downs and their splendid heaths, the beautiful places held in the loving embrace of the mountain range from Constantia, famous for its wines, to the neighbour- hood of Cape Town. My wife and I liked the country and climate so well, that if it had not been for that wretched knee disablement, we would probably have not thought of ever returning to England except on a visit. But perchance if we stayed I would have passed from journalism to farming, for which I always retained a hereditary hankering that made me a crofter at Fortingall and Balquhidder.


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