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Chapter VIII.: A BRIGHT SUNSET. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 1 (Life in the Wilds, Hill and the Valley, Brooke and Brooke Farm) 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1832). Vol. 1.
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A BRIGHT SUNSET.
One fine evening, about the beginning of February,—that is, near the end of summer at the Cape,—a very extraordinary sight was seen by our settlers. The boys who were climbing trees for fruit perceived it first, and made such haste down from their perches, and shouted the news so loudly in their way home, that in a few minutes every one was out at the door, and all formed in a body to go and meet the new arrival. This arrival was no other than a loaded waggon, drawn by eight oxen; a scanty team at the Cape, where they sometimes harness twelve or sixteen.
There was a momentary anxiety about what this waggon might be, and to whom it might belong; for it did now and then happen that a new band of settlers, or a travelling party from Cape Town, passed through the village, and requested such hospitality as it would, in the present case, have been inconvenient or impossible to grant. The young eyes of the party, however, presently discovered that the driver of the team was their friend Richard the labourer, their messenger to Cape Town, of whom they spoke every day, but whom they little expected to see back again so soon. It was Richard assuredly. They could tell the crack of his whip from that of any other driver. The captain waved his cap above his head and cheered; every man and boy in the settlement cheered; the mothers held up their babies in the air, and the little ones struggled and crowed for joy. The oxen quickened their pace at the noise, and Richard stood up in front of the waggon, and shaded his eyes with his cap from the setting sun, that he might see who was who in the little crowd, and whether his old mother had come out to meet him. He saw her presently, leaning on the captain's arm, and then he returned the cheer with might and main. A load of anxiety was removed from his mind at that moment. He had left his companions in a destitute state, without shelter, or arms, or provision beyond the present day. He had not received any tidings of them; it was impossible he should; and a hundred times during his journey home, he bad pictured to himself the settlement as he might find it. Sometimes he fancied it deserted by all who had strength to betake themselves to the distant villages: sometimes he imagined it wasted by famine, and desolated by wild beasts or more savage men. At such times he thought how little probable it was that one so infirm as his mother should survive the least of the hardships that all were liable to; and though he confided in the captain's parting promise to take care of her, he scarcely expected to meet her again. Now, he had seen her with his own eyes; and he saw also that the general appearance of the throng before him was healthful and gladsome, and his heart overflowed with joy.
“God bless you, God bless you all!” he cried, as he pushed his way through the crowd which had outstripped his mother and the captain.
“Let him go; do not stop him,” exclaimed several, who saw his eagerness to be at his mother's side: and they turned away and patted the oxen and admired the waggon, till the embrace was received and the blessing given, and Richard at liberty to greet each friend in turn.
“Tell me first,” said he, in a low voice to Mr. Stone, “are all safe? Have all lived through such a time as you must have had of it?”
“All but one. We have lost George Prest. We could ill spare him; but it was God's will.”
Richard looked for George's father, who appeared to be making acquaintance with the oxen, but had only turned away to hide the tears which he could not check. Richard wrung his hand in silence, and was not disposed for some time to go on with his tale or his questions.
The first thing he wanted to know was where and how his friends were living.
“You shall see presently,” said the captain. And, as soon as they turned round the foot of the hill, he did see a scene which astonished him. Part of the slope before him, rich with summer verdure, was inclosed with a rude fence, within which two full grown and three young antelopes were grazing. In another paddock were the grey mare and her foal. Across the sparkling stream at the bottom of the slope lay the trunk of a tree which served as a foot-bridge. On the other side at some little distance was the wood, in its richest beauty. Golden oranges shone among the dark green leaves, and vines were trained from one stem to another. On the outskirts of the wood were the dwellings, overshadowed by the oaks and chestnuts which formed their corner-posts. Plastered with clay, and rudely thatched, they might have been taken for the huts of savages but for their superior size, and for certain appearances round them which are not usual among uncivilized people. A handmill, made of stones, was placed under cover beside one of the dwellings; a sort of work-bench was set up under one of the trees, where lay the implements of various employments which had been going on when the arrival of the waggon had called every one from his work. The materials for straw-platting were scattered in the porch, and fishing-nets lay on the bank of the stream to dry. The whole was canopied over with the bluest of summer skies. Dark mountains rose behind.
“We are just in time to show you our village before sunset,” said the captain, observing how the last level rays were glittering on the stream.
“And is this our home?” said Richard, in quiet astonishment. “Is this the bare ruined place I left five months ago? Who has helped you? Your own hands can never have done all this.”
“Nature,—or He who made nature—has given us the means,” replied the captain; “and our own hands have done the rest. Well-directed labour is all we have had to depend on.”
“Wonderful!” cried Richard. “The fields are tilled——”
“By simple individual labour. There can be little combination in tillage on a small scale where different kinds of work must succeed each other, instead of being carried on at the same time.”
“These houses and so many utensils——”
“Are the produce of a division of labour as extensive as our resources would allow.”
“There must have been wise direction as well as industrious toil.”
“Yes,” said Mr. Stone, smiling, “we have been as fortunate in our unproductive as in our productive labourers.”
“And have you had plenty for all?”
“Abundance; because we have had no more unproductive labourers than we really wanted, and not a single idle person in the society, except infants in arms.”
“I don't see that you want anything,” said Richard, laughing; “I might have spared my journey, I think.”
“You will not say so,” replied the captain, “when you see how behindhand we are in some things from a deficiency of labour.”
