Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Baden-Powell of Mafeking
Author: Fletcher, J. S. (Joseph Smith)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Baden-Powell of Mafeking" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



  BADEN-POWELL
  OF MAFEKING

[Illustration: BADEN-POWELL IN HIS OFFICE]



  BADEN-POWELL
  OF MAFEKING


  BY

  J.S. FLETCHER

  AUTHOR OF "THE BUILDERS," "THE PATHS OF THE PRUDENT," ETC.


  METHUEN & CO.
  36 ESSEX STREET W.C.
  LONDON



CONTENTS


  INTRODUCTION

  TO THE MAN IN THE STREET


  PART I.

  BADEN-POWELL--THE MANNER OF MAN HE IS
                                            PAGE

    I. The Boy and His People                 11
   II. "Bathing-Towel"                        18
  III. Learning the Trade                     24
   IV. Scout and Sportsman                    29
    V. The Kindly Humorist                    42


  PART II.

  AN EXPEDITION AND A CAMPAIGN

    I. The Ashanti Expedition, 1895-6          47
   II. The Matabele Campaign, 1896             64


  PART III.

  THE STORY OF THE SIEGE OF MAFEKING, 1899-1900

    I. The Warm Corner                         89
   II. Warmer and Warmer                       97
  III. Sitting Tight                          104
   IV. The Last Days                          111
    V. The Relief and the Empire              119



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                       PAGE
  Baden-Powell in his Office                                 _Frontispiece_
  A Merciful Man                               (_Sketch by the Author_) 14
  The Horse Guard                                        "          "   26
  Following up the Spoor                                 "          "   29
  Britannia                                              "          "   45
  Sketch Map of the March to Kumassi                     "          "   48
  Human Sacrifice at Bantama                             "          "   51
  Portrait of King Prempeh                               "          "   55
  King Prempeh watching the arrival of Troops            "          "   59
  Embarkation of King Prempeh                            "          "   63
  Sketch Map of the Theatre of Operations                "          "   65
  Mafeking to Buluwayo--Ten Days and Nights by Coach     "          "   66
  The Umgusa Fight: June 6th                             "          "   67
  Eight to One                                           "          "   70
  Scout Burnham                                          "          "   73
  The Peace Indaba with the Matopo Rebels                "          "   75
  The Battle of August 5th                               "          "   77
  A Human Salt-Cellar                                    "          "   79
  Fresh Horse-Beef                                       "          "   81
  Dolce far Niente                                       "          "   87
  An every-day Scene in the Market                                      95
  Strolling Home in the Morning                (_Sketch by the Author_)104
  "Halt! who comes there?"                               "          "  104
  A Cape Boy Sentry                                      "          "  113
  Rough Map of Brickfields                                             116


NOTE

 THE AUTHOR DESIRES TO EXPRESS HIS OBLIGATIONS TO MISS BADEN-POWELL AND
 TO THE REV. CANON HAIG-BROWN FOR THEIR KINDNESS IN AFFORDING HIM HELP
 AND INFORMATION IN PREPARING THE FOLLOWING ACCOUNT OF MAJOR-GENERAL
 BADEN-POWELL'S CAREER.



INTRODUCTION

TO THE MAN IN THE STREET


It may well and fittingly be complained that of late years we English
folk have shown an unpardonable spirit of curiosity about things which
do not concern us. We have brought into being more than one periodical
publication full of gossip about the private life and affairs of folk
of eminence, and there are too many of us who are never so much pleased
as when we are informed that a certain great artist abhors meat, or
that a famous musician is inordinately fond of pickled salmon. There
was a time when, to use a homely old phrase, people minded their own
business and left that of their neighbours' alone--that day in some
degree seems to have been left far behind, and most of us feel that
we are being defrauded of our just rights if we may not step across
the threshold of my lady's drawing-room or set foot in the statesman's
cabinet. The fact is that we have itching ears nowadays, and cherish a
passion for gossip which were creditable to the old women of the open
doorways. We want to know all--which is to say as much as chance will
tell us--about the people of whom the street is talking, and the more
we can hear of them, even of the things which appertain in reality to
no one but themselves, the better we are pleased. But even here, in
what is undoubtedly an evil, there is an element of possible good which
under certain circumstances may be developed into magnificent results.
Since we must talk amongst ourselves, since we must satisfy this
very human craving for what is after all gossip, let us find great
subjects to gossip about. If we must talk in the streets let us talk
about great folk, about great deeds, about great examples, and since
our subjects are great let us talk of them in a great way. There is no
need to chatter idly and to no purpose--we shall be all the better if
our gossip about great men and great things leads us to even a faint
imitation of both.

We English folk possess at this moment a magnificent opportunity of
talking and thinking about the things and the men which make for good.
It may be that ever since the Empire rose as one man to sustain the
honour and glory of England we have glorified our fighting man a little
too much. It may be that we have raised our voices too loudly in the
music-halls and been too exuberant in our conduct in the streets. But
after all, what does it mean? We are vulgar, we English, in our outward
expression of joy and delight--yes, but how splendidly our vulgarity is
redeemed and even transformed into a fine thing by our immense feeling
for race and country! What is it, after all, that we have been doing
during this time of war but building up, renewing, strengthening that
mysterious Something which for lack of a better word we call Empire?
War, like sorrow, strengthens, chastens, and encourages. Just as the
heart of a strong man is purified and made stronger by sorrow, so the
spirit of a nation is lifted up and set on a higher pedestal by the
trials and the awfulness of war. Heaven help the people which emerges
from a great struggle broken, sullen, despondent!--Heaven be thanked
that from the blood of our fellows spilt in South Africa there have
already sprung the flowers of new fortitude and new strength and new
belief in our God-given destiny as the saviours of the world. It is as
it ever was:--

                    "We are a people yet!
  Tho' all men else their nobler dreams forget,
    Confused by brainless mobs and lawless Powers;
  Thank Him who isled us here, and roughly set
    His Britons in blown seas and storming showers,
  We have a voice with which to pay the debt
    Of boundless love and reverence and regret
  To those great men who fought and kept it ours."

We have a voice!--yes, and is it not well that at this juncture it
should be raised in honour of the men who have mounted guard for us at
the gates of Empire? It is well, too, that our ears should listen to
stories of them--surely there is no taint of unpardonable curiosity
in that, but rather an inquisitiveness which is worthy of praise. No
man can hear of great men, nor think of brave deeds, without finding
himself made better and richer. It is in the contemplation of greatness
that even the most poorly-equipped amongst us may find a step to a
higher place of thought.

Here then is an excuse for attempting to tell plain folk the story of
Baden-Powell (no need to label _him_ with titles or prefixes!) in a
plain way. It is a task which has already been attempted and achieved
by more than one person: the only reason why it should be attempted
again is that a good story cannot be told too often, and that in
its variations there may be something of value added to it by the
particular narrator. It seems to me that this story of Baden-Powell
finds its great charm in its revelation of character, and as being
typical of the British officer at his best. I do not find Baden-Powell
so much a prodigy as a type of the flower of a class which of late has
been much maligned. We have been told, over and over again since we
became involved in our struggle with the Boer, that our officers are
badly trained, incompetent, and careless. It is not to be denied that
there is room for improvement in their military education and training,
but I think we shall have hard work to improve them in one matter of
some slight importance--their cheerful, brave, steady devotion to Duty.
When one comes to think of it, seriously, what a great quality that is!
To be ready to go anywhere, to do anything, or to attempt its doing
with all the strength one possesses, to face whatever a moment may
bring forth with the cheery pluck with which a schoolboy goes into a
scrimmage--are these not qualities which make for greatness? It seems
to me that they are found in the British officer in an extraordinary
degree, and that the life of Baden-Powell as we know it is typical of
the results of the possession of them. I do not mean to say that every
British officer is a Baden-Powell, but I cherish a strong conviction
that Baden-Powell himself has said, more than once, when overwhelmed
with congratulations, "Oh, any other fellow would have done the same!"
Of course, that is all wrong--we all know that not every other fellow
would. But I believe every other fellow would have Tried--and to Try
means a world of things. After all, the greatest thing in this world,
and the surest passport to happiness in the next, is doing one's Duty,
cheerfully, fearlessly, and confidently, and it is because there is
so much evidence of the way in which the British officer attempts to
do his, in the story of Baden-Powell's career, that I make no excuse
for begging the man in the street to read it again, and again, and yet
again--whoever writes, or tries to write it.

  J.S.F.

  EAST HARDWICK, YORKS
  _September, 1900_



BADEN-POWELL OF MAFEKING



PART I.

BADEN-POWELL--THE MANNER OF MAN HE IS



I.

THE BOY AND HIS PEOPLE


If it seems something of an impertinence to write about the life of
a man who is still alive and apparently determined to be so for many
years of energy and activity, it appears to be almost in the nature of
a sacrilege to draw aside the veil which ought to shroud the privacy of
his family life. Most English folk, whether they show it or not, are
deeply in love with the sentiment expressed in Browning's lines,--

  "A peep through my window if some should prefer,
  But, please you, no foot over threshold of mine"--

but in the case of the Baden-Powell family many feet have already
crossed the threshold, and many hands have drawn aside the curtain. It
is not often that the lifting of the veil which usually hides English
family life from the world's gaze reveals as charming and instructive
a picture as is found in the contemplation of the people to whom the
hero of Mafeking belongs. We all know that it is not necessary to
spring from a great family in order to be a great man; we all know,
too, that many a great family has produced a great fool. But when a
great family does produce a great man the result is greater than could
be obtained in any other way. Baden-Powell comes of a family-stock
great in many ways, and were there reason or time for it, nothing
could be more delightful or instructive than to endeavour to trace the
connection between the main features and characteristics of his life
and the hereditary influences which must needs have acted upon him. His
ancestors have done so many fine things that one feels something like
amazement to find their present day representative still adding lustre
to the family name. According to the ordinary laws all the strength and
virtue should have been exhausted in the stock ere now, but just as
Baden-Powell himself is in certain ways a mysterious contradiction to
things in general, laughing where other men would weep, and rising to
great heights where most men would turn back to the valley in despair,
so his family, after many generations of great activity, contradict the
usual laws by increasing in strength and giving evidence of that growth
and development which, as Dr. Newman told us in a remarkable sentence,
is the only evidence of life.

Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was born at 6, Stanhope Street,
London, on the 22nd February, 1857. He was the seventh son of the
late Rev. Baden-Powell, sometime Savilian Professor in the University
of Oxford, and of Henrietta Grace, daughter of Admiral W.H. Smyth,
K.S.F. Of his father the future defender of Mafeking can have known
little; Professor Baden-Powell died when his seventh son was only
three years old. He was a man of great talents, widely known as a
profound student in the physical sciences and as an exponent of broad
and tolerant theology, a frequent contributor of learned papers to the
transactions of the Royal Society, and a whole-hearted lover of nature
and of the sights and sounds of country life. One would like to know
more of him, and of such intercourse as existed between him and his
children. They, however, were separated from him at an early age and
were left to the sole guidance and friendship of their mother. It is
rarely that children have a mother so well equipped for the performance
of a difficult task--Mrs. Baden-Powell is in all respects a great
woman and eminently fitted to be the mother of a hero. She, like her
husband, came of a stock eminent for its qualities. Her father, Admiral
W.H. Smyth, was a well-known seaman of his day, and his children
have all achieved eminence in one way or another. One of his sons,
Warington, became Mineral Inspector to the Crown; another, Fiazzi,
Astronomer Royal for Scotland; a third, General Sir Henry Smyth, after
a distinguished military career, was Governor and Commander-in-Chief
at Malta from 1890 to 1893. Of his two daughters, the younger,
Georgina Rosetta, was married in 1858 to Sir W.H. Flower, the eminent
scientist; the elder, Henrietta Grace, had previously married Professor
Baden-Powell.

[Illustration: A Merciful Man.]

It is often said that a boy is what his mother makes him, and no one
will deny that there is a certain amount of truth in the saying. A
boy naturally turns rather to his mother than to his father when
he first feels the need of sympathy, and it is well for him if his
mother has not merely sympathy but perception and understanding to
give him. Mrs. Baden-Powell appears to have been singularly fitted
to help her children with her love, sympathy, and tact during the
earlier years of their youth. Herself a brilliantly clever woman, she
recognized intuitively the workings of dawning talent and ability
in her own children, and she encouraged and helped them as only a
woman of great gifts could. As a linguist, an artist, a musician, a
mathematician, and a lover of science and of nature, Mrs. Baden-Powell
has many attainments, and it must be evident to the most obtuse that
her children received a liberal education in merely knowing her. When
Professor Baden-Powell died his widow was left with a responsibility
from which the bravest woman might well have shrunk. She had been
married fifteen years, and there were ten children of the marriage,
and the eldest was not fourteen years of age. That Mrs. Baden-Powell
had no shrinking, that she devoted herself to her task with courage,
determination, and skill is proved by the results with which the world,
for its good, has been familiarized. The training of her children,
as far as one may speak of it with reserve and respect, seems to
have been marked by the greatest good sense. She took an interest in
everything that interested them; she inculcated a strict regard for
honour in their minds; she taught them to bear pain as strong men
should; above everything she strove to bring all the influence of
nature into their lives. Such an education as this could scarcely fail
to produce men well fitted to do something, and Mrs. Baden-Powell's
sons have done much. Her eldest son attained considerable distinction
as the author of an important work on the Land Systems of British
India, and occupied a high judicial post in that country ere his death.
Her second son, Mr. Warington Baden-Powell, after serving some years
in the navy, turned from the sea to the atmosphere of the Law Courts,
and is now a Queen's Counsel of eminence. Her third son, the late
Sir George Baden-Powell, who died in 1898, was, until recent events
brought his younger brother's name more prominently before the public,
the best-known member of the family. His record was a particularly
brilliant and useful one. He took the Chancellor's Prize at Oxford in
1876. He was private secretary to the Governor of Victoria, 1877-78;
Joint Special Commissioner in the West India Colonies, 1882-84;
Assistant to Sir Charles Warren in Bechuanaland, 1884-85; Joint
Special Commissioner in Malta, 1887-88; British Commissioner in the
Behring Sea Question, 1891; and British Member of the Washington Joint
Committee in 1892. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and an LL.D.,
and represented the Kirkdale Division of Liverpool in Parliament from
1885 until his death. He wrote several important works and papers
on scientific, economic, and political subjects, and was created a
baronet in 1888. Other sons of this fortunate and gifted mother are
Mr Frank Baden-Powell, who, after a distinguished career at Oxford,
became a barrister and is well known as an artist of great merit, and
Major B.F.S. Baden-Powell, of the Scots Guards, whose invention of
war-kites was of great value during the operations at Modder River. Of
the seventh son it is the province of this book to speak more fully
and particularly than of his brothers, but this brief reference to
Mrs. Baden-Powell's family would be incomplete if it did not include
some notice of the sister of all these clever boys, who, clever
and brilliant herself, must needs have watched the development of
their lives with true pride and affection. I ventured to ask Miss
Baden-Powell the other day two questions which seemed to me peculiarly
pertinent to the matter I had just taken in hand. The first arose out
of a passage in General Baden-Powell's work on the Ashanti Expedition
of 1896, wherein he declares that "a smile and a stick will carry you
through the world." I asked Miss Baden-Powell if this saying formed
a sort of keynote to her brother's character as she knew it. She
replied that she found it impossible to conceive of his using a stick
in any case. So, in my estimate of him, whatever it may be worth, the
stick disappears from Baden-Powell, but the smile remains and has
gained much in potency. My second question had perhaps a much deeper
significance. I asked if in his sister's view--and it has been my
experience, founded on much cynical observation of things, that if one
wants honest criticism of one's self one can get it, in all truth, from
one's sister--the future warrior was in his boyhood at all phenomenal,
if he gave, as some embryonic geniuses unfortunately do give, any
notable evidence of the greatness that was coming. And I rejoiced to
hear that he did not, that he was a human boy, neither precocious nor a
prig--just a healthy, fun-loving English boy, full of kindliness and of
delight in the joys of life's morning.

That is exactly what one likes to feel about Baden-Powell's boyhood.
From what one can gather from many sources about his early days
they appear to have been marked chiefly by the sunniness of his own
disposition. His education was conducted under a tutor at home until
he was eleven years old, and he spent much of his time in outdoor
pursuits. He learned to ride at a very early age, and was fond of
exploring unknown regions in company with his brothers. Much of the
future scout's boyhood was spent at a country house near Tunbridge
Wells, and in the neighbouring woods he lived many hours of glorious
life. But he appears to have had almost as many pursuits in boyhood
as he has shown himself fond of in manhood. He began to draw and
paint at a very early age. Before he was three years old he executed
a pen-and-ink drawing of camels and camel drivers, the execution of
which was wonderful for so young a child. It was quickly perceived
in the family circle that he used his left hand, which he has always
used throughout his life with equal facility to his use of the right,
and his mother consulted Ruskin as to the advisability of checking
this propensity. Ruskin advised her to let the boy use his left hand
as freely as his mind wished, with the result that he has always been
able to work at his sketches and drawings with both hands at the same
time, drawing with the left and shading with the right--a performance
which is surely rarely equalled. Another of his boyish amusements was
to play with dolls, and to make their clothes; another, succeeding,
one supposes, the doll era, was to take part with his brothers in
the performance of plays. He has always been passionately devoted to
dramatic art, and showed his love for theatrical matters at a very
early age. It is only what one would expect from his extraordinary
versatility to hear that he used to write the plays himself, invariably
fitting himself with a "fat" low-comedy part.

Although he was in no sense of the word that most unspeakable thing,
a precocious child, Baden-Powell showed in his boyhood some signs of
the inclinations which were working in him. Nothing pleased him so
much as to explore new ground in the shape of woods and fields; it was
an exquisite delight to him to get lost in an unfamiliar part of the
country and to be obliged to find a way out. He showed great pleasure
in drawing maps and charts, with which he took infinite pains, and
he was very fond of cutting figures of animals out of paper, and of
imitating the cries and calls of birds and voices of animals. Then,
again, he showed at an early age the resourcefulness and dependency
upon self which have been such marked characteristics of his military
career. He entirely dispensed with the services of a nurse before he
was three years old; he kept a very careful account of the expenditure
of his pocket money, and in everything seems to have shown a wisdom
not at all out of keeping with his light-hearted disposition. It may
be that much of his light-heartedness has unconsciously sprung from
his thoroughness in doing things. It was fortunate for him that he
possessed a great friend in his brother, Mr. Warington Baden-Powell,
who, being ten years his senior, was able to give him not merely
advice but excellent example. In company with his brothers the future
soldier lived a great part of his holiday-time as a sailor, roughing
it in small yachts around the coast and over the seas. The yachts were
designed by Mr. Warington Baden-Powell, who also acted as skipper, and
were managed entirely by himself and his younger brothers. Now and then
the small craft and its crew happened upon tight places, and on one
occasion, while off Torquay in a ten-tonner named the _Koh-i-noor_,
they had an experience which would have frightened most boys to such an
extent that the sea and its perils would have been eschewed for ever.
A violent storm broke over them one dark evening, raged throughout the
night and far into the next day, and necessitated a battling with wind
and wave which only the bravest dare face. But Baden-Powell and his
brothers appear to have been boys of infinite bravery and resource.
They travelled extensively about the English and Welsh coasts, and
spent some of their holidays in Norway, and wherever they went they
depended upon themselves for whatever was necessary to be done in
the way of cooking, repairing, and boat-mending. No better schooling
than this, developing as it did the priceless qualities of energy,
self-reliance, and confidence, could have been devised for the boy
who was destined in after years to safeguard the honour of England in
beleaguered Mafeking.



II.

"BATHING-TOWEL"


After being under the care of a tutor until he was eleven years old,
Baden-Powell was sent to a preparatory school at Tunbridge Wells,
and remained there for two years, leaving it at the end of that time
with the sincere regret of his master, who had found him an admirable
example to his fellows. In 1870 he was admitted, on the Duke of
Marlborough's nomination, to the Foundation of Charterhouse, then in
its ancient quarters near Smithfield. Two years later he went with
the Foundation to its new home near Godalming, and there remained, an
inmate of Mr. Girdlestone's house, until 1876. Of these six years of
Baden-Powell's life it is necessary to say something, if one wishes to
form an accurate idea of their importance in moulding and strengthening
his character. School-life exercises a vast influence upon a boy's
future career; it may make or mar it; it is certain, indeed, that he
cannot go through it without receiving influences of the most paramount
importance. All the world knows now what manner of man Baden-Powell is;
all the world has no doubt wondered what sort of boy he was in his days
of school-life.

I recently visited the Charterhouse in order to ask Dr. Haig-Brown,
who was Headmaster of the Charterhouse School from 1863 to 1897,
and has since then been Master of the Charterhouse, if he would
tell me something about his old pupil. There was a certain amount
of satisfaction in setting foot within the precincts of a place so
closely associated with one of the men of the moment; there was a
strong and restful sense of relief, too, in escaping from the whirl
and roar of London's crowded streets into so delightful a haunt of
peace as that which lies in their very midst. Between the noise and
bustle of the much-thronged thoroughfares about Smithfield and the
cloistral quiet of the Master's Lodge in the Charterhouse there was a
difference intensely welcome to a lover of quiet places, and I could
not help thinking as I sat in Dr. Haig-Brown's study, with the noise
of the outer world reduced to a low and easy murmur, that there must
have been moments during the siege of Mafeking when Baden-Powell's
mind turned to the grey walls and quaint gables of his old school with
perhaps a little longing for the peace which broods there always. It
was easy to see that the thought and memory of the old Carthusian was
cherished there. In Dr. Haig-Brown's study hung a picture of the face
now familiar to all of us through the medium of innumerable illustrated
newspapers and magazines, the good-humoured, strong face, shadowed by
the big hat, and in one of the drawing-rooms stood a small table gaily
decorated with red, white and blue ribbons, whereon had been gathered
together a collection of little objects--some of them the penny wares
of the London street vendors--associated with the name of the hero of
Mafeking. It was easy to see, too, that Baden-Powell was deeply placed
in the affections of his old schoolmaster. Dr. Haig-Brown spoke of
him in simple words which showed more feeling than the mere sound of
them implied. He spoke of his great truthfulness, his love of fun and
of sport, of his self-respect, and of his interest in his old school.
He showed me a volume of the school magazine, _The Greyfriar_, which
contained several contributions, literary and artistic, by the man
who has so ably sustained all the best traditions of a great school,
and has thought of it when far away and busily engaged in fighting
his country's cause. And perhaps no greater tribute could be paid to
Baden-Powell's greatness than Dr. Haig-Brown paid him in a few words,
words which convey a great and deep meaning--"He was a boy whose word
you could not doubt."

