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Title: With Roberts to Pretoria - A Tale of The South African War
Author: Henty, G. A. (George Alfred)
Language: English
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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.

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  Author of "With Buller in Natal" "In the Irish Brigade" "For Name
  and Fame" "With Cochrane the Dauntless" &c.



  Copyright, 1901,



  _Published September, 1901_



The war in South Africa may be roughly divided into three parts. First,
The desperate fighting in Natal, which culminated in the relief of
Ladysmith. Second, The advance towards Kimberley begun by Lord Methuen
but arrested at Magersfontein, and renewed with a vastly greater force
by Lord Roberts and pushed forward to Pretoria, involving the relief
of Kimberley and the capture of Cronje at Paardeberg, but unmarked by
any resistance comparable with that experienced by Buller. Third, The
advance to Komati Poort, the breaking down of all organized opposition,
and the degeneration of the war into isolated efforts by guerilla bands
capable of annoyance but powerless to affect the issue. The first of
these chapters was told last year in _With Buller in Natal_.

The second phase of the struggle did not afford such examples
of warfare on a large scale as might have been anticipated. The
operations of Lord Methuen for the relief of Kimberley were brought
to a stand-still by the inadequacy of the comparatively small force
under his command for the task of breaking down the opposition of the
Boer army, holding, like that before Ladysmith, a position of immense
natural strength. With the advance, however, of the army under General
Roberts, resistance on a large scale virtually collapsed.

It might have been supposed that the Boers would resist the advance
upon their capital as sturdily as they had opposed the relief of
Ladysmith, and that at least they would fight one great battle,
supported by the forts with which they had surrounded Pretoria. It
turned out otherwise. Although brave and tenacious when fighting under
the cover of rocks, the Boers had not the heart to venture even once
to face the British in the open, and were turned out of one after
another of their carefully-prepared positions without making any
determined stand. After Cronje's force had been captured at Paardeberg,
and the force that had advanced to his assistance driven off the road
to Bloemfontein, no serious opposition was offered to the advance to

The third phase was marked at first by many exciting incidents, but
by no great battle. The Boers defended some of the positions taken
up by them with bravery and determination, but when once the railway
to Komati Poort had fallen into our hands the war degenerated into a
guerilla struggle. It was a war of raids, sometimes by a comparatively
strong force and at others by handfuls of plunderers; a war trying and
fatiguing in the extreme, and demanding extraordinary endurance on
the part of our troops, but of which the end was always in sight. The
obstinacy of the Boers had only the effect of bringing ruin upon their
own countrymen and women; it could by no possibility alter the final

I have now endeavoured to recount the leading incidents in the second
phase of the war, and although events have moved so rapidly that the
capture of Pretoria is already an old story, I may hope that it has
not yet lost its interest with British boys, and that _With Roberts to
Pretoria_ will meet with as favourable a reception as that given last
year to its companion volume.



    CHAP.                                                          PAGE

       I. A Change of Fortune                                       1

      II. On a Dutch Farm                                          19

     III. A Quarrel                                                36

      IV. The Ultimatum                                            58

       V. Scouting                                                 77

      VI. The Advance                                              95

     VII. Belmont, Graspan, and the Modder                        111

    VIII. A Dangerous Mission                                     132

      IX. Kimberley                                               151

       X. An Escape                                               170

      XI. Magersfontein                                           190

     XII. A Prisoner                                              211

    XIII. Friends                                                 227

     XIV. A Band of Scoundrels                                    244

      XV. Down Country                                            263

     XVI. An Old Enemy                                            281

    XVII. The Relief of Kimberley                                 300

   XVIII. Paardeberg                                              318

     XIX. Mafeking                                                337

      XX. Johannesburg                                            354

     XXI. Settled                                                 371




IT was a sad morning at the Rectory of Waverfield, in Somersetshire.
The living was not a valuable one, but the rector, John Harberton,
possessed a private income derived from shares in a bank in the
Midlands, that had hitherto been considered a stable and flourishing
institution. That morning one of the first items in the paper that met
his eye was: "Failure of the Birmingham and Coventry Banking Company.
Reported heavy liabilities. Wide-spread dismay."

"It is a great misfortune, my dear," the rector said, after the first
exclamations of surprise and lamentation had ceased. "Still, thank
God, we have our church income remaining; that cannot be touched,
and we are more fortunate than many others. Naturally it will make a
great difference to us, but we can do without many of the things to
which we have been hitherto accustomed. Of course we must sell our
horses, the brougham, and dog-cart, and content ourselves with the
pony and carriage. Fortunately the girls have nearly finished their
education, and it has been already arranged that our good friend here,
Miss Millar, should leave at midsummer. It is a comfort to think, Miss
Millar, that our misfortune will not affect you."

"Not at all, sir," the governess said. "I have already arranged with
the lady, to whom you recommended me, to enter her service at the end
of the summer holidays; but I most deeply regret that such a misfortune
has happened to you, and had the girls been younger I would gladly have
remained to finish their education, without there being any question of
salary between us."

"You are very good, Miss Millar, but happily the matter has already
been arranged. The greatest difficulty will be about you, Yorke. I am
afraid that there will be no possibility whatever of sending you back
to Rugby."

"Don't worry about me, father," the lad said, with an effort at
cheerfulness, though the thought of leaving the school he loved was a
painful one indeed. "I shall get on all right somehow; and you know
there was never any chance of my doing anything brilliant. Though I
don't say that I shall not be sorry to leave Rugby, that is nothing
beside your having to give up the horses and carriage and all sorts of
other things."

"It will, of course, make a wide difference to us, Yorke," his father
said gravely; "but this must be faced in the right spirit. Our lot has
been an exceptionally pleasant one up to the present time, and I hope
that none of us will repine. I shall henceforth be as other clergymen
having nothing but my stipend to depend upon."

"But will nothing be saved out of the wreck, John?" Mrs. Harberton

"It would be as well to assume at once, Annie that it will be all lost;
and I can only trust that, when matters are gone into, all depositors
who have trusted in the bank will be paid in full. Fortunately it is
a limited concern, and the money I have invested elsewhere will be
sufficient to pay the amount uncalled-up on our shares. Had it been
otherwise, our home might have been sold up; as it is, we shall be able
to keep all the surroundings to which we are accustomed. I shall at
once give notice to the coachman and gardener. The boy must be kept on.
He can look after the pony, and do the rough work in the garden with
the aid of a man hired for a day occasionally. One of the maids must,
of course, go. We shall see how well we can manage, and I hope we shall
be able to keep on the other two. We shall have to practise many little
economies. Owing to the fall in the tithes and the value of the glebe
land, we shall not be able to reckon upon more than £250 a year at the
outside from the living, and the interest upon a few hundred pounds
that may remain after the shares are paid up."

The calm tone in which the rector spoke had its effect. His wife dried
her eyes; the girls, who had looked stunned at the blow which had at
once swept away three-fourths of their father's income, pressed each
other's hands silently, and the elder said cheerfully: "Yes, father,
Bella and I will take charge of the garden, and I am sure that we shall
be able to make our own dresses after a little practice, and we can
make ourselves useful in all sorts of ways."

"That is the right spirit, Lucy," her father said approvingly. "We
shall all be called upon to make some sacrifices, you girls not least.
Although doubtless, you will have less gaiety than you before looked
forward to, you will still be able to have a good deal of society in a
quiet way--more, probably, than falls to the lot of the daughters of
most incumbents with slender incomes; and as we are intimate with all
the gentry round, I am sure that none of those we care about knowing
will turn a cold shoulder on us because we have, without any fault of
our own, what is called 'come down in the world.' Those who like us for
ourselves will continue to do so; those who only cared for us because
of our garden parties and dinners can be very well dispensed with.
We have always been a very happy family, and, if we choose, can be
the same in the future. As to Yorke, I must myself take charge of his
education in future."

"Thank you, father!" Yorke said quietly. He was about to say something
more, but he checked himself.

"Of course we must give up the idea of going to the skating party in
Sir William Morton's park to-morrow," Mrs. Harberton said.

"I see no reason for our doing so," the rector said gently. "We can't
sell our horses and carriage in twenty-four hours, and I should
certainly prefer to go. It would be but a bad example to our neighbours
if it were seen that we are broken in spirit by a worldly misfortune.
Many of them know that my income was chiefly drawn from the bank. I am
always preaching patience and contentment to our congregation, very
many of whom have suffered heavily from agricultural distress, and
what I preach we can practise, and without undervaluing the advantages
of money, we can show them that we have no idea of grieving over its
loss. One of my greatest regrets is that in future we shall be somewhat
stinted in our means of helping our neighbours."

The next day, accordingly, the rector, his wife, and daughters drove
over to the skating party, and although a few knew how great was the
change effected in their circumstances by the crash at the bank,
the majority believed that the report that the greater part, if not
the whole, of the rector's private property had been swept away,
had been grossly exaggerated, for there was nothing in their manner
or appearance to afford any indication of their changed position.
Yorke said that he would rather stay at home, and, when the others,
started, went to the stables, and patted and talked to the horses. He
had ridden all of them; for, three years before, he had been promoted
from his pony, and in his holidays took long rides with his father. He
had learned also to take the horses over hurdles erected in the field
behind the house, and, under the instruction of his father's coachman,
who had once been a stud groom, had acquired an excellent seat.

"And what are you going to do, Master Yorke?" the man asked, for he had
already heard from Mr. Harberton that circumstances had occurred that
would oblige him to give up his carriage and horses, but that he would
try to find him another situation.

"I am not going back to school, that is quite settled. Of course it
is a beastly nuisance, but it can't be helped. My father says that he
intends to teach me himself; but, what with parish work, and one thing
and another, I know it would be a very tiresome job for him. But even
if he did, I don't see that it would be of any great use to me. Of
course I cannot go up to the University now; I am not altogether sorry
for that, for, you know, my father always wished me to go into the
church, and although, so far, I have said nothing against it, I don't
feel that I am in any way cut out for the job. Anyhow, I don't like the
thought of being a drag on his hands, for after I had done with work
with him there would be a terrible difficulty about getting me a berth
of some kind.

"I would rather do anything in the world than be a clerk and be stuck
in an office all day. That is the worst of going to a public school,
you get to hate the idea of an indoor life. I would rather a hundred
times go to sea or enlist in the army, when I am old enough; at any
rate in the army I should see something of the world and keep myself,
and at the end of my five years' service might find some opening. Then
there is my father's cousin out at the Cape. When he was here last
year, I know he offered to take me out with him. Of course father would
not hear of it then, there was no reason why he should; but things have
changed, and I don't see why I should not go now. I am getting on for
sixteen, you know, and can ride and all that sort of thing, and I shot
regularly last winter, and brought down some partridges too."

"Not many, master," the man said with a grin.

"No, not many," the boy admitted; "still, it was my first year, and I
had only a single barrel; father himself said I did very fairly, and
that he had no doubt that I should make a good shot in time."

"I have no doubt that you would, Master Yorke," the man said heartily.
"You have learned to ride well, and a man with a good seat on a horse
is generally good behind a gun."

Yorke Harberton was, as he said, nearly sixteen, and was a typical
public-school boy--straight and clean-limbed, free from all
awkwardness, bright in expression, and possessed of a large amount of
self-possession, or, as he himself would have called it, "cheek;" was
a little particular about the set of his Eton jacket and trousers and
the appearance of his boots; as hard as nails and almost tireless; a
good specimen of the class by which Britain has been built up, her
colonies formed, and her battle-fields won--a class in point of energy,
fearlessness, the spirit of adventure, and a readiness to face and
overcome all difficulties, unmatched in the world. His thoughts were
turned into a fresh channel by his conversation with William, and he
strolled away with his hands deep in his pockets and his mind busy.

"Well, Yorke, what have you been doing with yourself?" was his father's
first question when he returned.

"I don't know that I have been doing anything, father."

"Which does not mean that you have been in mischief, I hope?"

"No," the boy laughed, "I haven't. I went to the stables first, and
since then I have been walking about the garden."

"That is quite a new amusement, Yorke, especially in winter," one of
his sisters said in a tone of astonishment. "Fancy you walking round
and round the garden! Wonders will never cease!"

"Well, it is quite as sensible, anyhow, Lucy, as tearing about the
grass playing lawn tennis on a hot summer's day."

Like most boys of that age, Yorke, though very fond of his sisters,
regarded them as mere girls, and especially objected to being in any
way, as he considered, patronized by them.

"But you know, my dear," his mother said gently, "it is not often you
do walk about the garden by yourself, so it was natural that Lucy
should be surprised."

"Quite natural, mother," Yorke admitted frankly. "Well, I have been
thinking over something."

"And what conclusion have you arrived at, Yorke?" his father asked.

The boy hesitated. "I will tell you after breakfast to-morrow," he
said, "it is too long to talk about now." Then he asked questions
about the afternoon they had spent, and the subject was not alluded to
before him until the next morning, although he was the chief topic of
conversation between his father and mother that night.

"The boy has something in his head," Mr. Harberton said. "There can be
no doubt that this very unfortunate business affects him more seriously
than the rest of us. To us it means a quieter life, less gaiety, and
a little pinching; to him it means a great deal more--it is a change
in his whole prospects, a change in his career. I think that would
have come anyhow; Yorke has never said that he disliked the thought of
going into the church, but the mere fact that it was a topic he always
avoided is quite sufficient to show that his heart was not in it. I
should in no case have exercised any strong influence in the matter,
for unless a man feels he has a call to the vocation it is better that
he should not enter it. Now, I should be still more unwilling to put
any pressure whatever upon him. Certainly I shall not be able to afford
to send him to college, unless he could gain an open scholarship that
would go far towards paying his expenses. But of that I see no prospect

"Yorke is no fool, but he has no great application, and his school
reports show that, although not at the bottom of his form, he is never
more than half-way up. If viewed merely as a worldly profession, the
church is now the worst that a young man can enter. The value of the
livings has long been falling off, owing to the drop in value of
tithes and land. The number of curates is immensely larger than that
of livings, and the chance of preferment, unless through powerful
patronage, is but slight. In other professions a man's value is in
proportion to his age. In the church it is otherwise. No incumbent
likes having a curate older than himself, and a man of fifty will
obtain less pay than one of five-and-twenty; and I see no prospect
whatever of any improvement. While some classes have become more
wealthy, the landed gentry, who may be considered the best supporters
of the church, have become poorer, owing in part to the fall in the
value of land, and to the very heavy death and succession duties. It
would need much national effort to make any real improvement in our
condition, and I see no hope of such a national effort being made. I
should not be greatly surprised if, as a result of his cogitations
to-day, Yorke tells me to-morrow that he has made up his mind to give
up all idea of entering the church."

"I should be sorry," Mrs. Harberton said almost tearfully; "I have so
looked forward to it."

"I doubt whether he would have gone in any circumstances," her husband
said, "and I certainly should not have urged him to do so had he
expressed any reluctance. It is in my opinion the highest and noblest
career that man can adopt, but it must be only taken up with the
highest motives. Yorke is a good lad, but neither studious nor serious
in his disposition. Possibly, had I kept him at home and had a tutor
for him, he would willingly have fallen in with our hopes and wishes;
but it was on that very account that I sent him to a public school.
There is nothing more unfortunate than that a man should too late
discover that he has mistaken his avocation. As it is, his decision, if
it is his decision, has been quickened by this crash. The path to the
church is no longer easy for him, and I fancy that while we were away
to-day he has been laying his own plans for the future."

"He is so young to have any plans at all, John."

"He is nearly sixteen," the rector said decidedly, "and a public-school
boy of that age has learned to think more for himself, and to be more
independent, than one two years older who has always been kept at home,
or perhaps educated with two or three others by a clergyman. I have
always taught him to be self-reliant, have let him ride my horses, and
generally act on his own devices. As long as I was in a position to
maintain and advance him in any career he might choose, I had a right
to a very considerable influence over him. I still retain the right to
advise and to warn; but I should no longer oppose his wishes, providing
that these were not altogether impracticable."

"You would not let him go to sea, surely?" his wife said. "All boys
seem to want to go to sea."

"I should certainly be sorry if he set his mind on that. He is too
old for the Royal Navy, but I could afford to pay the usual premium
required for his entry as an apprentice, as it is called, in a good
firm of ship-owners. I should be sorry, because we should see him so
seldom; otherwise, personally, I have no objection to the life. I had a
younger brother in the merchant service. He died a few months before I
married you. But his death had nothing to do with the sea service; he
liked it very much, and never regretted having entered it. However, we
can wait till we know what Yorke says in the morning."

When breakfast was over, the rector said: "Now, Yorke, come into my
study and we will have a grand council. Now, sit down comfortably," he
went on, "and tell me exactly what you have been thinking of. It is
only natural that you should have considered seriously the changes that
this unfortunate affair has necessitated, and as you have plenty of
common sense, we will gladly hear your views about it."

"It is evident that I cannot go back to Rugby, father."

"I fear that is the case, Yorke. I don't see how it could be done. I
shall have but a very small balance left after paying the calls that
will be made upon me, and I must set apart a portion of my income to
insure my life for the benefit of your mother and sisters, in case I
should be called away. At the same time that need not necessarily deter
you from carrying out your plan of entering the church. I took a second
class at Oxford, and could work with you at home and push you forward,
and I have no doubt that our bishop would ordain you when the time

"Thank you, father," Yorke said quietly, "but the more I think of it
the less willing I am to enter the church. I don't think that I am fit
for it, and I am sure that I should never make a good clergyman. I
cannot fancy myself working for years, perhaps, among the poor in some
manufactory town. I meant to tell you so before long in any case. I am
sorry, because I know that you and the mater have always wished it."

"That is so, but I should not press you, Yorke," his father said. "In
the church, above all other careers, a worker must be a willing worker,
and his heart must be in it. If it is not, he is far better out of it.
You have not surprised me at all. And now let us consider that settled.
I suppose you have been thinking of something else?"

"I have been thinking of all sorts of things, father. I thought about
going to sea, but I am not sure that I should like it. Besides, I want
to get on; I want to be a help instead of a burden--not, of course, at
first, but in something where there is a chance of making one's way,
and in case--in case--You know what I mean, father?--I might be able to
provide a home for the mater and the girls."

"Quite right, Yorke," his father said encouragingly. "Of course you
are very young yet, and I am, so far as I know, a strong and healthy
man. Still, life is always uncertain, and even if I am spared for many
years, it is hardly likely that I shall be able to make any great
provision for them. Certainly, I shall not be able to afford to insure
my life for any adequate sum for their comfortable maintenance. I shall
do my best. Still, I am in hopes that in the meanwhile your sisters
will be married and provided for. Well, what were you thinking of,

"I was thinking that as my cousin, Herbert Allnutt, offered last year
to take me back to the Cape with him for a year or two, it would be a
good thing to go out there. If I were to stay with him for a couple
of years, I should have got to know the country. You see, as he has
been out there for so long, he must have lots of friends, and he would
be able to give me plenty of introductions. He is near the railway
from Cape Town, and he must know people up in the mining district, so
I might get a good berth through him. What sort of post, of course, I
cannot guess; but from what one hears, a young fellow who is steady,
and so on, is sure to make his way. Of course I should never think of
settling down to farming, as he has done, but there must be plenty of
other openings. Out there, at any rate, I shall be able to earn my own
living to start with, which is more than I could do here, and I would
a thousand times rather lead that sort of life than take a place as a

Mr. Harberton was silent for a minute or two.

"The greatest objection I see to it," he said at last, "is that the
state of things there is very unsettled. Ever since the Jameson
raid, matters seem to have been getting worse. That expedition was a
very unfortunate one. It was ill-advised and premature, but it was
the outcome of great wrong. There is no doubt that the Europeans in
the Transvaal are abominably treated by the Boers. Still, now that
Chamberlain has taken up the matter, something must be done, and no
doubt when the white colonists are placed on the same footing as the
Boers, matters in the Transvaal will be greatly improved. Your cousin
was saying that there are gold-fields yet untouched, because the amount
of extortion on the part of the Boer people, the necessity for large
bribes, the tremendous taxation, and the cost of powder and other
matters, which are the subject of monopolies, are so great, that all
fresh industries are stopped, and the existing ones crippled. When
these are abolished, as they must be sooner or later, there will be an
immense impetus to business.

"It may be two or three years before matters are placed upon a proper
footing, and by the time you are old enough to avail yourself of such
chances, things may have settled down, and there will be a rush of
immigration. I do not know much about these matters, but I believe
that steady and energetic young men, acquainted with the country, will
have great opportunities. From what your cousin said, the Boers have
for years been quietly building fortifications and collecting arms;
but I can hardly think they will be mad enough to defy the demands
of England for the fair treatment of the class they call Uitlanders,
especially as the latter were guaranteed all rights of equality by the
last treaty. Well, I will think it over, Yorke. It is quite a new idea
to me, but at the first blush I am not inclined to reject it. There
can be no doubt that a young fellow, fairly well educated, energetic,
and above all, steady and well-conducted, has a far greater chance
of making his way in South Africa than he would have in older, or at
least more established, colonies. It would be a great advantage to you
to have two or three years' experience there before you set out for
yourself, and the benefit of Allnutt's introductions would, no doubt,
be considerable."

A week passed before the subject was resumed. Yorke felt almost like
a culprit. His mother and sisters had evidently been told about his
project, and went about the house with faces far more gloomy than those
they had shown when they first heard of the bank failure. Yorke felt
that the girls, at any rate, highly disapproved of his plan, and kept
out of their way as much as possible. At last he was called again into
the study, and on this occasion his mother was also present.

"We have talked this matter over very seriously, Yorke," his father
began, "and although at first your mother was very much against the
idea, she has come to see that it is probably the best that could be
done under the circumstances. She acknowledges that she would be less
anxious about you than if you were at sea. She sees, also, that with
your somewhat restless disposition, and the ideas with which you have
been brought up, you would really never be happy in a London office,
even if we could obtain a berth there for you. In that way I have no
influence whatever; besides, you are two or three years too young for
it. We have therefore agreed, that, at any rate for that time, you
could not do better than be acquiring experience in South Africa. By
the time you are eighteen you will be better able to estimate your
chance of getting on there.

"You will then have acquired a knowledge of the world, so that, should
you decide to come home, no harm will have been done, for you will not
be too old to make a fresh start in some other direction. I am sure
your cousin will be glad to see you, his invitation was a very hearty
one. I hope you may remain with him for some time; but should you not
do so, I have no doubt he will make comfortable arrangements for you
elsewhere. I say this because I am sure, that though personally he
would in all ways do his best to make you happy, I do not think he is
a very strong man, and I fancy, from words that he let drop, that his
wife is the head of the partnership. She is a Dutch woman, and her
family are, as he told me, among the leaders of what is called the
Africander party. What their wishes and intentions may be I really
don't know, for I have scarcely given a thought to the matter, and
seldom read the Cape news. However, I know that they hold that the
Dutch party ought to be predominant at the Cape. However, this need
not affect you, and certainly you could have no occasion to take any
interest in the politics of the Cape for some years to come.

"Well, my boy, it is a very grave step to take; but I own that it does
appear to me the best that is open to you, and should it turn out
otherwise, you will have plenty of time to remedy it. I shall pay fifty
pounds into a bank at the Cape in your name, so that if at any time you
decide that you have made a mistake, you can take your passage home
again, and you will certainly be none the worse for having spent a year
or two out there."

"Thank you both heartily, father. I hope I sha'n't come back like a
bad penny. I feel sure that the life will just suit me; and when I have
once learned to make myself useful on a farm I shall have no difficulty
in getting employment elsewhere, if, as I hope will not be the case, I
do not get on well with Mr. Allnutt's wife."

"Your father says the climate is very good, Yorke," Mrs. Harberton
said tearfully. "It seems to me a terrible thing for a boy like you to
go out there alone; but going to a relation is not like going among
strangers, and I know you liked Mr. Allnutt when he was here."

"Yes, I thought him very jolly, and I am sure I shall get on capitally
with him. Of course I had no fancy for going out when he spoke to me,
because things were different; but I thought of it at once when I began
to wonder what would be the best thing for me to do."

"I should have liked you to stay at home for a time, Yorke," his mother
said, with a quiver in her voice, "but your father is of opinion that
as you are to go, the sooner you go the better."

"I think so, mother. The horses will be sold next week, and I should
only be idling about the house and doing no good; and it would be just
as painful saying good-bye three months hence as it is now."

"Yes, and we should be looking forward to it all the time. Besides, we
want you to see if you like the business, and whether you think that
you will be able to get on; and if you don't, we want you back again
in time for anything that may turn up. Therefore, in all respects,
the sooner you go the better. I don't suppose there will be much
trouble about your outfit. You will want two or three suits of rough,
strong material, coats made like shooting-jackets, with big pockets,
also flannel shirts and a good supply of stout boots and strong
stockings coming up to the knees. You had better have your trousers
made knickerbocker fashion, and get a couple of pairs of soft leather

"I will get you a double-barrel small-bore gun, they are coming into
fashion now; and though I would rather have a twelve-bore, they say the
smaller ones make very good shooting, and they are a good deal lighter
to carry. It will be time enough for you to think of getting a rifle in
a couple of years, if you decide to stay there. Besides, as everyone
seems to use rifles out there, and no doubt you will practise at a
mark--Mr. Allnutt will lend you one. We will drive over to Yeovil this
afternoon and get you measured for the clothes. Mother will go with us
to see about the shirts, and so on. To-morrow I will write to Donald
Currie's people and secure a second-class berth for you. The more
occupied we are the less time there will be for fretting. I shall lose
no time in writing to your head-master stating why I am obliged to take
you away. I dare say you will have letters to write to your chums."

From that moment all was busy. In spite of the assurances that the Cape
was a warm climate, the girls applied themselves to knitting comforters
and mittens. There was a general overhauling of Yorke's clothes, as
white shirts and English clothes would probably be required on Sundays.

"We shall not get you any more things of this sort," his father said.
"It is of no use your carrying about more clothes than you want, and
it is likely that you will outgrow those you have before you wear them
out. I shall give you a letter to post to Mr. Allnutt as soon as you
land, and then you can stop two days at Cape Town before starting, and
won't come upon him altogether by surprise. I hope you will get on
well with his wife--there is no fear of your getting a hearty welcome
from him--but I shall tell him that if, after you have been with him a
short time, he finds that his wife is not pleased with the arrangement,
as his cordial invitation was given without consultation with her, he
should take you to some nice people--English, of course--where the work
you might do in the first place would be considered an equivalent for
your board--for, naturally, whether you stay with him or anyone else,
you will have to work."

"Certainly, father; that is what I am going out for. If I wasn't to
work, I might as well stop here and idle my time away as at the Cape.
I suppose one of the first things to do will be to learn Dutch and
something of the native language, for although in farming one might
be able to get on well without it, one would certainly want it if one
were going into any business in the mining regions. I will get a Dutch
grammar if I can before I start, and learn as many words as I can on
the voyage."

"It might be very well worth your while, Yorke. I believe that the
language spoken is a sort of dialect they call taal. Still, it is
founded upon Dutch, and anything that you can learn of it would help

"Well, I shall make a point of working hard at it, father. My own idea
is to go up to Kimberley or Johannesburg, when I have been out a couple
of years, with an introduction from Mr. Allnutt to some store-keeper
or manager of mines there, and then work my way up. Of course I don't
expect to make much money for a time, but I shall certainly lay by
every penny I earn over and above keeping myself."

"Whatever you do, don't be too sanguine, because if you do you will
assuredly meet with severe disappointment."

"I don't mean to, father; once I get into a thing that seems likely to
turn out well, I will stick to it patiently. There is one comfort--I
have read that out in the colonies men do not care what they turn their
hands to; no one thinks the worse of a young man for doing any honest
job, so that he keeps himself straight. I mean to keep myself straight.
I am determined that I will never touch liquor of any kind unless I am
ill, or under extraordinary circumstances."

"You could not make a better resolution, Yorke. I believe that in the
colonies, even more than here, drink is the bane of too many young
men, and it is certainly an obstacle to success with all. I know your
cousin, when he was here, said nineteen out of twenty of the young
fellows who go to the bad, after arriving full of hope and energy,
owe their downfall solely to drink. The life at the back stations is
lonely, there is an entire absence of amusement, and it is especially
dull of an evening. The temptation, therefore, to take drink to cheer
up the spirits is strong, and when he has once yielded to it a man
is almost sure to go from bad to worse. 'In my experience,' he said,
'I have known of no instance where a young man who resisted all
temptations to drink was a complete failure. He may suffer very heavily
from droughts, and have misfortunes over which he has no control,
but he can keep his head afloat and so do fairly well in the end.'
The native spirit, that is to say, the Boer spirit--Cape smoke it is
called--is vile, and is simply liquid poison. However, the Dutch are
not a drunken set, and do not very often drink to excess; perhaps the
very badness of the liquor keeps them from it. That being the case,
Yorke, it is evident that you cannot be too careful, and it would be a
comfort both to your mother and me to know that you have set out with a
stern resolution to avoid liquor--except, of course, in case of illness
or in exceptional circumstances, such as a long journey in a pouring
rain, when a small amount of spirits may prevent bad consequences. But
Mr. Allnutt said that even then it was more effective if you stripped,
poured some of it into your hand, and thoroughly rubbed yourself with

"That is a good idea, father, and I will try it under such

A week later, after a tearful parting from his mother and sisters,
Yorke went up to town accompanied by his father, who took him on board
one of the Castle Line steamers, and remained with him until she went
out of dock. The voyage was altogether uneventful. There were several
young fellows, sons of gentlemen, going out in the second class. Yorke
was three or four years younger than any of them, but they all took
to him, and he had a pleasant time. For three or four hours a day he
worked steadily at Dutch, and received a good deal of assistance in the
pronunciation from a Dutch gentleman returning home from a visit, who
took an interest in the boy who so steadily sat apart from the rest
and studied his language. Yorke also made the acquaintance of several
of the third-class passengers, miners, carpenters, and other workers,
who had been back to the old country to see their friends, and from
them he learned a good deal more of the colony than he had hitherto

"I don't say that it is not necessary to learn Dutch," one of them
said in answer to a question, "if you are going into a store or mean
to farm, but in the towns it is not much needed, for we and the Dutch
don't have much to do with each other. Very few of them are engaged
at the mines or even in the stores. They treat us as dirt under their
feet. But the general idea is that it won't be very long before there
is a change. England is a long while making up her mind to see us
righted, but she will do so some day. When she does, she will find it a
tougher job than she expects. For the past four or five years they have
been importing arms and ammunition of every sort. No one can understand
out there why England does not put a stop to it. She will certainly pay
heavily for it in the future. The Boers have an idea that we cannot
fight. That is a big mistake, you know, but with such a great country,
with hills--big hills, too--and passes, and that sort of thing, the
Boers, who are mostly good shots, will be able to make a desperate
resistance, even if it is only the Transvaal. But there is a general
idea that the Orange Free State will join them, and in that case it
will be a big job, especially as there are Dutch all over Cape Colony,
who likely enough will rise also. People in England do not seem to have
an idea what a big place South Africa is. Why, it is as big as England
and Scotland and Ireland and France all thrown together, and you can
count your miles by the thousand instead of the hundred. All these
fellows, too, have horses, any number of them, and men marching on foot
would not have a ghost of a chance of catching them. I tell you it will
be a big business if it ever begins."



The voyage had passed so pleasantly that Yorke was quite sorry when
it was over. The acquaintances he had made were all going up-country,
a few to farms where they had friends, but the greater part to
Kimberley or Johannesburg, where they thought they would be sure to
find something to turn their hands to. Three or four were going on to
Durban, having friends or relatives in Natal. On landing Yorke was
almost bewildered by the crowd of laughing, shouting men, for the most
part blacks, though there were many whose red fezzes showed them to
be Mohammedans, mostly Malays. All of these were offering to carry
luggage, or recommending rival hotels or boarding-houses. Fortunately
Yorke had arranged with one of his friends to go to the same hotel.
Pushing their way through the throng, they hired a vehicle somewhat
resembling a hansom in appearance, and bearing in large letters its
name, "Old England," and were driven to the hotel which one of the
ship's officers had recommended to them.

"There is no mistake about our being abroad, Harberton," Howard,
Yorke's companion, laughed. "What a mixed crowd, Kaffirs and Malays,
whitey-brown mixtures, Dutchmen and British! But even without them,
the vehicles are as un-English as possible. They are certainly ahead
of us in the way of traction-engines; that fellow dragging two waggons
behind it is the third we have seen. The tram-cars are more like ours,
but the row they keep up with those gongs is enough to frighten any
well-conducted horse. Look at that funny two-wheeled vehicle drawn by a
pair of horses. I suppose it is what they call a Cape cart; you see it
has a hood. I don't think I ever saw a two-wheeled trap with two horses
before. Evidently Dutch is the language here, for even the Kaffirs
and Malays jabber in it. I rather wish now that I had followed your
example, Harberton, and tried to learn enough to make a start with. It
makes you feel like an ass if you can't ask for the simplest thing and
get understood in a country under your own flag."

After reaching the hotel, Yorke made enquiries of an English clerk as
to the hour at which the trains for Kimberley left. He found there
were only two a day, and that the morning one arrived at Brakpoort
Station, his destination, a distance of some four hundred miles from
Cape Town, at twelve o'clock on the following day. The letter to Mr.
Allnutt had been left open, so that he could give that gentleman some
idea of when he might be expected. The clerk told him that Brakpoort
was a comparatively small place, but that he would have no difficulty
in hiring a cart there to drive him out to the farm, which lay eighteen
miles west, being about midway between the station and the town of
Richmond. Yorke now added a line or two indicating the time at which he
would arrive at Brakpoort, closed the letter, and went out and posted

After having done this he walked about for a time. The town impressed
him favourably. Some of the old Dutch houses still remained, but their
appearance was scarcely picturesque. Their fronts were of almost
unbroken flatness, and distinguished only by their superabundance of
windows. The shops were excellent, and far superior to those of Yeovil.
The articles were all European, and he looked in vain for anything that
had the appearance of native manufacture. If he had found any small
distinctive articles he would have bought them to send home to his
mother and sisters. Howard, who was going up to Kimberley, told him
that evening that, instead of starting as he had intended to do on the
following morning, he would wait another day.

"It will be pleasanter for us both," he said. "It is slow work
travelling with half a dozen fellows whose language one does not
understand, and I know the Boers are not inclined to be civil. While
you were out, I was chatting to a man who had just come down from
Pretoria, and he says that everything there looked very gloomy. Of
course our people have had their hopes raised owing to the fact that
their case has been taken up at last by the home authorities. They
are convinced that Kruger, who, by all accounts, is one of the most
obstinate and conceited old brutes that ever lived, will never give way
an inch, and that, in fact, he will fight rather than do so. Indeed,
they believe that he is bent on forcing on a war; and the Boers say
openly that in another year the Rooineks will have to go--Rooineks
means English. So it will be much more pleasant for us to travel
together. I heard you just now trying to talk to that coffee-coloured
servant, and I saw that you were able to make him understand a little,
so if we want to ask any questions about stopping-places, and so on,
you will be useful."

"Dutch seems hard when you first look at it," Yorke said, "but you soon
see that most of the words are really very like English, though they
are spelt differently. One of my books is a sort of conversation book,
with questions and answers on useful subjects, such as you are likely
to meet with when you are travelling, when you are at a hotel, and so
on. Of course they put a 'J' where we put an 'I,' and it puzzles one
at first, but I think that in a month or two I shall begin to get on
fairly well with it."

"Well, if what they say is true, we shall have a lively time of it
before long; but though they brag a great deal, I can hardly believe
they will be mad enough to go to war with us. If they do, it will
put a stop to business for a time, and, as Kimberley is close to the
frontier, we shall bear the brunt of it."

They started by the train arranged, carrying with them a basket of
provisions for the journey, having been warned that this was absolutely
necessary, as, except at one or two of the stations, there was
nothing whatever to be had. In the old waggon days, their informant
had told them, every traveller had to provide himself for the whole
journey, and the custom had become so general, that it would hardly
pay speculators to set up refreshment places except at the principal
stations. Even these could only rely upon the custom of Europeans, as
the Boers are far too parsimonious to think of buying provisions when
they can carry their own with them.

They went to the station early so as to secure corner seats. The
carriage filled up at starting, but several left at the stations
nearest to the town, and after travelling for a couple of hours, only
four remained in the carriage besides themselves. These were all Dutch.
They carried on a very animated conversation among themselves.

"I think it is just as well that we don't understand them," Yorke said
quietly. "I can only catch a few words here and there, but I am sure
they are running us down. I don't mean us, but the English in general."

"Then it is quite as well we don't understand them, for I certainly
should not sit quiet and hear them abusing us; and as there are four
of them, all big fellows, a quarrel might have very disagreeable
consequences. I was warned down at Cape Town that if I wished to live
in peace and quiet I must keep in with these fellows; and if it is bad
here, it must be a great deal worse for our people up in the Transvaal."

The journey was for the most part uninteresting; but there was some
superb scenery at the Flex River, and through a series of grand slopes
where the line crosses a mountain range. Sometimes the country was
hilly, but it was bare of trees; farmhouses were sparsely scattered
about; the vegetation was all parched up, for it was now the middle of
summer, and no rain had fallen for a considerable time.

"Unless the cattle have learnt to eat sand," Yorke said with a laugh,
"I don't know how they can exist; and yet the land seemed rich enough
for the first part of the journey."

"I believe it is very rich where it is cultivated, and either wells
are sunk, or dams constructed in narrow valleys or dips to catch the
water. I believe the vineyards and orchards lying in the districts
north of the Cape are extremely rich, but as a rule the Boer farmers
are too ignorant to make improvements. They are cattle-raisers rather
than farmers. The British settlers are, for the most part, men of
insufficient capital. Some day, no doubt, when the country is more
thickly settled, and there are better markets, there will be a very
different state of things. I have no doubt that artesian wells would
furnish an abundant supply of water in most places, and with them and
irrigation and the planting of trees, it will be a splendid country.
Where there are plenty of trees, the rainfall always increases; and
what is of almost equal importance, the ground round them retains the
moisture, instead of the rain rushing off and being carried down in
torrents before it has had time to do much good. However, I have no
idea of farming; but I am sure that anyone with capital coming out,
and planting a few hundred acres of trees near Kimberley, would make a
bigger fortune than by investing in mines."

"He would have to wait a long time for his money," Yorke said.

"Yes, but he could raise vegetables between the young trees; and my
uncle, whom I am going to, says that vegetables fetch a tremendous
price at Kimberley."

After a weary journey of twenty-eight hours they arrived at Brakpoort.

"Here you are, Harberton!"

"Well, I hope we shall meet again. I am sure to come up to Kimberley,
sooner or later."

"If you do, don't forget that I have given you my uncle's address, and
you are sure to find me there, or, at any rate, to find out where I am."

It was but a small wayside station, and Yorke felt somewhat desolate
after he had shaken hands with his friend and got out with his
portmanteau and bag. The feeling was speedily dispelled, for hurrying
towards him he saw Mr. Allnutt.

"How are you, Yorke, my boy?" his cousin said, as he grasped his hand.
"I am glad to see you, though I am sorry to hear of the cause that has
sent you out here. I only received your letter this morning. Luckily I
had sent a Kaffir over yesterday for a parcel. I started ten minutes
after I got it, and only arrived here a quarter of an hour ago. I
thought that you might have some difficulty in getting a cart to carry
you so far. We shall have to wait two hours to give the horses a rest,
for I have driven fast, and the road--I don't suppose you would call it
a road--is very heavy."

"It is very kind of you to come over to meet me," Yorke said, much
affected with the heartiness of the reception. "I should certainly be
very glad of a drink, for it was so terribly hot yesterday and this
morning, that, though we thought we had laid in a good supply of water,
we finished it all at our first meal this morning."

"Well, we shall get a very fair lunch at this store here. These
stations are used, you see, by people for many miles round. Your father
tells me that you are all well at home, but, I suppose, greatly upset
at this bad business."

"No. Of course it will make a lot of difference to us, but I think they
troubled more about my coming away than they did about the loss of the

"Well, lad, a year or two of our rough life will do you good, and they
won't know you when you go back to them."

"Is Mrs. Allnutt quite well, sir?"

"Yes," the colonist said, "she is very well, Yorke; she always is
well." But the lad detected a change in the tone in which he spoke.

"I hope it wasn't a disagreeable surprise to her, sir, my coming so
suddenly upon you?"

"No, it was not. She was surprised, of course, but I am sure that
she will make you comfortable. My wife is a good woman, a very good
woman; but, you see, she is Dutch, and she does not take to new ideas
suddenly. I have no doubt she will be just as pleased as I am at your
coming, when she gets to know you, and will feel that, having no
children of our own, you will be a great acquisition, and brighten
us up very much. There is one thing I must warn you about: she is
prejudiced, I must admit that. You see, almost all the people round us
are Dutch, and of late there has been what I may call a nasty feeling
among them. There is an association called the Africander Bond, and
its object, as far as I can see, is to establish the supremacy of
the Dutch in Africa. It is doing a lot of harm. Until a short time
back, the English and Dutch got on very well together, and as far as
supremacy goes, the greater part of the members of the assembly were
Dutch, and almost all the officials. We did not mind that. No doubt
the colony would have gone ahead a good deal faster if our people had
had more voice in affairs, for it cannot be denied that the Dutch
hate changes of any kind, and would like the world to stand still. A
Dutchman would still rather travel in his lumbering waggon, and take a
week over it, than make a railway journey of a few hours. That gives
you a fair sample of their dislike to change. Of course I am accustomed
to these things, and keep quiet when my neighbours come in and set to
work talking over affairs, and discussing the possibility of a great
Dutch Republic over the whole of South Africa. It does not worry me. I
know well enough that England will never let them have it; but I don't
tell them so. I like peace and quiet, and I say nothing; and you must
say nothing, Yorke. That is the one thing that I have to impress upon
you. Never argue with my wife on that subject. She is a good woman,
but, naturally enough, being Dutch, she thinks as her countrymen do.
That is the one rock ahead; if you steer clear of that, we shall get on

By this time they were seated in a large room at the store eating their
lunch, while a Kaffir boy was squatting near the four horses, which
were munching mealies. Mr. Allnutt had come out a young man to the
Cape thirty years before. He was of an easy disposition, and did not
succeed; he was therefore glad to obtain employment on the farm of a
large Dutch farmer. The latter had an only child, a daughter of sixteen
years old, who, before the good-looking young Englishman had been there
many months, fell in love with him, and announced to her father her
intention of marrying him. The old man raved and stormed, shut her up
for a time, and even threatened to beat her. Finding that she was still
obstinate, he sent her for two years to a school in Cape Town. This had
no effect whatever. She returned with very enlarged ideas as to the
decencies of living, and wanted, as he said, to turn the house upside
down. Finding it impossible to bend her to his will, he gave in. She
had kept up a correspondence with Allnutt, who had, of course, been
discharged as soon as the farmer had discovered his daughter's fancy
for him.

He had not been insensible to the advantages of the position. Her
father owned large numbers of cattle and horses, and an extensive tract
of land watered by a stream that, except at very dry seasons, was
always full. He had been working at a farm near Colesberg, and on the
receipt of a letter from her announcing that her father was willing to
sanction the match he at once returned and married her. A year later
her father died, to Allnutt's great relief, and his wife at once set to
work to transmogrify the interior of the house, and to equip it in the
fashion which she had learned to value at the Cape.

The great stove which had before been in use was removed and replaced
by an open fire, and the room fitted with carpets and English
furniture. The upstairs rooms were similarly altered and furnished,
curtains were hung at all the windows, and though outside the house
retained the appearance of an ordinary Boer homestead, the interior
had the appearance of the house of a well-to-do British colonist.
Once a year Mrs. Allnutt and her husband had gone down to Cape Town,
and remained there for a month; this had kept her in touch with
civilization. Out of doors the farm was managed entirely by her
husband, but inside the house she was absolute mistress.

After giving the horses an hour's rest, Mr. Allnutt and Yorke started
in a Cape cart, the Kaffir taking the reins, while they sat on the seat
behind him. Mr. Allnutt chatted pleasantly as they drove, and although
the road crossed the veldt, it was not uninteresting.

Yorke was surprised when the farmer pointed to a house on a low nek
between two hills and said, "That is my place, Yorke. It is two miles
away yet, but I am on my own ground now. Roughly, the farm contains
nearly six square miles of level ground and two of hill; it is worth a
good deal more than when I took it. I saw that if it had water it would
support three times as many cattle as there were on it, and I dammed
the stream up in the hills and brought water down, and have irrigated
three or four hundred acres. It took a lot of work, but Kaffir labour
is cheap. I cut the grass twice and make hay of it; six months in
the year I let the cattle feed on it, and it has fully answered my
expectations, and every year repays me all the expense of carrying
the job out. The Dutch farmers around come here and admire, and envy
the green pasture when their own is burnt up, but though they see
the advantage well enough, there is not one of them has attempted to
imitate it."

"It must have been a big job fencing it in," Yorke said.

"Yes; I could not do that the first year, but the aloes and
prickly-pear of which it is made grow very quickly. The farm itself is
enclosed by barbed-wire fencing. The law obliges every settler to fence
his land."

As they drove up to the door Mrs. Allnutt came out. Her two years
at Cape Town and her subsequent visits there had prevented her from
falling into the loose and slovenly way of the ordinary Boer farmer's
wife. She was a large woman and somewhat stout, but her dress was
neat and well-fitting. She had a strong but not unpleasant face, and
welcomed Yorke with more geniality than he expected.

"You are welcome," she said. "It is a long journey for you to have made
alone. Were you sent out here, or did you come at your own wish?"

"It was my own proposal," Yorke replied. "I could not remain idle at
home, and I was too young to go into any business there. I am fond
of outdoor exercise, and as Mr. Allnutt, when in England, had kindly
invited me to come over, I thought it would be best for me to accept
his offer, and to learn something of the country and its ways before I
made a start for myself."

"You were quite right," she said. "Certainly a stay here for a time
will do that for you. But come in. Of course you will find our ways a
little strange at first, but you look sensible, and I have no doubt you
will soon feel at home."

After what Yorke had heard of the mode of life of the Dutch farmer, he
was surprised to find, when he entered the house, an air of English
comfort pervading it. The room prepared for him was such as he would
meet with in the house of a well-to-do farmer in England; the furniture
was good and substantial, muslin curtains hung at the windows. Looking
out, he saw that the whole back of the house was covered with roses in
full bloom, and that there was a small but pretty garden behind; round
this was a large orchard--apple, pear, peach, and other fruit trees. He
had seen nothing like this in any of the farmhouses they had passed on
the road. On returning downstairs, after indulging in a good wash, he
expressed his thanks to Mrs. Allnutt for the comfort of his bedroom,
and his admiration for the gorgeous show of roses in the garden.

"Yes," she said, "I saw the gardens of many of the English mansions
round Cape Town, and I made up my mind to have something like them
here. My neighbours at first all thought it a terrible waste of labour,
but I do not as a rule care much for other folks' opinions; and though
I do not pretend to like your people, I do not see why we should
not adopt their customs when we see that they are better than our
own--especially when so many of our people living near Cape Town have
taken to them."

"Everything looks very nice and comfortable, Mrs. Allnutt, and if I had
not looked out of the window I should not have known that I was not at

"Can you ride?" she asked abruptly; for although her residence at Cape
Town had taught her to appreciate the modes of life there, she did not
like being thought, even in such a matter, to copy the British, and
chose to consider that they were those of the better class of her own
people--as, indeed, was the case.

"Yes, I can ride," Yorke said. "I am very fond of it."

"Can you shoot?"

"I have begun," he said. "You see, I have been at school, and it is
only during the winter holidays that I have had any chance, and just
the last fortnight of the long holiday in summer."

"But how is that?" she asked. "Why do you not shoot all the year round?"

"Because it is a close time up to the 1st of September, and there is
not much shooting after January; people begin to hunt about that time."

"Yes, game is protected here also."

Yorke had told his cousin that he had begun to learn Dutch, and was
very anxious to get to speak the language well, and on the latter
telling his wife, she nodded approvingly.

"You will have plenty of opportunities, for Dutch is the language of
the house. Sometimes I speak in English with my husband, because I wish
to keep it up, but he speaks Dutch as well as I do. But as the Kaffirs
speak our language, and do not understand English, it is much more
convenient to speak that language. You had better get Hans," she went
on, turning to her husband, "to go about with him; in that way he will
soon learn to speak Taal. He is very little use to me about the house;
he is very lazy, and if it wasn't for his father having been killed on
the place, I would not keep him a day."

Hans had taken the horses when the cart drew up. He was a rough,
slouching lad of about Yorke's age, loosely built, and altogether
unkempt and slovenly; his father, who had been Mr. Allnutt's head
cattleman, had been thrown from his horse and pitched on his head,
breaking his neck instantly. Hans Smidt, who was ten years old at the
time, having no relations, had been taken on at the house, and was
supposed to aid in looking after the horses there, watering the garden,
and doing odd jobs. He was now receiving the same wages as the Kaffir
labourers, although, as Mrs. Allnutt declared, a Kaffir boy was worth a
dozen of him.

For the next few days Yorke rode about the farm with his cousin,
inspecting the herds and getting a general idea of the place.

"You will save me a good deal of trouble, Yorke," his cousin, who
objected to trouble of any kind, said. "You can ride down twice a day
and see that the Kaffirs are doing their work and preventing the cattle
from straying too far away. Beyond that you can amuse yourself as you
like. There are a dozen young horses which want breaking in. I see you
have a good seat, and you will, no doubt, be able to manage that. There
is no shooting about here, though you can occasionally get a deer among
the hills. Still, it is just as well that you should learn to use a
rifle. Every man in this country is a fair marksman, and, even when
there is little chance of coming upon game, often rides with his rifle
slung across his back. I am sure you would not like to be beaten by any
of the Dutch lads. They are not such good shots now as they used to be
when game was plentiful, and of course shooting is not so important
here as it is in the Transvaal, where every man may be called upon at
any moment to go out on commando against the natives. Still, it is the
accomplishment on which Boers pride themselves, and you may find it
useful if you stay in the country. For if one is to believe all these
Dutchmen say, there is likely to be a lot of trouble out here before

"Not in this part, I suppose, uncle,"--for so Yorke had taken to call
his cousin. "I know there may be a row in the Transvaal, but surely not

"I don't know, Yorke. If it begins in one part, there is no saying how
it will spread. I believe that if the Transvaal begins war, the Orange
Free State will join. They have not a shadow of grievance. They are
wholly independent of us, and have always been quiet and peaceful, and
there does not seem to be any of the ill-feeling against the English
that prevails in the Transvaal. Still, there is never any saying; and
I believe that Steyn, their president, is a very ambitious man. This
Africander Bond is doing a great deal of mischief in Cape Colony, and
although the Dutch element have it pretty nearly their own way, I doubt
if they will not join the Dutch across the Orange River if these rise."

"But what is it they really want?" Yorke asked.

"They want to be masters here altogether. They see the gold mines and
diamond mines prospering enormously, and they think that if they could
drive us out, all this wealth would come into their hands. They dream
of one great Republic, and of their flag waving everywhere. I don't say
that they would drive the English out altogether; their talents and
energy would be useful to them, and, as in the Transvaal, they would
make them pay all the taxes of the country. Kruger would, of course,
be President of the Republic, but he is an old man, and Steyn would
naturally be his successor. That is why he may be expected to drag the
Free State into the matter should there be a row."

"But they can hardly think that England would consent to let them go?"

"That is what they do think, Yorke. Since that Majuba business, and
the fatal surrender afterwards, they despise us altogether. They do
not believe for a moment that we shall fight, and they are positive
that if we should venture to do so, they would thrash us without the
slightest difficulty. They have accumulated enormous stores of rifles
and artillery, and believe that, as they licked us so easily when they
were unprovided with these things, it will be a mere walk over now.
Kruger will keep up a correspondence with Chamberlain until everything
is absolutely ready, then he will break off negotiations, and there
will be war--that is, if England is bold enough to venture upon it.
That is the Boer idea of things, Yorke. You will hear it openly
discussed up at the house. Even in the farms round here there are
stores of ammunition hidden away, and if war does begin, and a material
advantage is gained, you will see the whole country on fire from Cape
Town to Pretoria.

"Of course, there are many of the Dutch of the better class who would
far rather let things remain as they are at present. They have no
ground of complaint against us; they are free to elect their own
representatives, and to make their own laws; the British authority is
little more than nominal, and we have not five thousand soldiers in
this colony or Natal. It seems to me that the peril is a very serious
one. There is nothing to prevent twenty-five thousand Boers marching
into Durban, and another force of the same strength capturing Cape
Town. Each force would be swollen as it went. Every man would be
mounted; they would be armed with the best rifles that money could
purchase, and they are good shots. They would need no transport, for
they would seize the cattle of the British colonists, and plunder
stores as they went. I ask you, what could five thousand infantry do
against such a force?"

"It certainly looks bad, uncle--much worse than I thought."

"As far as I am concerned, Yorke, it would, I think, make but little
difference to us; and as for my wife, she would hoist their flag as
they came along, and probably ride herself to welcome them. So I
may take it that they would not interfere with anything here; and
personally I should be no worse off, for the Assembly at Cape Town
could hardly be more Dutch than it is at present. The only change that
I should feel would be, that on holidays we should have the Republican
flag flying on the flagstaff instead of the Union Jack, which would be
a bitter pill to swallow."

"But the British colonists would join the troops, surely?"

"The British colonists are neither armed nor organized. I have no doubt
that many of the younger men would try and make their way down to Cape
Town, and join any force that was raised there. But all that would take
time; and even if twenty thousand joined here and in Natal, what use
could they be against an insurrection over a million square miles, with
a great nucleus of well-armed men?"

"Well, uncle, at any rate I will steadily practise shooting; and if, as
seems likely, trouble is really coming on, I shall go down to Cape Town
and try to get into a new corps that is being raised."

"Well, Yorke, I shall not try to dissuade you; I have no legal
authority over you; and if I were a young man, that is what I should
do myself. But if you wish for any peace and quiet here, you must
keep your intentions to yourself, and, above all, hold your tongue
when you hear treason talked up at the house. My wife has taken to
you much better than I expected. But though she, from having been at
school at Cape Town, and going down there pretty often, and reading
a good deal, has much better ideas of the power of England than most
of her countrymen, she believes that England will not fight, and that
even if it does, it will soon see the impossibility of reconquering
such a tremendous country as this. And really, I cannot disagree with
her after what we saw in the last war, and from what we know of the
preparations the Boers have made."

"I think she is wrong, uncle. I don't say that we may be able to
reconquer the whole of South Africa, but I feel sure that, whatever it
costs, England will hold the Cape and Durban and the other seaports,
for they are of immense importance to her."

"Let us say no more about it, lad. It is causing me a deal of trouble;
so I hold my tongue, for I can't afford to be on bad terms with all the
neighbours, and in constant hot water at home. There is any amount of
ammunition in the house, so you can practise as much as you like, and
there are plenty of spots among the hills where you can do it quietly,
and so far away from the house that there would be no chance of being
heard. Of course you could occasionally fire near, for it would seem
only natural to my wife that you should like to learn to shoot when
everyone else does. This will be the last day that I shall ride with
you; but always take Hans. He may look like a fool, but I don't think
he is one. He is slim, as the Dutch say, that is, he is crafty. If he
could turn his hand to anything, he would have to do a good deal more
work than at present. He is like the monkeys, you know. They say they
could talk well enough if they liked, but they know that if they did
they would be compelled to work."

Hans' face brightened up greatly when he was told that he was freed
from all other duties, and was to consider himself entirely at Yorke's
disposal--a young Kaffir being at once engaged to perform the work he
had previously done--and henceforth no complaint could be made of his
laziness. Whatever the hour at which Yorke wanted to start, the horses
were ready for him, and the boys were often out on the veldt before
anyone else in the house was moving. Yorke threw himself into his
work with ardour, for it suited him admirably. There were the cattle
to look after, and sometimes long rides to be undertaken in search of
animals that had strayed. The horses gave little trouble. A few bundles
of freshly-cut grass were carried to them every morning, and with the
stream handy to them they had the sense to know that they could do
no better elsewhere. Several Kaffir labourers cut the corn-cobs and
carried them up to a large shed near the house, while the stalks and
leaves were piled into a stack for mixing with the hay in the winter.

On many farms all this was burnt as fuel, but the colonist had, soon
after he became master of the farm, planted fifty acres of fir-trees on
the slopes of one of the valleys, and the clearings of these furnished
an abundant stock of firewood, and indeed added materially to the
returns of the farm by the sale of the surplus to neighbours.

Every day Yorke practised for an hour with the rifle, firing, not at a
target, which, with its white square, resembles nothing that a soldier
would have to aim at in a battle, but at some mark on a stone on the
hillside, or a block of wood of the size of a man's head, half hidden
in a tussock of coarse grass on the veldt. This block Hans always
carried with him when they were going shooting. Yorke practised judging
distance on level and broken ground, both from the saddle and on foot,
guessing it as nearly as he could, and then stepping it. At the end
of four months he could judge very closely the distance of any object
he saw up to seven or eight hundred yards, and was tolerably sure of
hitting it. He had practised, too, shooting from the saddle.

After he had been there a short time Mr. Allnutt, seeing that he could
sit any horse on the farm, had given him one of his own, which was
as yet unbroken. Yorke took great pains in training it, teaching it
to halt when at full gallop, to remain immovable while he fired from
the saddle, or, standing by it, used it as a rest for his barrel. It
would lie down when he told it, and come at his whistle. Its sire was
an English hunter which Mr. Allnutt had bought to improve the strain
of his horses, so that it was a faster, as well as a more powerful,
animal than the native-bred horses, while possessing an equal amount of
hardiness and endurance.

"I think it is the best I ever bred," he said to Yorke three months
after the latter had arrived at the farm. "And I chose it for you
especially, because I saw at once that you would do it credit, and
that some day it might be of the utmost importance to you to be well
mounted. As to myself, it does not make any difference whether I ride a
mile slower or a mile faster an hour; and on the whole, I prefer going
a mile slower. Besides, you see, as a relation of mine I wish you to do
me credit, and I like to take the conceit out of some of these Dutch
lads, who think so much of themselves. I don't know when I was more
pleased than when you beat Dirck Jansen yesterday by twenty lengths.
He was always boasting that he had the best horse in this part of the
colony. Of course you had the advantage of being at least two stone the
lighter; but they don't take any account of weight out here. Besides,
I could see that if you wanted to, you could have beaten him by twice
as much. Between ourselves, I don't think your aunt was quite as well
pleased as I. He is a great favourite of hers, and moreover is her
cousin. However, we needn't mind that, except that I fancy you have
made an enemy, and may have trouble with him by and by. These Dutch
don't often forgive an injury; if they cannot avenge it at once, it
rankles in their minds till they see an opportunity for wiping it out."



As time went on Yorke felt his position increasingly uncomfortable.
The Dutch farmers became more and more aggressive in their talk. They
regarded war as certain, and spoke so scoffingly of the courage of the
British soldiers, and of the easiness with which they would be defeated
and driven out of the country, that Yorke found it well-nigh impossible
to hold his tongue, and had often to leave the room to prevent himself
from breaking out.

