Page:Speeches And Writings MKGandhi.djvu/28

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had no funds for that purpose and but for the charity of a European friend—a Government official—he would have had to starve for twenty-four hours. A brief consultation ensued between the prisoner and the warder. The latter appeared to realise the incongruity of the situation, for he bore himself towards the prisoner with every reasonable mark of respect. The latter was evidently a person of some importance, to whom a considerable amount of deference should be shown. The subject of conversation was whether the prisoner preferred to go by cab or to walk to the gaol. If the former, he (the prisoner) would have to pay for it. He, however, declined the easier method of locomotion, choosing to walk three-quarters of a mile in broad day-light, in his convict suit, to the gaol and resolutely shouldering his bag, he briskly stepped out, the Madrassi hawkers shamefacedly following at some distance. Later, he disappeared within the grim portals of the Johannesburg gaol, above which is carved, in Dutch, the motto, "Union makes strength."

Five years have passed. On the dusty, undulating road from Standerton to Greylingstad, for a distance of three miles, is seen a long, trailing "army" of men who, on closer inspection, are recognisable as Indians of the labouring classes, to the number of some two thousand. Upon questioning them, it would be found that they had been gathered from the coal mines of Northern Natal, where they had been working under indenture, or as "free" men, liable to the £3 annual tax upon the freedom of themselves, their wives, their sons of 16 years and their daughters of thirteen. They had marched from Newcastle to Charlestown, whence they had crossed the border into the Transvaal, at Volksrust. They were now marching stolidly and patiently on, until they reached Tolstoy Farm, near Johannesburg, or they were arrested, as prohibited immigrants, by the Government. Thus they had marched for several days on a handful of rice, bread and sugar a day, carrying with them all their few worldly belongings, hopeful that, at the end, the burden of the hated £3 tax would be removed from their shoulders. They appeared