Dr. Haig-Brown was kind enough to give me a copy of an article on
Baden-Powell which he wrote for a recent number of _The Church
Monthly_, and to allow me to make use of any of the remarks which he
there made as regards his old pupil. It is an article which shows that
in the opinion of his schoolmaster the recent brilliant achievements of
Baden-Powell were foreshadowed in his early youth. Quoting Wordsworth's
famous line,

  "The child is father of the man,"

Dr. Haig-Brown goes on to say that though it is not always easy to
found on observation of early life a prophecy of the future career,
it is not so difficult when characteristics have found a field for
display, to trace in the memories of youth the qualities that have
formed a great man, and that the boyish life of Baden-Powell furnishes
an illustration in point. Then he proceeds to speak of Baden-Powell's
joyousness of spirit, of his indomitable energy, his versatility of
talent, his wit, kindliness, and activity of body and mind, and of his
judgment and fidelity in positions of trust and responsibility. And
there is one passage in Dr. Haig-Brown's article which, to my mind, is
of supreme importance to anyone endeavouring to form an estimate of
Baden-Powell's character as illustrated by his school-days. "In his
attitude to the younger boys," says Dr. Haig-Brown, "he was generous,
kind and encouraging, and in those early days gave no slight indication
of the qualities which have since gained for him the confidence,
respect, and love of all the soldiers who have been under his command."
Here, indeed, the promise of the boy has been amply fulfilled in the
performance of the man.

Another foreshadowing of Baden-Powell's future career is found in
a characteristic entry in the school's _Football Annual_ for 1876,
wherein it is recorded that "R.S.S.B.-P. is a good goalkeeper, keeping
cool, and always to be depended upon." Keeping cool--always to be
depended upon--what a magnificent endowment! How many of us, fighting
our little battles in life's war-time, would give all that we possess
if we could always keep cool--if we knew that other folk could always
depend upon us! Those of us who believe in athletic exercises as
forming no inconsiderable part of a boy's training will find no
difficulty in believing that much of the coolness and resource which
have distinguished Baden-Powell in his various campaigns were deepened
and strengthened by the fact that he was very fond of football. The two
qualities were there before, of course, but the goalkeeping added a
new fibre or two of strength to them. Dr. Haig-Brown took me out upon
a terrace which commanded a view of the old Charterhouse playground.
It, like the school buildings, is now used by the Merchant Taylors'
School, and in one corner stood two or three practice-nets for cricket,
while at each end of the playing area a certain wornness of aspect
showed where many a struggle had taken place around the goal-posts
during the bygone spring and winter. Dr. Haig-Brown told me that
his old pupil played other games than football, notably cricket and
racquets, but added that football was his chief love, and goalkeeping
his great forte. One characteristic he possessed as goalkeeper which is
not often found on the football field. When the fight was raging far
off in the enemy's quarters, and he himself was relieved of immediate
duty for the moment, he used to delight the onlookers who crowded
round about the goal which he was defending by cracking all sorts of
extraordinary jokes, which only ceased when he rushed forward to repel
an attack with a vigour and force not less strenuous than his wonderful
flow of spirits. Naturally enough, there was always a little group of
spectators round the goal-posts where "Bathing-Towel" (a nickname which
has clung to him always in the minds of old Carthusians) stood intent
and alert, but not so entirely preoccupied as to forget the humour
which was always bubbling up within him.

During his school-days, either in the precincts of the ancient
Charterhouse or in the new home of the school at Godalming, where he
was an inmate of Mr. Girdlestone's house, "Bathing-Towel," in true
promise of his later years, appears to have been very fully occupied,
and to have had quite a multitude of interests. He was extremely fond
of theatrical representations, and became such a favourite that his
mere appearance on the stage invariably evoked wild applause from
his schoolfellows. He wrote for the school magazine, and helped to
illustrate it; he was a member of the chapel choir, assisted in forming
the school rifle corps, which he represented as one of the Charterhouse
VIII. for three consecutive years at Wimbledon, and persuaded the
powers that were into instituting a school orchestra. He played
various instruments, and notably the violin, with some skill, and it
is said that he was on one occasion discovered playing the piano with
his toes. He was always in high spirits, always making jokes, always
good-humoured. The whoop in which he was wont to indulge when he became
excited by the struggles of the football field is still remembered by
those of his old schoolfellows who heard it, and there is scarcely an
old Carthusian of "Bathing-Towel's" day who has not some quaint story
to tell of him, or whose manner in telling it does not suggest that the
defender of Mafeking must have been one of the sunniest-natured boys
that one could wish to meet.

But all this, of course, only deals with one side of "Bathing-Towel's"
school-days--the side which after all has more to do with the pleasant
things of life than with the serious things. Now that everybody knows
what manner of man he is who held Mafeking against the Boers through
seven long months of privation, no one will be surprised to hear that
"Bathing-Towel" was just as earnest in his work at school as he was
joyous in his play. Dr. Haig-Brown says of him that he never showed
want of respect for his masters or lack of consideration for his
schoolfellows. He speaks with some stress of his liberality of feeling
and of his natural gift as a leader. He worked hard and seriously,
and though he was very reserved he was never shy, and approached his
masters on any subject on which he desired advice and enlightenment
with a total absence of timidity or embarrassment. Naturally, then, he
was a great favourite in the school. He entered Charterhouse by a low
form, for there had very wisely been no attempt to force his education,
but so well did he work there that by 1875--five years after his
admission--he had reached the sixth form, and on the recommendation of
Mr. Girdlestone, his house-master, was made a monitor. Dr. Haig-Brown
says that he discharged the duties of this responsible position
with judgment and fidelity, bringing his intelligence to bear on
the interpretation of the school's traditions, and being especially
considerate and thoughtful in his attitude to the younger boys.

It is scarcely necessary to say that "Bathing-Towel's" memory is much
cherished by his old schoolfellows, nor that he himself keeps a very
warm corner in his heart for the great foundation to which he now
belongs in a stronger sense than ever. Whenever he is in England he
quickly makes his way to Godalming, there to renew his youth, and
it was to Dr. Haig-Brown, whom he visited at the Charterhouse just
before sailing for South Africa, that he expressed the wish--very
soon to be amply satisfied!--that the authorities would give him a
warm corner. _The Greyfriar_, the illustrated school magazine which
possesses a peculiar charm for all Carthusians, past and present, has
at various times been enlivened by contributions from his pen and
pencil, and on more than one occasion he has made another appearance
on the stage where his boyish jokes used to find such favour. No
wonder that Charterhouse cherishes his memory and is proud of his
career. "Baden-Powell," says Dr. Haig-Brown, "has already secured a
distinguished place among Carthusian heroes. Probably, if his youth
had been spent elsewhere, he would not have fallen short of the high
distinction he has won; but those who love Charterhouse (and they are
many) may be excused if they feel some pride in this association with a
man who has devoted such varied and sterling qualities to the service
of his country."



III.

LEARNING THE TRADE


It seems somewhat strange to learn that when Baden-Powell left school
it was with no definite notion of entering the army. One would have
thought, considering all his subsequent brilliant achievements,
that his mind had been set on being a soldier from some very early
age. This, however, was not the case. When he said good-bye to the
Charterhouse he had no definite idea as to the character of his future
career, beyond a strong impulse to engage in some pursuit which would
show him the wild places of the world. There was some talk of his
going into the Indian Civil Service, especially as he wanted to study
life and nature in that country, but it was pointed out to him that
military life in India would give him equal if not superior facilities
to that of the civilian. His first intention, however, was to proceed
to Oxford, and by the advice of his godfather, the late Professor
Jowett, he was entered at Christ Church, where he meant to spend two
years. Then came one of those curious events, which, looked at in the
light of after happenings, seem to work as special interpositions of
Providence. Hearing that an army examination was about to be held,
Baden-Powell, apparently more out of whimsicality than anything else,
decided to go in for it. The examination over, he set out for a
yachting cruise in company with his brother, quite careless, so far as
one may be permitted to judge, of the immediate results of this testing
of his abilities. The immediate results were, to say the least of them,
surprising and even startling. The examination took place in the summer
of 1876; ere summer was over he received an official communication from
the Duke of Cambridge, as Commander-in-Chief, informing him that out
of 718 candidates he had passed fifth (ranking as second place for a
cavalry regiment), and that in consequence of his success he had been
gazetted to a second lieutenancy in the 13th Hussars, his commission
being ante-dated by two years as a reward for the uniform good work
shown in his papers. This was the beginning of Baden-Powell's military
career. Within a few days of his receipt of the official communication
he was on his way to join his regiment, which at that time was
stationed in India.

The 13th Hussars, thus suddenly reinforced by this bright and lively
young prodigy, prides itself greatly on the fact that it figured in
the great affair at Balaklava, when in company with the 4th and 5th
Dragoon Guards, the 1st, 2nd and 6th Dragoons, the 4th, 8th and 11th
Hussars, the 17th Lancers, and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders,
it assisted in performing certain deeds and affairs which have made
military critics wonder ever since in more ways than one. It was then
known as the 13th Light Dragoons. Like nearly every British regiment
it possesses numerous nicknames. It is sometimes called "The Green
Dragoons," sometimes "The Ragged Brigade." It has a third nickname in
"The Evergreens," a fourth in "The Geraniums," a fifth in "Gardner's
Dragoons." These five varying sobriquets are much more pleasant than a
sixth--"The Great Runaway Prestonpans"--which seems to imply certain
things that one would rather not think of. Its motto is "_Vivet in
Æternum_"; its badge a V.R. in a Garter, crowned. When Baden-Powell
joined it in India in 1876 it was in command of Sir Baker Russell, a
fine soldier who had served through the terrible times of the Indian
Mutiny and recently passed through the Ashanti War of 1873.

The light-heartedness which characterized Baden-Powell's early days
appears to have increased rather than deteriorated when he entered
upon the serious business of life. There is a curious story told of
one of his first doings on joining his regiment in India which serves
to show what high spirits and whimsical notions were his in those
days. Assembling all the European children he could find or hear of,
he produced from his kit an ocarina--an instrument from which most
people would surely despair of extracting much music!--and forming his
youthful following into procession, marched at their head through the
streets playing "The Girl I Left Behind Me." One learns a good deal
about Baden-Powell from that little incident, and it is not surprising
that it should have done a good deal to make him popular with the folk
amongst whom he had suddenly appeared. But his popularity with his
brother officers seems to have been assured from the first. Just as he
had been the life and soul of Charterhouse in all things appertaining
to gaiety and amusements, so he speedily became a moving spirit in
regimental jinks and jollities. It was not long ere his fellows
discovered that they had got a veritable prodigy amongst them where
theatrical matters were concerned, and that behind the new-comer's
somewhat reserved manner there lay such funds of light and original
humour as are too seldom met with in this world. At this time, no
doubt, Baden-Powell's wonderful versatility was widening and deepening,
and his extraordinary facility in doing anything that had to be done
must have been nothing short of astonishing to those who witnessed it.
Always ready and always willing to take anything in hand, it is little
wonder that those who remember him in those early days in India speak
of him with an affection which is not the less real because there is
always a vein of merriment in it.

[Illustration: The Horse Guard.]

But while Baden-Powell was continuing his old pranks and cultivating
his old spirit of laughter, he lost no opportunity of learning his
trade as a soldier. It is characteristic of the man that though until
he entered the army he had cherished no very definite notion of a
military career, he had no sooner taken the final step than he began to
devote himself to his profession with all his might. He speedily became
a perfect horseman, made himself fully acquainted with regimental
duties and details, and began to read systematically. He took a
first class and special certificate for topography in the Garrison
Class Examination of 1878. Coming back to England soon afterwards
for musketry instruction at Hythe, he soon took a first class extra
certificate, and on his return to India was appointed Musketry
Instructor at Quetta. His advancement in his profession, indeed, if not
extraordinarily rapid, was sure and certain. It is not pertinent to the
character of such a necessarily brief sketch of his life as this to lay
too much stress on all that he did ere he came into special prominence
some few years ago. But when one considers the brief facts of his
military career one easily sees how thoroughly Baden-Powell--to use a
well-understood phrase--learnt his trade. He served with his regiment
(of which he was adjutant for many years) in India, Afghanistan, and
South Africa; he was on the Staff as Assistant Military Secretary
in South Africa in 1887-89; he was in the operations in Zululand in
1888, and was mentioned in despatches; he acted as Assistant Military
Secretary at Malta from 1890 to 1893; he went on special service to
Ashanti in 1895, and was Chief Staff Officer in the Matabele Campaign
of 1896, and was promoted from his old regiment to the command of the
5th Dragoon Guards in 1897. It required little knowledge of military
life and matters to realize how thoroughly the future hero of Mafeking
had made himself acquainted with the duties of the perfectly-equipped
soldier during the twenty-one years dealt with in this brief outline of
his doings. Such an outline is indeed less than brief, for it records
scarcely anything but the main facts of his military advancement.
When one comes to remember that in addition to all the active service
here mentioned he contrived to find time to write books, some of them
about Tactics, some about Sport, some describing his participation
in or conduct of important military operations, one is amazed to find
that a single brain can compass so many things. But the amazement
deepens when it is remembered that in addition to all this Baden-Powell
also found time to do many other things--to act, sing, paint, etch,
make innumerable sketches, hunt, shoot, yacht, get up theatrical
entertainments and stage-manage them, attend foreign military
evolutions, and travel extensively. To an ordinary mortal the question
must needs occur,--How does he manage to do it all? To that the only
possible answer can be that Baden-Powell, in addition to possessing
many qualities denied to other men, is blessed with yet another of
which most men are not so keen to take advantage--that of always being
occupied, and of being thoroughly absorbed in the thing that occupies
him. He has never shown this quality more thoroughly, perhaps, than
during those portions of his career when duty called him to play--or
rather, work--the part of regimental officer. Most of us know how
such a part may be played--how the officer in barracks may spend his
time in doing a minimum of duty and a maximum of pleasure, how he
may ignore the men under him, and generally behave as if the service
were a bore and all its surroundings unpalatable. Some officers do
order their lives after such a fashion; others again affect a languid
indifference to things in general, which is scarcely less hurtful to
the best interests of the service. Baden-Powell, as regimental officer,
was neither bored nor indifferent. He was always doing something for
his men, interesting himself in games and amusements, lecturing to
them, acting, reciting, and making fun for them, and there was not a
man in his troop who did not feel that he had a friend in his energetic
captain. It is not difficult to realise what all this means. The man
who can command the respect and affection of those serving under him
to such an extent that they would go anywhere and do anything at his
lightest word must needs possess a personal magnetism which proves him
worthy of leading not merely a troop but an army.



IV.

SCOUT AND SPORTSMAN


[Illustration: Following up the Spoor.]

In his youthful days Baden-Powell was very fond of exploring such
unknown regions as are accessible to a small boy, and it is related
of him that nothing gave him so much pleasure as to find himself
and his companions lost and his own ingenuity taxed to restore them
to the paths of safety. When he arrived at years of discretion this
passion for wandering did not desert him--on the contrary it increased
within him, and finally culminated in a devotion to scouting, which
has made his name famous all over the world. It is needless to say
that in this matter, as in most other matters closely affecting him,
Baden-Powell has largely depended upon himself for success and mastery.
As he remarks in his "Aids to Scouting," a little military handbook
the proofs of which accompanied the last despatches got through the
Boer lines at Mafeking, "Scouting is a thing that can be learnt, but
cannot be taught. A man must pick up much of it for himself by his own
effort." How much of it Baden-Powell has _not_ picked up for himself
can only be guessed by a careful perusal of this little treatise, which
is packed with the results of keen observation, and gives one perhaps
a better notion of what its author really is as a born soldier and
leader of soldiers than anything else of his. It was, no doubt, with
sublime unconsciousness that he describes himself in describing the
perfect scout, the man of pluck, self-reliance, and discretion, the
man who can use his ears and eyes, his sense of smell and touch, who
can keep himself hidden and track others, who can make his way across
strange lands and take good care of himself and his horse, and who in
everything he does is always dominated by the desire to secure valuable
information. And it is with perhaps still more sublime unconsciousness
that he insists that the first three necessary qualifications spring
from--confidence in one's own powers.

Of the many wonderful things done by Baden-Powell nothing seems to
me so wonderful as the way in which the man who has had so many and
such varied occupations has perfected himself in scouting. He seems
to be all eyes and ears, to never lose cognizance of anything that
happens, and to give an attention to little points of detail which less
extraordinary men would feel tempted to ignore. "It should be a point
of honour with a scout," he remarks, "that nobody sees any object that
he has not already seen for himself. For this your eyes must be never
resting, continually glancing round in every direction, and trained to
see objects in the far distance. A scout must have eyes in the back of
his head. Riding with a really trained scout, such as Buffalo Bill or
Burnham, you will notice that while he talks with you his eyes scarcely
look you in the face for a moment, they keep glancing from point to
point of the country round from sheer force of habit." Then he quotes a
slight incident from his own experience to show how a little reflection
and common-sense will suggest the most likely point for which to look
for the presence of an enemy. He and a Shikari in Kashmir were having
a match as to which of them could see furthest. The Shikari, pointing
out a hillside rising at some distance, inquired if his opponent could
say how many cattle were grazing along its slopes. Baden-Powell could
only see the cattle with great difficulty, but he presently astonished
the Shikari by asking him if he could see the man who was herding the
cattle. He could not see the man himself, but he had argued the thing
out and knew where the man was. First of all, where there were cattle
there would be a herd in charge of them. Secondly, it was most likely
that he would be up-hill, above them. Thirdly, up-hill above them stood
a solitary tree. Fourthly, the day was very hot, and the tree was the
only means of affording shade. Because of these reasons the man must
be under the tree--and when Baden-Powell and the Shikari brought their
glasses into operation there the man was.

An instance of Baden-Powell's careful attention to small details is
given in the same chapter of "Aids to Scouting." "I was once acting as
scout for a party in a desert country," he says, "where we were getting
done up for want of water. I had gone out two or three miles ahead to
where I thought the ground seemed to slope slightly downwards, but
except a very shallow, dry water-course, there was no sign of water.
As I was making my way slowly back again, I noticed a scratching in
the sand, evidently recently made by a buck, and the sand thrown up
was of a darker colour, therefore damper, than that on the surface. I
dismounted and scooped up more with my hands, and found the under-soil
quite moist, so water was evidently near, and could probably be got
by digging. But at that moment two pigeons sprang up and flew away
from under a rock near by; full of hope, I went to the spot and found
there a small pool of water, which yielded sufficient for the immediate
requirements of the party. Had I not noticed the buck-scratching, or
the pigeons flying up, we should have had a painful toil of many miles
before we struck on the river, which we eventually did come to."

There are abundant evidences in "Aids to Scouting" of the extraordinary
patience which its author possesses, and of the way in which he has
exercised it in perfecting himself as a scout. He mentions, as if it
were a mere nothing, that he once took up a position amongst some rocks
overhanging a path, and so close to it that he could have touched
passers-by with a fishing-rod, and remained there for two hours in
order to see how many people who passed him would perceive him. He took
no pains to conceal himself, but merely sat down, a little above the
level of a man's eye. During the two hours fifty-four persons passed
him, and he was only noticed by eleven of them. But how many of us are
there who have the patience to remain motionless for two hours?--all
for the sake of an experiment! But Baden-Powell's patience gains a
great deal in its value to him as a scout by its being linked with
a marvellous power of deduction. He likes to find out everything he
can about all that he sees, keeps a sharp eye on the people he meets,
tries to deduce what they are from their personal appearance, outward
signs, and chance observations, and is all the better satisfied if
he finds that his conclusions are true. When he was in India he used
to go out in the early mornings looking for what he could find and
deducing arguments from signs and things thus found. He gives numerous
illustrations of this exercise of his logical faculties in "Aids to
Scouting," of which the following is a typical example:--


EXAMPLE OF DEDUCTION FROM SIGNS. ("Aids to Scouting," p. 75.)

_Locality._--A mountain path in Kashmir.

_Weather._--Dry and fine. There had been heavy rain two days before,
but the ground had dried the same night.

_Signs observed._--Passing a tree stump, I noticed a stone lying on it
about the size of a cocoa-nut. I wondered for the moment how it came to
be there, and soon discovered the reason.

On the stump, and also sticking to the stone, were some bits of bruised
walnut-rind, green, but dried up. Bits of shell of about four walnuts
were lying about the ground near a leaning rock about 30 yards away
south of the stump. The only walnut-tree in sight was about 150 yards
north of the stump.

At the foot of the stump, just where a man would stand to use the stone
on it, was a cake of hardened mud that had evidently fallen from the
sole of a grass sandal.


DEDUCTION.

_That a man was carrying a load._--Had it been anyone not carrying a
load he or she would not have sat down on the stump or close to it;
instead of that, he had gone 30 yards away to where a slanting rock
was; this would support his load while he leant back against it to rest
and eat his walnuts (whose shells were lying there). Women do not carry
loads on their backs.

_He was on a long journey._--As he wore sandals instead of bare feet.

_Towards the south._--He had got the walnuts 150 yards north of the
stump, had stopped there to break them with the stone, and had gone 30
yards further on his road to the rock to eat them.

_He had passed there two days ago._--The cake of mud off his sandal
showed that when he was there the ground was wet, and the dried husk of
the walnuts corroborated this deduction.

_Total information._--A man had passed here two days ago, on a long
journey, carrying a load southward.

It goes without saying that Baden-Powell has had plenty of adventures
and excitement out of his love of scouting. How often his life has been
in such danger that it was apparently not worth a moment's purchase, it
is probable he himself does not know. But if there is anybody who knows
what an extraordinarily watchful life it is that has thus risked itself
a thousand times, it is the Matabele against whom Baden-Powell brought
his keen senses to bear during the campaign of 1896, and who conferred
upon him a sobriquet which is likely to stick to him as long as his
old nickname of "Bathing-Towel," or the modern "B.-P." of admiring
crowds. Writing of his work during July, 1896 ("The Matabele Campaign,"
p. 127-8), he says: "Many of the strongholds to which I had at first
learned the way with patrols, I have now visited again by myself at
nights, in order to further locate the positions of their occupants. In
this way I have actually got to know the country and the way through
it better by night than by day, that is to say, by certain landmarks
and leading stars whose respectively changed appearance or absence in
daylight is apt to be misleading. The enemy, of course, often see me,
but are luckily very suspicious, and look upon me as a bait to some
trap, and are therefore slow to come at me. They often shout to me; and
yesterday my boy, who was with my horse, told me they were shouting
to each other that 'Impeesa' was there--i.e., 'The Wolf,' or, as he
translated it, the beast, that does not sleep, but sneaks about at
night." Since then a good many folk have learnt much of the Wolf that
does not sleep. But if this same sleepless Wolf were asked if there had
not been many compensations for his sneaking about at night, he would
probably be able to say that for every moment of anxiety he had spent a
thousand of satisfaction. To how many men leading hum-drum stay-at-home
lives is it ever granted to see one such picture as that Baden-Powell
records in his journal under date July 29th, 1896? ("The Matabele
Campaign," p. 175.)

