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self at its side. Continually the blanket and rug to sleep under ; door would open for a message or
and with every pocket full
, I climbtelegram,—now brought by Mac- ed into the front seat beside the Gregor the military secretary, now driver, and behind six spanking by Elwes the aide-de-camp-both ponies, gave one last parting wave since gone with the rest.
to those left behind, and was off “You will find Standerton down the dusty street towards the excellent position for defence," the big hill behind the town, beyond General said. “Just get into the which lies that terra incognita laager there, strengthen it, take “up-country.” care they don't get at you unawares,
We were six, including the and hold till I come. Troops are driver, a black man from the old starting already; we have wired to colony; a young lady held on India for more. By the 20th of somewhat tenderly by a tall, blacknext month I shall be there, or whiskered parson, who introduced thereabouts, and we shall march himself as the chaplain to the new together on Heidelberg. Don't Bishop of Zululand; and a couple of attack; act on the defensive, and storekeepers also bound up-country. wait till I come. Get up some How we did roll, and sway, and volunteers ; set the heliograph in bump, and tumble ! "Bumps !" working order; and look after the cried the black driver; and bumps telegraph line."
it was, landing me as often as not “Suppose they come at me, am on the foot-board, and the young I to fire ?" I asked.
lady, pleasantly enough, to judge “Yes: tell them to stop; and if by his face, on the parson's broad they don't, make them !"
knees. Mail-cart travelling in NaThen we shook hands, and I left tal must be endured to be enjoyed; him: he to see others, and arrange and it must be a strange, strong further plans in that comfortable man who can enjoy it even then. study; Ì to pack, wish good-bye, We passed strings of waggons and bump up-country in a mail. hopelessly stuck in the deep mud; cart, doubtful if I should ever get. straggling lines of soldiers marchbeyond Newcastle.
Who woulding on towards the front; the two have said that we were never to 7-pounders afterwards heard of in meet again? who, if that were such terrible straits in the battles granted, would have ventured to that were to come, the fat black say that, of the two, he was to be horses only too good a mark for the one taken?
Boer rifles, and Charlie P- in Travellers by mail-cart in South command trotting cheerily by their Africa carry but a small amount side. At night we put up at the of baggage, - military men more so-called hotels by the roadside, than others, their allowance being timing our journey so as to reach 40 lb.; and my 40 lb, was soon one by nightfall, and starting in
A saddle and bridle the cold grey of the following morn-absolute necessities in the coun- ing. Wretched little drinkingtry—took half at once; the moiety shops were these hotels, where we was a change of clothes, soap, tooth ate things indescribable, and turned brush, and towel,—the lot to last in between blankets, in clothes, through a campaign that promised boots and all, glad to put honest to extend over several months at cloth between our bodies and the least. My sword I managed to brown crust which age and previous smuggle in unperceived, with a travellers had laid upon the bed
clothes. A cup of coffee at five it would be as well if I could diso'clock, the driver sloping in to guise myself a trifle. An officer to beg another glass of schnapps ; a Boer was specially obnoxious: even “ All aboard” from the same, and if they let me pass, they would be "Bumps" again for the next dozen sure to insult me, perhaps worse. hours.
Now I found how hard it is to Thursday morning early-it was put off the British officer at will. the 23d—we reached Newcastle, The moustache, the cropped hair, having been just 46 hours in doing the cut of one's clothes, turn up as 180 miles, and we found on inquiry evidence against you. By regulathat the mail-cart on to Pretoria tion an officer may not shave his had ceased to run; for the last two moustache, and this gave mine a days it had not come in, being respite, perhaps only too gladly; detained by the Boers.
close-cropped hair won't grow in a Here was what I had feared. I day; slop-clothes can be purehased, had still eighty miles before me, it is true, but there is an affection and the last telegram sai that innate in every man's heart for his Standerton was expected hourly to own raiment. There was, morebe attacked. Let that once come over, the sword, helmet, and reoff, and all hope of getting into the volver, all indispensable. I bought place was at an end.
a wide-brimmed slouch-hat of the I could hardly ride it, even if I kind much affected by the Dutch, had horses fit for the journey; and took off collar and necktie, rubbed a soldier without his sword is half- up my hair, forgot to wash my way towards a civilian, while to face, and called in on the manager carry one full-speed for eighty of the bank to ask for a letter miles on
a horse, means to let it describing me as a young man sent go. At last I found a man who up to the branch at Heidelberg had a “spider,” which he was will to arrange business. This, after ing to let out for the trip; and as certain compunctions, he gave me, luck would have it—all through and I was ready to start. My life I have always been a lucky sword was crammed under the seat; fellow—the owner of the post-cart the helmet got in behind under was in Newcastle, his horses still the saddle; revolvers — Murray along the road, and he willing to had his as well as I had minerun me through. In half an hour were laid at our feet without an the "spider” was hired. Murray, attempt to
Murray, attempt to conceal them, both the post-cart owner, had bought a loaded,,it was no time for cerenew whip, and had gone out to mony; and so we started. drive in his first team; while I was Across the river, then swollen hard at work putting down break- with the late rains, past Fort fast, the last it might be for some Amiel nestling on the hill beyond, time, and I consequently made a and then up the face of the Dragood one.
