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of treachery or treason, but much of old
companionship and pleasant hours on sunny days
upon the moorland.


NEARLY half a century ago,a young fellow with
a smartish air, though of a small ill-proportioned
figure, landed at the Cape of Good Hope, bringing
letters of introduction to the governor of
that colony from a well-known eccentric Scottish
nobleman. This fair-faced slender youth held
the humble rank of an assistant-surgeon in the

He soon showed that he possessed the power
of self-appreciation to such a degree as required
a little taking down. But this was found to be
no easy task. He had the faculty called, in
French, l'audace, often a good substitute for
ability; but when the two go hand in hand, they
carry all before them, in one shape or other;
and as the young surgeon was as clever as he
was impudent, he made a position for himself,
and, what is more, he kept it.

Doctor Jameswe give part of his name as it
stood in the Army List in 1865was a physician
by Edinburgh diploma. As we shall show by-
and-by, he never held any regimental rank,
passing, contrary to all precedent, to his full
surgeoncy on the staff.

By dates from unquestionable records, he
seems to have received his diploma at the early
age of fifteen. Whether these dates
corresponded with his certificate of baptism it is
impossible to say, as, under all circumstances, it
may be doubtful whether such a document ever

Whatever might have been the status of
military medical men fifty years since, James
liked his calling, and, socially speaking, was a
gentleman every inch of him: though this is
not literally saying very much for him, seeing
he was but a little man. He had a fair
allowance from some source or other; but he
never spoke of any relatives or friends out of the
military profession. His habits were too
expensive to be met by his mere pay and
allowances. He kept a horse and a private servant,
and, as a strict vegetarian, would touch none
but the most delicate fruits of the earth.
Potatoes and apples were, to him, "filthy roots";
the odour of cabbage turned him sick; but he
liked peas, and craved for asparagus, sea-
kale, peaches, grapes, melons, figs, custard
apples, and, above all, mangoes. Coffee was the
only stimulant he could bear, except when ill,
and then he would sip diluted champagne or
brandy, medicinally.

Some called him a toady; but, his letters of
introduction placed him at once in the best society
of the colony. Neither had he health for general
visiting. With those among whom he lived, he
made friends, and kept them. His testiness was
harmless, his abilities were unquestionable; and
it having been intimated to the governor that the
young medico's duties were to be made as light
as the rules of the service would permit, he was
installed as honorary physician to his excellency's
family, and soon obtained such a reputation,
both as physician and surgeon, that private
practice came to him without his seeking it. His
queer ways and irritable temper rather increased
than diminished his prestige, and he held his own
through good report and evil report.

When first called in to a patient, he would
have the room cleared of everything previously
prescribed, and would almost invariably order,
as preface to his course of treatment, a bath of
Cape wine! Happen what might, he claimed
the whole credit of a cure, or blamed others
for failure. He was, to be sure, sent for at
times as a last resource. If the patient
recovered, Doctor James had all the merit; if
death ensued, "Doctor James had unfortunately
been summoned when the case was hopeless."

His excellency spoiled him. He became a kind
of tame imp, encouraged as amusing and harmless
enough; but, like such imps, he took advantage
one day of his position, and was impertinent.
He had the entrée of the governor's private
cabinet. One morning, sauntering in, he had
the assurance to make some querulous remarks
on an official document lying on the table.
Finally, he worked himself into such an offensive
pet, that his excellency resolved to give him
a lesson; so, snatching the little fellow up by
the collar of his uniform, he swung him over the
window-silla few feet above the grassy
gardenand shook him. James screeched and
cried peccavi. He was forgiven, and never
offended there in the same way again. Still,
every one was persuaded that such unwarrantable
humours as he exhibited, were only tolerated
by reason of certain influences that remain a
mystery at this day. His next adventure might
have ended his career. The story from Government
House got bruited abroad, and much fun
was raised at Doctor James's expense. Some
laughed about it, in such a way as that James
could not but be aware of the fact. He had
been looking out for a chance of checking the
sauciness of some of the young fellows in the
garrison, and here was the chance at last. One
morning, a tall cornet, whose contemptuous
manner had much irritated him, was sauntering
along under the trees of a charming walk, in
one of the most public parts of Cape Town
where, to this day, the people are wont to sit
upon the stoeps, men smoking, women knitting,
and grave little Dutch children toddling up and
downwhen James strutted up to the young
dragoon: a member of the governor's staff.
James stopped the way with a defiant air. Some
ill-conditioned person had made the most of the
cornet's disparaging jests. James was glad of
his opportunity of asserting himself. High
words ensued, the doctor's shrill voice piercing
the air, and thus drawing attention (as he
intended it should) to the encounter, which
ended in a challenge. Next morning a quiet
little duel took place. It ended well. Hands
were shaken, and cornet and doctor became
good friends for life. If the affair ever came