"I am sorry, lad," his cousin said to him one day. "It is a trial to
me, and I myself have sometimes to leave while they are talking. I
can't well quarrel with these people, as I have to live among them; but
I hope the time will come when I shall have the satisfaction of seeing
a mighty change in their tone."

"I don't mind the rest so much," Yorke said; "they are middle-aged
men, and they certainly believe what they say. You have been so long
with them that you are almost regarded as one of themselves, and they
certainly do not take any notice of my being present, and have no
thought of hurting my feelings. But it is different with Dirck Jansen;
he has been unpleasant ever since I came, and now he seems bent upon
picking a quarrel with me. He talks at me when he is saying insulting
things about our soldiers and our people. If I stay here, one of these
days I shall have a desperate row with him, which is just what he

"I am afraid it is so. I have noticed it myself, and have even spoken
to my wife about it; but she is prejudiced in his favour, and says that
he speaks no more strongly than every true Afrikander should speak.
Besides, what good could come of your having a quarrel with him? He
is nearly nineteen, two years older than you are, and a big powerful
fellow. It is what he is trying to do, and nothing would please him
better than for you to give him the chance of thrashing you."

"He is a great deal stronger and bigger than I am, uncle; but I don't
suppose that he has the slightest idea of boxing, and I can use my
fists pretty well. I might get thrashed, but I certainly should not
be thrashed easily. However, I am anxious not to have a row, and the
sooner the war begins and I can enlist the better. I have stood as much
as I can do, my patience has pretty well come to an end. I should not
have put up with so much but for your sake."

It happened unfortunately that Dirck Jansen came over next day with
four or five other farmers. The house was a favourite resort, for
Mrs. Allnutt was far more hospitable than was the custom, and always
produced a bottle of spirits when she had visitors, and the inducement
of a free drink is one that few Boers can withstand.

"The news is good!" Dirck Jansen shouted boisterously as they rode up.
"We hear there is no doubt that Steyn will go with the Transvaal, and
they say that Kruger will very soon stop fooling the Rooineks, and that
he has got everything now ready for kicking them out of South Africa.
I should advise you to be packing up at once, young fellow. You won't
have much time when we get your soldiers on the run."

"Wait till you get them on the run," Yorke replied. "It will be time
enough to begin to brag then."

"Brag!" the other said scornfully. "What can fellows who don't know one
end of a gun from another do against us?"

"There are a good many who know more than that, as you will find to
your cost, Dirck, if you are man enough to go out and try them. There
are some who can shoot straight, anyhow."

"Yourself, for instance," Dirck said scoffingly. "I hear you have been
popping away among the hills, but I have not heard of your bringing in
much game."

"I don't care about shooting at things that can't shoot back in return.
But maybe I can shoot as straight as some of you can do."

"Do you mean myself?" Dirck replied angrily.

"Yes, I mean yourself among others, Dirck Jansen."

"Will you try?" Dirck shouted as he dismounted.

"Certainly I will. I am told you are the best shot in the
neighbourhood; and if you can't beat me, who have only taken to it
lately, you may acknowledge that those who shoot worse than you will
have no great chance against Englishmen who shoot a great deal better
than I."

"You see, all of you, this insolent young fellow has challenged me to
a trial of skill," Dirck said to his companions. "I would not have
condescended to compete with him, for there is no credit to be gained
in beating such a boy; but he wants taking down, and I am glad to have
the opportunity of doing it. Now, Mr. Allnutt, I will leave it to you
to settle the distance and the mark. I say anything between a hundred
and five hundred yards; but two hundred is the general distance we have
for our matches."

"What do you say to two hundred, Yorke?"

"That will suit me very well, though I should prefer a thousand."

The Boers had all dismounted.

"Then let us go out behind the house, Mr. Allnutt," one of them said,
"we can easily choose a mark there."

Yorke went into the house to get his rifle and soon joined them. They
went a short distance, and then the Boer said, "That rock there is
about two hundred yards away, it will make a very fair mark."

"It would be difficult to judge which is the centre," Yorke said, "and
might give rise to dispute."

"That is so," the Boer said gravely. "I saw an empty tin in the yard,
the bottom of that will make a very good bull's-eye."

Mr. Allnutt shouted, "Hans!" The lad was standing at the gate of the
yard looking after them. He had heard the conversation, but dared not
follow them. "Hans, wrench the top off that tin by the kitchen door and
bring it here."

They then walked on to the rock, where, in two or three minutes, Hans
joined them with the top of the tin. It had been a two-pound tin, and
the circle was some four inches across.

"It will stand very well on this projection on the face," the Boer
said. "It will then be as nearly as possible in the centre."

"But it will tumble down every time it is hit."

"Hans will stand near and pick it up again," Mr. Allnutt said.

"It had better be fixed," the Boer remarked. "There is a little crack
in the rock, a nail driven through the tin would hold it there. It is
better to do the thing properly."

Dirck laughed. "By all means do it properly, though I cannot see why we
should trouble about such a farce as this."

Mr. Allnutt paid no attention to this speech, but said, "Go and take a
hammer, Hans, and a good-sized nail, and cut the bottom out of another
tin and bring that here too. If three or four holes are made, the
question may arise as to which is the last."

The lad ran off.

"Now, Mr. Van Laun, while he is away we may as well arrange as to how
they had better shoot--how many shots each shall fire, whether they
shall shoot alternately, or one fire his shots at one of the pieces of
tin, and then the other take the new target. I think that will be the
best, then no dispute can arise."

"I agree with you. How many times shall each fire?"

After discussion it was agreed that each should fire ten shots.

"Now, it will be fair," the Boer said, "to toss up for who shall fire
first. What do you say? Heads shall mean Dirck, tails your lad."

"Do you mean, whichever wins is to have the choice?"

"No, which ever wins fires first."

The coin was spun in the air. It came down "heads". When Hans returned
one of the discs of tin was nailed up at the spot arranged, then Mr.
Allnutt stepped two hundred yards. Dirck unslung his rifle, and filled
the magazine. Hans stood three or four yards from the rock; he knew
that there was little chance of either of them missing the stone.
Although Dirck had so far treated the affair as almost a joke he was
not disposed to be careless, for the quiet and composed air of his
young antagonist seemed to show that the latter must be at least a
fair shot or he would never have carried the thing so far. As soon,
therefore, as he had loaded his rifle, he took his place with greater
seriousness and gravity than he had hitherto manifested. He put the gun
up to his shoulder and then lowered it again.

"Is there any time-limit?" he asked.

The Boers and Mr. Allnutt consulted together a moment, then the latter
said, "We have agreed that there may be half a minute between each of
the first five shots, a limit of two minutes for reloading, and then
half a minute between each of the last five shots."

Dirck again raised his rifle to his shoulder and almost instantaneously
fired. There was a clang. Hans ran forward and pointed, with a stick
he had cut, to a spot near the edge of the tin. As soon as he retired
again the rifle cracked. The ten shots were all fired well within time.
Hans took down the tin and ran with it to the group, and then, going to
the rock, fastened the other there. Seven of the bullets had hit the
tin fairly, another had cut a semicircular bit out of the edge, the
other two had been outside the circle. The holes were dotted about all
over the tin, but, with one exception, none was within an inch of the

"That is very good shooting," Mr. Allnutt said. "Four inches are not
much of a mark at two hundred yards."

"I have done better," Dirck said carelessly, "but I fancy it is quite
good enough for the purpose."

Yorke now took his place at the firing-point. There was not a breath of
wind blowing, and, as he had practised so often at a similar mark, he
felt pretty confident that he could do better than Dirck had done. He
shouted to Hans, "Do not trouble to point out where the shots strike. I
would rather fire quicker."

The first five shots went off at intervals of only about ten seconds.
He reloaded quickly, and again fired rapidly.

"You have not overrated your shooting," the Boer who had taken the lead
in the matter said. "Every shot hit."

They walked up in a body to the target. As they neared it they uttered
exclamations of surprise. The ten shots had all fairly struck the tin.

"It is a trick, an infamous trick!" Dirck exclaimed furiously. "That
boy must have punched the holes before he put the tin up. It is not the
one he showed us as he went along."

"It is a lie," Yorke said, "and you know it. I thought it wasn't in you
to take a licking in good part. Fellows who boast so much very seldom
stand being collared."

With a howl of rage Dirck pointed his rifle at him, forgetting that he
had not reloaded it. He pulled the trigger, but as there was no report,
he threw the gun down with an oath and flew at Yorke. The latter
stood steadily, and as his assailant was on the point of closing with
him, struck out with his right fist, throwing his whole strength into
the blow; it caught Dirck just on the point of the chin, and he went
backwards as if he had been shot. It had all passed so rapidly that the
others had no time to interfere. In a moment they ran in.

"I am sorry this has happened, sir," the leading Boer said to Mr.
Allnutt. "Dirck has been wrong altogether. He was the aggressor, and
was fairly beaten by your lad, who is certainly a marvellous shot. He
has been more thoroughly beaten now. If his rifle had been charged, he
would have shot his opponent, so he richly deserved the punishment he
has got. You had better take your lad away now; we will see to Dirck."
Then he turned, and, as Yorke walked off with the colonist, assisted
the others to raise Dirck, who was half-stunned by the blow, on to his


"You have behaved shamefully, Dirck Jansen," he said sternly when
he found that the young man could understand him. "You have brought
discredit upon yourself and us. You have been beaten at shooting by a
mere boy, and instead of taking it fairly and in a good spirit, you
first accuse him of playing a trick upon you, and then try to murder
him. And now, big as you are, he has knocked you silly. We are ashamed
of you. Hans, go and fetch Mr. Jansen's pony. Now, Dirck, you will
mount and ride off at once, and I will tell Mrs. Allnutt that you will
not come to the farm again for some time, and why."

There was a murmur of approval from the others, and Dirck stood sulkily
until Hans arrived with his horse; then he picked up his rifle, slung
it over his shoulder, mounted, and rode off without a word. The others
walked to the house.

"I am sorry to tell you, Mrs. Allnutt, that Dirck Jansen has behaved
scandalously. He had a fair trial of skill with your husband's young
cousin, and the lad beat him hollow. Then he falsely accused him of an
unworthy trick, levelled his rifle, and pulled the trigger. It would
have been murder had not, happily, the rifle been unloaded. Then he
rushed to seize the lad, and was knocked senseless by him. I have
apologized, and my friends here join me in the apology, to the young
fellow, for the gross conduct of Dirck Jansen, and we trust that you
will not receive Dirck in your house so long as the lad remains here."

"It seems hardly possible, Mr. Van Laun, that Dirck should have behaved
so. He must have been grossly insulted to begin with. I hear that the
shooting arose out of a quarrel."

"It was not exactly a quarrel, though both were angry. Dirck began by
saying rough things to your lad, who was not to be blamed because he
spoke up for his countrymen, just as I should have done, or any other
Dutchman would have done, had an Englishman spoken so of our people."

"I am sorry to hear what you say, Mr. Van Laun," Mrs. Allnutt said
somewhat stiffly. "I cannot but think that Dirck must have had great

"Dirck is a hot-headed young fool, cousin, and though I am as nearly
related to him as you are, I say so without hesitation; and for my
part, I am not altogether sorry that this young English lad should
have given him a lesson. The fact that he is perhaps the best shot
round here has cocked him up altogether unduly. He had it in his heart
to commit murder to-day, for it would have been murder if there had
been a cartridge in his gun; and though it would have been hard to
testify against one of my own blood, I must have said so in open court
had he been tried for the act. However, I hope we shall hear no more of
it, and that the lads will not meet again till Dirck has come to his
senses. He will hear the truth from all of us who were present at the
affair, and may be all the better for finding that he is not such a
fine fellow as he thought he was."

Mrs. Allnutt did not reply. It was evident that her sympathies were
entirely with Dirck. The farmers did not stop, but, mounting their
horses, rode off. Mr. Allnutt went out into the yard, and, as he
expected, found Yorke talking in the stables to Hans. The latter was in
high glee, for he hated Dirck Jansen, who had sworn at him many a time
when he did not bring his horse round as quickly as he had expected,
and was once on the point of laying his whip about his shoulders when
Mr. Allnutt, coming out of the house, and seeing what was about to
happen, had arrested the blow by saying sternly, "Drop that, Dirck, you
are not master here yet. Hans is my servant and not yours; neither you
nor anyone else shall touch him."

Yorke and he were still talking when Mr. Allnutt entered and motioned
to Hans to go outside.

"This is an unfortunate affair, Yorke, very unfortunate. I do not
consider that you were in any way to blame, but that hardly makes it
less unfortunate. Here you have beaten a fellow was proud of his skill
with the rifle; your shooting certainly astonished me, for although I
knew that you had used a tremendous lot of cartridges in the past six
months, I had no idea that you had done it to such good purpose. In the
next place, you have floored him as neatly as I ever saw a man knocked
down, and have done it with half a dozen of his own friends looking
on. In the third place, you have brought him into disgrace with them,
and as the story will soon get about, it will be a terrible blow to his

"Now, I have never liked Dirck. He is a very bad type of the Dutchman
in these parts, though, I have no doubt, he would pass muster in the
Transvaal. He is rude and overbearing; and although a man may be all
that, and yet at bottom a good fellow, I don't think Dirck is so. He
will never forgive you, and unless I am greatly mistaken, he will try
in some way to get even with you, and will not care what steps he takes
to do so. Now, you know, lad, you have been talking for some little
time past of going down to Cape Town, and joining a corps newly got
up there, when the war breaks out, which I am afraid it will do very
shortly. I tell you frankly that, sorry as I am to say so, I think it
will be better for you to do this speedily. I don't mean to-morrow or
next day, but shortly. I am also sorry to say that this affair will not
make matters more comfortable at home. You know my wife is very fond of
Dirck, and it will take a great deal to make her believe that he could
be wrong in anything. Van Laun spoke out straight to her, and said that
the fellow was altogether to blame; but I could see that her sympathies
were nevertheless with him, and she believes that you were at fault in
the matter."

"I would go to-morrow, uncle," Yorke said; "but it would look like
running away. I will stay at home for another week, and then I will go.
I don't mind whether aunt is displeased with me or not. I am conscious
of having done no wrong, and if she shows me that I am no longer
welcome I shall tell her quietly that she will only have to put up
with me for another week. It may be unpleasant, but I am not going to
disappear as if I were a culprit, and afraid of Dirck Jansen."

"All right, Yorke! I can quite understand your feelings. I am heartily
sorry, but I feel that you could not hope to be comfortable if you
stayed here. I am sorry now that I asked you out here, but at the time
I did not foresee that this ill-feeling on the part of the Dutch would
become so deep and bitter. Had I done so, I would not have asked you,
knowing that my wife is as prejudiced as her neighbours."

"You need not be sorry, uncle, that you invited me here. I have had a
pleasant time and I have learned a great deal. If I had not been out
here I should be slaving at Greek and mathematics at home, whereas now,
if war breaks out, which seems almost certain, I shall have a most
exciting time of it, and when it is over I may see some way of making a
start for myself."

Mrs. Allnutt did not appear at supper.

"Will you tell her, uncle," Yorke said, after talking the matter over
for some time, "that I shall leave this day week, and that if my
presence is obnoxious to her I will take my meals apart. I am awfully
sorry that my presence here should inconvenience her, but I really
cannot go away as if I had been sent off in disgrace, or were afraid to
meet Dirck Jansen again."

"Quite right, lad! I hope that your aunt will be in a better state of
mind to-morrow morning; but when once she takes a thing into her head
she is, between ourselves, as obstinate as a mule. Well, whatever she
may think of this quarrel, angry as she may be at it, she cannot but
feel, after what Van Laun said, that Dirck brought it upon himself. She
is a fair-minded woman when she is cool, and I have no doubt, before
you go, she will be really sorry; for although I acknowledge that her
affections are very strongly devoted to Dirck, she has certainly during
the time you have been here taken to you a good deal, and she has
several times said it was wonderful how little trouble you were in the

"She has always been very kind, and I am really very sorry that,
however innocently, I have incurred her displeasure. You know that this
is so, uncle, and if there were any place near which I could go to
without seeming to run away, I would leave at once rather than stop
here where I am not welcome."

"Don't trouble about it, Yorke. I invited you here, and I ask you
to stay. If my wife, in the teeth of what her own friends tell her,
chooses to consider you to have been in the wrong, I can't help it,
and no one else can. I shall not attempt to argue the matter with her.
I know that presently she will see that she has acted very unfairly
towards you, and I hope that she will even in time recognize that Dirck
Jansen is by no means what she thinks him. It matters not to me whom
she leaves the farm to, but I should not like to see it go to him."

"But would you not have it, uncle?"

"No. It was a curious arrangement. The old man left his farm to her,
and her children after her if she should have any; if not, she had
the power of leaving it at her death to any of the descendants of his
married sisters whom she might choose. But it was at her death to be
valued, and should it under my management have increased in value, the
increase was to be estimated by a firm of Dutch valuers whom he named,
in Cape Town, and I was to receive either in cash, or as a mortgage
upon the farm, the sum which they fixed as the increase in its value.
The old man saw that I had good ideas and that I should improve the
place, and he said to me a short time before his death, 'I should not
like myself to see all these changes that you tell me you wish to make,
but I have no doubt that they will increase its value. It is fair that,
if my daughter dies before you, you should have the benefit of the
work that you have done, so I have had the farm valued, and it will
be valued again by the same firm if she dies before you, and you will
receive the difference. Does that seem to you to be fair?'

"'Quite fair,' I said.

"'It will be the same thing during her lifetime. I have set down what
the farm has brought me in for the past twenty years. She is to receive
the average rental and to be its mistress. As I warned you before you
married her, I will have no Englishman master here; but you may have
the use of one-third of the income to be laid out in improvements. It
is to be as a loan to you, and to be repaid from the extra profits of
the place.'

"I thought the arrangement, although curious, was very fair. I need
hardly say that the income is now four times as great as it was when
the old man died. The money I used for improvements has long since been
paid off, and I have laid by a very considerable sum. My wife and I
never talk about money matters. She has the amount that was annually
made by her father, with which she runs the house, and spends as she
likes. She neither asks what the farm now brings in, nor interferes
with me in any way, so that we get on very well together. If she dies
before me, I shall, in addition to what I have laid by, have a heavy
mortgage on the farm; and between ourselves, it is morally certain
that Dirck Jansen, if she leaves it to him, will never be able to pay
the interest, for he will work on the old grooves, so far as he works
at all, and in a couple of years after he takes possession I shall
foreclose and have the farm put up to auction, in which case I hope
that some Englishman will buy it. I should certainly not remain in the
colony after her death.

"These are the plans I had formed for myself, Yorke, and when I was in
England, and invited you to come up, it was with a vague idea that some
day you might possibly succeed me here. The mortgage which I shall hold
over the property is larger than anyone would be likely to bid for the
farm, and I thought that I might therefore purchase it in your name.
But since you have been here, I have seen that this would not do. In
the first place, you would never be contented to settle down here, you
have too much energy to take to the life of a farmer; and this quarrel
with Dirck would alone render that plan impossible. There is an enmity
already established; and if he, after coming into possession of the
farm, were turned out by you, he would become your deadly enemy, and
would assuredly have the sympathy of his relations, and, indeed, of all
the Boers around. Therefore I shall not particularly care who buys the
farm and pays off my mortgage.

"I have been very much pleased with you ever since you came here, and
what was two years ago only a vague idea is now my fixed intention,
and you will be my heir at my death. I have no nearer relation, and I
have not felt attracted towards anyone whom I have met, except your
family. Of course, I may die before my wife. In that case, my claim to
the estate for the improvements I have effected will drop, though, of
course, the sum I have laid by will not be affected. My opinion was
asked on this subject when the old man made his will, and I willingly
agreed to it, because it seemed to me a fair one; and besides, there
was no one at that time whom I cared particularly to benefit after my

Yorke, who was greatly surprised at what Mr. Allnutt said, began to
thank him for the kindness of his intentions towards him, but the
latter said: "There is no occasion at all for that. I must leave
my money to someone, and as I like you better than any of my other
relations it is only natural that you should be my heir. It may be a
good many years before you benefit largely by it. I am only some three
or four and twenty years older than you are. I live a healthy outdoor
life, and I may, for aught I know, go on till I am eighty. However,
now that I regard you as my heir, of course I shall give you a helping
hand when you need it, and when these troubles are over, and you have
learned the ways of the country, and are able to start a business with
a good chance of success, I shall be ready to give you a thousand
pounds to set you up in it. Or, if you decide that you would like
to return home and settle in England, you will have that sum to pay
your expenses at college, and such further sum as may be required to
maintain you until you are in a position to keep yourself. There, do
not let us say anything more about it now, my boy. I should advise you
not to go outside the farm until you leave. The Boers seldom forgive an
injury. Certainly Dirck Jansen will not be an exception to the rule,
and, if he has a chance, will attempt to do you harm. For example, he
might pick a quarrel with you, which might come to a shooting affray,
and although you may be a better shot than he is, he would not hesitate
to fire first. We had an example of that to-day, so you must keep
out of his way till you go. He certainly will not come here for the
next week, after what Van Laun, who may be considered the head of his
family, said. Now, lad, I feel tired after this unusual excitement, so
we may as well go off to bed."

Yorke did not get to sleep for some time. He was naturally excited as
well as surprised at the news of his cousin's intentions towards him,
and felt that it would make an immense difference to him. In the most
favourable circumstances, he could not have hoped to save a sum that
would enable him to start for himself, or to obtain a share in any
established business. Now, his cousin's generous offer would enable him
to begin to climb the ladder as soon as he was qualified to do so. As
to the alternative of returning to England and going to the University,
he set it aside at once. He liked the life in South Africa, and would
not have cared to take up that of a student again, with the prospect
of becoming a hard-working curate in a poor neighbourhood, or years of
waiting for briefs as a young barrister. With a business out there, he
might soon be able to help them at home, to supply his sisters with
pocket-money, and, most pleasant of all, to be able to present his
mother with a carriage, and a pair of horses, such as they used to
drive before. With such pleasant thoughts in his mind he at last fell
off to sleep, and in the morning, after as usual partaking of a bowl
of milk and bread, started for his ride round the farm with Hans in

Three days passed quietly. Mrs. Allnutt had so far relaxed as to come
down to meals, and although she spoke as little as possible to Yorke,
she was at least civil. On the fourth morning he took his rifle and
went up the valley to practise for the first time since his contest
with Dirck. Hans was some little distance behind him. As he was on the
point of dismounting, he caught the gleam of a rifle-barrel behind a
rock two hundred yards away. He did not hesitate for an instant, but
threw himself from his horse. The action saved his life, for, as he
did so, a shot was fired, and the ball went through his hat, slightly
grazing his head. As his feet touched the ground he fell with his face
towards the rock, unslinging his rifle as he did so and letting it fall
in front of him, still grasping it close to the trigger.

With an almost imperceptible movement he brought the butt to his
shoulder, and then lay perfectly still. His face was downward, and from
a short distance seemed to be on the ground, but in reality he was
able to look under the brim of his hat. For two or three minutes he
lay thus, then he saw Dirck Jansen cautiously look out from behind the
rock. For a minute he did not move, then he slowly rose and pointed his
rifle at some object behind Yorke. The latter did not doubt that he was
taking aim at Hans. The moment the thought struck him, he fired, and
Dirck dropped his rifle, which exploded as it touched the ground, and
fell forwards. A few seconds later Hans galloped up.

"Are you hurt, master?" he exclaimed. "I heard the shot, and thought
that you had not waited for me, until I saw you lying there. I then
caught sight of Dirck, and saw him point his rifle at me. I thought I
was dead; for although you beat Dirck, he is a fine shot, and at three
hundred yards could not have missed me. Then I saw your rifle flash."

"It is a bad business, Hans. He tried to take my life, and thought that
he had succeeded. It was a near shave, as you see; the bullet went
through my hat. But I was in the act of dismounting, and he fired an
inch or two too high." He put his hand on the top of his head. When he
looked at it it was covered with blood.

"It is just as well," he said, as Hans uttered an exclamation of alarm.
"It is only a graze. If he had missed me altogether, my story might
not have been believed. Now, let us go and see what has happened to
him. I hope I have not killed him. If I had had time I should have
aimed at his shoulder, but I knew that in another instant he would have
fired at you, and I just sighted him and pulled the trigger."

They went over to where Dirck was lying. He had been hit high up in
the chest. "Three inches farther up and I should only have broken his
collar-bone," Yorke said regretfully. "Even as it is, I hope that he
may recover. These Mauser bullets do comparatively little damage if
they do not hit a vital point. It is certainly so with game. Now, Hans,
lay him down as before. I will ride back to the farm and send back help
to bring him in."

Yorke returned to his horse, mounted it, and rode back at full speed.
Mr. Allnutt had just risen and come out into the yard.

"What is it, Yorke?" he asked in alarm on seeing the lad's pale face
and a small stream of blood running down his face.

Yorke related what had happened.

"The young scoundrel!" the colonist exclaimed indignantly. "Well, at
any rate you are not to blame, Yorke; but it is a desperately bad
business. Fortunately you have Hans to prove that your account of the
attempt at assassination is true, and you were perfectly justified in
shooting; but still, it will make the feud worse than ever. I trust
sincerely that his wound will not prove mortal. I will send off a
mounted man at once to Richmond for a surgeon, and will go out with
four Kaffirs to bring the unfortunate young fellow in. Then I will ride
over with you and Hans to Van Laun's; he is a justice of the peace. You
can make your deposition before him, and I will give my guarantee to
produce you if Dirck should die. Having done this, you had better start
at once for Cape Town, and when you get there telegraph your address to
me, so that I can send for you if necessary."

"Very well, uncle, that will certainly be the best way. I could not
stop here now. I trust most earnestly that he will recover. If I had
had time to take aim I would only have disabled him, but I knew that if
I did not fire instantly he would have shot Hans."

"No doubt he thought that he had shot you through the head, and
intended to rid himself of the only witness. I do not pity him one
bit, whatever happens to him. He was a murderer in intention, and if
he has failed, it is not his fault. I think that even my wife will
have her eyes opened now as to his real character. That he should have
aimed his rifle at you before in the heat of passion was to some extent
excusable; but this was an attempt at premeditated murder, and if he
recovers he ought to have a few years in prison. However, that will be
for you to decide."

"If I were coming back to live here I would certainly prosecute him,
for he might make another attempt with better success; but, as it is,
I shall not move in the matter. I will go out with you and the Kaffirs
now. I could not be hanging about here doing nothing until he is
brought in."

On arriving at the spot they found that Dirck was still alive, though
unconscious. He was carefully placed on the hurdle that a Kaffir had
brought with him, and was taken back to the house, Mr. Allnutt going on
before to tell his wife what had happened. He came out of the door as
Yorke arrived with the bearers, saw Dirck carried upstairs, and then
came down again.

"I will leave him there in her care," he said; "she will see after him.
She did not make any remark when I told her what had happened, beyond
saying, 'Is there any proof as to the truth of this story?' 'There is
this for proof,' I said. 'Hans heard one shot, and one shot only, fired
as he rode up, then he saw Dirck rise and take aim at him. Then, as
Yorke fired he saw him fall. The first shot that was fired was fired
by Dirck, and the proof is that the ball went through Yorke's hat, and
the lad is bleeding from a scalp wound there. As the affair happened on
our farm there could have been no quarrel between the two lads, for
Hans was but a short distance behind when the first shot was fired; and
as Dirck fell nearly three hundred yards from the spot where Yorke was
lying they could not have been near enough for them to have had words.
What is more, he saw Dirck rise from behind the rock where he had
been lying hid, and when he pointed that out to me I found the empty
cartridge lying there.' She then only said, 'Bring him up here; he is
my cousin.' Now we will ride over to Van Laun's. We shall have time
to do so before the doctor arrives; it is only a quarter of an hour's

Ordering Hans to follow him he mounted and galloped off with Yorke. Mr.
Van Laun looked very grave when he heard the story.

"Unfortunate lad," he said; "this is the result of his unrestrained
passions. Now, Mr. Harberton, will you please write down your account
of the affair, and I will swear you to it. Then I will get you to
retire, and will have Hans in."

When the two statements had been sworn to he called Yorke in again.

"Of course," he said, "If Dirck dies there must be an enquiry into
this. In any case, there must be an enquiry, if you insist upon it. Mr.
Allnutt will give us his surety that you will appear if he dies."

"I should be well content to drop the matter, sir, if Dirck lives, as
I sincerely hope he will. It is a most unfortunate affair, and greatly
to be regretted. However, related as he is to Mrs. Allnutt, I certainly
have no wish to press the matter against him. I am going away from
here, and am not likely to return unless I am obliged to do so. And for
my aunt's sake, if for no other reason, I should regret extremely to
bring so heavy a charge against one to whom she is so attached."

"I thank you, sir. I am the unhappy fellow's uncle, and for my own
part and that of the family I feel deeply indebted to you for your
forbearance. I am glad, however, that you are about to leave, for the
ties of blood here count for a great deal. Although we older men see
his fault in the gravest light, there are hot spirits among the young
men who might, in spite of the fact that he had been utterly in the
wrong, take up his quarrel. I will now ride back with you and hear the
surgeon's report."

This turned out to be favourable rather than otherwise. Without being
able to give any decided opinion, the surgeon said that if all went
well, and no fever set in, Dirck might recover. "The ball," he said,
"has gone right through, and has undoubtedly passed through the upper
part of the lung; but the wound is so small that it will probably heal
up without leaving any after effects. If, however, fever sets in, I do
not disguise from you that the result may be fatal, although I regard
the probabilities as being altogether the other way. As the bullet
has passed through there is little for me to do. He must be kept very
quiet, and given cooling drinks for some days. I shall ride over and
see him to-morrow. If he is going on well, he will be able to take a
little nourishment in the way of soup in the course of two or three

The news was an immense relief to Yorke. He felt that had the affair
happened again he could not have acted otherwise; but the thought
that he might have taken life was very painful. If it had been done
in the course of a battle he would have thought comparatively little
of it, but this was altogether different; and although Dirck had been
exceptionally rude and discourteous to him, and he would have liked to
give him a good thrashing, he would have given much rather than be the
cause of his death. When the surgeon had left, and Mr. Van Laun, after
a few words with Mrs. Allnutt, had also ridden off, the colonist said:

"Now, Yorke, the sooner you are off the better. You will, of course,
take Bob. He is the best horse on the farm, and I don't think you will
get any better in the colony. And in the work you will have to do, your
life may depend upon the speed of your horse."

"Will you let me take Hans with me?"

"He has been speaking to me about it. He is most anxious to go with
you. Of course, he is free to go whether I like it or not; but indeed
I shall be glad to know that he is with you. He has brightened up
wonderfully since you came, and there can be no doubt that he is
devoted to you."

"Thank you! Of course I cannot say whether I shall be able to keep
him; that will depend on what corps I join. If I enlist in the line,
I should hardly think they would take Hans; but if I join a Colonial
corps, they may do so, for loyal Dutchmen would naturally be accepted.
At any rate, I shall do all I can to keep him with me."

"And now, as to your traps, Yorke. First, I suppose you will ride down?"

"It would certainly be most pleasant; besides, if I went by train there
would be a bother about getting a horse-box."

"Quite so. Well, I will pack up all your things to-morrow, and send
them to Cape Town in a day or two, marked 'To be left till called
for,' so that you will find them at the goods station when you arrive
there. You may as well leave the rifle here. It would be all very well
carrying it as you go through the country districts, but it would
hardly do to ride with it into Cape Town. I have another of the same
kind, and will put it in for Hans. I have a long box that will hold
them very well, and can pack with them some of the clothes you have
bought since you have been here, and which will certainly not go into
the portmanteau you brought with you."

Hans was delighted when he heard that he was to accompany Yorke. No
time was needed for his preparations.

"You are to take the horse I usually ride, Hans," Mr. Allnutt said;
"he may need a spare horse for his work, and it is as well that while
you are with him you should be well mounted, so as to be able to go at
the same pace as he. Put the saddle on at once; it is nearly twelve
o'clock, and you have a long ride to Victoria West, where, of course,
you will sleep to-night. Come in with me, Yorke, I will put that cold
meat on the table and you can sit down and eat something. All these
things have put breakfast out of our heads, and you have had nothing
since you rode off at six o'clock."

"I don't feel hungry, uncle."

"Oh, nonsense! You must eat."

As soon as he had helped Yorke he cut off a large chunk of meat and a
slice of bread and carried them out to Hans.

"That is right, lad," he said, when Yorke had made a good meal, for he
had found his appetite when he once began to eat. "Now, put this cheque
into your pocket, it is for one hundred pounds; you may want to get
uniform, and may in any case have to wait some little time before you
can arrange matters. Here are twenty pounds for your expenses on the
road. In the envelope with the cheque is a note to the manager of the
bank, authorizing him to allow you to draw on me up to another hundred
pounds should you require it. There, I don't want any thanks, lad. You
know how we stand now, and the sooner you are off the better."

"Do you think my aunt would like me to say good-bye to her? I should
certainly like to do so. She has been very kind while I have been here."

"I will ask her, Yorke, but I don't think she will. However, it is just
as well to make the offer."

Rather to Yorke's surprise, Mrs. Allnutt came into the room a minute
later. "Good-bye, Yorke!" she said gravely. "I cannot say, after what
has happened, that I am sorry that you are going, but I am very sorry
for the circumstances that have caused you to go. You have been very
nice in the house since you came. I had thought, before you arrived,
that I should not like it, but it has made things pleasant, and I came
to like you. Good-bye! I hope you will do well. Some day, perhaps, I
may see you again, if not here, perhaps at Cape Town."

"Good-bye, aunt! I am very much obliged to you for the kindness you
have shown me since I have been here. I cannot say how sorry I am that
things should have turned out as they have. No one can possibly regret
it more than I."

Five minutes later Yorke and Hans mounted and started on their journey.



"Now, Hans," Yorke said as they dismounted in front of the hotel at
which he had stopped when he came through Cape Town, "the first thing
after you have put the horses in the stable, given them a good rub
down, and seen that they have had their feed, will be to go to some
little barber's shop and have your hair trimmed. Have it cut short
like mine. When you have done that, have a thorough good wash. You are
more particular in that respect than you used to be when I first knew
you, but there is room for a lot of improvement; and as you have made
up your mind to follow my fortune whatever it may be, it is as well,
at any rate when you join, to look clean. Here are five pounds, go to
an outfitter's and get a decent suit of clothes--clothes that will fit
you, you know, and not look as if they were made for a man fifty inches
round the waist. Look about you as you go through the streets. You
will see plenty of young Dutchmen who have come in from farms, and you
will find they wear very different-looking clothes from those you were
accustomed to. Get things of the same sort. Or--no; I think that it
would be better for you to come to me after you have got yourself tidy,
and I will go with you."

"That will be better, Master Yorke; I should never be able to choose
for myself."

"Very well, give me the money, then, less five shillings. Be sure you
tell the man to cut your hair quite short; it won't hold the dust so
much then, and will give you quite a different appearance. Don't come
back again for three or four hours. I want to learn what is doing here,
and see what openings there are. Get yourself a good meal somewhere."

The hotel was almost full, but Yorke was able to obtain a room. He
changed the clothes that he had worn and put on a suit of tweeds he
had kept for special occasions, and then went down to the dining-hall.
As he ate he listened to the conversation at the tables round him.
He learned that large numbers of British officers had been quietly
arriving, but that they were as yet in ignorance of the work they had
been sent out to perform.

At present the greater portion were waiting for orders, but it
was believed that most of them would be employed in the work of
superintending the transport on the railway, and that if war really
broke out, many would be placed in command of the bodies of volunteers
to act as scouts, which would doubtless be raised in the colonies.

Everything was still doubtful, and Yorke heard fears expressed that
Kruger would back down at the last moment. He made up his mind that
he would do nothing hurriedly; he had money enough to keep him for a
considerable time, and it was better not to make a choice that he might
afterwards regret. There were sure to be opportunities directly the
matter came to a crisis.

Among the officers were many civilians, men who had come down from
Johannesburg, and these he found were almost unanimous in their opinion
that Kruger and his advisers were all bent on war. These occupied
several tables, and the ladies with them were dressed in the latest
styles of fashion, and wore an extravagant amount of jewellery. He
guessed the husbands to be mining potentates and speculators, men whose
fortunes were already assured, and who could afford to contemplate the
worst that could happen without anxiety.

After he had finished his meal he went out, and stood on the steps of
the hotel until Hans came up. He would hardly have known him, for he
looked, for the first time in Yorke's experience, thoroughly clean, and
the change made by this, and the loss of the long unkempt hair that had
fallen to his shoulders, was almost startling. In spite of his loose,
ill-fitting clothes, he looked bright and alert, although somewhat
shamefaced at his altered appearance.

"I have done as you told me, Master Yorke, but I feel so queer that I
hardly know myself."

"That will soon pass off, Hans; and you look a hundred per cent better.
Now, let us go off to one of the stores."

Here he found no difficulty in obtaining a suit that fairly fitted
his follower. It consisted of a corded velveteen shooting jacket, and
breeches of the same material; brown stockings of a colour to match;
a waistcoat to be put on when the evening's cold set in; four flannel
shirts, and a couple of dark-blue silk neck-ties. From the same store
he procured two pairs of strong laced boots. A wide-awake of the
ordinary size completed the attire. Hans had already, at Yorke's orders
hired a room for himself, and his new purchases having been put in a
bag, he carried them off to it. Yorke remained outside for a quarter of
an hour, and Hans then rejoined him in his new clothes.

"I am quite sure, Hans, you might ride up to the house, and neither
your master nor mistress would know you, but would take you for some
young farmer stopping on his way down country to ask for a night's

"I don't know how I look, Master Yorke, but I don't feel comfortable at
all. There doesn't seem room for me to move in these clothes."

"Nonsense, Hans! They are loose everywhere, though not so baggy as the
others. By the way, you had better keep the others; you would be less
likely to be noticed in them if you entered a strange place than you
would be now."

"I don't care about being noticed," Hans said. "I would have as much
right to be there as anyone else."

Yorke laughed. "Well, Hans, as you have agreed to go with me--and
you know very well that my intention is, if possible, to get some job
with our army--I can see that there might be plenty of occasions when
you might be going into places with me where we should not wish to be

A day or two after his arrival, as Yorke stood on the doorsteps
hesitating which way he should go, a young officer who was entering
stopped and looked hard at him. "Hulloa!" he said, "you are Harberton,
are you not?"

"Yes, and you are Parkinson."

"What in the world brings you out here? Why, you were quite a youngster
when I left the old school to enter Sandhurst two years ago, and now
you are nearly as tall as I am!"

"I have been out here six months."

"What have you been doing?"

"I have been at a farm up-country belonging to a cousin of my father.
As to what I have been doing, I can only say I have been riding, and
shooting, and learning to speak Dutch."

"And have you learnt to speak it?"

"Yes, I can speak it well enough to pass as a Boer in a short

"Well, come and sit down in the garden behind the hotel and tell me all
about it. I suppose you are wanting to get up to the front--wherever
that may be--and as I came out with a good many men who will be
employed in organizing and transport, and other jobs of the sort, I may
be able to help you, if I know something about what you have been doing
out here."

Yorke told his old school-fellow why he had left Rugby and come out,
his life at the farm, and the events which had led to his leaving it

"You have done awfully well," Parkinson said when Yorke had finished
his story, "and you deserve to get on. Anyhow, if I can help you, I

Three weeks passed quietly; as yet nothing was settled. Kruger's
replies to Mr. Chamberlain's despatches were more and more
unsatisfactory; still, the general feeling at the Cape was that he
would back down at the last moment and grant the terms of suffrage
for which the colonial secretary was pressing. The refugees from
Johannesburg were not of this opinion. "We believe he means to fight,"
said one of a group gathered in the billiard-room, "and I hope with
all my heart that he will now do so. What does it matter to us whether
he gives the suffrage to men after a five years' or seven years'
residence. In the first place, he has always broken his engagements,
and if he were to agree to a five years' suffrage, he would devise
some means for cheating us out of it afterwards; besides, not one in
twenty of the Uitlanders would take the trouble to claim it. In the
first place, they would know that the members they might return for
the few towns where they are in a majority would be swamped by the
representatives of the country districts; and in the next place, they
know that if they took the oath to the Transvaal Government, they would
forfeit the right of complaining to England of any ill-treatment, and,
whatever their position, might be commandeered and sent off to fight
Swazis, or any other savages, at a moment's notice. No, no; the thing
is begun now, and it had best be carried through, whatever it costs. It
will have to be settled some day or other, and the sooner the better."

There was a general chorus of assent.

"I only hope," another said, "that there will soon be an end of all
this talk. It has been going on for nearly a year now, and we are not
one day nearer to a conclusion. Trade is at a stand-still, and the
Boers are not fools enough to buy goods when they expect to be able to
grab them without payment, as they will do directly the war begins."

Hans had during his rides and talks with Yorke completely imbibed the
latter's opinions. As a farm servant he had previously heard little
or nothing on the subject, and was therefore quite ready to accept
his companion's views as to the dispute, especially as he was serving
under an English master against whom he had no cause of complaint.
At Cape Town he found nothing to alter his opinions. The loyal part
of the population, which formed the large majority there, were far
more outspoken than the Africanders, and the sight of the soldiers
in the streets, of the flags waving on the public buildings and on
the ships of war--the same flag as he had seen hoisted on the farm on
holidays--confirmed his feeling of loyalty, and he was prepared to
follow Yorke in whatever service he might engage.

One morning when Yorke came down to breakfast he saw that something
unusual had happened. Instead of sitting down to the meal, the
residents were standing in groups, talking excitedly. He went up to
Parkinson, who was looking delighted, and asked: "What is the news?"

"Splendid, Harberton! Kruger has sent in the most insolent ultimatum
that ever was drawn up, demanding an entire surrender of our claims and
the withdrawal of our troops, and giving only forty-eight hours for an
answer. Of course that means war. The old fox has been fooling us until
he was absolutely ready to begin. I expect he will be crossing the
frontier at once, and certainly we have no troops that can stop him out
here. There are enough in Natal to make a fight of it; but he will have
it all his own way in Cape Colony until we get troops out from England.
By that time they will have raiding parties all over the country;
and there is no doubt that they will be joined by thousands of Dutch
farmers. This ultimatum is a glorious thing. No one can say that we
forced the war upon them. It puts a stop to all these negotiations and
settles the question. It has got to be fought out now; and, thank God,
we have not got a government that will permit another Majuba surrender.
I expect we shall have hard fighting for a time."

"What would you advise me to do, Parkinson? I don't care in what
capacity I go up. I should not like to enlist in the infantry, because
I should lose the advantage that I have in being a good rider and being
able to speak Dutch. But I would enlist in any capacity in which Dutch
would be useful."

"I have no idea what any of us are going to do yet. No doubt some
general orders will come from home to-day, and I expect that most of
us will be at once sent up the line to see about forming depots, to
guard the bridges, and things of that sort. At any rate, there is not
much chance of your getting to know anything definite for a few days.
Butler and all the heads of the departments will be too busy to go
into details. Certainly one of the first steps will be to organize a
transport train; without that we should be tied to the railway."

The news had already spread through the town, and the excitement in the
streets was great. Most people believed that war must come sooner or
later, but the sudden outbreak was altogether unexpected.

There was, however, a feeling of relief that matters had come to a head
at last, and that Kruger had placed himself so hopelessly in the wrong
by his insolent defiance. Still, there was an uneasy impression that
the course he had taken was, in his own interests, a wise one. England
had been caught altogether unawares. It was true that a few thousand
officers and men had been quietly sent out during the past few months;
still, there was no force that could hope to withstand the fifty or
sixty thousand mounted men with whom the Boers could at once invade
Cape Colony and Natal. No doubt was entertained that the Orange Free
State would join the Transvaal. Steyn was known to be a most ambitious
man, and to be in the closest communication with Kruger, and among
those staying in the hotel who had come down from Kimberley, or who had
connections there, it was regarded as certain that one of the first
movements attempted by the Boers of the Free State would be to try to
capture Kimberley, which lay close to their frontier line.

In the evening Yorke again met Parkinson. "A party of Engineers are
going up to De Aar, a big depot is about to be formed there. They take
with them a lot of Kaffirs, to mark out the ground and clear it. I am
glad to hear that there are a biggish lot of stores already collected
here. Only one train a day will be open to the public, and I expect
that will soon be stopped. I tell you what I will do, Harberton. I will
take you to Colonel Pinkerton. I believe he will be going up to-morrow
to inspect the line, and probably will for the present take command all
along it. He came over in the same ship with me, and is a very good
fellow. I will tell him who you are, what you can do, and what you want
to do. At any rate, his advice will be worth having."

"Thank you very much!"

Parkinson moved away towards a party of officers talking together,
waited till they broke up, and then went up to one of them. They talked
for two or three minutes, then he turned and motioned to Yorke to come

"So you are a school-fellow of Parkinson's?" the officer said.

"Yes, sir; we were at Rugby together, but he was very much my senior."

"So you want to do scouting business, to carry despatches, and
generally make yourself useful. He says that you are a good rider and
an excellent shot, and that you talk Dutch well."

"Fairly well, sir; well enough, I think, to pass as a Boer in any short

"And you have a Dutch lad with you upon whom you can rely?"

"Yes, sir, I can rely upon him absolutely."

"There is no doubt that you would be very useful. You know a good deal
about the sentiments of the Dutch?"

"Yes, sir, at least of the Dutch for twenty miles round Richmond and
Brakpoort; they are almost to a man hostile, and I fancy from what I
heard it is the same in most districts."

"I will think the matter over; there is no hurry for a few days. If
the Boers advance to-morrow, when the time they have given us is up,
and push straight on, which would certainly seem to be their best
policy, we cannot move forward, but shall have to stand wholly on the
defensive till reinforcements arrive from home; and to take stores
up-country will simply mean their falling into the hands of the Boers.
If I go up I shall certainly be glad to take you with me. Your boy
would be invaluable in the way of obtaining information, if he is as
sharp as you say he is trustworthy, but I see a difficulty in employing
you both as civilians."

There was great satisfaction in Cape Town when the news came that
government had announced in the House that arrangements had already
been made for the instant transport of seven thousand men from India.
Two days later Yorke received an invitation to breakfast with the
colonel. He found a third person at the small table that the officer
had secured.

"This is Mr. Harberton," the latter said, "the young gentleman of
whom I was speaking to you, Major Mackintosh. Major Mackintosh is in
command of one of the local volunteer corps here, and at my request,
Mr. Harberton, he has arranged to give you a commission in his corps,
and to allow you to be seconded for service as one of my assistants.
I think that will meet all difficulties. While on service you will,
of course, receive the pay of your rank, and an allowance for horse
and forage. Your boy must also enlist in the corps, and will similarly
obtain leave to go as your servant; he will, while on duty, draw the
pay and rations of a private."

"Thank you indeed, sir," Yorke said gratefully; "and thank you also,
Major Mackintosh; this is more than I had ever ventured to hope for."

"I had the more pleasure in granting the colonel's request," the
officer said, "inasmuch as I am myself a public-school boy. I am an
Etonian, and can quite understand your eagerness to take part in this
business. I have large numbers of applications for enlistment, and
I have no doubt that as matters progress several fresh corps will
be raised. My staff of officers is nearly made up, but I have no
difficulty in granting you a commission, as when you are seconded for
other duties it will leave a vacancy, so that it is a mere matter of
arrangement. I will send in your name to-day to Sir William Butler. You
had better attend at once at the orderly room, with your Dutch servant,
to be sworn in, and then get your uniforms. I dare say you know what
they are."

"Yes, sir; I saw the corps march through the streets the other day."

"Of course you will not want a full-dress uniform, Mr. Harberton," the
colonel said; "and you will take up your civilian clothes, both those
you stand in and the dress of a Dutch farmer; and your servant will do
the same, and will, of course, dress as a farm hand when he is away on
any scouting expedition."

"Certainly, sir. I suppose I can bring my rifle with me?"

"Yes; what rifle is it?"

"A Lee-Metford, sir."

"That is right; it would be of no use taking up one that would not
carry government ammunition."

"How long have you been in the colony, Mr. Harberton?" the major asked.

"Six months, sir."

"You have done well to learn the language so quickly."

"The cousin with whom I was staying, sir, married a Dutch lady, and as
he had been out here twenty years, Dutch was generally spoken in the
house. I spent my whole time in riding and practising shooting, and I
always had this Dutch boy with me. He talks English, but we talked when
together in Dutch, as I was anxious to learn it."

"I suppose you were accustomed to ride before you came out here?"

"Yes, my father kept three horses, and bred them so that I learned to
ride as far back as I can remember."

"You left school early, for you cannot be past seventeen yet?"

"Yes, sir. My father is a clergyman, and had a good private income, but
the Birmingham and Coventry Bank, in which his money was all invested,
went to smash, and as the living was by no means a rich one, I had to
leave school. I had been invited here by my cousin, when he was in
England a year before, and it was thought that I could not do better
than to come out to him, and after being with him for a time, try to
make my own way."

"And so you left him because you thought war was coming on?"

Yorke smiled. "Not exactly, sir, though I had made up my mind to do so
if there was war; but I really left him because of a row with a Dutch
cousin of my cousin's wife. I think it was partly jealousy at my being
established at the farm, but the actual quarrel was about shooting.
He was very proud of his marksmanship, and I beat him in a trial of
skill. Two days afterwards he shot at me when I was out riding. He put
a ball through my hat, and made sure he had killed me; but I returned
the fire, and hit him. I was afraid at first that I had killed him, but
he was not dead when I came away. Fortunately, Hans, my boy, was with
me, and was able to prove that he fired the first shot; but my cousin
said that I had better leave at once, for the affair would create an
ill-feeling among his friends, and my life would not be safe. So off I
came. My cousin provided me well with money, so I thought that, before
deciding upon what to do, I would wait and see if war really broke out;
but in any case I thought of enlisting in a cavalry regiment. I might
get a commission some day, and if I didn't, a few years in the ranks
would perhaps do me good. I could buy myself out when I was able to see
some other way to earn a living."

"That was as wise a determination as you could have taken under the
circumstances," the colonel said. "A few years in the army does no man
any harm, if he is steady and well-conducted; and if well educated,
as you are, he is certain to get his stripes in a couple of years. The
life of a non-commissioned officer is by no means an unpleasant one;
and there is always a chance of getting a commission, though this is
not a very bright one, as so many young fellows who, having failed to
pass, enter the ranks with the hope of getting one some day."

Then the talk turned to the probable course of the war. The two
officers agreed that if the Boers contented themselves with holding
the passes into Natal, and threw their force, which was estimated at
fifty thousand, in five divisions, each ten thousand strong, into Cape
Colony, they could sweep the whole country up to Cape Town before any
force could arrive from England to arrest their progress, and that in
their advance their numbers would probably be doubled by recruits from
the discontented portion of the Dutch population.

"I am in great hopes that they will besiege Kimberley," the colonel
said. "Our having of the diamond mines there has always been a sore
point with the Free State, and one of their reasons for joining the
Transvaal undoubtedly is to obtain possession, which I feel sure they
will not do. Then possibly a considerable force of the Transvaal men
may knock their heads against Mafeking. It is the nearest point to
Pretoria, and it was from there that the Jameson Raid started. They may
take that. Baden-Powell, who is a first-rate man, went up to take the
command there ten days ago. He is sure to defend the place till the
last, but even if he does but hold out for a fortnight, the time gained
will be invaluable to us. Time is everything. But in any case, I fear
that it is going to be a very big job, certainly a great deal bigger
than anything we have had since the mutiny.

"If we could but get all the Boers together, fifty thousand men might
do it. As it is, we may want double that number, though I do not think
the home government has any idea that such a force will be requisite.
We made the usual hideous mistake of not being ready, and the still
greater one of allowing the Boers to obtain enormous quantities of
rifles and ammunition. When our government were first warned of what
was going on, they should have put their foot down, and told Kruger
bluntly that, as he could be arming in this tremendous manner only
for war with us, we should not allow the importation of arms into the

"They could have got them up through Lourenço Marques," the major said.

"Well, then, government should have gone a step further. They should
have told Portugal that, although we did not wish to quarrel with her,
we insisted upon her refusing to allow arms to be landed at Lourenço
Marques, that we should send a military officer as our consul there to
inspect all imports, and that we should station a ship of war there to
support him, as it would be impossible for us to allow the port to be
used as a centre through which military munitions, intended to be some
day used against us, might be passed up-country."

"But if Portugal refused, as she no doubt would, to submit to such a
high-handed action, she would probably have been supported by several
European nations--certainly by France in her present mood, possibly by
both Russia and Germany."

"In that case," the colonel said, "we should have had two alternatives:
either to fight the lot of them with our fleet, which we could do; or
else to send five thousand men up into the Transvaal to Komati Poort,
and so to prevent the arms entering from the Portuguese frontier. The
Boers were then comparatively unarmed, and if, as is likely, they had
chosen to fight, we should have had a fairly easy job. The Queen has
sovereign rights there, and it is no great stretch of sovereign rights
to quarter troops in the country. However, I have no doubt they would
have fought; after our surrender at Majuba, they thought, and still
think, themselves invincible. But the affair would have been mere
child's play to what it will be at present. It was a difficult problem,
no doubt, for a British ministry to face, but it ought to have been
faced. It was a question of grasping the nettle. With such a majority
as they have got behind them, stronger men would not have hesitated to
do so. A fire can be put out easily enough when it once starts, but if
it is left alone till it has got a big hold, there is no saying what
may happen when there is a strong wind blowing."

"Now, Hans," Yorke said, after having told the news to his follower,
"you have to do credit to yourself and me, to try and look smart when
you are in uniform, to keep those long arms of yours from swinging
about, to hold your head up, and to walk briskly and smartly."

"I will do my best, Master Yorke," Hans said with a grin; "but I don't
think I shall ever look like those soldiers I have seen walking about
the street, especially those chaps with trousers that look so tight. I
can't make out how they can sit down."

"Those are the cavalry, Hans; you won't be expected to look like them.
I fancy the corps here wear white in summer; but that is certainly not
a good colour for campaigning, and the major said that there was some
talk of dyeing them a sort of light brown, that wouldn't show the dirt,
and would not want so much washing, and, above all, would not make such
a conspicuous mark for an enemy. It is the same sort of colour as the
regular troops wear here in summer, and I expect that in a short time
they will all take to it instead of scarlet."

"Well, I don't care much how they dress me, so long as they let me go
with you, Master Yorke."

After going to the head-quarters of the corps, and being sworn in,
Yorke went to the tailor who had the contract for the uniforms. He
found that Major Mackintosh had just come in, and had ordered that no
more uniforms should be made for members of the corps until they heard
again from him, which would be the next morning, as he had summoned a
council of the officers. Yorke and Hans were, however, measured and the
tailor promised to put their uniforms in hand directly he received the
major's instructions to go on.

Yorke had been invited by the adjutant to attend the meeting of the
officers. He listened to the discussion, and, was glad to learn
that khaki drill was generally approved of as the material for the
uniforms of the corps, to be used with brown belts and accoutrements,
and wide-brimmed felt hats of the same colour as the coats. He was
introduced to the other officers by Major Mackintosh, who laughingly
told them that they must make the most of him, as Colonel Pinkerton had
requisitioned him for service.

The following morning Hans was set to work drilling with a batch of
other recruits. This was not necessary in Yorke's case, as he had for
two years been a member of the Rugby Cadet corps, and therefore knew
as much of drill as most of the officers. Thus, when in the cool of
the evening the whole corps turned out, he was able to play his new
part satisfactorily. Colonel Pinkerton had strolled down to witness the
drill. The gathering was a very motley one, for the men were not in
uniform, and all classes were represented.

"I was glad to see you knew your work," the colonel said to him on his
return. "You did not tell me that you knew anything of soldiering."

"I do not know very much, sir; but I was a member of the school corps
for two years, and we flattered ourselves we were pretty smart. Of
course many of the fellows were meant for the army, and were very keen
about it. But I think we all took a good deal of pride in drilling
well, and though I was not an officer, of course I knew where the
officers should be placed in each movement."

"Well, you will not want it much while you are with me; but when you
are among soldiers it is as well to be able to show that you know
the work of an officer. At present there is no idea whatever of the
volunteers going to the front; but there is no saying what may take
place in the course of a few weeks, if the Boers are sharp enough to
take advantage of the situation."

Three days later Yorke and Hans started with the colonel up the
line. He had two young Engineer officers with him. The colonel's two
horses and Yorke's were taken in a truck under the charge of Hans and
the colonel's soldier servant. Trains of provisions and stores for
Kimberley and Mafeking were being sent up rapidly, and depots formed at
several points along the line. It had not been deemed prudent to send
them very far until the plans of the Boers were apparent. The horse-box
and the carriage in which the officers travelled were detached from the
train at points that were considered important. Here they remained for
a few hours, and were then attached to another train. While the colonel
and his assistants examined the culverts and bridges, and made notes of
their relative importance, Yorke made enquiries from British farmers
as to the disposition of the Dutch population, and Hans resumed the
clothes in which he had left the farm, and, under pretext of looking
for a situation, entered into conversation with men of his own class.

The reports naturally varied a good deal. The opinion of the English
colonists was that although the Dutch sympathies might be strongly
with the Transvaal Boers, few of them were likely to take any active
steps to join them, unless they invaded the Colony in great force.
Many of the young men, however, were missing, and it was generally
believed that they had started to join their kinsmen in the Transvaal.
Many of the better class of farmers who had been often at Cape Town,
where not a few of them had received their education, were much better
acquainted with the military power of Great Britain than were the mass
of the Dutch population; and these, whatever their sympathies might
be, were of opinion that in the long run her strength must over-power
that of the Boers, and that an enormous amount of suffering and damage
would result. They admitted that they themselves had nothing whatever
to grumble at under the British flag, and acknowledged that the
government of the Transvaal treated the Uitlander population there in a
very different manner, and that had that government been ready to grant
the same treatment to them as the Dutch of Cape Colony enjoyed, there
would never have been any trouble.

"I think it all means," the colonel said one day when they were
discussing the reports brought in, "that if we thrash the Boers the
Colony will remain quiet; if they gain any big success, the greater
portion of the Dutch here will join them. But no doubt there will be
trouble in getting the trains through; it is impossible to guard such
an enormous length of line. The utmost that can be done will be to have
detachments posted at all the bridges whose destruction would cause
serious delay. We can hardly doubt that rails will be pulled up and
culverts destroyed, for this can be done by two or three men working
at night. But of course each train going up will carry a few rails and
a couple of balks of timber, tools, and three or four railway men, and
the repairs can be executed with only a very short delay."

