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Now for private rights. No prospecting is allowed on private lands without the written consent of the owner and a license from the State.
When minerals or precious stones are found upon other than private lands, then the Government has the right to “proclaim those lands as a public digging."
In the case of private property the owner must have three months' notice, and he also is entitled to have his dwelling-place ("werf") and his cultivated lands excluded from the operation of the law. He is also entitled to have a “Mynpacht" or mining lease over an area equal to 10 per cent. of the whole area of his farm.
He is likewise entitled to "owner's claims." His “werf” and “Mynpacht” can never be included amongst proclaimed lands, and he is entitled to locate his “Mynpacht” and his owner's claims wherever he chooses before the rest of his farm is proclaimed.
After the law has been complied with as above, then the prospector on pegging intent comes in. He takes out a licence, and (aided by powers of attorney from other people) pegs off as many claims as he pleases on the rest of the farm.
The licence for a prospector's claim is 55. per month or £3 per annum, such money being divided equally between the Government and the owner of the farm. If those claims prove auriferous, and a shaft is sunk and a mine established, that £3 is paid in perpetuity. If, on the other hand, the claims are abandoned, the licence lapses.
If licences are not paid up to thirty days after due date, claims can be recovered on payment of arrears and a fine. After that date Government may sell for the benefit of the public treasury.
The penalty for maliciously interfering with a peg is very heavy--three years' imprisonment. “Cursed is he who removeth his neighbour's landmark," said the Mosaic law. That applies equally in the Transvaal, the only difference being that the curse is accompanied by a heavy monetary imposition, or the incarceration aforesaid.
The increase of the last twelve months' pegging over that of the previous year amounts to 14,288 claims, the total number of claims pegged by diggers and prospectors being 62,489.
There are therefore three parties in the State (other, of course, than the proprietors of the mines) who benefit largely by the mining industry: (1) the Government, who, besides other sources of revenue, receive over £90,000 per annum for claim licences ; (2) the Dutch farmers, who divide amongst themselves a like sum for claim licences, to say nothing of the larger sums they occasionally receive for their farms when they sell them out; and (3) the native Kaffir, who earns sometimes as high as £1 a week, and seldom less than £3 per month.
Owing to the introduction of new improvements in machinery, and various economic devices whereby the precious metal can be extracted at the very smallest cost to the producer, the gold fields of the Transvaal are probably, at this moment, in a more advanced stage of perfection than any other gold fields in the world, notwithstanding the dire prophecies their detractors at one time uttered. Their first was that the Banket beds would not last out; their second, that the main reef would come to an end a short distance east of Johannesburg; and, thirdly, they laughed the deep-level claims to scorn.
The conjectures made by the optimists and jeered at by their enemies have now proved certainties. All the good authorities agree in giving the Banket beds a good long lease of life; the extreme richness of the deep levels has been proved beyond all doubt ; and as to the main reef, both east and west of Johannesburg, for a day's journey, there are richly paying mines that have been opened up on the main reef.
And when, in conclusion, I make mention of another most important fact-viz., that the dividend list for the first six months of 1895 shows distinctly that the net profits of gold mining on the Rand increase faster than the gross outputs-I think we may fairly prophesy in extraordinary golden future to this New Eldorado, in view of the fact that gold has been proved for miles all round, and that but a small area has hitherto been opened up and worked.
T was the time of the Indian monsoon. Everything was damp
and mouldy; while, to add to our distress, we had been sent to camp out, for cholera was rife in the barracks.
1, George Paton, was sitting upon the side of my camp bedstead, smoking and chatting with Colonel Cornwallis, one stifling morning, when the latter's orderly came into the tent.
Dennis, the orderly, presented as solemn a countenance as if he had to report the destruction of the entire contents of the canteen. He stood at attention till Cornwallis, eyeing him curiously, asked:
"Well, Dennis, what has gone wrong this time? have these Hindoo Johnnies risen at last ? ”
“No such luck, Colonel !” answered Dennis, with a limp smile. “We've bin stuck under canvas for fear of that cholery till I'd give the coat av me back for a good, murderous cut in at them mutinous beggars. By the Howly Mother, I would so, Colonel! The heat's sickenin', an' so's the rotted dulness of livin' two miles from a town, which is our lot at present, beggin' yure pardon, Colonel, for spakin' so familiar like. No, , it ain't a risin' of the natives; but I don't know as it's any the better nor worse than that. Corporal Jackson's dead-cut his throat."
