The Sterley's of Oakland Park
Author: SAREJESS

Chapter 10
A letter from Tom

 

Dear husband do sit down and stop pacing so for I cannot read this letter I have recived from dear Arabella,” remarked Lady Ann. “I fear I shall not sit down madam for I to have recived a letter of the greatest importance from Tom,” said Sir Thomas

Indeed I believe the nature of Tom’s communication will be in a similar vein to that I have of Arabella,” replied Lady Ann

Missive

Arabella Sterley,

Cape Town,

Cape of Good Hope

 3rd December 1814

To: Lady Ann Sterley

Oakland Park

Notheringay

Surrey

England

Dearest Mamma,

Having arrived here but a short while ago I felt it proper to write and advise you that the Cape is one of the grandest places in the entire world. The mountain when so disposed puts on its table cloth of cloud and is the most splendid thing to observe.

We have found a little house in Long Market street one of the best streets in the colony and here we have set up a home in the most domestic bliss.  With the help of one of our Dutch neighbors Mrs. Viljoen a matronly woman of many years. We managed to find the most delightful cook and a number of house servants.

Last evening we had the very great honor of dining with his lordship the governor Lord Charles is an indifferent and difficult man who delights in the rule of law for in his household every thing is done to an order and prescription that I have seldom seen.

I fear that Tom will soon run afoul of his lordships temper if he dose not trim his sails and obey to the letter any and every instruction that his lordship issues. I am right now in a highly agitated state of nerves as Tom has been summoned to attend his lordship the messenger came early with a note that Tom was to come on a matter of the greatest urgency.

Dear Mamma please allow me to put your fears to rest on our behalf for Tom has just returned and imparted to me the following news his lordship has signaled out Tom for a mission of the greatest importance. I had feared that he would fall under his lordships displeasure after a certain incident concerning a gravy boat last evening during dinner however Lord Charles has found Tom to be exactly the type of person he needs for an excursion into the interior of the country. The mission is to take several months and I fear that I will be all alone while Tom goes into the interior to map with a certain Captain Barrow a number of places which have previously been explored but not properly mapped or detailed.

The purpose of this excursion is to find suitable habitations for a number of new settler parties which Lord Charles is trying to get the government to agree to send to the Cape.

This is the best news for it means a rapid advancement for Tom, I have just this instant recived a note to call upon her ladyship thus I close this letter one of the hippest people at the Cape

My love to all at Oakland’s please give my deepest love to Lydia and George and if the letter arrives after the blessed event of the birth of there first child.

Your Loving daughter

Arabella

Missive

Thomas Sterley

Cape Town,

Cape of Good Hope

3rd December 1814

To: Sir Thomas Sterley

Oakland Park

Notheringay

Surrey

England

Dear papa,

While we were at Gibraltar we hear that the French were out and that Napoleon had escaped which put us in great fear. We proceeded from Gibraltar with caution in the expectation of meeting a new French fleet bent on war in this we were fortunate enough to find none. However as we closed on the coasts of Africa we chanced one morning to have to beat to quarters for the foretops men had sighted a sail of unknown origin the men with the spy glass told us that she was a Barbary pirate out from her base in Algeria thus we readied ourselves in the event of battle and ran before the Wind Captain Braithwaite not wanting to expose the ladies and children on board to the sights of heated battle. For this we gave him our appreciation. However the ship began gaining and we were forced to stand ready to sell our lives dearly. It was at 2 o’clock PM that the vessel came in range and to our great surprise found ourselves in the company of a privateer under the command of James Aubrey you will of course remember captain Aubrey for the hot work he did when he cut out the French man of war “Le Emperor” at Marseille it seems that he was also under the impression that Napoleon was out. We continue din his company for a number of days before he began to inspect some of the North African ports thus we continued to the Cape.

Upon our arrival we were reliably informed that the story of the French been out was a falsehood spread by those who would sooner see us once more at war to suit there own pockets then to see us at peace.  A fast sloop had overtaken us while on the way to the Cape with the fortunate news that the emperor is still tucked up safely in Elba with little prospect of him getting of that island.

I had occasion this very morning to attended Lord Charles who has imparted to me a mission of the utmost importance concerning inspection of an area known as the Zuurvield (Sour field) for settlement by prospective people of farming quality from England. As this is a mission close to Lord Charles’s heart I would ask that you do not spread it abroad until such time as it has been officially confirmed. There is a great depletion of persons in the area in question. I am reliably informed by Lord Charles and a number of those people in the office of the governor that it is one of the best parts of the interior for settlement. The fact that there is an occasional disruption by the natives is of no concern for our superior fire power keeps them in obedience of our rule.

Thus in a weeks time I shall begin my exploration of the African interior I am of the opinion that it will give me much time upon which to work upon a new book of verse which I have lately begun.

Your obedient son

Thomas Sterley

“Pray dear husband who is this captain Aubrey of whom Tom speaks?” asked Lady Ann. “You will recall my dear that it was in the year12 when the America’s declared war on England. That we first heard of a dashing young commander who by ruse extracted the frigate John from a very precarious position in New York harbor” said Sir Thomas. “Indeed I recall that at the time you said it was a hot piece of work,” replied Lady Ann.