Four days after starting the party arrived at De Aar, which had been
selected as the most favourable position as a base. At this place
a line of railway from Port Elizabeth joined that from Cape Town.
Seventy or eighty miles down the Port Elizabeth line were junctions at
Naauwpoort and Middelburg Road, the former with the main line running
up through the Orange Free State to Pretoria and Pietersburg, the
latter joining the line from East London at Stormberg, north of which
was a branch to Aliwal North, and another crossing the Orange River at
Bethulie, and joining the main Orange Free State line at Springfontein.
Whatever might be the intention of the Dutch later on, so far there
had been no attempts whatever to meddle with the railway. The waggon
trains loaded with stores went up in rapid succession, and on their way
met almost as many crowded with refugees from the Transvaal, the Free
State, and Kimberley.

Miners and store-keepers, millionaires and mechanics, were
closely packed, with little distinction of rank, and Yorke and his
fellow-officers frequently expressed their disgust that so many
able-bodied men should be flying, when on crossing the frontier they
might well have gone to Kimberley, Colesberg, and other places to take
part in the defence of the towns. The first blow had been struck. An
armour-plated train going up to Mafeking had on the 12th been fired
at with guns and derailed. Lieutenant Nesbit and the soldiers with
him had defended themselves gallantly, but had at last been obliged
to surrender. From Natal the telegrams were of a still more exciting
nature. The invasion of that colony began a few hours before the
ultimatum expired, and it was expected that the force under General
Penn Symons would be attacked in the course of a day or two.

The Loyal North Lancashires had passed them the day after they started.
Four companies had gone on to Kimberley, the rest had encamped at
Orange River station.

Many mules and trek oxen had been sent up, and large numbers of
Kaffirs, and the station at De Aar presented a busy scene. Wooden sheds
had already been erected by the Engineers, and these were being filled
with the more perishable articles, such as sugar and tea; stacks of
bags of flour and mealies, and of cases of tinned meat, were rising
in the open, while everywhere were piles of stores of all kinds lying
just where they had been thrown from the trucks on the sidings. An hour
after Yorke's arrival the colonel was occupied in fixing on a site for
a battery. This was selected on the top of a rising mound near the
station, and from this the guns, when placed in position, would sweep
the surrounding country. Tents were pitched for the party, and in these
they speedily settled down.

"Now, Mr. Harberton," the colonel said that evening, "it does not seem
to me that at present I have any occasion for your services here. We
shall trace the lines of the fort to-morrow morning; a train with four
hundred Kaffirs will arrive this evening, and we shall get to work by
breakfast time. Then one officer and a couple of the sappers will be
sufficient to look after them, while we shall attend to getting things
in readiness for the arrival of more troops. So far the railway between
this and Kimberley is still open, but it is certain that it will not
be so for long. I think you can be most usefully employed in riding
through Philipstown and Petrusville, and scouting between Zoutpans
Drift and thence to Hondeblafs River and Colesberg Bridge.

"Between these places there is, so far as I know, no ford, and we may
assume that if the Free State men cross in any strength it will be at
one or other of these points; but small parties may possibly swim the
river and attempt to cut the line north. At any rate, it is well that
we should learn what is going on, and get early information of the
movements of any of the enemy's parties. I am in hopes that no combined
advance on their part will take place till we have got our guns
mounted, for at present we are certainly not in a position to offer any
serious resistance to an attacking force. Fortunately the Free State
men are not as well prepared for a contest as the Transvaalers, and we
know by the fugitives who have come down that very many of them are
altogether opposed to Steyn's policy. Moreover, it is probable that
they will direct their first effort against Kimberley; but it is as
well to be forewarned.

"You can, of course, if you think proper, cross the Orange River in
your Dutch disguise and gather news there. We can get very little
reliable information from the fugitives, they seem to have swallowed
every wild report in circulation; and if we were to credit their
accounts we should believe that at least a hundred thousand Free
Staters--that is to say, pretty nearly every adult male--were already
under arms and on the march for the frontier. I have no faith whatever
in such reports. I believe it far more likely that, as fast as they can
be organized, a portion will march on Kimberley, but that their main
force will go down through the passes in the Drakenberg to join the
Transvaal force in Natal. That, I think, is the point upon which they
are concentrating their attention at present, and they intend to sweep
us out of that colony before they undertake any serious operations on
this side. I think you may as well start in the morning."



"I suppose you are feeling more comfortable, Hans," Yorke said as they
cantered away from the camp on the following morning.

"I don't know, Master Yorke; I was getting accustomed to the uniform,
and these things feel a bit loose, as if I could shake myself out of

"I feel a good deal the same, Hans."

"And so you propose going to the Free State, master? I think it is just
as well that Dirck Jansen is laid up with that wound you gave him; if
he hadn't been, I am sure he would have mounted and ridden to join
Steyn's men directly war was declared, and it would have been very bad
if you had run against him."

"Very bad indeed, though I did not think of him at all. Yes, it is
unfortunate now that I am known to so many of the Dutch farmers
round Richmond and Brakpoort. I should say a good many of them will
have joined the enemy. I don't suppose they ever noticed me very
particularly, for I always kept out of the way as much as possible
when they came, as I could not put up with their abuse of the English;
still, some of them might recognize me. There is one thing, I always
wore the shooting suits that I brought out from home; and these Dutch
clothes I bought at Cape Town, when I knew the work I might have to do,
have altered my appearance a good deal. I wish now that I had thought
of buying three or four of those wisps of long hair that one sees in
the hairdressers' shops there; if I had fastened them inside my hat, so
as to fall down all round on to my shoulders, it would have altered my
appearance, just as cutting your hair short has changed you. I should
have looked like a rough young Dutch farmer from one of the country

They rode on a little farther without speaking, and then he went on

"I have an idea, Hans--our horses' tails are about the same colour. We
might very well cut off about nine inches; that would give plenty of
hair for our purpose. The only trouble would be fastening it into one's
hat. We will stop at farmhouses as we go along, and when we get to an
English settler's I will borrow a needle and thread from his wife. I
will take out the inside lining of the hat, sew the hair in all round,
except just in front, and then sew the lining on to it. That will keep
it all tight."

Hans laughed.

"It will make you look very much like what I was before I visited the
barber. No one would recognize you."

The third house at which they stopped they found to be an English
settler's. As they rode to the door, they were in the usual hospitable
way asked to come in and have something to eat.

"I am English like yourself," Yorke said, "and am serving as an officer
with the force at De Aar, and I am going scouting to gather news of
any movement on the other side of the Orange River. I may cross and go
farther, but as I have been living for some time near Richmond, I may
run against some of the rebel Dutch who have gone to join them, so I
want to disguise myself."

"Come in, sir; we will do anything we can. When I saw you riding up, I
certainly took you both at first for Dutchmen, but I see now that you
are far more clean and fresh-looking than they generally are."

"Have many Dutch joined them from the colony?"

"Not so many about here; but farther on they say a good many have
gone from Colesberg and that district. But most of them are waiting
for the Boer advance, then I think the greater portion of them will
join; from all I hear, it is an arranged thing, and the Boers reckon
confidently on being joined everywhere by their own people. I am going
to start to-morrow for De Aar, and shall sell all my cattle there, for
if the Boers come, they will be sure to carry them all off. I hear the
commissariat are buying them up for the use of the troops, and are
giving fair prices for them, so I shall be no loser by it; and I shall
sell my horses to them also. I have not got many sheep, but what I
have I shall get rid of, then we will shut up the house, put the best
part of our belongings into a waggon, and travel down quietly to Port
Elizabeth, and wait there till the business is over, and if we find it
likely to last, we shall go home for a holiday. It is fifteen years
since we came out here, and we have been talking of going to see the
old folk for some time, so if I get a fair price for the animals, it
would suit us very well."

They were now in the house, and after taking a cup of coffee and some
cold meat and bread, Yorke explained what he wanted. The colonist's
wife was much amused at the idea, and undertook at once to do the
sewing. Armed with a large pair of scissors, Yorke cut off about
ten inches of the horses' tails. While he had been doing this, the
woman had cut the lining out from the hat. The horse-hair was then
distributed equally round it, and she was about to begin sewing it in
when her husband said: "Wait a bit, Jenny; I will put my glue-pot on
the fire. The glue will hold the hair better than any amount of sewing,
and if a bit happened to work out, it would look very awkward."

"That would be capital," Yorke said. "I had my doubts whether sewing
would be sufficient, but there is no fear that glue will fail to hold."

Accordingly the glue was heated, and a band of it two inches wide
laid on round the inside of the hat. Then the hair was pressed into
this, and the lining sewn in its place again. Yorke put on his hat,
and, looking in a glass, joined in the hearty laughter of Hans and the
colonist. The appearance of the hair was perfectly natural, as it fell
on to the collar of his coat in thick masses.

"It is capital," the man said. "I am sure no one would suspect that it
was not real, except that, if they looked into it, they might think it
was coarser than usual; but it is just the way many of the Boers wear
their hair, and it certainly changes your appearance altogether. Your
face might be all the better for being a little more dirty, but it is
sunburnt, and will pass very well; only, you will have to bear in mind
never to take off your hat."

"I think I shall remember that," Yorke replied. "The Dutch farmers
seldom do take off their hats even indoors."

"I don't think that even Dirck Jansen would recognize you, Master
Yorke," Hans said, "after always seeing you in what you call your
Norfolk jacket and short gray breeches and stockings. He would not
know even your figure. You used to look slim, but in that rough coat,
fitting so loosely, your big trousers, and high boots, you look
different altogether. I am sure that if I had met you, without knowing
that you had disguised yourself, I should not have recognized you."

"You would look all the better for having your eyebrows darkened a
little," the woman said. "Your hair is much darker, and that would help
to change your expression."

The farmer found a cork, and after burning it, darkened Yorke's
eyebrows and eyelashes, thereby greatly altering the expression of his

"I will put that in my pocket," Yorke said, taking the cork, "then I
can touch my eyebrows up from time to time as it wears off."

After many thanks to his host and hostess, he again mounted with Hans,
and rode off, feeling confident now that he could mix with the Boers
without fear of detection. Two days were spent in following the river
on the line that he had been directed to take, and questioning the
Kaffirs, of whom several bands were found living in little huts on its
banks. They had seen no parties of men, nor, although news travelled
fast among the natives, had they heard of any large gathering. On
arriving at Zoutpans Drift they saw four Boers on the other side,
evidently placed there as patrols. Yorke did not hesitate, but went
boldly across.

"Where do you come from?" one of the men asked in Dutch, entertaining
no doubt whatever that he was a young Boer farmer come to join.

"Our farm is a few miles from Richmond. I hope we are in time for the
fighting. Has it begun yet?"

"Not here, though there have been a few shots fired round Kimberley.
But a big force is going down by Van Reenans Pass to help Joubert drive
the Rooineks into the sea."

"That is just the job I should like to join in."

"Well, I expect you will be in time. By now, no doubt, they will have
finished with the Rooineks at Dundee. Then they will wipe out those
at Ladysmith, and after that it will be an easy job, for there are no
soldiers to speak of at Maritzburg. We shall make an end of them all
this time, and it will be Africa for the Africanders, and no English
allowed here. Another party will be crossing at Bethulie in a day or
two. All our people in that district are ready to join as soon as they
do so; but there won't be any fighting there, for there are very few
troops at Port Elizabeth, and I expect they will embark in their ships
directly they hear that we are coming. What are they doing out your

"Not much at present. I hear a talk that more troops are coming out;
but it is a long way off, three weeks' voyage, I heard."

"As much as that?" the other said in surprise; "I thought England was
close to the Cape. I am sorry to hear that, for I had made up my mind
that after we had driven them out from here, we should go and take
their country, just as they have tried to take ours; there would be
good pickings for us all."

"Grand pickings," Yorke agreed.

"Well," the other went on, "I suppose we can get ships. France and
Russia and Germany are all going to join us, and will be glad enough to
arrange with us to send ships if we undertake to do the fighting."

"No doubt they will be glad to do so," Yorke said, "Though I am ready
to fight, I do not think I should care for the voyage. They say that
people who go on board ships for the first time are always ill."

"Well, we shall manage it somehow," the other answered.

"No doubt; but I must be riding on. I shall go on to Bloemfontein, and
I fancy I shall join the Natal force rather than the Colesberg one. I
am reckoned a good shot in my district, and it is no use having a rifle
and bandolier if one is not going to use them."

So saying he touched his horse with his heel and rode off. Hans had
been talking with the others.

"Why have you cut your hair off?" one asked.

"Because it will save trouble," Hans replied, "and besides it is
cooler, and we shall have it hotter down in Natal than it is here; my
hat, too, was rather tight, and it makes a lot of difference getting
rid of your hair. If we had gone through Richmond, I might have got a
bigger hat there, and let my hair stay on. As it was, it was easier to
cut it off and have done with it."

Yorke had told Hans to talk as much as possible, while he himself said
no more than was necessary. No one could doubts for a moment that
his follower was what he looked, and his being so would divert any
suspicion from himself. They slept that night at Fauresmith. The little
town was crowded with men who had come in in obedience to orders. After
some difficulty they secured a room and then went out and mingled in
the throng. It was easy to see that there was considerable difference
of opinion among the men. Some were noisy and boastful, but the
majority were undoubtedly there against their will, and when these
gathered quietly together angry words were spoken against Steyn, who
had, without the consent of the great body of burghers, plunged the
country into war and caused them to be dragged from their homes and


"We have no quarrel whatever with Britain," one said, "and she has
never interfered with us in the slightest. Englishmen have always been
welcome among us. We have nothing to do with the Transvaal quarrel. Why
shouldn't the Uitlanders have a vote, as our people have in Natal and
Cape Colony? Kruger has been working for it for years, and if--as he
says, and those fellows who are shouting over there think--we can drive
all the British out, it is the Transvaal people who will have all the
power. We know how Kruger's gang has piled up money by monopolies. If
the British go, it is we who will have to pay the taxes, and if there
is to be any change, I would rather a thousand times come under British
rule than under the Transvaal."

"You are right, Friedrich," another said. "If they had not said I
should be shot if I did not come with them I should not be here to-day.
They have taken my son as well as me, and who is to look after the farm
while I am away?"

"Besides," another put in, "if we drive the British out, who is going
to keep stores? Where are we going to buy what we want? There is
scarce a place that is not kept by an Uitlander. What do we know of
such matters? Where are we going to buy the goods to fill the shops?
Besides, it is not in our way. We are farmers and not shopkeepers. I
consider it a bad business altogether, and there are many of us who
would rather put a bullet into Steyn than into these Englishmen, who
have done us no harm."

Yorke found that the commando was going on to Edenburg, then by train
across the Orange River at Bethulie into Cape Colony, where, they were
told, every Dutchman would join them, for, except in Colesberg and some
other towns, there were very few English in the district. He gathered
that all the other commandos in the district were to move in the same
direction, while those on the north and west were to go to Kimberley.
There was no talk whatever of any large body going west. As darkness
came on, the streets began to empty, some of the men going into houses
where they had obtained lodging, but the majority, wrapping themselves
up, law down by the side of their horses. Hans went into a store and
bought some bread and cheese, for they had finished the things they had
brought with them before they had crossed the river that morning.

"We will go back to-morrow the first thing," Yorke said when they had
finished their meal in their room. "It is quite evident that they have
no idea at present of any attack in force on De Aar. It will not do for
us to cross at Zoutpans Drift; there would be no inventing a probable
tale to account for our movements; and it will be a great waste of time
to go down to Bethulie. There is the bridge near Colesberg, but that is
a good bit out of our way, and very likely that will be guarded too. I
was wrong not to have brought with me my English clothes, then I could
have said that I was an English refugee from Bloemfontein, and there
would have been no hindrance to our passing. As it is, I think we must
make up our minds to swim the Orange River. As we came along the banks
there were several places where the land sloped gradually down to the
water's edge on both sides. It was the case two or three miles below
the drift, and we will make for that point. We can follow the road for
some distance without much risk of meeting anyone, for it is evident
that the greater portion of the men have been commandeered, and the few
who remain will have plenty to do on the farms. If we should have the
bad luck to fall in with some small party, I can give out that I am
carrying orders from the field cornet for the men at the drift to be
very watchful, and if a British force is seen on the other side they
are to ride off at once and bring the news here, and then telegraph it
to Bloemfontein. I do not know, by the way, whether that story would
not pass us across the drift. I could say that the field cornet, whose
name we luckily heard, said that we could do better service at present
by crossing the drift and scouting on the other side than in going on,
as there was not likely to be any fighting at present, especially as
the train would certainly be so full at Edenburg that he would not be
able to carry on his whole commando."

Hans nodded. "All right, Master Yorke, I would rather do that than swim
the river, for I never swam a stroke in my life. I am told you can
cross rivers like that by holding on by saddles or horses' tails, but I
have no wish to try it."

"Well, we will start the first thing in the morning, before the Boers
are about. They have not a very long march before them and are not to
start till eight. We will be off at daylight."

Going downstairs he told the woman of the house that he would pay her
at once as he had to be off early. The horses had been fastened up in
a little yard at the back of the inn, and there would be no difficulty
in getting them out. Matters turned out as Yorke had hoped. The town
was still asleep when they started, and although they met two or three
Boers riding at full gallop to join the commando on the march, these
paid no attention to them. Fortunately, at the drift, the men who had
spoken to them the evening before had been relieved by others.

"Who are you, and where are you going?" one of the men asked.

Hans as usual acted as spokesman. "We are going scouting on the other
side. Field Cornet Hatjens said that the train from Edenburg would
not be able to carry all his commando, and that some will stop at
Fauresmith for another day or two. As we said we wanted to be doing
something, he ordered us to ride here and scout towards the railway,
and see if any trains with Rooineks were going north, and especially if
guards are stationed along the line. I don't suppose we shall find out
much, but it will be something to do, and we shall have time, I expect,
to join the others before they start. If we get any news it will be
telegraphed from Fauresmith to Bloemfontein." Then, as if no further
parley was necessary, they rode on into the water and were soon on the
other side.

It was a long day's ride to De Aar, but they got there late in the
evening, and Yorke went at once to the colonel's tent to report.

"Can I come in, sir?" he said as he reached the opening of the tent.

"Certainly, Harberton. Hullo!" he broke off as the light fell upon
Yorke's face. "Why, what have you been doing to yourself? I recognized
your voice at once, but if you had not spoken I certainly should not
have known you."

Yorke took off his hat.

"A wig!" the colonel exclaimed. "Where on earth did you get hold of it?"

"It is horse-hair, sir," Yorke replied, handing him the hat to be
examined. "I thought it possible that I might be recognized by some of
the Dutch who knew me when I was at the farm, so I cut a good bit of
hair off both of the horses' tails, and got an English colonist's wife
to make the hat up as you see."

"An excellent plan," the colonel said, examining it. "Naturally, it is
coarser than it ought to be, but many of the Boers have very coarse
hair, and the difference would not be observed in a casual inspection.
It would certainly pass excellently after dark."

"It passed well yesterday at Fauresmith."

"At Fauresmith!" the officer repeated in surprise.

"Yes, sir. Finding that I could obtain no intelligence of any kind
this side of the river, we crossed at Zoutpans Drift and went into
Fauresmith, which was full of Dutch, a commando having assembled there.
We mingled with them two or three hours and no one paid the slightest
attention to us."

"You have done well indeed; but before you tell me what news you have
gathered, I will point out to you that no doubt these men were all
bent on discussing the work upon which they were going to be engaged,
and would scarce give a casual glance at a stranger, and that although
your hair might pass unnoticed there among them, it would hardly be so
were you entering any place where you might be observed with suspicious
attention. I think that the idea of a wig is an excellent one, and I
should advise you to write down at once to Major Mackintosh, and ask
him to go to the cleverest hairdresser in Cape Town and get him to make
a wig imitating the long hair worn by the Dutch. Say that it is of the
utmost importance that it should be as indistinguishable from the real
thing as possible, as your life might depend upon its being undetected.
He had best send it up directed to me, as you might be away."

"I will do so, sir. I should not generally wear it, for most of the
men I saw at Fauresmith had their hair quite as short as mine; many of
them had almost a close crop. As we get farther north the chances of my
meeting any of the men from round Richmond would grow smaller, so there
would be no occasion to alter my appearance; and there would always be
some danger of the wig going wrong. Still, I will certainly get one; it
could be wrapped up very small, and if I should get into a mess, and
they were hunting for me, it would change my appearance altogether if I
could slip it on."

"It certainly would do so; but I do not think that you will be called
upon to go in disguise when we once move on. We shall, of course, then
have scouting parties ahead, and we shall get information from the
Kaffirs, and sometimes, perhaps, from well-disposed colonists. And now,
please tell me all about your journey, and what you have discovered.

"That is most satisfactory news--most satisfactory. This is the most
important point at present. There can be no doubt that in a day or
two all communication with Kimberley will be cut off, and this place
will become the base of our advance for its relief. An immense amount
of stores must be collected here before we can move forward. No
doubt small bodies of Boers will be hovering about, but they are not
likely to make an attack; and indeed I doubt if any force could do so
successfully. Still, it is a great thing not to be obliged to spend
half our strength on erecting strong earth-works, and to feel that
we can work in security. At the same time, I am sorry that they are
evidently going to invade the colony south of the Orange River. From
what I have heard, the Dutch population round Colesberg, Steynsburg,
and Stormberg are likely to join them almost to a man. The country is
mountainous, and it will be difficult to drive them out of it.

"Round Aliwal North a considerable portion of the population is
British. They may be able to hold their own; but if they cannot do
so, they are sure to suffer heavily at the hands of the Boers, who
will certainly combine plunder with patriotism. Among them there are a
considerable number of Irish and American Irish, Germans, French, and
Hollanders, adventurers of the worst kind, whom high pay and the hope
of plunder have attracted, together with a miscellaneous riff-raff of
the lowest class from the mining centres. The country Boers will be
rough and vindictive enough, you may be sure, but this foreign scum
will be infinitely worse; still, I have no doubt some of the troops as
they arrive will be sent on to Port Elizabeth, and will, we may hope,
be able to make head against them.

"By the way, we had news yesterday that Penn Symons had defeated
them at Dundee, though with heavy loss on our side; he himself is
mortally wounded. General White doubts whether that force will be
able to maintain itself, as the Boers are closing in all round him,
and the line of railway from Ladysmith is already cut. The Boers have
a tremendous advantage in being all mounted men, and, living as they
will do on the country they pass through, they will be unencumbered by
supply trains, and will move three feet to our one. The more I see of
it, the more I feel that we have a troublesome and difficult job on

The letter to Major Mackintosh was at once written and sent off by
the train starting that evening, together with one from the colonel,
stating the information that he had gained--thanks to the daring and
enterprise of Mr. Harberton, who had in disguise entered the Orange
Free State and gathered the intelligence he now sent from the men of
the Boer commando at Fauresmith.

Although Yorke had been absent but a few days, the changes at De Aar
were wonderful. Never even in the days of the gold fever in California
was so great a transformation effected in so short a time. De Aar had
grown from a little village of some forty houses, two or three shops,
a church and school, with a little camp, into a great military centre.
Captain Mackenzie of the Royal Artillery was in charge of a separate
camp, which grew daily. Here in a large kraal he had upwards of a
thousand mules and as many horses, all of which had been broken in and
trained for military service.

Not far away was the Army Service camp. Here were men capable of every
kind of work that could be demanded--carpenters, wheelwrights, railway
men, painters, plasterers, saddlers, and artificers of all sorts. Aided
by Kaffirs working under their direction, camps and sheds were erected
as if by magic, and in a couple of days a street of corrugated iron
stores would spring into existence on the veldt. There was already a
medical camp, with its Red Cross flag. The Yorkshire regiment had come
up, and was under canvas on the other side of the railway. The Kaffir
camp was also a canvas town, and here natives of many tribes, Basutos,
blacks from Cape Town, mule-drivers and transport men, were clothed and
fed. Breastworks had been erected by the troops and Kaffirs upon the
hills around, and redoubts thrown up on the plains.

On the morning after Yorke's return the colonel said to him: "I do not
see any work to which I can put you here, Mr. Harberton. After what
you have done I think you will be far more useful in scouting than in
any other way. I have been thinking the matter over, and have come to
the conclusion that you cannot do better than get some Kaffirs to act
under you. I will give you an order on the head of their department to
hand over a score of them to you. You can pick your men. They must, of
course, be active and intelligent fellows; and although you speak a
little of their language, it would be better to pick out some at any
rate who understand English or Dutch. Your friend Grimstone, whose
wife made your wig, has just come into camp with three or four hundred
cattle and a number of horses and ponies. He is at present in the
supply camp arranging the sale of his cattle. Some of his horses are
too light for transport purposes, but they are, like the Basuto ponies,
rough and hardy.

"Captain Mackenzie will no doubt buy all the animals suitable for his
purpose, and I will walk across with you to his camp and get him to
buy twenty ponies for your men. In this way you will be able to cover
a considerable extent of ground, and give notice of any party of Boers
who may ford the Orange River--for I hear that the water is sinking
fast, and no doubt it can soon be crossed at many points besides the
ordinary drifts. You would always be able to buy a sheep for the men,
for although the English colonists are rapidly coming in, of course the
Dutch are remaining. The men must carry ten pounds of flour apiece; and
if they have plenty of mutton it will last them for a week."

Yorke was delighted with the offer, indeed nothing could have suited
him better; and after going with the colonel and arranging for the
Kaffirs and ponies, he went to have a chat with his friend the colonist.

"I am glad to see that you got back safely," the latter said. "Did your
disguise pass you all right?"

"Admirably. I went straight into the middle of a commando at
Fauresmith, and learnt all that there was to learn without exciting
the slightest suspicion. I hope you are doing well with your cattle."

"Excellently. I am getting a much better price for them than I could
have obtained a month ago--more, indeed, than at the best of times;
and I am told that all my heavy horses will be bought on good terms
as remounts, but that the smaller ones are too light for this sort of
work. I shall try and sell them to one of the Dutch farmers, but I
can't expect to get much from them; in fact, I expect I shall almost
have to give them away."

"Colonel Pinkerton has just made an arrangement by which you will get a
fair price for twenty of them, if you have as many, for use by a score
of Kaffirs who are at work under me as scouts. I don't suppose he will
give you a high price for them; but at any rate he will pay you more
than you would get from the Boers, who would know that you must take
anything that they chose to offer."

"That is good news indeed. I am sure that I should not have got
more than a pound a head for them, and they are worth from seven to
ten pounds. If they will give me seven apiece all round I shall be

This was, indeed, the price that Yorke heard later in the day was paid
for them.

On leaving Mr. Grimstone, Yorke went among the Kaffirs and picked out
twenty active men, all of whom spoke Dutch. They had all been clothed
in blue frocks and trousers, and when they had been handed over to him
he was well pleased with their serviceable appearance; in the afternoon
he obtained the ponies from the remount department. The Kaffirs were
in the highest glee at exchanging hard labour for work of a kind most
congenial to them. Saddles were not necessary, nor were there any to
spare, but Yorke obtained a couple of hides from the commissariat and
the natives cut them into strips, folded up their blankets and placed
them on the ponies' backs, using bands of raw hide as saddle-girths.
With other strips they manufactured loops to act as stirrups, rough
bridles, and reins.

"Now, Hans, I shall promote you to the position of sergeant," Yorke
said that evening. "Your only duty will be to look after the fellows
generally, to bargain with the farmers for food, and to see that the
blacks obey orders when we are camping."

"Very well, Master Yorke, I will do my best. I shall be glad to be
right away from this camp; the dust here is awful. And, having nothing
to do while everyone else is at work, I quite long to be a Kaffir and
do something."

"I did not know you were so fond of work, Hans."

"I didn't know that I was either," Hans said with a grin.

"But one could always sleep at the farm when there was nothing else to
do; it is too hot in these canvas tents for that. And when everyone
else is at work I do not like to be loitering about all day. Already
three or four officers have asked me who I was and what duty I was
employed on, and seemed to think that I had no right to be here, and
that I was of no use."

"Well, we shall have plenty to do for the next month, and, I hope,
beyond that."

The heat and dust were indeed terrible at De Aar. The weather was
trying and changeable, the sun was intensely hot, and a bitterly cold
wind often blew. Sometimes a dust-storm would burst over the camp,
covering everything with a thick coat of red dust. This would be
succeeded by a heavy thunder-shower.

The men drew their rations of flour the first thing in the morning,
together with some bags of forage for the horses, and at seven o'clock
Yorke and Hans mounted, and after ordering them to follow him four
abreast, left the camp.

The Kaffirs needed no instruction from him in the art of scouting, it
was born in their blood, and they had been taught as boys among their
tribes, before they drifted away South as drivers of bullock-carts
or in other capacities. Once there, and liking the life of loafing
vagabondage, with just enough work to keep them from starving, they had
remained until high wages were offered, and their instinctive love of
warfare tempted them to take service with the army. Two miles away they
were halted, and Yorke, who had bought Baden-Powell's book on scouting
at Cape Town and had studied it diligently, told them that they were
now to separate, and were to practise scouting among the low hills in

"You must bear in mind," he said, "that the great object is to discover
the presence and strength of an enemy and the direction in which they
are approaching, without letting them know that they are observed. You
must never show yourselves against the line on the top of the hill, as,
were you to stand up with the sky behind you, you could be seen for a
very long distance. Half of you will go to the right and half to the
left. I shall stop here for an hour and watch you at work; then I shall
move straight forward. When you see me do so you will descend from the
hills and join me as I pass between them. Some of you may be too far
off to meet me there, but you will see our tracks and will follow us
till you overtake us. You had better remain here with me, Hans, and
watch them at work."

"I take it," Hans said, when the natives had started, "that scouting
for an enemy is the same sort of thing as crawling up to a herd of
deer, except that the deer are a good deal sharper than the men; you
can approach men from either side, while with deer you have not much
chance to get near them unless the wind blows from them towards you."

"That is so, Hans. The Boers' eyesight is sharp enough, but they have
not the power of smell. But if you were stalking them it would be best
always to try to come up against the wind, for although they could not
smell us, their horses might do so and show signs of uneasiness. Well,
we have stalked a good many deer together, and I fancy it will help us
a good deal with our work here."

Dismounting, he went with Hans on to an eminence and stood watching the
Kaffirs through his field-glass. He saw that, as they passed the first
small eminence, one man separated himself from the rest, rode up some
distance, and then leaving the horse, ran up until nearly at the top,
when he threw himself down and crawled forward with a zigzag movement,
taking advantage of the cover of rocks and sage-bushes. The next hill
was wider and longer, and two or three men turned off; beyond that he
could not perceive their movements. The same thing was going on on the
other flank.

"They will do splendidly," Yorke said, turning to Hans. "But when they
start scouting in earnest, and want to get up anywhere near the Boers,
they will have to take off those blue clothes of theirs; their own skin
won't show as much on the sand and rocks as those clothes will."

After waiting for an hour they mounted and rode slowly forward. They
were joined as they passed through a dip in the sand-hills by five men
from one flank and four from the other; there was not time for those
who had gone farther to get back. The party rode on slowly, and were
gradually overtaken by the others. All reported that they saw no signs
of the enemy. They were again sent forward to search hills to the
front, those who had before gone to the farther hills this time taking
those nearer. So the work continued all day, and in the afternoon
they halted at a deserted farmhouse, where they passed the night,
four Kaffirs being thrown out as patrols. Yorke had no fear of being
surprised, but thought it as well to accustom the men to behave as if
an enemy were near. For a week the work continued, being now carried
on more in earnest, as they were near the river. As the colonel had
suggested, their scouting was farther south than Yorke had before been.

"You know," he had said, "that there is no idea at present of their
crossing the Orange River between Zoutpans Drift and Philippolis, so
you had better watch the line between Seacow River at its junction
with the Orange to Hanover, as it is across this line that bands
that had crossed at Bethulie Bridge or Norvals Pont into Cape Colony
might advance west to cut the railway between De Aar and Richmond Road

The country was very hilly here, and the Kaffirs were divided into
parties of two, each having his appointed station. One was always to
remain at the look-out, the second to scout down to the river, and
when required, to fetch provisions from the farmhouse, which served as
Yorke's head-quarters.



The work was carried on steadily. The Kaffirs used their ponies only to
carry them to the point at which they commenced work. Here they would
be left while the natives proceeded on foot, scouted all day, returning
to their mounts late in the afternoon, and generally arriving at the
farm as the evening was closing in. For this work they had entirely
given up the clothes with which they had been furnished, and went about
in the scanty attire worn by Kaffir boys on a farm, or in the ragged
garments in which they had been engaged. Thus they were able to obtain
information from the Kaffirs at the farms, pretending either to have
come from the little native communities settled on the river bank, or
to have left the Orange Free State because of the troubles, and to be
on the look-out for work.

All that could be learned, however, was that the Boers who had crossed
the Orange River were either making south through the mountainous
district near Stormberg and Steynsburg, or were moving towards Aliwal
North. They were being largely joined by Dutch sympathizers, and the
farms of the British settlers were being everywhere looted.

After a fortnight of this work, Yorke was recalled to De Aar. The
troops from England had been pouring through. The first skirmish had
taken place. The mounted infantry of the Royal Munster Fusiliers,
the Northumberland Fusiliers, and the North Lancashire, with the 9th
Lancers, seven hundred in all, had gone some twenty miles along the
railway to the Orange River Station, and come in contact with a strong
Boer commando. There was a skirmish, two officers were killed, and two
others and two privates wounded.

Already guns, waggons, the soldiers' belts, and even their guns had
been painted khaki to match the uniforms. The officers, too, were in
khaki, but the emblems of their rank, and above all, their swords, had
marked them out, and the Boer sharp-shooters directed their attention
specially to them.

"You are to go up at once to Orange River station," the colonel said.
"I spoke about you and your little corps of Kaffir scouts to Lord
Methuen as he passed through here yesterday. He has already a body of
two hundred mounted colonials for scouting work; but on my pointing out
to him that your Kaffirs could pass anywhere, and obtain information
from their countrymen in the heart of the enemy's country without
exciting suspicion, he said the idea was an excellent one, and ordered
me to send you on at once. You will report yourself to him personally
on your arrival at Orange River. You must go by road; the railway is
entirely occupied by the troops going up."

Delighted at the order, Yorke, after an hour's halt to rest the ponies
and draw rations, started, and rode as far as Hout Kraal siding.
There he halted for the night, and the third day rode into Orange
River Station at twelve o'clock. He had no difficulty in finding Lord
Methuen's quarters. The general, a handsome soldierly man, was standing
at the door speaking to an officer, and when the conversation ended,
Yorke moved up and saluted.

"My name is Harberton, sir. On arriving at De Aar yesterday, Colonel
Pinkerton ordered me to come on here and report myself to you."

"Ah, you are the officer in command of a party of Kaffir scouts. He
spoke highly of you, and said that you had crossed the Orange River in
disguise and obtained valuable information from a Boer commando you
mixed with. It certainly seemed to me that you and your men might do
valuable service. Our scouts can only tell us what they see, whereas
your Kaffirs can go anywhere and obtain information from the natives,
while your speaking Dutch will enable you to pass as a Boer. You
yourself know something of Kaffir also?"

"Yes, sir."

"They have horses?"

"Yes, sir; but they only use them till they get to a point where they
really begin to scout. Then they knee-halter them and start on foot,
and are absent perhaps many hours before they return. The ponies enable
them to cover a much larger extent of ground than they could were they
to start in the first place on foot."

The general nodded. "We shall not start for another three or four
days, Mr. Harberton, but I shall be glad if you will be off to-morrow
morning on a reconnaissance. The other day the Boers were not met
with on this side of Belmont; I wish to ascertain whether the country
is still completely clear of them to that point, and if possible,
what force they have at Belmont. You will report yourself now to the
quartermaster-general, who will assign you a tent and a spot where your
Kaffirs can picket their ponies. They had better not take them with
them to-morrow, as they would be much more conspicuous to the Boer
scouts than if the men went on foot. You may as well, by the way, take
four horses on to the point where you yourself decide to stop. Your men
will, of course, return to you every evening, and you will send one off
each day with your report of what you have learned. A week's rations
will be issued to you. Oh, here is Major Rimington!

"Major," he said, as the officer came up, "this is Mr. Harberton, who
commands a small body of Kaffir scouts, who will be more useful in
obtaining information than your men can be, as they can pass anywhere
and pick up news from the local Kaffirs. He will be generally away,
but as he is quite alone, I shall be glad if you will allow him to be
attached to your corps while he is with us. He has already made one
dangerous expedition in disguise. He is, I hear, an old Rugby boy,
but has been out here long enough to speak Dutch fairly and to talk a
little Kaffir."

"With pleasure, sir. We will make him at home and look after him. If
you will wait a few minutes, sir, while I speak to the general, I will
take you off with me."

Saluting Lord Methuen, Yorke walked away a short distance greatly
pleased with his reception. He was soon joined by Major Rimington.

"Now, have you anywhere to go before you come to our camp?" the latter

"I have to go to the quartermaster-general's to get him to assign a
spot where the ponies of my men can be picketed, and to obtain an order
for them and myself for a week's rations, as we start out to-morrow,
and also to get a tent."

"It will be of no use your getting that till you come back; we are not
very closely packed. Anyhow, you can have a shake-down for the night.
When we once move forward there will be no coming back here, and it
would be absurd to have all the trouble of getting a tent and putting
it up, and taking it down and handing it over the next morning. Have
you a servant?"

"Yes, sir. I have a Dutch lad, a very good fellow, who acts as my
servant and sergeant."

"Then he had better draw his rations and yours, and look after you. I
shall be glad if you will share my tent for to-night."

The arrangements were soon made, and the quartermaster-general also
gave an order on the officer looking after the native labourers, to
tell off two Kaffirs to take care of the horses of the party until
they returned. Then Yorke went with Major Rimington to the camp of his
regiment, and was introduced to his officers. Two or three of these
were already acquainted with Yorke, having lived at the same hotel at
Cape Town.

"You are just in time for lunch," the major said. "I do not expect we
shall get any more regular meals for some time."

They sat down in the open air at a rough table constructed of planks
placed on empty barrels, and boxes, the latter being also used for
seats. The meal was a pleasant one; everyone was in high spirits at
the thought that the period of inaction was nearly over, and that in a
few days they would be advancing to the relief of Kimberley. There was
no stint of food, as, in addition to the ordinary rations, they had
brought up with them two or three cases of preserved meats and wine,
and as these could be taken on no farther there was no motive for being
saving with them. The officers were a fine set of young men. All were
colonials of good family, and the men were all strong and hardy young
fellows. They were to act not only as scouts, but as guides to the
army, and there was scarcely a square mile in the colony but was known
to one or other of them. Unlike the regulars, the officers had already
done away with everything that would distinguish them at a distance
from privates, their belts were khaki colour, and they carried carbines
instead of swords, in addition to their revolvers.

After the meal was over, the party broke up, the officers going to
look after the men and horses. The major said: "Come into my tent,
Harberton, and tell me how you come to speak Dutch so well, and how you
got up this corps of yours."

The major lit his pipe and seated himself on a box, which--with the
exception of a bed on the ground, two other boxes which served as a
writing-table, and another kept for a visitor--constituted the sole
furniture of the tent. Yorke took the spare box, and gave a sketch of
his history and doings to the major.

"You have done well indeed," the latter said when he had finished. "It
was a thousand times better to come out here and fight your way, than
to be hanging about waiting for something to turn up at home, and you
have certainly made the best of your time. Many men would be years in
the colony before learning to speak Dutch thoroughly. Your expedition
to Fauresmith shows that you have plenty of intelligence as well as
pluck, though, looking at you now, I can hardly fancy you would be able
to disguise yourself to pass as a Boer."

"I shall start in that character to-morrow morning, Major, so you will
have an opportunity of judging for yourself. I have no idea of stopping
idle all day while the Kaffirs are at work."

"Don't be too rash, you know," the major said. "Remember that a man
may do a thing half a dozen times in safety, but at the seventh some
accident may occur that will betray him."

That afternoon Yorke saw a party of troopers ride in with six Boers;
they had been captured in a skirmish. Two of these were men of a better
class, with well-made clothes, silk neck-ties, and polished boots; the
others were rough fellows, probably, he thought, men employed on some
of the farms belonging to the others. He noticed that these had all cut
their hair, so that it stood up rough and bristly.

"That is good," he said to himself. "I shall be able to do without that
wig that the colonel handed to me when I returned to De Aar. I don't
say that it might not come in useful if I had to change my disguise
quickly, but it would always be dangerous. Hat and wig might both blow
off in one of the thunder-storms, or get knocked off in a scuffle.
Still, I am afraid I shall look too English without it. Of course there
are boys of my age among them. We know that all over sixteen have to
go on commando. However, I will first go into the major's tent and slip
into my Boer clothes, and put on my wig and blacken my eyebrows, and
see if he recognizes me, then I will ask his opinion how I could alter
myself a bit if I gave up the wig."

He returned to the camp of Rimington's Tigers, as they were generally
called--from the fact that they wore a strip of raccoon skin as a band
round their slouch hats. When he had put on his disguise, he waited
till he heard Major Rimington ride up and call to his orderly to take
his horse, then he stepped out.

"Hullo! Who the deuce are you?" the major exclaimed, "and how dare you
enter my tent when I am away? What are you doing in the camp, sir? Show
me your permit."

"I did not know anything about a permit," Yorke said in Dutch,
disguising his voice as much as possible.

"How was it the sentry let you enter the camp?" the major said angrily.

"Hi, there!" he called to two of his men a little distance away. "Hi,
hand this man over to the guard, and tell the sentry to keep a sharp
eye upon him. I expect he is a spy, and by his going into my tent
possibly a thief."

"You needn't do that, major," Yorke said as he answered him in English
with a laugh. "You see I have been able to pass as a Boer, and even
you, seeing me come out of your tent, did not recognize me."

The major broke into a laugh, telling the soldiers who were running
up that it was all right, and they need not trouble themselves. Then,
as he alighted, he took another good look at Yorke. "No, I certainly
should not have known you. It is a wonderfully good get-up. That long
hair changes your appearance completely, and those loose slovenly
clothes quite alter your figure. You will be able to pass anywhere like
that. Come in; let me see what you have done to your face. Even that
seems changed somehow."

"It is only that I have darkened my eyebrows, sir."

"Where did you get that wig from?" he went on as Yorke, on entering,
took off his hat.

"I sent down from De Aar, and had it specially made."

"It is a capital one, and that sort of rough curl on the forehead
completely hides the edge of the parting."

Yorke spent a pleasant evening with the officers of the Tigers, and
started soon after daybreak next morning, wearing his uniform, the
bundle containing his other clothes being carried on one of the four
horses ridden by the Kaffirs.

They attracted no notice whatever in passing through the camp, but
at the bridge Yorke had to show the pass he had received from the
quartermaster-general on the previous day, ordering that he should at
all times be allowed to leave or enter the camp, and enjoining all
officers of patrols and detached parties to render him any assistance
in their power. Once across the bridge he rode on at a trot, the
unmounted natives keeping up without difficulty. He did not follow the
line of the railway, but struck off to the right, as any Boers who
might be on look-out on the top of the kopjes would be watching the
line, which was frequently patrolled for some miles from the camp, in
order to prevent it from being torn up or injured. The country on this
side of the river was greener and less arid-looking than on the plain
south of it.

Riding east for three or four miles across undulating and broken
ground, Yorke felt that he had probably got beyond the hills where
watchers were likely to be stationed. He and Hans now dismounted, took
off their uniforms, and dressed themselves in Boer attire. The Kaffirs
were told to scatter, and made their way as much as possible over rocky
ground, keeping the mounted party in sight. Half a dozen of them went
ahead, ascending every elevation whence they could get a view of the
country round and discover any Boers on watch. They were now travelling
parallel with the railway, and continued that course until, as Yorke
judged, they must be nearly abreast of Belmont. A spot was chosen in
a narrow valley between the two kopjes. It was thickly strewn with
great boulders and rocks of all sizes. Here the Kaffirs at once set to
work to build up a rough wall where a huge overhanging mass of rock
formed a natural roof. The six horses were given a good feed, and were
then allowed to wander about and nibble the grass and the leaves of the
bushes growing thickly between the rocks.


Yorke and Hans took possession of the rough shelter, and rations were
served out. With the tinned meat and a handful or two of mealies the
Kaffirs were well content, and as the clouds were banking up for a
thunder-storm, soon found shelter for themselves among the boulders.
The storm came up rapidly; the thunder was incessant for half an hour,
then the sky cleared up and the stars shone out. Yorke had procured
a stock of bread for himself and Hans, extra water-bottles had been
brought, and as Major Rimington had insisted upon his taking two
bottles of wine before starting, they made a comfortable meal.

"I thought you did not drink anything but tea and coffee, Master
Yorke," Hans said, when the latter poured a little wine into the water
in a tin mug.

"I do not as a general thing, Hans, but I cannot get tea or coffee at
present, and the water of the Orange River is scarcely a fluid that
it is desirable to drink alone. Spirits I never touch, but a spoonful
or two of wine takes away the muddy flavour and helps one to get down
this bread and tinned meat. Using it like this, the wine will last
for a week, and I expect before that time we shall join the troops at
Belmont. Hans, you must mind you have your story perfect. We are Dutch
from Cape Colony. We crossed the river at Colesberg Bridge, and decided
to come north to join Cronje outside Kimberley. Of course we must be
very careful as to where we say we live. It is pretty certain that a
good many of the Dutch from round Richmond will have come to aid the
Free Staters. I know by sight those who used to come to the farm; no
doubt you know more. They won't recognize us in our changed dress, but
they would know the names of all the farmers for many miles round, and
it would never do to say that we came from that part of the country.

"We had better say that we came from near Pearston. It is a good-sized
place in the East Somerset district, about half-way between the two
lines going up from the coast to Middelburg. It is very unlikely that
any of the Dutch from that neighbourhood would come up here; they will
be waiting for the Boers to come down across the Orange River through
Steynsburg and Molteno, before they take up arms, so that there will be
very little fear of our falling in with any who would question us very
closely as to the farm we came from or of the people we knew. But I do
not propose to go in among the enemy at Belmont. It is almost certain
that, although they may fight there, and perhaps at some of the kopjes
farther on, it is at the crossing of the Modder river that the big
fight will be.

"Every time we went into their camp the risk would increase. Some of
the men who saw us at one place and heard our story would be sure to
recognize us at the next. Of course if we remained with them all the
time, shared in the fighting and retreat, it would be all right; but
I have not the least idea of being shot by our own men or cut down in
the pursuit, for there would be no time to explain to a Lancer coming
right at you that you were an Englishman holding an authorization from
Lord Methuen. So I shall content myself this time with telling off four
of the Kaffirs. They are to make their way separately to Belmont, to
get into conversation with Kaffir drivers, teamsters, and so on, and to
endeavour to find out about how many Boers are assembled there, what
guns they have with them, whether there is any talk of their being
joined by a larger force, and whether they know of any place farther on
where they intend fighting.

"If they are questioned at Belmont they can tell any story they like.
They can say that they were working for English settlers, and that as
these have left, they are out of employment and want a job. They must
arrange among themselves where to meet at night, then, after comparing
notes as to what they have learned, one of them must steal away and
make his way back here. The other three, if they have been hired to
look after ponies, had better remain there, and retire with the Boers
if they retreat. The next day I will send off another to act exactly
in the same way, so that every night I shall get a messenger back.
The men not engaged in this work will scout all the country round,
visiting farms and asking for work, and finding out whether any more
men are coming from the east through Fauresmith, and if there are any
bands about who are likely to be making down to cut the line this side
of Belmont. You and I will scout along this line of hills, there may
be some parties lurking among them with the intention of damaging the

The next morning at daybreak Yorke informed the Kaffirs of the work
they were to do, and chose four of them as the first to carry out his
plan, and explained fully to them the manner in which they should
proceed and the story they were to tell.

"You had better draw lots at once," he said, "which of you is to bring
me the news that you have gathered. Don't all tell the same story.
Two of you can go in together and can pretend you have come from a
deserted farm, the other two had better say they have come from one of
the little native collections of huts by the river. Where there are
Boers there are sure to be waggons, and it is probable that some of
the native drivers will have deserted, and the Boers will be glad to
take on fresh hands. It is not at all probable that any of you will be
exposed to fire, the waggons are sure to be sent off as soon as the
troops are seen to be advancing."

In a few minutes the whole party had scattered with the exception of
three men left to look after the horses. Yorke and Hans spent the
day in hard work, climbing up to the summit of the highest kopje,
whence they commanded a view over the lower hills near the line of
railway. The closest examination through a field-glass failed to
show that there was any force stationed on them, though on several,
single figures could be made out, evidently posted there as scouts. At
dusk, all save the four who had gone into Belmont had returned. They
brought no news of importance. The Kaffirs they had fallen in with,
when questioned, had heard nothing of any further commandos coming in
from the east. They stated that it was believed that great numbers had
assembled behind the Modder, and that they were digging trenches and
throwing up breast-works on their side of the river, and the general
talk was that they would annihilate the English army when it arrived

The Boers were disappointed that Kimberley had not already been
captured. Everywhere the feeling of the Kaffirs was in favour of the
British, but all believed that these had no chance whatever against the
Boers. Yorke had brought candles and writing materials with him, and at
once sat down and wrote his report of the news.

Three hours later one of the men returned from Belmont. His report was
that many of the Boers had been there for upwards of a month, that
the kopjes had all been fortified by walls of rough stones round the
summits, and that these had been continuously occupied by the lower
class of Boer labourers and cattlemen. The Kaffirs are not good at
figures, but by careful cross-examination, Yorke gained the information
that there were more men there than would make two of the regiments
they had seen at Orange River. They said that more would move up from
behind when the British advance began, and that the leaders and the
richer Boers would then arrive in their Cape carts or on horseback.
The Boers felt confident that the British would never be able to storm
their kopjes.

These kopjes were isolated hills, apparently composed of rough
boulders, the rock from which they were formed rising sharply above
them. About Belmont they were seldom more than five hundred feet high,
but in many cases they rose fully three times that height, and it was
up two of these lofty crests that Yorke and Hans that day laboriously

As soon as Yorke had written down the information he had gathered,
he dispatched one of the men with the horses to ride back with it to
Orange River. Yorke instructed the man that when challenged he was to
reply, "A friend with despatches;" then he was to stand still till the
sentry called to a sergeant, who would send forward two men to conduct
him to the proper authorities, who would pass him on to head-quarters.

Three days were passed at the same work, then one of the messengers
brought back an order for Yorke to join the troops on the following
evening at Fincham's Farm, half-way to Belmont. The troops would
halt there for the night, and advance to the attack on the following
morning. It was from Fincham's Farm that Yorke had obtained water for
the men and horses. Five of the Kaffirs had been down there every
day, in charge of Hans, with the horses, to give the animals a good
drink and fill the men's water-bottles, there being no water to be had
nearer. Yorke was glad to receive the order, for after the first day
the news from Belmont had varied but little. Some fresh parties of
Boers had arrived, but not in any great number; and although it was
believed that a stand could be successfully made at Belmont, it was
intended that the great, and, as expected, final blow was to be struck
at Magersfontein.

The party started early, and reconnoitred all the hills on the way
down. Late in the afternoon a cloud of dust was seen out on the plain.
No moving figures could be made out. It might have been a sand-storm,
such as sprang up nearly every afternoon, but Yorke had no doubt that
it was the army, with its waggons and baggage. When he rode into
Fincham's Farm he found Rimington's Guides and the Lancers already
there, and half an hour later the head of the column marched in. Their
figures could scarcely be made out until they were within a few hundred
yards of the place, so completely did the universal khaki disappear in
the cloud of dust they raised on the arid plain over which they were
marching. Yorke and Hans had resumed their uniforms, and the former
received a hearty greeting from Rimington and his officers.

"How have you got on, Harberton?" the major asked cheerily.

"It's been hard work, and by no means exciting, sir. I am afraid that
such news as I have sent in has been of no great use to the general."

"Yes, I think it has been useful. I saw the quartermaster-general
yesterday, and he said that your scouts were doing very well, better
than he anticipated. Thank goodness, work is going to begin at last!
And so you think there will be no stand made by the Boers until we get
to Belmont?"

"I am convinced of that. The Kaffirs have searched every kopje up to
that point. Beyond a vedette or two on some of the hills, they have
no force whatever along the line of railway this side of Belmont; but
they have a strong body there--from two thousand to two thousand five
hundred. As far as I can make out they have a few guns also. I got near
enough to make out with my glasses that they were at work on three
hills from four to five miles east of the station. Their guns are on
the two hills farthest east."

"And what is the ground like behind! Will it give us any chance of
acting on their line of retreat?"

"The ground is very rough and broken behind the centre, and there is a
big range of hills--not kopjes--still farther behind. To their right
is some flat ground where the cavalry could act, but they would have
to pass through a line of smaller kopjes forming a continuation of the
three principal ones. There were no men on these when I was watching
them yesterday; but if they should retreat across the plain, a small
body of them placed there could check the advance, if not stop it

"Then, if I understand you, Harberton," the major said, examining the
leaf of the pocket-book on which Yorke had roughly dotted down the
positions, "we could move along the line of railway without the Boers
being able to trouble us from the position they occupy?"

"Certainly, major; but of course they would be able to come down behind
us directly we pass, and attack the baggage-train. Being all mounted
men, they could move very fast."

"Yes, I see that they might give us a lot of trouble, and I should
think Lord Methuen would clear them out before we go farther."

Yorke reported himself to the quartermaster-general, and he was told to
wait, as the general might wish to question him further; indeed, five
minutes later he was sent for. The general had only dismounted a few
minutes before, and was now in a room in the farmhouse. He had before
him the rough sketch of the Boer position that Yorke had sent in on the
previous evening.

"The information you have gathered is valuable, Mr. Harberton, and,
rough as the sketch is, it has given us a better idea of the Boer
position than we had previously been able to gather from the maps. Do I
understand you to say that if the Boers were prevented from making off
across this level ground to the right rear of the position, they would
be thrown back across this line of high hills which is marked in my map
as Mont Blanc?"

"Yes, sir. I went up to the highest point of those hills, and so far as
I could see they would have to go by a road that runs round the foot
of the mountain to the south-east. That road might be cut by a cavalry
force making its way round to the south of the three kopjes from
Witputs Station."

"And what is the length of front along these three kopjes at present
held by them?"

"I should say from five to six miles, sir. It is about as far from the
right-hand kopje to Belmont Station; the left or southern kopje is a
good deal farther from the line of railway."

"They have erected breast-works on the hill?"

"Yes, sir; rough barricades of rocks and boulders. Their horses are
gathered on the low ground behind the kopjes."

"You do not think they will fall back at our approach?"

"I should not think they would, sir. My Kaffirs say that they all think
it absolutely impossible for the troops to scale the hills in the teeth
of their rifle fire."

"Thank you, sir. You are attached for the present to Rimington's
Guides, are you not? You had better continue with them until your
Kaffirs can get to work again. You still have some among the Boers,
have you not?"

"Yes, six have obtained employment with them. My instructions were that
they were to retire with them, and that every night one or other should
make off and bring in news of what they were doing. I said they were
to come in the first place to Major Rimington, as I should probably be

The general nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Harberton! your arrangements have
been very good."

The next morning the column advanced to a farm on the road on the
western side of the railway two miles from Belmont. The movements
for an attack on the following day were at once begun. The Ninth
Brigade--consisting of the Northampton Regiment, the 1st Northumberland
Fusiliers, the 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry, four companies of
the Loyal North Lancashire, and two companies of the 1st Royal
Munsters--passed the station, and took up their position to the north
of it. The three regiments of Guards halted at a house known as the
White House, some four miles short of the station. The Naval Brigade
had just come up after a tremendous march. A portion of the cavalry
went on to the town of Belmont--it was nearly three miles beyond the
station--while a portion remained at Witputs Station.

Unfortunately in this arm the force was extremely weak, the cavalry
consisting only of some two hundred and fifty 9th Lancers and
Rimington's Guides. It had with it the 18th and 75th Batteries of Field
Artillery, and numbered, in all, ten thousand infantry and artillery,
and five hundred sailors.

Orders were issued for the troops to be under arms and ready to move
at three in the morning. From a gun visible on the crest of the third
kopje this was called Gun Hill, the northern was christened Table Hill,
and the southern was locally known as Kaffir Kop. The Guards were to
march against Gun Hill. The Naval Brigade were to cover the right of
the Guards from any attack by the Boer force from Kaffir Kop. The
Northumberlands and Northamptons were to attack Table Hill, while the
other regiments of the brigade were to form a connecting link between
them and the Guards. It was clear from these instructions that, as
Kaffir Kop was not to be attacked, Lord Methuen's plan was to throw
back the Boer right, and force it in its retreat to move by the road
south of Mont Blanc, and so sever it altogether from the Boer forces
farther north. That complete success did not attend the operation was
due to the difficulty of moving in the dark across an unknown country.



It was a bright moonlight night when the men set out on their march.
Orders had been issued that absolute silence was to prevail, that no
matches were to be struck, that orders were to be delivered by signs
and not by word of command, and that at each halt the men were to kneel
down. The ground was undulating, and wherever it was possible the
column took advantage of the shadows thrown by the rising ground. The
sight of these bodies of men moving almost without sound across the
sandy soil, on which their feet fell noiselessly, was almost weird.
Occasionally there came a deep rumble of wheels as the guns passed
over a piece of rocky ground, and a murmur of annoyance could be heard
in the column, for all knew how important it was that they should get
as near as possible to the Boer position unheard.

The Grenadiers led the way in the right column, the Scots Guards were
on their left rear, the two battalions of Coldstreams were in reserve.
Unfortunately these positions were not maintained. The Scots Guards
came up abreast of the Grenadiers, but some distance to their left;
the Grenadiers, instead of maintaining their direction, bore to the
left and marched against Kaffir Kop; the Coldstreams diverged still
further to the left; thus, instead of being concentrated for the attack
on the central kopje, the brigade were scattered over a front of two
miles. No doubt the efforts of the various battalions to find out each
others' position delayed the advance, and they did not arrive until day
had broken. The sun was just rising over the eastern hills when the
Grenadiers came within three hundred yards of the foot of Kaffir Kop.
Suddenly some guns placed on an eminence to its right opened fire, and
at once a roar of musketry came from the top of the hill, while a heavy
flanking fire also opened from Gun Hill, and a storm of bullets swept
the line, many men falling at once, while the dust rose thickly around
them as the Mauser bullets pattered fast on the sand. The order had
been given that the troops were not to fire, but were to carry the hill
at the point of the bayonet.

The pause was a short one. Joined by some of the Northamptons, who
apparently had also missed their way, the Grenadiers fought their way
up the hill. The Boers here, as at Talana, on the other side, lost
heart as soon as they found to their astonishment that, in spite of
their tremendous fire, the troops whom they had despised still pressed
up the hill. They did not await their arrival at the crest, but fled
precipitately down into the valley behind it, and took up a fresh
position on another hill there. While the Grenadiers had been engaged
in this short but desperate conflict, the Scots Guards on their left
had effected the capture of the central kopje. They rushed to the
attack as bravely as their brothers-in-arms. The Boers on the summit
had opened as hot a fire upon their assailants as had the defenders
of Kaffir Kop, but the troops were not exposed to such a terrible
cross-fire, and the consequence was, their loss was comparatively small.

