[Illustration: Dutch church (Pretoria)]
The generality of weddings are uninteresting, but occasionally something unique is introduced. In the town of Harrismith a very long time ago, a transport-rider decided to take unto himself a fair partner. He was a practical sort of person, and in cases of this kind he did not believe in allowing business to become a secondary consideration. Transport-riding in those days paid very handsomely, and the intervention of side issues might have meant a serious loss. Accordingly, this particular gentleman (who had meantime been loading up coal) repaired to his tent-waggon at the appointed hour, and proceeded to attire himself in the conventional black suit. In order to economize time, he pulled his best clothes over his working garments, and hastily rubbing his face and hands with a coarse towel, he hurried towards the church. Within ten minutes he was back again loading up coal, his better half being occupied in preparing dinner.
The Dutch are not a musical nation, and for convincing proof it is only necessary to attend Divine service in any of their churches. Their rendition of psalm-tunes reminds me of A.K.H.B.’s story regarding the lonely Italian, who, passing the Iron Church in Edinburgh one Sunday morning while the congregation were engaged in praise, and on inquiring of the beadle ‘What that horrible noise was?’ remarked very sorrowfully, ’Then their God must have no ear for music’ It is strange, nevertheless, that no matter how poor a Boer may be, he will have an organ in his house. There are instances innumerable where the only respectable piece of furniture in the house is an organ. It does not, of course, follow that every Boer is a musician, but it is a fact that nearly every Boer knows how to produce at least one tune, even if it is only the Volkslied or national anthem. They will come into the stores, and the first thing they do is to sit down at an organ and show people generally what they can do. In the meantime the English merchant and his clerks fume around and vow all sorts of things under their breath, but the indefatigable Boer knows nothing of all this, and he would not care if he did.
Besides the everlasting worry of keeping the English community in hand, the Boers have been visited by other plagues, such as rinderpest. In 1897 such a calamity befell them, and although the rich farmers did not suffer materially, the poorer class experienced reverses sufficient to discourage them for life. The mistake made was simply this (and it is characteristic of the Boers): every individual farmer and owner of stock exercised his own judgment throughout, and the most drastic results followed as a consequence. Temporary excitement naturally took the place of clear judgment. A man may be possessed of all his faculties and yet lack that knowledge which would save 95 per