“Quite so well the dashing young office was none other then Captain James Aubrey I believe he has some connection to the earl of Waterford a nephew of sorts I think,” said Sir Thomas.

“really husband his lordship if ever thing you have communicated to me is true is the most insufferable tyrant in the whole of Ireland I am surprised that you could have any thing good to say a bout a relative of his” remarked Lady Ann.

“It is remarkable that some one from his lordships family can be of such a daring nature I have heard that he styles his actions on those of Lord Nelson you will recall my dear that the men used to follow the gallant Nelson in to the very heat of battle with out a care as if they were going to church. Well captain Aubrey is very much the same if I am not mistaken he is currently seeking out enemies of England in a captured Barberry vessel and err long the gazettes will be full of his exploits,” said Sir Thomas.

“Is he not the same captain Auberry of HMS Surprise?” Asked William Parker who had been sitting listening intently to the conversation. “I do not think so for Captain James Aubrey is a young man of but four and twenty, whilst Captain Aubrey of whom you speak is a man of some seniority,” remarked Sir Thomas.

“At this rate dear husband one can say that the service is full of Aubrey’s, said Lady Ann thinking herself quite a wit. “The gentlemen looked at each other for a moment before the idea of what Lady Ann had said struck them. Sir Thomas was unable to contain his mirth and begun to shake in response to the jest that his wife had just made. “Indeed madam you are quite in form this afternoon.

“It is indeed gratifying to know that Lord Charles thinks so highly of your son that he sends him on a mission of such importance,” remarked Emily Parker. Who did not understand the wit of Lady Ann but was trying to be good company and have some thing to say. “Yes it is most fortuitous that his lordship has the good sense to see the quality of young Tom, said Lady Ann.

“It is of some concern to me that he is been sent in to the country on such a mission has there not been a war of some sort in the region? Of late asked Mr Parker. “I fear that you have greatly underestimated our Tom, sir for he is well equipped to face any adventure which might chance upon his way,” replied Sir Thomas.

“Come now brother-in law Sterley surly you can see that my concern is well founded and is in the best interests of young Tom” remarked Mr Parker. “Quite so, I had not thought of it until you mentioned it I trust that the expedition to the interior will be well armed and ready for any occasion” said Sir Thomas.

Missive

Lady Ann Sterley

Oakland Park

Surrey

Mrs. Arabella Sterley

Long Market Square

Cape Town

Cape of Good Hope

Dearest Arabella,

I am writing this instant having just returned from Morton to let you know that our Lydia has been delivered of her first born a handsome boy who lit the world know that he had arrived by screaming the moment he arrive din this world. He is the most delightful child with a head of red hair. Which is most surprising to us for neither the Parkers nor we have any relation who is of that color.

Papa is the happiest man in the world happy to know he is at last a grand papa, indeed the moment the message came that Lydia was confined we took the coach and rode to Morton we found George in a high state of nerves upon our arrival.  Not knowing what to do with himself at one instant wishing to rush in and assist in the next fearing for dear Lydia. Papa took him in hand and retired with him to the library where they had brandy and cigars. It was most fortunate for it was not an easy birth and after five hours Lydia was all but spent one final push and the young lad came into the world. Announcing his arrival in the most dissatisfying way by yelling the roof of the house.

Of course Papa and George upon hearing the noise rushed up stairs and entered the room much too soon for the mid-wife’s liking but as you can imagine they were most anxious to make the acquaintance of the new heir to Morton.

Pray when Tom returns please give him my warmest affections and ask him to write for brother-in-law Parker is most anxious to hear the good news of his return.

Yours Mamma

Mrs. Arabella Sterley

Long Market Square

Cape Town

Cape of Good Hope

Lady Ann Sterley

Oakland Park

Surrey

Dearest Mamma,

In reply to yours I will start by congratulating you and Papa and indeed the whole family on the birth of Lydia’s baby. It has been three months now since Tom set out for the interior. I must confess that I did not ever think I would miss him as much as I do. I have had occasion to go about in society with hardly ever a chaperone, for the ladies at the Cape there is not much which can be said. They spend there days much as we spent ours at Oakland’s. For Cape Town is very provincial and all the talk is of sheep and horses. The evenings here would have been very long had I not made the acquaintance of a woman of some quality from Ireland. Mrs. Aitcheson whose husband is a general merchant here in the town. She is the most delightful woman who speaks highly of her part of Ireland of course. She has taught me a great many things about life at the Cape which I did not know. Indeed for a woman of humble birth she is remarkable in her knowledge I can only surmise that this knowledge comes from a life time of observation.

