« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
only a mild and enduring expectancy.
"It came at last, a tempest of shooting that seemed all round her. Below her, and to her left, there were splashes of white flame. The fight er's daughter knew at once that these were from Kafir guns. Overhead, the rip-riprip of the Burghers' rifles pattered like rain on a roof, like hoofs on a road. And all was near at hand. Despite her endeavours, she had come nearly the whole way round the hill, and was now barely outside the cross-fire. She stood up, shaking her skirts into order, and took in the position. It was a bad one, but it pointed the way to Andreas, and with a pat to her tumbled clothes she settled the bottles safely again in the basket and resumed her climbing.
"She thrust along through the bushes, while the clatter of the rifles grew nearer, and presently there was a flick-like a frog diving into mud-close by her feet, and she knew there were bullets coming her way. Flick-plop! It came again
and again and again.
"Some one sees me moving and is shooting at me,' said Anna to herself, and stopped to rest where a rock gave cover. The bullets, lobbing like pellets tossed from a window, came singing down towards her, clicking into the bushes, while below she could see the progress of the battle written in leaping dots of fire. The Kafirs were spread
ing among the boulders so much could be read from the growing breadth of the line of their fire, and Anna was quick to grasp the meaning of this movement. They were preparing to rush the hill, as of old the Basutos had done. The Kafirs with guns were being sent out to the flanks of the line to keep up a fire while the centre went forward with the assegais. was an old manœuvre; she had heard her brothers talk of it many times, and also—she remembered it now - of the counter-trick to meet it. There must be bush at hand, to set fire to, that the advance may be seen as soon as it forms and withered with musketry.
"Regardless of that deft rifleman among the Burghers who continued to drop his bullets about her, Anna took her basket again on her arm, came forth from her rock, and resumed the climb. She was obliged to make a good deal of noise, for it was too dark and uncomfortable to enable her to choose her steps well. Up above, the Burghers must have heard her plainly, though none but a keen eye would pick the blackness of her shape from the bosom of the night. The summit and the foot of the hill were alive with the spitting of the guns, and all the while the unknown sharpshooter searched about her for her life with clever plunging shots that flicked the dirt up. One bullet whisked through a piece of her skirt.
"Now, I wonder if it can be
Andreas who shoots so neatly,' said Anna, half-smiling to herself. 'He would be surprised if he knew what he is shooting at. Dear me, this is a very long and tiresome hill.'
"It was almost at that moment that she heard it—the beginning of the rush. There came up the hill, like a slow and solemn drum-music, the droning war-song of the Kafirs as they moved forward in face of the fire. It was an awful thing to hear, that bloody rhythm booming through the dome of the night. It is a song I have heard in the daytime, for a show, and it rings like heavy metal. Anna straightened herself and looked about her; there was nothing else for it but that she must start a fire, ere the battle- line swept up and on to the laager. It would draw more shooting upon her; but that gave her no pause. She had matches in her pocket, and fumbled about her and found a little thorn-bush that crackled while it tore her naked hands. Crouching by it, she dragged a bunch of the matches across the side of the box,they spluttered and flamed, and she thrust them into the bush. It took light slowly, for there were yet the dregs of sap in it, but as it lighted, the deft rifleman squirted bullet after bullet all around her, aiming on the weakling flame she nursed with her bleeding hands.
"But for this she had no care at all. She had ceased to perceive it. Sheltering the place with her body, she drew out more matches, tore up grass,
and built the little flame to a blaze that promised to hold and grow. As it cracked among the twigs, she wrenched the bush from the ground and ran forward with it upheld.
"Burghers, Burghers!' she screamed. 'Pas op! The Kafirs are coming up the hill !'
“And whirling it widely she flung the burning bush from her with all her force, and watched its fire spread in the grass where it fell. Then she, too, fell down, and lay among the rocks and plants, scarcely breathing.
"Up above, the old commandant, peering under the pent of his hand, saw the torch waved and the figure that flung it.
'Allemachtig!' he cried. 'It's the Vrouw van Wyck!'
"The next instant he was shouting, 'And here come the Kafirs! Shoot, Burghers, shoot straight and hard.'