"To-day, when out scouting by myself, being at some distance from my
boy and the horses, I lay for a short rest and a quiet look-out among
some rocks and grass overlooking a little stream; and I saw a charming
picture. Presently there was a slight rattle of trinkets, and a swish
of the tall yellow grass, followed by the sudden apparition of a naked
Matabele warrior standing glistening among the rocks of the streamlet,
within thirty yards of me. His white war ornaments--the ball of clipped
feathers on his brow, and the long white cow's-tail plumes which
depended from his arms and knees--contrasted strongly with his rich
brown skin. His kilt of wild cat-skins and monkeys' tails swayed round
his loins. His left hand bore his assegais and knobkerrie beneath the
great dapple ox-hide shield; and, in his right, a yellow walking-staff.

"He stood for almost a minute perfectly motionless, like a statue cast
in bronze, his head turned from me, listening for any suspicious sound.
Then, with a swift and easy movement, he laid his arms and shield
noiselessly upon the rocks, and, dropping on all fours beside a pool,
he dipped his muzzle down and drank just like an animal. I could hear
the thirsty sucking of his lips from where I lay. He drank and drank
as though he never meant to stop, and when at last his frame could hold
no more, he rose with evident reluctance. He picked his weapons up,
and then stood again to listen. Hearing nothing, he turned and sharply
moved away. In three swift strides he disappeared within the grass as
silently as he had come. I had been so taken with the spectacle that I
felt no desire to shoot at him--especially as he was carrying no gun
himself."

But lest those who read these words should imagine that the life of
a scout is all pleasurable excitement with a little danger thrown
in to give it an added zest, let them read an extract from one of
Baden-Powell's letters to the _Daily Chronicle_, to which he at one
time acted as special correspondent. It describes setting out on
reconnaissance with a patrol:--

"Is it the cooing of doves that wakes me from dreamland to the stern
reality of a scrubby blanket and the cold night air of the upland
veldt? A plaintive, continuous moan, moan, reminds me that I am at one
of our outpost forts beyond Buluwayo, where my bedroom is under the lee
of the sail (waggon tilt) which forms the wall of the hospital. And
through the flimsy screen there wells the moan of a man who is dying.
At last the weary wailing slowly sobs itself away, and the suffering
of another mortal is ended. He is at peace. It is only another poor
trooper gone. Three years ago he was costing his father so much a year
at Eton; he was in the eleven, too--and all for this.

"I roll myself tighter in my dew-chilled rug, and turn to dream afresh
of what a curious world I'm in. My rest is short, and time arrives for
turning out, as now the moon is rising. A curious scene it is, as here
in shadow, there in light, close-packed within the narrow circuit of
the fort, the men are lying, muffled, deeply sleeping at their posts.
It's etiquette to move and talk as softly as we are able, and even
harsh-voiced sentries drop their challenge to a whisper when there
is no doubt of one's identity. We give our horses a few handfuls of
mealies, while we dip our pannikins into the great black 'billy,' where
there's always cocoa on the simmer for the guard. And presently we
saddle up, the six of us, and lead our horses out; and close behind us
follow, in a huddled, shivering file, the four native scouts, guarding
among them two Matabele prisoners, handcuffed wrist to wrist, who are
to be our guides.

"Down into the deep, dark kloof below the fort, where the air strikes
with an icy chill, we cross the shallow spruit, then rise and turn
along its farther bank, following a twisting, stony track that leads
down the valley. Our horses, though they purposely are left unshod,
make a prodigious clatter as they stumble adown the rough uneven way.
From force of habit rather than from fear of listening enemies, we drop
our voices to a whisper, and this gives a feeling of alertness and
expectancy such as would find us well prepared on an emergency. But
we are many miles as yet from their extremest outposts, and, luckily
for us, these natives are the soundest of sleepers, so that one might
almost in safety pass with clattering horses within a quarter of a mile
of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

" ... Dawn is at hand. The hills along our left (we are travelling
south) loom darker now against the paling sky. Before us, too, we see
the hazy blank of the greater valley into which our present valley
runs. Suddenly there's a pause, and all our party halts. Look back!
there, high up on a hill, beneath whose shadow we have passed, there
sparkles what looks like a ruddy star, which glimmers, bobs, goes out,
and then flares anew. It is a watchfire, and our foes are waking up to
warm themselves and to keep their watch. Yonder on another hill sparks
up a second fire, and on beyond, another. They are waking up, but all
too late; we've passed them by, and now are in their ground. Forward!
We press on, and ere the day has dawned we have emerged from out the
defile into the open land beyond. This is a wide and undulating plain,
some five miles across to where it runs up into mountain peaks, the
true Matopos. We turn aside and clamber up among some hills just as
the sun is rising, until we reach the ashes of a kraal that has been
lately burned. The kraal is situated in a cup among the hills, and
from the koppies round our native scouts can keep a good look-out in
all directions. Here we call a halt for breakfast, and after slackening
girths, we go into the cattle kraal to look for corn to give our
horses. (The Kaffirs always hide their grain in pits beneath the ground
of the 'cattle kraal' or yard in which the oxen are herded at night.)
Many of the grain-pits have already been opened, but still are left
half-filled, and some have not been touched--and then in one--well,
we cover up the mouth with a flat stone and logs of wood. The body
of a girl lies doubled up within. A few days back a party of some
friendlies, men and women, had revisited this kraal, their home, to get
some food to take back to their temporary refuge near our fort. The
Matabele saw them, and just when they were busy drawing grain, pounced
in upon them, assegaing three--all women--and driving off the rest as
fast as they could go. This was but an everyday incident of outpost
life."

It may be that Baden-Powell would never have been so great an exponent
of the art and science of scouting if he had not always been a
thoroughly good sportsman. To sport his devotion has invariably been
marked since the days when he first felt the charm of wild life. He
hunts and shoots, and in Mrs. Baden-Powell's house in St. George's
Place there are innumerable trophies of his skill, including lions
and tigers. Perhaps his favourite sport is pig-sticking, of which he
became a devotee soon after he joined the 13th Hussars in India. In
1883 he won the Kadir Cup--the highest distinction open to followers
of this very fascinating sport--and in 1885 he published his work on
"Pig-sticking," from which the following characteristically written
account of a fight which he once witnessed between a tiger and a boar
is extracted:--

" ... He eagerly watched the development of this strange _rencontre_.
The tiger was now crouching low, crawling stealthily round and round
the boar, who changed front with every movement of his lithe and sinewy
adversary, keeping his determined head and sharp, deadly tusks ever
facing his stealthy and treacherous foe. The bristles of the boar's
back were up at a right angle from the strong spine. The wedge-shaped
head poised on the strong neck and thick rampart of muscular shoulder
was bent low, and the whole attitude of the body betokened full
alertness and angry resoluteness. In their circlings the two brutes
were now nearer to each other and nearer to us, and thus we could mark
every movement with greater precision. The tiger was now growling and
showing his teeth; and all this, that takes such a time to tell, was
but the work of a few short minutes. Crouching now still lower, till
he seemed almost flat on the ground, and gathering his sinewy limbs
beneath his lithe, lean body, he suddenly startled the stillness with
a loud roar, and quick as lightning sprang upon the boar. For a brief
minute the struggle was thrilling in its intense excitement. With one
swift, dexterous sweep of the strong, ready paw, the tiger fetched
the boar a terrific slap right across the jaw, which made the strong
beast reel, but with a hoarse grunt of resolute defiance, with two or
three sharp digs of the strong head and neck, and swift, cutting blows
of the cruel, gashing tusks, he seemed to make a hole or two in the
tiger's coat, marking it with more stripes than Nature has ever painted
there; and presently both combatants were streaming with gore. The
tremendous buffet of the sharp claws had torn flesh and skin away from
off the boar's cheek and forehead, leaving a great ugly flap hanging
over his face and half blinding him. The pig was now on his mettle.
With another hoarse grunt he made straight for the tiger, who very
dexterously eluded the charge, and, lithe and quick as a cat after a
mouse, doubled almost on himself, and alighted clean on the boar's
back, inserting his teeth above the shoulders, tearing with his claws,
and biting out great mouthfuls of flesh from the quivering carcase of
his maddened antagonist. He seemed now to be having all the best of it,
so much so that the boar discreetly stumbled and fell forward, whether
by accident or design I know not, but the effect was to bring the tiger
clean over his head, sprawling clumsily on the ground ... the tables
were turned. Getting his forefeet on the tiger's prostrate carcase, the
boar now gave two or three short, ripping gashes with his strong white
tusks, almost disembowelling his foe, and then exhausted seemingly
by the effort, apparently giddy and sick, he staggered aside and lay
down, panting and champing his tusks, but still defiant...." One can
conceive, after reading this passage, that Baden-Powell must needs have
a considerable respect for the wild pig of India, and find in him a foe
worthy his own skill and courage.

An extract from the journal which he kept during the Matabele Campaign
shows Baden-Powell in the character of lion-hunter:--

"_October 10th_ (to be marked with a red mark when I can get a red
pencil).--Jackson and a native boy accompanied me scouting this
morning; we then started off at three in the morning, so that by dawn
we were in sight of one of the hills we expected might be occupied by
Paget, and where we hoped to see his fires. We saw none there; but on
our way, in moving round the hill which overlooks our camp, we saw a
match struck high up near the top of the mountain. This one little
spark told us a good deal. It showed that the enemy were there; that
they were awake and alert (I say 'they' because one nigger would not
be up there by himself in the dark), and that they were aware of our
force being at Posselt's (or otherwise they would not be occupying that
hill). However, they could not see anything of us, as it was then quite
dark; and we went further on among the mountains. In the early morning
light we crossed the deep river-bed of the Umchingwe River, and, in
doing so, we noticed the fresh spoor of a lion in the sand. We went on,
and had a good look at the enemy's stronghold; and on our way back,
as we approached this river-bed, we agreed to go quietly, in case the
lion should be moving about in it. On looking down over the bank, my
heart jumped into my mouth, when I saw a grand old brute just walking
in behind a bush. Jackson could not see him, but was off his horse as
quick as I was, and ready with his gun; too ready, indeed, for the
moment that the lion appeared, walking majestically out from behind the
bush that had hidden him, Jackson fired hurriedly, striking the ground
under his foot, and, as we afterwards discovered, knocking off one
of his claws. The lion tossed up his shaggy head and looked at us in
dignified surprise. Then I fired, and hit him in the ribs with a leaden
bullet from my Lee-Metford. He reeled, sprang round, and staggered a
few paces, when Jackson, who was firing a Martini-Henry, let him have
one in the shoulder; this knocked him over sideways, and he turned
about, growling savagely.

"I could scarcely believe that we had actually got a lion at last, but
resolved to make sure of it; so, telling Jackson not to fire unless it
was necessary (for fear of spoiling the skin with the larger bullet of
the Martini), I got down closer to the beast, and fired a shot at the
back of his neck as he turned his head away from me. This went through
his spine, and came out through the lower jaw, killing him dead. We
were pretty delighted at our success, but our nigger was mad with
happiness, for a dead lion--provided he is not a man-eater--has many
invaluable gifts for a Kaffir, in the shape of love-philtres, charms
against disease or injury, and medicines that produce bravery. It was
quite delightful to shake hands with the mighty paws of the dead lion,
and to pull at his magnificent tawny mane, and to look into his great
deep yellow eyes. And then we set to work to skin him; two skinning,
while the other kept watch in case of the enemy sneaking up to catch us
while we were thus occupied. In skinning him, we found that he was very
fat, and also that he had been much wounded by porcupines, portions of
whose quills had pierced the skin and lodged in his flesh in several
places. Our nigger cut out the eyes, gall-bladder, and various bits
of the lion's anatomy, as fetish medicine. I filled my carbine bucket
with some of the fat, as I knew my two boys, Diamond and M'tini, would
very greatly value it. Then, after hiding the head in a neighbouring
bush, we packed the skin on to one of the ponies, and returned to camp
mightily pleased with ourselves.

"On arrival there, the excitement among the boys was very great, for,
as we rode into camp, we pretended we had merely shot a buck; but when
Diamond turned out to take my horse from me, he suddenly recognized
the skin, and his eyes almost started from his head as he put his
hand over his mouth and ejaculated, 'Ow! Ingonyama!' ('Great Scott! a
lion!') Then, grinning with excitement, he asked leave to go and get
some more of it. In vain I told him that it was eight miles away, and
close under the enemy's stronghold. He seized up an assegai and started
off at a steady trot along our back-spoor. And very soon one nigger
after another was doubling out of camp after him, to get a share of the
booty. In the evening they came back quite happy with various tit-bits,
and also the head. The heart was boiled and made into soup, which was
greedily partaken of by every boy in camp, with a view to gaining
courage. Diamond assured me that the bits of fat, &c., of which he was
now the proud possessor, would buy him several cattle when he got back
to Natal."

In addition to his fame as a sticker of pigs, a hunter of hogs, a
slayer of lions and tigers, Baden-Powell has also greatly distinguished
himself as a hunter of big game and an expert polo-player. But there is
scarcely anything in the shape of sport and the pursuit of outdoor life
which he does not care for. Nature in her wildest and loneliest moods
he loves with a whole-hearted devotion, and it is easy to perceive when
reading his books and journals that he knows her in all her phases
and attitudes, and loves her in them all. It would be strange if it
were not so in the case of a man who has so often laid down in the
loneliness of the African veldt and slept as trustfully as if he were
in his own bed--always taking care, though, with his usual caution, to
be sure that his revolver is under his knees, and its lanyard round his
neck. To such as him the open air is as the breath of heaven to the
saint, and communion with the wild places and wild life of the earth as
meat to the hungry.



V.

THE KINDLY HUMORIST


It seems to me that the distinguishing quality of Baden-Powell's life
and character, so far as the man in the street has been permitted
to inform himself about them, is a sense of humour, so strong as to
dominate everything else within him. He is essentially the man who,
whatever happens, will come up smiling. It is only necessary to look at
him to feel sure of that--there is something in the tall, spare figure,
in the well-cut, determined face and quick, observant, fun-loving eyes
which gives the beholder a sense of very pleasant security. Everybody
who knows Baden-Powell bears testimony to the great and unvarying
quality of his humour. It is the humour of a great nature--now
exuberant even to the verge of mischief, now dry and caustic enough to
suit an epigram-loving philosopher, now of a whimsical sort that makes
it all the more charming. But it has a further quality which may not be
overlooked--it is always kindly. Only a good-natured, sunny-tempered,
laughter-loving man could or would have done all the things which are
credited to Baden-Powell--things which have been done more for the
pleasure which a great nature always feels in lightening life for
others than for the mere desire of provoking laughter. The man who was
always ready as regimental officer to amuse his men by his powers as an
actor, maker of jokes, and general entertainer, differs only from the
schoolboy who was always full of fun and high spirits in the sense that
his abilities were being turned to more serious account.

The humour which is Baden-Powell's great characteristic is of much
variety and shows itself in the most astonishing ways. It is
wonderfully whimsical, and sometimes appears when one would never
dream of seeing it. What a whimsical notion, for instance, to assemble
the European children, on joining his regiment in India, and march
them through the streets to the tune of "The Girl I left behind me,"
played upon an ocarina! Or to send a dispatch from Mafeking which
laconically said, "All well, FOUR hours' bombardment--one dog killed."
Or to present himself at a picture exhibition, and on being informed
that he must leave his stick outside, to turn away and return a moment
later limping so badly that the tabooed stick was perforce allowed to
accompany him. Or to seat himself, a full-grown English officer, upon
a kerb-stone and pretend to sob bitterly until a constable inquired
as to his woes, and then to inform the astonished man that he had
just fallen out of his nurse's arms, and that the unfeeling woman had
gone on and left him. This sort of thing is not merely whimsical, but
in the last two cases closely allied to practical joking. But it is
characteristic of the man who, when Commandant Eloff surrendered to
him at Mafeking, said, "How do you do?--come and have some dinner."
That strong, saving sense of humour--which really means a total lack
of miserable, morbid self-consciousness--must have been strong in
Baden-Powell at a very early age. There is a story told of him in his
very youthful days which shows that when little more than a baby his
sense of humour was already strong. While staying at the seaside he had
the ill-luck to fall into a somewhat deep hole in the rocks, just when
the tide was coming in, and was promptly treated to a ducking, which,
as he phrases it, "comed up all over my head," and made him think that
he should never "tum out adain." But he fought, tooth and nail, to "tum
out adain," and was met a few minutes later, a dripping and bedraggled
figure, by a lady to whom he coolly explained what had happened. There
was no howling and crying about the thing now that it was over--that
was Baden-Powell's sense of humour. Many a long year after that we find
him jotting down in his journal some particulars of a narrow escape
from sudden death, or at least from serious injury. When the mule
battery moved off from Beresford's position, after the fight of August
5th, 1896, during the proceedings of the Matabele Campaign, one of the
mules carried a carbine strapped on its pack-saddle. The carbine had
very carelessly been left loaded, and at full cock, and in passing
a bush it was discharged, the bullet nearly hitting Baden-Powell,
who was close behind. Most men would have made this incident the
text for nauseous thankings of Providence, for self-reflection, and
the like--Baden-Powell merely remarks: "Many a man has nearly been
shot by an ass, but I claim to have been nearly shot by a mule." It
is a fortunate gift to possess, this saving sense of humour, but it
strikes some folk as gruesome, all the same. There is a story told
to the effect that when the siege of Mafeking began, some individual
who had offended very seriously was brought before Baden-Powell. The
delinquent's account of what happened is full of charm. "He told me
that if I ever did it again he would have me shot immediately--_and
then he began to whistle a tune_!" Exactly--but the wrongdoer did not
know that it is one of the defender of Mafeking's great beliefs that
when one is very much bothered by naughty people or awkward things
it is a very good thing to--whistle a tune. What the Boers thought
of Baden-Powell's humour we shall possibly find out in time to come.
Commandant Eloff, captive at last, and receiving his captor's off-hand,
cheery invitation to dine, was, no doubt, not surprised by it, for
he had already experienced something of his antagonist's methods of
regarding things. During the siege Eloff wrote to Baden-Powell saying
that he learnt that the beleaguered garrison amused itself with balls,
concerts, tournaments, cricket matches, and the like on Sundays,
and hinted that he and his men would very much like to come in and
take part, life being pretty dull amongst the Boer forces. To this
Baden-Powell replied that he thought the return match had better be
postponed until the one then proceeding was finished, and suggested
that as Cronje, Snyman, and others had been well tried without effect
on the garrison, which was then 200 and not out, there had better be
another change of bowling. All which Commander Eloff, no doubt, read
with mixed feelings, in which, let us hope, a sense of amused agreement
with his correspondent predominated.

Of purely amusing stories about Baden-Powell there have been quite
enough given in the public prints to fill a small volume. Whether it is
exactly pertinent to the understanding of his character to continually
harp on the mirth-provoking side of it is a question which need not
be answered, but no one doubts that a great man is made all the more
human and all the more attractive to ordinary mortals if he happens
to possess a wholesome love of fun. Love of fun, even of what very
young ladies call mere frivol, appears to have possessed Baden-Powell
ever since he was a small boy. He was always in for a lark. There
was a master at the Charterhouse whose usual answer to any boy who
bothered him with a question was a more or less testy, "Don't you know
I'm engaged?" It happened to be noised abroad that this gentleman had
succeeded in persuading some young lady to share his fortunes, and
Baden-Powell was one of the first to hear the news. His brilliant, and
one may righteously say mischievous mind, conceived a brilliant notion.
He approached the Benedict-to-be as the latter stood amidst a group of
other masters, and made some remark or request. Quick came the usual
question: "Don't you know I'm engaged?" "Bathing-Towel" assumed one
of the looks which only he could assume. "_Oh_, SIR!" he exclaimed in
accents that expressed--himself best knew what.

[Illustration: Britannia.]

There is another story told of him which illustrates his humour in its
mischievous best. He was staying at a country house whose mistress
was in despair one evening because a professional conjurer on whose
services she had been relying had not arrived at the time when his
performance was announced to commence. She appealed to Baden-Powell
to do something amusing until the man arrived. With characteristic
readiness to step into a breach, Baden-Powell mounted the platform,
and having announced himself as an amateur conjurer, invited any
gentleman present to be so obliging as to lend him a silk hat. Some
unsuspecting and innocent gentleman "obliged" in the manner requested.
Baden-Powell, having carefully examined the head-gear thus entrusted
to him, tore out the lining, cut off the brim, and then slowly cut the
rest of the article into very small pieces. He then made a mysterious
request for a tray of some particular pattern, and while the house was
being ransacked for what he wanted, he amused his audience with the
glib utterances of the professional entertainer. At last the tray came,
and Baden-Powell heaped the fragments upon it, covered them over, and
looked solemnly at his audience. "You have seen me cut up the hat," he
said, "and you know that the pieces are under this covering. The next
part of the performance will be to restore the hat whole to its owner.
As the real conjurer has just arrived, I will leave that part of the
performance to him." And therewith this very boyish man bowed himself
off the platform.

It is just because he is a boyish man that Baden-Powell is what he is.
Who could doubt that a man so light-hearted, so full of bright good
humour, so sunny of disposition, could fail to uphold the honour of
his country, considering that to these desirable qualities he adds
the strength, skill, sagacity, and indomitable bravery of the born
soldier? I have always thought that the most characteristic thing which
Baden-Powell has ever said was when he replied to Cronje's demand
for a surrender: "Tell General Cronje that I will let him know when
we have had enough." Enough?--it may well be doubted if the man whom
the Matabele aptly termed "The Wolf that never Sleeps" will ever have
enough until he sleeps for ever.



PART II.