“Of labour!” cried Richard; “I can help but little there. I bring but one pair of hands you know.—There are the oxen to be sure.”
“And much besides, full as valuable as either. The waggon will save many a week's or month's work of all our people, if we consider the toil of conveying goods from place to place with the hands only, or with such poor contrivances as ours have been. This waggon would have saved a store of labour if we had had it at harvest time. Many a long day's work did it cost us all to carry our corn in bundles, and on hurdles, or in the few sacks we had. Such a waggon as this would have carried it in a day, and we should have had all the rest of our labour to spare for other things.”
“I hope,” said Mr. Stone, “you have brought the materials for a water-mill. It is a pity such a fall of water as there is yonder should be wasted.”
“I have brought all but such as we may get out of our wood,” replied Richard. “It would have been folly to load the waggon with woodwork when we have so much timber at hand. But I have brought all the necessary tools.”
“We shall make a prodigious saving of labour there,” said the captain. “We are obliged to keep three handmills constantly at work; and even so can scarcely get flour enough for our daily wants. When our mill is up, it will grind our whole stock in a week, and one man will be enough to look after it.”
“As I had not room to bring everything,” said Richard, “I have been more particular about a good supply of tools than about articles of machinery. I thought we might make machinery with tools more easily than we could make tools with machinery.”
“Very right. You brought the simple machinery by which we could make the complicated: for both are machinery and both are tools. Tools are simple machinery; and machinery is a complicated tool. So you have brought the means by which we may get together the parts of a forge; and then the forge will in its turn make and keep in repair our tools. But was the Governor willing to advance these goods for us?”
“Perfectly; when he heard what a variety of things we hoped to send by and by in exchange for them. I told him we were honest people, who hoped to pay for the help we wanted: and when he heard how well we were doing before we were robbed, he said he would trust us for the debt, for he thought, for our own sakes, we should keep a better watch henceforth.”
“We must see to that without delay, Richard.”
“Yes, sir; and I have brought arms and powder; and we have made an arrangement about exchanging. The Governor says it is hard upon our settlement and others to have to send so far as Cape Town; so he is to despatch a ship to an appointed place on the coast, only fifty miles from hence, and there we and all the settlers between this place and the mountains to the south are to send our fruit, and our corn, and our hides, and ostrich feathers, and anything else we may have, to be exchanged for powder, and iron, and any manufactured things that we cannot get for ourselves. The convenience is so great, that among so many settlements we can well afford to defray the expense of the little voyage; and, when I look round me, sir, I have no fear of our not being able to pay off our debt, if we can but keep thieves at a distance.”
When the waggon had crossed the stream (which was easy in its present shallow state) everybody was eager to begin to unpack; but the captain forbade any such proceeding till the morning. It was necessary that Richard should superintend; and Richard was very tired; so, when the oxen were taken out, the curious were obliged to content themselves with peeping and prying under the leather covering. There appeared a tempting store of packages, but so neatly done up, that nothing could be seen of them but here and there the blade of a saw, or the edge of a ploughshare, or the stock of a musket.
Some one asked whether watch should not be kept over their new wealth during the night.— “No doubt,” the captain replied. “There was little fear of another attempt from the Bushmen at present; but there could not be too much care in watching.”
Arnall suggested that the watchers should be furnished with fire-arms, and offered his own services in that case, as he was accustomed to handle a musket. This seemed so reasonable, that Richard undertook to produce two muskets and a small barrel of powder. Arnall was properly thanked, while one said to another that his love of handling fire-arms must be very strong to overcome the dislike of night-air and fatigue in one who was so fond of his ease.
While Richard was busy upon the waggon, Arnall was seen to be talking very earnestly with him, till Richard laughed aloud, when the gentleman marched off with a very haughty step.
“What is the matter, Richard?” said the captain.
“Why, sir, Mr. Arnall came to beg me to transgress your orders so far as just to unpack a razor and soap for him. He says he shall not feel himself again till he is shaved, and I suppose that is the reason he skulked behind so when I would have spoken to him at first.”
“He need not be ashamed of his beard,” said the captain, “for we are all in the same plight. It is just five months since we have had a razor among us.”
“But the best of it is, sir,” said Richard, “that I have got no razors. It was that made Mr. Arnall so angry. I am sure I am sorry; but being shaved myself only once a week, it never came into my mind how much gentlemen think of being shaved every day.”
“We must forgive you an omission here and there,” said the captain, “if we find you have had a good memory on the whole.”
“You will please to remember, sir, that I had no list, for want of paper to make one. All the way as I went, I kept planning and saying over to myself what I should get: and at last it occurred to me that if I could not have pen and ink, I might find a slate: and so I did.”
“You picked one up by the road-side, I suppose.”
“Yes, sir; I found a fiat piece and a sharp piece, and wrote down whatever occurred to me that we should want; but I never once thought of razors. There are scissors enough, however, and Mr. Arnall may clip his chin, if he can persuade the ladies to lend him a pair.”
While Arnall was examining, and priming, and loading his piece, his good-humour returned; and as he held up his head and paced backwards and forwards beside the waggon, he presented a very good example to all who wished to learn how a sentinel should look. It did not make him angry to see the little boys imitating him in the morning, till one of them put his hand to his chin in a way not to be mistaken. It was impossible, however, to find out whether they were laughing at his beard or at his wish to be rid of it.