immediately over it, indeed part of the town has climbed the hill, and the huts are built on small terraces scarped out of its sides. These hills are covered with boulders and clad with rank vegetation, prominent among which is our ubiquitous aloe from behind therefore, the town is completely shut in, but spread out before it and on either side is the beautiful De Kaap Valley – bounded by the mountain ranges previously referred to. It is difficult to estimate a population so scattered; I was told it might be 2500, I think I am safe in saying it was not more than half that number, but a daily increasing one. In the bill on the spur of which the town is built are the nearest mines, the Central, Rymer’s, etc., from which at frequent intervals came the explosions already spoken of. A tiny stream runs through the town, and at present this is the only, and totally inadequate supply, but wells were being sunk with every hope of success. At one end of the town a low range of stony hills projects into the valley from the higher ranges. and almost at right angles to them, shutting out from Barberton any view of the valley in that direction – although of course it does not intercept the view of the mountains towering beyond and above. On the slope of this low range of hills, and looking across the valley is the future suburb of Barberton, which Natalians have named after our fashionable suburb” the Berea.” Barberton is some 2500 feet above sea level, although at the bottom of the valley, and is said to have a salubrious climate, being above the malaria which haunts the low-lying portions of the basin, The entire absence of any sanitation, however, will, unless vigorous measures of reform are immediately set about, beget the I inevitable Nemesis which dogs the footsteps of filth viz. fever of typhoid and enteric types. I should say, however, that the principal men of the place seem fully alive to this, and are already about setting their house in order. Mr Boyd favourably known here on the Advertiser staff has been appointed secretary to a sanitary board, and will no doubt bring his Durban experience to bear on the subject with advantage.
The sound of iron pestle and mortar were heard everywhere around us, so suggestive of the chemists’ nauseous compounds, but here only indicating- that specimens of quartz were being pounded, to be tested, or ” panned,” as it is termed. This is done by putting it in a prospecting pan; water is added freely and repeatedly, and then gently poured off, carrying off the quartz powder, but leaving the gold, if any, in a fine streak at the seam of the dish.
Very eagerly is this process watched, and much secrecy observed, Knots of people may be observed crowded round some “prospector” just in inspecting his specimens and discussing critically their merits. Brokers are busy going to and fro advocating the claims of some new find. Here comes a miner or prospector, unmistakable in his wide slouched hat, his sun burnt face, his weather beaten appearance, his jaunty air, and freedom from the restraints of many of the garments conventionality imposes upon us.
The Boer farmer on his sturdy pony is as readily picked out in the busy throng, his swarthy skin, ample beard, his brown corduroys and his gutturals are all his own. Numerous kafirs, “Sans culottes” and sans almost everything else but dirt, are of course everywhere, and as usual noisy and happy – where are they not so? Here comes a string of kafir damsels, under the care of father or brother, each upright as a dart, balancing on their head a Pumpkin or a calabash of native beer and innocent of anything but the merest apology for clothing, their bronzed, but withal shapely limps and lithe figures offering, admirable models for sculptor or artist. The mild hindoo has tramped wearily up here too, and his bright scarf or scarlet turban lend bits of colouring to a