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A Day In Capetown
by [?]

I went across the Parade, which every morning is full of cheap-jack auctioneers selling all things under the sun to Kaffirs, Malays, coolies, towards Rondebosch and Wynberg. At the Castle the electric tram passed me, and I jumped on board and went, at the least, as fast as an English slow train. The wind was blowing and the dust flew, but ahead of us ran a huge electricity-driven water-cart, a very water tram, which laid the red clouds for us. Yet in London we travel painfully in omnibuses and horse-trams, and the rare water-cart is still drawn by horses.

The road towards Rondebosch, where Mr Rhodes lived, is full of interest. It reminded me dimly of a road in Ceylon: the colour of it was so red, and the reddish tree trunks and heavy foliage were almost tropical in character. Many of the houses are no more than one-storey bungalows; half the folks one saw were coloured; a rare Malay woman flaunted colour like a tropic bird. Avenues of pines resembled huge scrub; they cast strong shadows even in the greyness of the day. Far above the huge ramparts of Table Mountain lay the clouds, and the wind whistled mournfully from the organ pipes of the Devil’s Peak. In unoccupied lands were great patches of wild arum, and suddenly I saw the gaunt Australian blue gum, which flourishes here just as well as the English oak. Two white gums shone among sombrest pines. They took my mind suddenly back to the bush of the Murray Hills, for there they gleam like sunlit lighthouses among the darker and more melancholy timber of the heights.

The houses grew fewer and fewer beyond Rondebosch, and at last we came to Wynberg, a quiet little suburban town. The tram ran through and beyond it, and I got off and walked for a while among the side roads. And the aspect of the country was so quiet, and yet so rich, that I wondered how any could throw doubts upon the wonderful value of the country. Surely this was a spot worth fighting for, and, more certainly still, it was a place for peace. A long contemplative walk brought me back to Rondebosch, and again I took the train-like tram and went back to busy Capetown.

In any new town the heights about and above it appeal strongly to every wanderer. I had no time to spare for the ascent of Table Mountain, and the tablecloth of clouds indeed forbade me to attempt it. But someone had spoken to me of the Kloof road, which leads to the saddleback between the Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, so, taking the Kloof Street tram, I ran with it to its stopping-place and found the road. There the houses are more scattered; the streets are thin. But about every house is foliage; in every garden are flowers. As I mounted the steep, well-kept road I came upon pine woods. Across the valley, or the Kloof, I saw the lower grassy slopes of Table Mountain, where the trees dwindled till they dotted the hill-side like spare scrub. Above the trees is a cut in the mountain, above that the bare grass, and then the frowning weather-worn bastions of the mountain with its ancient horizontal strata. It is cut and scarped into gullies and chimneys; for the mountain climber it offers difficult and impossible climbs at every point. Down the upper gullies hung wisps of ragged cloud, pouring over from the plateau 4000 feet above the town.

On the left of the true Table Mountain there is a rugged and ragged dip, and further still the rocks rise again in the sharper pinnacles of the Devil’s Peak. That slopes away till it runs down into the house-dotted Cape flats, and beyond it lie Rondebosch, Wynberg and Constantia. Across the grey and misty flats other mountains rise–mountains of a strange shape which suggests a peculiar and unusual geological formation.