On the left the fighting had been sharp. The enemy had thrown out
outposts towards the railway from Table Hill, and the Northamptons were
soon engaged in driving them in. At the foot of the hill, however,
the Boers made a stand. They had thrown up some stone breast-works,
and held them until the Northamptons pushed forward to the right and
so took the defenders of the sangars in flank, and forced them to
quit their position and retire to the hill. The two regiments then
advanced to storm the position. The defence of the Boers here was more
feeble and half-hearted than that offered at Gun Hill and Kaffir Kop.
On gaining the summit the infantry halted until the guns came up and
opened fire on the next range of hills, where the Boers, driven from
their first line of defences, had now ensconced themselves, keeping
up a continuous fire from among the rocks. Two regiments advanced and
seized a ridge to the south, from which the Boers had been maintaining
a flanking fire; but they could advance no farther, for the Yorkshires
and Munsters, who should have been their supports, had been withdrawn.

This was an unfortunate tactical error. Had they been with their
brigade, and had this been strengthened by one of the Coldstream
battalions, our left could have pressed steadily on and have driven the
Boers by the south-east route, where they would have been harassed as
they passed by the fire of the Guards Brigade, and cut up by the little
body of cavalry that had arrived there from Witputs. The Coldstreams
came late into action, but they attacked and carried the hill called
Mont Blanc, while they aided the Scots Guards to capture another
eminence to the south of that hill. They were aided by the artillery
and by the guns of the Naval Brigade, which now, after tremendous
efforts by the marines and sailors, had been brought up.

The enemy, disheartened at the manner in which they had been driven
from position after position, now gave way altogether. Their only
means of retreat was to cross the level ground to the north-east, and
had there been a strong force of cavalry, with a battery or two of
horse-artillery, under Lord Methuen's orders, their defeat would have
been converted into a disastrous rout. But half of the little force
were on the other flank, there was no horse-artillery, and although the
little party of Lancers and Rimington's Guides attempted to perform the
work assigned to them, they were unable to do so. The broken ground
running north from Table Hill was held by a strong body of Boers, who
covered the retreat of their waggons and guns. In no case could they
have overtaken the flying horsemen, for their chargers were worn out by
the heavy work of scouting they had carried on. Water, too, had been
short since they had left the Orange River, and after suffering a good
many casualties they fell back. The battle was virtually over by six
o'clock, having lasted about two hours.

Yorke had ridden with Rimington's Guides from Belmont, and, as they
were on the extreme left of the fighting-line, had seen little indeed
of the combat. That the British were gaining ground was evident from
the direction from which the roar of battle reached them, and when at
length the order came for them to advance, they had ridden forward
eagerly until checked by the heavy fire opened from the low line of
rocky eminences facing them. To have pressed on against riflemen hidden
among rocks would have been to incur certain and heavy loss, and might
have deprived the army of its already utterly insufficient cavalry
force; consequently Colonel Gough, who was in command, reluctantly gave
the order for them to retire. Yorke had the evening before handed over
his Kaffirs to the medical department as stretcher-bearers, and as
soon as firing ceased and it was evident that the battle was over, he
rode across the country to give what aid he could in the work.

He found that the greater part of the British wounded had already been
carried off by the troops, some in the ambulance waggons, some on
stretchers. By half-past ten the infantry were already in camp, and
by one all the wounded were being attended to in the hospitals. The
loss of the Grenadiers, 117 men killed or wounded and 10 officers,
exceeded that suffered by the whole of the rest of the division. The
Northumberlands and Northamptons had over 60 casualties among the men
and 6 among their officers; of these the Northumberlands had by far the
larger share. Yorke, after seeing the last of the wounded, Briton and
Boer, placed on ambulances, was now free, and fastening his horse to a
sagebush, he and Hans ascended the hill the Grenadiers had won.

On reaching the summit he saw that it had been carefully prepared for
defence, and had evidently been occupied for a long time. The wall was
not, as it had appeared, continuous, but was broken up into little
enclosures or forts, each sufficiently large for two or three men to
live and sleep in; straw, old sacking, and brushwood formed the beds.
In each were generally to be seen the ashes of a fire, a cooking pot,
meat tins, fragments of bread, and other signs of continued occupation.

Empty cartridge-cases littered the ground everywhere, while many still
loaded showed how hasty had been the flight of the Boers. Several dead
bodies lay in these little forts; they were for the most part of men
of the lower class, farm-servants and others, with rough ill-fitting
clothes and closely-cropped heads. Among them, however, were a few of a
very much superior class, clean and carefully dressed, but these were
quite the exception; and Yorke afterwards heard from the prisoners that
men of that class generally sent on their best horses, and rode in on
spare animals or in light carriages and carts, and as soon as they saw
that the fight was going against them, ran down the hill, jumped on to
their fresh horses, and rode off, leaving the unmounted men to fight
and die. Eighty-three Boers were found dead, but it was certain that
the bodies of many of the better-class Boers had been carried off when
they fell. More than fifty prisoners were taken, and twenty wounded;
sixty-four waggons and a considerable number of horses were captured.

The next day all the wounded were sent down by train. That afternoon
the troops moved forward again, knowing that another Boer force was
collected at Graspan, some seven miles to the North. The Ninth Brigade
and the Naval Brigade started in the afternoon for Swingspan, while the
Guards moved on somewhat later with the Naval guns, armoured train, and
baggage. Lord Methuen's intention was this time to attack the left of
the Boer position, which was planted along a low range of hills, the
highest and most commanding of which lay on their left.

The Ninth Brigade, with Rimington's horse and the Lancers, bivouacked
at Swingspan, a deep depression in a valley surrounded on all sides by
hills of volcanic origin. The march had been an uneventful one. The
cavalry had scouted the ground in front of them, but beyond beating up
a herd of springbok, and startling an occasional covey of partridges,
scaring up the little birds called dikkopfs, and sending the lizards
hurrying to their shelters, they saw no signs of life. The effect of
the previous day's fight was evident from the fact, that although the
line of march was everywhere commanded by low hills, no shot was fired.
It was difficult for the troops gathered round the pool to believe that
the smooth circle of hills around them was ages ago a number of active
volcanoes, and that the pool might itself have been a crater; but the
fact has been well ascertained. Fires were lighted, but these soon
burnt down, for the men were glad to stretch themselves on the sands
and fall to sleep as soon as the kettles were boiled and their bread
had been eaten. Pickets went up to the surrounding hills, and one of
these found in a sangar a field-glass and walking-stick, showing that
the Boers had occupied it but a short time before.

At three in the morning the troops were in motion again, and marched
for five miles towards a line of kopjes some three miles from the
railway-station. The station bore the two names of Enslin and Graspan,
by both of which the battle was afterwards called. The Lancers scouted
ahead, while Rimington's Guides watched the hills on the right. At last
the enemy's entrenchments were seen extending along a series of kopjes.
Their right was on two hills, one lying on each side of the railway,
the left upon a high conical hill three miles to the east of it. On
the ridges between were several guns, and through field-glasses the
Boers could be seen hurrying towards the eastern kopje, against which
they already perceived our main attack would be delivered. One of the
field-batteries at once advanced and opened fire against this hill.

The armour-plated train had moved to Graspan station, and the sailors
got out two of their twelve-pounder guns, leaving the others in the
waggons, as there were not hands enough to work them. Presently these
were joined by two batteries of artillery, and at half-past six all
opened fire. Two companies of the Northumberlands acted as a covering
party, and the rest were to line a low crest to the right and keep
touch with the other battalions of the brigade posted there to oppose
any movement that might be made from the Boer centre. Of such a
movement, however, there was but little probability, as the Boers from
that point were galloping with all haste to reinforce the defenders of
the hill which was about to be assailed.

For two hours the fight was purely an artillery duel, the Naval guns
and those of the two batteries being answered by six guns, a Hotchkiss,
and a Maxim. These were well hidden from sight behind the crest line,
and it was only by the light smoke that rose above them that our
gunners were enabled to direct their fire. The Guards were in rear, and
were held in reserve to take part in the fight wherever their services
might be most required. The Naval Brigade were upon the extreme right,
and it was upon them that the honour of the assault was to fall.
Entrenchments had been thrown up by the enemy along the whole range of
kopjes. It was evident that the Boers were in no way discouraged by
their defeat two days before, for a very large body of mounted men were
seen far out on our flank, in readiness to swoop down if we recoiled
in confusion after failing to carry their position. Rimington's Guides
were detached to watch and keep in check this force. At eight o'clock
the two batteries of Royal Artillery moved away to the right to
concentrate their fire on the kopje about to be attacked, and the Naval
guns were ordered to withdraw, as the Boers had now accurately obtained
their distance and were keeping up a tremendous fire with shrapnel upon

The enemy's fire, however, was so incessant and well-directed, that the
officer in command, feeling that to attempt to withdraw the guns would
lead to the annihilation of the men engaged in the work, maintained his
position, the men throwing themselves on the ground at each flash of
the enemy's guns and then leaping up and working their own pieces. So
well were these served and directed that the guns opposed to them were
gradually silenced.

The Naval Brigade, composed of two hundred marines and forty
blue-jackets, at last advanced in skirmishing order, and pushed round
to the right of the kopje. Although they were within nine hundred yards
of it not a rifle was fired, and it seemed as if the fire of the two
batteries had completely cleared out its defenders. The Lancers had
moved still farther to the right, to prevent any body of Boers coming
down through a break in the hills there to take the Naval Brigade in

The ground over which they were moving was completely exposed. Having
gained the desired position, the Naval Brigade now moved direct for
the kopje, closing up somewhat as they converged upon its base.
When within six hundred yards from the summit, from every rock and
boulder a storm of fire flashed out, and a hail of bullets swept the
line. The men lay down and returned the fire, but that of the hidden
foe, enormously superior in numbers, was not to be checked. The North
Lancashires who were following the Naval men completely lost sight of
them, so great was the cloud of dust raised by the bullets ploughing
up the sand. It was evident that to remain inactive was to court
annihilation, and Captain Prothero, R.N., gave the word for the advance
at the double, and the men leaping to their feet rushed to within four
hundred yards of the base. Then a terrific fire was opened from a
projecting spur.

The men fell fast, but again made a rush to within two hundred yards
of the base of the hill. Prothero had fallen wounded; Ethelston, the
second in command, was killed, Major Plumbe of the marines called upon
his men, who nobly responded; he himself was shot dead before he had
gone ten yards, and Lieutenant Saunders of the _Powerful_ now rushed to
the front. The Maxim gun that had accompanied them remained immovable,
every one of the men who worked it having fallen. They reached the base
of the kopje and there threw themselves down to breathe. They had left
half their comrades and nearly all their officers behind them. The
din was appalling, the two British batteries maintaining a continuous
fire on the face and summit of the hill. The Yorkshire Light Infantry,
followed by the North Lancashires, came rushing forward to the support
of the naval men, and in open order with bayonets fixed they and the
marines began to make their way up.

The Boers did not await the onslaught, but deserted their entrenchments
and rocks and fled, the greater portion making their way along a valley
through which ran a road to the north, only a few joining their friends
along the line of hills. In the centre of the position a handful of
desperate men defended the rocks to the last, and were bayoneted
there. Seeing that the position they had deemed impregnable had been
captured the Boers began to retreat, drawing off their guns with them.
Again the weakness in cavalry prevented pursuit; and indeed both the
Lancers and Rimington's Guides were too far away to be brought up
in time for a successful pursuit of the mounted men, who formed the
majority of the enemy's force. As to those unprovided with ponies, they
had but to scatter over the hills where cavalry could not follow them,
lie hidden among the boulders, and make off after nightfall.

The loss had been heavy. Of the Naval Brigade six officers and
ninety-nine men were killed or wounded; the Yorkshires had fifty-three
casualties, and the North Lancashires twenty. The Guards' Brigade were
not engaged; they closed up at the end of the action, but were not
called upon to fire a shot.

All but two of Yorke's Kaffirs who had been away came into camp after
the battle was over. They had left the waggons while the fight was
going on, and had hidden among the rocks until night fell. None had
gained any information as to the Boer position on the Modder. None of
the Boers whom they had heard conversing had been there. They had been
told that the British would never get across the river, and even if
they did so they would assuredly never be able to break through the
strong position at Magersfontein, where Cronje intended to arrest their
further advance. They had heard that no natives had been allowed to
accompany the Boers who were posted on the Modder River, and that all
new-comers had been directed to Graspan, a step which Yorke concluded
was designed to prevent spies or well-wishers to the British from
seeing the preparations that were made. He reported as usual to the

"It is a pity that we can't get some news as to what they are doing,
Mr. Harberton, but certainly you have done all that is possible that

"I will try and go in disguise, sir, if you will give me leave."

"I do not think there is any chance whatever that your attempt would
be successful. It is evident that Cronje is determined that his plans
shall be kept secret. I have no doubt that you could, as you have
already done, join any commando you wished, with a fair chance of a
plausible story being believed. But the fact that all the new arrivals
were sent on here, and that even Kaffir drivers are not allowed to
approach the river, shows that no ordinary story would pass muster for
a moment. You would simply be going to your death."

"It has been tougher work than we expected, Harberton," one of the
officers of the Tigers said to Yorke the next day. "Of course we
thrashed them, but the loss has been heavy, and as these kopjes are
scattered all over the country, we may have to fight any number of
battles like this. You see, the beggars only have to ride off on their
ponies and take up a fresh position; necessarily we are kept at a
distance out of fire; and before we can take up the pursuit and cross
the hills they have been defending, they have got a couple of miles
start of us. Besides, their horses are ever so much fresher than ours,
so they could go on at that game for a very long time, and there can
be no doubt their losses are much lighter than ours as we are always
fighting in the open, while they are so hidden behind rocks that we
don't get sight of them until they begin to bolt. However, we shall be
stronger to-morrow, for I hear that the Argyle and Sutherlands will be
up. That will a good deal more than fill up the vacancies caused by our
casualties at Belmont and here."

The next day was passed in quiet, but on the 27th, after the wounded
had been sent off by train, the force moved forward to the pools of
Honeynest, eight miles south of the Modder. The march had been short,
for the heat was great, and after halting the troops revelled in the
luxury of a bath, the fact that the water was thick and muddy scarcely
detracting from their enjoyment. The next morning one of Rimington's
Guides came in and reported that he had been fired at from an
apparently empty house near the river, and half an hour later another
of Yorke's Kaffirs came in and told Yorke that the Boers with whom he
had been, had made a long detour after the battle and had arrived at
the Spytfontein kopjes. He found that there were very strong works
there, but that they were not strongly occupied; and he had learned
that a part of the force had some days before moved towards the Modder,
but that no communication was allowed between them and Spytfontein.

Yorke at once went and reported the news. "That is important," the
officer said. "I shall be glad if you will come with me at once to Lord
Methuen, and you may as well bring your native with you, the general
may wish to question him further."

The general indeed considered the information of such importance
that he sent at once for one of Rimington's Guides, who spoke Kaffir
perfectly, and through him asked the native many questions. There
can be no doubt that the news that the main body of the Boers had at
any rate moved forward towards the Modder influenced him in deciding
upon the course he adopted. It had before been open to him to leave a
battalion to hold the railway bridge, to prevent any Boers who might be
there from crossing, and so cover the line of communication, while with
the rest of his force he made a detour through Jacobsdal, and, making a
wide sweep, as French's cavalry did later on, come down upon Kimberley
from the north; but the fact that a large main Boer army was massed,
if not at the Modder, at some place near, altered the situation. The
river was fordable at many points, and were he to move away Cronje
might throw his whole force across, crush the detached battalion, and
take possession of the railway. It was, therefore, imperative that the
direct advance upon Kimberley should be adopted.

A quarter of an hour afterwards the general, with two staff officers,
rode down to within a short distance of the Modder, but all appeared
still there. The banks were fringed with bushes; a few horses,
doubtless belonging to a party of Boer scouts, grazed quietly
near these. A mile away to the right were the hotels and gardens
of the village; far beyond them were the hills of Spytfontein and
Magersfontein. There was high ground two or three thousand yards
behind the river. To the right of the railway the Riet River joined
the Modder. No signs of any large body of the enemy, no earth-works
or other preparations for defence, could be perceived. Although he
and his staff were within easy range of the river-bank not a shot was
fired, and Lord Methuen came to the conclusion that the passage would
be opposed at most by a comparatively small body of the Boers, and that
not until he had advanced some distance would he come upon a position
where Cronje was prepared to give battle. Accordingly he decided to
lose no time.

Yorke had ridden out with a party of Rimington's men and ascended a
low hill, from which they obtained an excellent view of the country.
The Riet came down at a sharp angle to the point of its junction with
the Modder. It was fringed on both sides with willows, and an enemy
lying along this line would take in flank a force advancing towards the
broken railway bridge. But even with their field-glasses they could see
no sign of life near its banks. Albrecht, Cronje's engineer officer,
knew his work, and had done it well. A very large body of Boers had
been at work night and day for a fortnight, and within the line of
willows and bushes deep trenches had been dug from which the Boers
could fire with scarcely any danger to themselves. Gun emplacements
had been formed on the northern bank both of the Riet and Modder, and
had been so arranged that the guns could be easily shifted from one
point to another whenever our gunners discovered their exact position
and got the range. The houses and walls had all been loopholed. On
the hills behind some very heavy guns had been placed, batteries had
been erected on the rising ground near the village, and trenches dug
everywhere close to the farther side of the rivers. Nearly ten thousand
men were lying down in absolute stillness, eagerly awaiting the moment
when their unsuspecting enemies should fall into the trap so carefully
prepared for them. The Transvaal commandos held the line from the
railway bridge, and far up the bank of the Riet, while west of the
bridge to the village the Free State men were posted.

"It looks all right," one of the officers with the party said. "I
cannot make out a single soul stirring."

"I think it almost too still," another one said. "There must anyhow
be some Boers about, and we should see them moving if there was not
an imperative order for them not to show themselves. It is impossible
to believe that they will allow us to cross the river without firing
a shot, or that, as they have known for some time past that we were
coming, they should have made no preparations for defence."

"Perhaps only a few hundred of them are there," another said. "They may
have got such a strong position farther on that they prefer to fight
us there. If they were to keep us from crossing, they would not have
gained much; but if they were to defeat us somewhere on the other side
of the river, the disaster might be a terrible one, for a force could
come down behind us and cut off our retreat."

"But they can never defeat us," the first speaker said.

"No, we may feel pretty sure of that; but the Boers are so confident
in their own fighting powers that they may very well believe that they
will do so, and, of course, their dispositions will be in accordance
with their belief and not with ours. There is the general with his two
staff officers riding back. You see, not a shot has been fired at them."

"It certainly looks as if they did not intend to dispute the passage
of the river," another officer said; "though they may have left a few
hundred men as a rear-guard when the force retired. It is evident that
the Boers prefer hill-fighting."

At four o'clock the next morning the troops moved forward, the infantry
leading the way, followed by the cavalry and artillery. When they
reached the level plain sloping gradually towards the river, and some
three miles across, the advanced guard were fired upon by the Boers
at the extremity of their position on the Riet. The Lancers galloped
forward in that direction, two batteries following them, and at seven
o'clock opened fire, and drove the Boers from their advanced posts. The
cavalry then threatened to cross the river, but were forced to retire
before a heavy rifle-fire, and took up their position further back in
order to cover the right flank should the Boers take the offensive.
Three Boer guns now began to exchange shots with our batteries, but
one of them was effectually silenced, and the others fired only

In the meantime the infantry had been advancing in open order. To the
right of the railway were the 2nd Coldstreams, the Grenadiers, the
Scots Fusiliers, and a wing of the 1st Coldstreams. On the left of the
line were the North Lancashires, the Yorkshires, Northumberlands, the
Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, with half a battalion of the 1st
Coldstreams in reserve. On that side was one battery of artillery;
the naval guns took up their position close to the line. So far Lord
Methuen had no reason to suppose that he was opposed by a larger force
than that which had established itself on the further bank of the Riet.
Accordingly there was no check to the advance. The noise of battle
there had ceased, and parties of the enemy could be seen in retreat.

Cronje's plan had so far succeeded admirably. He had led his enemy to
believe that they had but a small force opposed to them, and that this
was already in retreat, and therefore, tempted them on to the plain,
where they would be exposed to a murderous fire along their whole
front, and which would be swept also by the strong force on the Riet.
Not a shot was fired until the leading companies of the Guards were
within a thousand yards of the river, when from the screen of trees and
bush a line of fire burst out, and a hail of bullets swept the plain.
Though many fell, no confusion was caused by this terrible surprise.
The Guards, at once lay down and steadily returned the fire of their
invisible foes. There was no shelter to be taken, no favouring rock or
bush. The plain was perfectly even and bare. Some were fortunate enough
to find an ant-hill between them and their foe, others some scrub eight
or ten inches only in height, but most of them lay on the bare sand.

It was well for them that they had marched that day without their
greatcoats, for these would have shown up clearly upon the light sand,
whereas at a thousand yards the khaki-clad figures could scarcely
be made out by the keenest-sighted Boer. The scream of the bullets
overhead was unceasing; the dust was knocked up as if by a hail-storm
driven by a mighty wind; and even above the rattle of the musketry and
the roar of cannon, the quick thud of the machine-guns firing one-pound
shells--afterwards called by the men pom-poms--added a new horror to

The Scots Guards had suffered most from this outburst of fire, because
they were nearest to the Riet, and therefore more exposed to the
flanking fire of the Transvaalers there than were the battalions to
their left. Their Maxim was almost immediately disabled by the pom-pom,
and most of the men serving it killed. To remain in the position
meant annihilation, and they fell back a few hundred yards to an old

The Grenadiers and the 2nd Coldstreams were fortunate in finding some
little protection under a very slight rise in the ground. All through
the day the Guardsmen lay prone in the positions in which they had
first halted. To retreat under that ceaseless hail of fire would have
been as dangerous as to advance. There was nothing to do but to lie
still and suffer. The sun beat down upon them with withering heat. Most
of them lay with their rifles under them, for the breaches and barrels
were too hot to handle. They were parched by a terrible thirst, and
many were wounded, but neither water nor stretcher could be carried
to them through the hail of bullets. The streams of balls from the
pom-poms tried them even more than the bullets. At times there was a
slight lull in the firing, but the slightest movement caught the eyes
of the watchful foe, and then it broke out again with renewed fury. It
was clear from the first that nothing could be done on this side of the
railway, and that the coming of darkness could alone bring relief.

Happily, however, things were going better to the left of the railway.
The two batteries of artillery had galloped across to that side, and
pushing on with extreme bravery, had opened a heavy fire upon the
village and the Boer entrenchments. They were exposed not only to a
continuous musketry fire, but to a cannonade from the Boer guns on the
heights, more numerous and of heavier metal than their own; but they
maintained their ground, aided by the four 12-pounders of the naval
men. At half-past eleven, however, one of the batteries had to fall
back, having lost heavily, and having nearly exhausted its ammunition.
Twenty-five horses were killed as they dragged the guns back, and the
officers' chargers had to be harnessed in their places.

It was due chiefly to the artillery that the day was finally won. Not
only did they keep down the fire of the Boer marksmen by a hail of
shrapnel, and shake the courage of the Free State men, but our men,
lying themselves helpless, were cheered by the knowledge that our guns
might yet be preparing a way for them to advance and to come within
striking distance of their lurking foes.

Until two o'clock but little progress had been made on the left by the
sorely-tried troops. The advance had been brought to a stand-still when
it reached a point abreast of that obtained by the Guards. The frontal
fire was as heavy, but they were not, like their comrades, scourged
by a flanking fire, for although a party of Boers had pressed some
distance round the extreme left, where there was rough ground that
afforded some shelter, these were kept in check by the fire of the
North Lancashires.

At two o'clock relief was furnished to the gunners by the arrival of
another battery, which had made a tremendous march from Belmont, and
had now come up in time to take part in the desperate struggle. They
at once came into action, and aided in sweeping the Boer position
with shrapnel. Lord Methuen moved as many troops as could be spared
from the right to aid in the left attack, where alone success seemed
possible. The fire of the newly-arrived battery speedily drove the
Boers established on our extreme left across the river, and the fire
from the Free Staters, in their trenches among the willows on the south
side, began to slacken, affording ground for the belief that here also
they were becoming demoralized by the fire to which they were exposed,
and were crossing the stream. The Yorkshires, Northumberlands, and
Highlanders sprang to their feet, and with a rush charged a farmhouse
strongly held which had covered the approach to the drift. The Boers
here fled at once, and the troops, without halting, dashed forward,
cheering loudly, delighted that at last they had become the assailants.
Closely following the Boers, they reached the weir, erected across the
river to deepen the water above, and made their way across holding by
an iron bar above it.

The feat was performed under a tremendous fire. Though man after man
fell, those behind crept forward until four hundred men had crossed
and established themselves on the northern bank. Two hundred of the
Lancashires followed them. It was a great success, and decided the
fortune of the day, although for a time this still hung in the balance.
General Pole-Carew, who was in command of the brigade, led them along
the bank, pressing on towards the Boer centre. Cronje, however, drew
supports from his left, and after winning their way for three-quarters
of a mile, the pressure brought to bear against the British was too
great to be withstood. Opposed by a greatly superior force in front,
and suffering from a flanking fire from the entrenched slopes above
them, the troops fell slowly back again, but maintained themselves near
the dam against all the efforts of the Boers to drive them across it.

So the fight went on until darkness fell and the fire ceased. The
troops could do no more. They had been at work since four in the
morning, without breakfast; they had suffered tortures from heat and
thirst during their long hours of inactivity, they had throughout the
day been exposed to a terrible fire, which they had been unable to
return effectually; and General Colville, who had succeeded to the
command at half-past five, when Lord Methuen had been wounded, felt
that he could ask no more of them, and contented himself with making
preparations for passing the whole force early next morning across the
dam Pole-Carew had won. But in the morning the Boers had gone. With
his right turned, and the Free Staters utterly demoralized, Cronje
felt that he could not hope to prevent the main body of the British
from crossing, in which case they would be placed between him and
Kimberley, and it would be impossible for him to regain the position
he had so carefully prepared. The Boers, therefore, silently left the
entrenchments they had occupied and marched away to Spytfontein.

Had the men from the Free State possessed the hardihood of those from
the Transvaal, it is morally certain that no passage of the river could
have been effected; but the military system which, north of the Vaal
was vigorous though irregular, and made every man a soldier, was but
a shadow in the Orange Free State. At peace with their neighbours,
fearing no attack, on good terms with the British Government, whose
territory adjoined their own to the south and west, and for the
most part to the east, save where Basutoland, wholly under British
influence, touched them, it seemed there was no occasion to maintain
a military organization. They had given themselves up to peaceful
pursuits, and although a pastoral people, were immeasurably in advance
of their neighbours north of the Vaal. The majority, too, wholly
disapproved of the war into which the ambition of their president had
forced them, and in such a mood might well be shaken by the terrible
bombardment they had to face.

Considering the incessant fire to which, for some twelve hours, the
British troops had been exposed, it is remarkable that our casualties
should not have exceeded four hundred and fifty. Of these one hundred
and twelve were contributed by the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders,
and sixty-nine by the Coldstreams.

But even to the troops lying helpless all day, the hours had not
passed more slowly and painfully than to the cavalry in their enforced
inactivity. They had dismounted to ease their horses, and the men and
officers of Rimington's Guides stood in little groups ready to mount at
a moment's notice.

"It is awful," one of the officers said; "it is simply awful! One would
think that not a single man exposed to that storm of fire would be
found alive at the end of the day. What maddens one is the thought that
all this might have been spared us, if we had not blundered into it as
if we had been going to a picnic. Why, if only a troop of us had been
sent down yesterday afternoon, or early this morning, to reconnoitre,
we should have been spared all this. We could have dismounted here and
made our way down in very open order, on foot, say fifty yards apart,
and pushed on till we got to the willows, and through them to the river
bank; or, better still, we could have entered the willows to the right
here and searched them thoroughly right round across the railway and as
far as the village.

"As it turns out, of course, we should have lost three-quarters of
our number; but those who got back would have told of the hidden
rifle-pits, and the fact that the Boers were gathered there in great
force. But somehow, it was taken for granted that there would not be
any serious resistance. Even when the troops went forward, there were
no scouts pushed out in front of the attacking line. We have just
fallen into the trap they set for us. It was the same at Belmont and
at Graspan. We only found out where the enemy were in force when they
opened a blaze of fire at us.

"I was chatting with a private in the infantry, who, before he joined
the army, was a volunteer in one of the London battalions, and he told
me that when Lord Methuen was in command of the district there was no
one more particular than he as to patrols being thrown out far ahead
and the ground being thoroughly scouted. He was very popular, for
though strict, he was always kind and considerate. As to his bravery
there is no question, and the way in which he is exposing himself
to-day, galloping about from point to point open to Boer fire, is
splendid; but I fancy his staff will be thinned out before the end of
the day."

"Those fellows must be well in hand," another said, "or they would
never have held their fire when he rode up to within four hundred yards
of them yesterday. They could have made a certainty of picking him and
the two officers with him off at that distance, and if only half a
dozen had fired it would have seemed that there might still only be a
little party left behind.

"The beggars seem to have more idea of discipline than we gave them
credit for. They must have been sitting as quiet as mice until they
opened fire, for, watching the bushes closely with my glass, I did not
see as much as a leaf stir."

And so they talked until they saw the rush of the men of the Ninth
Brigade down to the river, and although they could not make out exactly
what was doing, they concluded by the gradual disappearance of the
troops and the roar of musketry that they must have succeeded in
crossing the river. The relief was intense, and the men shouted and
cheered and waved their hats in the greatest delight. The officers
joined in a lively argument as to what was likely to take place.
All agreed that it would be next to impossible to move troops over
to support those who had crossed, for by their own feelings of
exhaustion, brought on by hunger, thirst, heat, and excitement, they
felt sure that the troops, who had gone through a far more severe
ordeal, would need food, drink, and at least some hours' rest before
they could again take up the stern work. At the same time, all saw that
if the Boers hurled themselves on the little force on the other side of
the river, assistance must be sent, whatever the state of the men might

"They have only to call for volunteers," one officer said, "and I doubt
if a man would hold back. After what they have gone through, it would
almost galvanize a dead man into life to know that there was a chance
at last to meet face to face the men who had been making a target of
them. But I expect the Boers must be nearly as done up as we are. They
were in their places before daylight, and although I don't suppose our
bullets have disposed of many of them, their nerves must be so shaken
up by our artillery fire that I can't think there can be much fight
left in them. We know that their fire on the left has been slackening
for some time, and the fact that our fellows have been able to fight
their way across is another proof of it. Besides, as we saw at the last
two fights, they lose heart directly they see their retreat threatened,
and they must know that they will be cut off altogether from the place
they have fortified farther on, if we can but maintain our footing, for
success on our left would put us between them and Kimberley."



THE next morning a portion of the troops crossed the Modder; the rest
moved down and encamped on the south side of the river. The first task
to be performed was the sad one of collecting and burying the dead;
that of carrying off the wounded had begun as soon as the slackening
of the Boer fire permitted the stretcher-bearers to move about on the
plain, and many of the soldiers, as soon as they had quenched their
thirst, had, in spite of their fatigue, assisted in the work, and by
midnight all had received the first aid from the medical officers. For
these there was no sleep, for all night they were engaged in attending
to the more serious cases; and by twelve o'clock next day the greater
part of the wounded were ready to be despatched by train.

As soon as Yorke had seen his horse picketed with those of the rest of
the corps, and had eaten a few mouthfuls of preserved meat and biscuit,
he had gone down with Major Lindley, the surgeon of the Guides, and
many of the men and officers, and aided in carrying in the wounded. On
arriving with the first batch at the hospital he said to the surgeon,
who was busy at work:

"Can I be of any assistance, sir?"

"Yes, you can help if you will. We are very short of hands, as so many
of the men have to go down with the wounded from Belmont and Graspan.
If you will keep me supplied with the water, sponges, lint, and
bandages, you will be of great service."

It was trying work to Yorke, unaccustomed as he was to such scenes, and
several times he felt that he must go out for a few minutes to breathe
the fresh air; but he stuck to it, and felt well rewarded when, in the
morning, the surgeon he had been attending said heartily, "I thank you
warmly, sir; you have saved me a great deal of time, and have been of
much assistance to me. I am surprised that you have been able to go
through with it, for even to us, accustomed to hospital work, it has
been very exhausting."

On leaving the hospital marquee he went away to a quiet spot, dropped
on the ground, and slept for some hours. Then he went to the camp of
the Guides. Most of these were already away scouting, and having no
duties to perform, he walked down to the river and crossed by the dam
by which the men of the Ninth Brigade had effected their passage on
the previous afternoon. The men not engaged in the duty of burying the
dead, or of preparing for the all-important work of throwing a pontoon
bridge across the river by which the guns and waggons could pass, were
cleaning their accoutrements, cooking, or bathing in the river, while
many of the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders were seated at the edge
of the stream dipping their legs in the water.

They had suffered more severely than the other regiments of the
brigade, and the advantage of trousers over kilts had been abundantly
proved on the preceding day. From the fact that their dark kilts had
shown them up, while their companions in khaki were almost invisible,
their casualties were heavier than those of other regiments, and their
legs had been so blistered by the sun's rays that many were almost
unable to walk. On passing through the street of the village Yorke met
the head of the Intelligence Department. The latter stopped.

"Ah! Mr. Harberton," he said, "your Kaffirs failed us when most wanted.
Had one of them brought us news that the whole Boer strength was here
it would have saved us a number of valuable lives."

"I am sorry indeed, sir," Yorke replied; "but you know the one who came
in before the battle did bring news that no Kaffir teamsters or others
were allowed to go near the Modder village, but had to make a detour on
their way to Spytfontein."

"Yes, I know he did, and it is a pity now that we did not take his
news more seriously. But it is always difficult to rely upon Kaffir
evidence; the man might never have gone that way at all, and might have
got up his story as an excuse for not bringing in news. And when Lord
Methuen rode down himself close to the river he saw no signs of life
in the place. Now as to yourself. I understood from Colonel Pinkerton
that you had specially joined with the intention of scouting and
carrying despatches."

"I did sir. I have a very good horse, and can ride. I am a
light-weight. I speak Dutch well enough to pass, and can get on in the
Kaffir tongue. I should be happy to undertake any duty with which you
might entrust me."

"We want a message carried into Kimberley. There will probably be a
delay of a fortnight before we can receive reinforcements that will
enable us to attack the enemy with any hope of success in the strong
position they are said to occupy. Will you undertake to attempt to get

"I shall consider it an honour to do so, sir. Should I go in uniform or
as a Dutch farmer?"

"I think in uniform; you would have more risk of being taken, but if
captured, you would have a right to be treated as a prisoner of war;
while if you go in disguise, they would, I have no doubt, shoot you
as a spy. It is not as if you wished to gather news; it is a question
entirely of speed and of evading observation. Very well, Mr. Harberton.
Where is your horse?"

"It is over at Major Rimington's camp, sir."

"Well, I will send a mounted orderly for it. In the meantime you can
examine our map. It is by no means perfect, but at least it will afford
you some indications, especially when you approach Kimberley. A runner
brought us three days since a sketch map showing the position of the
Boers round the town, and this, when you get there, will certainly be
of value to you. One of the sergeants will make a tracing for you.
You shall see the despatch you are to carry, and had better get it
by heart, so that if you are pursued, and find yourself likely to be
taken, you can destroy it, for you would doubtless be searched so
thoroughly, that however well you might conceal it, they would be
likely to discover it. Now, let us look at the map;" and, entering the
house where he had established his office, he passed through the room
in which the non-commissioned officers were at work, and entered the
one behind it.

"Here is the map," he said. "You see the Boer positions round Kimberley
are much closer together than those on this side, for, until we crossed
the Modder, it would be naturally considered that it was from that
side relief was expected, or that messengers might come and go. But on
this side there are also a great many of them; they are thick round
Wimbledon, and thicker still between Scholtz Kop and Spytfontein. But
these would, of course, be intended rather for resistance against a
force advancing this way than for offence against the town. There are
two here, however, standing to the right of the road between this
place and the town. There may be some patrols thrown out on the road;
it is probable that there are some, and here is the principal danger.
Between that road and the railway and the town of Wimbledon there are
no entrenchments marked. Of course they may exist, but the Kimberley
people are only able to send us the posts which they can make out with
their glasses, or by their fire. As you see, the ground is very rough
and broken, and would probably be very difficult to ride across in
the dark if you were to leave the road. I may say that a small party
of cavalry have been out this morning seven or eight miles along the
road, and encountered no opposition, but were fired at several times
by parties on the hills. But it is certainly likely enough that they
come down on to the road after dark. I will send a dozen troopers as an
escort with you for the first four or five miles."

"I should say, sir, that it would be best for me only to ride for a
few miles, then to dismount and make my way on foot. If you will allow
me, I will send a note by the orderly who fetches my horse to two of
my Kaffirs bidding them accompany it here--one of them especially is a
very shrewd fellow--their eyes and ears are much better than mine. I
should send one of them back with my horse, and take the other with
me. I have a compass, but it would be of no use in the dark; and I
might lose my bearings altogether if by myself, for I could not venture
to strike a match."

"It would be a very good plan, Mr. Harberton. Please write your note at
once, I have already sent for a mounted orderly."

Yorke at once wrote a note to Major Rimington, or the officer
commanding in his absence, begging him to send the two Kaffirs, Ugly
Jack and Long Peter, with the orderly, who would bring back his horse.
While the orderly was away he studied the map, and when the officer
returned from head-quarters with the despatch, which was written in
small characters on a strip of thin paper, he learned it by heart. It
stated that the army had, after its engagement, crossed the Modder,
but that it could not advance until joined by reinforcements now on
their way. It asked for any intelligence that might be gathered by
the besieged as to the Boers' position and force, and enquired as to
the state of provisions in the town, and how long, in case the army
failed to arrive, they could maintain themselves. It stated that large
reinforcements were on their way out, and that Buller had, so far,
failed to relieve Ladysmith, but hoped that he would soon do so, and
that the Boers were making but little way in the invasion of Cape
Colony. It added: "The bearer will give you further details as to the
state of affairs." It was directed to Colonel Kekewich.

After the business was concluded, Yorke was invited to join the staff
at lunch, which he was not sorry to do. When this was finished, he was
asked to dine with them also, as he would not be able to start till
after dark.

Many of the Boer rifles had been picked up, and great quantities of
ammunition, which had been left in the trenches, collected. The arms
were to be destroyed, and Yorke, at luncheon, asked the officer to give
him an order for the Kaffir who was going with him to take one of them.
"It is quite certain," he said, "that if we are caught, they will
shoot the native, whether he is armed or not, and I think the man ought
to have a chance of at least trying to defend his life."

"I will give you an order for him to take one, but it had better be
put in my office till you start, or he would have trouble with every
officer he met. I think that, as you say, it is only fair to give the
man a chance, though I don't suppose it will be of much use to him, for
he is not likely to be a good shot even with an ordinary rifle, and he
would know nothing of the working of a Mauser."

"I could show him how to work it in five minutes," Yorke said; "and if
he cannot shoot himself, he could load as fast as I could fire."

The officer smiled. "I fancy if you get cut off, Mr. Harberton, your
best plan would be to tie a handkerchief to your rifle in token of
surrender. Possibly they might then content themselves with taking you
as a prisoner of war, while if you were to shoot some of them, the
others would not be very likely to respect your uniform."

"I don't want to fight, certainly," Yorke said; "and I should not think
of resisting unless I saw a chance of doing so successfully, as, for
instance, if I were seen and chased by two or three mounted Boers when
I was getting near our own lines."

"Yes, in that case the rifle might be useful. The Boers have
considerable respect for a single man with a good rifle in the open.
However, I hope you will get through unobserved. You certainly will
have more chance to-night than you would otherwise have, for they will
be even more tired than our men, as they probably marched all night to
Spytfontein. Moreover, they have their wounded to attend to, and will,
no doubt, be very much down in the mouth at being turned out here,
where they felt absolutely certain of holding their own. Still, Cronje
could not have had anything like all his force here, and some of the
men who stopped in their lines will be sent out to watch the roads
to-night, lest we should push forward a brigade to relieve Kimberley."

On going out, Yorke found that the Kaffirs had arrived with his horse.

"Peter," he said in Dutch, "I am going to try to get into Kimberley.
I want you to go with me. I have chosen you for two reasons; in the
first place, because I know that you are a good man; and in the second,
because you are the only one of the party who has been in the town, for
you told me that you had worked there for two years. Are you willing to
go? It is a very dangerous business, for if we are caught, the Boers
are not likely to show us any mercy."

"I will go, baas," the man said, speaking as usual in Dutch. "If you
can go I can; if you are killed I will be killed."

"Your danger is greater than mine, Peter. I shall be in uniform; and
they may take me prisoner, but they would be certain to shoot you."

The Kaffir nodded. "Shoot me, sure enough, baas; but I will go with
you. You will go in the dark, I suppose? How could you find your way if
you were alone? You could not keep on the road. The Boers are sure to
keep watch there."

"I feel that, Peter. If it were not for that I would not risk anyone
else's life. I mean to ride the first part of the way. Jack, you
will go with us so far and bring my horse back, and take it to Major
Rimington's lines. I shall give you a letter to Hans to tell him to
look after you all till I come back."

"Cannot I go with you too, baas?" the man asked.

"No, that would be of no use, Jack. The more there are of us, the
more chance there is of being seen. Now, here is an order on the
supply-stores for two days' rations. Draw them at once. Go back to camp
and fetch the spare water-bottles we got at De Aar, bring four of them,
two for each of us. We may not be able to get through to-night, and
may have to lie up at some hiding-place till it is dark again. I will
get hold of some biscuits and a tin of meat."

Having now finished his arrangements Yorke went down and made an
inspection of the deserted trenches of the Boers. These were generally
some four feet deep, and, like those at Graspan, had evidently been
tenanted for some days. They were for the most part some seven feet
long and four feet wide. They had been untouched since their occupiers
had fled, for there was nothing in them to tempt the soldiers to search
them. He had no difficulty in finding a couple of tins of meat and
as much bread as he required. All were littered with empty cartridge
cases, showing how large was the provision that had been made, and how
steadily the Boers had for hours maintained their fire. There were,
too, piles of still unused cartridges. His own bandolier was full, but
he put as many as he could carry into his pocket.

In the afternoon he went to the office where he had placed the Mauser
rifle, when it had, by the officer's orders, been handed to him, put
his own rifle in its place, and slinging the Mauser on his shoulder,
went out again. Presently he found the two Kaffirs squatted near his
horse, which they were feeding with bread they had picked up. Calling
Peter to follow him he went into a quiet spot among the trees.

"You are going to carry a rifle, Peter," he said, "the one that I have
got on my shoulder. Can you shoot?"

"I can shoot with a common gun, baas, but I don't know that thing; it
doesn't seem to have any hammer."

"No, it is a Mauser. That is the gun the Boers use. I will show you how
it works, for if we should get into trouble, and there are only a few
Boers, we might fight. You see this slip, holding five cartridges. The
breech opens like this; you push the five cartridges into the magazine,
close it with this bolt, and the gun is ready for firing five shots
without removing it from the shoulder. When the last shot is fired, you
reload as before. You see how I do it. Now, let me see you try; but
don't pull the trigger. If you were to fire, we should alarm the camp."

After a dozen attempts, the Kaffir learnt the knack of loading and
firing the gun.

"I have plenty of cartridges here. You had better go and look in the
Boer trenches, and you will find scores of bandoliers lying about.
Pick two out, one for yourself and one for me, and fill them with
cartridges. When we start I will divide those I have with you. That
will amount to something like two hundred shots apiece. I am going to
leave my rifle here and take another Mauser, as these cartridges won't
fit my gun. Here are two tins of meat and enough bread to last us for
a day, in case we cannot get straight through and have to hide up. Get
hold of a piece of stuff to tie them all up in a bundle, which you can
sling on your rifle. Fill these four water-bottles with the best water
you can find. Don't take it out of the river, it is likely enough that
there are a good many dead Boers in it. Now, there is nothing more for
you to do before we start. You had better watch the horse by turns.
Take it down to the river and give it a good drink an hour before

"You will find plenty of blankets in the Boer trenches. Take a couple
of these and cut them up into strips, and before it gets dark fasten
these thickly to the horse's hoofs, so that they will make no noise
on the road. Fasten a roll of it on to my saddle; I shall twist it
round my boots when I dismount, then I shall be less likely to slip in
climbing over the rocks. And now I have one more word to say to you. If
we should be surprised by the Boers, and I find that I must be taken,
you are to escape if possible. Your death could be of no benefit to me,
and if you were killed I should not forgive myself for having brought
you with me. Now, you quite understand that this is an absolute order.
But at the same time, when you have escaped you may be of immense
service, you are to remember that. Of course, if I am kept a prisoner
at Spytfontein you would find it altogether impossible to get near
me; but if I am sent to Pretoria, you might follow at some distance,
and possibly aid me to make my escape. So you see it would be to my
interest, as well as your own, that you should get clear away."

The Kaffir, who had looked sullen at the first part of the
instructions, brightened up. "I understand, baas. As long as baas
fights, Peter will fight; when baas says 'Go,' Peter will run off, and
do what he can to help afterwards."

Yorke now returned to the office, and asked one of the sergeants there
to look after his own rifle till he returned, and then went to the heap
of Boer weapons and picked out a Mauser. All being now ready, he lay
down and slept until sunset, and then went in to dinner. After the meal
was over, the colonel took him in to the general's quarters, and said,
"This is Mr. Harberton, sir; he is going to start in an hour or so with
your despatch for Kimberley."

"Do you know the country, Mr. Harberton?" the general asked.

"No, sir, but I am taking with me one of the Kaffirs who has been there
for two years. He worked at Dutoitspan, which is, he says on this
side of the town, and not far from Beaconsfield, so that he knows the
country all round perfectly; and I have every confidence that he will
be able to guide me in, especially as the ground for the last few miles
is flat. Of course I shall leave the road when I have gone a few miles,
and make my way across the hills."

"It will be a hazardous journey, Mr. Harberton, and I admire your
spirit in undertaking such a mission. I understand that you speak Taal
well, but as you are going in uniform that will be no great advantage
to you. If you succeed, I need not say that you will have rendered us a
very great service, which will not be forgotten."

"It is just the service that I had hoped I should find an opportunity
of performing, sir, when I volunteered to undertake the work of
scouting and obtaining information, instead of enlisting in one of the
regiments at Cape Town."

"Yes, I hear you rendered valuable service to the officer in command
at De Aar by going in disguise to Fauresmith, and discovering that
the Boers had no intention of attacking our base, for it was thus
unnecessary to draw bodies of men from other points to aid in the
defence of the place. I should not advise you to endeavour to return
by the road by which you came, although you will be the best judge as
to that; but it seems to me that it would be easier to get out by the
other side and make a detour across the river somewhere near Douglas,
and then make for Honeynest Kloof, and so here. Above all, tell Colonel
Kekewich privately that it is by no means certain that we shall be able
to force our way past Spytfontein. Lord Methuen will try to do so, but
after what we have seen of the Boer style of fighting here there is no
assurance that he will succeed, for the position by all accounts is a
very strong one.

"Of course it will be impossible for you now to travel far by the road
from here; the Boer position extends across it. Your best chance is to
strike across the country and come on the road from Jacobsdal. Whether
they are posted on that line or not I cannot say. It certainly lies
beyond their main position, but they will hardly have neglected it

"Yes, sir, that is the route I propose taking."

"Well, I wish you good fortune and a safe return;" and he shook hands
with Yorke.

At eight o'clock Yorke started. The horse's hoofs had been effectually
muffled and he had been provided with the countersign, and, passing
through the pickets, he rode off, the Kaffirs trotting by his side. He
had told the officer in command of the pickets that one of them would
return with the horse in the course of an hour. After proceeding about
four miles a glow of light could be seen here and there on Scholtz
Kop, a short distance to the left of the road they were following, and
also away farther over on the same side on the hill of Spytfontein.
These were but the reflection of the fires in the trenches where the
Boers were cooking their suppers and smoking their pipes. No flame
betrayed the positions held by them, but the hills seemed lit up by a
faint glow.

"It is time to turn off, Peter," Yorke said, reining in his horse.
"They may have outposts on the road, and as they would be keeping
quiet, we might get in among them before we noticed them."

Although they were still nearly two miles from the Boer position they
could distinctly hear in the stillness of the night a faint continuous
murmur, such as might be made by a waterfall or a stream running among
rocks. This they knew to be the talk of thousands of the enemy. They
had been conscious of it even before they reached the turn in the road
whence they saw the lights, for their own advance had been almost
noiseless. The Kaffirs were running barefoot, and the horse's hoofs had
been so well muffled that its footstep was no more audible than those
of the natives.

It was now time to dismount and send the horse back, and Yorke handed
the animal over to the native who was to return to camp.

"When you get half-way back, Jack," Yorke said, "take off those
blankets from the horse's feet, so that our sentries can hear your
approach. If you were to come up quite silently, and they did not hear
you till you were close to them, they might fire hastily. Therefore,
lead the horse, and when you get near the lines strike up a song--not
too loud, but so that they can hear you a hundred yards away. When
they challenge, that is to say, when they call, 'Who comes there?' you
answer as I told you, then they will let you pass, though they may keep
you until their officer comes. As I spoke to him on the way out, he
will pass you through. Don't go right into the lines near the Modder;
half a mile outside lead the horse off the road and wait with him till
it is daylight. You would be challenged by every sentry in camp if you
were to enter in the dark."

"Good fortune to you, baas! I wish I were going with you," Jack said,
and then led the horse away.

"Now, Peter," continued Yorke, "our work begins. The first thing is to
put the strips of blankets round our feet. You had better put on your
own shoes and muffle them, otherwise you might lame yourself among the
rocks, and that would be fatal to us both."

The native did as he was told, then he said, "Let us stop a little,
baas, and listen. There may be Boers on that hill we have to cross."

He stood for a minute or two listening intently. "There are men up
there," he said.

"Did you hear voices?"

"No, but I heard a click as if a kettle had hit against a stone. I am
certain that there are some of them up there--not many, perhaps, but
certainly there are men there. We had better go back a little between
that hill and the next. I will walk first, you follow quite close to
me; I can see in the dark much better than you can. If there are rocks
in the way I will stop, then you put your hand on my shoulder and I
will lead you between them or show you where to climb across them."

"All right, Peter! I trust in you entirely, for I could not see a stone
the size of my head on the ground."

It took them four hours of severe work before they came down on the
Jacobsdal road. The ground had in many places been covered with rocks
and boulders, through which it would have been hard work to pick a way
in the daylight, and quite impossible in the darkness for Yorke, had
it not been for the guidance and assistance of Peter. Sometimes they
had to climb rough and precipitous hills, and more difficult still, to
descend the boulder-strewn slopes. In spite of the care of his guide
Yorke had had several heavy falls, had cut his hands and knees, and
seriously damaged his garments.

"Now, shall we follow the road, baas?"

"No, we had better not. There may be parties moving between Jacobsdal
and the Boer lines round Kimberley, or reinforcements coming down to
Jacobsdal from the north."

"They would not travel at night," Peter said positively. "Boers can
ride all day, but nothing would make them go out at night if they could
help it. Boers sleep like a pig."

"Well, we will keep to the road for a bit then. I should like to push
on as fast as we can, for we have some sixteen miles to go yet and we
have lost a lot of time in getting across here, and if we were to take
to the rocks again there would be very little chance of our getting
through the Boer lines before daylight."

They had gone about a mile when the native stopped. "Men on the road,

"Are you sure?"

"Quite sure, baas. I heard one strike a match."

Walking very carefully, they could presently make out a dark mass ahead
of them. "Waggons, baas," Peter whispered, and they at once left the
road, moved a couple of hundred yards to the right, and then, stepping
with the greatest care, continued their way parallel with the road.
They could hear the sound of voices as two or three Boers talked
together, and occasionally a movement among the oxen. They could not
make out the outline of the waggons, nor see in which direction they
had been moving, but guessed that it was a party of Boers from the
north, moving down to strengthen Jacobsdal, or it might be a convoy of
stores from that town for the use of the force beleaguering Kimberley.
For the next hour their progress was very slow, for they had to make
their way through thick bush, and it needed the greatest caution to
avoid being heard by the party on the road.

It was not that they feared being hit by their fire, but the sound of
rifle shots would put all the Boers within sound of them on the watch,
and greatly diminish their chance of getting through. As soon as they
were a quarter of a mile beyond the waggons they came down nearer to
the road again. Here there were no bushes, but the ground was thickly
covered with boulders of all sizes. At times the hills approached so
close to the road that they were obliged to take to it for a while.
Whenever this was the case they went at a trot, but as they were now
abreast of the line of the Boer forts, they took to the rocks again as
soon as possible. Twice they heard parties of horsemen coming along the
road, and hid up until these had passed.

"They do not mean to be caught napping, Peter," Yorke said. "They are
evidently uneasy. I have no doubt they are well prepared along the
Spytfontein line, but they cannot be sure that we shall try to break
through that way, and may believe that we shall attack Jacobsdal, and,
making a wide circuit, enter Kimberley from the north. In some respects
that might be the better plan, and I have no doubt the general has
well considered it; but although he might get into Kimberley that way
without any fighting, he would be worse off when he got there than
he is on the Modder. He has not sufficient stores collected yet to
provision Kimberley for any length of time, and the fighting the other
day showed that he has not enough men to defeat the whole Boer force
stationed among the kopjes, so that he would be completely cut off,
with the enemy between him and any force coming up to his assistance."

Steadily they plodded on, keeping for the most part along the road, and
stopping frequently to listen. Several times Peter declared that there
were Boers among the hills on either side of them, and once or twice
even Yorke could faintly hear what he judged to be snoring in the
stillness of the night air. At length even the keen ears of the native
were unable to detect any warning sound, and he declared that they must
now have passed the outside line.

"We have done with them now Peter, till we get near those round the

They went fast now, for the night was nearly over, and the sky was
beginning to lighten in the east when, leaving the road, they ascended
the hill and saw a level plain stretching before them.

"It is too late to get through," Yorke said, "another quarter of an
hour and it will be light, and that dark mass of houses we see there
must be nearly three miles away."

"Yes, baas, that is Beaconsfield; Kimberley is more away to the left,
I can just make it out. What will you do now, baas? Go back a bit and
hide, or go on to that little house half a mile away close to the road?"

"I think we had best go on. We should have to go a good bit back
to a place where the boulders are thick enough to give us a good
hiding-place; it will certainly be light before we get there, indeed I
am afraid it will be light enough before we can gain that hut, if there
are any Boers on the look-out on that kopje to the right."

They started at once, and had gone but half-way when they found that
the distance had been deceiving, and that it was nearer a mile than
half a mile to the hut, which, being white-washed, had seemed much
nearer than it was. The light was broadening out rapidly and they ran
at the top of their speed, but just before they reached the place a
shot rang out from a low hill some four hundred yards away. For a
moment Yorke hesitated, but he knew that where there were Boers there
were ponies, and that they would be overtaken long before they could
reach the British camp.

"We had better fight it out here, Peter. The firing may bring up help;
we can certainly keep the Boers off for some time."

[Illustration: A RACE FOR LIFE.]

The hut was some twelve feet square, a rough building of loose stone
with a light roof. It apparently had been made for the occupation of
men working on the road. It had no windows, and the door stood open.

"Now, Peter, get to work and get a stone or two out on that side so
that we can fire on the enemy; the hole must be as small as possible.
If we can make one or two on each side so much the better. I will bring
some stones from outside to block the door up, then I will help you."

He rolled in blocks, closed the door, and placed them against it. Then
he set to work to make loopholes. The walls were loosely built, so that
in two or three minutes he had made a satisfactory hole in the front of
the hut, while Peter had already made one at the back.

"It is lucky that we did not run on," Yorke said, as he looked out.
"There are a dozen mounted Boers coming along from behind the hill.
Work away, Peter, we had better have two holes, one on each side of the
door; I will show these fellows that we mean fighting when they come a
little nearer. They are sure to draw off and talk, and that will give
us plenty of time to get ready for them."

When the mounted Boers were within four hundred yards he took a steady
aim and fired, one of them fell headlong from his horse; the others
reined in sharply, but before they could turn, the rifle spoke out
twice, another man fell, and a third swerved in his saddle evidently
hard hit; the others galloped off, but the fourth cartridge in the
magazine did its work, and another man fell. Yorke recharged his rifle,
stood it in a corner, and then aided Peter.

"You hit them, baas?"

"I have killed three and wounded one," he said quietly. "That will make
them careful; anyhow, they have learned that we can shoot."

"There are some men coming down the hill, baas."

"Very well, then, do you go on with your work, I will check them a bit

He went to a loophole the native had completed. Some twenty or thirty
men were coming down the hill; the lesson given to the horsemen had
not been without its effect on them also, for they were taking to what
cover boulders and bush afforded. He waited till he got a good view
of a man making his way from one shelter to another, and as he fired
the Boer fell headlong. A dozen rifles flashed in reply; two or three
bullets went through the roof, which was only of felt spread over a
light framework, the others pattered harmlessly against the wall.

"Look out occasionally to see what the mounted men are doing, Peter.
There is little chance of these fellows on the hill making up their
minds to try a rush across the open ground, and though they may be good
shots, their chance of getting a ball through a hole two inches wide
and three high is not very great; it would be as well to make two more,
so that we can move from one point to another."

Peter soon finished his work.

"May I fire now, baas?" he asked eagerly.

"Yes, but make sure of your aim. I have fired about twenty shots and
at least eighteen have told. Certainly eight, counting those at the
horsemen, have been fatal, that is what keeps them so quiet. A number
of misses would encourage them. Always rest the muzzle of your rifle
on bottom of the loophole. You had best fix upon your man, and watch
the shelter where he is lying, then you won't be hurried, and can fire
directly he moves or changes his position."

"Well done!" he exclaimed two or three minutes later, when, as
Peter fired, he saw a Boer pitch forward, while the native raised a
triumphant shout.

For hours the exchange of rifle-fire continued.

"They won't move till it is dark," Yorke said at one o'clock; "then
will be the dangerous time."

"They will be able to creep up to the door and blow it in when it gets
dark, baas. The best plan will be for you to slip out and run; I will
keep on firing, and they will think that we are both here; and when you
have got a good start I will run too. The Boers on foot would never
catch me; and as to the mounted men, they would not find me in the
dark, I could hear them and they would not hear me, and I could always
find some bush or boulder where I could hide if they came my way."

"I will not do that, Peter, unless you give me your solemn oath that
you will not stay more than five minutes after I have gone. I am a good
runner too."

"I will promise that, baas. I don't want the Boers to catch me, but if
we were to stop firing they would guess at once that we had gone. I
will fire very quick, sometimes out of one hole sometimes out of the
other, so that they will think there are two of us. They would stop a
minute or two after I had done firing, and then come up very slowly and
cautiously. The only fear is from the mounted men, who will be out on
the plain as soon as it is dark."