kensberg, mile after mile, always I was still busy eating when up and always steep. At the “outMurray came in to say the road spans," where the tin stables of the was infested with Boer patrols, relays were kept, we found the who stopped every vehicle, and Kaffir boys away, and the horses had already taken two officers straying far abroad on the hills; prisoners; the houses where we and it took both time and patience should change horses might be ex- to fetch them in. pected to be full of the same, and So we drove up the now histori
cal “Slanting Heights;" across the Once Murray stopped dead after Ingogo; past Savory and Bates's driving slowly for some time, and store, the Amajuba frowning on our broke the dead silenceleft; and at last, as dusk began to “We're off the road ; take the settle over it, climbed “The Nek." reins, and I'll look for it." A few waggons, coming down with So he got down, the “spider” families “on the trek” from the following across slushy pits and threatening war in front, were all boulders; roads everywhere in the we met: the road was deserted, ghastly light, and Murray just and we were glad to pull up at visible in front with his face to Walker's neat cottage at Cold- the ground. stream, and sit down to tea poured All at once—we had scouted out by his pleasant-faced English about for a good half-hour-he wife, and have a romp with the
came up, — children before starting.
“ All right; here's Meek's fence." now 9 P.m., and very And I could make out a dim line dark. The stream which is the of posts, with wire stretched beboundary of the Transvaal ran at tween, on our right. Then he the bottom of the garden; beyond climbed in and we drove on : and lay a long fifteen miles of bog and by-and-by a light shone out ahead, morass, across which in daylight it and the light showed something took good pilotage to drive. Now black behind it; and turning toit was pitchy dark, hardly a star in wards it, we were in front of a the sky; and the croakers
, as usual, long low building, known far and prophesied the worst if we attempt- near as “ Meek's store." ed it. So we heard them out in An elderly man was Meek, well silence, and then Murray asked me known on the roads which met here. if I would try it.
He wanted us to come in; but we “Can you do it, Murray ?" I had been warned against his house asked.
as a likely rendezvous for Boers, so “ Yes," was the answer, Murray we took the usual drain of “squarenot being very talkative.
face," and set out again, with his " Then we'll be off at once;" and parting words in our earsby the light of a lantern, we got the “Take care how you drive—the ponies in, and Walker showed us road's mortal rutty; they've been down to the “ drift," and wished us mending it just now, and the Boers a hearty good-bye—" and look out have stopped them. You'll pass for the road, for it's precious bad." Van der Schyff's ten mile on; you'd
And very bad it was, and very best keep close, he's bad against dark. I remember well on our left the British, and there's a lot of was the sky-line quite close to us. the same kind living with bim.” We were driving along the bottom The road lay along a stony valof a small valley, and the clouds, ley perhaps half a mile in width, which were thick and fleecy above with low hills on either side. Now this sky-line, looked like clumps and then at intervals were vleys, of trees, spreading elms, just such marshes knee-deep in water, and as stand about in parks at home. often overhead in treacherous Now and again we crossed this sky- mud; and across these, drains had line, and drove into, as it seemed, been cut to take the water off. these trees, and I involuntarily felt Where the road crossed these myself putting up my arm to ward vleys the water was deep and off the branches.
still, shining ghastly white across
it, warning us away. So with a time than it takes to tell, we were plunge and a snort the horses sitting inside the little tent, with wheeled round, and we went up the · Wool Wash,' two big fellows the hill on our right till the stream in their shirts, evidently roused out must have
narrowed, when of bed, sitting on it opposite, calling turned, and took it with a dash, for coffee, and asking us the news. the light trap jerking across, down 16 Walker's not trekked yet? one bank and up the other, with a They're all off from hereabouts, and shock that sent me down where the we start to-morrow: it's fighting, revolvers lay more than once. and no mistake. Van der Schyff
“That's Van der Schyff’s,” said has 200 at his farm. Didn't they Murray, as we passed a dark thing stop you? There are lots they did. on our left; and he didn't crack his I don't think you'll get through, whip for a mile or more. The man with an officer too. Barrett's news had been appointed general of the is bad, isn't it?" district by the Boers, and was put- “No! what is that?” we asked. ting up their patrols, which we “He's just come down from Midknow by day infested the roads. dleburg, and would have been here,
All this time night was wearing only the patrol chased him back. on, and Sand Spruit, the next stage, Bad news too: the 94th cut up, 202 seemed never nearer..