Cornwallis looked thoughtful as he replied: "The heat takes men in different ways; there wasn't a better fellow in the ranks than Jackson either. I thought he looked a little off colour yesterday, at parade; his eyes were too bright to my
liking. I fancied he had been drinking too freely.” "If ye think that was the case, Colonel, ye are mistook. 'Twasn't the likker in Jackson's case—not it. The sweltering heat was at first to blame, I make no doubt ; for, like the rest of us, it told on him a bit, av coorse. Afterwards, the heat had little to do with it at all; and yit it seems a queer go, too, for Jackson, of all men, to show the white feather, an' to niggers, too! I
I own, but, to spake plain, it's my idear that precious son of sin, I utt Tuchmee, is at the bottom of the mess. If there is to be blood-lettin'atween us and them snaky sapoys, don't I wish he may git near the twist av me sword! I'll touch him up, by the holy Moses an' the Red Sea, I will so, Colonel, beggin' your honour's presence. He may be a pujaree, or praste, as is his outlandish name ; but I'll let daylight into the middle of his carcase.”
“Come, Dennis," said the Colonel ; “ if you go on in that way, man, I'll begin to think the heat has affected you. What is your idea concerning Jackson's suicide?” “Frightened into it, sor; and here's the why av it. He knew that it 'ud be
his turn to do sentry to-night, seein' there isn't many of us here to do that same; for we've a dacent and tidy hospital list, as you know, Colonel.”
"I thought Jackson was made of better stuff. The sentries who have so unaccountably disappeared, two nights in succession, fell victims to their own carelessness. My orders were plain enough : fire at anything you see, and rouse the camp. If a man won't follow plain orders he deserves his fate, whatever it be. I went over the ground yesterday morning, and all I could see was a tiger's spoor. That explains what became of Mallon, the previous sentry. What death took Smith the night before, I can't tell.”
“That pujaree, Lutt Tuchmee, is at the bottom of the mess. I ses it agin, Colonel, and every trooper swears it's true.”
“There, Dennis, don't talk any more nonsense”; and so saying, Cornwallis dismissed the orderly.
“It's a queer thing to happen," said the Colonel to me, meditatively. “The strange part of it is, that I kept a watch myself on the sentry last night, without saying anything about it. To tell the truth, there's nothing makes our troops so shaky and nervous as the various yarns that reach us from time to time of the superstitious jugglery of the natives which seems to be going on. I saw Mallon keeping a good look-out, and I'm certain that he had his carbine ready.
At half-past twelve he had disappeared. I tracked his body for some way, but a few thousand yards from his post the trail was lost in a ridge of clayey rock or kayar.”
“What about the pujaree, Lutt Tuchmee?”
“I don't suppose he can turn himself into a tiger, with all his spells,” said Cornwallis, with a dry laugh. “If he has that power, I mean to test it. Say nothing about it: when night comes I intend to change places with the sentry, and leave them none the wiser."
"I will help you to keep watch," said I.
“Not at all; there will be no merit in two solving a mystery that one failed to grasp. I will show the men that, with ordinary foresight, the two sentries need not have lost their lives. It will be a lesson to them to have eyes behind them, as well as in front, in these troublesome times.”
Colonel Cornwallis lit a cigar and strolled out of the tent. I saw him several times that day on matters of duty ; but he did not refer to the coming night, and I naturally was reluctant to pester my superior officer with my theories or wishes.
Night had come. Overhead the clouds were murky, with here and there a sword'swidth of moonlight cleaving through. There was enough glimmer from the stretch of sand to give a light that showed me the Colonel's tall form in the distance, doing sentry go.
In spite of his wishes, I determined to see what came of the Colonel's experiment. As near as I dared, I crept towards where he leant on his carbine, alert and keen. Occasionally he would walk to and fro, to take the rheumatic twinges out of his bones, which the air, dripping with moisture, gave him.
I watched and waited. Nothing stirred. The men under canvas were either asleep or drowsy, The earth seemed as still as if red-handed death had slain everything that waited for its inevitable destruction. I dared not move about, for fear of being discovered: the troops said afterwards, at Lucknow, that Cornwallis had eyes
behind him, and it seemed almost true to me then. An hour passed, but the silence was unbroken ; half an hour more slowly slipped