The Boer fire slackened as the day went on, for the besiegers had
learned that it was death to raise a head above a rock. There were
originally a hundred Boers on the kopje, and of these eighteen had been
killed and twelve wounded, the proportion of killed being so great in
consequence of the majority of wounds being in the head. A messenger
had been despatched to them from a hill on the other side of the road,
but hearing that there were only two men in the hut no aid had been
sent to them, and they were now lying waiting for night, for none dared
ascend the hill again, exposed to the deadly fire from the defenders.
One or other of them had remained at a loophole all day. Not a shot
had entered, for the Boers had fired too hastily to take accurate aim,
but the roof was riddled with bullets. It was getting dusk when Peter
held up his hand and listened, and then threw himself down, putting his
ear to the ground.

"What is it, Peter?"

"Horsemen coming, baas, many horsemen."

Yorke ran to the other side of the hut. He could see nothing at first,
for the night was fast closing in, and he had just said that in another
quarter of an hour it would be dark enough to make a start, but soon
he saw a dark mass which was fast approaching. For a moment he stood
irresolute, then he shouted, "Hurrah! they are friends. They are riding
abreast; if they were Boers, they would be riding anyhow; pull the
stones away from the door."

The mass halted as he spoke, then two horsemen galloped forward towards
the hut.

"Who is there?" a voice shouted in English.

Yorke opened the door, darting out, placed himself on the side facing
them. "Despatches from the Modder!" Then, feeling certain that the
Boers, two hundred yards away, would not be able to make out his figure
in the gloom, he called to Peter, and together they ran forward. A
number of shots were fired, but these whistled overhead. The Boers
had also doubtless heard the approaching horse, and were firing in
their direction, forgetting for the moment the two men who had all day
kept them at bay. In a couple of minutes Yorke and Peter joined their

"I am glad indeed to see you, sir," an officer said as he came up. "We
have heard firing going on all day, and could make out that it came
from this point; but as we did not know how many Boers were on the
kopje we could not go out to see about it till it became dusk. Are
there only you and the native?"

"That is all."

"Then we may as well be off at once, for though I don't think the
Boers can make us out at this distance, we may get a stray bullet among
us at any moment. Will you mount behind me?"

"Thank you. I will run alongside and keep hold of your stirrup leather."

"Very well. We will break into a walk as soon as we are out of range of
those rascals, then you shall tell me the news."

He gave the order, and the troop faced round and went off at a trot,
which they maintained until the Boer fire had entirely ceased.

"Tell me how you got through their lines. Is it possible that you and
that native alone have kept the Boers off all day? The firing sounded
heavy at times, and we thought that they must have a considerable
force there. After the first outburst it was for the most part only a
dropping fire."

"There were about a hundred of them I should say," Yorke answered. "I
happen to be a very good shot, and the Kaffir is a very fair one, and
the consequence was they very soon learned that it was death to show
a head. Some mounted men came out first, but I waited till they were
within two hundred yards, and four of their horses went back riderless.
They did not show again, and it has been a duel ever since between
us and the men on the hillside, all the advantage being with us, as
the loopholes through which we fired were but a couple of inches wide
at the opening. We stopped their rush at once, and they have been in
hiding ever since."

"We heard that Lord Methuen was advancing to our relief. How far is he

"He crossed the Modder River the day before yesterday."

"As near as that is he?" the officer exclaimed. "Then we may indeed
expect to see him soon. Was there fighting there? We thought we heard
a faint rumble on that day, but it might have been thunder at a great

"He has fought three battles, the first at Belmont, the second at
Graspan, and the third on the Modder. The battle on the Modder was very
severe, and lasted the whole day. I am afraid you won't see him here
as soon as you expect. We have had upwards of a thousand casualties
in the three fights. He had only about ten thousand troops with him,
and after the way the Boers fought on the Modder he will not march
until he is joined by the reinforcements coming up, as their position
at Spytfontein is said to be very strong. I think it will be twelve
days or a fortnight before he moves forward. Five or six regiments
are on their way up, and some heavy naval guns. Stores are being
pushed forward as fast as possible. The trains can only run during the
daytime, as the Dutch along the line might at any moment pull up a few
rails or blow up a culvert, so that, even if the general did not wait
for reinforcements, he would have to wait for stores and ammunition.
Our three batteries fired away nearly all they had, and the consumption
of ball cartridge was also very heavy."

"Then the Boers fought stoutly?"

"They fought stoutly, but as they were all in deep trenches, and we
scarcely caught sight of a man during the whole time, there was no
very great credit in that. We have heard from prisoners that the Free
Staters were for the most part placed in rifle-pits on the south side
of the river, and as this had been dammed and rendered unfordable, they
had no choice in the matter; but they did give way at last, and this
compelled the whole force to fall back; the Transvaal men were never
really attacked. It was only on our left that there was a possibility
of our advancing."

"So we have lost a thousand altogether," the officer said--"about ten
per cent of the total strength. That is pretty heavy fighting; but I
suppose a considerable proportion were only wounded."

"Yes; and the doctors say that Mauser bullets do not make very serious
wounds unless they hit a vital point. I know that they are quite
surprised at the rapidity with which many of the wounds are healing,
and that men seem to be recovering from injuries which they at first
believed to be mortal. What corps is yours?"

"We are the Kimberley Light Horse. We are three hundred and fifty

"I suppose you are all right here at present?"

"Oh, yes! The Boers must be fighting a great deal better against
Methuen than they are doing here. They annoy us a bit by throwing shell
into the town, and they have cut off the water-supply, have raided a
lot of waggons and cattle, and blown up the De Beers dynamite magazine,
which is a great loss, as it will put a stop to most of the work at
the mines. The last was the result of the mayor's timidity about an
explosion, but if the dynamite had been taken down into the mines it
would have been in absolute safety.

"The water seems the most serious item."

"Well, it is not as serious as it looks. A lot of water comes into one
of the mines, enough to keep a big pumping-engine at work, and anyhow
there is sufficient to supply our animals with drinking water, though
the authorities have had to forbid its use for watering gardens and
that sort of thing. What were the first battles like?"

"They were the same in each case. The Boers were entrenched on kopjes,
and as we could not leave these in rear we had to storm them. The
fighting lasted a very short time, but the Grenadiers in the first
fight, and the Naval Brigade in the second, lost very heavily. The
Modder was quite different. The Boers were hidden in the bushes that
fringed the river, and they had on rising ground behind a number of
guns. The fighting began at five o'clock in the morning, and it was
not until nearly five in the evening that the regiments on our left
got across the river. They maintained themselves there till dark, and
the Boers, fearing that the whole force would cross in the middle of
the night and cut off their retreat, retired silently, and carried off
their guns. We won the passage of the river, but it was in no way a
decisive victory. And so you have had no fighting yet?"

"Very little. On the 25th we made a sortie with one troop of our men
and some of the Cape Police. Forty of our fellows stormed one of
their redoubts, and we brought in thirty-three prisoners. That was
encouraging, and though Major Scott-Turner, who commanded us, was
wounded, he led us out again the day before yesterday. We could just
hear a low rumble, and guessed that Methuen was fighting, so we thought
it would be well to keep the Boers round here and prevent their sending
reinforcements to Spytfontein, but I expect the Boers had thought that
we would be likely to make some such move, for they were prepared for
us. We gained ground at first, but they were soon on the spot in great
force, and the rifle-fire was terrible. Poor Scott-Turner was killed
and twenty-one of our fellows, and twenty-eight wounded. So it was a
bad affair altogether, and I don't think we shall try any more sorties
of that kind.

"If it hadn't been for that I dare say we should have come out directly
we heard your firing; but after our experience of their Mauser fire,
it would have been folly to get within range of an unknown strength of
Boers posted on a hill. So we waited till there was a fair chance of
our succouring whoever there might be without running any extraordinary
risk, but we had an anxious day of it. It did not seem that any
considerable force could have got through, and yet it was evident
that, whoever it was, was able to hold his ground. We could make out
that little hut with the glasses, and it seemed to us that it was the
point against which the Boers were firing, though at that distance we
could not see the smoke of your rifles, firing as you did from the side
facing the hill."

They had by this time reached the line of defence.

"Now, sir," the officer said, "if you will mount my horse one of the
troopers will ride with you to the commandant's quarters, and will
bring my horse back with him."

The colonel was in his office. During the greater part of the day he
passed his time at the look-out at Wesselton mine. It was erected on
the top of the mine head-gear, a hundred and twenty feet above the
level. This lofty look-out commanded a view of the whole country round.
Yorke was shown in at once.

"I have the honour to be the bearer of a despatch from Lord Methuen,
sir," Yorke said as he came.

"You have managed to get through the Boers? You have done well indeed.
Did you come alone?"

"I came with this Kaffir scout. He is one of a small party under my
orders. He has been two years at work here and knows the country well.
I should never have got through without him, and he has stood by me
most bravely all day."

"Ah! then it was your firing that we have been hearing. The officer
in command of the Light Horse sent a message to say that he intended,
with my permission, to go out as soon as it was dusk, to ascertain, if
possible, the cause of firing, and bring off any party who might be
defending themselves against the Boers. Of course I was willing that
he should do so, but, anxious as we were, I could not run the risk of
losing a number of men by sending out a force by daylight. Take a seat,
sir, while I go through the despatch."

"The general evidently thinks," he said, when he had read it, "that
we know what has been taking place outside. We know nothing beyond
the fact that a column under Lord Methuen was advancing from the
Orange River Station. Now, I shall be obliged if you will give me
full information as to what happened between the time he left and his
arrival on the Modder."

Yorke gave a full account of the movements and battles.

"The Boers are making a much stouter resistance than I expected of
them," the colonel said, when the story was brought to a conclusion.
"Now, tell me, if you please, how you managed to get through here."

Yorke then described his adventure.

"Very good indeed, sir; admirably done. You and your Kaffir must be
good marksmen indeed to have, as you say, killed eighteen of them and
wounded twelve others."

"The distance was short--not over two hundred yards. As we were in
almost perfect shelter, and they had to expose themselves to fire at
us, we could scarce miss hitting them. And now, sir, I have a message
to give you privately. The despatch was, I think, intended to be made
public, should you think fit to do so, as an encouragement to the
inhabitants, and, moreover, if it fell into the enemy's hands, it could
do no great harm. I have a verbal message from General Colville, who
is in command while Lord Methuen is temporarily disabled. He told me
that I was to give it to you privately, as it would not be desirable
that everyone should be aware of it. It was to this effect, that after
the desperate resistance offered by the Boers at the Modder River, and
the fact that only a portion of their force was engaged there, it is
quite possible that the attack upon the very strong position they hold
at Spytfontein may fail, and in that case there may be a long delay,
as the attack could not be renewed until large reinforcements arrive
from England. He is therefore anxious to know exactly how matters stand
here--what stores and food you have, and how long you consider that you
can possibly hold out. Upon that his movements will necessarily depend.
If you are approaching the period when starvation would oblige you to
surrender, another effort to relieve you must at whatever cost be made;
if not, he would not repeat an operation which, even if successful, can
only be effected at immense loss, and might lead to his being in turn
beleaguered here."

"I can quite understand his anxiety on that score," Colonel Kekewich
said. "As to holding the place, I have no fear whatever. We have
five hundred Lancashires, three hundred and eighty Kimberley Rifle
Volunteers, ninety-five men of the Royal Artillery, and one hundred and
eighteen Diamond Field Artillery. Of cavalry we have three hundred
and fifty Kimberley Light Horse--they were armed and are paid by
Rhodes--three hundred Cape Police, and one hundred and fifty Diamond
Field Horse. Besides these we have a town guard, which comprises the
greater part of the able-bodied men, about two thousand eight hundred.
So that altogether we can oppose any attack with four thousand eight
hundred men, all of whom could, I am sure, be trusted to fight their
best. But I do not think there is any chance of the Boers attacking us.
They believe they can starve us out, and, of course, they could do so
in time; but I feel sure that we can hold out for some months. The De
Beers people got up a quantity of provisions before the line was cut,
and a large firm at Cape Town also sent up great supplies.

"We have cattle enough to go on for some time, and when they are used
up we must take to horse-flesh. I will obtain a rough account of our
stores for you to-morrow. It will be best for you to learn it by heart,
for if the Boers, who have, I fancy, no idea how we are supplied, were
to learn the facts, they might move away for a few days to strengthen
Cronje at Spytfontein; and in the event of Lord Methuen failing to
break through, might see that they were but wasting their time here,
and, leaving enough to keep Methuen in check, might send some five
thousand men on a raid into the Colony; whereas at present we are
keeping that number idle here. I suppose you won't be starting again at

"No, sir; I am feeling pretty well done up, for I have not had much
sleep since the night before the attack on the Modder; and besides, I
should like to see the defences, so that I could explain the situation
to Lord Methuen."

"I will lend you a copy of my plans, Mr. Harberton. I say lend, because
it would not do for you to take it out of here, for it would be very
valuable to the Boers if it were to fall into their hands. I will place
a horse at your disposal to-morrow. I am sorry to have kept you talking
all this time; you must be famished."

"No, indeed, sir. I brought a tin of meat and some bread out with me."

"Ah, well, you will be all the better for dinner, and mine must be
ready by this time. I hope you will join me. There is a bed upstairs at
your disposal. I will tell them to give your boy something to eat, too."

As soon as dinner was over, Yorke went to bed and slept till next
morning, when, obtaining a permit, signed by the commandant,
authorizing him to go wherever he pleased, he made a tour of the
forts round the town. Several of these were placed on the great
heaps of debris from the mines, and commanded a wide view over the
country. These heaps were very steep on the outward face, and it had
not been deemed necessary to erect any serious works on the crests,
but breast-works of stone had been thrown up to protect the men from
rifle-fire should the Boers venture to make an attack. The ground round
the town had been cleared of the houses which would interfere with the
line of fire. Native huts had all been levelled, and the bushes cleared
away, so that the enemy would have to cross the open and be exposed to
musketry and artillery fire. This was a great advantage from the point
of view of defence; but on the other hand, it was an equal disadvantage
to the British when they made sorties against the enemy, as the latter
could lie hidden among the bushes, while our men had to advance across
the open.

Search-lights had been established on the lofty top of one of the
mine-works, and at night swept the circle of cleared ground, so that
it was impossible for the Boers to crawl up to make a sudden attack.
Barricades had been formed across all the streets leading out of the
town, and no one was allowed to pass in or out after nightfall. It
was hoped that in this way the Boer sympathizers in the town would
not be able to carry news to their friends outside. In spite of these
precautions, however, there is no doubt that throughout the siege the
enemy were aware of all that was done. In the town itself, there were
few visible signs of the bombardment, though here and there a house
in ruins showed that a shell had burst inside. The town was full of
people, for although some of the wealthiest men had left before the
siege began, their places were filled by hundreds who came in from
the houses outside the line that was to be held, and from the farming
stations in the surrounding country.

Many, too, had moved in from the outlying suburb of Kenilworth, and
from that part of Beaconsfield which would be most exposed to the fire
of the Boer guns. Numbers of Kaffirs had also come in. So far, the
bombardment had effected comparatively little damage, for the Boers
had not as yet brought up their big guns. Nevertheless, most of the
inhabitants had erected some sort of shelter, with bags filled with
earth, and roofed with timber, over which more sand-bags were placed.
Underground shelters could not well be constructed, for the soil was
but eighteen inches deep, and below it was the solid rock. It was
intended that directly the enemy began the bombardment in earnest with
heavier guns, the women and children should be lowered into the mines,
where they would be perfectly safe from harm.

Yorke was out the whole day taking notes of everything he saw, in order
to be able to report as fully as possible. He was accosted by many
officers, and warmly invited into their mess-rooms. He could not refuse
these invitations, as he knew how intensely anxious all were to hear
the news from outside, and especially the accounts of the fighting.
He took Peter with him on his rounds, pointing out everything to him,
so that if he himself were captured on his way out, and the Kaffir
escaped, he would be able to give as much information as possible to
the general. On returning to dinner at the commandant's, he found the
list of the stores in readiness.

"You understand this is only approximate, Mr. Harberton. A great many
of the residents have stores of their own; having, as soon as it was
evident that we were going to be cut off, bought a large supply from
the store-keepers for their own use. As you will see, the only item
in which we are likely to fail is preserved milk. Unfortunately the
Boers managed to drive off all our milch cows a day or two after they
closed in, and we have only the tins left to rely upon. It is not of
much importance to the men, but were the supply to run out, I fear it
would be very trying for the young children. With that exception you
will see we are fairly supplied for three months, possibly for longer,
as, of course, the rations will be reduced if we find that we are not

Yorke spent two or three hours that evening learning by heart the items
of the list. Then he put the figures down in the order in which they
stood. These without a key would furnish no information, and he had no
fear of forgetting what each group referred to. In the morning he asked
the colonel which side of the town he considered would offer the best
chance of getting through unobserved.

"Do you mean to go on foot or on horseback? Of course I will furnish
you with two horses if you decide on riding."

"I should be glad of them if I were once through the Boers, sir; but
there would be so much greater chance of my being seen if mounted, that
I should much prefer going on foot.

"I think you are right. In any case, it will be best for you to make
to the north-east, leaving by the road to Boshof, which goes out close
to the De Beers mine. The Boers have an entrenchment on Tarantaalrand
Kop, on its right, and one on Tafel Kop, on its left; but they are less
likely to be watchful on that side than they are on the south or west,
as it would be in those directions that any messenger or despatch-rider
would be most likely to go. What time do you propose starting?"

"At nine o'clock, sir. It will be quite dark by that time."

"Very well; then I will get a troop of cavalry to go out towards
Kamfers Dam, and will open fire from the guns on that side. Of course
they will be told not to push the attack home, but to retire as soon as
the Boers begin to fire hotly. In that way the attention of the Boers
on the kopjes you have to pass will be attracted, and you will have
a better chance of getting through unseen. I will, of course, order
that the search-light shall not be directed near the road that you are
travelling, but it shall play frequently on the two kopjes; the beam
will pretty nearly blind the men up there. The best eyes cannot stand
the glare of a search-light long, and when it is turned off, can see
nothing for some time. So I think that, what with that and the attack
on the other side, you will be able to make your way through, if you
have luck. Of course you will not go as far as Boshof, and once past
their lines, you will journey due south. In that way you will strike
the Boshof and Jacobsdal road. When you do so, your course will be
west, with a little south, which will lead you into your camp without
going near their lines at Spytfontein and Magersfontein had better have
a good look at my map. It is not as accurate as it ought to be, but it
will at least be of some assistance to you. Have you a compass?"

"Yes, sir; but it is of no use at night unless one is quite sure that
there are no Boers near, as the striking of a match may be seen a very
long way."

"I will give you some American matches. They are beastly things, with
a lot of sulphur in them, but they have the advantage that they do
not strike with a sudden flash like most English matches, especially
the safety-matches. There is only just enough phosphorus to light
the sulphur, but, without allowing the flame to catch the wood, they
will give enough light to let you see your compass. I don't say that
it would be safe to strike one of them if there was a Boer within a
hundred yards. But I do not think that the light would be seen half a
mile away, especially as you would naturally strike it in the heart of
a bush or in the shelter of a clump of rocks. Of course there is no
chance of your getting back to camp before daylight, for the morning
begins to break soon after five o'clock."

"Thank you, sir! I shall be very much obliged for the matches; they
would certainly prove most useful."

Yorke did not care to walk about much, as he had a hard night's
work before him, and he spent the day in one of the forts which was
exchanging an occasional shot with a Boer battery, chatting with the
officer in command.

"The Boers are shocking bad shots," the latter said. "You are in much
more danger of being hit when they are not firing at you than when they
are aiming at you. They direct their fire principally at Wesselton
Mine, in the hope, no doubt, that shells will go down the pit and
damage the pumping-gear, for if they should succeed we should find it
very difficult to maintain our water-supply, as it would all have to be
carried up from the mine by hand. Not a single shot has fallen within
a hundred yards of it. They have damaged the houses a good deal in the
line of fire, but they have never been able to give their guns the
right elevation. I fancy their powder is by no means good, and is very
uneven in quality. Sometimes it will carry a good deal beyond the mine,
and at other times falls short of it."

"You have a good supply of shell, have you not?"

"Yes, a very fair supply; and the De Beers people have begun casting
some, and have turned out some very fair specimens. They are rougher
than British work, no doubt, but they serve the purpose very well, and
we can make as good practice with them as with our own. Ah, here comes
the man himself! He often comes up here for a look-out. I don't think
he gets on very well with the commandant, but the people here swear
by him, and his presence is an immense encouragement to us all; and
there can be no doubt that with the resources he has at his back, with
a whole army of well-trained mechanics of all sorts, and machinery, to
say nothing of his miners and Kaffirs, he is a host in himself."


As he spoke Rhodes himself came up. Yorke looked with interest at the
man who is the Napoleon of South Africa--a square-built man, with
a smoothly shaven face except for a thick moustache, with hair
waving back from a broad forehead, strong and determined chin and
mouth, somewhat broad in the cheeks, giving his face the appearance
of squareness, light eyes, keen but kindly; altogether a strong and
pleasant face.

"Good-morning!" he said to the officer; "things seem pretty quiet
to-day. Our fight three days back could not be called a success in
itself, but it must have given the Boers a higher respect for our
fighting powers, and made them dislike more than ever the idea of
trying to attack us. I do not think I know your face, sir," he went on,
turning to Yorke. "I thought I knew all the officers in the place."

"I only came in the day before yesterday, in the evening, bringing
despatches from Lord Methuen to Colonel Kekewich."

"A gallant action, sir," Mr. Rhodes said, holding out his hand to him.
"Of course I heard about it, and of your plucky defence all day till
the Kimberley Horse went out and brought you in. I heard at the mess
of the Diamond Field Horse yesterday that you had been there an hour
before, and given them an account of Lord Methuen's three battles. If
you have nothing better to do, sir, perhaps you will kindly tell me the
story. We had better sit down on these sand-bags. The commandant sent
me a copy of your report, but that, of course, gave no details."

Yorke gave a full account of the battles.

"It does not seem to me," Mr. Rhodes said when he had finished, "that
there can be sufficient scouting. Of course I am not a military man,
and know nothing of the handling of the troops. But certainly before
attacking a place I should have taken steps to find out the exact
position of the enemy, and, as far as possible, their strength. This
could have been done by a handful of mounted men. Now, tell me a little
more as to how you got through."

Yorke much more briefly gave the account of his journey.

"And now, Mr. Harberton--for such, I hear, is your name--will you
tell me how it comes that so young an officer was entrusted with such
hazardous work. First of all, would you mind telling me something about
yourself. I like to know the ins and outs of things. Believe me, I am
not asking from mere curiosity."

Yorke felt that in this strong able man he might find a valuable
friend, therefore he gave him a sketch of his reasons for leaving

"So you were at Rugby!" his hearer broke in. "I am a public-school
boy myself, you know, and there is always a fellow-feeling among
public-school boys, even if they were not at the same school. You came
out to a cousin, you say, and that is some eight months ago. What did
you do with him?"

"I looked after his farm a bit, but the greater part of my time I spent
in learning to shoot and to speak Dutch."

"Do you speak Dutch well?"

"Well enough to pass in ordinary conversation, sir. I had a Dutch boy
as a companion, and as my cousin's wife was Dutch, that language was
principally spoken in the house."

"And why did you leave?"

"I should have gone anyhow, sir, because, from what I heard from the
Dutch who came there, there was certain to be war; and as I could
ride well, had made myself a good shot, and could speak Dutch and a
little Kaffir, I thought I might be useful in the scouting way. If I
had not been able to enlist in such a corps I should have enlisted, if
possible, in the regular cavalry. But I left suddenly. I was shot at by
a young Boer, a relation of my cousin's wife, who was jealous because
I had beaten him in a shooting match. His ball went through my hat,
and I naturally fired back in return, and the bullet struck him in the
chest. They did not think that the wound would be mortal, but my cousin
thought it better that I should go at once, as the fellow had many
friends round him who would certainly take the matter up."

Then he related how he had obtained a commission in the latter corps,
and had gone up with Colonel Pinkerton; and had ridden out dressed
as a Dutchman, as they went up the line, to obtain information as to
the sentiments of the Africanders; and how in the same disguise he
had gone with the Dutch lad who had accompanied him, among the Boers,
and had learned that the commando was going south, and that there was
no intention of attacking De Aar; how twenty Kaffirs had been placed
under him, and had done what scouting was possible on the way up to the

"I see that you have plenty of intelligence, as well as grit, Mr.
Harberton. When this war is over come to me; you are the sort of man I
want, and I promise you that you will find me a good friend."

"Thank you very much, sir!"

"No, you have to thank yourself," Mr. Rhodes said. "A lad who will
learn Dutch in six months, instead of contenting himself with sporting
and amusement, as too many young fellows who come out here do, who will
undertake dangerous enterprises, and carry them through as successfully
as you have done, is certain, in any case, to make his way, and
deserves to do so. I am a hard worker myself, and I am only too glad
to have men round me with clear heads, a capacity for work, and, in
a pinch, plenty of pluck and decision. All these you have shown. You
have come out at a younger age than most men, and have already highly
distinguished yourself. Don't be foolish and take a commission if it
is offered to you, at any rate not for a permanency. It is a poor
business, and unless you have an income of your own, it would be as
much as you could do to keep your head above water until the time when
you might become a captain. In Rhodesia you will by that time be in a
position that a colonel might envy."

"Thank you, sir. I had no thought of taking a commission where I could
render but little service except as an interpreter, and did I take it I
should certainly resign at the end of the war. I came out here to push
my way, and be able to help my mother and sisters to some extent, in
the event of the death of my father, whose income as a clergyman will,
of course, expire with him, and who can now only afford to insure his
life for a small sum. Therefore I most gratefully accept your very kind
offer, and when this business is ended will come to you, and be only
too glad to accept any post that you may think me fit for."

They had been alone during this conversation, as the officer in command
of the battery had left them to attend to his duties when they first
sat down to talk. Mr. Rhodes now rose, and shook hands with Yorke;
then, nodding to the officer, said, "I shall be up again this afternoon
if the Boers make any fresh move," and strolled away. Yorke dined that
evening at the mess of the Kimberley Horse, but left directly the cloth
was removed, and having said good-bye to Colonel Kekewich, started with
Peter, an officer accompanying them to pass them out through the lines.
Already there was a sound of musketry away near Kamfers Dam; the Boer
guns joined in, and the battery at which he had passed the morning
replied to their fire.

"That will occupy their attention on the kopje near this road, Peter.
We will keep along close to it as far as we can. It is all open veldt,
and as far as I can make out, the foot of the kopjes is at least two or
three hundred yards from it, so that walking will be a good deal easier
than it was coming here. But mind, if we are surprised, Peter, you are
to follow my orders and make a bolt for it at once. As long as the
ground is open like this I can use my own eyes, and I wish you now to
fall back and walk thirty or forty yards behind me. It is of no use our
both being captured. I have given you a copy of the figures that I have
put down, and have gone through them over and over again with you, so
that you know what each of them means. I have also told you the message
Colonel Kekewich sent me, which you are to repeat to the general when
you get back to the Modder. When we have got well past the Kopjes you
can come up to me again, but until we do so keep well behind, and if I
am suddenly pounced upon make straight off. We have agreed that you can
follow me and help me if there is a chance of making my escape, but I
hardly think that such a chance would occur. However, that I must leave
to you. But you must remember that you are not to follow me long, not
more than a day or two, for it is all-important that the message should
get to the Modder as soon as possible."

"If it is your orders, I must obey them," the Kaffir said, "but I don't
like it, baas."

"Never mind that, Peter; we all have to do things we don't like
sometimes. Now, drop back."

Yorke had before leaving the lines again muffled his boots, and he
walked along fast, feeling confident that he should get through
unobserved. He was walking close to the road, and was within four or
five hundred yards of the kopjes, when he took to it again, as there
were some clumps of bushes in front of him. Suddenly he fell on his
face with a crash, his foot having caught against a wire stretched
tightly some six inches above the ground. Before he could spring to his
feet a dozen men rushed out from the bushes and seized him.

"Run, Peter, run!" he shouted, and then said as the Boers raised him to
his feet, "I surrender."

Several of them raised their rifles and faced towards the road by
which he had come, thinking that he might be followed by a strong
force. After waiting for three or four minutes two of them ran forward
cautiously, but returned in five minutes, saying that there was no sign
of any one there.

"But this man shouted to someone. Whom did you shout to?" he asked
Yorke roughly.

Yorke shook his head. He thought it best to profess ignorance of Dutch.
The man repeated the question in English.

"It was a Kaffir," Yorke answered. "He was coming to show me the way
across the country when we had passed through your lines."

"You are a spy, then," the man said fiercely.

"Not at all," Yorke replied. "If it were daylight you could see by my
uniform that I am an English officer. If I had come as a spy I should
have disguised myself. But I preferred coming in uniform, so that if I
were captured I should have a right to be treated as a prisoner of war."

"That is for the field cornet to decide," the man said grimly. "Now,
come along with us."



Having relieved him of his rifle and bandolier, the Boers led Yorke
with them along the road until they had passed the kopje, and then
turned off to the left and took him to where several fires were burning
at the back of the hill. A strong party of Boers were sitting round,
some smoking, others eating their supper.

"Whom have you got there, le Clus?" enquired one of them with a white
cockade in his hat.

"He says that he is a British officer, mynheer. He was coming along the
road when he tumbled over our wire, and we had him in a moment."

"He was walking along the road, was he?"


"Then he hardly can have been sent to spy out our position and
strength," the man said. "If he had been, he would not have kept to the
road. Why, he is quite a boy!"

"He says he is not a spy, mynheer, but has been sent out to carry a
message to the British on the Modder. He claims to be in uniform, and
so to be treated as a prisoner of war."


The conversation had been in Dutch, and the field cornet then said in
English to the prisoner, "Have you any papers about you?"

"I have only this little scrap," Yorke said. "It is written in a
cipher, and I suppose the English general will understand. It is only a
lot of figures."

The Boer opened it and held it so that the light of the fires would
fall upon it. "3104, 8660, 241. It is like that all the way down. Do
you understand the cipher?" he asked.

"As it is a military cipher, it is only the generals who would know it.
These things are kept very secret, and no cipher would be told to a
young officer like myself."

"Why should they choose you to carry it?"

"I can only suppose," Yorke said with a smile, "because they thought
that I could be better spared than older officers. Besides, I am a good
runner, and would bet that if I had twenty yards start none of your men
would overtake me."

"Perhaps not, my lad, but a rifle bullet would travel faster than you."

There was a laugh among the Boers standing round, which was what Yorke
had aimed at, knowing the importance of keeping them in good temper.

"Well, in the morning I shall send you on to Boshof," the field cornet
said. "I do not know anything of the usages of war, and whether your
uniform will save your skin or not; I will leave it to others to
settle. But you must be a bold young fellow to have undertaken such a
job, for it is ridiculous to suppose that you could get through in that
uniform, and you would probably be shot by the first of our men you met
without his stopping to ask any questions. Will you give me your word
that you will not try to escape to-night? If so, I will not tie you up."

Two or three of the men grumbled. "I know these English officers," he
said, "and am willing to take his word. Still, to prevent any risks,
two of you must take it by turns to watch him."

Yorke looked indifferent till he spoke to him in English, and then
said, "I will give you my word of honour, sir, not to attempt to escape
to-night, but I don't say that if I can get a chance afterwards I won't
do so."

"That is all right. I don't think you will get a chance. At any rate, I
accept your word that you will remain here quietly all night."

So saying, he reseated himself by the fire and began to puff at his
pipe. Yorke thought it would be best to imitate his example. He
had, when at the farm, taken to smoking occasionally; he did it in
self-defence, for sometimes, when there were several Dutch visitors,
the room was so full of smoke that he could scarcely breathe in it. He
therefore took out his pipe, filled and lit it, and sat quietly down
near the field cornet. He then took from his pocket a flask, which had
been filled for him at the mess with whiskey, and handed it to the
cornet. The Boer's eyes twinkled, and he took a long draught of it.

"That is good stuff," he said, "a good deal better than they sell us at
your stores."

"Please pass it round, cornet. I am afraid it won't go very far,
but you are heartily welcome to it. I don't drink it myself, but I
generally carry it in case I should get hurt anyhow, or sprain my
ankle among your rocks. I may as well hand you this pistol too," Yorke
said--it had been unnoticed in the dark by the men who had taken his
rifle--"it is certain that your people will not let me keep it, and you
may as well have it as another; but I do not suppose your cartridges
will fit it." He had dropped his own on the way.

"As you say, I may as well have it as another," the field cornet said
taking it. "Besides, it might go off by the way, and it is well to
avoid the possibility of accidents. Now, as you have given me your word
of honour that you will not try to escape to-night, will you assure
me, on your word of honour, that you have not come out to gather
information--in fact, that you are not a spy?"

"Willingly, sir. I give you my word of honour that I am not sent out on
any such mission. I was simply told to make my way to the Modder, and,
so far from trying to make out your arrangements, my great object was
to try to avoid coming near any of you."

"What he says is true, I am certain," the Boer said in Dutch to his
companions. "I am sure by his face that he is not lying. It is a shame
to have sent a lad like this on such an errand. However, I will send
a strong letter with him in the morning to the commandant at Boshof,
and assure him that there is no question whatever that this young
officer's story is true, and that he is entitled to be treated as a
prisoner of war. We have not gone into this fight in order to kill as
many Englishmen as possible, but because we want to help our friends
of the Transvaal to keep their independence; and I for one hope that
there will be no more bloodshed than necessary. Young fellows like this
simply do what they are ordered, just as we do.

"Of course we both do our best when we are fighting. Certainly we
have no ground for animosity against England; she has always kept her
engagements with us, and we have been just as independent as if there
were no one in South Africa but ourselves. We have always been good
friends with the English who live among us. Once it comes to killing
spies they could kill a hundred of our men to every one we could kill.
We know everything that passes in Natal or Cape Colony from our friends
there, and it is only natural that they should want to know what is
passing among us. If we shoot a man on the ground that he is a spy,
they may shoot hundreds of Dutch, who are sending us news from among
them. We have not heard of their shooting one; and I say if we find an
Englishman doing what so many of our men are doing let us stop his work
by imprisoning him until the war is over. If the Transvaalers like to
act differently we cannot help it. They hate the English. Why, I don't
know, for they have all got rich at their expense. Still, they do hate

"Before this began I was as good friends with my English neighbours as
I was with my own people, and I see no reason for any change. They are
not fighting us; it is we who are fighting them. I don't say that Steyn
was wrong in joining our kinsmen across the Vaal; that is his business
and that of the men we elected. Anyhow, we are bound by them; we and
the Rooineks have got to shoot each other till one of us gives in. I am
sure we shall all do our best to win. We have shown them that we can
fight, and they have shown us that they can fight; but when it comes
to shooting in cold blood I will have nothing to do with it. In the
first place, because I call it murder; and in the second, because where
the English have got one man sending them information from our side,
we have got a thousand doing the same from theirs. We should be fools
indeed if we were to set an example and take one life, for our action
might entail the shooting of all our friends in the colonies."

"There is a good deal in what you say, mynheer," one of the others
agreed, "and I am sure you are right. For my part, when I see our shell
bursting in there, I often say to myself, 'It is the women and children
that are suffering from this.' Let us fire at their forts--though I
don't see that that does much good--but leave the peaceful people
alone; they won't give in because a few hundred women are killed. It
does not seem as if we should take the town by force. At any rate, we
have made no attempt to do so at present, and are not likely to. We
shall starve them into surrender, and might just as well leave them
alone till they have eaten their last crust. For my part, I think we
ought to have made a rush and finished the business directly we got
here. We should have lost a good many men, but that would have been the
end of it. The end will come just the same, but we shall have killed
many women and children and some soldiers, and we shall have lost in
the long run as many as we should have done if we had attacked the
place before they had time to build their forts and prepare for us."

"I don't see the use of keeping up this fire myself, Isaak," the field
cornet said; "but again, that is not my business, my orders are to hold
this kopje, and I mean to do so. My heart aches whenever I see a shell
burst in the middle of the town, but our commandant has got to account
for that, not I. It is time now for the men on the hill to be relieved,
and let the next two to go on guard duty get their rifles, and keep
watch over this lad. I have no fear of his trying to escape; but you
say he had another with him, for all that we know there may have been
three or four, and they may try to crawl in and get him off."

The idea that Peter might attempt this had already occurred to Yorke,
and he sincerely hoped that the Kaffir would not do so. One of the men
brought an armful of straw and put it down for him between two rocks.
Here he lay down. The two men told off sat themselves on the ground in
front of him after lighting their pipes, and in a short time all was
quiet. Yorke soon went off to sleep. In the middle of the night he was
startled by one of his guards leaping to his feet and shouting "Who's

"What is it, Jans?" the other said.

"I heard the rattle of a stone over there on the right;" and he again

No answer came.

"It was only a hare," the other grumbled. "Don't fire, Jans, whatever
you do. We shall be rousing everybody, and a nice temper they would be
in with you for disturbing them."

"I don't believe it was a hare," the other said. "It sounded like a
rock that had shifted its place when someone trod on it. It was too big
a stone to move with the weight of a hare. Well, if I hear anything
else I will send a bullet in that direction, whether it wakes the camp
or not. You heard what the field cornet said. Someone may be trying to
get in to help this lad to escape."

Yorke lay awake for some time, and then, as everything remained quiet,
he went off to sleep again. In the morning he breakfasted with the
field cornet, and had a bowl of cocoa and milk, with bread broken into

"Now," the latter said when he had finished, "I must send you on to
Boshof. If I could have my own way, lad, I would send you back into
the town, and you could tell them there that we are keeping a sharp
look-out, and that it is of no use any one trying to get through. But
I can't do that; I must send you off to Boshof. Four of my men have
to go there to buy provisions, and they will look after you. I have
written a letter to the commandant, and hope that he will treat you
well. They won't be starting until this afternoon, as they will sleep
there and come back in the morning. Of course they will ride, and you
can have one of my ponies. Mind," he went on with a smile, "it will be
the slowest of the lot I have, for your promise not to escape expired
this morning. The four men will all be on better ponies than yours, so
it will be of no use your trying to get off."

"I sha'n't try," Yorke laughed; "even if they could not overtake me,
they could shoot my pony. I don't want to be made a target for four of
your rifles. My chance has not arrived yet. When it does, I shall take

At three o'clock the party started, the field cornet shaking hands
warmly with Yorke, and saying as he mounted: "I am sorry we caught
you, lad. You could have done us no harm if you had got round to your
people at the Modder. Though, perhaps, you are lucky in not being able
to get farther, for you might fall into the hands of the Transvaalers,
and, although they are our friends, I must acknowledge that they are a
pretty rough lot."

"I am very much obliged to you for your kindness, for you have treated
me as well as our men would have treated you if you had fallen into
their hands."

A minute later he was riding along the road with two of the Boers on
each side of him. The distance was some five-and-twenty miles, and,
sometimes walking, sometimes cantering, they reached the town between
six and seven. Yorke had chatted cheerfully to one of his guards, who
spoke English, feeling apparently but little anxiety as to his position.

"Where do you suppose they will send me?" he asked.

"The orders are to send all prisoners to Pretoria; but most likely, in
the first place, they will send you to Bloemfontein, and from there you
can be taken up by rail. All the prisoners taken in Natal are sent up
that way--not, of course, through Bloemfontein, but by the line through
Standerton. I don't suppose you will be there very long, for, of
course, as soon as we have driven all your soldiers out of the country,
we shall send the prisoners after them."

"Don't count your chickens before they are hatched," Yorke laughed.
"The war has been going on two months, and you have not done much
towards it yet."

"No," one of the guard admitted, "but we have killed thousands and
thousands of your troops in Natal, and we shall finish with those on
the Modder directly they advance again. All our people in Cape Colony
are only waiting for orders, when they will rise to a man. We are
expecting every day to hear that Ladysmith has fallen. Then Joubert
will drive your people to take to their ships at Durban. We shall leave
enough men here to starve your garrison, and shall then march to Cape
Town with the Transvaalers. We don't expect any fighting on the way,
because our people will have risen and captured the place long before
we arrive there."

"It all sounds easy enough, doesn't it? But at present you see, you
have not taken Ladysmith; you have not defeated Buller's army; you have
not starved Kimberley; you have not even taken Mafeking; and the Dutch
in Cape Colony have not risen. When all these things have happened, you
may find it clear sailing. But you must remember that, although you
were all prepared for war, Britain was not. At present we have not more
than fifty thousand men here, and you have found it difficult to deal
with them. She could send, and will send, if necessary, five hundred
thousand more."

"That would be a big lot," the Boer said doubtfully; "but with the
Dutch in Cape Colony we should not be afraid of them."

"Well, you have seen that they can fight, anyhow," Yorke said. "You
have the advantage in all being mounted, and in the nature of the
country; that is all in your favour while we are attacking you, but it
would be in our favour were you attacking us. Besides, I don't see what
you men of the Free State have to do with it. If we were driven out,
and you had a republic, Kruger would be president, and the Transvaal
the master. You were a great deal better off as you were. You know,
everyone knows, how hard their government is. Kruger and his people
would keep all the riches for themselves. Do you think that you would
get a higher price for your cattle, and would be in any way better off
for the change?

"I think that you would not; there would be monopolies of everything,
as in the Transvaal. You would have to pay twice as much for the goods
you wanted to buy as you do now. Perhaps you do not know the story of
the monkey who took a cat and made it pull the chestnuts out of the
fire for him. Well, I think that if you drive us out of South Africa,
you will find that the Transvaal would be the monkey, and the Free
State the cat. If we win, which is possible, unlikely as it seems to
you, you will certainly lose your independence, for, without a shadow
of cause of complaint, you have wantonly taken up arms against us. You
will have lost a great number of lives, and be worse off than you
were at the beginning, though nothing like so badly off as if you had
been under Kruger. You know very well that under our rule the Dutch in
Cape Colony have nothing to complain of. The government are Dutch, the
Dutch have as free a voice as the English in electing their assembly
and making their own laws; and we may be sure that were the Free State
annexed, you would, after a time, be as free as are the Dutch in our

"It is a bad business," one of the men said. "I wish Steyn and Reitz
had been anywhere before they dragged us into it. However, now we are
in it, we have got to go through with it, but I can tell you a good
many of us would not have come out on commando but that we had to
choose between doing so and being shot. Well, I hope that it will soon
be over one way or other, and that I can get back to my farm."

"Who is commandant at Boshof? Is he a Transvaaler or a Free Stater?"

"One of our people. He is a good man, and is a brother-in-law of
our field cornet. Most of us are Free State men about here. Many of
those round Kimberley, and two-thirds of those at Spytfontein, are
Transvaalers, but the main part of their force is in Natal."

Then the subject of the conversation was changed. The Boers asked many
questions about Britain, showing astounding ignorance of its distance
from the Cape, and the population.

"But Russia, Germany and France are all going to invade Britain," the
Boer said, "and I hear that they are going to divide it between them;
so what you say about so many troops coming over here is all nonsense."

Yorke laughed. "There is no more chance of those three countries
combining against us than there is of their flying; but if they did, we
should not be afraid of them."

"Why, I hear that they have all got very much bigger armies than you

"That is true enough; but our navy is larger than all theirs put
together, and they would have to thrash that before they could do

"Why couldn't they march their armies into England and leave your fleet

"Because Britain is an island, and there are more than twenty miles
between it and the nearest point of France; so that as long as our
fleet is master of the sea, they can do nothing. Even if they did beat
our fleet, they would have to get ships to cross in. It requires a
tremendous number of ships to carry a big army with horses, artillery,
and stores. All the ships of France collected at one spot could not
carry an army across capable of beating ours. Russia has practically
no ships at all, so her troops could do nothing; and at the worst,
although Germany could send more men over than France, there is no need
to fear her, for she would never join France and Russia against us.
She is not good friends with France, and not very good friends with
Russia; and if Britain were conquered, France and Russia would next
turn their attention to her. Russia and France might join against us.
Russia could do us no harm in Europe, and could not aid France in any
way except by attacking us in India. So practically, France is the only
power that could, if she wanted to, help you. And as we could smash her
fleet up in a month after war began, she would have nothing to gain and
everything to lose by siding with you. At present, however, she has not
the slightest idea of doing anything of the sort. It is nothing to her
whether the Transvaal is independent or not. She has large interests in
the gold-mines, and would lose a great deal of money if the Boers were

"We have Frenchmen fighting for us, and Germans."

"No doubt you have; but in every country there are a certain number
of people ready to fight anywhere, if they are paid for what they do.
The sort of men who are fighting for you, would rob your farms just as
readily as they are robbing the farms of British settlers; they are
the scum of France and Germany, and will be a source of more trouble
than advantage to you. Don't build your hopes on foreign assistance,
you have yourselves to depend upon and yourselves only. As long as
Kruger can lay his hand on all the gold from the mines, he can buy men
and guns from Europe; but that won't last, for most of the miners have
gone, and once we take Johannesburg there is an end to that."

"You will never do that."

"That is for the future to show," Yorke said. "You thought that we
should never cross the Modder, but we have done it. You thought that
you were going to march to Durban a fortnight after the war began,
but you have not done it. You thought that you were going to take
Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking in a week, but you have done none of
these things yet. So you see the unexpected happens sometimes; and my
opinion, though, I may be wrong, is that in three months we shall be at
Johannesburg. But we have an old saying in England, 'May difference of
opinion, never alter friendship,' and there is no reason why we should
not each enjoy our own opinion without quarrelling about it. You and
the British have always been good friends and have got on comfortably,
and there is no reason why you should not do so again, when these
troubles are over."

On arriving at Boshof, they found that the commandant had ridden over
to his farm, five-and-twenty miles away, and would not be back until
eight or nine o'clock. The place was about the usual size of country
towns in the Free State. It contained a church, a town-hall, a school,
and perhaps two hundred houses. The inhabitants speedily gathered as
the party rode in, eagerly asking for news as to the progress of the
siege. Some of the men looked sullenly and threateningly at Yorke,
but for the most part little animosity was evinced, many of the women
even looked with pity towards him. Among the population the war was
regarded as practically over, for they had been told that Buller's army
had been annihilated and that tremendous losses had been inflicted
upon Methuen, with only about half a dozen casualties among their own
men, and had heard that the capture of Britain herself by Russia, if
not already accomplished, was but a matter of days. They were a little
puzzled why Kimberley had not yet fallen, but were confident that
the final attack upon it was only deferred until Methuen's army was

Here was a specimen of the men with whom their own big and brawny
relatives had to fight--a mere lad, without a hair on his face, who
ought to be at home with his mother. No wonder the Boers had gained
such magnificent victories. It was nothing short of madness that such
soldiers should be sent to fight against the invincible champions
of the country. It was not their fault, poor fellows, for had not
authentic reports reached the town showing how the British soldiers had
had to be ironed and intoxicated before they could be got on board a
ship, and how many had cried like children at being compelled to fight
so far away from home. Therefore, when Yorke was lodged in the lock-up
of the town, one woman brought a bowl of milk to the barred window,
another some fruit, and a third a plate of meat and some bread, for
they believed that, having come from Kimberley, he must be in a state
of starvation, while many said a word or two of pity and consolation.
Although he pretended not to understand their words, Yorke was touched
and at the same time amused by their comments.

"Poor young fellow," one said, "I don't suppose he is much younger than
my Paul, though he is not half his size; they must be very hard up for
soldiers when they take a lad like this."

"The men who brought him in said that he was an officer," one of them

"An officer!" the other repeated in surprise, "no wonder we beat
them so easily, when they have boys like that as officers. Why, all
our field cornets and officers are big men and the wisest in their
districts; what chance could such a lad have against them? And if this
is an officer, what must the soldiers be like?"

Several times the two men on guard outside the door told the women to
go away, but they soon returned.

"I wonder what has become of Peter," Yorke thought to himself. "I
expect he was on the look-out somewhere among the rocks this morning,
and waited there till he saw me ride by. He would know that he could do
nothing against four mounted men. I hope that by this time he is well
on his way towards the Modder. As they say the landdrost here is a good
fellow, and a brother-in-law of my friend of last night, I don't think
there is any chance of harsh treatment; and by the time I have gone
another stage all questions about my being a spy will have died out,
and it will be supposed that I was captured in a sortie or something of
that sort."

At nine o'clock the key grated in the lock, and, the door opening, the
two Boers on guard told him to follow them. He was conducted to a small
room, where the landdrost and two or three of his friends were seated.

"So you brought this man here prisoner; you caught him trying to get
out of Kimberley? I hear you have a letter for me?"

"Yes, mynheer, here it is!"

He read it through and then passed it to his companions.

"A young chap trying to carry a despatch," he said, "walked right into
the arms of Odental's men. He had no time to make resistance--not that
it would have done him any good. There is evidently nothing to do but
to send him to Pretoria."

"You feel sure that he is not a spy, landdrost?"

"As if people would send out a lad like that as a spy! He is evidently
just fresh from England. What could he want to spy about? The people in
Kimberley can see for themselves where our forts are; if they wanted
to send out a spy they would have chosen somebody who could speak
Dutch. Besides, he has got his uniform on, the first Dutchman he met
would have made him prisoner. You need not wait any longer," he went
on to the men who had brought Yorke in, "I will give you a letter in
the morning to my brother. Now, sit down, young fellow, and tell us who
you are, and how you came to undertake this business. How long have you
been out from England?"

"Seven or eight months."

"I suppose you were with your regiment at Cape Town?"

"I joined it there," Yorke said, "but I did not come up the country
with it. I am a good runner and a fair rider, so I volunteered to come
up to Kimberley. As the war seemed likely to last some time, and I
wanted to join my regiment, I got leave from the commandant there to
make off, and, as Field Cornet Odental no doubt told you, he entrusted
me with a despatch; this I gave to the field cornet, as I knew that I
should be searched; besides, it was necessary to show that I was going
out on military business, and not as a spy. But it contained only a
number of figures, which may have referred to certain words in a book,
or been a military cipher, that no one but the writer could understand."

"They would be sure to write in cipher," the landdrost said; "it would
not have been safe to send a message that we could read, if we caught

The landdrost had been warm when he returned from his ride and had
thrown up the window. Suddenly a rifle was thrust in, and a voice in
Dutch called out, "Hold up your arms or we shoot!"

The men, astounded at his sudden threat, did as they were ordered.

"Gentlemen," Yorke said quietly, "I suppose that some of my friends
have heard of my capture, and that a party has got through. I am
heartily obliged to you for your kindness, landdrost, and I only leave
you because the journey back from here is a good deal shorter than it
would be from Pretoria. I will take your guns for the present, but you
will find four of them outside after I have gone; the other I may want
on the journey. Good-evening!" And taking the five guns from the corner
in which they were placed, he carried them out, shut the door, and
turned the key. He paused a moment outside, extracted the cartridges
from four of them, removed the bolts and put them in his pocket; the
other, and a bandolier, he slung over his shoulder.

"Thank you, men," he said in a loud voice. "Now, then, I will shut the
window down. One man had better stand on each side of it, and if anyone
attempts to open it or come out, put a bullet in his head."

He then closed the window. He did this because, had Peter stepped
forward to do it, the Boers would have seen that he was a Kaffir. As
soon as he had done it he said, "Thank you, Peter. Now, which way?"

"Round the corner of the next house, baas. Now, you follow me. I know
all the streets. No fear of my tumbling over wire;" and he laughed.
They started at full speed, took several turnings, and in three minutes
were outside the town. Before they got there, however, they heard a
loud shouting.

"They have gone to a back window, or perhaps to one upstairs. They
would be sure to think of that when they got over the shock. Are we
going right for the Modder?"

"Yes, baas, this is the way. But the sky is very dark. There is going
to be a storm, I think. I am afraid we shall not be able to go very

"That does not matter, Peter. I have still got my compass and matches.
I had them in my tobacco-pouch. That and a handkerchief are the only
things they left me. You managed that splendidly, Peter. You did well
not to show yourself in the light. They would have been so furious to
think that they have been held up by a native, that even your rifle
would not have kept them quiet."

"I could have shot the five one after the other, baas."

"You might have done so, Peter, but the sound of firing would have
brought the whole town out at once. Besides, I should have been very
sorry, for the landdrost was a very civil old fellow, and I should have
been grieved if harm had come to him. I don't know that there is any
fear of pursuit," he said, after they had run for more than an hour.

"No fear at all, baas. The Boers do not like riding about at night,
especially when there is a storm coming on. Besides, they know very
well that they have no chance of catching you in the dark. To-morrow
morning they will send out in all directions. We must get away as far
as we can."

In a quarter of an hour the storm burst upon them, the rain coming
down in torrents, the wind blowing fiercely. They had now fallen into
a jog-trot, and as Yorke had looked at his compass when the first drop
fell, they were able to keep on without delay, for they could steer
their course by the direction of the wind and driving rain. Half an
hour, and the storm ceased as suddenly as it had begun. The Kaffir had
been running a yard or two ahead of Yorke, for the latter could see
nothing, while the former was able to make out any bush in their way.
From the view he had obtained of the country when he came into the town
the lad knew that there were no kopjes for a long way round it, and
that the only danger was of falling into a spruit.

When the sky cleared and the stars shone out there was no longer any
fear of accident, and sometimes walking, and sometimes trotting, they
held on their course until morning broke. They had travelled, they
calculated, nearly thirty miles. The last four or five had been over
comparatively broken ground, being a continuation of the hills through
which they had passed on their way to Kimberley. They hid up on the
side of a rocky kopje, and when it was light made out the road from
Boshof to Jacobsdal about a mile to their right.

"There is a little town in the distance," Yorke said looking south.
"That must be Wesselton. I don't think that is more than eight miles or
so from the river. What we have got to do is to get round that place,
keep a bit to the right of the road till we are close to the river,
and then strike due west. Of course the most dangerous point is where
we cross the road from Jacobsdal to Kimberley. Once past that we are
safe, except that they may have scouts out towards our camp, to give
them notice of any move that might be made against Jacobsdal. They say
that a strong force is there, who intend, of course, to try and cut
the railway in our rear when Lord Methuen moves forward. Now, the best
thing we can do is to take a few hours' sleep."

In a few minutes he was sound asleep. The Kaffir slept lightly, and
every half-hour or so lifted his head and looked out over the road
towards Boshof. Yorke awoke about midday. Peter was at that moment
looking out.

"Do you see anything on the road, Peter?" Yorke asked.

"No one now, baas. Three hours after you went to sleep two Boers rode
past going fast. I expect they were sent from Boshof to say that you
had got away. Three hours after that more than twenty men came the
other way. When they got to the plain they separated, and rode about
searching the country as they went."

"Looking for us, no doubt," Yorke said. "Well, they won't find us, but
it shows the alarm has spread. We shall have to be very careful now,
Peter. Where is that food you bought at Boshof? I did not feel hungry
last night, but my appetite has come back again this morning. If we go
to that boulder fifty yards to the right we shall be in the shade."

"Better stay where we are, baas. The Boers are accustomed to hunt, and
have got very good eyes, almost as good as ours. They might see us."

"But you said that there were none of them along the road now."

"That is so, baas, but there may be some of them on the hills hiding
among the rocks. They would feel sure that we should come this way, and
no doubt while some went out on the plain, some climbed up there in
hopes of seeing us move."

"Quite right, Peter; it is no use throwing away a chance. We will stop
where we are and put up with the sun."

"We have no meat, baas; I knew very well there would be no chance of
cooking it. I have got a bag of biscuit and a bottle of whisky."

"Have you got your water-bottle?"

"Not left him behind, baas."

"Well, then, I will have some water, and when I have drunk half of it
you can pour a little whisky in the rest for yourself."

"Whisky bad thing, baas, but very nice."

"It may be nice in small quantities for those who like it. I don't like
it. I never touch it if I can help it. It is the ruin of half your
people, and you know it is against the law to give it to you."

"Against the law, baas but we can always find plenty of men ready to
sell it for good money."

"They are bad men, Peter. The harm they do is very great. That is why
so many of your people are in rags, though they can earn pay when they
are willing to work. They will only labour for three or four days, and
then spend pretty well all they have earned on spirits, and be drunk
the next three."

"That is true, baas. Peter do that very often. Big fool, Peter! Often
tells himself so when he gets sober. But when he gets money he smells
spirit, then he makes fool of himself again."

"Well, you had better make up your mind to give it up altogether,
Peter. You are getting good pay now, and ought to have a lot of money
saved by the end of the war--enough to go back to your own people and
build a kraal, and buy cattle, and exchange some of them for a wife."

"That true, baas. Peter will try not to be big fool again."

"Well, then, you had better begin to try at once, and drink your water
without mixing whisky with it."

Peter's face fell, and he heaved a long sigh.

"Now, just suppose, Peter, that at Boshof you had opened that bottle of
whisky. I have no doubt that if you had begun it you would have drunk
almost all of it, and by the time you got sober you would have found me
a long way towards Pretoria."

"That is just what I said to myself," Peter said with a laugh. "I take
that bottle out of my pocket four or five times and look at him. But
each time I took it out I said to myself, 'Peter, if you take out that
cork you know what it will be. You will get drunk, and the Boers will
carry your baas away.'"

"Well, Peter, you fought the battle and mastered yourself, and there is
no reason why you should not do it again. It is better to be a free man
than a slave."

"How slave, master?" Peter asked puzzled.

"Every man is a slave who allows himself to be mastered by drink. It
is of no use to say, 'I will only have a drop.' It is ten times more
difficult to stop then than it is at first. Now, Peter, you have done
me a great service--a very great service, but I shall have done you
quite as good a one if I can persuade you to give up drink altogether.
Then when I part from you, I shall be always able to think of you as
doing well among your own people, instead of working in rags somewhere
for a day's pay."

"Peter will try, master; he will try hard. Every time he smells gin, he
will say to himself, 'Baas Yorke tell me, that ruin me if I touch it;
and him say true, I will not touch it.'"

"That is right, Peter."

"Shall I smash the bottle now, baas?"

"Smash it when we get into camp. It is good for medicine, but very
bad as drink. We may have to sleep near the river, and perhaps in wet
clothes. Besides, it is better for you to carry it with you without
touching it. You see that you have begun to get the better of it. I
shall not say no to you if you ask me for some, but it will please me
very much if you don't. Now, let us eat our biscuit."

When they had finished their simple meal, Yorke said: "I have had my
sleep out, and it is evident that you cannot have slept much, therefore
you may as well get a good sleep before we start. I will keep watch."

Late in the afternoon. Yorke saw the Boers straggling back. They had no
doubt come to the conclusion that he and those with him were not hiding
out on the plain.

"They will probably place extra men on the watch during the night,"
thought Yorke, "to make sure that we do not pass through Wesselton. We
had better keep to the left of that place, because they will think it
more likely that we should turn off to the right, as that would be our
natural course in making for the Modder. However, I cannot think that
they will take any great trouble to look out for us, except on the road
through these hills, for they cannot be sure that from Boshof we did
not work round the other side of Kimberley, and try to return to the
town from the west."



