In the 1890s James Simmons came to South Africa in search of a better life. He thought that he had found it in the employ of the Cape Colonial Railways. He served first as manager of the refreshment rooms at Fraserburg Road Station (Leeu Gamka) and later at Orange River Station (near Hopetown). He found people in the latter area to be most friendly and they had welcomed his arrival. His world seemed perfect until the evening of Tuesday, April 12, 1892, when he chose to “take the air” and go for a stroll across the veld, states an article in the Queenstown Free Press. He never got that far. He stopped at a disused engine shed in a lonely part of the railway yard to chat to a friend. While leaning against the wall he felt a sharp pain in the fleshy part of one of his hands. He looked down and saw a scorpion scuttling off. He knew it had bitten him and he rushed off in search of help, but before he reached home his arm had begun to swell, his throat became constricted and he began to lose his vision. His friend, meanwhile had rushed to the telegraph office to call the doctor from De Aar. He came and so did the doctor from Hopetown, but by then James was blind and could not speak. James died in great agony just after 11 o’clock that night. He was survived by his widow and two young children. Many people in the Karoo mourned his passing.
© Rose’s Roundup, April, 2013 (No. 231)
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