AN EXPEDITION AND A CAMPAIGN



I.

THE ASHANTI EXPEDITION, 1895-6


Amongst the vast collection of relics, trophies, and curiosities which
Baden-Powell has housed at his mother's residence in London there is
one object at sight of which those who know its history may be forgiven
for feeling some slight qualms. It is a large brass basin, about five
feet in diameter, ornamented with four lions and with a number of round
knobs all round its rim. If the spirits of blood-lust, of unholiness,
and cruelty abide anywhere on earth, they ought to be found in this
bowl, which Baden-Powell found at Bantama when he went out with the
Ashanti Expedition of 1895-6, and which in its time had received the
blood of countless victims to the inordinate love of human sacrifice
which has distinguished the kings of the Ashanti empire for centuries.
It looks, that bowl, as innocent as an ordinary kitchen utensil as
it hangs in its place on the wall, surrounded by trophies of a more
fearsome nature, but not even the guillotine of the Reign of Terror
had seen and smelt more blood than had run over its rim to putrefy
in its depths and to be eventually turned, mixed with certain herbs,
into fetish medicines. To Baden-Powell, whenever he sees it--he has
had small chance of seeing it since he brought it back to England,
though!--it must needs recall many things in connection with that foul
corner of the earth into which he journeyed some five years ago in
order to assist in bringing a reign of bloodshed and violence to an
end.

[Illustration: SKETCH MAP of the MARCH TO KUMASSI _showing the Camping
Places_]

We are often told that we, as a nation, are much too ready to interfere
with the affairs of other folk, and there are candid people amongst us
who are not afraid of hinting that our interference is usually with
nations not quite so big and powerful as ourselves--that we are, in
short, something like the schoolboy bully who wants to fight, but only
with a boy several sizes smaller than himself. There were whisperings
and hintings of this sort when we sent out our Ashanti Expedition of
1895-6--but no nation, surely, ever had better reasons for undertaking
such an expedition. There were more reasons than one why it should be
undertaken, and every reason was a most potent one, but one towered
above all in its strength and urgency. Human life was being sacrificed
in Ashanti to an extent which civilized folk can scarcely comprehend.
The following extract from Baden-Powell's work on the Ashanti
Expedition of 1895-6 gives one some notion of what was going on in and
around Kumassi before the British Government stepped in:--

"Any great public function was seized on as an excuse for human
sacrifices. There was the annual 'yam custom,' or harvest festival, at
which large numbers of victims were often offered to the gods. Then
the king went every quarter to pay his devotions to the shades of his
ancestors at Bantama, and this demanded the deaths of twenty men over
the great bowl on each occasion. On the death of any great personage,
two of the household slaves were at once killed on the threshold of
the door, in order to attend their master immediately in his new life,
and his grave was afterwards lined with the bodies of more slaves who
were to form his retinue in the spirit world. It was thought all the
better if, during the burial, one of the attendant mourners could be
stunned by a club, and dropped, still breathing, into the grave before
it was filled in. In the case of a great lady dying, slave-girls
were the victims. This custom of sacrifice at funerals was called
'washing the grave.' On the death of a king the custom of washing the
grave involved enormous sacrifices. Then sacrifices were also made to
propitiate the gods when war was about to be entered upon, or other
trouble was impending. Victims were also killed to deter an enemy
from approaching the capital: sometimes they were impaled and set up
on the path, with their hand pointing to the enemy and bidding him to
retire. At other times the victim was beheaded and the head replaced
looking in the wrong direction; or he was buried alive in the pathway,
standing upright, with only his head above ground, to remain thus until
starvation, or--what was infinitely worse--the ants made an end of him.
Then there was a death penalty for the infraction of various laws. For
instance, anybody who found a nugget of gold and who did not send it at
once to the king was liable to decapitation; so also was anybody who
picked up anything of value lying on the parade-ground, or who sat down
in the shade of the fetish tree at Bantama. Indeed, if the king desired
an execution at any time, he did not look far for an excuse. It is
even said that on one occasion he preferred a richer colour in the red
stucco on the walls of the palace, and that for this purpose the blood
of four hundred virgins was used. I have purposely refrained elsewhere
from giving numbers, because, although our informants supplied them,
West African natives are notoriously inexact in this respect. The
victims of sacrifices were almost always slaves or prisoners of war.
Slaves were often sent in to the king in lieu of tribute from his
kinglets and chiefs, or as a fine for minor delinquencies. Travelling
traders of other tribes, too, were frequently called upon to pay
customs dues with a slave or two, and sometimes their own lives were
forfeited.

[Illustration: Human Sacrifice at Bantama.]

"When once a man had been selected and seized for execution, there
were only two ways by which he could evade it. One was to repeat the
'king's oath'--a certain formula of words--before they could gag him;
the other was to break loose from his captors and run as far as the
Bantama-Kumassi cross road; if he could reach this point before being
overtaken, he was allowed to go free. In order to ensure against their
prisoners getting off by either of these methods, the executioners used
to spring on the intended victim from behind, and while one bound his
hands behind his back, another drove a knife through both his cheeks,
which effectually prevented him from opening his mouth to speak, and
in this horrible condition he had to await his turn for execution.
When the time came, the executioners, mad with blood, would make a
rush for him and force him on to the bowl or stool, whichever served
as the block. Then one of them, using a large kind of butcher's knife,
would cut into the spine, and so carve the head off. As a rule, the
victims were killed without extra torture, but if the order was given
for an addition of this kind, the executioners vied with each other in
devising original and fiendish forms of suffering. At great executions
torture was apparently resorted to in order to please the spectators.
It certainly seems that the people had by frequent indulgence become
imbued with a kind of blood-lust, and that to them an execution was
as attractive an entertainment as is a bull-fight to a Spaniard or a
football match to an Englishman."

On November 14th, 1895, Baden-Powell received orders to proceed on
active service, and a month later he was at Cape Coast Castle, charged
with the onerous duties of getting the punitive force through from that
point to Kumassi. What a task it was that lay before him few people can
imagine. Between Cape Coast Castle and Kumassi the road was nothing but
a narrow pathway, leading for the greater part of its 150 miles through
primeval forest, dark, pestilential, and infested by the tsetse fly.
To plunge an army of white troops into such a district was to court
immediate trouble in the way of sickness, if not of death; accordingly
it was necessary that many things should be thought of, and thought of
with a thoroughness and care which the stay-at-home man can scarcely
conceive. The details relating to transport, commissariat, reserve
stores, engineering and telegraphic work, hospital provision, equipment
for making roads and building bridges, had all to be considered
and debated. Before he reached Cape Coast Castle, Baden-Powell had
considered them all, and had put his ideas about them on paper.
When he landed there innumerable difficulties lay before him, such
difficulties that, as he says, "One could sit down and laugh to tears
at the absurdity of the thing," but going on the old West Coast
proverb, "Softly, softly, catchee monkey," he gradually reduced chaos
into order, and at last found himself in command of "a jabbering,
laughing mob," whose only uniform was--a red fez! All the way to
Prahsu, seventy miles off, did Baden-Powell and his assistant, Captain
Graham, lead and drive this motley assemblage. There they handed over
to the Commissariat Department the loads they had brought up, and then
set to work with their levies at clearing the bush, making roads, and
doing general pioneer work. What sort of life he and Graham spent
at that time is shown in a characteristic passage of Baden-Powell's
diary:--

"At early dawn, while the hush of the thick white mist yet hangs above
the forest, a pyjama-clad figure creeps from its camp-bed in the
palm-leaf hut, and kicks up a sleeping drummer to sound 'Reveillé.'
Then the tall, dark forest wall around the clearing echoes with the
boom of the elephant-tusk horns, whose sound is all the more weird
since it comes from between the human jaws with which the horns are
decorated. The war-drums rumble out a kind of Morse rattle that is
quite understandable to its hearers. The men get up readily enough, but
it is merely in order to light their fires and to settle down to eat
plaintains, while the white chiefs take their tubs, quinine, and tea.
A further rattling of the drum for parade produces no result. The king
is called for. 'Why are your men not on parade?' With a deprecatory
smile the king explains that he is suffering from rheumatism in the
shoulder, and therefore he, and consequently his tribe, cannot march
to-day. He is given a Cockle's pill, and is warned that if he is not
ready to march in five minutes, he will be fined a shilling. (The
luxury of fining a real, live king to the extent of one shilling!) In
five minutes he returns and says that if the white officer will give
his men some salt to eat with their 'chop' (food), he thinks they will
be willing to march.

"The white officer grimly says he will get a little salt for them, and
proceeds to cut a specimen of a particularly lithe and whippy cane. A
hundred pair of eyes are watching him. They read his intention in a
moment, and at once there is a stir. A moment later, and _that_ portion
of the army are off in a long string upon the forward road, with their
goods and chattels and chop tied up in bundles on their heads.

"But the whole levy is as yet by no means under way. Here a whole
company of another tribe is still squatting, eating plantains, and
jabbering away, indifferent to every other sound. 'Call the chief.'
Yes, the chief is most willing to do anything; would march straight
on to Kumassi if ordered. But his captains are at present engaged in
talking over the situation, and he cannot well disturb them. The white
chief does not take long about disturbing them, but still the rank
and file don't move. The captains have something they would like to
communicate to the white chief. 'Well, out with it.'

"The head captain has come to the conclusion, from information
received, that the Ashantis are a most cowardly race.

"'Quite right. Just what I have told you all along; and if you will
only hurry up, we can get right up to them in a few days and smash
them.'

"'Ah! the white chief speaks brave words, but he does not know the ways
of the bush warriors. No; the plan which the captains in council have
agreed upon is to draw the enemy on by retiring straight away back to
Cape Coast Castle. The enemy will follow them, and will run on to the
bayonets of the white soldiers who are coming up from the coast.'

"'A very good plan, but not quite identical with that of the white
chief. There is only one plan in his mind, and that is to go forward,
and this plan must be carried out by all. He has in his hand a
repeating rifle which fires fourteen shots. When the regiment begins
its retirement, he will go to the head of it and will shoot at each man
as he comes by. Fourteen corpses will suffice to block up the path. And
now any who like to go back on these conditions can do so; the gun is
already loaded. Those who like to go forward to get their chop at the
next halting-place can move on. Those who like to sit where they are
can do so till it is their turn to be tied to a tree, to get a dozen
lashes, commencing with this gentleman.' Loads are taken up, and in a
moment the whole force goes laughing and singing on the forward path.

[Illustration: Portrait of King Prempeh.]

"On through the deep, dark aisles, still foggy with the morning mist
and wet with the dripping dew. Twisting and turning, now up, now down,
clambering over giant tree-roots or splashing through the sucking
mud--all in moist and breathless heat, till, tired and dripping, we
reach the next site for a camp. Two hours' rest for mid-day chop, and
then parade. More delays, more excuses, and at last every man has his
tool issued to him, and every company has its work assigned to it.
No. 1 to clear the bush. No. 2 to cut stockade posts. No. 3 to cut
palm-leaf wattle. No. 4 to dig stockade holes. No. 5 to mount sentries
and prevent men hiding in huts; and so on, till every one is at work.
We lay out the plan and trace of the fort that is to be built, and of
the huts that are to form the camp.

"'Hallo! where are the hole-diggers?'

"'They have retired to have some chop.'

"'Chop? they've only just finished two hours of chop.'

"'Yes--but the white chief works them so hard that they have big
appetites.'

"'They--and you, their chief--will all be fined a day's pay.'

"'Yes, well, the white man is powerful. Still, we prefer that to not
having our chop. Many thanks.'

"'Oh, but you'll have to work as well. See this little instrument?
That's a hunting-crop. Come, I'll show you how it can be used. I'll
begin on you, my friend!'

"No need to. They all fly to their work. Then you go round. Every
company in turn is found sitting down, or eye-serving.

"'Down with that tree, my lad--you with the felling-axe! Not know how
to use it?'

"For three days I felled trees myself, till I found that I could get
the tree felled equally well by merely showing the cracker of the
hunting-crop. The men had loved to see me work. The crop came to be
called 'Volapük,' because it was understood by every tribe. But, though
often shown, it was never used.

"The bush-clearing company are sitting down, not a yard of bush cut.
'Why?'

"'Oh, we are fishermen by occupation, and don't know anything about
bush-cutting.'

"The bush soon comes down nevertheless, and, what is more wonderful, by
sunset there is an open space of some seven or eight acres where this
morning there was nothing but a sea of bush jungle. Large palm thatched
sheds have sprung up in regular lines, and in the centre stands a
nearly finished fort, with its earth rampart bound up by stockade and
wattle. Within it are two huts, for hospital and storehouse. Trains
of carriers are already arriving with hundreds of boxes of beef and
biscuit to be checked, arranged, and stored. At sunset sounds the drum,
the treasure box and ledger are opened, and the command comes up for
pay.

"'First company--how many men present?'

"'Sixty-eight, sir.'

"'But it has only got fifty-nine on its establishment!'

"'Next company.'

"'All here, sir, but some few men away sick--and two he never
come'--and so on and so on. At last it is over, except that a
despatch-runner comes in with a telegram, forwarded from the last
telegraph station, to ask from Cape Coast Castle offices immediate
reason why the men's pay-list has been sent in in manuscript, instead
of on Army Form O 1729!"

From Prahsu the expedition, under the command of Sir Francis
Scott, went on its way towards Kumassi. Its formation when it came
near to that plague-spot of the earth was as follows:--First came
Baden-Powell's crowd of red-fezzed natives, keeping a variable distance
from the advanced guard, which consisted of two companies of the
Gold Coast Houssas and a Maxim gun. A quarter of a mile after that
came the main body, covering a distance of nine miles, and consisting
of Special Service Corps, two guns, a Maxim gun, the Headquarters
Staff, a half of the Bearer Company, six companies of the 2nd West
Yorkshire Regiment, two guns and two rockets, the other half of the
Bearer Company, the Ammunition Column, the Baggage Column, the Supply
Column, the Field Hospital, and, as rearguard, two more companies
of the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment and the Lagos Houssas with a
Maxim. Flanking the latter portion of the main column on the right,
and distributed by half-sections, came one company of the 2nd West
India Regiment. It is evident from his diary that Baden-Powell wanted
some fighting--at Ordasu an embassy from King Prempeh offered that
bloodthirsty savage's complete and unconditional surrender to Captain
Stuart, Political Officer accompanying the column, and Baden-Powell
remarks, characteristically enough, "Alas! this looks like a peaceful
end of all our work," and a few days afterwards, recording the entrance
into Kumassi, he dwells rather bitterly on the disappointment which the
men felt in having no fighting. But the expedition was destined to be
a peaceful one--the British troops and native levies marched into the
city of death quietly enough. Baden-Powell and his assistant, Graham,
with their scouts, were in first, and with them were the Political
Officer and Major Piggott, who bore the Union Jack on a silver-mounted
hog-spear. Then came the native levies, then Major Gordon's flank
detachment, and finally the main body--and Prempeh and his chiefs sat
by and watched. Baden-Powell's account of the scene is full of life and
colour:--

[Illustration: King Prempeh watching the arrival of Troops.]

"The drumming in the town was getting louder, and the roar of voices
filled the air; but, alas! it was peace drumming. The great coloured
umbrellas were soon seen dancing and bobbing above the heads of the
surging crowds of natives. Stool-bearers ran before, then came the
whirling dancers with their yellow skirts flying round them. Great
drums, like beer-barrels, decked with human skulls, were booming
out their notes, and bands of elephant-tusk horns were adding to the
din. The king and all his chiefs were coming out to see the troops
arrive. Presently they arranged themselves in a dense long line. The
umbrellas formed a row of booths, beneath which the chiefs sat on their
brass-nailed chairs, with all their courtiers round them. This was nine
o'clock, and there they sat till five.

"Often had they sat like this before upon that same parade-ground; but
never had their sitting been without the sight of blood. The object of
this open space was not for parading troops, but for use as the theatre
of human sacrifice. Orders had been given before our arrival to clean
away all signs of this custom, nor were the people to speak of it to
the white men; but with very little cross-examination all the facts
came out. Indeed, while standing about the parade-ground, 'The Sutler'
peered into the coppice close by, where the trees supported a flock of
healthy-looking vultures, and there at once he found skulls and bones
of human dead.

"And there sits Prempeh, looking very bored, as three scarlet-clad
dwarfs dance before him, amid the dense crowd of sword-bearers, court
criers, fly-catchers, and other officials. He looks a regal figure as
he sits upon a lofty throne with a huge velvet umbrella standing over
him, upon his head a black and gold tiara, and on his neck and arms
large golden beads and nuggets."

It was all over with Prempeh. He and his chiefs heard the doom of the
nation pronounced, and found themselves prisoners, and within a very
short time of the arrival of the British punitive force at Kumassi it
was on its way back to Cape Coast Castle with the Ashanti monarch and
his queen-mother in custody of the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment. It
is very evident that Baden-Powell was disappointed because there was
no fighting--disappointed, perhaps, more on account of the men than
on his own. In his journal, under date February 8th, 1896, he pays a
magnificent tribute to the British soldier's pluck and endurance:--

  "CAPE COAST CASTLE, _February 8th, 1896_.

"The march up to Kumassi was a weary, toilsome business, even in spite
of the excitement and hope which buoyed the men up. What, then, can
one say of the march down, when the same long depressing road had to
be re-traversed by men whose spirits were now lowered by the deep
disappointment they had suffered, and whose systems were gradually
giving in to the attacks of the ever-present fever fiend? In truth,
that march down was in its way as fine an exhibition of British stamina
and pluck as any that has been seen of late years. For the casual
reader in England this is difficult to realize, but to one who has
himself wearily tramped that interminable path, heartsick and footsore,
the sight of those dogged British 'Tommies,' heavily accoutred as they
were, still defying fever in the sweltering heat, and ever pressing on,
was one which opened one's eyes and one's heart as well.

"There was no malingering _there_; each man went on until he dropped.
It showed more than any fight could have done, more than any investment
in a fort, or surprise in camp, what stern and sterling stuff our men
are made of, notwithstanding all that cavillers will say against our
modern army system and its soldiers.

"To one fine young fellow--who, though evidently gripped by fever,
still was doggedly marching on--I suggested that his kit was very
heavy, whereat he replied, with the tight drawn smile and quavering
voice one knows too well out here, 'It ain't the kit, sir! it's only
these extra rounds that I feel the weight of.' 'These extra rounds'
being those intended for the fight which never came. The never-ending
sameness of the forest was in itself sufficient to depress the most
light and cheerful mind, and thus it was a great relief at length to
get to Mansu, where the bush begins to open out, and where there is
more of the light and air of heaven. But the change is not altogether
for the better. The forest, it is true, is gone, but the road is open
to the sun, while the undergrowth on either hand is denser now than
ever, and forms a high, impenetrable hedge that seems to shut out
every breath of breeze. Acting on the experiences of the upward march,
this portion of the road was now traversed by the troops by night, and
consequently heat apoplexy and sunstroke were not encountered. But the
string of loaded hammocks grew longer every day!"

With the despatch of Prempeh and his mother into exile the Ashanti
Expedition practically came to an end, and Baden-Powell returned to
England, having done a vast amount of pioneering work, kept a full
journal, seen a king dance, made numerous sketches, and generally added
to his store of knowledge of men and things. The powers that be gave
him a brevet-lieutenant-colonelcy and a star for his pains, and then
sent him off to his regiment in Ireland to resume his usual avocations
of hard work and hard play.

[Illustration: Embarkation of King Prempeh.]



II.

THE MATABELE CAMPAIGN, 1896


On the afternoon of Friday, April 24th, 1896, Baden-Powell was in
Belfast, attending the funeral of one of the men of his squadron
who had been killed by a fall from his horse. During the ceremony a
telegram from General Sir Frederick Carrington was put into his hands,
warning him that he might be summoned to take part in the operations
against the rebellious Matabele. Close upon this came the official
notification from Sir Evelyn Wood, Quartermaster-General, directing
him to proceed to Southampton and to embark on the s.s. _Tantallon
Castle_ on May 2nd. By May 6th he was at Madeira, well on his way
to the beginning of the most important military affair he had yet
engaged in. At 4 a.m. on May 19th he woke to find the screw stopped,
the ship motionless, and to see "looming dark against the stars, the
long, flat top of grand old Table Mountain." He was once more in
South Africa--little dreaming, perhaps, of what lay before him in the
immediate future, or of what he was to do there ere another five years
had gone by.

[Illustration: SKETCH MAP of The Theatre of operations]

He found Cape Town "just the same as ever." A brief stay there,
a hearty God-speed from a crowd of well-remembered faces at the
station, and he was off for Mafeking. One wonders if he knew, if he
had any premonitions that almost exactly three years later he would
be bound for Mafeking again, charged to fight a much superior enemy
to the savage Matabele. He says nothing of that--all he records in
his journal of the first night in the train is that the beds were
hard and the night cold. He reached Mafeking on May 22nd. It then
consisted of a little corrugated tin house and goods shed, serving
as railway station, hundreds of waggons and mounds of stores, and
a street and market square also composed of tin houses. He found
Sir Frederick Carrington--to whom he was to act as Chief Staff
Officer--here, and with the other officers of his Staff took up his
quarters in a railway carriage. This, however, was to be but a short
stay in Mafeking; on May 23rd, he, General Carrington, Captain Vyvyan,
and Lieutenant Ferguson set off for Buluwayo by coach--"a regular
Buffalo-Bill-Wild-West-Deadwood affair, hung by huge leather springs on
a heavy, strongly-built under-carriage, drawn by ten mules." They were
ten days and nights in this vehicle, which laboured along at a slow
rate through the heavy sand, and rocked and pitched until Baden-Powell
described its motion as "exactly like being in the cabin of a small
yacht in bad weather," but at last they came to Buluwayo, and found
themselves in sight of war.

[Illustration: Mafeking to Buluwayo. Ten days and nights by coach.]