AS soon as it was quite dark, Yorke and his companion were again on
their way. It was toilsome work. They kept, as well as they could
judge, a mile from the road, but it was a very rough piece of country.
There were steep hills to climb and descend, tracts of boulder and
rock to be crossed, and had it not been for the keen-eyed native,
Yorke would have found it impossible to make his way. Fortunately
the night was starlit, and this enabled them to keep their direction
without having recourse to the dangerous expedient of striking a match.
Presently the country became less rough and hilly.

"I think we have passed the range, Peter, and Wesselton cannot be very
far off. Keep a sharp eye on the look-out for lights. Directly we see
them, we shall know exactly what our position is. We have taken a very
long time to cross the hills, and I want to sight the river before
daylight. We are sure to find bushes or willows growing by the bank
where we can hide."

Half an hour's walking, and Peter said in a low voice, "There are
lights, baas," pointing somewhat to the left of the track they were

For a time Yorke could not discern anything. Then a light shone out
and disappeared almost instantly. "That is somebody carrying a candle
or lamp across a room," he said. "I am much obliged to him, whoever it
is. The road cannot be far to the right, so bear more the other way. If
there are any Boers about they would probably feel sure that we should
strike off to the right."

Making a detour, they presently left the town behind them, and kept
on due south. They had no fear whatever of anyone being on watch
beyond Wesselton, and therefore stepped out boldly over the slightly
undulating ground. Once or twice Yorke struck a match and looked at his
compass, to be sure that they were keeping their course.

"I think we are near the river now, baas," Peter said at last.

"What makes you think that, Peter?"

"Smell the water."

"Do you, Peter? I did not know that it had any smell."

"Yes, baas. Oxen and deer and sheep all can smell it. Oxen always
quicken their pace when they get near a pool."

"That would seem to show that you are right, but still I don't think
there can be any smell; but there may be more damp in the air near
water, and their senses in that way are more delicate than that of a
white man. As you say you think we are near water I have no doubt you
are right. Anyhow, I hope you are, for I have knocked the skin off
my shins in half a dozen places among these rocks, and I have pretty
nearly twisted my ankle as often, so I shall be glad enough to lie
down. I certainly had several hours' sleep yesterday, but that did not
make up for the loss of sleep the night before; besides, my feet are
getting very tender. I have not walked, in all the months I have been
out here, as much as during these two nights."

"Baas walks very well. No Dutchman ever walked half as far as you do."

"Perhaps not, Peter; they never use their legs. A Boer would get on a
horse if he only wanted to go fifty yards to fetch anything. I used to
be a good walker, but on the farm I got to be almost as lazy as the

A quarter of an hour later a line of bushes rose in front of them.

"That looks as if the river were near."

"Just on other side of the bushes, baas."

So it turned out, and after climbing down to it, taking a long drink,
for they had emptied their water-bottles before starting, they took a
mouthful of food and lay down among the bushes.

"There is not the least occasion to keep watch," Yorke said. "It will
be morning soon, and if either of us wake, we can peep out from the
edge of the bushes and see if there are any Dutchmen in sight. If there
are not, we can sleep on as long as we like."

Yorke did not wake till the sun was almost overhead. The native was
crouching down near the bushes.

"Well, Peter, do you see anything?" he asked.

"I have seen Boers at that house there going in and out. They just rode
in, waited half an hour, and rode away again. They did not look about
at all; just paying a visit."

"We did not see the house last night, though we must have passed very
close to it."

"We did not look for houses, baas, we looked for river."

"But as there are horses and cattle grazing about, I wonder we did not
startle some of them. They must have been farther away from the house.
They would have been sure to move if we had passed near them."

"Some came near here this morning, baas. Grass longer here. When river
high, spread over country near."

"Well, as long as they don't enter the bushes, it does not matter,
Peter. If they did, and came upon us, they would be startled, and
gallop away, and if any Boer happened to be looking from that house, he
might saunter down here to see what caused their fright."

The day passed quietly, and as soon as it was dark they were in motion

"Our course is a very little to the south of west," Yorke said. "Now we
are quite safe till we approach the road from Kimberley to Jacobsdal.
Once past that, it is only about ten miles to the railway, and by
following the latter we shall reach the camp. But we can't go in till
morning, for we have not got the countersign, and so should run the
risk of being shot by one of our tramp pickets."

Four hours' tramp took them to the road. They could hear, as they
approached it, a murmur of voices, and moved away to the right and
walked for some distance before attempting to cross it.

"The Boers evidently have parties thrown out to give notice of any
force approaching from our camp," Yorke said, in low tones. "We shall
have to be very careful, for there is no saying where they are posted,
and they may extend almost up to the railway."

"Yes, we must take care, baas. If only two or three, we shoot them;
if more of them, they shoot us. I go first, you come a little after
me, baas. If there are Boers, they are sure to be talking, keeping
themselves awake; if not talk, sure to be asleep, then we pass them

"Yes, if you don't happen to tread on them."

"No fear of that, baas. I can see little shrub twenty yards away. I see
body of big Boer farther than that."

Trusting implicitly to the sight and hearing of the Kaffir, Yorke
followed some ten paces behind him, having his rifle now in his hand
ready for use. They bad gone a quarter of a mile, when suddenly on
their left there was a movement, and a voice said, "Wake up, Philip!
there is something moving."

"It is only a deer or a hare," the other said sleepily.

"No, it isn't," the man replied angrily. "If it had been a wild animal
it would have dashed away when I spoke; instead of that, the noise
stopped. It was footsteps, I could almost swear; most likely one of the
rascally Kaffirs going to the Rooinek camp with news. We will soon see.
Come along this way; that is where the sound came from."

Yorke had crouched down as soon as he stopped, and saw that the native
had done the same. In a minute he saw the outlines of two dark figures.

"I can see you!" the Boer who had first spoken shouted. "Who are you,
and where are you going? Answer, or I put a bullet through your head."

Yorke did not believe that he was seen, but he knew that if the Boers
advanced two paces farther they would make him out, and the first
intimation he would have that they did so would be given by a rifle
bullet. It was a question of life or death, and accordingly he took a
steady aim and fired. The man he aimed at fell without a cry. As he
pulled the trigger Yorke threw himself flat upon the ground, and it was
as well that he did so, for the other Boer fired where he had seen
the flash of his rifle. Almost at the same moment another rifle was
discharged, and the Boer dropped his gun, and with an oath ran off at
full speed. Peter was by Yorke's side before the latter could get on to
his feet.


"Are you wounded, baas?"

"No; by the sound the shot went through my water-bottle. Two inches
lower and I should have had it in the hip."

"I was aiming at the same man as you," the native said, "till you fired
and I saw him fall, and before I could change my aim the other man had
fired. I was just too late to stop him."

"It was a good thing that you hit him, Peter, for if you had not done
so he would have fired again. No doubt his magazine was full, and
the next shot might have done its business. I had not time to think
when I threw myself down; if I had done so I should have dropped with
my head towards him, and then I could have fired again, but I went
down sideways, and so for the moment could not use my rifle. You hit
the other man in the arm, I think, for his rifle dropped, he did not
throw it down. Now, we must run our hardest, Peter. Do you hear them
shouting? We may as well go straight on as any other way. By the row
they are making they seem to be all over the place, so it is no use
trying to avoid them."

Keeping close together now, they ran at the top of their speed,
changing their course occasionally when they heard voices ahead of
them. The noise was all in their favour, for it completely drowned the
slight sound made by their footsteps, and served as a warning to them
of the position of the various outposts. They maintained their pace for
nearly a mile. The sounds were all behind them now, so they broke into
a walk, which they maintained until they came upon the line of railway.

"We will walk along on the other side of this. Keep your ears open,
Peter, and listen for the slightest movement. I don't know how far our
outposts are thrown out, and I want to stop before we get near them."

They had walked some three miles, when Peter said:

"Stop, baas. I heard a noise; I think a soldier is stamping his feet to
warm himself."

"All right, Peter. I am sure we cannot be very far off now, so we will
wait till morning. We can sleep till broad daylight."

Three hours later the native touched Yorke.

"Sun is just up. Shall we go on now?"

"Certainly. We will sling our rifles again. If we have them in our
hands the sentry might think it wiser to fire at once, without asking
questions. However, now that he can see my uniform, I have little fear
of that, but it is as well to be on the safe side."

As they approached they could see that the sentry called to a comrade
close by, for another at once joined him. When they came within a
hundred yards the sentry challenged.

"An officer with despatches from Kimberley," Yorke replied.

"You can come on for a bit," the soldier said, "but I shall not let you
pass farther until an officer comes."

"I have a permit from General Colville to enter and pass the lines."

"Then you can come on, but don't touch those guns of yours till I have
seen your permit."

The sentry was justified in being doubtful, for many of the Boers had
adopted khaki-coloured clothes, and at a very short distance Yorke
might well have been mistaken for one of these.

"That is all right, sir," the soldier said, when he had read the
permit. "We are obliged to be careful, you know; and if you had
come before it got light I could not have let you pass without the

"You were quite right to stop me," Yorke said. "It is because I knew
that I could not get in without the countersign that I have been
sleeping for the last three or four hours a quarter of a mile away. Did
you hear any firing in the night?"

"I did not, sir; but the man I relieved told me that he had heard three
shots over to the right, and we were charged to be extra vigilant."

"You need not be so any longer. One shot was fired at me as I came
through some Boer outposts a couple of miles this side of the road from
Jacobsdal. The others are the two shots we fired. There are a good many
of the Boers about, but we got through safely."

"Is Kimberley all right, sir? You said you came from there."

"Yes, they can hold out for some time."

"They won't have to hold out long, sir. We shall be there before
another week is over, I hope."

"I hope so too," Yorke agreed, and then he and Peter walked on.

He followed the line of railway. There were two or three strong posts
upon it, but seeing that he had been allowed to pass by the most
advanced sentries, no questions were asked him. Nearing the river, he
turned off and proceeded at once to head-quarters. On arriving there he
was told that General Colville was dressing, and would be out in a few

"Shall I take your name in, sir?" the orderly asked.

"No, I will wait till the general is ready."

In ten minutes General Colville came out with General Pole-Carew, and
on seeing Yorke, said heartily:

"So you are back, Mr. Harberton. We got our searchlights to work last
night for the first time, and got into communication with Kimberley.
They have been flashing signals for some days, but we have not been
able to answer them until now. Last night we asked, 'Has messenger
arrived?' and we got an answer, 'Yes, and left two days ago.'"

"Then I am afraid my report will be of little use to you, sir."

"On the contrary, we are most anxious to hear it. There are fellows
in their ranks who have served with us, and one or more of these can
doubtless read our signals. We have only asked them if they could hold
out until we arrive, and they said 'yes.' We abstained from asking any
further questions, for from prisoners we hear that the Boers feel sure
that Kimberley cannot hold out much longer. Now, in the first place,
what is your report?"

"This is all I have brought, sir. Colonel Kekewich was afraid that I
might be caught on my way out, consequently I only put down, as you see
on this slip of paper, his estimate of the amount of stores. It will
not take me five minutes to write out the names of the various articles
to which the figures refer."

"And were you caught?"

"Yes, and this paper was examined; but they could make neither head nor
tail of it, and threw it on the ground and I recovered it."

"Well, just complete that list, then, and I will take it in to Lord
Methuen, who is, I am happy to say, going on well. But first, you can
answer me generally, how long can they hold out?"

"I should think, sir, for three months. Some items may run short, but
in general Colonel Kekewich was of opinion that the stores available
were considerably greater than those indicated by the figures, as
most of the residents had laid in private stores before the town was
altogether cut off."

"That is most satisfactory. We may be sure that they won't have to wait
so long as that. If you will write out the list at once I will take it
in to Lord Methuen, and after that you can give me an account of how
you got in, and how you got away after once being caught by the Boers."

Yorke wrote out the list.

"Very good indeed, much better than I had expected. I see you have put
a query behind the number of shell. What does that mean? There can be
no private store of shell."

"No, sir; but the De Beers people have set to to manufacture them, and
have begun to turn them out rapidly. They have already been tried, and
the gunners can make as good practice as with our own."

"Good indeed. I see that there is a mark after the number of the guns."

"Yes, sir; the De Beers people have begun making a long gun. They
heard that the Boers are bringing up a hundred-pounder, and they hope
that the one they are making will have a longer range than that piece,
although I believe it is not to carry so heavy a shot."

The two officers left the room with the list; General Colville returned
in a few minutes. "Lord Methuen will see you," he said. "He would like
to question you himself."

Yorke followed him into another room. Lord Methuen was lying on a couch.

"I congratulate you upon your safe return, Mr. Harberton," he said.
"It has been a most hazardous service, but the news you have obtained
has been invaluable. We dared not question Kimberley about their store
of provisions, for if their answers were understood by the Boers they
would see that their chance of reducing the place by hunger was so
slight that they might decide to abandon the siege and to march away
into the Colony, which is the thing of all others we wish to prevent."

"Colonel Kekewich saw that, sir," Yorke said; "and that is why he would
not give me any written details."

Lord Methuen asked many particulars as to the defences of Kimberley,
the effect of the Boer bombardment, and the temper of the population.
"Did you see Mr. Rhodes?"

"Yes, sir."

"How does he get on with the commandant?"

"I think, sir, from what I heard, that there is some friction between
him and the military authorities, but nothing serious at all. All
the resources of the mines have been placed by him in the hands of
the authorities. He is employing a large number of Kaffirs in making
roads, and these he pays and feeds, which is a great relief to the
authorities; for they have twice tried to send the Kaffirs out of the
town, but both times the Boers have compelled them to return, no doubt
because they think that the more mouths there are to feed, the sooner
the provisions will be exhausted."

"And now, Mr. Harberton, tell us how you managed to get into the town
and to return here."

Yorke related his adventures.

"You have been fortunate indeed," the general said, "and have had three
very narrow escapes--in the first place, at that hut which you defended
so stoutly; in the next place, when you were first taken prisoner;
and lastly, in getting through the Boer lines this side of Jacobsdal,
to say nothing of your escape at Boshof. Your Kaffir must be a stout

"He is, sir. Without his assistance I should by this time be a long way
on my road to Pretoria."

"Well, your services have been most valuable, and I shall have great
pleasure in recommending you for a commission if you would like to take

"I thank you very much, sir. I should feel it a great honour. And
even if I resigned at the end of the war it would be all my life a
gratification to have received the Queen's commission."

"I suppose you would prefer the cavalry?"

"Yes sir."

"Well, then, I will recommend that you be gazetted to the 9th Lancers.
The colonel will be glad to have you; what with casualties and illness
he is short of subalterns. You have been very favourably reported
before for your expedition from De Aar across the Orange River, and
there can be no doubt that my recommendation will be acceded to at

"May I ask what I am to do with the twenty Kaffir scouts who have been
working under me?"

"You had better hand them over to Major Rimington. He will know how to
employ them."

"Will you see, general, that Mr. Harberton is put in orders as
provisionally appointed second lieutenant in the 9th Lancers, but
detailed for special duty as extra aide-de-camp to General Pole-Carew?"

"Thank you," that officer said. "I shall be very glad to have him, for
I am one short already. Mr. Lucas is down with fever of some sort, and
the doctor says that if he does not get better he must send him off to
the base hospital. I think Mr. Harberton would be much more useful with
me than he could be with his regiment. I will ride over with him to the
Lancer Camp and introduce him to the colonel."

"Thank you; that would be best. When telegraphing home to-day, will you
say that Mr. Harberton, second lieutenant in the Cape Town Riflemen,
has been provisionally appointed second lieutenant 9th Lancers for very
distinguished services in carrying despatches into and out of Kimberley
and upon other occasions? That will settle the matter at once, and we
shall have an answer in two or three days?"

"Have you a horse, Mr. Harberton?" General Pole-Carew asked as they
left the house.

"Yes, a very good one; but it is at Rimington's camp."

The general turned to the orderly who was holding his horse and his
own. "Hand your horse to this gentleman; he will return it to you in
half an hour. Wait here till he does so."

The Lancers were encamped a mile away to the north. Some of the tents
had now come up. From one of these the colonel came out, and the sentry
at the door told him that the general was approaching.

"Good-morning, colonel!" the latter said as he dismounted. "I have
come to introduce to you Lieutenant Harberton. Lord Methuen has
telegraphed home recommending him for a commission in your regiment.
The provisional appointment will be in orders this morning. He has won
the commission by carrying a despatch into Kimberley and returning
with a message from Kekewich at, I need not say, immense risk. He has
performed other meritorious services. He has been hitherto a lieutenant
in the Cape Town Rifles, and has been attached to Rimington's Corps.
I am afraid, however, that at present you will derive no benefit from
his services, as I have commandeered him as one of my aides in place of
Lucas, who is ill. He speaks Taal like a native."

"I should have been very glad to have him, sir, for I am short of
officers. But no doubt, speaking Dutch as he does, he will be still
more useful to you."

"Yes, none of my staff speak the language well. I should think that it
would be a good thing for you to ask Rimington to let you have one or
two of his men. You might find them of great advantage with scouting
parties, when we once move again. If you like, I will ask him myself; I
am going to his camp now."

"Thank you! It would certainly be of great use, and of course such a
request coming from you would be complied with at once."

"I will leave you here, Mr. Harberton. I shall not want you to-day,
and you may as well get acquainted with the officers of your regiment.
Lucas may rejoin again soon, and then you may join them. At any rate,
when you ride over here with a message it would be more pleasant for
you to be acquainted with them.

"I shall feel obliged, colonel, if you will send one of your men to
head-quarters to hand over the horse Mr. Harberton is riding to the
trooper he will find waiting there. His own horse is at Rimington's
camp; it is only a quarter of a mile away. No doubt he will be going
over there presently, as he has been attached to them for some little

"You will come in this evening, Mr. Harberton, and take up your
quarters with my staff. I believe there is still an empty room; if not,
they will find one for you close by."

"We are just going to sit down to breakfast, Mr. Harberton," the
colonel said. "It will be a good opportunity for introducing you to the
officers, and we shall all be glad to hear how you got into Kimberley,
and what you found there."

Five minutes later Yorke was sitting down to breakfast at a long table
formed of packing cases and a rough board. He had been introduced to
the officers, and at the colonel's request had taken his seat next to
him. After the meal was over he gave an account of his adventures in
entering and leaving Kimberley.

"Well managed indeed!" the colonel said. "That Kaffir of yours must be
a capital fellow."

"He is, sir, and I should be very sorry to part with him; I have a
Dutch trooper with me as my servant, but I can take him in to look
after my horse."

"I will take him, if you don't want him, and he will come," one of the
captains said. "I have a boy I took on at Orange River, but he is of no
use at all. Of course you can have him again if you join us."

"Thank you; but I would not part with him on any account, after what
he has done for me; I shall certainly keep him with me as long as I
remain out here, and shall see that he is completely settled before I
go home. Besides, I should need him again if I ever am sent on another

After breakfast the Lancers went out to make a reconnaissance towards
Magersfontein, and Yorke walked over to Rimington's camp. Hans ran out
to meet him.

"So you have returned, Master Yorke! I have not slept for the last two
nights, I have been so anxious about you."

"Yes, I got through all right, Hans. I was held prisoner for
twenty-four hours, but Long Peter got me out. I will tell you all about
it later."

"You are going to stay here now, I hope?"

"No. General Pole-Carew has put me on his staff. You are to come with
me as an orderly."

"I am glad," Hans said. "I don't care what I do so long as I am with

"You have been getting on all right, I trust, while I was away. I hope
the Kaffirs have behaved well?"

"Yes; they have been out twice in the direction of Jacobsdal, but they
could not get near the place. The Boer outposts are a long way out."

"Yes, they nearly shot me last night. We ran right into the middle of

They were by this time close to the camp, and some of the officers
joined Yorke.

"Have you been into Kimberley?" they asked at once.

"Yes. I met with no difficulty until I was nearly there, but managed
to get in after a skirmish. I had worse luck getting out, for I was
caught. However, my Kaffir came to the rescue, and I got back without
much trouble."

"And how are they getting on there?"

"They can hold out for a long time, and are, I think, quite strong
enough to beat off any attack that can be made upon them. I think the
Boers know it too, for they have made no serious assault, though they
keep on firing."

"I suppose you are coming back to us now?"

"No, Lord Methuen has recommended me for a commission in the Lancers,
and General Pole-Carew has put me on to his staff, as one of his aides
has fever."

The others congratulated him warmly. "I thought you would get a
commission," one of them said, "when I heard that you had undertaken to
get through to Kimberley. I am sure you deserve it, for it must have
been beastly dangerous work."

Yorke remained in the camp an hour, and had to tell his story over
again. He arranged with the colonel that the Kaffir scouts should
remain with him until he had spoken to the head of the Intelligence
Department, who might wish to employ them himself, and then he and Hans
mounted and rode into the camp on the Modder. Long Peter was sitting
quietly where Yorke had left him. The latter told him of the changes
that had taken place.

"Of course I shall take you with me, Peter, and the horses will be in
your special charge. Hans will look after other matters. After what we
have gone through together, I shall always keep you with me as long as
I remain out here, unless, of course, you yourself wish to leave me."

"I shall never want to do that, baas. You have treated us all well,
as if we had been your children, and now we have fought the Boers
together, I hope always to be with you. I have got some money, and I
will buy a pony, so as to be able always to keep up with you. I can buy
one for a pound after the next battle."

"Do not do so till I tell you, Peter. I know that Kaffir boys always
do ride when they go with their masters, but I do not know whether it
would be the proper thing for officers on the staff. At any rate, do
nothing till I tell you. When it is necessary you should have a horse,
I will buy one for you."

Having arranged this matter, Yorke remained with his regiment until the
evening. There was nothing for him to change in his uniform, except to
fasten metal badges showing the number and name of the regiment to his
shoulder-strap. He could not obtain the red tabs which were the badge
of the staff for the collar of his jacket. After dinner he rode back to
head-quarters, where he found that a room had been got ready for him.

Troops were now arriving. The 12th Lancers had come up, and a battery
of Horse Artillery. The Highland Brigade, consisting of the 2nd Black
Watch, 1st Gordons, 2nd Seaforths, and the 1st Highland Light Infantry,
next day came into camp, and the artillery were further reinforced by
four howitzers. The line of communications had been strengthened by the
Canadians, Australians, and several line regiments being posted along
the railway from De Aar to Belmont.

On the 9th the Horse Artillery, 9th Lancers, and the heavy naval guns
moved forward and opened fire on the stony hills that constituted the
Boer positions. All day the guns thundered, searching out every rock
behind which it was thought the Boers might be lurking. The naval guns
distributed their heavy shell broadcast, the great clouds of yellow
smoke showing where the lyddite charges had burst. But the Boers made
no reply. Not a gun spoke out in return, not a Boer was visible on the
face of the hills--nothing showed where their artillery was, or where
their trenches stretched. All in the camp were filled with excitement.
It was certain that the time was at hand when they would meet the foe
in strength face to face, and, formidable as was the position, no one
doubted the result. At the same time the silence of the enemy, the
uncertainty as to their strength and position, could not but inspire a
certain feeling of uneasiness.

On the afternoon of the 10th the Black Watch, Seaforths, Argyle and
Sutherlands, and Highland Light Infantry moved out. The Gordons had
only come in that morning, and remained in camp. The 9th Lancers,
mounted infantry, and all the artillery accompanied the force. When
within three miles of the enemy's position the force halted. It was
raining heavily, but there was nothing for it but to lie down upon the
wet ground, with one blanket for every two men. At one o'clock in the
morning they were on their feet again.

The position held by the Boers was of great strength. The centre,
Scholtz Kop, was very steep and lofty; it was close to the line of
railway, and Spytfontein station lay at its foot. So strong did it
appear, and furnished, as it doubtless was, with artillery, it could
only have been carried with immense loss. Some distance to the left
were the Magersfontein kopjes, less forbidding and rough than those of
Spytfontein, and from these to the river stretched a low hill, covered
with bush from eight to ten feet high. Magersfontein once taken would
render this hill untenable, and would enable Scholtz Kop to be taken in
flank or rear. It was therefore against this point that the attack by
the Highland Brigade, under General Wauchope, was to be made.

It was pitch dark when the column started--so dark that it was
considered impossible for the men to keep touch with each other
marching in line, and accordingly they moved in mass of quarter
columns. Strangely enough, not a single scout was thrown out ahead,
probably because the general thought that it would be impossible to
follow them in the dark, and moreover, that, should they come upon
the Boers suddenly and fire be opened, the attack by surprise would
be altogether spoiled, and the Boers be fully prepared before the
main body could arrive. It is certain, however, that had the usual
precautions been adopted the catastrophe that followed would have
been avoided. Slowly feeling their way along, the great column, four
thousand strong, moved on silently. The men were drenched to the skin,
hungry, in doubt as to the nature of the position they had to attack,
and oppressed by the darkness and strangeness of the situation.

They were still some distance from the hill when orders were given
for the column to open out into line; but instead of being, as their
commander believed, a good half mile from the enemy's lines, they were
within two hundred yards of them, for the Boers had, with great craft
and ability, dug a great trench along the whole face of their position
a quarter of a mile out on the plain. No suspicion had been entertained
in our camp of the existence of this defence, and the Highlanders
had marched unsuspectingly into the trap. As they were in the act of
opening out, with the Black Watch in the centre, the Seaforths to
the left, the Argyle and Sutherlands to the right, and the Highland
Light Infantry in reserve, a light was flashed on their left by one of
the Boers, who had probably kept near the column as it advanced. In
an instant a blaze of fire ran along the whole front, and a storm of
bullets smote the column. It told most heavily upon the Black Watch.
For half a minute the roar of musketry was unceasing, then for a moment
it ceased. The Boers had emptied the magazines of their rifles.

It was but a temporary pause, for in a few seconds the fire again burst
out. The loss among the Black Watch had already been frightful. General
Wauchope had fallen, together with a large number of the officers, and
although at first the men had prepared to charge, it was impossible to
withstand the fire, and they ran back, spreading confusion in the ranks
of the Seaforths, who were still behind them. The latter, however,
remained steady. They had naturally suffered less heavily than the
corps in front of them, and they stood their ground, lying down and
returning the fire of their hidden foes. The Black Watch halted and
lay down behind them. As time went on the troops managed gradually to
extend, two companies of the Seaforths moving out to the right, while
the Argyle and Sutherlands, and the Highland Light Infantry crept
farther still to the right in hopes of being able to open a flanking
fire on the enemy.

But these movements were not executed without heavy loss. Twice the
Seaforths sprang to their feet and advanced by rushes at the trenches.
Some even made their way to within a few yards of them. But it was
light now. The officers were shot down and the men decimated, and
each time the survivors sullenly fell back. For three hours they lay
upon the ground near the spot where they had been attacked. No help
came to them, for incomprehensibly this brigade had been sent forward
alone, and without reserves, to attack the whole force of the Boers
in an immensely strong position. Some of the artillery had, however,
advanced with great boldness, and their fire to some extent relieved
the pressure. The Boers had now pushed along the low bush-covered hill
between Magersfontein and the river, and had opened a flanking fire
on the Highlanders. At seven o'clock Lord Airlie brought up the 12th
Lancers, dismounted two squadrons, and, aided by a battery of horse
artillery, who pressed forward to within two hundred yards of the
fighting line, and took up their position on the right of the Highland
Brigade, to some extent checked the fire from that quarter.

Two hours later the brigade of Guards came up. Two battalions of
the Coldstreams occupied the ground next to the dismounted men. The
Grenadiers prolonged the line until they were in touch with the
Yorkshires, who were guarding the drift across the Modder River. The
other half battalion took up a post by the three batteries, which had
stationed themselves in rear of the Highland Brigade. Still farther
to the left was the naval gun near the railway, which was protected
from an attack in that direction by the Northamptons, while a Howitzer
battery further in advance joined it in maintaining a heavy cannonade.
At mid--day the Gordons arrived to support the Highlanders, who all
these hours were lying within two or three hundred yards of the Boer
trenches unable to move, while their foes were unwilling to risk taking
the offensive. They had several times threatened to do so, but the fire
of the Horse Artillery guns had each time caused them to abandon their

At two in the afternoon the Boer fire, which had somewhat slackened,
again broke out fiercely to the left. It appeared that an attacking
force was at hand, and the men of the Highland Brigade, parched with
thirst, unnerved by the fearful ordeal they had gone through, burned
and blistered by the sun, staggered back, losing heavily, and little by
little retired until they reached the line of the guns, three-quarters
of a mile in their rear. They straggled in in groups, regiments mixed
up together. Here they halted, and the few officers who remained alive
did their utmost to restore order and cohesion. Not until five o'clock
in the afternoon was this accomplished, when, just as they were about
to advance again, the Boer batteries, which had strangely enough been
silent all day, opened fire. A shell exploded a short distance away
from the brigade, and at once they broke down again. The officers in
vain endeavoured to restrain them; the men could not be rallied until
they reached the field hospital camp.

For once nature had overcome the dauntless spirit of some of the
finest soldiers in the world. For thirteen hours they had been under
a tremendous fire; during that time they had been practically without
orders. Their beloved general had fallen, together with many of the
senior officers; but even if these had lived it would have been
impossible to send orders from point to point, or to arrange for any
general action, since the slightest movement of position was certain
to attract a rain of bullets. They were, in fact, bewildered and dazed
by the roar of musketry so terrible and unexpected, the heavy losses,
the impossibility of movement, still more of getting at their foes.
Their inability to do aught but suffer had broken them down. It speaks
highly indeed for the discipline and courage of these soldiers that at
Paardeberg they should have entirely recovered their morale, and have
shown their old conspicuous bravery, unsurpassed by that of any other

The brigade of Guards maintained their position all night. They had
covered the retreat of the Highlanders, and now prevented the Boers
from taking the offensive, and held their post until they were next
morning recalled to camp. They then drew off, suffering somewhat
severely as they did so, under a heavy artillery fire.

The losses in the Highland Brigade were fifteen officers and one
hundred and twenty-two men killed, thirty-one officers, four hundred
and twenty-one men wounded, two officers and one hundred and ten men
missing. The Boer loss was caused almost entirely by our artillery
fire, as some of the guns had been able to sweep portions of their
trenches. Their official account gave it as seventy killed and two
hundred and three wounded, but an intercepted letter placed it very
much higher, and reported their loss at from twelve hundred to fifteen



It was a dreary time in camp during the two days when the operation
of collecting and burying the dead was going on. The stillness which
prevailed was in strong contrast with the activity and cheerfulness
which reigned before the battle. Then the men had joked and laughed in
anticipation of the success they confidently expected, now they moved
about silently. Not only were they grieving over the heavy losses, and
sympathizing deeply with the Highland regiments, which had suffered
so terribly, but all felt that the attempt could not be renewed,
and that they were doomed to a long period of inaction until large
reinforcements could arrive.

General Gatacre had suffered a very heavy reverse at Stormberg on the
day before Magersfontein was fought. He had made a long night march in
hopes of surprising the Boers, but by the treachery or ignorance of his
guides, and the fact that the Boers had been apprised of his intention
by rebel sympathizers, he had himself fallen into an ambush. Everything
had, indeed, from the first, gone wrong. The intention of the general
had been allowed to leak out two days previously, and thus the large
portion of the population who were disloyal had ample time to warn the
Boers at Stormberg. The trucks in which the troops were to be conveyed
as far as Molteno were not assembled at the time named, and two hours
were therefore lost. A portion of the column missed their way in the
dark, and were miles distant from the main force when the fight began.
Lastly, instead of the troops being allowed perfect rest during the
day before starting on an expedition which demanded all their strength
and vigour, they had been up early, and spent hours under arms, going
through the fatigue of a field day; and so worn-out were they when the
time for action arrived; that many fell asleep while the battle was

Thus, as the Boers were posted in an inaccessible position, the action
was a massacre rather than a fight, and had it not been for the
splendid bravery of the artillerymen, the whole force would have been
killed or forced to surrender. The loss in killed and wounded was not
great, the casualties being under one hundred, but six hundred men of
the Irish Rifles and the Northumberlands were taken prisoners, and two
guns lost. The large number of captives was due to two causes. First,
in their attempt to get at the enemy, some of the troops had climbed
the rock to a point where further advance was impossible, and retreat,
under the tremendous fire maintained upon them, meant certain death.
Secondly, many were overpowered by fatigue and want of sleep, staggered
out of the ranks during the retreat, and, dropping on the ground, slept
until they woke to find themselves prisoners.

There was yet further bad news to come, for, four days after
Magersfontein, Buller was defeated in his attempt to force the Boer
lines, guns were lost, and there was a heavy death-roll. It was no
consolation to the men who had fought at Magersfontein to know that
they were not alone in misfortune, and that similar reverses had been
encountered in Natal and Cape Colony.

The question that each asked the other was, what would they say in
England? Would the same craven policy that had prevailed after Majuba
be adopted, and another surrender be made to the Boers? or would the
nation show the energy that had in old times been evinced when danger
was greatest, and rise to the occasion? Even in that case, many weeks
must elapse before sufficient reinforcements could arrive from England
to enable them to take the offensive again; for that another advance
against the Boer position was impossible even the most sanguine had to

The whole force were now gathered on the Modder, and they had no fear
that the Boers would be able to drive them from it. But this was but
a poor consolation. All were burning to retrieve the last defeat, and
it was gall and wormwood to know that they would be forced to remain
inactive. In the camp of the Scottish regiments the feeling was bitter
in the extreme. Now that the long agony of the conflict, which had
broken down the nerve of the strongest, was over, they felt that they
had to some extent tarnished the reputation of regiments which had
hitherto been without a blemish, and the blame was thrown by them,
not on the general whom they so loved, but upon Lord Methuen. The
imputation was an unfounded one. The task before Lord Methuen was one
of enormous difficulty. The point he had selected for attack was the
best that could have been chosen. The only fault committed by him was,
that he did not risk the lives of a few mounted men, by sending small
parties out to reconnoitre the veldt to the foot of the kopjes, in
order to discover the exact position of the Boer trenches.

His instructions had been clear. The force was to advance to within
attacking position of the kopjes, and there to halt until daybreak.
The arrangements for the advance of the brigade were, as always, left
to the discretion of the brigadier. It was for him to send the advance
guards to feel the way, and for him to order the heavy column to deploy
into open order. These precautions were not taken by General Wauchope.
A trap had been set, and he fell into that trap without taking any of
the usual precautions, and he atoned for the mistake with his life.
To the gallant regiments themselves no blame can be attributable for
their failure. It is true that they broke down under the strain, but it
may be doubted whether any soldiers in the world could have withstood
it better. The surprise had been complete, and nearly five hundred men
had fallen in a few minutes under that terrible fire, to which they
could make no effective reply. They had maintained themselves all day
under a blazing sun, with the ground round them torn up by bullets,
and the slightest movement entailing certain death. Their consequent
depression of spirits was increased by the exhaustion due to want of
food and water. A great proportion of their officers had fallen, and
there was no one to give them orders. It was not wonderful, then, that
their nerves failed them, and that, when at the end of that awful day
they gathered, the bursting of a shell near should have scattered like
sheep soldiers who, in other circumstances, would have marched up to a
cannon's mouth without flinching. It must be remembered, too, that the
conduct of the Gordons, and the splendid bravery they showed, went far
in itself to retrieve the high reputation of the Highland regiments.

Three days after Magersfontein, General Pole-Carew said to Yorke: "An
officer with a patrol is going down the line to Graspan to see that
the rails are clear for the train of wounded that will start later.
I shall be obliged if you will go with them, and carry a despatch
from Lord Methuen, giving particulars of the wounded who will come in
by the train, and ordering medical comforts and fatigue parties to
be in readiness; also a second despatch, with orders to the officer
commanding there. After the attack they made on Belmont a few days ago,
it is highly necessary to take every precaution against an attack at
Graspan by the Boers from Jacobsdal. They are sure to be more active
after their success here."

"Very well, sir. When does the party start?"

"In half an hour's time. The despatches will be ready for you in ten
minutes. When you have received the reply, you need not wait for the
party to return, but ride straight back."

"Very good, sir; I will return here in a quarter of an hour."

"Hans, I want my horse saddled at once," Yorke said, as he joined his

"Yes, Master Yorke. Am I to saddle my own too?"

"No. I am only riding to Graspan with a despatch, and am joining a
party who are going there to see that the line is in good order. I
shall be back to dinner."

In a quarter of an hour Yorke, having received his despatches, rode off
to the camp of the Lancers. The party was already prepared for a start.
It consisted of an officer and twelve men. The former was already known
to Yorke.

"I heard that you were going with us, Harberton," he said, as Yorke
rode up. "I shall be glad of your company. It is dull work riding
alone, especially when you have nothing to do but see that the rails
have not been torn up in the night."

"I don't suppose there is much fear of that," Yorke replied, "for
if the Boers had been there, they would have been sure to cut the
telegraph wire, and they have not done so. I know that messages have
been exchanged this morning."

"If they can communicate," the officer said, "I don't see why you
should have been sent with a despatch."

"The lines and wires are so fully occupied by messages to De Aar and to
the Cape, and backwards and forwards between the general and the home
authorities, that they cannot be spared for details to Graspan; and
personally, I would much rather be cantering over there and back than
be idle in camp."

"That is just my feeling," the other said. "I am afraid that it will
be a long time before we have much to do here. However, there is one
comfort, we shall have a chance to get supplies from the base. They
would not let us telegraph, so we have sent a man down to Cape Town
with a long list of orders. Whether or not we shall get them through, I
don't know. Now, if you are ready, I will start."

The order was given, and the party rode off at a trot.

"One feels quite glad to get out of camp," the officer said. "Everyone
is so completely in the dumps that it is downright misery to remain
there. However, I don't expect it will last very long. We shall cheer
up a bit if we hear that the people at home are not disheartened, and
are going to send out a big lot of troops and carry the thing through,
whatever it costs."

"I have no doubt they will," Yorke said. "It is not often we back down
because we have had a heavy blow. Look how we buckled to at the time of
the Mutiny."

"I sincerely hope so," the officer said; "but one can never feel sure
after the way we surrendered to the Boers before. It makes one sick to
think of it even now. Still, three such blows as they have had in the
course of a week are pretty hard to bear. However, let us hope that the
whole country will harden their hearts and determine that the thing
must be carried through."

So talking, they rode along until they came to a spot where the foot
of one of the hills extended almost up to the line. Then there was a
sudden shout. Some fifty Boers rose from behind the rocks, and a heavy
volley was poured into the little party. The officer in command and
seven of the troopers fell. Yorke's horse went down suddenly, shot
through the head, and the other five troopers galloped on at full
speed, the Boers keeping up an incessant fire upon them. Three fell,
and but two rode on to Graspan. Yorke's leg was pinned under his fallen
horse, and he made no effort to rise, for he knew that any motion would
draw a dozen rifle-shots on him. When the firing had ceased the Boers
came down.

"I surrender," Yorke said, as the first came up to him.

"Are you wounded?"

"No, except that my leg feels crushed under my horse. I would rather
have been wounded myself than have lost him."

"You will have no occasion for him at present," the Boer said; and,
calling two or three others to him, they raised the horse sufficiently
to be able to drag Yorke out.

"The others are all dead," one of the Boers said. "Some of them got
half a dozen bullets through them. This is an officer, isn't it?"

"Yes," Yorke replied, "I am a subaltern in the 9th Lancers, you can see
the number on my shoulder-strap; and I carry a field-glass and revolver
as well as a rifle."

"What is your name?"

"Yorke Harberton."

"Can you walk?"

"I don't think I can at present," Yorke said, "but I may be able to do
so presently."

"That won't do," the man said. "We shall be having some of the cavalry
from Graspan on us, as the two men who have got away will ride there
with the news. However, we have got spare ponies behind the hill here.
Two of you take this youngster, and carry him. I suppose you were not
in command here?" he went on, as two men lifted Yorke from the ground
and carried him off.

"No, that officer was in command."

"I see he is older than you. I suppose he was taking some message to

"He did not tell me," Yorke answered truthfully, "and it was not my
business to ask him; but of course he must have had some orders. More
troops are coming along--three or four hundred, I believe."

"Then, there is no time to lose. Hurry on, men! I will see if the
officer has any despatches on him."

He rejoined the party just as they reached the ponies.

"Not a scrap of paper of any sort," he said. "He can only have had
verbal orders. It won't do for us to carry out the business we came
here for, for they might be upon us before we had time to pull up half
a dozen rails, and were we to try it they might catch us before we had
time to get away. At any rate, we have done a good morning's work--ten
men and an officer; we have got a prisoner, two pairs of field-glasses,
two revolvers, and ten carbines."

Three hours' riding took the party to Jacobsdal. Yorke's leg had hurt
a good deal on starting, but the pain had to a great extent gone off
before reaching the town, and now he found he could walk. He had
managed, as he rode, to tear up the despatches he had received, and
had, one by one, chewed up the pieces and swallowed them. They could,
even if discovered, have done no harm now; but had they been found
at first, the Boers would no doubt have torn up the line, and might
have caused an accident that would have been fatal to many of the
wounded. Had he been asked the question, he must have produced them;
but regarding him only as a young subaltern, they had not thought for
a moment that, going with a senior officer, he would be trusted with
despatches. He was, however, glad when he got rid of the last fragment,
and still more so when, on being placed in the guard-room, he was
searched from head to foot. He was supplied with food and treated with
some consideration by the Boers, who were in high spirits at the three
great successes they had gained.

"Why don't your soldiers give it up?" one of them asked him. "They must
see by this time that they are no good against us. We would allow them
to go down to the coast and embark on board ship without molesting

"There is an old saying with us," Yorke replied, "that a British
soldier never knows when he is beaten; and though certainly we have
been unfortunate lately, I can assure you that the idea that we are
beaten for good has not occurred to any of us. We are angry at our
defeats, but in no way disheartened. We consider that the war has only
just begun yet, and have no doubt that twice as many men as are in
South Africa now, will be sent out as soon as the ships can be got
ready for them."

"Poor fellows!" the Boer said. "We hear that they have to be made
drunk to get them on board ship, and those that won't drink have to be

"I am afraid," Yorke said, "that you hear a great many lies, and you
may be quite sure that that is one of them. I can tell you the last
news we had was that the Militia regiments, which are only raised
for home service, and some even of the Volunteers, have sent in
applications asking to be allowed to come out on service."

"Ah! they don't know what is before them, poor lads! Either death, or,
if they escape that, imprisonment till the war is over and we allow
them to go away. I do not say that your soldiers are not brave. They
astonished us at Belmont and Graspan. But those were mere skirmishes."

"But we crossed the Modder in your teeth."

"Yes," the Boer admitted reluctantly, "it looked like it; but we did
not want to stop you altogether there, only to encourage you to march
against our real position at Spytfontein. We knew you had no chance
there, and intended to annihilate you."

"Yes, but you did not do it," Yorke said with a smile. "We suffered
heavily from blundering up against your trenches, of whose existence
we knew nothing; but there was no annihilation about it. It is the
opinion of many that if we had pushed forward all along the line in the
afternoon, we should have won the position; at any rate, your men were
very careful not to make a counter attack."

"We are only waiting for Ladysmith and Kimberley to fall," the Boer
said; "then we shall all advance into Cape Colony, break up the
railways, and, joined by the whole of the Dutch people, sweep all
before us to Cape Town."

"It is a good programme," Yorke agreed; "but neither Ladysmith nor
Kimberley have fallen yet."

"They cannot hold out much longer," the man replied. "When the people
of Kimberley learn that help has failed to come to them, they will not
be fools enough to starve any longer. As for Ladysmith, it is as good
as taken; the garrison cannot hold out many days longer. Then Joubert
will advance with his whole army, and drive Buller down to the ships at

"Well, we shall see," Yorke said. "We are not likely to convince each
other. Where do you send your prisoners to?"

"To Pretoria. A good many of them are already there--seven or eight
hundred from Natal, six hundred from Stormberg--and this is only the
beginning. We have a few others we picked up here; I expect you will
all be sent off in a day or two. I don't think you will be badly off
at first; but when we get Buller's men and the men here, safely stowed
away, you will hardly be as well off, for I should say that there will
be a difficulty in getting provisions for twenty thousand men or so.
But perhaps there won't be so many, for I hear that we have killed over
twenty thousand, and we have only lost twenty or thirty men."

"But I should think that at least you here cannot believe the last
item," Yorke said. "Something like a hundred bodies have been fished
out of the Modder, and there is no doubt that a still greater number
were carried off the field. I don't say that you lost as heavily as we
did; but when I say that you had two hundred killed, without counting
Magersfontein, I feel sure that I am under the mark."

"Oh! there may be some mistake about the thirty," the Boer said with a
grim smile. "Still, you have certainly lost a great many more than we
have; even at Belmont and Graspan, though you did turn us out of our
kopjes, you lost at least five to our one."

"That may be true enough. But a force attacking across the open must
always lose more than men who shoot them down from behind rocks, and
who have their horses close by on which they can gallop away as soon as
they find that they are getting the worst of it. If we ever get you in
the open I fancy that your losses will be as heavy as ours."

"We should be fools if we let you," the Boer said. "We are too slim for
that. We fight on our own ground."

"Yes; but if you invade Cape Colony, as you talk about, we shall
be fighting on ground of our choosing, and you will find out the
difference then."

Three days later Yorke started, with some fifteen other prisoners,
one of whom was an officer, for Bloemfontein. They were placed in
light carts and guarded by twenty Boers on horseback. The officer, who
had been captured a fortnight before, said to Yorke after they had
introduced themselves to each other:

"I am glad to meet someone who can give me a true account of what has
taken place since I was captured. Of course I did not believe the Boer
reports, but they were serious enough to make me feel very uneasy, for
if there were any truth in them, even allowing for exaggeration, it
certainly seemed that we must have been awfully cut up."

"The casualties have been heavy, but certainly not greater than would
be expected, considering that the Boers held very strong positions,
from which we turned them out three times. The fourth time, however,
our attack failed. I can't tell you exactly the number of casualties,
but I do not think altogether they exceeded one thousand six hundred,
and of these nearly a thousand occurred in the last fight."

He then gave a full account of each battle.

"Thank you. It is bad enough that we have been stopped, and shall not
be able to move again until reinforcements come up; still, it is not
so bad as I feared. We certainly underrated the fighting power of
the Boers; and the foreign engineer, who directs the making of their
entrenchments, must be a very clever fellow, for that plan of making
the trench well out in the plain in front of their kopjes was a capital
one, and as far as I know quite new."

"Yes, there never was a more complete surprise; and although poor
Wauchope fell into the trap, he can hardly be blamed for not taking
precautions against an entirely new plan of defence. If it hadn't been
for that I believe we should have captured the position without heavy
loss, for once among the boulders on the hillside our troops could have
fought their way up under partial shelter; and, as far as we have seen,
the Boers do not attempt to make a stand when once we get near them."

"I am afraid Kimberley must fall," the officer, whose name was D'Arcy,

"I do not think that there is any fear of that. They have provisions
enough to last them, if pushed to it, for three months."

"That is good news. But are you sure?"

"Quite, for I was there myself ten days ago."

"You were there? How on earth did you manage to get out?"

"I will tell you that to-night," Yorke laughed. "I have been talking
steadily for the past two hours, and what with the heat and dust I
don't feel in form to begin again now. I suppose we shall get to
Bloemfontein the day after to-morrow; it is about eighty miles, I

"Somewhere about that, I suppose. From there we shall be sent up by
train to Pretoria. It will be a pleasant change, for what with these
carts and the Boers' horses we might as well be living in the middle of
a dust-storm, except that we can keep our hats on our heads."

They were indeed heartily glad when they arrived at Bloemfontein.
They were taken direct to the railway-station where a number of the
prisoners captured at Stormberg were confined, and on the following
morning the whole party started by train to Pretoria. There were
several officers, and these were all placed in a carriage by
themselves. They had been permitted to buy tobacco at Bloemfontein.
Having now recovered to some extent from their disgust at being made
prisoners, they were disposed to view things in a more cheerful light.
As Yorke was the only one among them who had been with Methuen's
column, all were anxious to hear his account of what had happened on
that side, and he had again to repeat his story of the fights and of
his journey to Kimberley.

"You were in the action at Magersfontein?" one said. "I suppose that as
you were on the staff you did not see very much of it."

"Not much. But I was sent with a message to Lord Airlie, and when he
ordered the two squadrons of the 12th Lancers to go forward to cover
the flank of the Highland Brigade I followed them for some distance,
and remained near until the Horse Artillery came up to the support, and
the Coldstreams and Grenadiers took up the line between the Highlanders
and the river. I afterwards carried messages twice to the Highland
Brigade. Still, of course, I saw nothing of the early fighting, if it
can be called fighting, for the Scotchmen were all lying down, and but
few shots were returned on their part to the storm of bullets which
passed over their heads, for every shot was sure to be answered by a
dozen rifles from the Boer trenches. My escape was a miracle. My horse
was grazed twice, my saddle was struck, and I had two bullet-holes
through my clothes, and one through my helmet. I did not remain long,
you may be sure. I saw that the Highlanders were showing no signs of
giving way, and that the Boers seemed equally unwilling to advance.
That was the principal object of my mission. As for finding out who
was the officer in command, it was impossible. No man knew anything of
what was passing ten yards from him. Some said they believed all the
officers were killed. This, of course, was not so; but, as I afterwards
learned, no fewer than forty-six officers fell, for the most part
in the first terrible outburst of fire. Now, will you tell me about

"There is very little to tell," the other officer said bitterly.
"The fact that we were going to make a night attack was known in the
camp the night before, and of course the Boers heard of it; and when
we arrived at daybreak--after wandering about completely worn out and
exhausted by what was really a five or six hours' march, but seemed
like a month--a tremendous fire was poured in upon us. Some of us
dashed up the hill on one side, some up the other. The place, however,
was inaccessible, and we were being shot down without any power to
retaliate. The order came to retreat. A great many of us were lying
under the shelter of a perpendicular rock, which we could not leave
without being exposed to the fire of the Boers above us and those on
the opposite side. If the men had been fresh, the effort would have
been made, but they were too worn-out and dispirited, and so we were
captured. The guns and the Irish Rifles covered the retreat of the
rest. But if the Boers had been as enterprising as they were crafty
they might have cut the whole off, and not a man would have returned to
Molteno to tell the story.

"It was a sickening business altogether; we made blunder upon blunder.
The order for the march should not have been issued until we were
paraded. The troops should have rested all day and taken food with
them. The trucks should have been ready for us to entrain when we
marched down to the railway. We ought to have had better guides. There
ought to have been an advance-guard a quarter of a mile ahead. It was
known that the Boer position was strong, and that the enemy were at
least as numerous as we were, so we should have been brought up to
fight fresh and in good condition, instead of being exhausted, fagged
out, and dispirited by a tedious night march. Altogether our business
seems to have been very much like yours at Magersfontein, where
you were surprised just as we were, and where the men were already
exhausted from want of food, a night spent in the pouring rain and a
dispiriting night march. I hope to Heaven when the next fight takes
place that there will be no more of this night marching, but that the
troops will have a chance of going into action fresh, well fed, and
in good condition. Even in a flat country, without obstacles, a night
march is always a very ticklish business, as you found at Belmont,
where, as you say, the regiments lost their bearing and attacked the
wrong hills. But in a hilly country, with bad maps and guides of
doubtful honesty, it is almost certain to lead to disaster."

After twenty-four hours of tedious travelling the train arrived at
Pretoria, and the officers were marched off to one prison and the
men to another. The building was a small one, but some huts had been
erected in the yard. The prison already contained the officers who
had been captured at Nicholson's Nek in Natal, and the first batch of
those taken at Stormberg, and hearty greetings were exchanged by their
companions in misfortune, who pressed eagerly round asking for news.
It took some time to exhaust the budget, and although the news was far
from good, they were well satisfied, for they too had heard the most
exaggerated reports of the Boer victories from their guards.

"Now," the new-comers asked, "how do you get on here?"

"We are fairly well fed, but a good deal crowded; but they are talking
of sending us to the race-course. Our great difficulty is to pass the
time. We have bought a few balls and play at fives. We play cards, but
as no one has more than a few shillings in his pocket, we don't play
for money, and that takes away a good deal of the interest. You see, we
don't want to lose what little we have got, or to win anyone else's.
If more prisoners come in, and the provisions begin to run short in
the town--which they are likely enough to do, for there is no one to
work on the fields now or to get in the crops--the money will come in
very handy. Some of us were stripped altogether of our cash, but in
most cases the Boers, although they took our gold or left us at most a
sovereign, let us keep the silver. I suppose their theory was, that in
the first place gold was better in their pockets than in ours; and in
the second, that it was safer to deprive us of the means of bribing any
of our warders. They were wise there, for, judging by their appearance,
the majority of the guards are unmitigated ruffians, the Irish and
German scum of the place--the sort of men who would do anything for a
ten-pound note."

Yorke, for the first time, regretted when he heard this, that he had
as usual left his money with the paymaster. There had been nothing
to buy since he had left De Aar, and he felt sure that, if suspected
when scouting, the fact of his having money about him would add to the
suspicion that he was not what he seemed. He therefore handed over his
money to the officer who acted as paymaster to Rimington's Scouts,
and had only two days before drawn it from him and handed it to the
paymaster at head-quarters, retaining only some five or six shillings;
as his messing account would come in only once a week, and he could
then draw sufficient to pay it. He had congratulated himself on this
when he was captured, but he now wished that he had made a point of
concealing a few pounds somewhere about him. It would not have been a
very serious loss if it had been taken from him, and if he now had it,
it would be invaluable if he could find any opportunity of making his

"Have there been any attempts at escape?" he asked.

"Yes. Winston Churchill managed it, but not from this prison. Two of
our fellows got away, but the result is that we are looked after a good
deal sharper than we were. We are all locked up in our rooms at nine
o'clock; there are four fellows always on guard in the yard night and
day; I believe there are others round the wall. Besides, you see, even
if one could get away, one's difficulties would only then begin. A
disguise would have to be got, and that cannot be bought without money.
In the next place, there is not a soul among us who can speak their
beastly language, and, as we should have to buy food, we should be
detected at once."

"I shall escape if I can," Yorke said; "for I speak Taal well enough to
pass anywhere, and once outside I could make my way across the country,
even if I had to steal a Dutchman's coat. Still, after what you say, I
see that an escape can hardly be managed without money to bribe some of
the warders."

"Go by all means, if you can," the officer said. "You won't injure us,
for our case is hopeless now, and until we hear our bugles blowing
there is not a shadow of a chance of out getting away."



A week later the jails in the town were emptied, and the prisoners
taken to the race-course. Some rough wooden huts had been erected for
the men, and the officers were to use the grand-stand.

"At least we shall have a good view from the top," one of the officers
laughed. "We shall see our fellows coming a long way off, and the
bombardment of the forts, which will, I expect, be the first thing
done. I hope that if the Boers fight they will make their last stand
well away from the town. It would be maddening if there were to be a
battle going on before our eyes and we not able to help."

The strictness of the watch was in no way relaxed. Men constantly
paraded the enclosure, which was formed of strong palisades. Others
kept watch outside, where several ranges of barbed wire, to which
empty tins were attached in such a way as to make a clatter at the
slightest motion, seemed to render it impossible to get out without
giving the alarm, even if the palisade were scaled. The time passed
heavily, in spite of the efforts of the officers to amuse themselves.
With make-shift stumps, bats, and balls they played cricket, and the
men in their part of the grounds did the same. They ran races, had high
and wide jumps, played rounders, and did their best to keep up their
spirits, but it was heavy work. The subject of the war was avoided as
much as possible. It was maddening to know that fierce battles might be
going on while they had lost all opportunity of sharing in them, and
that when their friends, on their return, asked what share they had
taken in the fighting, they could only reply that they were captured in
one of the first fights and had seen nothing of the war afterwards.

Ten days after they had been moved, one of the guards, as he sauntered
past Yorke, coughed, not in a natural way, but as if to call his
attention. Yorke looked round with apparent carelessness, as other
guards might have their eye upon him. The man passed on without looking
at him, but Yorke had difficulty in restraining a shout of delight when
he recognized Hans. At first he could scarcely believe his eyes, but
as the man lounged away, he recognized the figure beyond the shadow of
doubt. He sat down upon the ground, took out his pipe and filled it,
and when Hans again came past he asked him for a light.

"Where is your room, Master Yorke?" Hans asked, as he fumbled in his

"It is at the other side of the house--the door nearest to the
right-hand corner looking at it from here."

"I shall want time to think it out, Master Yorke. I only got taken on
to-day. I will speak to you again to-morrow." So, striking a match and
handing it to Yorke, Hans went away.

Yorke felt that great caution must be used in speaking to Hans for
as a new hand he might be watched for a time to see that he did not
communicate with the prisoners. He lay back on the ground, pulled his
hat forward as if to shade his face, and tried to think things over.
Even now he could scarcely believe it possible that Hans could have
travelled all the way from the Modder to Pretoria. He knew how warmly
the faithful fellow was attached to him, but not for a moment, while
thinking over every conceivable way of escape, had it occurred to him
that Hans would have come to his relief. Hans was a slow thinker,
and he should not have given him credit for his undertaking such an
enterprise; and even now that he had succeeded in making the journey
and in getting himself engaged as a guard, he felt sure that he could
not have the slightest idea as to what his next step should be. Getting
up after a time, he went back to the room where he and eight officers

It had formerly been an office of some sort, and the outside door
opened directly into it. Hitherto he had not examined the lock, for
the palisade and the wire fences beyond it offered such impregnable
obstacles, that the mere question of getting in and out of the room
was of secondary importance. He now saw that there would be no great
difficulty in shooting the bolt of the lock on the inside, but there
were strong staples with a bar and padlock outside. These had evidently
been put on only when it was decided to transform the grand-stand into
a prison. His pocket-book had not been taken from him; it had a pencil
attached, and he now wrote:

 _I was delighted to see you. Even with your help it will be very
 difficult for me to make an escape. Of course, nothing whatever can
 be done before you happen to be on night guard and be posted near my
 door. I can force the bolt of the lock inside. There is a padlock
 outside, and you will either require a file to cut through the staple,
 or a strong steel bar with which you could wrench it off; but the file
 would be the easier. With a short rope I could climb the palisade, but
 the difficulty is the barbed wire outside. I will think over what can
 best be done with that, and will let you know. Of course I shall want
 a disguise to put on if I escape; it must be a very dark night when we
 attempt it. I have no money; have you any?_

Having torn out the leaf and folded it up small, he went out again,
strolled down to the palisade, and looked through it at the wires with
their pendent tins. "It would be an awful job to get over them even
without the tins, but with them it seems altogether impossible to do it
without noise," he thought to himself. "I am very much afraid Hans has
made his journey in vain." He opened the little bit of paper and added:

 _I shall need a little bottle of oil so as to shoot the bolt without
 making a noise, and you will want one to help you to file through the

Hans came on duty again at twelve o'clock. Yorke did not go near him
for an hour, then he repeated the performance of the previous day, and
as Hans held out his matchbox to him he slipped the tiny folded paper
into his hand, and presently sauntered back to his companions and
joined in a game of rounders.

That evening when they were locked in their rooms he told the others:
"It must seem to you madness, but I have made up my mind to try and
escape. I know that I may be shot in doing so, but I mean to try."

