Van Hunks and the Devil

Van Hunks had been a very wealthy man when he arrived in the Cape Colony. He arrived wearing the finest clothes and a cargo of many chests that he guarded fiercely. What was in the chests nobody knew. Perhaps it was treasure. Perhaps they were full of items of sentimental value.

Van Hunks enjoyed an illustrious life in the colony, holding some very prestigious roles indeed, but in his old age he was poor and lived a quiet life on the foot of the Windberg. His little house had a little stoep and there, when the weather was bad, he liked to sit and smoke his calabash pipe, a little barrel of fine tabak beside him. However, when the weather was good, old Van Hunks liked nothing more than to climb the Windberg, and there he would sit all day long, smoking his pipe full of fine tabak and looking out over the harbour.

On one such fine day, as Van Hunks sat upon his lofty perch, smoking his pipe and staring out over the bay, a stranger approached. Clothed in rags, a hat upon his head, the stranger eyed Van Hunks with some interest..

“What’s that you have there?” the stranger asked, for he had smelled the fine aroma of Van Hunks tabak.

“And good day to you too, sir,” said Van Hunks haughtily, “This, my friend, is the finest tabak you could ever hope to find in the Cape.” And he took a long drawn out puff of his pipe, sending an aromatic plume of smoke into the air. “I only smoke the finest tabak. In fact I had my very own store of the stuff brought in to the Cape.”

“Indeed!” said the stranger, “I too am a keen pipe smoker. In fact I may be the keenest pipe smoker around.”

“Nonsense,” replied Van Hunks, “There is no one around who enjoys their pipe as much as I. I could smoke all day and night!”

“As can I!” laughed the stranger, “Perhaps a wager on the issue at hand? What say you to us smoking as long and hard as we can. The last one standing wins and can truly be called the most ambitious pipe smoker in the Cape.”

Van Junks considered this. He had a barrel of tabak, enough for the both of them, and thought a friendly competition would be an entertaining distraction.

“Alright,” he agreed, and he spilt the contents of his barrel of tabak into two piles, one for each of them to smoke.

The stranger seated himself on the outcropping beside Van Hunks and withdrew from his coat a very handsome pipe. The pair packed their pipes with the fine tabak and lit them, taking long, deep puffs. They said nothing as they steadily smoked, staring out over the bay, a cloud of smoke slowly growing around them.

Once finished their first pipe, the pair repacked and lit them again. The cloud of smoke surrounding them grew.

They finished their second pipes and packed a third. And fourth. And fifth. And sixth. One pipe after another was packed and smoked, packed and smoked, packed and smoked, and all the while the rich aromatic cloud around them grew and grew and grew, engulfing not only the two men, but the mountain as well!

From the bay, sailors and citizen alike noticed the smoke on the mountain. They watched it grow from a little wisp to and almighty billowing cloud, that circled the top of the Windberg and stretched out to the top of Table Mountain, covering it like a tablecloth.

The competition between the two men carried on and on and on, over one, two, three days! And, as the men continued to smoke, the cloud, now spilling over the top of Table Mountain, continued to grow thicker.

On the third day Van Hunks was still smoking in his stride, perhaps a little red around the face, but all in all very happy to continue. The stranger, however, had taken on a yellow tinge.

“Would you like to stop?” ask Van Hunks?

“Never!” heaved the stranger.

So on they continued until, not very much later, the gasping and sluttering stranger fell from his seat. The fall knocked his hat from his head, revealing two little horns.

“Ah! So I’ve been smoking with the Devil!!” gasped Van Hunks.

“That is I,” said the devil as he clambered to his feet, “And I have come for you, old Van Hunks”

“I dont think so! I won!” proclaimed Van Hunks.

But it didn’t matter, for the Devil is a jealous beast and fair is not a word he knows. And with that there was a loud CRACK and both Van Hunks and the Devil vanished, with only their cloud of tobacco smoke left hanging in the air.

It’s said that, wherever Vank Hunks and the devil are now, old Van Hunks is still trying to prove his rightful title as the keenest pipe smoker in the Cape, and every so often they will return to their spot on the mountain, now known as Devil’s Peak, and repeat their competition. And every time their cloud of smoke covers the peak and spills over the side of Table Mountain.

“There they go again,” say the people as the clouds begin to swell.