For some days Baden-Powell was busily engaged in office-work. Buluwayo
had been cleared of the rebellious Matabele, but the impis were still
hanging about in the neighbourhood, and in order to clear them away Sir
F. Carrington decided to despatch three strong columns simultaneously
to the north, north-east, and north-west, for distances of sixty to
eighty miles. On June 5th Colonel Plumer with 460 men went off to the
north-west; Macfarlane's column, 400 strong, set out for the north. A
third column, under Spreckley, was to set forth next day, but at ten
o'clock in the evening, as Baden-Powell was finishing his office-work,
the American scout Burnham rode in to announce the near presence of a
large impi of the Matabele. Baden-Powell went out to reconnoitre, and
ere morning had sent a request to Buluwayo for troops from Spreckley's
column. With a force of 250 men and two guns he moved upon the waiting
Matabele, who were about 1200 strong. He thus describes the fight in
his journal:--

"They did not seem very excited at our advance, but all stood looking
as we crossed the Umgusa stream, but as we began to breast the slope on
their side of it, and on which their camp lay, they became exceedingly
lively, and were soon running like ants to take post in good positions
at the edge of a long belt of thicker bush. We afterwards found that
their apathy at first was due to a message from the M'limo, who had
instructed them to approach and to draw out the garrison, and to get
us to cross the Umgusa, because he (the M'limo) would then cause the
stream to open and swallow up every man of us. After which the impi
would have nothing to do but walk into Buluwayo and cut up the women
and children at their leisure. But something had gone wrong with the
M'limo's machinery, and we crossed the stream without any contretemps.
So, as we got nearer to the swarm of black heads among the grass and
bushes, their rifles began to pop and their bullets to flit past with a
weird little 'phit,' 'phit,' or a jet of dust and a shrill 'wh-e-e-e-w'
where they ricocheted off the ground. Some of our men, accustomed to
mounted infantry work, were now for jumping off to return the fire, but
the order was given: 'No; make a cavalry fight of it. Forward! Gallop!'

[Illustration: The Umgusa Fight: June 6th.]

"Then, as we came up close, the niggers let us have an irregular,
rackety volley, and in another moment we were among them. They did not
wait, but one and all they turned to fly, dodging in among the bushes,
loading as they ran. And we were close upon their heels, zigzagging
through the thorns, jumping off now and then, or pulling up, to fire a
shot (we had not a sword among us, worse luck!), and on again.

"The men that I was with--Grey's Scouts--never seemed to miss a shot.

"The Matabele as they ran kept stopping behind bushes to fire. Now and
again they tried to rally, but whenever a clump of them began to form
or tried to stand, we went at them with a whoop and a yell, and both
spurs in, and sent them flying. Of course, besides their guns they had
their assegais. Several of our horses got some wounds, and one man got
a horrid stab straight into his stomach. I saw another of our men fling
himself on to a Kafir who was stabbing at him; together they rolled on
the ground, and in a twinkling the white man had twisted the spear from
its owner's hand, and after a short, sharp tussle, he drove it through
the other's heart.

"In one place one of the men got somewhat detached from the rest, and
came on a bunch of eight of the enemy. These fired on him and killed
his horse, but he himself was up in trice, and, using magazine fire, he
let them have it with such effect that before they could close on him
with their clubs and assegais, he had floored half their number, and
the rest just turned and fled. And farther on a horse was shot, and, in
the fall, his rider stunned. The niggers came looping up, grinning at
the anticipated bloodshed, but Sergeant Farley, of Grey's Scouts, was
there before them, and, hoisting up his comrade on to his horse, got
him safe away.

"Everywhere one found the Kafirs creeping into bushes, where they lay
low till some of us came by, and then they loosed off their guns at us
after we had passed.

"I had my Colt's repeater with me--with only six cartridges in the
magazine, and soon I found I had finished these--so, throwing it
under a peculiar tree, where I might find it again, I went on with my
revolver. Presently I came on an open stretch of ground, and about
eighty yards before me was a Kafir with a Martini-Henry. He saw me and
dropped on one knee and drew a steady bead on me. I felt so indignant
at this that I rode at him as hard as I could go, calling him every
name under the sun; he aimed,--for an hour, it seemed to me,--and it
was quite a relief when at last he fired, at about ten yards distance,
and still more of a relief when I realized he had clean missed me. Then
he jumped up and turned to run, but he had not gone two paces when he
cringed as if some one had slapped him hard on the back, then his head
dropped and his heels flew up, and he fell smack on his face, shot by
one of our men behind me.

"At last I called a halt. Our horses were done, the niggers were all
scattered, and there were almost as many left behind us hiding in
bushes as there were running on in front.

"A few minutes spent in breathing the horses, and a vast amount of
jabber and chaff, and then we re-formed the line and returned at a
walk, clearing the bush as we went.

"I had one shave. I went to help two men who were fighting a Kafir at
the foot of a tree, but they killed him just as I got there. I was
under the tree when something moving over my head caught my attention.
It was a gun-barrel taking aim down at me, the firer jammed so close
to the tree-stem as to look like part of it. Before I could move he
fired, and just ploughed into the ground at my feet. He did not remain
much longer in the tree. I have his knobkerrie and his photo now as
mementoes.

"At length we mustered again at our starting-point, where the guns and
ambulance had been left. We found that, apart from small scratches and
contusions, we had only four men badly wounded. One poor fellow had his
thigh smashed by a ball from an elephant gun, from which he afterwards
died. Another had two bullets in his back. Four horses had been killed.

"And the blow dealt to the enemy was a most important one. A prisoner
told us that the impi was composed of picked men from all the chief
regiments of the rebel forces, and that a great number of the chiefs
were present at the fight."

[Illustration: Eight to One.]

Baden-Powell contrived to vary the monotony of office-work by a little
scouting. He made friends with Burnham and arranged to go scouting with
him, and was much disappointed that the agreement could not be carried
out. In his journal, under date June 26th, he mentions that having
been closely confined to the office for four days, he set out after
dinner for a ten-mile ride, roused up some other congenial spirits, and
spent the night out-o'-doors, feeling all the better for the change.
However, as the days sped on, opportunities for indulging in scouting
came, and Baden-Powell--to whom at this time the Matabele gave the
nickname of Impeesa--the Wolf that never Sleeps--made a great many
useful observations of the Matopos country. Then came his release from
town and office life. As he knew the country intimately, he was sent
to act as guide to Colonel Plumer, whose force was about to engage in
a campaign in the Matopos, and on the evening of July 19th he went off
alone in front of the column (preferring that "for fear of having my
attention distracted if any one were with me, and of thereby losing
my bearings") across the moonlit country. They advanced close to the
enemy and then lay down to sleep--"jolly cold" it was, he says in
his journal--rising at dawn to enter a hollow, bushy valley where he
"jumped for joy" at finding some traces of the enemy's presence. The
following extract from Baden-Powell's journal affords a graphic picture
of what followed:--

"My telescope soon showed that there was a large camp with numerous
fires, and crowds of natives moving among them. These presently formed
into one dense brown mass, with their assegai blades glinting sharply
in the rays of the morning sun. We soon got the guns up to the front
from the main body, and in a few minutes they were banging their shells
with beautiful accuracy over the startled rebel camp.

"While they were at this game, I stole onwards with a few native scouts
into the bottom of the valley, and soon saw another thin wisp of smoke
not far from me in the bush; we crept cautiously down, and there found
a small outpost of the enemy just leaving the spot where they had been
camped for the night. At this point two valleys ran off from the main
valley in which we were; one, running to the south, was merely a long
narrow gorge, along which flowed the Tuli River; the other, on the
opposite side of the river from us, ran to the eastward and formed
a small open plateau surrounded by a circle of intricate koppies.
While we were yet watching at this point, strings of natives suddenly
appeared streaming across this open valley, retiring from the camp on
the mountain above, which was being shelled by our guns. They were
going very leisurely, and, thinking themselves unobserved, proceeded to
take up their position among the encircling koppies. I sent back word
of their movements, and calling together the Native Levy, proceeded
at once to attack them. To do this more effectually, we worked round
to the end of the main valley and got into some vast rock strongholds
on the edge of the Tuli gorge. These, though recently occupied by
hundreds of men, were now vacated, and one had an opportunity of
seeing what a rebel stronghold was like from the inside; all the paths
were blocked and barricaded with rocks and small trees; the whole
place was honeycombed with caves to which all entrances, save one or
two, were blocked with stones; among these loopholes were left, such
as to enable the occupants to fire in almost any direction. Looking
from these loopholes to the opposite side of the gorge, we could see
the enemy close on us in large numbers, taking up their position in a
similar stronghold. Now and again two or three of them would come out
of a cave on to a flat rock and dance a war-dance at our troops, which
they could see in the distance, being quite unsuspicious of our near
presence. They were evidently rehearsing what they would do when they
caught the white man among their rocks, and they were shouting all
sorts of insults to the troops, more with a spirit of bravado than with
any idea of their reaching their ears at that distance. Interesting as
the performance was, we did not sit it out for long, but put an abrupt
end to it by suddenly loosing a volley at them at short range and from
this unexpected quarter.

"Then, clambering down among the rocks, we crossed the Tuli River and
commenced the ascent of the towering crags in which the enemy were
located. Of course this had to be done on foot, and I left my horse
tied to a tree, with my coat and all spare kit hung in the branches.

"Our friendlies went very gaily at the work at first, with any
amount of firing, but very little result; the enemy had now entirely
disappeared into their caves and holes among the rocks, merely looking
out to fire and then popping in again. Our own niggers climbed about,
firing among the rocks, but presently did more firing than climbing,
and began to take cover and to stick to it; finally, two of them were
bowled over, and the rest of them got behind the rocks and there
remained, and no efforts could get them to budge. I then called up the
Cape Boys and the Maxims (in which Lord Grey assisted where it was
difficult to move owing to the very bad ground); these reinforcements
came up with no loss of time and went to work with a will. It was
delightful to watch the cool, business-like way in which Robertson
brought his Boys along. They floundered through the boggy stream
and crawled up the smooth, dome-shaped rocks beyond, and soon were
clambering up among the koppies, banging and cheering. Llewellyn, too,
brought his guns along at equal speed, and soon had them in equal
position on apparently inaccessible crags, where they came into action
with full effect at every chance the enemy gave them.

[Illustration: Scout Burnham.]

"The fight gradually moved along the eastern valley, in the centre
of which was a convenient rock from which I was able to see all that
was going on, and it formed a good centre for directing the attacks,
as the enemy were in the rocks on every side of us. The Cape Boys,
after making a long circle round through part of the stronghold,
reassembled at this spot, and from it directed their further attacks on
the different parts requiring them, and it became the most convenient
position for the machine guns, as they were able to play in every
direction in turn from this point. For the systematic attack on the
stronghold a portion of it is assigned to each company, and it is a
pleasing sight to see the calm and ready way in which they set to work.
They crowd into the narrow, bushy paths between the koppies, and then
swarm out over the rocks from whence the firing comes, and very soon
the row begins. A scattered shot here and there, and then a rattling
volley; the boom of the elephant gun roaring dully from inside a cave
is answered by the sharp crack of a Martini-Henry; the firing gradually
wakes up on every side of us, the weird whisk of a bullet overhead is
varied by the hum of a leaden-coated stone or the shriek of a pot-leg
fired from a Matabele big-bore gun; and when these noises threaten
to become monotonous, they are suddenly enlivened up by the hurried
energetic "tap, tap, tap" of the Maxims or the deafening "pong" of
the Hotchkiss. As you approach the koppies, excitement seems to be in
the air; they stand so still and harmless-looking, and yet you know
that from several at least of those holes and crannies the enemy are
watching you, with finger on trigger, waiting for a fair chance. But it
is from the least expected quarter that a roar comes forth and a cloud
of smoke, and the dust flies up at your feet."

The campaign in the Matopos continued until nearly the middle of
August, and Baden-Powell was actively engaged during the whole of it,
chiefly in reconnaissance and scouting. Once, at any rate, he met with
an amusing adventure in giving chase to a young Matabele lady, who
proved herself quite equal to him in agility and cunning.

" ... I still wanted to catch a prisoner--though I did not at first see
my way to doing it. However, in the course of our prowl we presently
came on fresh well-beaten tracks, evidently of women and children
going to and from the outlying country, probably bringing in supplies.
This seemed to offer us a chance of catching some of them coming
in, although, as the sun was up, we had little hope of being very
successful.

"But luck was with us again, and we had hardly settled ourselves near
the path when I saw a couple of women coming along with loads on their
heads. The moment they saw us, they dropped their loads and ran, but
Richardson and I galloped for them, and one, an elderly lady, gave
herself up without any fuss; but the other, a lithe and active young
person, dived away at a tremendous pace into the long grass, and
completely disappeared from view. We searched about, and kept a bright
look-out for her, but in vain.

"Then Richardson questioned the old lady, who proved to be very
communicative; she was apparently superintending the supply department
of Umlugulu's impi, and was now returning from a four days' visit of
inspection to the supply base in some of his villages in the district.
She was a lady of rank too, being a niece of Umzilikatze, and we should
not have caught her, so she said, had her escort not been a pack of
lazy dogs. She had four Matabele warriors with her, but they had
dropped behind on the path, and should not now be far off. This was
good news to us, and, calling up our Boys, we laid an ambush ready to
catch the escort.

[Illustration: The Peace Indaba with the Matopo Rebels.

Mr. Cecil Rhodes carried out the peace negotiations with the
Matabele chiefs. He was assisted by Dr. Sauer (on his left) and
Capt. Colenbrander (on his right), and accompanied by Mr. Stent (war
correspondent of the _Cape Times_).]

"While this was being done, I happened to catch sight of our young lady
stealing away in the distance. She was getting away at a great pace,
her body bent double to the ground, taking advantage of every bit of
cover, more like an animal than a human being. Away I went after her
as hard as I could go, and I had a grand gallop. When she found that
concealment was no longer any use, she straightened herself and just
started off like a deer, and at a pace equal to my own; it was a grand
race through long grass and bush, the ground gradually getting more
rough and broken as it approached the hills, and this told in her
favour, for as her pace slackened for want of breath, my horse also was
going slower owing to the bad ground. So she ran me right up to the
stronghold, and just got away into the rocks ahead of me. I had, of
course, then to haul off, as to go farther was to walk into the hands
of the impi. The bad part of it was, that she had now got in there, and
would spread the news of our being about, and they would probably come
out and upset our little plan of catching the party on the road."

But sometimes there were incidents which had nothing but the darker
colours of life in them. In the fight of August 5th, two of the little
band of officers under Colonel Plumer were killed, and Baden-Powell
thus comments upon their loss in his journal, under date August 6th:--

"It is a sad shock to sit in one's little mess of half a dozen comrades
once more, and to find two of them are missing from the meal. Poor
Kershaw and Hervey! Now and then one is on the point of calling to
the usual sleeping-place of one or other of them to bid him come and
eat, when suddenly the grim, cold recollection strikes you--'He is
yonder--dead.'

"Poor Hervey took his mortal wound as though it were but a cut finger,
yet knowing that he was fast passing away. Now and then he sent for
those he knew to come and see him and to say good-bye. He was perfectly
possessed and cheery to the last, and happily without much pain.

"Poor chap, this was his first fight. He had been the paymaster to the
forces, and had asked me to get him some appointment in the field. When
he joined us in camp, I could not for the moment find a billet for
him, till it occurred to me that there was a small company of men who
had come up from Kimberley without an officer. They were so deficient
in belts and bayonet scabbards that they always went with bayonets
'fixed,' and had thus gained for themselves the nickname of 'The
Forlorn Hope.'

"On suggesting 'The Forlorn Hope' to Hervey, he was delighted, and it
was at their head he so gallantly met his death.

[Illustration: The Battle of August 5th.

The sketch above will explain the nature of the operation which led to
Colonel Plumer's victory on August 5th.]

"His death is to me like the snatching away of a pleasing book half
read.

"And Kershaw was the very type of a cool, brave, energetic officer. His
loss to our little force is irreparable."

On the night of August 10th, Baden-Powell rode thirty miles into
Buluwayo to report to General Carrington that the enemy in the Matopos
were completely broken up and probably willing to surrender. From
thence onward to September 6th he was on the sick-list--fever and
dysentery--but he was pulled up on the 7th by "a better tonic than any
which the combined medical faculty of Buluwayo could devise," in the
shape of orders from the General to take charge of a column then under
Ridley in the Somabula Forest. Next day he took three of Plumer's men
as escort, and set off, in his shirt-sleeves as usual, for a hundred
miles ride through a wild country. They had various small adventures
on the way--amongst them being a meeting with a nigger who told
Baden-Powell a beautifully conceived and executed lie about a great
battle which had _not_ taken place. There are some interesting and
significant entries in his journal about this time. Here is one as to
the making of bread under difficulties:--

"I lay up during the heat of the day with a waterproof sheet spread
over a thorn-bush as a shelter from the sun. The men dug water in the
sand, washed, and baked bread. To bake bread, lay your coat on the
ground, inside upwards, mix the flour and water in it (it doesn't show
when you put the coat on again); for yeast or baking powder use the
juice of the toddy palm or Eno's Fruit Salt to make a light dough;
scrape a circle in the ashes of the fire, flop your lump of dough,
spread fine sand all round and all over it, then heap the embers of the
fire on to it; in half an hour an excellent flat loaf of bread results.
It requires scrubbing with a horse-brush before you eat it."

Under date 11th occurs a passage often quoted by those who have written
about Baden-Powell--a passage which, I think, is more indicative of the
true character of the man than anything he has done, said, or written.

"_September 11th._--My anniversary of joining Her Majesty's Service,
1876-1896--twenty years. I always think more of this anniversary than
of that of my birth, and I could not picture a more enjoyable way of
spending it. I am here, out in the wilds, with three troopers. They
are all Afrikanders, that is, Colonial born, one an ex-policeman,
another a mining engineer (went to England with me in 1889 on board the
_Mexican_), the third an electrical engineer from Johannesburg,--all of
them good men on the veldt, and good fighting men. We are nearly eighty
miles from Buluwayo and thirty from the nearest troops. I have rigged
up a shelter from the sun with my blanket, a rock, and a thorn-bush;
thirteen thousand flies are unfortunately staying with me, and are
awfully attentive. One of us is always on the look-out by night and by
day. Our stock of food, crockery, cooking utensils, and bedding does
not amount to anything much, as we carry it all on our saddles.

[Illustration: A Human Salt-Cellar.]

"Once, not very long ago, at an afternoon 'At Home,' I was handing a
cup of tea to an old dowager, who bridled up in a mantle with bugles
and beads, and some one noticed that in doing so my face wore an absent
look, and I was afterwards asked where my thoughts were at that time.
I could only reply that 'My mind was a blank, with a single vision in
it, lower half yellow, upper half blue,' in other words, the yellow
veldt of South Africa, topped with the blue South African sky. Possibly
the scent of the tea had touched some memory chord which connected it
with my black tin billy, steaming among the embers of a wood fire; but
whatever it was then, my vision is to-day a reality. I am looking out
on the yellow veldt and the blue sky; the veldt with its grey, hazy
clumps of thorn-bush is shimmering in the heat, and its vast expanse
is only broken by the gleaming white sand of the river-bed and the
green reeds and bushes which fringe its banks. (Interruption: Stand to
the tent! a 'Devil,' with its roaring pillar of dust and leaves, comes
tearing by.) I used to think that the novelty of the thing would wear
off, that these visions of the veldt would fade away as civilized life
grew upon me. But they didn't. They came again at most inopportune
moments: just when I ought to be talking _The World_, or _Truth_, or
_Modern Society_ (with the cover removed), and making my reputation as
a 'sensible, well-informed man, my dear,' with the lady in the mantle,
somebody in the next room has mentioned the word saddle, or rifle, or
billy, or some other attribute of camp life, and off goes my mind at a
tangent to play with its toys. Old Oliver Wendell Holmes is only too
true when he says that most of us are 'boys all our lives'; we have our
toys, and will play with them with as much zest at eighty as at eight,
that in their company we can never grow old. I can't help it if my toys
take the form of all that has to do with veldt life, and if they remain
my toys till I drop--

  "'Then here's to our boyhood, its gold and its grey,
  The stars of its winter, the dews of its May;
  And when we have done with our life-lasting toys,
  Dear Father, take care of Thy children, the boys.'

May it not be that our toys are the various media adapted to individual
tastes through which men may know their God? As Ramakrishna Paramahansa
writes: 'Many are the names of God and infinite the forms that lead us
to know of Him. In whatsoever name or form you desire to know Him, in
that very name and form you will know Him.'"

Arrived in camp on September 12th, Baden-Powell, on taking over the
command from Ridley, found himself confronted by a problem which he
rapidly solved in a fashion that afterwards led him into a certain
amount of trouble. The leading chief of that part of the country,
Uwini, had been captured, and was a prisoner in hospital, and the
question was what to do with him. He was one of the four great
chiefs of the Matabele, was supposed to be sacred, infallible, and
invulnerable, and had been one of the principal instigators of the
rebellion. Baden-Powell knew that an exemplary punishment inflicted
upon him would act as a deterrent upon the rebels, who were rapidly
massing in great force close by, and he accordingly ordered Uwini's
immediate trial by Field General Court-martial. How the thing was
done Baden-Powell records in characteristically brief fashion in his
journal:--

"_September 13th._--The court-martial assembled on Uwini this morning,
and tried him on charges of armed rebellion, for ordering his people
to murder whites, and for instigating rebellion in this part of
the country. The court-martial gave him a long hearing, in which he
practically confessed to what was charged against him, and they found
him guilty, and sentenced him to be shot. I was sorry for him--he was a
fine old savage; but I signed his warrant, directing that he should be
shot at sundown.

       *       *       *       *       *

"At sunset all the natives in camp, both friendlies, refugees and
prisoners, were paraded to witness the execution of Uwini. He was taken
out to an open place in the centre of his stronghold, where all his
people who were still holding out could see what was being done, and he
was there shot by a firing party from the troops."

Later on there was some red-tape business over this episode, and some
talk of court-martialling Baden-Powell, but it came to nothing--he had
done the only thing that could be done.

[Illustration: Fresh Horse-Beef.]

The Shangani column, under Baden-Powell's command, made a complete
examination of the thickly-wooded country about the Gwelo without
finding much trace of the enemy. By September 20th their rations began
to run out, and on that day Baden-Powell was obliged to order one of
the horses to be shot, cut up, and served out to the men--a foretaste
of what was to happen in Mafeking a few years later. He gives the
_menu_ of his mid-day meal that day:--

" ... Weak tea (can't afford it strong), no sugar (we are out of it),
a little bread (we have half a pound a day), Irish stew (consisting of
slab of horse boiled in muddy water with a pinch of rice and half a
pinch of pea-flour), salt, none. For a plate I use one of my gaiters;
it is marked 'Tautz & Sons, No. 3031'; it is a far cry from veldt and
horseflesh to Tautz and Oxford Street."