"But the thing is impossible, Harberton," one of them said. "It will
simply be throwing away your life."

"I am perfectly aware that it is very dangerous, but I have made up my
mind to risk it. Why I tell you is that I don't wish to do anything
that would cause greater precautions to be taken, and so make it still
harder for anyone else to escape."

"It could not be harder than it is," one of them said; "so if you can
hit upon any plan of escape, by all means try it. You can speak Dutch
well, and might get off. But if you could take us all out with you I
would not try, for the betting against one's making one's way across
the frontier unless speaking the language is at least a thousand to
one. They might not make any extraordinary fuss about one fellow
getting off, but if eight of us were to do so they would scour the
country everywhere and telegraph all over the place."

"I think it is, as you say, a piece of madness," another said. "Of
course, if you are willing to try, we don't want to prevent you; but
you may be assured that, even should you by a miracle succeed, none of
us would care to take the chances of getting out of the country. Of
course Mafeking is the nearest point, but there are Boers all round it.
While I regard it as impossible that you should get out, I consider it
would be still more impossible for any of us to make our way across the
frontier if we escaped with you."

"Thank you!" Yorke said quietly. "Certainly I mean to try, but I did
not wish you to regard me as a cad for going away and not giving you
a chance to escape with me. If you had expressed your opinion that my
escape, if effected, would in any way make things more unpleasant for
the others, I should have given up my idea at once."

There was a murmur of approval among his hearers. "It is a very proper
spirit, Harberton," the senior of the party said. "I know it has always
been considered that a prisoner of war has a right to make his escape
if he can, although such an escape may render the watch over the
others more rigorous. Still, I think myself that it is a selfish and
ungenerous action for any man to take, unless he is sure that others
will not suffer for it. However, in the present case the watch is so
close, and the obstacles to be overcome are so great, both in getting
out and in making one's way across the country, that in no way could
the escape of one officer add to the rigour of the imprisonment of the
rest. Frankly, as far as I can see, bribery is the only possible means
of escape, and unless you have a secret store, and that an abundant
one, you can hardly hope to succeed with any of these fellows, for
there is no question that they hate us bitterly."

"I am not thinking of that method. My resources at present are
represented by four shillings, which would not be sufficient, I think,
to tempt any warder to give me his assistance. I am by no means sure
that I shall get away, but if I do, it will be with the assistance of
a friend in the town. I do not wish to say more, because after I am
gone--that is, if I do go--questions may be asked, and it would be best
that, instead of refusing to answer them, you should be able to say
that you knew nothing of the manner in which I had escaped, nor who had
assisted me."

Yorke again strolled down to the palisade and stood looking through
it thoughtfully for some time. The fences outside were certainly as
awkward obstacles as could be imagined. The posts were six feet high;
the wires were about eight inches apart, and the barbs a little more
than six inches. On each wire were hung three tin cans between each
post. There were three lines of fencing. The lowest wire was four
inches above the ground, differing from the others only in having no
tins attached to it, there not being depth enough for them to hang.
Suddenly the puzzled look on Yorke's face was succeeded by one of

"It is as good as done!" he exclaimed. "With a strong pair of nippers
the bottom wire can be cut, and that will leave a sufficient space to
crawl under. There will be about a foot clear between the ground and
the next wire. After deducting an inch for the barb, there are still
eleven inches, and lying perfectly flat one ought to be able to crawl
under that, taking care to avoid the tins."

That day and the two days following Yorke did not go near Hans. One
of the other guards might notice the latter talking two or three days
in succession to the same prisoner. On the third day he again placed
himself in his way and handed him a note.

 _Get a strong pair of wire-nippers. Let the rope be about eighteen
 feet long. There is nothing else I shall want to enable us to get
 away. If you can get another rifle and ammunition, and hide them
 some little distance from the prison, all the better. I shall save
 some food--enough, I hope, to last for two or three days. You had
 better bring some in your pocket too. There will be no moon on Monday
 next, and if you are on guard that night near my door we had better
 try then. At eleven o'clock I shall be listening for the sound of
 your file. If I do not hear it by half-past eleven I shall suppose
 that you are posted somewhere else, but I shall listen three or four
 nights before, and every night after that, at the same hour. I shall
 not write again. It is better that we should not be noticed speaking
 to each other, so pay no attention to me unless you have something
 particular to say._

As he gave the paper to Hans, the latter slipped into his hand a small
tin oil-can, one of those used for oiling sewing-machines and bicycles,
and also a paper of tobacco. "If I am asked why I was speaking to you,"
Hans muttered, "I can say you asked me to buy you a quarter of a pound
of tobacco."

It was well the precaution had been taken, for a minute later one of
the other guards came up and asked roughly, "What did that man give

Yorke assumed a look of surprise, put his hand in his pocket, and took
out the little parcel.

"There it is," he said. "It is a quarter of a pound of tobacco. I asked
him to get the best he could buy. I hope that he has done so, but I
have not tried it."

He opened it carelessly, and the guard glanced at it, and then went
away satisfied with the explanation.

"It is just as well," Yorke said to himself, "that I told Hans not to
come near me again. Evidently that fellow had some sort of suspicion,
and must have seen him speak to me before, for there is nothing unusual
in the guard fetching us little things we want. There is certainly
nothing suspicious about Hans' appearance. He has evidently not washed
his face for days, and looks as dirty as any of them."

The time passed as usual till three days before the date appointed. For
four days Yorke had not seen Hans, who had been put on night guard.
Each evening he had gone to the door at eleven, and listened for half
an hour without hearing any sound. He had hidden away one of the
table-knives. On the Monday evening he heard, to his delight, a low
grating sound, and knocked gently three times to let Hans know that he
heard him. In half an hour he heard the bar cautiously removed, and
with his knife at once shot back the bolt and opened the door.

The night was pitch-dark, and after silently grasping his follower's
hand, Yorke went on to his hands and knees, and began to crawl down the
slope towards the palisade.

"Where are the sentries, Hans?" he asked, when they had nearly reached

"There is one at each corner of the stand, and one on each side."

"I meant outside the wires."

"There are six or eight of them, and they keep on marching round and
round. When one of the field-cornets visited the sentries the other
night, he found three asleep. So the orders were that no one should
sit down or stand still, but keep on going round and round, keeping as
nearly as they could the same distance apart. But I don't see how we
are to get through the wires."

"I see my way as to that, Hans. Have you got the nippers?"

"Yes, Master Yorke, here they are."

"Now, don't say another word till we are outside, but just do as I tell

Hans was well content with the order, for he had several times surveyed
the fencing, and could see no possibility of getting over without
not only being torn by the barbs, but also giving the alarm. He had,
however, not troubled himself very much about it, having implicit
confidence in Yorke. They came down upon the palisade about half-way
between two corners.

"Give me the rope, Hans," the latter whispered. He cut it in half, and
made a slip-knot at one end of each piece. Both had taken off their
boots before starting.

"Now," Yorke went on, when the two pieces of rope were ready, "do you
climb on to my shoulder and put these two loops round the top of one of
the stakes. Let one hang down on this side, and the other outside. When
you have fixed them, climb up and lower yourself by the rope to the
ground. Be sure you do not make any noise. As soon as you are over, I
will follow. You had better lie down as soon as you touch the ground."

As Hans was able to reach the top of the palisade from Yorke's
shoulders, he could carry out the order without noise. Yorke himself
then climbed up by the rope. He had rather doubted whether Hans would
be able to accomplish this, as, though strong, he was unaccustomed to
anything like athletic exercise. To Yorke, however, the matter was
easy. When he reached the other side, he lay down.

"Lie quiet till I tell you, Hans."

The nearest fence was six feet from the palisade. Finding one of the
posts, Yorke cut the lowest wire close to it. Then he cut it again
some four feet away from the post, and carefully dragged the severed
portions further along. He had thought that this would be the best
plan, as, if he tried to coil the wire up, it might spring back again
and strike one of the tins on the line above. These tins were for the
most part hung half-way between posts, as the vibration there would be

When he had this done, he whispered to Hans: "There is room enough to
crawl under the wire now, but you must lie perfectly flat, or you will
be caught by the barbs. Push your hat through in front of you first. If
you should catch, don't try to move; you would set the tins ringing. I
will come and free you. But if you are careful, you ought to have no
trouble. I can get through easily enough."

The next line was five yards outside the inner one, and as soon as Hans
was through the first fence, Yorke proceeded to cut the lower wire as

"Lie where you are till I have cleared the way through the outside
fence," he whispered to Hans. "Dark as it is, they might see us if
there were two of us together."

While the work was going on, the sentries had passed frequently. They
followed each other, however, at somewhat long intervals. As they
sauntered along slowly, smoking their pipes, and occasionally humming a
hymn tune, they kept some fifteen or twenty yards outside the boundary
fence, so as to be sure that in the dark they should not run against
it, and not only tear their clothes, but by shaking the tins give a
false alarm. To facilitate this, lanterns had been placed at this
distance away from each corner, so that as soon as they passed one they
could see the gleam of another and walk straight for it. Yorke waited
till two of the guard were about equally distant from where he was
lying before cutting the last wire, and was very careful in using a
steady pressure on the pliers, so as to prevent their closing in with a
click. This time, instead of risking the second cut, he crawled along
some little distance with the end, then he gave a low hiss, and Hans
was soon beside him.

"Now, Hans, we will go together. They certainly cannot see us here, so
we will crawl under this last wire, and then lie still till the next
guard passes. Wait till he has gone twenty yards, then stand up and
make a dash. Run as lightly as you can; but even if he hears us, we
shall be out of sight before he can unsling his rifle and fire."

Crawling under the wire, they remained as flat as possible on the
ground until the next sentry passed. They could scarcely make out the
outline of his figure. They waited till he had quite disappeared, then
Yorke pressed his follower's hand. They rose to their feet and quietly
made off. Their footsteps were almost inaudible, even to themselves, on
the sandy soil. As soon as they were past the line the sentries were
following they quickened their steps, and after going fifty yards broke
into a run. They were free now. There had been no challenge by the
guards on either side of them, no pause in the slow dull tread of their
heavy boots. They had run a hundred yards when Yorke said: "Now, which
way, Hans? Have you got a rifle for me?"

"Yes, master, I got two from a lot that were standing against the wall
of a drinking-shop while their owners were inside."

"What did you get two for, Hans? You brought your own out with you,
didn't you?"

"Yes, but Peter wanted one too."

"Peter!" Yorke repeated in surprise. "What Peter?"

"Long Peter, master."

"What! has he come with you?"

"Yes, it was he who came to me and said, 'You know the baas has been
taken prisoner?' I said, 'Yes, I heard it this morning.' 'Then,' he
said, 'we must go and get him out of the hands of the Boers.' I had not
thought of such a thing then; but, of course, I said I was ready. So I
went in and told the colonel I wanted to go, and he gave me leave. Then
I put on my farm clothes, and got yours from your room. Peter had said
that I had better ride, so I mounted my horse and came off."

"Where is he now, Hans?"

"He is at that little house about a quarter of a mile from the other
side of the race-course. It is empty, and he is there with your clothes
and the horse and some food. We must take a turn and go round there."

"It won't be easy to find it on such a dark night," Yorke said.

"We shall find it easily enough," Hans replied confidently. "Peter
pointed out to me that from the door the two lanterns on this side
were just in a line, so that when we came round, we should only have to
keep them so, and we should come straight to the house."

"The Kaffir is a sharp fellow as well as a faithful one," Yorke said.
"It is well we have a guide to the house, for otherwise we might have
searched about till daybreak. A horse would not matter so much, but
without the disguise I could not hope to get away."

In a few minutes they arrived at the house. A native was standing at
the door holding a horse.

"You are a first-rate fellow, Peter," Yorke said as he shook him warmly
by the hand, "a downright brick, to have made this long journey, and
run no end of risk to get me out. I am lucky indeed to have two such
friends as you and Hans."

"We could not stop there, baas, and know that you were in prison," the
native said simply. "Not very difficult to get here, for we travel
always at night. Which way shall we go now?"

"I have been thinking it over, and have decided that we had better go
down to Johannesburg. It is a large town, and people are sure to be
there from all parts, and we shall be less noticed. What do you think,

"That is what I have been thinking too, Master Yorke."

"Do you know how the road lies from here, Peter?"

"Yes, baas; we sweep round the town three or four miles, then come on
the road."

"Do you think you could find your way all right?"

"Quite sure to find it, baas; cloud clearing off, soon have stars come

"Then we will start at once; we are not likely to meet anyone on the
road. If we keep on we shall be half-way there by daylight, we can then
decide what we shall do. Now, where are the things?"

"In this bundle, baas. I have them ready, because if I had heard shots
fired I should have run with the horse in that direction so as to meet

Yorke did not wait to take off his uniform, but slipped the Boer
clothes over it.

"Now, where are the provisions?" he asked.

"In the bag behind the saddle," the Kaffir said. "Four blankets tied in
front, one for each of us and one for horse."

"That is right. We had better lead the horse for the next half-mile,
for on a still night like this they might hear the sound if we were to
trot. I don't say that they would give the alarm, as they could not say
who it was: but if they were to discover that we had gone they might
remember that they heard a horse, and so guess the line we had taken."

They went quietly along for a quarter of an hour, then Yorke said: "We
are far enough off now. I will mount here. When you are tired, Hans,
you can take my place and I will walk." But Hans laughed, "I can keep
on any time," he said, "but I will let you know if I am tired."

They proceeded slowly for the next half-hour, when, as the Kaffir had
predicted, the clouds cleared off and the stars came out.

"Now, we can go on fast, baas."

"Then you had better get up behind me, Hans, the horse must have had
little to do lately, and he can carry double very well; we shall thus
gain a lot of time, and he will have another rest at Johannesburg."

The Kaffir ran on lightly ahead, and at a trot the horse followed. In
half an hour they came on the road south, and maintaining the pace,
and breaking occasionally into a walk for a short distance, they kept
on till morning broke. It was half-past twelve when they started, and
by four they had done twenty-five miles and were within ten miles of

"I think we may as well push on to the town," Yorke said. "If we were
to leave the road and take to the veldt, people might notice us from
the farmhouses and wonder what we were doing there."

"I think so too, Master Yorke. I travelled by night coming here,
because the horse is too good for a rough Boer to be riding. I will
get off now and walk beside it, that will look natural enough. You are
a young Boer farmer and I am one of the farm hands, and you are going
to Johannesburg to buy things you want, and have brought one of your
Kaffirs to carry it back; no one would think twice about it."

"That will certainly be best, Hans; they cannot know yet that anything
is wrong at the prison, and the fact that the lower wires are cut
will not be noticed for some time later. I pulled up the rope inside
the inclosure and dropped it outside before I slid down, so the alarm
is not likely to be given until they go to open the door of my room.
We put the bar in its place when we closed it. At any rate, we may
calculate that it will be fully seven o'clock before the alarm is given
outside the prison. Even if they telegraph direct to Johannesburg to
keep a look-out for me, we should be in the town before the message
arrives. They will no doubt suspect that you were with me, for they
will see that the staple has been filed through on the outside, and
as you will be missing when they relieve the guard at six o'clock,
probably your description will be sent out with mine. When we get to
the town I will go in with Peter only; you had better not follow the
road, but go round and enter the town at some other point."

Hans agreed that that would be the best plan, and, dismounting and
taking hold of Yorke's stirrup-leather, trotted alongside. When within
two miles of Johannesburg they saw two mounted Boers coming along in
the distance, and at once broke into a walk. When they met the Boers
the latter were engaged in conversation, and paid no attention to the
party beyond returning Yorke's salutation. They met no one else until
within a quarter of a mile of the town. Hans here left the others.
Peter, who had hidden his rifle in his clothes since they had first
seen the two Boers approach them, now concealed it in a bush twenty
yards from the road. It would have been out of character altogether
for a native to carry arms in the Transvaal. Yorke rode on as soon
as this had been done. He found the principal streets comparatively
deserted. The greater portion of the stores were closed; many of these
had their doors open and broken, showing that forcible entry had been
made and their contents carried away. Some of the hotels were closed,
others were open; but the uncleaned windows and the general appearance
of untidiness showed that there were but few people staying there, and
that their owners kept them open as a matter of policy rather than of
gain. Yorke dismounted before a second-rate looking establishment,
Peter took the reins and led the horse into the yard. A Kaffir boy came
out from the stables.

"Put the horse in," Yorke, who followed, said, "I may be staying here
for a day or two."

After seeing this done he went into the house. "I want some breakfast,"
he said in Dutch to an untidy-looking German who sauntered into the
hall. "I shall want a bed to-night."

"All right!" the man said; "you can go upstairs and choose any room
you like, they are all empty. I suppose bacon and eggs will do for
breakfast? I have nothing else except canned meat."

"Bacon and eggs will do very well."

"They will be ready in a quarter of an hour," the man said.

"I have put my horse in the stable," Yorke went on. "Is there any news?"

"Yes, we have beaten Buller again. I suppose you have heard that?"

"No, our farm is out of the way of news. When was it?"

"On the 27th, at least that was the last of it. We were fighting for a
week, and they say that pretty near half of them were killed. They took
a strong hill called Spion Kop, but we drove them out again. Buller
has recrossed the Tugela, and I expect now that they will give up in
Ladysmith, as we know that they are starving, and there is no longer
any chance of Buller getting in. He must know that himself by this
time. It will be our turn next, and when Ladysmith surrenders we shall
chase Buller down to Durban."

By the tone in which the man spoke Yorke could see that he did not put
any very great faith in the story he was telling.

"That is good news," he said heartily. "I am sorry I was not down there
when the others went; I could not be spared at home. My mother is not
strong, and could not look after the Kaffirs and the cattle."

"You are out of luck," the man said.

"Well, I might have got shot, you know, if I had been there."

"Not much risk of that," the man replied, "for they say that the
Rooineks cannot shoot, and that we kill a hundred of them to every one
they hit."

"They must shoot badly indeed if that is the case."

"Well, I don't say it is so, but that is what they tell us; and as
Kruger says so, and the newspapers say so, of course we must believe
it. I don't trouble about it one way or the other. My boss went down
to Bloemfontein a month ago and left me here in charge. It is little
enough I have to do, for your people are not given much to pay for
liquor, especially when they can get as much as they like by breaking
open the door of a store, and it ain't once a week that a bed is
wanted. Still, if the place had been shut up, it would have been looted
like the rest of the empty houses. It is dull work enough, for there is
only myself and the Kaffir woman who cooks. Well, I had better go and
see about your breakfast."

While Yorke ate his breakfast the German, who was evidently glad to
have someone to talk to, sat down on a table and smoked.

"I suppose," he said, "you have come from somewhere near Heidelberg?"

"No," Yorke replied, "I have come from the south. I don't know whether
you know the country between the Klip River and Blesbok Spruit?"

"No, I have never been there."

"Ah, then, you would not know the farm! It is not very far from where
the two rivers fall into the Vaal, twenty miles or so below Heidelberg."

"I suppose your people are with the Heidelberg commando?"

Yorke nodded.

"Well, I don't know much about war," the German said, "for I slipped
away from home before my time came to join the army, and I am not
likely to return; but it certainly seems to me queer that, though it
is more than three months since the business began, you have not taken
either Ladysmith, Kimberley, or Mafeking yet; and yet your people made
sure that by this time they would be at Durban on one side, and Cape
Town on the other. It has been badly managed."

"Very badly managed," Yorke agreed. "If it had been left to Joubert
to do as he liked, things would have gone differently, but he was
interfered with by Kruger, and Steyn, and all Kruger's people here. I
was very sorry at first that I could not go with the others to Natal,
but I begin to think I am better off at home than they are. Besides,
after all it does not matter to me whether we drive the Rooineks out or
not. As far as I can see they have done no harm; we get a lot more for
our cattle now than we did before they came, and if they were all to
go, prices would fall again."

"You are right," the German said; "hotel-keeping would not be a paying
game with us if all the Uitlanders were driven out. So far, I reckon
that, what with the hotels and stores being closed and most of the
mines shut down, and almost all the men with money gone, this town is
millions of pounds poorer than it was last year. You seem a sensible
young fellow, but most of your people are so unreasonable that there
is no talking with them. They know very little themselves, and believe
everything that is told them. Of course we who live here are obliged to
seem to agree with them, but we don't at heart believe that things are
going to turn out as they fancy. They know nothing about England, and
we do. When I first left Germany I went there and learned my business
as a waiter in a hotel in London, and I know something about them, and
how they put down that great mutiny in India. I fancy it will be the
same thing here."

By this time Yorke had finished his breakfast, and, saying that he
might as well have a look round and see about getting the stores he
wanted, he took his hat, and telling the German that he would be in
about one o'clock to dinner, went out.



On sallying out Yorke was joined by Peter, as had been arranged. The
native kept a short distance behind him, carrying a large basket which
he had, at Yorke's orders, brought. Fortunately, they had no difficulty
about cash, as Hans, who had not drawn any money from the time of his
first enlistment, had obtained three months' pay before starting.
Walking up the main street, which was comparatively deserted, they saw
a group of people before one of the Government offices, and going up
Yorke read a telegram from Pretoria, stating that a British officer
had, during the night, effected his escape from prison, and that he
had been aided by one of the prison guards, who was also missing. All
were enjoined to keep a look-out for them, and to arrest them when
discovered. A description was given of their appearance.

"They will not get far," a Boer standing next to Yorke said; "the
Rooinek is young, and certainly will not be able to speak our language."

"There can be no doubt about that," Yorke agreed. "He must be a sharp
fellow, though, to have escaped, for, from what I heard from one who
had seen the prison, it would be next to impossible for anyone to
get away, as there were sentries night and day, and three lines of
barbed-wire fencing outside the palisade."

"He will be caught, sure enough," another said. "No doubt they will
shoot him. If I had had the management of things I would have shot them
all as soon as they were taken."

"I don't know about that," Yorke replied. "They have not taken many of
ours at present, but they may do, and if we shoot prisoners, they would
do the same."

"They will never take any prisoners," the man said scornfully; "none
of our men would ever surrender. Besides, as we always beat them, they
would have no chance of taking prisoners."

"That is so," Yorke agreed; "still, I don't know that I agree with you
that we should shoot prisoners. You see, the soldiers have to fight as
they are told, and they are not to be blamed because their government
makes them fight against us."

Yorke now edged out of the little crowd and joined Peter. He walked
about the town for some hours, and at one went back and had dinner.
He then went out again, and on leaving the hotel, saw Hans standing
a short distance away, but paid no attention to him, as it had been
agreed that they should not recognize each other as long as they were
in Johannesburg. Hans, however, rather to his surprise and annoyance,
followed him at a short distance down the street. After proceeding a
little further, Yorke turned off from the main street and walked some
distance towards the outskirts of the town. As Hans still followed,
Yorke stopped at a quiet spot where no one was in sight.

"What is it, Hans?" he asked when the other came up. "I thought we had
agreed that we were not to recognize each other so long as we stayed

"I understood that, Master Yorke, but there is something I wanted to
tell you."

"Well, what is it, Hans?"

"You know there are a good many rough fellows here, chiefly Irishmen
and Germans, who have managed under some excuse or other to avoid
having to go to fight."

Yorke nodded.

"Well, as you told me, I went to a small drinking-shop. There were four
or five fellows of this sort there. They stopped talking when I went
in, and as soon as I sat down one of them came over to me and said in
Dutch, 'Do you understand English?' I thought it best to shake my head,
and he went back to the others and said in English, 'The fellow talks
nothing but Taal, so we needn't disturb ourselves about him.' 'All
right,' another said, 'he looks as stupid as most of these Dutchmen
do; I suppose he has come in from some country farm. Still, we may as
well make ourselves safe,' and he called to the landlord. 'We will go
to that room behind,' he said; 'we have got some business that we want
to talk over;' and getting up they left the room. The house was built
of wood, and I heard their entry into the room behind me almost as
plainly as if I had been there, and taking off my hat, and holding it
in readiness if I should hear the landlord returning, I placed my ear
against the partition, and listened intently. Relying alike upon my
ignorance of English, my being half-drunk, and their being in another
room, the men did not lower their voices, and I was able to catch
nearly all they said. I don't know why I troubled about it, it was no
business of mine; but they were a rough lot, and the fact that they
were so anxious that I should not hear them made me want to do so, and
I think it is lucky I did. What I heard was this:--

"'Well, Grunstein, go on with what you were saying.'

"'I was telling you about Chambers, the president of the Parfontein
mine. I learned from one of my countrymen who was working there, that
the last month before war began they pushed the mine for all it was
worth--took men off the levels they were driving, and put every hand
on to get the stuff down in the rich places, and kept all the stamps
working on their best stuff. One of the men who works in the place
where they run the gold into blocks told me that they must have got at
least a quarter of a million pounds' worth of gold. It was taken up as
usual every night to the president's house, but he declares that it
was never sent to the bank, and that he is sure the whole, or at any
rate by far the greater part of it, is there still. Chambers himself
has not left. I suppose he bribed Kruger to let him stop without being
interfered with. He has his wife and two daughters there, and three
servants, two of them Germans and one an Irishman. We have already got
at them, it was better to do so, although we could easily settle them.
Anyhow, my plan is to get a score of men we can rely upon, and attack
the house. It is near the mine, and far enough away from the town to
prevent any firing being heard.

"'Anyhow, we need not bother about that, as Muller has squared the
three men-servants. He has promised them an equal share in the plunder;
and it is a good thing that it was arranged so, because we shall be
able to carry out the affair, I hope, without a gun being fired. We are
to be there at nine o'clock, and they have arranged to seize Chambers
and tie him up; or, if he resists, to knock him on the head directly
they hear our whistle. Besides, there is no doubt the gold is stored in
some secret vault. We might have a difficulty in finding it, and even
if we do find it, we may have to use powder to blow it open.'

"'Why get twenty?' another asked, 'when we four and Muller would be
enough. The fewer the better.

"'No, Driscoll; we had better take a good force. I would rather take
forty than twenty. A quarter of a million weighs a tremendous lot, I
make it out roughly about two tons and a half. A man could not carry
off more than fifty pounds weight--that is, he could not hide more than
fifty pounds weight about him--so that it would take a hundred men to
carry off that lot.'

"'Well, then, we must get some carts. There is John Blake, he has a
cart, and picks up fares in the town, we could rely upon him; and Pat
Maloney, he lets his cart out. Between them they could bring in two
tons easily enough; and then we could get two others--all boys we could
trust. Then, if there were twenty of us, we could take fifty pounds
apiece, as you say.'

"'Yes,' the other said doubtfully, 'but there would be a big row over
it. It would be guessed that the job had been done to get at gold,
and Kruger's people would consider that they had been robbed of their
rights, and there would be a big search.'

"'They can only guess,' the Irishman replied; 'you may be sure we shall
leave no one in the house to blab about it.'

"They talked for some time and went through a lot of names, and then
agreed that they would only take a dozen altogether, as they were not
sure that they could trust any of the others they had named. And they
were of opinion that each of them could carry a hundredweight, and
perhaps even a hundredweight and a half. 'A man can carry a mighty lot
of gold,' one of them said, 'and it takes up such a little space that
it would not make much of a lump.' It was agreed that on leaving the
house they should separate, all going different ways, each choosing
such hiding-place as he liked for his gold. Then they would meet at
the houses of the two men who were to take the carts, and bury the gold
they had carried off in the yards.

"That is about what I have heard, Master Yorke. There were bits that I
did not hear, for sometimes they talked so low that I could not catch
the words. Then they called the wine-shop keeper to pay for what they
had had, and went out in a body. I didn't move for half an hour. I
thought that perhaps one of them might be watching me from outside the
window, and if I had woke up too soon, they might suspect that I had
not been really asleep, in which case I should not have gone far before
I got a knife between my shoulders. But luckily the landlord came in,
and after speaking to me twice, seized me by the collar and shook me.
'Now,' he said, 'you can't be sleeping here any longer. Wake up! You
have a shilling to pay for what you have drunk.'

"I pretended to fumble about for some time trying to find the money,
and then stumbled out of the room. Then I came along in hopes of
finding you or Peter to tell you about it."

"You have done quite right, Hans. We must join in the game. In the
first place, we must find out where the place is. It is seven o'clock
now, and there is no time to be lost. Peter, you had better go and get
your rifle at once; hide it under your clothes if you can, for it will
be daylight for another half hour, and it would never do for you to
walk through the streets with a rifle on your shoulder. Be as quick as
you can and come back here. I will find out where the place is from the
German at my hotel. You come back in half an hour, Hans; it will take
Peter that time to get his rifle and return."

Then he walked back to his hotel, while the Kaffir went off at a run.

"Where about is the Parfontein mine? I forgot I had to go there to see
how many cattle he will want next week."

"I thought that the mine was shut down," the German said.

"No, not altogether. At any rate, he wants some cattle. I forgot all
about it until now. But if it is not too far I will walk over."

"It is about three miles."

"Then I had better take my horse."

"It is Chambers's house that you want, I suppose?"


"Well, you cannot go very far wrong. Go out by the western road, and
walk straight on about two miles. You will see a shaft and some tips
half a mile away to the left. The house stands a quarter of a mile from
there. You can hardly mistake it; it is a large house with a big garden
round it. Chambers keeps it watered by a pipe from the engine that
pumps the mine."

Hans was, as arranged, waiting a short distance away; it had been
settled that he had better get a straw-hat instead of the one he was
wearing, and walk on alone for a bit.

"Go straight along the road to the west, Hans. I shall overtake you
before you reach the turning to the mine; and if I don't, wait where
the road turns off to the left, two miles and a half away. The mine
lies half a mile to the left. Of course, as you go along you will get
your rifle and bandolier. You had better load them before you start.
I don't think any of those fellows would know you again, for that hat
quite changes your appearance. But I think it would be as well for
you to go into the first store that is open, and buy a light-coloured
coat. You would be quite safe from detection then. But if you should
be attacked before I join you, you will, of course, shoot. Do you


Yorke went up to his room, slung his rifle and bandolier over his
shoulder, and then went down and put the saddle on his horse. He
would rather have walked, but he knew that no Boer would have dreamt
of making a journey of three miles on foot, and to do so would have
strongly excited suspicion in the mind of the German, that he was not
what he said. He did not bring the horse out until Peter came up.

"Take the road to the west, Peter; you can't walk fast with that gun
down your leg. I shall join you as soon as you are out of the town--you
are not likely to meet anyone after that--and I will carry your rifle
as well as mine. It would be more natural for me to have two guns than
for you to have one--I might have left the second one in the town to be
repaired the last time I was here, and be now taking it home."

Yorke waited ten minutes, and then took the horse out and mounted.
It was now a quarter to eight, and there was no time to be lost. He
overtook Peter half a mile outside the town, and the Kaffir at once
handed him his rifle.

"Now, you must trot," he said, "or Hans will be there before us."

They went at a brisk trot, but did not overtake Hans on the road. They
found him, however, sitting at the point where the other road turned

"Have you seen any of your friends, Hans?"

"No. At least, I did see two of them in the town, but they were talking
together and did not notice me."

"Now I shall go up to the door and knock. Directly it is opened, I
shall point my rifle at the man's head, and tell him he is a dead man
if he utters a word. Then you will run in and bind him. I have brought
the horses' picket ropes with me. You will take charge of him, Peter,
while I go in with Hans. I don't want to alarm the family till I have
got the other two fellows tied up. We will find out the way to the
kitchen. There is no fear of their making any resistance when they see
a couple of guns pointed at them. You will take charge of them, Hans,
while I go in and explain matters to Mr. Chambers."

It was quite dark when they arrived at the house. Yorke dismounted at
the gate, and told Peter to take the horse round to the other side of
the house and fasten it up at some quiet spot, and then to rejoin him.
On his return Hans and Peter took up their places one on each side of
the door, and Yorke went up the steps and knocked. It was some little
time before he was answered. He thought it likely that the men would be
consulting together as to whether they would let the visitor in or not.
At last the door opened.

"Mr. Chambers is not in," the man said. "Whatever your business, you
must come to-morrow."

"My business will not wait," Yorke said, and raised the gun which he
held in his hand.

The man started back.

"You are before your time," he said. "Nine o'clock is the hour."

"This is your hour and minute, for if you make the slightest sound I
will put a bullet through your brain. Neither speak nor move."

The man stood paralysed, altogether unable to understand the situation.

"Come in," Yorke said to his followers. "Tie this man up, and if he
opens his lips put a knife into him."

In a minute the fellow was laid on the ground, and securely tied hand
and foot.

"Don't take your eye off him, Peter. Put your knife into him if he
moves. Now then, Hans."

Yorke moved along the hall to a door standing open leading to the
kitchen. There was a passage with an open door at the other end.

"Who is the visitor, Mike?" a man's voice asked as he came along, Hans
treading lightly behind him. "Of course you sent him away?"

"Not exactly," Yorke replied, as he and Hans walked into the kitchen
with their rifles ready for action.

A girl gave a slight scream of alarm, while the men leapt to their
feet, and then stood immovable as the rifles were pointed at their

"You are my prisoners," Yorke said sternly to them, "and if either of
you moves, he is a dead man. Hans, take the fellow on the right; put
your rifle by my side."

"Turn round," he said to the man, "and put your hands behind you."

The fellow did as he was told, and after both were securely tied up,
Yorke said:

"Now, take your rifle again, Hans, and shoot either of them if they try
to unloose their ropes.

"Do not be afraid," he went on to the girl; "we are friends of your
master. Which room is he in?"

"The drawing-room, sir."

"Then show me into another room, and go in and tell him that an English
gentleman wishes to speak to him."

The girl obeyed the order tremblingly. She thought that Yorke would
treat her master as he had treated the two men, but she dared not
disobey. The room was in darkness, and Yorke handed her a matchbox,

"Go and light the lamp or candles, whichever you have. I shall stand
at the door while you deliver the message. Come out directly you have
given it. I do not wish to alarm the ladies."

The terrified girl struck three or four matches before she could obtain
a light. Then she went to a door opposite.

"An English gentleman wants to speak to you, sir."

"Show him into the dining-room."

Thinking it was one of the other Englishmen who had, like himself,
stayed at the mines, Mr. Chambers came out. He started with a sudden
exclamation as his eyes fell upon Peter, standing with a rifle in his
hand by the side of his servant.

"If you will step inside, Mr. Chambers, I will explain matters,"
Yorke said, stepping forward. "There is no occasion for the slightest
uneasiness, and I have taken the steps you see not to alarm the ladies
of your family."

Mr. Chambers was still further surprised at this address by a stranger,
who, in spite of his attire as a Dutch farmer, was evidently English.

"Who are you, sir?" he asked, "and what is the meaning of this
extraordinary conduct?"

"My name is Harberton. I am a lieutenant in the 9th Lancers, and was,
when I was captured by the Boers, acting as one of General Pole-Carew's
aides-de-camp. You have, no doubt, heard to-day of my escape last
night from one of the prisons at Pretoria. I think that is sufficient

"Quite," Mr. Chambers said, holding out his hand and shaking that of
Yorke; "I congratulate you on your escape. And now, will you explain to
me why you have thus fallen upon my servant?"

He walked into the dining-room and shut the door.

"Before you answer my question, Mr. Harberton, I must ask if you are in
need of refreshments?"

"Not at all, sir. I will now give you an account of this business."

And he related how Hans had overheard the plot to capture the treasure
with the aid of Mr. Chambers's own servants, and how they were at that
moment already gathering round the house.

"Fools!" Mr. Chambers said. "They would have, no doubt, taken my life,
and murdered my wife and daughters, but the gold they would never have
got. I will explain that afterwards. You have indeed rendered me an
inestimable service, and I thank you with all my heart, in my own name
and in that of my family. So you have all these rascals of mine tied up


"I think so, sir; but it would be as well to see to them a little
more closely, for I shall want my two men when these fellows arrive. In
the first place, can they enter at any other point than at the front

"No, I have iron shutters to all the windows. They are not closed at
the present moment, for on such a hot evening one wants air. However,
that will be the first step. I will turn this light out, and then we
can shut the windows and close the shutters without being noticed
outside. I will then go round with you to the other rooms and shut them
up too, and bolt and bar the back door, which is lined with iron. In
the drawing-room, I will ask one of the girls to shut the windows and
draw down the blinds--even if the scoundrels are watching, that will
seem a natural act--I will then shut the shutters there, and tell the
ladies that there is a little trouble ahead, but that they need not
fear or be in the slightest way uneasy, as I have plenty of assistance,
and can easily dispose of some ruffians who have an idea of breaking
in; I had better request them to go upstairs until the matter is over."

In a quarter of an hour all the preparations were made. The three
servants had been more carefully bound, and were beyond any possibility
of loosing their ropes unless by very prolonged exertions. They had
just finished all the preparations when a whistle was heard outside.

"That was the signal for us to be seized," Mr. Chambers said grimly.
"I suppose they will give their accomplices five minutes to carry that
out. How had we better post ourselves, Mr. Harberton?"

"I should say two in each doorway. We shall all have our rifles ready,
and I would let them get well into the hall; then we can step out
when I say 'Now!' and let drive at them. Our three Mausers will give
us fifteen shots, and you have one with your rifle and five with your
revolver. As they will be taken wholly by surprise, it is hardly likely
that they will be able to fire a single shot, and we ought to be able
to account for almost all of them. I think we had better turn out the
lights in the drawing-room and lower the lamp in the hall, so that they
will have an indistinct view of me as I open the door."

This was done. Two minutes later there was a light tapping on the door
outside. Yorke stepped forward, and opened it a short distance.

"Is it you?" he asked.

"Of course it is. Is it all right?"

"Yes, everything is ready for you," and he quickly stepped back until
level with the others.

The door was thrown open, and a number of men poured in.

"Turn up the light!" one said, with an oath. "What have you turned it
down for? There, shut that door behind you; one of the women may have
got a revolver, and we don't want the sound heard. Now, where are--"

"Here," Yorke replied.

He turned up the light, the other three instantly stepped out, and
four rifles were fired almost simultaneously. Shrieks, oaths of
fury, and heavy falls were heard as Yorke and his companions emptied
the magazines of their rifles into the group, and the cracks of Mr.
Chambers's revolver joined in the din. Not a shot was fired in return.
When the last cartridge had been fired, most of the assailants lay
dead in the hall; the men who had last entered, panic-stricken at the
sudden outburst of fire, had tried to open the door they had just
closed, but the backward rush of the others prevented them from doing
so, and it was not until ten had fallen that the other two were able
to open the door and fly. Hastily recharging the magazines, Yorke and
his two followers ran out, but a moment later they heard the sounds of
galloping horses and cracking whips, and knew that pursuit would be
futile. However, as they had the names of the owners of the carts, this
mattered little, and they returned to the house. Mr. Chambers had at
once gone upstairs to assure the ladies that the affair was over, and
that none of those in the house had been hurt.

Examining the bodies, they found that most of them had two
bullet-wounds and some three, the Mauser bullets having at that short
range passed through two or even more bodies. Several were hit in the
head, but most of them in the chest.

"That is just as well," Yorke said, when he had ascertained that none
of them were breathing. "It will save all further trouble."

At this moment there was a sound of steps outside, and a loud,
continuous knocking at the door. Mr. Chambers threw open the window

"Who are you?" he asked.

"We have just run down from the mine, sir; we heard the sound of firing

"Thank you, lads; it is all over now, but you may be of use," and he
ran down and opened the door.

Six men were there all armed with guns.

"You see there has been a hard fight here, lads," he said, as an
exclamation of surprise broke from the men at the scene in the hall.
"Fortunately I had been warned just in time, and with the aid of this
gentleman and his friends have, as you see, killed ten of them; only
two got away. Now, I do not want any talk about it. Lend a hand, will
you, to get the bodies outside; then I want a hole dug deep enough to
hold them. Put it a hundred yards away from the house. It will be a
heavy job, but I will put that right with you on Saturday."

"Shall we get the other five men up from below, sir?"

"No; I don't want the matter talked about, and the fewer that know of
it the less chance there is of its getting about. I trust that you will
all keep a silent tongue about the affair."

"You can trust us for that, sir. None of you are hurt, I hope?"

"Not in the slightest. There was not a shot fired on their side, we
took them completely by surprise."

"I should say, sir, the best place to bury them would be to make a hole
in the foot of one of the pit-heaps, then we can shovel the loose stuff
down from above. It would be a much shorter job than digging a hole,
and there is no chance of their ever being disturbed there."

"A very good plan, Simmonds. It will be an unpleasant job, anyhow. Wait
a minute."

On going to the dining-room he returned with two bottles of whisky.
Hans and Peter assisted in carrying the bodies outside, and then
offered to bring pails of water and remove the blood-stains in the
hall, and after that to assist in carrying the bodies away.

By this time the servant had come down and relighted the lamps in the
drawing-room, and Yorke and Mr. Chambers went in there.

"I wonder, sir," Yorke said, "that you were not afraid to keep so large
a sum in your house."

"I do not generally do so. As the gold is melted down, it is brought
here for safety, and once a week it is sent to the bank, so that the
amount seldom exceeds two thousand ounces. But this time it has been
altogether different. When I saw that Kruger was bent upon war, I put
all hands on to get the richest stuff in our reserves. The consequence
was that the weekly output was five times as large as usual. I sent the
ordinary amount to the bank, keeping the other by me, and intended to
send it all down at once by rail in boxes with false marks on them, or
if I could not do that, to keep it here till the war was over. Kruger's
sudden ultimatum took me, as well as everyone else, by surprise. I was
certain then that I could not get it down, and that if I sent it to the
bank, Kruger and his people would lay hands upon it, as, in fact, they
did with what I had sent in.

"It was only a few of the officials in the smelting-room who had any
idea of the output, and even these could hardly have told what amount
I sent into the bank. It is clear, however, that one of them must have
carelessly mentioned it, and that these fellows who made this attack
must have discovered, perhaps from my servants who used to help to load
the van, or from one of the guards who had accompanied it to unload it
at the bank, that as the amount sent in was about the same as usual,
there must remain a very large sum indeed hidden. I had really very
little fear of the house being broken into, but in order to prevent any
suspicion of there being money here, I discharged the men who always
kept watch round the house at night at the same time that I paid off
all the other hands, except the engineers who kept the pumping-engine
at work to keep down the water in the mines. Then I relied upon the
fact that burglars getting into the house would have difficulty in
finding the safe, and still more difficulty in opening it.

"I had no doubt as to the honesty of my servants, who alone knew its
position; but they did not know the manner in which it was protected.
It is situated under my study, which is at the back of this room. The
safe is an extremely strong one, of alternate sheets of steel and iron,
and was made specially for me. It opens at the top, and you get at it
by taking up the carpet in the study and lifting a trap-door. The vault
in which the safe stands is two feet each way wider than the safe,
and as this stands in the centre, there is a foot of vacant space on
each side of it. Round the upper part of the safe there is a sliding
apparatus by which a stout steel case, like a bottomless box, can be
drawn up to the level of the trap-door. This, however, is only done
when the safe is to be opened.

"In the next place, I have a communication from what I may call the
strong-room both with the pipe which brings water for the garden and
with a large cistern upstairs. Thus, the strong-room is kept filled
with water, and the safe is therefore surrounded above as well as on
its four sides with water. When I want to open the safe, I go into the
study by myself, lift the heavy trap-door, which is cased with an inch
of steel, but is easily moved by means of a counter-poise, and then,
with the aid of a lever in a secret closet, push up this box until it
is level with the floor. I may say that the safe is three inches wider
each way than the trap-door. The door of the safe itself being one inch
narrower each way than the trap-door, opens through it.

"Having got this box, which is perfectly water-tight, into its place,
I work another handle in a secret cupboard and pump out the water in
the frame above the safe, and then open the door of the safe, and it
is now ready for the men to come in and store the gold away. When they
have left I close the door of the safe, lower the frame to its place,
and the safe is at once covered with a foot of water. Thus, you see,
burglars would have a succession of difficulties. They would, in the
first place, be obliged to cut through the steel of the trap-door, then
they would find, to their surprise, water immediately underneath them,
and until this was removed it would be impossible for them to blow in
the door of the safe. They would naturally try to bucket it out, but as
it would come in again as fast as they did so, they would gain nothing
by it. They might try to blow in the safe with waterproof cartridges,
but I doubt whether they would succeed.

"The lid is of immense strength. If they did succeed in bursting it
there is another equally strong a foot lower, and this also would have
to be destroyed. Even then the holes made would not be sufficient to
let them through, and the only way they could possibly get the gold
out would be to try and fish out the boxes with a hook at the end of a
pole--again an almost impossible task, as the boxes are square, very
heavy, and packed tightly together, so that there would be nothing to
get hold of. I may say that I got the idea from reading, in the time
of the Commune of Paris, how the bank was able to protect the specie
in its vaults by filling them with water from the mains. I worked out
the details myself, and I think I improved on the original, though that
was good enough--for it baffled all the efforts of the mechanics and
engineers of the Commune to get at the money."

"That is a splendid plan certainly, sir," Yorke said.

"Yes, but though it would have saved the gold, it would not have saved
our lives; and had I thought that the amount there is in the safe was
known to anyone now in Johannesburg, I think I should have shut up the
house and moved to the one I have in the town, contenting myself with
keeping a couple of watchmen in this house, and seeing that all was
right every day when I came to see that the men at the pumping-engine
were doing their duty. That is what I shall most likely do now. Not
that I think there is any probability of a renewal of the attempt; the
lesson has been altogether too severe."

"What do you mean to do, sir, with your three rascals?"

"I shall go to-morrow to the head of the police and tell him that they
had tried to rob the house, and ask him to send down half a dozen men
to take them by the next train to Komati Poort. I could do nothing with
them here, for your man Hans is the only witness against them, and he
could not, of course, appear. Fortunately they do not know that, and
I shall tell them that if I were to hand them over to the police and
charge them with this crime they would certainly be hanged. However, I
am willing to allow for the temptation they had, and shall only charge
them with dishonesty, and have them then sent out of the Transvaal. As
no doubt at present they expect nothing short of hanging, they will be
glad enough to be let off so lightly."

"They certainly ought to be," Yorke said warmly, "for they are a great
deal worse than the others. Whatever discharged men and the ruffians of
the town might have done, your servants, who I have no doubt were well
treated by you, ought to have been faithful."

"I quite agree with you, Mr. Harberton; but you see that it is of the
greatest importance to me not to have the matter talked about. If there
were an enquiry, it would of course come out that there is a large
sum of money in the house, and you may be quite sure that Kruger would
commandeer it. As it is, a bribe of a couple of hundred-pounds to the
head of the police will ensure these fellows being sent out of the
country without an opportunity being given them of saying a word to
anyone. And you may be sure that I shall impress upon them that if they
ever set foot in the Transvaal again I will have them arrested at once
on this charge. In that way I have every hope that the affair will be
kept altogether dark. You don't know, of course, whether the two men
who brought the carts were included in the twelve?"

"I do not, sir, but I should think it very likely; they did not want to
have to divide the spoil into more portions than necessary. I should
think it most probable that they left their carts outside and came in
with the others. Whether they were among those who were killed or not,
of course I cannot say."

"Yes, I should think they would be sure to come in with the others,"
Mr. Chambers said; "and in that case there are only two men who know
anything about this matter, and you may be sure that they will keep
their mouths closed. Well, we have talked more than enough of my
affairs. Now about yourself. If you and your two followers like to stay
here, I think you might certainly do so with safety. I need not say how
heartily welcome you would be."

"Thank you, sir. But though I will gladly stay till morning, I must
then be off. I am anxious to get back as quickly as possible to rejoin
Lord Methuen's force. I have now been nearly a month away. Then, too, I
must put in an appearance at the hotel where I have been staying, for
I was obliged to enquire the way to your house. The landlord will be
expecting me back to-night, and I shall have to make some excuse for my
absence. And if I do not appear in the morning, he might suspect that
something was wrong, and give information, with a description of my
appearance, to the authorities."

"That I could arrange," Mr. Chambers said. "I could look in there
myself in the morning, and say that as it was so late and the night
dark I had asked you to stay at my house till morning, and that you
had gone off without returning to the town. Ah, there are my wife and



"This is Mr. Harberton, to whom we all owe our lives," Mr. Chambers
said as his wife, followed by her two daughters, girls of sixteen and
eighteen, entered the room.

"I do not know how to thank you, sir," Mrs. Chambers said as she shook
hands with Yorke, "for assuredly we should all have been murdered had
it not been for your warning and assistance."

"It is rather to my man than to myself you are indebted, Mrs. Chambers,
for it is he who overheard the conversation this afternoon at which the
affair was finally arranged. He showed greater sharpness than I should
have given him credit for. As an ordinary thing he would merely have
taken a glass of liquor and left the place; but the fact that the men
in the saloon stopped speaking when he went in, and asked him whether
he spoke English, and were not satisfied that he could not, but went
into another room to talk, excited his curiosity, and, sitting with
his ear against the partition, he was able to make out what they were

"That was very sharp of him," Mrs. Chambers said; "but it is pretty
certain he would have taken no steps in the matter had it not been for
your leading, especially as he was himself, as I understand from my
husband, instrumental in aiding your escape from prison, and so dared
not attract attention.

"Do not, I beg of you, try to minimize the service you have rendered
us, for you certainly will not lessen the obligation that we are under
to you. I shudder to think of the great danger we have escaped. I know
it is not likely that another attack will be made yet, but I shall
never feel comfortable here after this, and my husband has promised to
take us into our town house to-morrow morning, to stop till the war is
over. We hope you will go with us."

"Mr. Harberton says that he must be off at once, my dear. He wants to
get back to the fighting again."

"I am sorry indeed for that. It seems unnatural, after what he has
done for us, that we should let him go away so soon. Now, do tell us
something about yourself--but first, where have you put those men,

"One is locked up in the cellar, another in the stables, and the third
in the wood-house, so that they cannot aid each other to get away."

"At any rate," she went on, "none of us will feel inclined for much
sleep to-night; and we want to know all about Mr. Harberton and how his
Dutch servant came to be at Pretoria, and all about what he has been
doing since he landed, and the truth about the battles that have been
fought. But before he begins, will you go into the kitchen, girls, and
help Jane get some tea in the dining-room, with whatever there is in
the house. It will do us all good, and we won't ask Mr. Harberton to
tell his story till we have had what we may call supper."

"While they are away," Mr. Chambers said, "I may as well ask you as to
whether you have any plans for getting down to the Modder?"

"No, I have no distinct plans, except that, as you see, I am dressed as
a young Boer farmer, and as I talk the language sufficiently to pass
muster, I can support the character well enough."

"But how is it that you talk Dutch, or rather I suppose I should say
Taal, Mr. Harberton?"

"That I will tell you presently," Yorke laughed, "or I shall have to go
over the same thing twice. My man Hans is my regimental servant, and
has learnt to speak English very fairly, and of course knows Dutch.
My Kaffir speaks Dutch and a little English, and as I speak a little
Kaffir we get on very well together. He has just put up my horse in
your stable. I had no time to lose when I first came here, and fastened
him up behind the house, where he was not likely to be observed if any
of those fellows went round there. As for getting to the Modder, it
appeared to me that as a Dutch farmer, with one of his farm hands and a
Kaffir labourer, I might get through without exciting much suspicion."

"You might, and you might not," Mr. Chambers said. "You see, almost
all the able-bodied men are away with the commandos, and you would be
likely to be closely questioned as to why you were not in the field.
If you were going the other way it would be more easy, for you might
then say that you were coming from Cape Colony, as thousands of others
have done, to join the Boers. But even in that case it would seem
strange that you were going away from the fighting instead of joining
a commando at once; but it would be still more strange that you should
have come up to Johannesburg. What did you say at the inn? what excuse
did you make for enquiring where I lived?"

"I pretended that my people had all gone on commando, leaving me to
look after the farm, and that I was going over to see you about some
cattle that you wanted for the men still working on the mine. The man
was a German, and did not, I think, see anything unlikely in my story."

"Yes, but though that might do very well here, it would hardly do
elsewhere. Besides, these Boers are all related or connected with each
other, and, ignorant as they are on other matters, can give the name
of almost every family within fifty or sixty miles of where they live,
and know more or less the name of every farmer in the Transvaal. The
landdrosts of all the towns will have been warned to look out for
a young English officer and a young Dutchman, who will no doubt be
making for the frontier, and two of you at least answer to the personal
description; your dress would not go for much, as they would be sure
that the man who aided your escape would also procure a disguise for
you. However, we must put our heads together to-morrow and see if we
can hit on some plan."

After the meal was finished, Mr. Chambers asked Yorke to tell them
something about himself and what he had seen of the war.

"It is of yourself that we principally want to know," he said. "After
the services you have rendered us, we should like to know as much as
possible about you and your people at home, and in fact anything that
you may choose to tell us, especially, as to your prospects in the
future. The longer you make your story, the better we shall be pleased.
Certainly I shall not go to bed to-night, and I don't think either my
wife or daughters will be anxious to do so for some time."

There was a general murmur of agreement.

Yorke accordingly told of his life at home, the reason why he had come
out, how he had learnt Dutch and a little Kaffir on his cousin's farm,
how his resolve to enlist in the war had been quickened by the quarrel
with Dirck Jansen, and how, after scouting for a short time with twenty
Kaffirs under his command, he had witnessed the four battles, and had
gained a commission in the Lancers by carrying a message into Kimberley
and back to the Modder. Then he told of his capture, how Hans had, with
the Kaffir, journeyed up to Pretoria to rescue him, and how they had
finally succeeded.

"Well, you have certainly managed to crowd a great deal of adventure
into little more than a year, Mr. Harberton, and have done well all
through, and deserved the commission you have won. So you say you saw
Rhodes in Kimberley? Did you have much talk with him?"

"Yes, sir, he asked me a great many questions, and I told him, though
not so fully, what I have told you. He asked if I intended to stop in
the army after the war was over. I said that I had no idea of doing
so, as I had come out with the intention of making money. He was good
enough to speak flatteringly of my having learned to speak Dutch so
soon, and said that if, when things were settled, I would go to him, he
would have a berth for me and push me forward."

"You could not have a better patron. He is the biggest man out here by
far, and is virtually king of Rhodesia. But you will please remember
that I must have some say in the matter, and a very considerable one.
None of us four would be alive now had it not been for you. And though
I don't think those scoundrels would have got at the gold, they might
have done so, for they would have had plenty of time; as, if any of the
engineers had wanted to know anything, one of my servants would only
have had to say that I was ill, or away for a few days, and before a
week they might very well have found out how the strong-room was filled
with water, cut off the supply, and then emptied it out far enough
to allow them to work at the safe. I cannot assert that the gold is
absolutely safe yet; there is no saying what may happen before the
troops arrive here. The greed of Kruger and his gang is insatiable, and
they may search every house belonging to the bank managers from top to
bottom, and demand to inspect the safes."

"Why not bury some of it, sir, in one of the mine tips, just as they
have hidden the bodies?"

"Because, although I have every reason to believe that the twelve white
men who are still at work are all honest fellows, there is a point at
which temptation may be too great, and I might find, when I came to
examine the horde, that it was all gone. They are not aware of the
existence of my store here, and it is well they should not be. One has
heard before now of ships laden with treasure being seized by their
crews, who, until the temptation came in their way, may have been all
honest fellows. No, I will take the chances. I shall tell the two head
engineers to come down and take up their quarters here, and bring two
good men out of each shift with them. In that way there will always be
three men in the house. As for the police here, they are, as a whole,
the biggest rogues in the place. I would rather shut up the house and
leave it empty than have any of them here. Now, it is two o'clock, and,
if we cannot sleep, I have no doubt you can. I will show you up to a
bedroom. I had a mattress taken down to the kitchen, where you told me
your men would keep watch by turns. The girls both look half-asleep,
and you and I will wheel the two sofas up near the fire, and bring the
one in the dining-room here for my wife. I dare say I shall get a nap
in the arm-chair presently. We will say nine o'clock breakfast."

"Very well, sir, I will be here by that time. I shall ride over to
the town early, pay my visit to the hotel, and then be back again to

The events of the evening did not keep Yorke awake long. "I do think
I am the luckiest fellow going," he said to himself as he turned into
bed. "In the first place, I get a commission in the army; in the
second, I obtain Mr. Rhodes's good-will; and now Mr. Chambers, one of
the richest men in Johannesburg, is going to take me up, and all from a
series of accidents. It began, certainly, by my learning Dutch, which
enabled me to get through to Kimberley and get a commission, thanks
to the accident of Peter getting away and sticking to me. Then there
was my being captured. That did not seem a piece of good fortune, but,
thanks to Hans's sharpness, it has turned out the best piece of luck of
all, if I can but get safely back to the Modder. There is an old saying
that luck is better than riches. I did not believe this formerly, but
it has turned out so in my case. Had not my father lost his money I
should be grinding away at Rugby, and should have thought myself lucky
four or five years hence to get a curacy of one hundred and twenty
pounds a year."

Yorke was up at seven, and started at once on horseback for the town,
taking Peter with him, but leaving Hans behind in charge of the

"Where have you been all night?" the innkeeper asked. "I could not get
to see Mr. Chambers till late, and after we had made our bargain, he
gave me some supper, and then said I might as well stop there for the
night. He put a mattress down by the kitchen fire, and I slept as well
as I should have done here. I am off now, so if you will give me my
bill I will pay it."

"Will you want breakfast?"

"No, I shall be off at once; last night's supper will do till I get

"Then, here is your bill," the German said, taking a piece of paper
from his pocket. "I made it out last night, thinking you might be
starting early. There it is; I added it up, you see, and should have
put on the cost of breakfast had you taken it."

Yorke paid the bill without question, though it was as large as it
would have been had he stopped at a first-class hotel in London. Then
he rode back again to the mine.

"I have been thinking over matters," Mr. Chambers said, as they were
sitting down to breakfast, "and it seems to me that to begin with,
you would travel more satisfactorily and more safely in a Cape cart
than you would on horseback. I have got one that is used for sending
messages into the town and fetching things out. It has been a good
cart in its time, and is so still, except that it wants repainting
and so on. I can let you have a horse to go with yours; it is a good
serviceable animal. I should be delighted to give you a pair of my own,
but they would be sure to attract attention, for I rather pride myself
on my stud. I have got double harness for the cart, though when I go
longer journeys I follow the Boer fashion and drive four horses."

"My own horse is used to being driven; my cousin generally had it out
when he went in to Richmond. I am very much obliged to you for your
offer. We should certainly attract less attention in a cart than if we
all rode. I shall myself drive, as I enjoy it. I know that as a rule
the Boers generally let the Kaffirs drive, and I should be content to
do so myself; but a good many Boers do drive."

"There will be nothing unusual in that; indeed, about here most of
the Boers drive, as they see the Uitlanders do it. I will put another
saddle in the cart, for when you get near the frontier you will
certainly find it easier to get through on horseback.