Pray give my warmest regards to the whole family at Oakland

Yours truly,

Arabella Sterley

It was a fine evening the windows were open a slight breeze was blowing the assembled company were gathered in the drawing room. The Cape at this time of the year was uncommonly warm the company of gentleman and ladies had taken the opportunity to loosen the proverbial belt. As they relaxed enjoying the fine evening “I hold certain reservations’ about a number of officials in the colonies government” remarked Alexander Aitcheson in a slight Scots accent. “I would be happy sir if you would advise me,” replied Tom. “I have it from a certain doctor who’s name shall go unmentioned that there was an occasion where upon there was a duel fought much to his lordships displeasure,” said Mr Aitcheson. “I believe I have heard some talk of an insult upon one of the officers of his lordships staff, resulting gin the duel by a certain medical doctor,” said Tom. “It is a matter of record that lord Charles has a number of spies who are quick to hurry to the castle with any news that might provoke dissatisfaction among the population,” said Mr Aitcheson. “I think we are all aware of the notoriety of Oliver the spy” remarked Mrs. Aitcheson who had been following the conversation from a distance. “I wonder that people can be so unpopular, remarked Arabella who like the rest of the colony was aware of the person known as Oliver the spy the fact that no one knew who this person of infamy did not stop the society from wondering who he or she was for Oliver was notorious for hiding his person under various disguises.

“His lordship has always been most attentive toward me and has always listened even going so far as to add his own comments, upon the matters of my resent travels into the eastern half of the colony” said Tom

“pray Tom tell us of some of the places you saw in your journey” said Ann Aitcheson “for I hear that some of the country is very reminiscent of England” she continued.

“It is a vast country indeed I was much taken by the vast forests and plains upon which great herds of antelope roam, we chanced upon a region where a great forest extended for many days ride here the most magnificent of beasts roamed content in there occupation of feeding for the elephant is a wonderful thing to behold,” said Tom the waters of the streams is the clearest in all the land sweet the fragrance of Africa fills ones nose with expectation” he continued.

“my dear madam you might have heard that the existent of the colony is reminiscent of England it is true that there are some places that have a certain reminiscence but far more of the country is new and unexplored we went much further then we were instructed and came at last into the kingdom of the Zulu’s a fearsome race bent on expansion of there territory. Had it not been for the murder of there king Sharka a few seasons back I believe they might even now be much closer then they now are. For there King chanced upon a new method of warfare unbeknown to those primitive tribes who fell before them.” There current King a lazy fellow of large proportions is content to count the cattle in his kraal. Thus danger has been averted for I was surprised to find a mission station in quite close to the Homestead of the king where young woman of the tribe go to be schooled and taught the glorious gospel of repentance and the love of Christ” said Tom

It is always pleasing to find that there are those who are about the Lords business” remarked Mrs. Aitcheson.

“I have never held with the London missionary Society gives the natives too many airs and graces” remarked Mr Aitcheson. “ I am surprised at you sir for I would have thought that as a Scot you would of all people have been more forward thinking in this regard” said Arabella.

“Then madam I am afraid I will have to remove that disillusion from your mind” replied Alexander Aitcheson. “Arabella dear my husband has been in the colony for a number of years and knows best how these things work pray consider this matter at an end,” said Ann Aitcheson. For the good woman feared she knew to well her husbands contempt for those who believed they knew best how to treat the natives. She had a long time ago learned that what ever her personal beliefs that Alexander Aitcheson son of a ancient Scots house was not to be persuaded in his beliefs that you could take the native out of the bush but not the bush out of the native.

“I think sir you are mistaken in your assumption that all natives are bad,” said Tom for in my travels I had a number in my company and they seemed to be the happiest of people with joy upon there countenance and greeted each task with vigor,” he continued.

“Then young Tom you have been singularly fortunate for I have in my service a rouge who is like many of his fellows a vagabond who only works under the most serious supervision and is one of the laziest persons on the face of the earth” replied Alexander Aitcheson.

“Sir I wonder at your description it is like saying all Scots see but money and are concerned about nothing else” said Arabella crossly.  “My dear lady let me tell you that when I first came to the colony I was like you ready to believe the best of all people but I was soon relieved of my good intentions when on the very day of my landing rouge by relived me of my purse. When caught he was dead drunk in a wine shop,” replied Mr Aitcheson. I was surprised to learn that he was a free man and not one of those poor wretches that they sell upon the block in the square,” he continued

When brought before the magistrate what pray was his excuse?” asked Mr Aitcheson “I will tell you he wanted money to show his friends that he was a gentleman of means. This been said on my account” he ended.

I believe you have been singular in your bad luck in connection with regard to the natives” said Tom now anxious to put an end to the heated debate “ furthermore let us put aside this matter till we have been in the colony a while longer so that we might properly form our opinions’, he ended.

 

Notify me when...

"This extract remains the exclusive property of the author who retains all copyright and other intellectual property rights in the work. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced or used by any person or entity for any purpose without the author's express permission and authority."

Please rate and comment on this work
The writer appreciates your feedback.

Book overall rating (No. of ratings: 
0
):
Would you consider buying this book?
Yes | No
Your rating:
Post a comment Share with a friend
Your first name:
Your email:
Recipient's first name:
Recipient's email:
Message:
 

Worthy of Publishing is against spam. All information submitted here will remain secure, and will not be sold to spammers.

No advertising or promotional content permitted.