They were now to meet with a new and dreadful enemy in the shape of
Thirst. They travelled for a long distance without finding any signs of
water; then Baden-Powell and Gielgud, an old American scout, set out
on ponies in the endeavour to find river, or pool, or spring. After
travelling nine miles without success, they decided to turn back and
retreat with the patrol upon the Gwelo River, but when dawn broke on
September 21st they found to their horror that the patrol had followed
them, and was close at hand. Then Gielgud and Baden-Powell set out
again, casting about in the dry, baked valleys and sunburnt vleys for
hours without success, until at last, when the American scout was
asleep on his horse for very weariness, Baden-Powell noticed that a
buck had been scratching in the sand, and that two pigeons flew away
from behind a rock. There was water of a sort there, priceless to
thirsty men, and there the patrol was quickly brought. That night,
luckily, they came to the Shangani, and it being a "great occasion,"
Baden-Powell supped off his last spoonful of cocoa, a nugget of
rock-like bread, and a fid of horse, and went to bed without his boots.
What luxuriousness!

From the Shangani River Baden-Powell moved on to Ingati, and thence
into Balingwe district, having with him a column consisting of half
a squadron of the 7th Hussars and the York and Lancaster Mounted
Infantry, and a seven-pounder and a machine gun manned by police--a
handful of 160 men altogether, with an ambulance and wagons carrying
three weeks' supplies. He advanced across country to the stronghold
in which Wedza, one of the rebel chiefs, had entrenched himself, and
demanded that gentleman's surrender. What sort of strong place it
was in which Wedza had gathered his forces may be guessed at from
Baden-Powell's description of it:--

"The stronghold itself is a long mountain, consisting of six peaks
of about 800 feet high, its total length being about two and a half
miles, and its width about a mile and a half. On the extreme top of
five of the peaks are perched strong kraals, and in addition to these
there are three small kraals on the side of the mountain; underneath
each of the kraals are labyrinths of caves. The mountain itself has
steep, boulder-strewn, bush-grown sides, generally inaccessible, except
where the narrow, difficult paths lead up to the various strongholds,
and these paths have been fortified by the rebels with stockades and
with stone breastworks, and in many places they pass between huge
rocks, where only one man could squeeze through at a time. The paths
are commanded by loopholes for musketry from the caves. The kraals are
collections of circular mud huts with thatched roofs, built on crags
near the tops of the hills, and on the most inaccessible rocks among
them are perched the corn-bins; these grain stores are little circular
pillars exactly like pillar letter-boxes at home, but made of wattle
and daub, with a small thatched roof; a little hole is left near the
top of the bin, just as a hole for letters in the letter-box, and
through this hole the corn is poured into the bin. When full, the hole
is sealed up with a flat stone and mortar. When one loots a kraal, the
first thing to do is to knock out this stone, look in, and if there is
corn there of the kind that you require, make a hole in the bottom of
the wall and apply the mouth of your sack to it, and the corn will run
in."

He had already expressed his conviction that it would take every man
of Paget's column and of his own combined to reduce this stronghold,
but on October 14th Paget sent runners to say that he could not join
him, so Baden-Powell determined to tackle Wedza with such forces as he
had at his own disposal. It was something of a daring feat. Wedza's
mountain was tenanted by about 1600 people, of whom 600 or 700 were
fighting men entrenched in an almost impregnable position; Baden-Powell
had 120 men all told. He felt sure that a direct attack would result in
nothing but loss, and therefore decided that the only thing possible
was to try and bluff the enemy out of his position. His idea was as
follows:--

"Wedza's mountain is a kind of promontory standing out from a range
of smaller mountains, so I ordered the mounted infantry (York and
Lancaster Regiment), under Lieutenant Thurnall, to leave their horses
in the open valley at the foot of the mountain, and to gain the neck
which joined the mountain to the range of mountains northward. From
this position the mounted infantry would command a large part of
the stronghold with their fire, and would cut off the enemy's line
of retreat to the mountains. This party was ordered to take up with
them their great-coats, water, and two days' rations, for they would
have to stay there the whole day and night, and possibly part of the
following day; there were only about twenty-five of them, but they were
ordered to act as if there were 250, and right well they played their
part. My idea was, that, so soon as this party should have established
themselves in their position on the neck, I would bombard the central
part of the position systematically with artillery and machine-gun
fire, and, at the same time, threaten the left (southern) flank, and
the rear of the position with parties of 7th Hussars.

"I intended to keep up this demonstration during the day and to-night,
hoping that such action, combined with the moral effect already
afforded by the object lesson at Matzetetza's yesterday, would so work
on the feelings of the defenders, that they would take my previous
advice and surrender; or if they did not do that, that, at least, they
would be so demoralized that an assault could be carried out with
some chance of success on the morrow. For these natives will stand
your coming at their position so long as you do so from the expected
direction, but if you come at them some other way, or look as if you
were likely to cut off their line of retreat, they are very liable to
become frightened, and therefore, in dealing with them, it sometimes
becomes necessary to disregard the teachings of books on tactics, and,
instead of concentrating your force, to spread it about in a way that
would invite disaster were you acting against civilized troops. In
order to gain our positions to carry out this plan, I took the mounted
infantry by one route, and sent the Hussars and guns by another more
southerly path--under Major Ridley--to take up their places as ordered."

During the course of the engagement which followed Baden-Powell had a
very narrow escape from death. He had worked round into a labyrinth
of small valleys at the back of Wedza's mountain, and, leaving his
horse concealed there, had clambered up on to the ridge in order to
reconnoitre the stronghold from the rear. After he and his companions
had been there until sundown they turned to make their way back, and
here came the narrow shave:--

"Owing to the broken nature of the country at this point, we were
forced to carry out what I always consider a most dangerous practice,
and that is, to return by the same path which you used in coming,
and the danger of it was practically demonstrated on this occasion.
Riding quietly along in the dusk, we had just got out of the bad part,
thinking all danger was over, when there was suddenly a flash and a
crash of musketry from a ridge of rocks close to us, dust spurted up
all around, and a swish of bullets whizzed past our heads. My hat was
violently struck from my head as if with a stick, and in an instant
we were galloping across the thirty yards of open which separated us
from a similar parallel ridge; dismounting here, we were very soon
busy replying to the firing of the enemy, whose forms we could now and
again see silhouetted against the evening sky. We had had a marvellous
escape; Jackson himself had been grazed on the shoulder, his horse had
a bullet-hole in its temple, the bullet had lodged in its head, and,
beyond possibly a slight headache, the gallant little horse appeared to
be none the worse. Our position here was not too good a one: the enemy
were evidently a fairly strong party, and would merely have to work
among the rocks, a little to the right, to cut us off from rejoining
our main body. Moreover, they had practically possession, or, at least,
command of fire over my hat, which I badly wanted. But it looked as
though we ought at once to be making good our retreat, if we meant
to go away at all. We were just mounting to carry this out, when out
of the gathering darkness behind, there trotted up a strong party
of hussars, under Prince Teck, who, hearing the firing, had at once
hurried to the spot; his coming was most opportune, and reversed the
aspect of affairs. After a few minutes of sharp firing, the rocks in
front of us were cleared and occupied by our men, and my hat came back
to me."

This escape, however, was not so wonderful or so thrilling as that
of one of the Cape Boys, who gravely informed Baden-Powell that a
bullet had passed between the top of his ear and his head. It was an
escape, though, and a lucky one, for it enabled Baden-Powell to see his
well-laid plans crowned with success. Arrived at camp on the night of
October 22nd, he received news of Wedza's willingness to submit, and
orders to combine with Paget.

From October 25th to November 15th he was occupied in clearing the
Mashona frontier. Those folk who stay at home and never see a soldier
in anything but the spick-and-span-ishness of the parade-ground or the
park may be interested in Baden-Powell's description of himself and his
life at this time:--

"We are a wonderfully dirty and ragged-looking crew now--especially
me, because I left Buluwayo six weeks ago to join this column only
with such things as I could carry on a led pony (including bedding and
food). My breeches and shirts are in tatters, my socks have nearly
disappeared in shreds. Umtini, my Matabele boy, has made sandals for me
to wear over--or at least outside--my soleless shoes. And everywhere
the veldt has been burnt by grass fires--every breeze carries about
the fine black dust, and five minutes after washing, your hands and
arms and face are as grimy and black as ever--as if you were in London
again. Bathing 'the altogether' too often is apt to result in fever.
Too much washing of hands is apt to help veldt sores to originate--so
we don't trouble to keep clean.

"Veldt sores bother nearly every one of us. Every scratch you get
(and you get a good number from thorns, &c.) at once becomes a small
sore, gradually grows, and lasts sometimes for weeks. It is partly
the effect of hot sun and dry air too rapidly drying up the wound,
and also probably the blood is not in too good a state from living on
unchanging diet of tinned half-salt beef and tinned vegetables. We have
very little variety, except when we loot some sheep or kill a buck. No
vegetables, and we are out of sugar, tea, cocoa, and rice. Matches are
at a premium, pipes are manufactured out of mealie corncobs and small
reeds. Tobacco is very scarce--tea-leaves were in use till tea came to
an end."

[Illustration: Dolce far Niente.

General Sir F. Carrington and Mr. Cecil Rhodes on the homeward journey.]

However, the end was drawing near. "Wedza's may be said to have been
the final blow," he remarks in his journal. On October 29th his patrol
was over, and the mounted infantry went off for their march down
country, prior to embarkation for India, and Baden-Powell himself went
to Gwelo, to give a little explanation as to his summary dealings
with Uwini. He was in a little brush with the stragglers of the rebel
Matabele at Magnuze Poort; then met Sir Frederick Carrington and went
on with him to Salisbury, where he rejoined civilization, dined out,
made calls, rode a bicycle, and went fox-hunting. He also joined in
the pleasures of paying a hotel bill which appears to have been one
of the most interesting documents ever heard of. It amounted to £258,
and covered the expenses of five persons for twelve days, exclusive of
liquid refreshment, the cost of which may be gathered from the fact
that a whisky and soda meant the expenditure of three shillings! Thence
onward to Umtali, and in company with Cecil Rhodes and other great folk
to Port Elizabeth, the Liverpool of South Africa, and to Cape Town once
more. And then the swift, steady home-going on the _Dunvegan Castle_,
with the sense of duty done for empire and right, and at last, on
January 27th, 1897, Baden-Powell found himself at home once more, and
thought, no doubt, of the wild life of the previous ten months, with a
strong hope that something like it would quickly come again.



PART III.

THE STORY OF THE SIEGE OF MAFEKING

_October, 1899--May, 1900_



I.

THE WARM CORNER


In July, 1899, Baden-Powell was suddenly called away from the gaieties
of Henley Regatta to attend at the War Office. There he received orders
to proceed to South Africa, and within three days he was on his way.
Always prepared for such emergencies, he might easily have set out
within three hours, but the necessary delay enabled him to pay some
farewell visits to friends. It was at this time that he paid the visit
to Dr. Haig-Brown, which has become famous because of the words he used
in saying good-bye to his old schoolmaster--"I hope they'll give me a
warm corner." How warm that corner was to be nobody anticipated when
Baden-Powell left England to fill it.

On his arrival at the Cape Baden-Powell was ordered to form a body
of irregular troops in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, and he set up
his headquarters at Mafeking. This place, now famous all the world
over, is situate on the Malopo River, and in the most important centre
of population in British Bechuanaland. It is a comparatively new
settlement, but was of considerable importance as a trading centre ten
years ago. Mr. Lionel Decle, the famous traveller, who visited it in
1891, thus describes it in his "Three Years in Savage Africa":--"The
'town' consisted of a big open place called the 'Market Square,' round
which were grouped a few buildings, mostly of corrugated iron. Two
hotels, five or six stores, a barber, a butcher, and a baker composed
the commercial part of the place. One building, standing by itself,
contained the Law Court, the Post, and the Government offices. Add
to this a church and a few private houses, where the clergyman, the
magistrate, and the doctor lived, and you have Mafeking as it was in
1891. About three-quarters of a mile off is a big native village."
By 1899, however, Mafeking had considerably increased in size and
importance, though its architecture was still of a very primitive
nature, consisting chiefly of soft bricks and corrugated iron. With the
exception of the convent, all the houses were but one storey in height.
On the west, north, and east the surroundings of Mafeking are flat; on
the south and southeast the town is overlooked by high ground.

In Mafeking, between August and October, 1899, Baden-Powell gathered
together a small garrison--so small, indeed, that one feels amazed to
know that such a handful of men afterwards accomplished so much. At the
beginning of October he had under him about seven hundred men, drawn
from the Bechuanaland Protectorate Regiment, the British South African
Police, the Cape Police, the Bechuanaland Rifles, and the Town Guard.
The men of the Protectorate Regiment and the South African Police
were armed with the Lee-Metford rifle, and had six muzzle-loading
seven-pounders, very old-fashioned in make, and several Maxim,
Hotchkiss, and Nordenfeldt guns. The remainder of the garrison were
armed with the Martini-Henry rifle. Long before war actually broke out,
Baden-Powell kept his handful of men busily engaged in strengthening
the defences of the town. There were people in Mafeking who would have
dissuaded him from making such elaborate preparations, believing that
the differences between Great Britain and the South African Republic
would be settled by diplomatic process, but Baden-Powell left nothing
to chance, and he and his men worked with a will. Defence works
were made all round the town, bomb-proof shelters were contrived, a
system of communication by telephone between headquarters and the
various forts was established, an armoured train (soon to figure
very conspicuously in the first outbreak of hostilities) was kept
waiting in the station, and the principal buildings of the town were
protected by sand-bags. While all these preparations for a possible
siege were being made there were many other things to be done. It
was well known that there were several traitors and disaffected folk
in Mafeking--Baden-Powell, with characteristic promptitude, had them
arrested and placed in safe-keeping. Then came the question of getting
the women and children away. A great many of them were sent off to the
south, but many refused to leave the town. The sisters at the convent
remained as a matter of course, and were soon busily engaged in nursing
the sick and wounded. The question of provisioning the place was one
which caused Baden-Powell a good deal of anxiety. It was found that
the quantities of food-stuffs stocked in the various shops and stores
were much below the average, and the commandant's powers of ingenuity
were sorely taxed in order to devise means for the proper victualling
of the town. In this work he was much helped by three men--Lord Edward
Cecil, one of the Prime Minister's sons, Mr. Benjamin Weil, a member
of a mercantile house with a great reputation in South Africa, and by
Mr. Frank Whiteley, a Yorkshireman, who, after an adventurous life as
sportsman and traveller, settled down in Mafeking many years ago, and
was its Mayor during the eventful days of the siege.

By the beginning of October Baden-Powell had made his corner--soon
to be warmer than perhaps ever he had dreamt of!--all ready against
whatever was to be. Everything was in readiness. In a letter written
from Mafeking on October 9th the writer says that there was then
nothing in the appearance of town or people to indicate the nature of
what was coming--men and women were pursuing their ordinary avocations
as though the shadow of war was far away instead of being so near.
The town was ready and waiting, and meanwhile its usual life went on
until the need came for action. Baden-Powell and his garrison had not
long to wait, however. On October 11th hostilities began between Great
Britain and the South African Republic, and the armoured train of
Mafeking figured conspicuously in the first engagement. On that date it
left Mafeking with the last load of women and children, and made its
journey southward in safety; but on its return journey it fell into
the hands of the Boers, and ere long English readers were informed of
its capture. This was the first of the reverses which came in quick
succession during the autumn of 1899.

The armoured train of Mafeking consisted of an ordinary four-coupled
locomotive, protected in every part by 7-16 in. steel plates, and two
bogie trucks, fenced to a height of five feet by stout rails, bolted
longitudinally together. Communication with the driver was had by a
system of bells and speaking tubes from the trucks, each of which was
furnished with a machine gun and had accommodation for fifty men. On
the night of October 11th Captain Nesbitt and fifteen men were in
charge of the train, and were bringing back in it a further supply of
guns and ammunition for the garrison. All went well until a point some
forty miles south of Mafeking was reached. There, about midnight, the
armoured train ran off the lines, which had been purposely displaced by
the Boers. The latter, ambushed close by, immediately poured in volley
after volley upon Nesbitt and his little company. The fight went on
until morning broke, and it was not until he had fought for several
hours that Nesbitt surrendered. The Boers had by that time brought up
heavy cannon, and the situation was hopeless. Only the engine-driver
escaped by crawling along a dry ditch at the side of the track--the
rest fell into the hands of the Boers.

The actual investment of Mafeking began on October 12th, when General
Cronje, in command of an army estimated at eight thousand strong,
appeared in the neighbourhood. He was well supplied with cannon, but is
said to have been surprised to find that there was need for its use,
as he had expected that he would be able to occupy the town with very
little opposition. Baden-Powell, however, was not at all disposed to
yield to the Boer general in any way, and Cronje quickly found that
whatever success might be in store for him would have to be fought
for. On the first day of hostilities rather severe fighting took place
between the Boers and two squadrons of the Protectorate Regiment under
Lord Charles Bentinck and Captain FitzClarence. The Boers are said to
have lost over fifty men in this preliminary fight; the British three.
Baden-Powell on this day played an ingenious trick upon the besiegers,
which resulted in their serious discomfiture. There was a considerable
store of dynamite in Mafeking, which might have proved extremely
dangerous if a shell had burst in it. Baden-Powell therefore caused two
trucks to be filled with it, and sent them down the line attached to an
engine, the driver of which was instructed to leave them when in sight
of the Boer lines. The enemy, thinking the trucks contained troops,
began a smart fire upon them, with the result that the dynamite soon
exploded, and caused great havoc amongst the besiegers in its immediate
neighbourhood.

The first Boer shell came into the town on October 15th, and from
that time until the 24th the bombardment was very heavy. With the
beginning of the bombardment began the curious and amusing interchange
of letters and communications between the Boer general and the English
commandant. Cronje began by proposing that the opposing forces should
observe Sunday as a day of rest. Baden-Powell was quite agreeable, and
reminded his enemy that it was not according to the recognized rules
of civilized warfare that ambulances should be fired upon--a dirty
trick of which the Boers had already been guilty. Cronje explained
this away and immediately transgressed again, and continued to do
so. On October 17th he endeavoured to cut off the water supply, only
to find that Baden-Powell's ever resourceful mind had thought of
all possible difficulties and dangers, and had made provision about
wells and springs. This done, the Boer commandant again resorted to
letter-writing. He asked Baden-Powell quite innocently whether it
would not save much bloodshed if the British surrendered at once.
Baden-Powell asked when the bloodshed would begin--a laconic form of
reply which appears to have irritated and puzzled the Boer leader.
Cronje now began to bombard the town more furiously than ever, throwing
a large number of shells into it within the next few days. On the 21st
Baden-Powell sent home the following characteristic telegram, which has
been talked of and laughed over thousands of times since:--

"_October 21st._--All well. Four hours' bombardment. One dog killed."

Cronje, being unaware of this terrible effect of his artillery
practice, now sent another letter to Baden-Powell, hinting once more
at a British surrender. Baden-Powell replied that he would let General
Cronje know when the garrison had had enough. Evidently disposed to
give them as much as possible, and in as short a time as might be,
Cronje renewed the bombardment, firing hundreds of shells into the town
within the next thirty-six hours. Then Cronje wrote again, telling
Baden-Powell that he had better surrender, for he was bringing a heavy
siege gun to bear upon the town, and would shortly blow it all to
pieces. Baden-Powell replied that he thanked General Cronje for the
news, and would give him some information in return. He then went on
to say that the town was surrounded by mines, which could be exploded
automatically, that he had placed a yellow flag above the building in
which the Boer prisoners were confined in order to give General Cronje
information of his friends' exact whereabouts, and finally that the
persistent shelling of the women's and children's laager would make
a precedent for the British army which would eventually invade the
Transvaal. Cronje replied to this budget of very pertinent information
by a renewed shelling of the town, this time doing a good deal of
damage.

[Illustration: An every-day Scene in the Market.]

On October 27th a brilliant passage of arms took place. Captain
FitzClarence, taking some men of the Protectorate Regiment and of the
Cape Police, made an attack by night upon the enemy's trenches, and
gave the Boers a taste of the bayonet. Over one hundred of the enemy
were killed on this occasion, the British loss being very slight
indeed. The trenches upon which the attack had been made were taken,
but were found to be untenable. Four days later there was another fine
bit of fighting at Cannon Kopje, the key of the British position,
which was resolutely attacked by the Boers early in the morning.
The British South African Police, commanded by Colonel Walford, met
this attack--which was made under cover of very heavy gun fire--with
splendid resolution, and finally beat the Boers off with heavy loss on
both sides. It must have become increasingly evident to Cronje that
Mafeking was not to be taken so easily as he had at first anticipated,
and that its commander was as capable an exponent of the art of war as
he was an amusing and exasperating correspondent.

Whether Baden-Powell thought the corner which had been given him warm
enough for his taste one does not know--that it was an extremely busy
corner, and that he had many demands upon his time, is certain. He
was the brain of the whole town--from him, as from some wonderful
reservoir of strength and judgment, went all the various promptings,
encouragements, and counsels which made men strong. He was tireless
in his labours--those who were with him speak of the marvellous way
in which he seemed to bear a thousand things in mind. It is very easy
to sit at home and talk of the siege of Mafeking, but there are few
people who can at all realize what it must have meant to Baden-Powell
to feel himself the head and front of his little force, and that upon
his courage and determination everything depended. The contest, as it
began, looked so unequal--on one hand stood a little irregular band
of some nine hundred men, on the other an army of eight thousand. But
great general and bold leader as Cronje is said to be, he had more than
met his match in Baden-Powell, who had sat down in the warm corner
which he had desired, and had made up his mind that he would keep the
English flag flying over it until such times as relief came to him. Let
the relief come soon or late, Mafeking must be held against the Boers
at all costs.



II.

WARMER AND WARMER


Ere the siege of Mafeking had been in progress many weeks three
incidents occurred which gave something of zest to the proceedings. The
first was the retirement--carried out in obvious disgust--of General
Cronje; the second the capture of Lady Sarah Wilson by the Boers, and
her exchange for Viljoen, a noted horse-thief; the third the sending of
a very characteristic letter from Baden-Powell to the enemy.

