Page:Speeches And Writings MKGandhi.djvu/27

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A Scene in Johannesburg

THE scene is laid in Johannesburg. Summer is coming and the days are lengthening out. At Park Station, at 6 o’clock on a Sunday evening, in September 1908, whilst it was still broad daylight, a small animated group of dark-skinned people might have been observed eagerly looking in the direction from which the mail train from Natal, that stops at Volksrust, was expected. The watchers were Madrassi hawkers, who were apparently awaiting the arrival of one affectionately regarded by them. Punctually to time, the train steamed in and there was observed, descending from a second-class compartment, attended by a prison-warder in uniform, a small, slim, dark, active man with calm eyes and a serene countenance. He was clad in the garb of a South African native convict—small military cap, that did not protect him from the sun, loose, coarse jacket, bearing a numbered ticket and marked with the broad arrow, short trousers, one leg dark, the other light, similarly marked, thick grey woollen socks and leather sandals. But it was plain that he was not a South African native, and upon closer scrutiny, one became aware that he, too, was an Indian, like those who respectfully saluted him, as he turned quietly to the warder for instructions. He was carrying a white canvas bag, which held his clothing and other effects found upon him when he was received by the gaol authorities, and also a small basket containing books. He had been sent by the Government to travel nearly two hundred miles, for many hours, without food or the means of procuring it, as the warder