killed and wounded, 48 prisoners. “I hope we'll find the horses at They left two waggons and ten men • Wool Wash, said Murray; “if to bury the dead, and took all the they have trekked, the horses will rest. The colonel's shot and eight be gone too, and it's another fifteen others, and one of the women. Barmiles to Paade Kop where the next rett told them the Boers intended are: it will be a bit hard on the to attack, but the colonel didn't bebrutes."
lieve it, and now they're all dead. “ Wool Wash" is the local name Barrett's face was awful. I think he for an establishment for sheep-wash- saw the whole thing. The Boers ing which a couple of enterprising put up a white flag, and shot them Englishmen had set up on the small down before they could shoot back.” river called Sand Spruit—a bad And this was how I heard of the place at the best to cross, and one massacre of my poor regiment. which, with tired horses, if the The tent was hot and stuffy, and others did not turn up, would be I was glad to get out and walk almost impossible.
about in the dark cool air, and try Just at midnight we saw a small to think that it was not true. The tin house, a tent, and an unfinished friends of the last twenty years building peer out ahead.
murdered, and I going on to meet, “That's Wool Wash,' and there's perhaps, the same fate.
It was a a light, so they are not off yet," bitter thought, and I paced up and remarked Murray, breaking another down, and took the coffee they long silence as we drove up
and brought me, like a daft man, and stopped, while a shirt-clad figure walked again, and thought, and shading a candle in a flat candle- thought, and still only thought. stick came out to greet us.
It was one of those moments that “Who's that? Murray! Oh, all can only come to a man once in his right; thought it was a Boer sent life, and I thank God that mine to commandeer' us. Get down. has come to me, and passed, and Who's that with you?” were the cannot come again. observations we met, and in less Above was the dull, cloudy night;
close by the sullen river, just speak- was no knowing but what Standering over the rocks to tell me it was ton had been attacked-it might waiting for me presently; across the have fallen. Every farm about held veldt a group of natives jabbering, men who hated us, and the country and trying to drive in our horses ; was so open we could be seen for and at my elbow the “ Wool Wash," miles. kindly pressing me to drink more Once a speck in front grew out' coffee, and stringing tales together of the horizon, and we watched it of how the Boers were all about us. coming nearer, and at last saw that We got away at last, and dashed it was a man riding to meet us. into the river, the water over the We never took our eyes off him; one seat of the “spider," the opposite was as bad as fifty—he could give bank like a wall, and the horses, the alarm, and we should never only two of them fresh ones, look- reach our journey's end; and it ing as if every moment they would was unspeakable relief when he topple backwards over us. But turned out to be only a native, and I seemed to care but little; my one of Murray's servants. thoughts were all with that sad However, we were fated to be in day, and the awful sight which met luck, and the little town came into me everywhere in the darkness. sight, Stander's Kop on its left, a
At 4 A.M. we got down under a hill to be well known throughout low flat-topped hill, Paade Kop, at the siege; and I saw the tents the door of a small inn, and after standing up below it, and the men much calling roused up the pro- walking about between them as if prietor, also in his shirt, who asked no Boers were near; and then we us in, and lit a candle, and pressed dashed into the river, and half us to eat of the remains of supper wading, half swimming, got across still on the table-half a boiled and into the town, and in another fowl, some bread and lumps of but- minute I was in the middle of old ter, the dirty plates standing about friends, shaking hands, and answerspilled salt, bread-crumbs, and slops ing their puzzled questions as to of “square-face;" not a tempting how I got through so safely. meal, and one I neither ate nor Everything was naturally in the wanted. One feeling only was pre- wildest confusion. In the foresent, to get on and be with my ground stood a second " spider," on men before it was too late.
the point of starting for Heidelberg Dawn was already breaking as with the Bishop of Pretoria, who, we set out, never less welcome than nothing daunted by the certainty on that morning; and dozing off by of capture, resolved to get through, starts, waking with some queer trusting to his cloth to enable him dream across my brain, I watched to do so in safety. Near him was a the red glow creeping across the stout man, dressed as an Englishgrey, and thought it never came so man, who by his well-shaved chin fast before. Then the long level and ruddy cheeks might have been road grew out, and we stretched either English or Dutch. This was our necks, looking out for any the Landdrost, the chief civil magisfigure riding down it, and caught trate of the town and district, and each other glancing at the revolvers a man I had soon, as matters at our feet, and felt about as un- turned out, constant work with. comfortable as most men can feel. Most prompt and willing I found
There was still a drive of good him, indispensable in his accurate twenty miles before us, and there knowledge of the people, almost the