During the whole of November operations on both sides were carried on
with regularity and steadiness. Baden-Powell had elaborated a system
by which the inhabitants of Mafeking were warned by the ringing of
signal bells whenever shells were approaching the town, and as the Boer
missiles were sighted, the folk on every side made for the shell-proof
shelters which had been constructed in all quarters. Baden-Powell
himself was perpetually on the look-out, and he might have had a
thousand eyes in his head, so carefully and zealously did he attend to
the various matters requiring his attention. While he took particular
care of the town and its people, he was not forgetful of the enemy's
presence, and continually harassed and worried Cronje and his men by
sorties and assaults, in which the British usually got the best of it.
The British trenches and outposts were gradually pushed forward, and
between the defenders and the Boers a continual exchange of desultory
firing went on. Cronje became somewhat weary of the slow progress of
affairs. He had expected to occupy Mafeking, and from it to overrun
Rhodesia, with little delay; the determined resistance offered to his
attack chafed and infuriated him. The news of Lord Methuen's advance
upon the Modder River presently drew Cronje away, and with him went a
considerable number of the besiegers, Commandant Snyman being left in
charge of those who remained.

Early in December came the affair of the exchange of Lady Sarah Wilson
for Viljoen. When the siege began, Lady Sarah, who was acting as
special correspondent of the _Daily Mail_, and whose husband, Captain
Gordon Wilson, was a member of Baden-Powell's staff, left Mafeking
and rode across country to Setlagoli, where she met friends. Finding
that her presence there was likely to cause discomfort to the latter,
she went on to Mosuti, where she stayed at the house of a colonial
farmer. From this place she kept up communication by means of native
runners, but at the end of a month set out, in company with a young
Boer who was induced to represent himself as her brother, for Vryburg,
where she obtained news from the loyalists. Suspicion as to her real
character appears to have been roused here, and she and her escort
were severely examined by the Landrost ere they could get out of the
town again. Lady Sarah now determined to return to Mafeking, and set
out thither, only to be made prisoner by some of General Snyman's
burghers. Snyman refused to allow her to proceed to Mafeking or to
return to her friends at Setlagoli, and gave her the alternative of
being sent prisoner to Zeerust or exchanged for Viljoen, whose previous
record as a horse-thief appears to have been a somewhat dark one.
Lady Sarah at first refused to be exchanged under these conditions,
but the transaction was soon afterwards completed, and she returned
to the beleaguered town. Her account of what she had seen in the Boer
camp must have had a reassuring and confidence-inspiring effect upon
the garrison of Mafeking. She told them that, from the information she
had gained, the Boers were already wearied of the war, and that their
losses, from the continual vigilance of Baden-Powell's men, were very
heavy. She had found the besiegers' camp dirty, badly equipped, and
poorly supplied with food, and had observed that General Snyman was
unpopular with the men serving under him.

It may be that this information had something to do with the
characteristic letter which Baden-Powell addressed to the besieging
forces early in December--a letter which aroused vast indignation
amongst the Boer leaders, and created much interest and not a little
admiration in England for its writer's good sense and wise counsel. It
was addressed, "To the Burghers under arms round Mafeking," and ran as
follows:--

 "BURGHERS,

 "I address you in this manner because I have only recently learned
 how you have been intentionally kept in the dark by your officers,
 the Government, and the newspapers as to what is happening in other
 parts of South Africa. As the officer commanding Her Majesty's troops
 on this border, I think it right to point out clearly the inevitable
 result of your remaining longer under arms against Great Britain. You
 are aware that the present war was caused by the invasion of British
 territory by your forces without justifiable reasons. Your leaders do
 not tell you that so far your forces have only met the advanced guard
 of the British forces. The circumstances have changed within the last
 week. The main body of the British are now daily arriving by thousands
 from England, Canada, India, and Australia, and are about to advance
 through the country. In a short time the Republic will be in the hands
 of the English, and no sacrifice of life on your part can stop it.

 "The question now that you have to put to yourselves before it is too
 late is: Is it worth while losing your lives in a vain attempt to stop
 the invasion or take a town beyond your borders, which, if taken, will
 be of no use to you?

 "I may tell you that Mafeking cannot be taken by sitting down and
 looking at it, for we have ample supplies for several months. The
 Staats Artillery has done very little damage, and we are now protected
 both by troops and mines. Your presence here and elsewhere under
 arms cannot stop the British advancing through your country. Your
 leaders and newspapers are also trying to make you believe that some
 foreign combination or Power is likely to intervene in your behalf
 against England. It is not in keeping with their pretence that your
 side is going to be victorious, nor in accordance with facts. The
 Republic having declared war, and taken the offensive, cannot claim
 intervention on their behalf. The German Emperor is at present in
 England, and fully sympathizes with us. The American Government has
 warned others of its intention to side with England should any Power
 intervene. France has large interests in the goldfields, identical
 with those of England. Italy is entirely in accord with us. Russia has
 no cause to interfere. The war is of one Government against another,
 and not of a people against another people.

 "The duty assigned to my troops is to sit still here until the proper
 time arrives, and then to fight and kill until you give in. You, on
 the other hand, have other interests to think of, your families,
 farms, and their safety. Your leaders have caused the destruction of
 farms, and have fired on women and children. Our men are becoming hard
 to restrain in consequence. They have also caused the invasion of
 Kaffir territory, looting their cattle, and have thus induced them to
 rise and invade your country and kill your burghers. As one white man
 to another, I warned General Cronje, on November 14th, that this would
 occur. Yesterday I heard that more Kaffirs were rising. I have warned
 General Snyman accordingly. Great bloodshed and destruction of farms
 threaten you on all sides.

 "I wish to offer you a chance of avoiding it. My advice to you is to
 return to your homes without delay and remain peaceful till the war is
 over. Those who do this before the 13th will, as far as possible, be
 protected, as regards yourselves, your families, and property, from
 confiscation, looting, and other penalties to which those remaining
 under arms will be subjected when the invasion takes place. Secret
 agents will communicate to me the names of those who do. Those who do
 not avail themselves of the terms now offered may be sure that their
 property will be confiscated when the troops arrive. Each man must
 be prepared to hand over a rifle and one hundred and fifty rounds of
 ammunition. The above terms do not apply to officers and members of
 the Staats Artillery, who may surrender as prisoners of war at any
 time, nor to rebels on British territory. It is probable that my force
 will shortly take the offensive. To those who after this warning defer
 their submission till too late I can offer no promise. They will have
 only themselves to blame for injury to and loss of property. They and
 their families may afterwards suffer.

  (Signed) "R.S.S. BADEN-POWELL,

  "Colonel.

  "Mafeking, Dec. 10th."

       *       *       *       *       *

It is almost unnecessary to say that the Boers did not take this
advice, and that their leaders endeavoured to falsify Baden-Powell's
statements and predictions. Events went on pretty much as usual
from the date of this letter until Christmas. The previous week had
been fairly quiet, save for a continual artillery duel between the
garrison's Nordenfeldt and the Boers' big gun, and the besieged had
been encouraged a good deal by the news of British successes. A two
days' truce was agreed upon for Christmas, and on Sunday, the 24th,
the children, who had spent most of their time during the previous
two months in the gloom of the shell-proof refuges, were brought into
the town and treated to a Christmas-tree, which had been provided by
a Committee of which Lady Sarah Wilson was the moving spirit. That
night--Christmas Eve--there was a special service in the English
church, garnished and decorated for the occasion. One of the Boer
shells had struck the church during a previous bombardment and had
damaged the fabric, but in spite of this the congregation was cheerful
and happy, and sang hymns and carols, though those of the men who were
there were armed, booted, and spurred, and ready for any emergency.

There was another day's truce on Christmas Day, but at night rumours of
a sortie which Baden-Powell intended to make on Game Tree Fort began
to spread amongst the officers. At dawn next morning, December 26th,
the sortie was made. Two squadrons of the Protectorate Regiment and
one squadron of the Bechuanaland Rifles, accompanied by three guns
and an armoured train, advanced upon Game Tree Fort in the twilight
and began an attack, which Baden-Powell in his despatch to Cape Town
characterizes as being "carried out and pressed home with the greatest
gallantry and steadiness under very hot fire." The action began by
an artillery duel, in which the British Maxim joined as the daylight
increased, and was soon general in the vicinity of the fort, which
was situated about a mile and a half from the town. At sunrise the
attacking force, under Captains Vernon and FitzClarence, was ready to
rush the Boer position. Those watching the fight from a little distance
saw the men of the Protectorate and Bechuanaland squadrons moving
rapidly upon the fort, and heard a continuous rattle of musketry as
they drew to close quarters with the enemy. For a while there was some
anxiety amongst the watching staff; then it was seen that the British
troops were slowly drawing back, "the fort," said Baden-Powell in his
despatch, "being practically impregnable." Then came the news of the
repulse and the opinion of the commanding officer that the position was
too difficult to attempt a second time. But it was not until the list
of casualties was made out that anyone not actually engaged in it knew
how gallant and strenuous the attack had been. Out of the attacking
force of about one hundred men, only one half came back scatheless.
Captains Vernon and Sandford, Lieutenant Paton, and twenty-one rank
and file were killed; Captain FitzClarence and twenty-two rank and
file were wounded; three troopers were taken prisoners. Most of the
casualties occurred in the final attempt to storm the fort, and Captain
Vernon, in particular, showed magnificent courage. Wounded more than
once during the attack, he kept on fighting until he was shot dead.
Little wonder that the Boers were greatly impressed by the courage
of the besiegers, and that General Snyman began to feel still more
doubtful as to the success of his forces!

On the evening of this day the dead were buried in the cemetery of
Mafeking, the enemy out of respect for their brave opponents ceasing
fire while the ceremony was in process. The Boers, indeed, on this
occasion had showed themselves more humane than usual, and had
assisted the British to succour the wounded men of the attacking party
when the ambulance went out after the fight was over. Still, it was
deemed inadvisable to fire the usual volley over the dead, and so
the men who had fallen were laid to rest in comparative silence. The
non-commissioned officers and men were interred in a long trench,
folded in white calico; the officers were buried in coffins at a little
distance. So the day came to an end with the sound of the Last Post. It
might have been a more successful day had it not been for treachery,
for there was no doubt that the news of the intended British attack on
Game Tree Fort had been communicated to the Boers, who had immediately
hastened to strengthen their defences and to tear up part of the
railway along which the armoured train would proceed, but in spite
of the non-success of the attack, the garrison of Mafeking was still
confident and in good spirits.

The last days of the old year passed somewhat quietly when compared
with the stirring events which had immediately succeeded Christmas
Day. In one respect the garrison and the inhabitants were in somewhat
better case--every day was making it evident that the Boers would not
take the town save by extraordinary means. The spirit of its defenders
grew stronger and more indomitable as each sun rose and sank, and every
man was determined that there should be no surrender. There can be no
doubt that the maintenance of this brave spirit was largely due to the
example and cheering words of Baden-Powell, who from his bomb-proof
headquarters in the centre of the town dominated and inspired
everything. One may well feel a wondering curiosity as to what he felt
as he thought and planned and kept a watchful eye on all that was going
on. He had never been in such a warm corner as this in his life, but
one may be certain that it was not too warm for him. There are men who
rise to the greatest heights at the moment of greatest need, and there
were needs coming upon Mafeking which were likely to try the heart and
resolution of even so brave a man as its watchful commandant.



III.

SITTING TIGHT


[Illustration: Strolling Home in the Morning.]

[Illustration: "Halt! who comes there?"]

On New Year's Day, 1900, the Boers began a new species of assault
upon Mafeking. They fired several nine-pounder shells into the laager
reserved for women and children, killing one child and injuring
two others. They also fired on the convent and on the hospital.
Baden-Powell sent a vigorous protest against this cowardly action to
General Snyman, but the same tactics were pursued at intervals during
the next few weeks. On January 3rd a smart artillery duel took place
between the besieged and the enemy. During the previous night the
British artillery had been concentrated in a fresh position, and when
it came into play it wrought considerable damage amongst the Boer
guns, one of which, at least, was thrown out of action. On the 6th
the enemy threw a number of shells into the market-square, but did
little damage, and on the 15th they were compelled to retire with their
ninety-four-pounder and their Krupp gun to more distant positions, the
besieged having successfully pushed out trenches and sharpshooters
towards their big gun battery. In his despatch of the 17th Baden-Powell
remarked that he had now driven back the Boers on three sides well out
of rifle-range, and had opened grazing for cattle on the east side of
the town. On the 16th the Boers again resorted to questionable tactics.
They fired a ninety-four-pounder shell into the convalescent hospital
and partly wrecked it, and afterwards fired on an officer and orderly
who went out under the white flag. What the garrison must have thought
of these outrages one need not conjecture.

About this time the question of food supply began to agitate the minds
of those responsible for the beleaguered town. For the first two months
of the siege privation had not been felt, but in the despatches coming
to hand about the middle of January there was evidence that provisions
were beginning to run short. Oats were no longer given to horses, but
saved for men; tinned milk and matches were taken charge of by the
military authorities; and food generally began to be sparingly used.
Before this the Kaffirs in the native quarter had eaten mules killed
by the Boer guns. But apart from this shortening of rations a spirit
of courage and determination filled the garrison. In the despatches
from Major F.D. Baillie (war correspondent of the _Morning Post_)
which got through about this time, a phrase occurs again and again
which shows how bravely everybody was keeping up in Mafeking--"All
is well." Certainly there was a desire on the part of somebody--whom
one shrewdly suspects to have been the commandant himself--to make
things as pleasant as possible. An agricultural show was held on
January 21st and was a great success. On Sundays Baden-Powell organized
concerts and musical entertainments, and himself appeared to delight
perhaps the strangest audiences he had ever played to in his life.
On one occasion he impersonated Paderewski in the first part of the
performance, and a cockney in the second, winding up by playing "Home,
Sweet Home" on a mouth-organ! One would like to have been present at
that performance--despite the fact that Snyman and his Boers were still
eager to seize the little town.

In his despatch of February 3rd Baden-Powell reported various artillery
duels between that date and January 23rd, and remarked that General
Snyman had practically admitted shelling the women and children's
laagers, and that he, in consequence, had informed him that he had
placed the Boer prisoners in these places in order to protect them from
deliberate bombardment. But another foe was now at hand. Dysentery
broke out amongst the garrison and fever amongst the children. In a
despatch from Reuter's special correspondent, dated February 19th,
the first terrible picture of the siege comes into view. He speaks of
rations of weevily biscuit and horseflesh; of typhoid and malaria in
the women's laager, into which the Boers still threw shells; of the
children's graveyard daily receiving new victims; and of the natives
wandering about, gaunt and hungry. Up to that date nearly three hundred
persons had been killed or wounded or died of disease. But there was no
talk of surrender, even though the hope long deferred made many hearts
sick. All through February the state of affairs was unchanged with the
exception that the Boer attrocities seemed to increase. Not content
with firing on the women and children's laager, and on hospital and
convent, they treated natives who tried to leave the town with great
cruelty, stripping and flogging the women, shooting down the men, and
generally adopting the most brutal means of warfare.

On February 26th came the Queen's message to Baden-Powell and his
little garrison and gave them new heart and courage. About the same
time news of the relief of Kimberley was received, but there was
small prospect of similar help coming so quickly to Mafeking, where
diphtheria had broken out amongst the children. During the early days
of March a good deal of fighting went on in the brick-fields, and the
enemy's big gun began to be very active. In his despatch of March 13th,
however, Baden-Powell reported that the enemy's cordon had been much
relaxed, and that he had captured twenty-six head of their cattle and
killed twelve Boers. Then the bombardment began again, and continued
with varying success on the part of the enemy. On March 24th the Boers
evacuated their trenches in the brick-fields, and they were taken
possession of by the garrison, who at this time, according to Major
Baillie's despatch to the _Morning Post_ of the last-named date, were
less pressed than at any period since the beginning of the siege. Some
little diversion was caused on Sunday, March 25th, by the holding of a
Siege Exhibition, at which prizes were awarded for such exhibits as
collections of shells (Boer shells!), models of fortifications, and the
like.

Not only food, but money was running short in Mafeking now, and
the ingenious brain of its commander was called upon to supply
the deficiency. He instituted a paper currency for sums as low as
threepence, and also issued bank-notes for £1 and £5. The postage
stamps becoming exhausted, a new supply, stamped with the words
"Mafeking Besieged," was produced. However short the money supply
was, however, it seems to have made little difference to people who
wished to spend it, since one hears of unexploded shells being sold as
curiosities for as much as twelve guineas each.

In his despatch of March 27th, Baden-Powell, after beginning with
the familiar "All Well," which sounds so strange to folk who were
wondering how Mafeking was contriving to hold out as she did, goes
on to say that they are experiencing the hottest shelling of the
siege, but that the town was comparatively free from musketry fire.
The Boers, in fact, were being steadily pushed back, the besiegers
never losing an opportunity of advancing their trenches nearer to the
enemy's position, and the latter were also worried by the advance of
Colonel Plumer's relief column. On March 31st, heavy firing was heard
to the northward of the town, and the enemy were seen to be going in a
northerly direction in great haste, taking three field guns with them.
The garrison at once opened fire on their forts, and continued it until
the firing northward ceased. Next morning General Snyman sent a message
to Baden-Powell requesting him to send out an ambulance to bring in the
dead of Colonel Plumer's force, who, according to his version, had been
slain by hundreds. When the ambulance reached the scene of operation,
three bodies were discovered.

About the beginning of April, General Snyman was relieved of his
command, in which he had had no more success than the redoubtable
Cronje, by Commandant Botha. This made no difference to the garrison,
who were determined to hold out two months longer if necessary. Some
considerable help was given to the commissariat department at this
period by a Scotsman, Mr. Sims, who invented a food called sowan
porridge, made from the husks of oats. This proved very nourishing,
and if not exactly appetizing, was wholesome, and much to be preferred
to nothing when the question of going supperless to bed came on.
A statement prepared by Captain Ryan, head of the commissariat
department, shows how things were going in April:--

"The total number of white men is approximately 1150, of white women
400, and of white children 300. The coloured population consists of
some 2000 men, 2000 women, and 3000 children.

"Both the white and coloured men originally received eight ounces of
bread. The allowance has now been reduced to six, but a quart of soup
is given to make up the deficiency. Half a gallon of sowan porridge a
day will sustain life. The recipients are of three classes: those who
receive it in lieu of two ounces of bread; those who wish to purchase
food over and above the quantity to which they are entitled; those
who are absolutely destitute, both black and white, and who receive
the porridge free. It has been suggested that the natives should not
be charged for sowan porridge, but it is thought unwise to pauperize
either blacks or whites. If any profit has been made from the sale
by the end of the siege, it will be employed in buying grain for the
many native women and children in Mafeking who have been involved in a
quarrel which is not theirs.

"The horse soup is made from the carcases of animals which had ceased
to be serviceable and those killed by the enemy's fire, as well as
horses and donkeys purchased from individuals who can no longer afford
to keep them. This soup is unpopular among the natives, but this is due
rather to prejudice than to its quality.

"The distribution of supplies is entirely under Imperial control. The
Army Service Corps possesses a slaughter-house, a bakery, and a grocery
at which the authorities receive and distribute all vegetables, and it
receives and distributes milk to the hospital, to women and children,
and to men who have been medically certified to need it.

"At present the hospital is supplied with white bread, and it is hoped
that the supply will be continued. Hospital comforts are issued to
such as are in need of them, both in and out patients, on receipt
of an order from a medical officer. For the nurses and doctors, who
work day and night, the authorities endeavoured to provide slightly
better rations than those available for the general community. Our
sources of supply have been chiefly through Mr. Weil, who had a
large stock on hand for the provisioning of the garrison, until the
contract terminated at the beginning of February. Since then supplies
have been collected from various merchants, storekeepers, and private
persons, and stored in the army Service Corps depôt, and from the
original Army Service Corps stock, of which forage and oats formed a
great proportion. Fresh beef is obtained by purchase from a private
individual named White, and in a lesser degree from the natives.

"Breadstuffs are obtained, like groceries, by commandeering the stocks
of various merchants and private persons."

Shortly after this report was published, the special correspondent of
Reuter's Agency announced that a further reduction in the supply of
breadstuffs had taken place. "We are now able to receive only four
ounces daily," he continued. "This, however, has been to some extent
compensated by the issue of sowan porridge to whites as well as blacks.
We have still a fair supply of fresh vegetables, which the Chinese are
retailing at famine prices. As vegetables, however, are perishable
commodities they are still cheap in comparison with whisky, which is
25_s._ a bottle. Eggs are 18_s._ a dozen, fowls 20_s._ each, jam 2_s._
6_d_. a small tin."

The same correspondent, alas! remarks in a despatch of somewhat later
date that "excellent brawn is now being made, and is eaten by both
whites and blacks. It is made from ox and horse hides." He adds with
a brevity which has a good deal of pathos and humour in it, that "the
garrison is very cheerful, very dry, and very hungry." Most of the
necessarily brief despatches from Mafeking in the most trying days of
the siege have a spice of humour and a good deal of pathos in them.
On May 3rd, Lady Sarah Wilson cabled the following laconic message
to Lady Georgiana Curzon:--"Mafeking, May 3rd.--Breakfast consisted
of horse sausages; lunch, minced mule and curried locusts. Well."
"There is great demand for horse side and brawn," says Reuter's
special correspondent on May 5th. But perhaps the most significant,
and certainly the most impressive, message of all was that of Major
Baillie, dated May 1st, which will surely be remembered when many
incidents of the Boer War are forgotten:--

"This morning the Boers attacked us.

"The result was as usual.

"There is an aching void here.

"Pass the loaf."

Those of us who sit at home at our entire or comparative ease can
scarcely comprehend the full meaning of these messages, nor of the
heroism of the men who, sorely tried by hunger and disease, were
keeping up the flag with such stern, immovable determination. In the
town, hunger and sickness; outside the town, an enemy so bitterly
unscrupulous as to observe no civilized conditions of warfare,
and whose leaders did not scruple to fire on women, children, and
sick men--here was a situation in which surely nobody but the most
courageous could have preserved a cheerful confidence. How that
confidence struck Baden-Powell may be judged from the despatch which
he sent to Lord Roberts on the 200th day of the siege. "After 200
days' siege," he said, "I desire to bring to your lordship's notice
the exceptionally good spirit of loyalty that pervades all classes of
this garrison. The patience of everybody in Mafeking in making the best
of things under the long strain of anxiety, hardship, and privation
is beyond all praise, and a revelation to me. The men, half of whom
are unaccustomed to the use of arms, have adapted themselves to their
duties with the greatest zeal, readiness, and pluck, and the devotion
of the women is remarkable. With such a spirit our organization runs
like clockwork, and I have every hope it will pull us successfully
through."



IV.