"Where she lay, near the fire that now spread across the flank of the hill in broad bands among the dry grass and withered bushes, the Vrouw van Wyck heard that last cry and lifted her head as a torrent of shooting answered it. The Kafirs and the Burghers were at grips, and it seemed that all around her the night rustled with secret men that slunk about. There was great danger to her at last, for either in going forward or going back she might fall into the hands of the Kafirs, and can never tell what that may mean! At the best and choicest it is death, but at
"Noises threatened her, and to them, the casual noises of the night, she gave ear anxiously, while above her the fight raged direfully and all unheard. At one time she truly saw naked Kafirs go up the hill,the light of the fire glinted on the points of their assegais and threw a dull gleam on the muscle - rippled skin of them. Next, stones falling made her start, and ere this alarm was passed she heard the unmistakable clatter of shod feet among the boulders, andplain and loud an oath as some man stumbled.
said, and with a little laugh, as of a girl, she showed him the basket, with the bottles yet in it. 'And you?' she asked, then.
"Me?' he said. come for you, of course. The Kafirs are at the ridge, and God knows what might happen to you. Was it you I was shooting at down there all the time?'
"You shot very well,' she answered, and showed him the hole in her skirt where the bullet had pierced it. She heard him mutter another oath.
"But we must be going,' he said; 'this is no place to be talking-no place at all. We must get round to the laager again. Let me have your arm, and tread quietly, and we must leave the basket.'
"Not I,' she answered. 'I have brought it all this way, and I will not leave it now.'
"He answered with a short laugh, and they commenced to move upward. But by now the fire had hold of the thorn trees all about, and their path was as light as day. It was too dangerous to attempt to climb to the ridge, and after walking for a while they were compelled to find the cover of a rock and remain still. Anna sat on the ground, very tired and content, and her husband peered out and watched what was to be seen.
"We have beaten them,' he said. 'I can see a lot of them running back. Pray God none come this way. I wish I had not left my rifle.'
"Yes,' said Anna, 'you left your rifle, and came unarmed to help me.'
"It would have been awkward among the bushes,' he explained, and was suddenly silent, looking out over the top of the rock.
"What is it?' asked Anna. He gave no answer, so she rose and went to his side and looked too, with her arms on his shoulder.
"The rip-rip of the Burghers' rifles sounded yet, but there was now another sound. The bushes creaked and the stones rocked with men returning down the hill. Not two hundred paces away they were to be seen-many scores of Kafirs dodging downhill, taking what cover they could, pausing and checking at each rock and mound that gave shelter from the bullets.
"Anna felt her husband quiver as he saw the crowd swooping upon him.
"Take this,' she said, and pressed the little revolver into his hand. 'It would be well not to be taken. not to be taken. But kiss me first.'
"He looked from the retreating and nearing Kafirs to her, with a face knotted in perplexity.
"It is the only thing,' she urged, and drew his lips to hers.
"He looked down at the little weapon in his palm, and spoke as with an effort.
"I was never a brave man, Anna,' he said, and I can't
do this. Will you not do
"She nodded and took the pistol. The Kafirs found nothing to work their hate
SOME weeks ago I met an amiable and most distinguished minister of the Church of Scotland as by law established. In the gentlest and most urbane way he began to remonstrate with me on my book, 'John Knox and the Reformation.'1 I asked whether he had read that essay? No; circumstances had prevented him from perusing it. Had he read the works of John Knox? No; he was unacquainted with the works of our Reformer. In these circumstances this gentleman could know nothing about my book; yet he disapproved
write a book to demolish my History, like a gentleman named T. D. Wanliss, "of Ballarat, Australia," who does not seem to have read what he reviews. He makes his appeal against me in a pamphlet styled
BEING A CRITICAL REVIEW
THIRD VOLUME OF MR ANDREW LANG'S
of it. But he "put it in a PUBLISHED AT JOHN KNOX'S HOUSE BY
hint." He did not publish a
review of my work, still less
WILLIAM J. HAY.
MR WANLISS KNOWS NOT ME, BUT KNOWS MY MOTIVES.
The publisher informs the world, in a prefatory note, that Mr Wanliss "is not personally acquainted with Dr Andrew Lang."
This announcement, though it may seem superfluous, was really necessary, because Mr Wanliss, at the beginning and end of his tract, exhibits a singularly intimate knowledge of the secret motives which induced me to treat of Scottish history as I have done, or rather as he says I have done.
As to my motives, I understand Mr Wanliss of Ballarat to maintain that I am a Scot who "deliberately belittles his country in order to ingratiate himself with the predominant majority" (p. 98).
The secret is out, there you have my reason for devoting the last years of a hardworking life to a task so light and so remunerative as the composition of a 'History of Scotland' in four great thick volumes, for there is a vol
1 Longmans. 1905.
VOL. CLXXVIII.-NO. MLXXX.