THE LAST DAYS


About the end of April a new Boer commandant appeared on the scene at
Mafeking in the person of Sarel Eloff, a near kinsman of President
Kruger. He was the fifth Transvaal officer to be placed in charge of
the Boer attack, and it was rumoured that he was specially ordered to
succeed where the elder and younger Cronjes, Snyman, and Botha had
failed. But the siege had now been in progress for seven months, and
the Boers were in no better position than at first. So far as the
actual taking of the town was concerned they were in a much worse
position, for Baden-Powell's watchfulness and daring had driven back
their lines, wrecked a good many of their works, and done more damage
to their forces than they had succeeded in effecting amongst the
garrison. From a military point of view there was now little, if any,
advantage likely to accrue to the Boers by this capture of Mafeking. If
Cronje had reached the town by assault during the first few days of the
siege he would have been able to command a large stretch of country,
and in a position to dominate Rhodesia, but the lapse of several months
had changed everything, and from the tactician's point of view there
was nothing to be gained by the fall of Mafeking. Nevertheless the
Boers continued to surround the place, and were able on more than one
occasion to drive back the relieving force under Colonel Plumer, who
advanced at various times to within a very near distance of the town.
What the feelings of the besieged, weary with constant watching and
weak with hunger and privation, must have been when it was known that
their would-be succourers had been within six miles of them, and had
then been obliged to fall back, may be better imagined than described.

However sick with hope deferred some of the folk in the little town
may have been, there was no feeling of despair in the heart of the
man by whose genius and energy the defence was finally conducted to
such a glorious issue. It is almost--perhaps entirely--beyond the
powers of the stay-at-home, fireside-loving Englishman to comprehend
the extraordinary strength of purpose and firmness of will shown by
Baden-Powell during this historic siege. If one could realize what
it must have meant to be shut up in Mafeking during all those weary
months, with heavy responsibilities of various natures crowding upon
one, and conducting all things to final victory, one might understand
Baden-Powell. When the siege was over, he, with the modesty which is
not the least charm of his character, strove to give praise to others,
instead of allowing it to be showered solely upon himself. "Many nice
things have been said about me at home," he remarked, "but it is an
easy thing to be the figure-head of a ship." What sort of figure-head
Baden-Powell was may be gathered from the following interesting sketch
of him, extracted from a despatch of the special correspondent of the
_Pall Mall Gazette_ during the last weeks of the siege:--

"He is a wonderfully tireless man, ever on the alert, ever with one eye
on the enemy and the other divided between the town and that nightmare,
the native stadt. Some say that he never sleeps, and I half believe
the statement. I have frequently seen him myself at the peep-of-day
crossing the veldt on his return to town after visiting all the works,
with the customary tune on his lips; and half an hour afterwards he was
on the roof with his glasses glued to his eyes, having an early look at
the enemy. Later on he takes a constitutional walk up and down before
his quarters like one doing sentry-go. An hour or so later he is on the
stoep writing his diary, generally with his left hand, for with his
wonderful foresight he has recognized that in pursuing his trade he may
lose his right, and he does not wish to be left in the lurch. Again
he is on the roof once more, having another look at the enemy, and if
everything is particularly quiet, he trusts the look-out men and goes
to his nook to dip into a novel or have a stretch under his mosquito
curtain. I always know that he is there as I pass when I see a pair of
tan boots sticking out.

[Illustration: A Cape Boy Sentry.]

"He spends the rest of the day doing a thousand and one things,
receiving reports, adjusting differences, learning from his staff all
they know, powwowing with Lord Edward Cecil, his chief staff officer,
discovering how much food we have from the D.A.A.G., and suggesting how
it may be conserved, and how much per head shall be served out to each
soul under his care--all the time with an eye fixed upon Snyman and
his horde, reading their thoughts, knowing what they are about to do,
and planning a checkmate. In the evening he goes up to the hospital to
inquire after his wounded--he never misses this visit--and if a victim
of the siege is to be buried it is ten to one that we see him at the
graveside. The Colonel trusts his command, but like the good general
that he is, leaves nothing to chance, and always has the concentrated
knowledge of every officer in his head. Many stories are told by our
sentries of one who silently steals out of the blackness of the night
and is on them before they have time to challenge. He asks a question
or gives a suggestion and a cheery word, and then departs as silently
as he came. They even tell of a bearded stranger dressed in grey tweed
who has the stature of B.-P., and strolls around the works and makes
such remarks as 'Keep a keen eye in that direction; you never know what
may be stirring or where they are.' He goes away and they know that he
is the commander. Napoleon himself never kept keener vigil than B.-P.,
or had a greater grasp of what was going on around him. Added to this
night-and-day round, our Colonel even directs the other force away up
north that he never sees, yet every movement of which he is acquainted
with. Nevertheless, the strain, the anxiety that must be there, despite
the external show of light-heartedness, the constant watchfulness, and
the worries connected with the interior economy of the town, would have
soured and broken down and turned grey-headed many another man. But
B.-P.'s temperament preserves him, and to-day (April) he is as fresh,
as keen, and as full of vigour as when he started in October."

Perhaps an even more remarkable testimony than this was that which came
from General Pretorius, who, while in hospital, recovering from the
wound he received at Elands Laagte, discussed the sieges of Ladysmith,
Kimberley, and Mafeking with an English friend.

"The Ladysmith men," he said, "were good, but there were 10,000 of
them, and all fighting men. Kimberley was remarkable because of the
large number of its civilian population and natives; but the siege
of Mafeking, however it may end, will always live in South African
history, because a flat and absolutely unprotected country village (for
that is what Mafeking is) has by the genius of one man been defended,
and defended against the most strenuous efforts not only of our leading
general, Cronje, but of his successors. I should like to take you
outside Mafeking where I have been, and look at the place. You would
have thought that the 8000 with which we once surrounded it could have
got in on any night they chose. We had the best of Cronje's burghers
there, but it is no confession of cowardice on our part to say that
we knew that Baden-Powell was not only prepared for every surprise of
ours, but that he was quite ready to spring surprises upon us at any
moment. And though I think that we shall eventually take Mafeking,
it will be by starvation and not by attack. Our burghers have not
exhibited fear on any occasion, but I do not think they will tackle
Colonel Baden-Powell."

It was scarcely probable that the man, then feared by one of the most
capable of the Boer generals, should be outwitted by a comparatively
young officer like Eloff, who must necessarily have been somewhat
discouraged by the failure of Cronje, Snyman, and Botha. Eloff,
however, was not wanting in courage or ability, and he seems to have
been more daring than any of the Boer leaders who had preceded him.
He arrived before Mafeking during the last week in April, and on the
24th the garrison received information from natives that a determined
assault was to be made upon the town. Something in the nature of a
feeble fusillade was begun by the Boers next day, but it was extremely
futile, and the garrison thought it scarcely worth their while to reply
to it. Indeed, there was so little doing on the part of the Boers
at this stage of the long-drawn-out proceedings that the besieged
were able to devote some of their energies--the energies of starving
men!--to getting up a military tournament, which was successfully held
on Sunday, April 29th.

Now occurred another of the little episodes which, when reported to the
folk who were looking on at the game from such a tremendous distance,
made everybody wonder what sort of man this wonderful Baden-Powell
could be that he could crack jokes while he and his men were half
starved to death. It came to the knowledge of Commandant Eloff that
the garrison of Mafeking amused itself on Sundays in various pleasant
ways, whereupon he wrote a letter to Colonel Baden-Powell saying that
he heard there was cricket and singing, and dancing and tournaments in
Mafeking on Sundays, and might he and his men come in and join in the
festivities, for it was dull outside. One would like to know if that
message was intended to be serious, or if it was "writ sarcastic."
Anyway, Baden-Powell replied to it in fitting terms. Referring to
Eloff's remarks about the Sunday cricket match, he said that it would
be better to postpone the return match until the one then in progress
was finished, and then suggested that as the garrison were already 200
not out, and as Cronje, Snyman, and others had not been successful, a
further change of bowling might be advisable.

[Illustration: Rough map of BRICKFIELDS]

Eloff's answer to this characteristic Baden-Powellism was another
attack on May 1st. "It was the usual sort of performance," said Major
Baillie in his despatch to the _Morning Post_, "the Boers blazed
away for two or three hours, but did not hit anybody. They are doing
themselves no good, and not attaining any object whatever." Then on
Sunday, May 6th, the enemy committed another of the discreditable
breaches of good faith which have been such an unfortunate feature of
their conduct throughout the whole war. Sunday, by their own request,
had invariably been observed as a day of truce, but on this particular
Sunday a party of Boers made their way to the east of Cannon Kopje,
shot one of the British South African Police, who was guarding cattle,
and stole the horses and mules under his care.

On May 12th, Eloff made his long-threatened and would-be final attack
upon the town. At four o'clock in the morning the garrison was roused
by heavy firing, and it soon became evident that something important
was afoot. It was soon seen that the native stadt was in flames, and
presently came the news that the fort occupied by the British South
African Police had been taken by the enemy. As events proved later,
Eloff and seven hundred men had advanced along the river-bed and got
into Mafeking. They began to loot and to destroy immediately. The
garrison, realizing that at last they were in for such a fight as
they had long desired, worked like heroes, aided by the Baralongs,
and fighting became general. Even the prisoners under sentence in
gaol were released and armed, and fought manfully with the rest. All
through the day the fight went on, the Boers being gradually surrounded
by squadrons under Captain FitzClarence, Captain Marsh, and Captain
Bentinck, and by the Baralongs under Major Godley. Finally the Boers
were cornered--one party in the British South African Police Fort;
another in one of the native kraals; a third in the kopje. Hundreds
of them broke away, many to be shot as they fled. At last the British
artillery got within forty yards of their principal position, and
then Eloff surrendered. He had kept his word and got into Mafeking,
and there for awhile he was to stay--as prisoner. He and his men were
marched in batches into the town, and were received in silence by the
British, but with hooting by the natives whose stadt they had burned.
Baden-Powell's reception of the Boer commandant was interesting, and
characteristic of the former. "This is Commandant Eloff, sir," said
the officer in charge of the Boer leader. "Good evening, commandant,"
answered Baden-Powell. "Won't you come in and have some dinner?"

That was a great night in Mafeking. Men went about the town singing
"Rule Britannia" and "God save the Queen," and cheering themselves
hoarse. In the regimental messes and the hotels liquor which had been
carefully hoarded away was brought out and healths were drunk. If
they had only had definite news of it, the rejoicings would have been
greater, for while the Mafeking garrison was engaged with Eloff and his
men, the relief columns under Mahon and Plumer were drawing nearer to
the town, and the long-desired succour was close at hand.



V.

THE RELIEF AND THE EMPIRE


When Baden-Powell sent the famous despatch to Lord Roberts in which
he drew the latter's attention to the fact that the garrison had now
undergone a two hundred days' siege, the reply came back, "Relief on
May 18th." This reply was pretty much in the nature of a prophecy,
for the actual relief of Mafeking took place on May 17th. During the
first two weeks of the month the two columns under Mahon and Plumer had
been steadily forcing their way towards the beleaguered town, and on
the 15th they joined hands, at a point thirty miles west of the town.
As the relief columns drew nearer, the Boers, realizing that their
efforts were hopeless, retreated in all directions, and on the 16th the
besieged chiefly occupied themselves in watching Mahon's and Plumer's
forces shelling the Boers out of their camps and laagers. In the
evening Major Kerr-Davis and a few men of the Imperial Light Infantry
rode into the town. Their reception was characteristically British.
Stopping to tell a passer-by that they formed the advance guard of the
relieving force, they were answered in laconic fashion, "Oh, yes; I
heard you were knocking about outside somewhere!" But a good deal--more
than a good deal!--of feeling doubtless lay behind that apparently
careless answer. It may have been hard for the besieged to realize
that Mafeking was really relieved at last. But on the morning of the
17th the relief force was in the town in strength, and the Boers were
vanishing on the horizon.

It is difficult to realize the feelings of the besieged and of their
succourers when the final meeting between them took place. The columns
under Mahon and Plumer had worked hard and with true British zeal, and
it must have aroused thoughts which could scarcely be put into words
when the object of the expedition was achieved. Mr. Filson Young,
special correspondent of the _Manchester Guardian_, accompanying the
relief columns, gives the following account of the first glimpse of the
little town:--

"As the sky brightened before us Mafeking was eagerly looked for, but
for a long time each successive rise only showed us another beyond
which hid the desired view. But at last, while some of us were buying
eggs at a Kaffir kraal, a more adventurous person climbed upon a
rubbish heap and shouted, 'There's Mafeking.' There was a rush for the
coign of vantage, and a great levelling of glasses. There it lay, sure
enough, the little town that we had come so far to see--a tiny cluster
of white near the eastward horizon, glistening amid the yellowish-brown
of the flats. We looked at it for a few moments in silence, and then
Colonel Mahon said, 'Well, let's be getting on'; and no one said
anything more about Mafeking, but every one thought a great deal."

With the siege over there were still many things to do. One of the
first things done was thus graphically and pathetically described by
the special correspondent of the Press Association:--

"This morning the garrison was paraded around the cemetery, where a
combined memorial and thanksgiving service was held, and we said our
last good-bye to those of our comrades who lie in the little graveyard,
and who were killed in defending Mafeking. When the service was over,
we tried to sing 'God save the Queen,' but the hymn sounded feeble and
quavering, for most of us had lumps in our throats.

"Then Colonel Baden-Powell addressed the garrison. It was one of his
characteristic addresses--short, soldierly, and to the point. 'We
have been a happy family during the siege. The time has now come for
breaking up. When we were first invested I said to you, "Sit tight
and shoot straight." The garrison has sat tight and shot straight,
with the present glorious result. Many nice things have been said
about me at home, but it is an easy thing to be the figure-head
of a ship. The garrison has been the rigging and the sails of the
good ship _Mafeking_, and has brought her safely through her stormy
cruise.' The Colonel then addressed each unit separately, commencing
with the nurses, whom he complimented upon their pluck and devotion,
shaking hands with Miss Hill, the matron of the Hospital. Coming to
the Protectorate Regiment, he said: 'To you I need say nothing. Your
roll of dead and wounded tells its own tale.' Then, shaking hands with
Colonel Hore, he thanked him for the work he had done.

"To the artillery, under Major Panzera and Lieutenant Daniel, Colonel
Baden-Powell said: 'You were armed with obsolete weapons, but you made
up for these by your cool shooting and the way you stuck to your guns.'

"It was the turn of the British South African Police next. To them the
Colonel said: 'I need not repeat to you men the story of the little red
fort on the hill which Cronje could not take.'

"The Cape Police, under Captain Marsh, were addressed as follows: 'You
have not been given an opportunity of doing anything dramatic, but
throughout the siege you have held one of the nastiest places in the
town, where the enemy were expected at any moment, and where you were
always under fire.'

"Speaking to the town guard, the Colonel remarked that he ought to
say a lot to them. They had turned out in such large numbers and in
such good spirits, submitting to all the restrictions and routine
of military law. They were, he added, like a walnut in a shell.
People thought that once they got through the shell there would be no
difficulty about the kernel. On Saturday last the enemy had got through
the outer husk, but found they could make nothing of the kernel. The
moment communication was restored he would make it his business to
represent to the High Commissioner the claims of the Town Guard for
compensation, and he hoped he would succeed. In conclusion, the Colonel
announced that any civilians who wished to return to their ordinary
occupations immediately, might do so. Those who had none to return to,
whose billets had been lost or business ruined, would be permitted
in the meantime to draw trench allowances and to remain on duty in
the inner defences. Colonel Baden-Powell shook hands with Major Goold
Adams, the town commandant, who has done such excellent work, and
thanked him for the help he had received from him.

"To the Railway Division, under Captain Moore, the Colonel said: 'I
cannot thank you enough for what you have done. You have transformed
yourselves from railwaymen into soldiers. Your work is not yet done,
because it will be your business to reopen communication and get in
supplies.' He then shook hands with Captain Moore and Lieutenant
Layton, who has been raised to a commission from the ranks owing to his
gallant work on Saturday.

"Turning next to the Bechuanaland Rifles, Colonel Baden-Powell said:
'Men, you have turned out trumps. With volunteers one knows that they
have been ably drilled, but there is no telling how they will fight. I
have been able to use you exactly as regular troops, and I have been
specially pleased with your straight shooting. The other day, when the
enemy occupied the Protectorate Fort, they admitted that they were
forced to surrender by your straight shooting, under which they did not
dare to show a hand above the parapet.'

"To the Cadet Corps the Colonel said: 'Boys, you have begun well as
soldiers. I hope you will continue in the profession, and will do as
well in after life.'

"Addressing the various units of Colonel Plumer's northern relief
force, Colonel Baden-Powell pointed out how much they would all have
liked to see the northern force relieve Mafeking off their own bat.
They had not been strong enough to do that, and there would not be
much about them in the picture papers, but they had put in seven months
of splendid work in a bad country and a bad climate. Now, they had
their reward, for they not only had been able to assist in the relief
of Mafeking, but the honour of bearing the brunt on the right flank of
a well-fought fight, and had inflicted a severe blow upon the enemy,
routing him, and kicking him out of Bechuanaland. He was proud to
command them.

"Addressing the units of the southern relief force, the Colonel
congratulated them upon a march which would live in history. He had
heard of their coming from prisoners, and had been pleased by the news,
but he had been better pleased to hear their guns and see the enemy
fleeing. He complimented Colonel Mahon on commanding such a splendid
body of men. On the subject of the Imperial Light Horse, the Colonel
added that he was especially pleased to see them, for they had indeed
travelled far for the relief of Mafeking, both corps having been
present and themselves besieged in Ladysmith. They would, therefore, be
able all the more to sympathize with the people in Mafeking.

"With these few simple, soldierly ceremonies, a stirring epoch in the
history of the war was closed."

There was yet another ceremony, this time of an altogether jubilant
nature, at Mafeking. On May 24th Baden-Powell (now Major-General)
gave a dinner at Dixon's Hotel to the commanding officers of the
relief columns and the garrison, and to officers who had distinguished
themselves in the defence of the town. Here he made some more speeches.
The first was in proposing the health of the Queen. He said:--

"Gentlemen,--It is customary on occasions like these for the president
to rise at this juncture and to say, 'Gentlemen, the Queen.' In these
three blunt words we Englishmen convey a very great depth of feeling.
The other day, when the relieving column met the garrison, we merely
shook hands with them and said, 'How do you do?' but I do not hesitate
to say that there was more real feeling expressed in that hearty
handshake than in the weeping and embracing by which foreigners are
accustomed to give expression to their relief. At a time like this I
feel as if I could drink the health of Paul Kruger himself, coupled
with that of Mr. Rhodes, because Paul Kruger has been the cause of
this great outburst of Imperial feeling, and Mr. Rhodes was the red
rag to the bull which drew him on. Well, we showed the rag, and the
bull charged, but he did not expect to be surrounded by such a crowd
of matadors and picadors as are harassing him now, and to-day the old
bull is beaten down upon his knees. In the arena round us sit some of
the men and all the women and children of England and her Colonies. At
their head looking on is that great and gracious lady Her Majesty the
Queen."

Then later on he spoke of the splendid march made by the relieving
columns, comparing it with Lord Roberts's famous march to Kandahar, and
pointing out that while Lord Roberts's troops made from 15 to 16 miles
a day, Colonel Mahon had averaged nearly 20 miles. Finally, in replying
to the toast of his own health, proposed by Mr. Whiteley, the Mayor
of Mafeking, to whose great services and splendid loyalty he paid a
well-deserved tribute, he once more thanked the Town Guard, the members
of which, though nominally non-fighters, had done such valuable work
during the siege.

When the news of the relief of Mafeking reached England the whole
nation rejoiced with a fervour and abandon that was surprising even
to those who rejoiced. There had been jubilation at the succour of
Kimberley and gladness at the raising of the siege of Ladysmith, but
the rejoicings on these occasions were as nothing to those which took
place all over the country when it was known that Mahon and Plumer
had at last shaken hands with Baden-Powell. The news of the fall of
Pretoria, which arrived some weeks later, was received with gladness
and satisfaction, but those who saw the London streets on Mafeking
night and afterwards compared their appearance with that which they
presented when Pretoria fell will remember that the fall of the
Transvaal capital did not occasion one-tenth of the mad delight which
broke out all over London when it was known that Baden-Powell and
his garrison had indeed "sat tight and shot straight" and won in the
end. And it was not only in London and in England, but all over the
British Empire that men rejoiced. Men, whatever may be their faults and
failings, love courage, and endurance, and determination, and the siege
of Mafeking had given the world such an exhibition of these qualities
as it had rarely seen before. And Englishmen in particular felt that
this exhibition had come at the right time. We began the war none too
well; some of us began to whine and whimper, and some to scold and
threaten, because things were going wrong with us, and here came the
Man for the Moment, who feared nothing, fought against fearful odds,
helped and encouraged those who fought under him, and made himself a
very rock and tower of strength in the hour of need.

"These chaps have got an exaggerated idea of the importance of my
personality," remarked Baden-Powell to an interviewer when the siege
of Mafeking was over. Well! that's as may be, and it is good that a
great man should be backward in estimating his own greatness. But we
English are what we are because we love, admire, and in our own small
way strive to emulate the example of our heroes, and in the man who
held Mafeking for seven weary months, who heard thirty thousand shells
crash into the little town, and who came out of the struggle as cheery
and good-humoured as ever, we see a hero the importance of whose
personality we do not think it possible to exaggerate. It will be a bad
day for us when we give up putting our great men on pedestals. A great
man set up upon a pedestal is a light and an incentive to thousands
who, but for knowing of him, would be more than inclined to believe
life a ghastly failure and to go down in its struggle without a single
effort. It seems to me that in Baden-Powell's career as we have seen
it so far--and may God make it go much further and to still greater
things, for England's sake!--there is realized the grand central idea
which runs through Browning's _Epilogue to Asolando_:--

  "One who never turned his back, but marched breast forward,
      Never doubted clouds would break,
  Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would triumph,
  Held we fall to rise, are baffled to fight better,
      Sleep to wake.

  "No, at noonday in the bustle of man's work-time
      Greet the unseen with a cheer!
  Bid him forward, breast and back as either should be,
  'Strive and thrive!' cry 'Speed--fight on, fare ever
      There as here!'"


THE END


GILBERT AND RIVINGTON, LTD., ST. JOHN'S HOUSE, LITTLE SUTTON STREET,
CLERKENWELL, E.C.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Baden-Powell of Mafeking" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home