"I should advise you to take the direct road south to Bloemfontein.
I have a friend there; he is a Dutchman, but a thorough believer in
English rule, though, of course, at present he has to keep his opinions
to himself. He broke his leg some years ago and has been lame ever
since, and so has escaped being obliged to go on commando. I will write
a letter to him after breakfast strongly recommending you to him. I
shall not say who you are, or that you are an Englishman, because it is
just possible that you may be searched. Anyway, it will be as well for
you to conceal the letter in your clothes. I will write a second letter
to him, saying that you have been employed at this mine, which is
correct enough, and that, as I have no further occasion for your work,
you are now going down to take your share in the fighting. I will also
get you a pass from the head of the police, whom, as you know, I am
going over to interview directly after breakfast with reference to our
prisoners. I will get it made out in the name of Gert Meyring, of the
Orange Free State. It is natural enough that you should be taking down
with you a young Dutchman who has also been employed at the mine, and
who is going with you to the front, and that you should have a Kaffir
with you also. The only fear is that your description might tally so
closely with the warning that has been sent, that you may be suspected."

"I can get over that, sir; I had a wig made for me to wear as a
disguise, if necessary. It is sewn up in the lining of this coat,
and being so soft it altogether escaped attention when I was first
searched. I am sure to have been described as having closely-cropped
hair, whereas the wig comes down to my shoulders and entirely alters
my appearance. I have never worn it yet, as I went into Kimberley, as
I told you, in uniform, and in fact up till now have never given the
thing a thought from the day when I sewed it up. That, and darkening
my eyebrows to match, would so alter my appearance that I do not think
that even those who know me well would recognize me."

"That is capital; I have been worrying over the point all morning. I
wish we had one for your man too, for I know he also was described in
the telegram yesterday as having closely-cropped hair."

"I extemporized a wig for myself once before, sir, and can do one for
Hans, if you will allow me to cut some hair from two of your horses'

"Certainly you can do that. Is there anything else you will want?"

"A needle and thread, sir, and if you have such a thing as a glue-pot
in the house it will be all the better."

"Yes, I think I have one somewhere, I daresay the girl can tell you
where it is."

"We will do any sewing that is necessary, Mr. Harberton," the elder of
the two girls said. "I am afraid that we are useless in most respects,
but at least we can both sew."

Mr. Chambers went out with Yorke to the stables and showed him the
horses that he was willing to have despoiled of a portion of their
tails, and this, with a pair of scissors that the girls had lent him,
Yorke speedily accomplished. They then saddled Mr. Chambers's favourite
horse, and he at once started. He was away an hour and a half, by
which time, amid a good deal of laughter and merriment, the hair had
been sewn and glued into Hans's straw-hat. Yorke had also got out his
wig and put it on, and even Mrs. Chambers, shaken as she still was by
the incidents of the night before, joined in her daughters' hearty
laughter at the changed appearance of her two guests.

"The police will be here at twelve, Mr. Harberton, therefore, if you
have now made up your mind to start to-day, it would be as well that
you should be away before they arrive. You know I should be delighted
if you would stop a few days, but as you said that you would very much
rather be off this morning, I shall not try to persuade you to do so."

Half an hour later all was ready for the start. Mr. Chambers had taken
Hans aside. "You have done me a great service," he said. "The present
is not a time when it is safe to be travelling about with much money
in your possession, especially when you are wanted by the authorities,
and if you were searched, and found to have a sum of money that did not
accord with your apparent position, you would not only lose the money,
but your liberty as well. Therefore, I do not propose to make you a
gift at the present time, but I engage myself to pay to you the sum of
five hundred pounds whenever you may wish to buy a farm or otherwise
settle down after the conclusion of the war."

Hans's eyes opened with surprise. "I only did what my master told me,

"You did more. Your astuteness in listening to the conversation of the
rascals who were talking in that drinking-shop was no doubt at first
a mere matter of curiosity, but the fact that you communicated it at
once to Mr. Harberton enabled him to take the steps which defeated the
plot; and you bore your share in the fight itself. My name is well
known, I think, throughout South Africa, and, as I may be away from the
country when you wish to draw the money, here is a promissory note,
undated, undertaking to pay three months after presentation the sum of
five hundred pounds on the duly certified signature of Hans Bernard;
and with it is this letter, saying that I have handed you this bill
in consideration of the very great service that you rendered me in
discovering and thwarting an attempt on my life. That letter can do you
no harm if found upon you. When the war is over you can, at any time,
hand that note to the bank here, or to any of its branches in Natal,
or to its agents. They will require the signature of Mr. Harberton, or
some other person known to them, and will then place the money at your
disposal as soon as they have communicated with the bank here."

Without waiting for any thanks from Hans, who was too overwhelmed to
find words for the purpose, he went across to the stables, where Peter
was harnessing the horses. "Peter," he said, "your master tells me
that you have been very faithful to him, and you have now rendered me
a service by helping him to defeat the men who attacked this place
last night. It would not be safe to give you money now, as you may be
searched going down country, but I shall give him authority to pay
you two hundred pounds for me at the end of the war. Don't spend it
in folly at the Cape; go back to your own people, build a kraal, buy
cattle, and settle down there."

Then he walked away, and in a few words told Yorke what he had done.
"They have both proved themselves good men by their devotion to you,"
he said, "it will give them both a good start in life."

"Thank you most heartily, Mr. Chambers, I am certain that both of them
will do justice to your kindness. I am sure of Hans being steady; and,
as I have already persuaded the Kaffir to swear off liquor, he will,
I feel certain, take your advice, which is indeed almost the same as
I gave him when getting him to promise not to spend his earnings in
drink. These native labourers with the army are all paid very high,
indeed ridiculously high wages. He has promised to hand over his pay,
when he gets it, to me, and I have undertaken if he does so to keep him
in tobacco, so he will, if the war lasts for a year, have over fifty
pounds laid by, which will add to his sense of responsibility. I will
not draw upon you for the money until he is ready to go straight away
directly he gets it. Of course, I do not know what I shall be doing
myself; if I can, I shall certainly accompany him and see him settled.
As to Hans, I have no fear as to his doing well; he certainly was not
a hard worker until I went to my cousin's farm, but since then he has
quite woke up. He saw the advantage of irrigation there, and I shall
strongly advise him not to go in for keeping cattle, but to take a
small piece of good land near this town, or Kimberley, where water can
be obtained at no great depth, and to go in for growing vegetables for
sale in the town. I am convinced that it would pay splendidly."

"He certainly could not do better. The prices of vegetables are
extravagantly high, and he can dispose of any quantity at rates that
would pay him well. Well, there is the Kaffir with the cart. You had
better come in and say good-bye to my wife and daughters."

Five minutes later they started, with strongly-expressed hopes that in
two or three months they might meet again when the British army came up.

"You are sure to find me here," Mr. Chambers said, "unless, when it is
found you are approaching, the Boers get mad and order all Uitlanders
away. However, even then I fancy that the usual bribe will avail to
purchase me an exemption, but if I do have to go I shall come back
again directly you capture the place."

A basket containing wine, a ham, and a variety of eatables had been
placed under the seat.

"What shall I do with the trap and horse, sir?"

"You can either sell the trap for what it will fetch and keep the
horse, or, in fact, do as you like with it! Good-bye! and take care of
yourself. Which he won't do," Mr. Chambers added as, with a wave of
the hand, Yorke drove off.

With two good horses and a light load, they drove rapidly along. Mr.
Chambers had before he started asked Yorke whether he had ample funds
for the journey, and the latter was glad to be able to say that Hans
had, before leaving the camp, drawn sufficient from the paymaster for
anything that could be required.

"Whatever you do, Hans, keep your hat on. There is no fear of anyone
who saw you in the prison recognizing you as you are; but if your hat
should blow off, and anyone happened to be looking on at the time, the
game would be up."

"I don't think it could blow off, master. The hair and the glue under
the lining have made it so much smaller that I had to press it quite
hard to get it on my head."

"Well, when we are once clear away from the town, you can lift it a
bit, for if it blows off then it will not matter.

"It is two hundred and fifty miles to Bloemfontein. I suppose it will
take us about a week. We shall see how the horses stand it, they both
start fresh. I was looking at the map this morning, and it is evident
that there is no good road by the direct line, I mean the route
followed by the railway. So I am taking the main road that goes down
through Potchefstroom. There is no place of any size before that. It is
about sixty miles. We will camp out to-night ten miles before we get
there. Then we can drive through the town without stopping, and get on
as far as Reitzburg. We can settle to-morrow whether we will put up at
the town, or camp just across the Vaal, about a mile this side of the
place. From there it is a little over forty miles to Kroonstad.

"I think when we get as far as that, we shall be beyond the farthest
points where there will be danger. They will be looking for us chiefly
on the road to Mafeking, which is, of course, the nearest point to the
border; or else on that leading through Komati Poort, down to Delagoa
Bay; and they will also, no doubt, search every train going south. In
any case, they can have no idea that we are travelling by road at this
pace, and if we were on foot we could not arrive at Kroonstad within
two or three days of the time we shall get there. Besides, we have got
the police pass; and certainly the description telegraphed on will in
no way tally with our present appearance. So I do not think we shall be
troubled, though it is as well to take every precaution."

They experienced, indeed, no difficulties whatever, and camped
that night by a dam half a mile off the road, five miles out of
Potchefstroom. As they had several water-bottles hung under the cart,
and a bag of mealies, the horses fared as well as their masters. One of
the first questions that Hans had asked after they started was, whether
Mr. Chambers had actually promised him five hundred pounds.

"It seems impossible," he said, "but that is what I understood him to

"That is what he intends to give you, Hans."

"But it is too much; only for sitting and listening for half an hour,
and firing five shots with a rifle."

"That is all that it was to you, Hans, but to him it meant saving
his life, and the lives of the ladies of his family. As to the gold,
he told me how it was concealed, and that the robbers could never
have got at it. Still, he values his life and those of the ladies at
a large sum; and as he is a very rich man, he does not think it out
of the way to make you a handsome present. I told him that I should
advise you to carry out what we were saying the other day would be the
best-paying thing for a man of small capital--to buy a piece of land
near Johannesburg or Kimberley, to sink a deep well, and to put up
horse-gear and irrigate the land; and to employ half a dozen Kaffirs
to grow vegetables and plant fruit-trees, just as my cousin did. Only,
you would do a great deal better than Mr. Allnutt, because the Boer
farmers would not pay much for their vegetables or fruit, while you
would get splendid prices in either of these towns. The vegetables
would begin to pay three months after you started, but of course you
would have to wait a couple of years before you got any return for the

Hans was silent for three or four minutes, lost in the contemplation of
himself as the owner of such a place.

"We shall have plenty of time to talk it over before then, Hans," Yorke
went on, after a long pause, "but I should advise you not to spend any
money on building a house for yourself at first--any sort of a hut
will do; and though five hundred pounds seems a very large sum to you,
you will want it all for your work; the well and horse-gear will cost
a good bit. Then you will have your water-courses to make, and your
ground to irrigate, say five acres to begin with; and it is always a
good plan to keep some money in hand in case of accidents, such as your
well failing and your having to go deeper, or of your Kaffirs running
away. Besides, you must have a horse and cart to take your goods to
market. At any rate, Hans, if you want to get on you will have to
bestir yourself. You know that young English gentlemen who come out
don't think themselves above taking off their coats and working, and
at first you will have to do the same. After a bit you will, as you
extend your cultivated ground and carry the work further, take on more
Kaffirs, and you will have to see that they do their work. That was how
Mr. Allnutt did, and it is only in that way that you will get work out
of them."

"It will be grand," Hans murmured; "but," he broke off suddenly, "you
will not be with me, Master Yorke, and I had hoped that, whatever you
were doing, you would always keep me with you."

"So I should like to do, Hans, but it would not be good for you; it
is always better that a man should depend upon himself, and not upon
another. Some day you will want to marry, and then you will see how
much better it is to have a nice home and a business than to be merely
working for wages. It was just the same way with myself. I did not like
leaving my father and mother, and going to start in a strange country.
But I hoped that I might some day make a home for myself here, and do
well; whereas, I had no chance of earning much in England."

"Well, Master Yorke, it was a lucky day for me when you came to Mr.
Allnutt's, and took me to go out riding and shooting with you."

"It has turned out quite as fortunate for me, Hans."

Peter, who was not given to speaking unless addressed, said but little.
Occasionally, as he looked at Yorke and Hans, he shook with silent
laughter at their changed appearance, and indeed the transformation
effected by their long hair was striking to one accustomed to their
closely-cropped heads. By the way, however, he went about his
work--taking the horses out of the cart, supplying them with their
water and grain, and rubbing them down--it was evident that he already,
in imagination, considered himself to be a far more important person
than he was before, and that he was preparing himself for the change
from the humble position of a casual labourer in some small town to
that of a man of position and influence among his tribe. Occasionally
he would break into bursts of apparently unprovoked laughter, as if the
change appeared to himself ludicrous in the extreme.

They were on the move at the first sign of daylight, and Potchefstroom
was still asleep when they drove through. At eight o'clock they crossed
the Vaal and drove into Reitzburg. A couple of Boers came up and asked
them where they came from, but were quite satisfied with the answer,
"From Potchefstroom," as they considered that if they had been allowed
to pass through there, their journey must be a legitimate one.


"We have a pass from the chief of the police at Johannesburg, if you
would like to see it."

"No," one of the men replied. "If it is good enough for them in the
Transvaal, it is good enough for us. I suppose you are going down to
the army?"

"Yes, we want to do our share of the fighting."

"Quite right. You must lose no time or you will be too late."

"So I suppose, by all they say," Yorke replied.

They thought it as well to wait for an hour to feed the horses and take
a meal. Leaving Peter to look after the horses, and see that nobody
touched the guns and other articles in the cart, they went into a small
inn. While they were eating their meal one of the Boers they had spoken
to sauntered in.

"Was there any news at Johannesburg?"

"No, not particular. Things are very quiet there."

"You did not hear, did you, of any escaped prisoners being caught?"

"We did hear that one of the English officers had got away from the

"Yes, that is what I mean. They telegraphed to us here from Pretoria;
but of course he would never come down this way. Still, we had to obey
orders and keep a sharp look-out. If he had come this way he would have
been caught. I expect, however, he went east; but he could not get far.
They say he was quite a young chap, with close-cropped hair."

"Well, their young officers cannot have learned to talk Dutch, so there
ought to be no difficulty in catching him," Yorke said.

"But he has got a Dutchman with him, and I suppose he himself won't
open his lips, but the Dutchman will do his talking for him."

"Hans, you had better say something," Yorke laughed, "or possibly you
may be taken for this British officer."

"I don't look much like a British officer with a cropped head," Hans
said, "and I talk my own language better than I do English by a long

"Oh! I knew you could not be the man," the Boer said. "Still, I am
glad to see that you are Dutch as well as your master. There might be
questions asked, and now I can swear that you are both Africanders. It
will satisfy anyone questioning me as to who has been along. I don't
see myself what occasion there is for making a fuss about one officer
getting away when we shall soon have all their army prisoners. It gives
everyone a lot of trouble."

"Will you have a glass of spirits?" Yorke asked.

As it was with the hope of obtaining an invitation that the Boer had
come in, he assented willingly, and remained talking until Yorke said
it was time for them to be going on. They slept that night at Winkel
Drift, on the Rhenoster River, and drove next day to Kroonstad. Here
no questions were asked. They put up at an inn, and Yorke mentioned
casually that they were intending to stay with a friend for a day of
two at Bloemfontein, and then going to the front. They had avoided
entering the town until it was dusk; and as many Boers were constantly
passing down to join the commandos, no one thought of enquiring
minutely into their affairs. Three more days took them to Bloemfontein.
There Yorke noticed, as they drove in, that many stores with British
names over them were still open, for the wholesale expulsion of English
from the Transvaal had not extended to the Orange Free State, where,
till the outbreak of the war, a good feeling had existed between the
two peoples. At Bloemfontein especially a considerable portion of the
trading class had been British, and these, considering that if they
left, their stores would probably be looted, thought it better to
remain, and, although their position was not a pleasant one, they had
received fair treatment at the hands of the Boers.



Arriving at Bloemfontein in the evening, they first went to an hotel,
and having engaged rooms, and seen their horses put up, Yorke proceeded
to the house of the Dutch gentleman to whom the letters Mr. Chambers
had given him were addressed. On sending one in he was shown into the
sitting-room, where Mr. von Rensburg presently joined him.

"You are the bearer of this letter, Mr. Meyring, from my friend, Mr.

"Yes, sir, and of this also, which I did not care to give into any
hands but your own."

Mr. von Rensburg took it a little surprised. The first had been so
simple and matter-of-fact that he had not suspected for a moment
that Yorke was not, as it stated, an employé at the mine. He looked
scrutinizingly at Yorke when he had read the second letter.

"I will not ask who you are, Mr. Meyring, or whether that is your real
name. It is just as well not to know more than I can help. I understand
you want to cross into Cape Colony, and may be glad of my advice as
to the best road to take. In the first place, may I ask how you came
here--by rail?"

"No, sir, we drove. I have a friend with me, and it is open to us
either to drive from this point, or, as we have two horses, to ride, or
to go on foot, though naturally we would rather not adopt the last plan
if it could be helped."

"That I can well understand," the other said with a smile; "and indeed
it would be the worst method; it would be far more natural for you
to be driving or riding than going on foot. Now, tell me exactly how
you stand. You, I see, are dressed as a young farmer in comfortable
circumstances. How about your friend?"

"He is dressed as a farm-hand, sir; and I have also a Kaffir with me to
look after the horses."

"Is your companion Dutch?"

"Yes, sir."

"You are not, I think. You speak Taal very well, but I fancy I can
detect that it is not your own language."

"That is so," Yorke agreed; "but I am glad to say that you are the
first person who has noticed it."

"I am not surprised at that, for you really speak it very well; it is
more the tone of your voice than anything wrong in the language--or I
may call it the dialect--that is noticeable."

"I have learned it partly from books, sir, but chiefly from conversing
in it almost entirely for six months."

"You must have the knack of learning languages if you have picked it
up so well in so short a time. You have only arrived here to-day, I

"Yes, sir, half an hour ago."

"From Johannesburg?"

Yorke made a gesture of assent.

"You were, I suppose, intimate with Mr. Chambers?"

"I can scarcely say that I was intimate with him, but my man--for he is
my servant as well as my friend--happened to overhear a plot to murder
Mr. Chambers and loot his house, and he, with my Kaffir, Mr. Chambers
and myself, gave the ruffians so warm a reception that there is not
likely to be a repetition of the attempt."

"Were they a strong party?"

"There were twelve of them, and only two got away alive. The really
dangerous part of the affair was that the three men in the house were
also in the plot; but we had tied them up before the others arrived."

"That was a very thorough piece of business indeed," Mr. von Rensburg
said, more warmly than he had spoken before; "and I can well
understand now that my friend Chambers should be anxious to aid you
in any way. Will you tell me a little more about it? You are not, I
suppose, pressed for time."

"Not at all, sir;" and Yorke related more fully the incidents connected
with the affair.

"It was a fortunate escape for Mr. Chambers. No doubt those scoundrels
thought that he had money in the house. They would hardly have gone in
such numbers if it had only been a question of ordinary robbery. And
was your employment at the mine confined to this exploit?"

"Entirely, sir; but as the house stands on the mine property, Mr.
Chambers said when he wrote the letter that he could say with a good
conscience that I had been employed there."

"I have one question to ask: Are you personally known to anyone here?
I mean, is there anyone whom you would be likely to meet who would
recognize you?"

"No, sir, I don't think there is anyone here likely to have seen me
before. And if there should be anyone, I am sure he would not know me
in my present disguise."

"I asked the question," Mr. von Rensburg went on, "as in that case
there is no occasion for me to make any instant decision as to the
route you had better take. If there had been any danger of your being
recognized I should say you had better start to-morrow morning early,
but as it is, we can take our time about it."

"I am in no very pressing hurry, though I should be glad to be on the
other side of the Orange River as soon as I can. I have already been
away nearly seven weeks."

"I can guess pretty well who you are, Mr. Meyring," the other said with
a smile, "though I don't want to know. I should certainly be glad if
you would take up your residence here while you remain, but I think it
is better that you should not. I am not very popular here at present,
because I opposed the Free State taking part with the Transvaal. I
can call upon you at your hotel very well; because then, should there
be any question, I can simply show the letter you first sent me in,
and say that I know nothing more than that. I don't think it at all
likely that any question will arise, and my coming to see you will be
an advantage to you rather than otherwise, for it will show that you
are not altogether an unknown person. I will this evening think over
what people I know on the different roads, where parties of our men are
stationed, and how you had best proceed."

"Thank you very much, sir. At what hour are you likely to call?"

"We will say ten o'clock. I will bring a good map I have with me--or,
no, I had better merely call and ask for you, and then bring you here.
It would look strange if you were to ask for a private room, and we
certainly cannot talk that over in the public room. They will not know
that you have been here to-night, and you had better send your man
with this letter again in the morning. Tell him before the landlord,
or anyone else, that he is to take the letter to me, and say that you
have arrived, and will call upon me at any hour that is convenient in
reference to the business."

This programme was carried out, and at ten o'clock Yorke was standing
at the door of the hotel when Mr. von Rensburg came up. He went into
the hotel without noticing Yorke, and said to the landlord: "You have a
Mr. Meyring staying here, have you not?"

"Yes, sir; he was outside just now." He went to the door. "There he is,
sir," he said, pointing to Yorke.

Mr. von Rensburg went up to him. "My name is von Rensburg, Mr. Meyring.
I did not know when I should be disengaged, so did not send an answer
to the letter you brought, but I am free now, and if you will come with
me to my house, we will talk over the business you mentioned, and see
which commando you had better join."

"Thank you, sir! I am naturally anxious to lose no time. I should
certainly prefer joining the force which is likely to be engaged
soonest." The innkeeper and two other men lounging near heard what he
said, and paid no further attention to them as they walked off.

Once in Mr. von Rensburg's parlour the latter said: "It will not be
an easy matter to get through. The drifts are all guarded, both on
the Orange River and the Riet. Of course the nearest way is through
Petrusburg and Jacobsdal, but I put that out of the question. Then
there is the road through Fauresmith and across the Orange at Zoutpans
Drift, but that also is a long way round. I believe that as good a way
as any would be to take the Boshof road across the Modder at Truters
Drift. From there a road keeps along for three miles north of the
Modder, and leads finally to Kimberley; it cuts the road from Boshof
to Jacobsdal. But at that point there are strong forces to prevent the
British from trying to make a detour that way. These are the names of
the various commandos there, and at Jacobsdal, and at the drifts across
the Orange.

"The safest way, though longer in miles, would be to go south to
Bethulie, as if you were going to join the commando at Steynsburg,
or better still, Colesberg. Once past Colesberg you would find no
difficulty in making your way to De Aar. I could help you more that way
than any other, because I could get a pass for you, and your horses,
your servant, and the Kaffir, direct by rail to Colesberg; so that
really you would not lose so much time as you might think, for from
Colesberg to De Aar is not much more than half the distance that it is
from here to Jacobsdal. The Philippolis commando is there."

"I know the country on the other side of the Seacow River," Yorke said,
"and once past Colesberg could make my way easily enough. I would much
rather choose that line. Once at De Aar I should not have much more
than a hundred miles to ride to the Modder, even if I could not get up
by train."

"Then I will see the officer in charge of the railway arrangements, and
find out when a train is going down to Colesberg with ammunition and
supplies, and if he is not taking any horses down, will get him to put
on a truck for your animals. What do you mean to do with your cart?"

"Mr. Chambers said I could do anything I liked with it. It would only
be in my way now, for the tracks beyond Colesberg west are as much as
horses can manage. Besides, I should find it more difficult to get away
from the town in a vehicle than on horseback."

"Well, if I were you I would speak to the innkeeper; he would be likely
to know someone who would want to buy it. If not, you had better
leave it with him, and tell him that you are so anxious to get to the
front that you do not care about wasting time here looking about for
a purchaser; and ask him to sell it for you, and to keep the money
until you return for it. You must appear careful about it, for no Dutch
farmer, however well off, would throw away the value of a good cart.
You had therefore better ask him to write to you at the post-office,
Colesberg, telling you what sum he has sold it for."

"As he knows that I have come here, sir, I might ask him to hand the
money over to you, as you have kindly offered to remit it to me."

"Yes, it would be as well to seem as anxious as possible. When I come
round this afternoon to tell you the result of my enquiries about the
trains, I will look at the cart."

"It is a very good one, sir, of Cape Colony make, and it only wants
repainting to appear quite new."

"In that case I will tell the innkeeper that if he does not know of
anyone who will buy it at once, I will give you the sum he and I may
value it at, and if at the end of a week he doesn't find a purchaser at
that price, I will take it myself. A cart more or less makes but little
difference, and you may as well have the money as let the innkeeper put
it in his pocket."

"But the money ought to go back to Mr. Chambers, sir."

"It will be much more useful in your pocket than in his. He gave you
the thing to do as you liked with, and certainly will not expect to be
paid for it, and would be hurt rather than pleased at the money being
sent to him. No doubt you will find uses for it."

The innkeeper, however, knew of a trader in the town who wanted a good
cart, and the matter was arranged in a few minutes. There was a train
going that evening, and with an order signed by the military secretary
at Bloemfontein for Gert Meyring and Hans Bernard, both going to join
the Philippolis commando at Colesberg, accompanied by a Kaffir boy, to
travel by military train, they started that evening. It was an open
truck, but as they had brought blankets and horse-rugs in the cart,
for sleeping on the veldt, they preferred the night journey to being
exposed to the scorching rays of the sun all day. It took some fifteen
hours to cover the distance between Bloemfontein and Colesberg. After
getting the horses out of the truck, they saddled them, slung their
rifles and bandoliers over their shoulders, strapped the blankets
behind the saddles, and then rode into the town, which was little more
than a long single street extending along the bottom of a very narrow

Peter had been most reluctant to leave his rifle behind him at
Bloemfontein, and had been allowed to bring it, saying that if he
were questioned he could say that it was a spare rifle belonging to
Yorke. As it was notorious that in the battles of Graspan and Belmont
many of the richer Boers had been attended by servants, who loaded
spare rifles, and so enabled them to keep up a steady fire, Yorke had
consented, as at the worst it could but be taken away for the use of
some Boer with an inferior weapon, and he felt that the time might come
when it would be well that Peter should be able to give efficient aid.
A good many armed men were in the street, but they paid no attention
to the new-comers. Yorke avoided the principal inn, where the field
cornet of the commando would probably have taken up his quarters, and
alighted at another of less pretension.

"Have you a room disengaged?" he asked the landlord on entering.

The landlord looked doubtful.

"I don't want to commandeer a room," Yorke went on; "I pay for what I

The landlord's face brightened. "Yes, I have a double-bedded room

"That will do, though I should have liked two single ones. My native
boy will of course sleep in the stable with the horses. If you will
show me my room he will carry up my spare rifle and blankets there. We
shall want a meal at once, for we have but just arrived by train from

The meal was a good one, and after it was eaten Yorke went to the bar;
the landlord was standing behind it. "I will pay for our meals as we
have them," Yorke said, "and for the room for to-night. I don't know
when I may be off, and I may be sent suddenly away, so that it is as
well to keep things squared up. So please add the charge for the stable
and food for the horses."

The landlord made out the bill, and when he had paid it Yorke said, "I
should like to have a talk with you. It is difficult to get news at
Bloemfontein as to what is going on down here, and as I have only just
arrived, I am altogether ignorant as to the situation."

"If you will come into my parlour behind the bar I will tell you what I

"I dare say you have some good cigars?" Yorke asked when they were

"Yes, but I don't sell many of them at present."

He took a box out of a cupboard, where it was hidden under some corks
and dusters. Yorke took out two, handed one to the landlord and lighted
the other himself.

"You are English, I see."

"Yes, we are mostly English here--worse luck just at present."

"I am English too," Yorke said, speaking for the first time in his own

The landlord looked at him in astonishment. "I should never have
thought it," he said. "You speak Dutch ever so much better than I do,
and you look like a Boer all over."

"Yes, I am disguised. I have made my way down from Johannesburg, and I
want to get through the Boer lines. That is what I want to talk to you
about. Where are they now? First, tell me what has been done here."

"Well, on the 1st of November the Boers came in here, and had their own
way for two months. Then on the 1st of January General French came up
and surrounded the place, and there was fighting in the hills for two
or three days; but the Boers captured a company of the Suffolks who
attacked a hill outside the town, and they were afterwards reinforced
so strongly that, after repulsing one attack, French retired, and
things have been quiet since. The English hold Molteno. A good many men
have gone down that way."

"Do you know what commandos are here now?"

"They are principally Colonial rebels, some from the west and some from
the south."

"You have the Philippolis commando here, have you not?"

"We had till yesterday, and then they were summoned to go to
Steynsburg, for they say that one of our columns is advancing against

"That is lucky, for my railway pass says that I am going to join that
commando. Now that I find they are gone I cannot report myself, and
therefore escape questioning. How many Boers are there in and around

"From a thousand to twelve hundred."

"How have they been behaving?"

The landlord shrugged his shoulders. "They take pretty well what they
want, and give bits of paper which they say will be paid when the
war is over; they mean, out of the money they expect to get from our
government as an indemnity. Of course we don't look at it in that
light, and only keep them in the hope that they will be a proof of the
losses that we have suffered, and that our government will take them up
when they finally thrash the Boers."

"And where are these twelve hundred men?"

"There are three or four hundred of them on the hills round the town.
They have got some guns there, to keep us in order, as they say. Most
of the others are wandering about in bands, and plundering the farms of
the loyal settlers. I fancy they have some small parties out towards
the west, keeping a sharp look-out lest a force should come this way
from De Aar; but I think they trust chiefly to their getting news from
the Dutch farmers between Hanover and the railway there."

"Then my best way, undoubtedly, would be to cross the Seacow River
either by the road leading north-west to Hopetown, or from that to
Philipstown, or by the third road to Hanover. The north road is least
likely to be watched, as any force from De Aar would certainly come
either through Philipstown or through Hanover."

"You seem to know the country well," the landlord said in surprise.

"I do not know it on this side of the river; I know it pretty well on
the other; and once across, I have little fear of being captured. Who
is the field cornet in command?"

"Moens; he is in command of the party on the hills, and, I believe,
generally of them all."

"It is as well to know, though I don't want to see him; but when I once
get outside the circle of hills I can tell any Boers that I may fall in
with that I am ordered by him to watch the banks of the river."

"How long do you mean to stay?" the landlord asked.

"It is two o'clock now," Yorke said; "I would rather not go till
to-morrow. I should like to see a little of the country, and the horses
have only had a day's rest after eight days' hard travelling, so I will
go out into the town and see where the road I intend to go by leaves
it. I shall want to buy some things for the journey, for I cannot
reckon upon getting to De Aar in much less than three days."

"I will get you anything you want," the landlord said. "I have plenty
of bread and meat in the house, and could put a couple of bottles of
good wine into your saddle-bag."

"Thank you; that would be best, especially as I shall want the meat
cooked. There are three of us, and as we sha'n't have much else, we can
do with at least two pounds a day each, and about the same quantity of
bread. We shall want a bag of mealies for the horses, they wouldn't
pick up much on the veldt. I have got six water-bottles, which it will
be as well to fill before we start, for we may cross the river in a
hurry, and there is not much chance of finding water in any of the
spruits. We have got tin mugs, and the only other thing we require is
some tobacco; I forgot to lay in a supply at Bloemfontein. Can you pick
up a pony for my Kaffir?"

Yorke now went out and joined Hans, who was waiting for him in the
street. Looking carelessly at the shops as they went along, they made
their way out of the town, and, having been directed by the innkeeper,
struck off by the road they intended to follow without having to ask
any questions. They went about half a mile and then returned, as it
would have seemed unnatural for them to be seen walking farther.

"I think we know as much as we need about it now," Yorke said. "We may
as well go back to the inn. It is quite evident that we are not likely
to be asked any questions here, nor, indeed, as far as I can see,
anywhere, unless we come upon an outpost."

They loitered about the streets for an hour. No one spoke to them, for
the Boer force there was composed of men from various parts of the
Colony, as well as from the Free State, and as they were to a great
extent unknown to each other, a fresh face excited no attention. Yorke
on their return found the landlord had bought a stout pony for Peter.
Half an hour later Peter ran into their room.

"Baas," he exclaimed, "there are three Boers looking at our horses.
They say that one of them is stolen."

Yorke and Hans caught up their rifles and bandoliers and ran downstairs.

"I was rubbing them down, baas, in the yard when they came in, and one
of them pointed to the brand on the horse you ride and said he knew it.
Then they asked who was my master, and I said, 'Mr. Meyring'; and he
said, 'I have reason to believe that this horse is stolen from a friend
of mine. If he is in the inn tell him to come here.'"

The yard was at the back of the house, with a gate opening into a
lane behind it. As they entered it Yorke started involuntarily, for
he recognized in one of the men who was standing by his horse his old
enemy Dirck Jansen; it had never occurred to him that, as Richmond lay
but some eighty miles from Colesberg, this was the point Dirck would be
most likely to make for as soon as it was seized by the men of the Free
State. Fortunately Dirck's back was towards him and he did not notice
the momentary pause.

"Where did you get this horse, sir?" Dirck asked authoritatively.

"I am not accustomed to be questioned in that tone," Yorke said
quietly. "I have had the horse for some months. I had it at Pretoria."

"It has been stolen," Dirck said angrily. "It belonged to a neighbour
of mine near Richmond. I have seen him riding it, and I know well that
he would never have sold it. I don't say that you stole it, I simply
say that it was stolen; and unless you can prove to me that you came by
it honestly, I shall take it."

"I am not in the habit of carrying receipts about me for months," Yorke
said; "nor do I show them to the first stranger who rudely asks for
them. My man here can confirm what I say, that I have had the animal
for more than six months."

The calmness with which Yorke answered him still further excited the
passionate young Boer, and he turned suddenly upon Hans, on whose face
there was a broad grin of amusement.

"You insolent young lout," he exclaimed, "how dare you laugh when your
betters are talking!" and he brought down his heavy whip upon his head,
knocking off his hat, and almost striking him to the ground. "Ah!" he
exclaimed, as he saw his face plainly, "I know you now. You are the
fellow who ran away from Allnutt's farm. Now I understand it. This no
doubt is--" and he turned towards Yorke. But before the name was out
of his lips, Yorke sprung at him, and with the same blow that had once
before proved so effective, knocked him off his feet, his head striking
heavily on the pavement of the yard.

His two companions raised a shout, and would have thrown themselves
upon Yorke, but Peter, who had scarcely taken in the purport of the
conversation, sprang upon one of them and grasped him by the throat.
Hans had, as he recovered from the blow he had received, snatched
his rifle from his shoulder, and grasping it by the muzzle, met the
other Boer with a sweeping stroke, which caught him on the temple, and
prostrated him apparently lifeless on the ground.

"Hold that fellow tight, Peter," Yorke said sharply; "choke him if he

"Hans, fetch one of the picket ropes from the stable. Now, tie Dirck
up, hand and foot, tightly, and shove my handkerchief into his mouth.
That will do for the present; we will fasten him more securely
afterwards. Now, help me to carry him into the stable. That is right.
Drop him down in this empty stall. Now another rope, and then we will
tie the fellow Peter has hold of. Peter, slacken your hold a little, he
is black in the face. Now, round his legs first, Hans. That will do.
Now, Peter, we will drag him into the stable; there is no fear of his
shouting for a minute or two. Now, Hans, for your man; I rather fancy
you have killed him. We can't help it whether you have or not. Now you
can tie them more securely, and gag Dirck and Peter's man effectually.
We need not trouble about the third; if he does come round, it won't be
for a long time. Now we will drag them to the farthest stall, so that
if anyone happens to look into the stable, he won't notice them unless
he enters. Now, Hans, run upstairs and fetch down the blankets and
things. You saddle the horses; I will look in and pay for the horse and
other things the landlord has bought for us."

"You have got the things for which I asked you, landlord?"

"Yes, they are all in this basket."

"Thanks, I will pack them in my saddle-bags at once. I am off in a
hurry. I have just been recognized by one of these Boers, and haven't
a minute to lose. Let me know what I owe you altogether. I will pack
these things while you are making out the account. Where is your Kaffir
boy? he is not in the yard."

"I have sent him into the town on an errand."

"Well, when he returns, will you manage to send him somewhere else that
will keep him from going to the stables for the next hour. I have a
particular reason for wishing that no one shall enter them for at least
that time. It is just as well that I should not tell you why."

The landlord nodded. "The best thing you can do, sir, is to lock the
door and bring me the key, in case any Boers ride up and want to put
their horses there. I may mislay it for a quarter of an hour. If
they are only staying for a short time, they will probably content
themselves with leaving the horses in the yard when they find they
cannot get into the stables."

"Thank you very much. I think an hour will give us a fair start, for
at any rate we could not be overtaken before it gets dark."

Five minutes later Yorke and Hans rode out into the yard, followed by
Peter, and were soon clear of the town. They now put their horses into
a trot, the native keeping eight or ten lengths behind. They slackened
their pace a little as they passed between two hills, on which parties
of Boers were posted. There was nothing unusual in their riding out to
join the scouting parties, and no attention was paid to them. When well
beyond this point, they again quickened their pace.

"It is a pity you did not kill Dirck, Master Yorke," Hans said; "he
will always be a trouble."

"I could not kill him in cold blood, Hans; though, if it had been a
fight, I should have done so without hesitation. He has tried to kill
me twice, and I should feel myself perfectly justified in taking his
life. However, we can congratulate ourselves on having got out of that
scrape so easily. If the alarm had been given, nothing could have saved
us. You and I would have been denounced as spies, and shot without the
semblance of a trial. We will endeavour to cross the river to-night, if
we can get down to the bank without interruption. If we were to meet
any party now, our story that we have just joined the commando, and
have been sent by Moens on outpost duty to begin with, would do as long
as we are posted on the river. But this would hardly be good enough if
we cross, especially as we do not know whether any parties are beyond
it; and as we may have a lot of them out in pursuit of us in half an
hour, we cannot risk being detained. Besides, it will be quite dark by
the time we get there, and naturally we should wait till morning before
crossing the river. So we will go on till we believe we are about a
mile from it, and then turn off, strike the river, and if it is too
dark then to choose a place for crossing, wait till morning. But if
we don't find the banks too steep, we will swim the horses over. I
sha'n't be comfortable until we are on the other side.

"We need not worry ourselves, but will let the horses go at their own
pace, so as to be fresh if we are chased. Besides, if we are going at a
leisurely pace, we shall not attract any particular attention should we
be seen by the scouts on the neighbouring hills."

They went at a fast canter now.

"I am afraid that it is too light to go on," Yorke said, when he
guessed that they were within three miles of the river. "We will turn
off to the left, and when we get to a place where we cannot be seen
from any of the hills, we will halt till it is nearly dark, then we
will turn back, recross the road, and keep along on the north side
of it. If anyone in search of us comes along and questions the Boer
outposts, if they get any information at all, it will be that we were
seen to turn off to the left of the road, and they will think that we
intend to cross either by the Hanover Road, or that of Philipstown, or
to swim the river between them. Of course that would be our natural
line to De Aar, and it is at these points their scouts will be most
vigilant, for any hostile movement would come from De Aar, and not from
the north road through Petrusville. This is so evident, that I have
great doubts whether they would even place a guard at that crossing."

This plan was carried out. Recrossing the road after dark, they kept
close to it, pausing and listening occasionally for the sound of

"They have gone by other roads," Yorke said. "Now, Peter," he went on,
"you have better ears than any of us, and your footsteps will not be
heard. We will keep half a mile behind you, and will lead the horses.
When you get near the river, you must go very cautiously, and find out
whether there are any men on guard there. When you have discovered
that, run back with the news. Of course, if no one is there, we shall
come straight on and cross. If there is a guard, we will turn to the
right and strike the river a mile higher up, and cross if we can."

Peter at once set off at a run, the others following at a leisurely
walk. In half an hour he rejoined them.

"No one is there, baas, and the water is low, and we can cross the
drift easily enough."

"That is good. We will push on at once, then, for if those fellows in
the stables were discovered soon after we left, we may have a party in
pursuit of us along this road, as well as the others, even now."

They mounted and went on at a trot to the river. It was of some width,
but it was not too deep for the horses to ford. They had gone a quarter
of a mile on the other side, when Peter said, "Listen, master, horses
coming." They drew rein, and sat listening for two or three minutes.
They could hear nothing. Then there was a low sound, which rapidly
increased in volume until it came to an abrupt halt. Then on the still
night air they could hear a volley of execrations.

"They have reached the river. We only had ten minutes to spare," Yorke
said. "I don't think they will pursue us any farther, as they cannot be
sure that we have come by this road, though they must have learned from
the men on the hills that we started for it; but we might easily have
crossed to the Philippolis side after we got out of sight. At any rate,
they know that they would have no chance of catching us to-night, as we
should only have to move two or three hundred yards off the road to be
well out of sight. Now, Peter, tear up one of the blankets and muffle
the horses' feet; they could hear us a long way off in the stillness."

"I will do that, baas; but they too angry and talk too much to hear us."

"That is likely enough, Peter; but there is nothing like being on the
safe side."

Five minutes sufficed to muffle the feet of the horses, and then they
continued their journey, keeping on the road, sometimes going at a
trot, and sometimes walking, until they had covered, they calculated,
some twenty miles from the river. Then they moved off a few hundred
yards, opened the saddle-bags, and had a good meal, gave the horses
a feed of mealies, and lay down for the night. They were on the move
again at daybreak. Yorke had decided to go on as far as the little
stream called the Hondebloss, where they could give the horses a drink
and fill up the water-bottles, which they had not had time to do before
leaving, though fortunately they had watered their horses at the small
stream that runs through Colesberg. It was possible that there might
be a Boer force at Petrusville, and therefore he determined to strike
due west from the river for Potfontein Siding. The distance was too far
to be traversed in a day, without the risk of knocking up the horses.
Consequently they camped out on the veldt that night, and arrived at
the little railway-station the next morning.

Here they found a company of militia, whose officer at first regarded
them with some suspicion. Yorke had, however, that morning stowed away
his wig as before, and Hans had cut off the long fringe of hair under
his straw-hat, and on stripping off his coat and flannel shirt, Yorke
showed the khaki uniform underneath, with shoulder-strap with the
badges showing the number of his corps. The story, too, that he had
escaped from Pretoria was recognized to be true.

"You will have to ride up to the Modder, there is no getting into a
train here. Troops are passing up every day. I suppose you know that
Lord Roberts has now arrived to take the command. He reached Cape
Town on the 10th of January. Lord Kitchener came with him as chief of
his staff. We expect them to come through in a few days. Our troops
have been pouring up fast. No doubt there will be a forward movement
directly he arrives. It is a frightful nuisance being stuck down here
guarding the line. So you have come down from Pretoria? How did you
manage to get away?"

"It is a long story," Yorke replied. "I shall have time to give it
to you at full length presently. As Lord Roberts has not yet come
up, I shall give my horses a couple of days' rest. They have made a
tremendous journey. We drove from Pretoria to Bloemfontein, averaging
nearly fifty miles a day, got a lift in the train down to Colesberg,
and have come from there in two days."

"They certainly deserve a rest then before going ninety miles from here
to the Modder."

"I wish I could get a lift in a train. Our horses have done very heavy
work lately. We should have three days' ride of thirty miles each to
the Modder; it would be much pleasanter for us to be able to go by
train than have to ride all the way."

"I am afraid I cannot manage that," the officer said. "Quantities of
stores are going up, and lots of Kaffirs accompany them to help handle
them and do heavy work. If you had been on foot, of course you could
have gone, but we have no empty trucks we could put on for the horses.
And now I suppose you are hungry. We have nothing but bully beef to
offer you. There is no getting up stores at present, and we have none
but our rations."

"Thank you. I breakfasted before starting. I have some five or six
pounds of excellent cold beef, which I hope you will join me in eating.
I have also a couple of bottles of wine and a tin of biscuits."

"That is reversing the usual order of things," the officer laughed.
"However, we are not men to stand on ceremony. At any rate, we will add
your fare to ours."

An hour later Yorke sat down to a meal with the three officers of the
detachment; and he then related the story of his escape from Pretoria,
and, without alluding to the treasure, told how Hans had overheard the
plot to attack the house of the English president of one of the mines,
and how they had defeated it.

"You may well say that your man is a good fellow, and that native
of yours also. Your servant is eating his supper now with the
non-commissioned officers, and by the laughter, I have no doubt he is
giving them his account of his adventures."

The next two days were spent quietly in resting the horses, and
with good feeding they were again fit for travel. On the following
morning they mounted early and rode to Orange River Station. Yorke was
hospitably entertained by one of the officers of a regiment stationed
there, while Hans and Peter were equally well looked after. Two days
afterwards they rode into the camp on the Modder River.



The camp had grown vastly in size during the eight weeks Yorke had been
away. He went at once to the camp now occupied by General Pole-Carew's
brigade. On his sending in his name, the general himself came to the
door of his tent.

"Well, Mr. Harberton," he exclaimed, "how on earth have you got back
so soon? We heard from a telegram through Lorenzo Marques that you had
escaped, but that was little more than a fortnight since, and I did
not expect that you could have joined us again for another three weeks
at least. You are just in time. We expect Lord Roberts to-morrow, and
you may be sure that he will not lose a day when he arrives. By the
way, Lucas has returned, and I am sorry to say that I have no vacancy
on my staff; but I shall be seeing Lord Methuen this afternoon, and I
will ask him, if he has an opportunity, to mention you to Lord Roberts,
saying how you got into Kimberley and out again, and now have made your
escape from Pretoria, and that your knowledge of Dutch makes you a most
valuable staff-officer. Possibly the chief may like to have you on
his staff as interpreter and so on, for these Boers all make a point
of pretending that they do not understand English, although there is
no doubt that almost all of them in the Free State, and a considerable
portion of the Transvaal men, do so. I suppose you would rather be on
the staff than join your regiment?"

"I certainly would rather be with Lord Roberts, sir. I should be sure
to see what is going on then, while I might not be so lucky if I were
with the cavalry."

"I will speak to Lord Methuen about it. I have an hour to spare just at
the present time, so you might tell me how you escaped from Pretoria.
Of course, I know how you were taken."

Yorke gave an account of his adventures.

"Well, you are a lucky fellow in having two such followers as the
Dutchman and the Kaffir. The last got you out of the hands of the Boers
at Boshof, and now the Dutchman has got you out of Pretoria. You remind
me of the _Three Musketeers_. I suppose you have read that story?"

"Yes, sir, and I always thought it ought to be called the Four

The general smiled. "That escape of yours at Colesberg was an
exceptionally narrow thing," he said, "and I must really congratulate
you on the way you managed it. Well, I suppose you will go to your
regiment now. Give my compliments to the colonel, and say that I wish
you to remain in camp for a few days, in case Lord Roberts may desire
to hear from you something about the state of the prisons at Pretoria
and what you saw as you came down."

"It is a good thing to have a fellow like you in the regiment,
Harberton," the colonel said that evening after mess was over. "Your
stories give us something fresh to think about, and anything that keeps
us from talking of the eternal subject of what Lord Roberts is likely
to do when he gets here is an unmixed pleasure. Besides, gentlemen,
there is no saying what the fortunes of war may bring forth, and some
of us may see the inside of a Boer prison before it is all over. Now
we know how Mr. Harberton got away, we may get some hints that may be
useful to us--for instance, how he got through those wire fences."

"Yes, colonel," the major said; "but as we cannot any of us speak Dutch
his example of the manner in which he made his way down would not be of
any use whatever to us. A prisoner can think of a dozen ways of getting
out of a prison; he might throttle a warder, dress himself up in his
clothes, and march out. But what could he do after he was out? He
couldn't buy as much as a crust of bread and cheese or a glass of beer,
and the first time he opened his lips he would be seized."

"There would be difficulties, no doubt; but you know two or three
officers have got away, and I am pretty sure none of them spoke Dutch.
Now, if any of you gentlemen had taken such pains as Mr. Harberton to
acquire the language you might have distinguished yourself as he has
done. The regiment was out here before he landed, and there is not one
of you who can put a sentence together in Dutch."

"Come, colonel, don't be too hard on us," one of the captains said. "We
had no occasion to speak a word of Dutch at the Cape, and certainly we
have had no opportunity since we left it."

"That is true enough," the colonel agreed; "but"--and he went on more
gravely--"it has been evident for many months that war was probable,
and it would have been well--I speak for myself as well as for you--if
we had devoted an hour or two a day to getting up the language, for we
should have known that it was sure to be useful in case of a campaign,
and we have all frequently felt the difficulty of obtaining information
from the farmers when scouting. We have missed a good opportunity, and
very often time has hung heavy on our hands in spite of polo and other
amusements. One does not expect to find many studious men in a cavalry
regiment, still, I do wonder that none of us saw what an advantage
it would be to speak Dutch. Look at Mr. Harberton and see what he has
gained by his industry. He has been employed on dangerous service, he
succeeds in getting into Kimberley, he obtains a commission thereby,
and now it has carried him safely through the Transvaal and Orange Free
State, and will probably cause him to be selected for other special

"There is no credit due to me, sir," Yorke said. "I certainly did work
at Dutch on the voyage out, but afterwards, being on a Dutch farm and
scarcely hearing English spoken, I had to learn the language, and had
continual opportunities of mastering it."

"That is all very well," the colonel said, "but there are many fellows
who, had they been in your position, would not have learned much. You
tell me that your cousin is English, and certainly your man Hans speaks
our language, and thus you could, had you chosen, have got on very
fairly without Dutch, and though you may disclaim any credit, that does
not in any way alter the fact."

"I thought I heard firing as we came along this morning. Has there been
any, sir?" Yorke asked, in order to change the conversation.

"Yes, the fighting began again on the 3rd. Macdonald with the Highland
Brigade, two squadrons of ours, a field-battery, and some engineers,
moved down to Koodoosberg Drift seventeen miles away. On the 6th the
engineers began to erect a fort, but the Boers soon mustered very
strongly, and the position was commanded by a kopje to the north.
Skirmishing went on all day, and yesterday two batteries of horse
artillery and a brigade of cavalry reinforced Macdonald. The fighting
has gone on all day, but our guns have, we hear, gradually driven the
Boers back. I expect the force will be recalled when Lord Roberts
arrives to-morrow. I imagine it was only intended to keep the Boers'
attention occupied in that direction and lead them to believe that
the intention was to turn their position on their right flank, and
so relieve Kimberley without having to again attack their position at
Magersfontein. Of course none of us know what Lord Roberts's plans are,
but I hardly think that, if he had intended to carry out that line of
attack, he would have called the Boers' attention to the fact until he
was perfectly ready to begin."

"There must be a very large force here now, colonel, judging from the
size of the camp."

"Yes, in addition to the division that fought their way here, there
are now, counting those at the stations between this and De Aar,
three others--some twenty-five thousand infantry; and we have now
ninety-eight guns altogether. Counting our cavalry, which now musters
nearly five thousand sabres, there must be over forty thousand men
between Orange River Station and this place--a very different force
from that with which Methuen attempted to relieve Kimberley in the
first place. Cronje will have all his work cut out for him to keep his
grip on the town."

The next morning Lord Roberts, with Lord Kitchener and his staff,
reached the Modder River. Their arrival created immense enthusiasm
among the troops. Lord Roberts had long been the popular hero of
the British army. Not only had he accomplished all that he had
undertaken--and his name been associated with the long series of
successes in India--but his care for the comfort of the soldiers, his
kindness of heart and cheeriness of manner, had won their affection,
and every soldier felt that under "Bobs"--the name by which he was
universally known among the rank and file--they would speedily turn the
tables on the Boers. The arrival of Lord Kitchener on the scene was of
scarcely less importance than was that of the commander-in-chief. He
had in Egypt shown not only the qualifications necessary for a leader
of men, but an extraordinary power of organization, and since his
arrival at the Cape a month previously he had effected wonders.

When he landed there was practically no transport, and the consequence
was that the army had to depend entirely upon the railway, and could
not have moved more than two or three days' march away from it. Now an
immense train had been organized, and the army could, if necessary, cut
itself loose from the railway, and depend for ten days or a fortnight
upon its own supplies. His position as chief on Lord Roberts's staff
went far to ensure that no mistake would occur, that every movement
would be effected as perfectly as human fore-thought could arrange it,
and that every detail would be seen to, every contingency prepared for.
In character, however, the two great leaders differed greatly. With
every faculty concentrated upon his work Lord Kitchener never spared
himself, and he expected an equal devotion to duty from all under his
command, officers and men alike. He was a man of iron, one who could
make but small allowance for the weakness of others, would admit of
no carelessness, and had no sympathy with the love of amusement and
the easy-going manner of doing work that were characteristic of no
inconsiderable proportion of the younger officers of the army.

He was admired and respected, but he had not Lord Roberts's knack of
making himself loved by all with whom he came in contact. The twenty
years of scouting, campaigning, and working in Egypt had given him
something of the nature of the Arabs and natives with whom he had
been associated. His face afforded no index to his thoughts. He spoke
but little, but it was always to the point; his eyes had the faraway
look of one constantly scanning the distance for the approach of an
enemy; his anger expressed itself only in a few quiet words that cut
like whips. His appearance in camp was at once the sign for additional
activity, sharper discipline, and an increased attention to duties of
all kinds. No better right hand could have been chosen by Lord Roberts
for the work to be done, and wherever things went a little wrong it
needed but Kitchener's presence to set them right again.

Not a day was lost. Lord Roberts arrived on the morning of the 8th,
and the next evening the force from Koodoosberg returned to camp,
and a series of orders were that day quietly issued. On the 11th the
cavalry division under General French, with seven batteries of horse
artillery, and two field-batteries, left the Modder River camp for
Ramdam, a large pool near the Riet River, five miles south of the
village of Koffyfontein; and General Tucker, with the 7th Infantry
division, marched to the same point from the railway-station of Enslin
and Graspan; the other divisions were ordered to hold themselves in
readiness to move. That morning one of Lord Roberts's aides-de-camp
rode into the camp of the 9th Lancers and asked for Lieutenant
Harberton, to accompany him at once to head-quarters, as Lord Roberts
wished to speak to him.

Yorke congratulated himself now that he had, two days after
Magersfontein, bought the entire kit of an officer who had been killed
there, and this included a tunic, breeches, and gaiters that had never
been worn. In these he hurriedly attired himself for the first time
and then mounted his horse, which had been standing ready saddled in
case he should receive any order, and accompanied the aide-de-camp. On
reaching the head-quarter camp they dismounted, an orderly took their
horses, and the officer, entering the tent of the commander-in-chief,
returned at once telling Yorke that he was to enter.

"Lord Methuen has given me an outline of your services, Mr. Harberton,"
Lord Roberts said kindly. "The story is really a remarkable one, and
shows a singular amount of enterprise, courage, and coolness on the
part of so young an officer. What is even more to the point at the
present moment is, you have shown you can speak Dutch well--at any
rate, well enough to pass as a Boer, and that you can also converse
to some extent to Kaffirs in their own tongue. Captain Watermeyer is
the only member of my staff who can speak Dutch well, and I am sure
he will be glad of your assistance in examining prisoners, farmers, or
natives; therefore, I have much pleasure in appointing you as an extra

"Thank you, sir, I feel it is a high honour indeed that you have
conferred upon me."

"It is a well-deserved one; and as you made the journey to Kimberley,
and also, as I hear, have followed the road down from Pretoria through
Johannesburg to Bloemfontein, you will be valuable for other purposes
besides those of an interpreter, and I consider myself fortunate in
obtaining your services. Colonel Chamberlain, will you tell Captain
Watermeyer that I wish to see him?"

On the arrival of that officer Lord Roberts said: "Captain Watermeyer,
I have appointed Lieutenant Harberton an extra aide-de-camp. He speaks
Dutch well, and you will, I am sure, find him of great assistance when
you have to question prisoners or other Dutch who may be brought into
camp. When not required for such work he will perform the usual duties
of an aide-de-camp. Will you kindly introduce him to the other members
of my staff, and request Colonel Pretyman to arrange for his tenting
and other accommodation? I hear, by the way, Mr. Harberton, that
you have a Dutch servant who has proved himself a most faithful and
valuable man, and also a Kaffir groom who went with you into Kimberley,
and aided in effecting your escape from Pretoria. You will, of course,
bring them with you in the same capacity here."

Lord Methuen was entering the tent as Yorke went out, and the latter
thanked him warmly for his kindness in recommending him to the

"It is to General Pole-Carew that you are chiefly indebted," the
general said; "he has seen much more of you than I have. I heard from
him the full story of your adventures, and it was a pleasure to me to
report your conduct to Lord Roberts. Pole-Carew told me that he was
sorry he could not have your services in future--first, as his staff
is complete, and in the second place, as he will remain here with his
brigade, with the force under my command."

Yorke then went off with Captain Watermeyer. "I remember your face
well, Mr. Harberton," the latter said; "I know Major Mackintosh, who
obtained a commission for you in his corps. I was not a member of it,
for I was in the Cape Town Highlanders. I saw you several times at the
hotel where you were then stopping."

"I remember you perfectly now, sir; but the khaki and helmet make such
a difference that until you spoke I did not recognize you."

"Well, we have both got on since then; it had certainly never occurred
to either of us that we should both be here as members of the
commander-in-chief's staff."

"No, indeed," Yorke replied, "nothing could have been more unlikely--at
any rate, as far as I was concerned."

"Well, as for the tenting, you may as well share mine, as I am alone at
present and shall be glad of company."

Matters were quickly arranged with Colonel Pretyman, the head-quarters
commandant. Captain Watermeyer's offer obviated all difficulty with
regard to tentage, and Yorke would, of course, mess with other officers
of the staff.

"I am afraid, Mr. Harberton," the officer said, "that you will not draw
any extra pay as assistant aide-de-camp, though, possibly, with the
addition of the word 'interpreter' in general orders, an allowance will
be obtainable."

"That is a matter of comparative indifference to me, I have resources
of my own that will enable me for at least some time to defray the
extra expenses of the mess."

"That will not be very heavy," Colonel Pretyman said with a smile;
"certainly as long as we are on the march you will find but few
luxuries, though, when we are in towns, we indulge a little. As a
whole, I should say that we live no better than the infantry messes,
certainly not so well as the cavalry do now, though they too will have
to leave the best part of their stores behind them when we once move."

"And about my servant, sir, who is now a trooper in my regiment?"

"He will draw rations and mess with the orderlies. There will be no
difficulty about your Kaffir groom, several of us have Cape boys in the
same capacity, and of course, he will go in with them."

As two or three officers had come in while they were talking, Yorke,
knowing how busy the colonel was, at once left and rode back to the
camp of the Lancers, and after getting his things together returned to
the head-quarter camp with Hans and Peter. On the following morning
Lord Roberts and his staff moved to Ramdam, while the cavalry went
on to the Riet River, easily drove off small parties of Boers at two
drifts, and reconnoitred beyond it. General Tucker's troops moved
forward to one of the drifts, and their place at Ramdam was taken by
Kelly-Kenny's division.

"You will go on with the cavalry to-morrow morning, Mr. Harberton,"
the deputy adjutant-general, said to Yorke on the evening of their
arrival at head-quarters at Ramdam. "They will push on ahead, and it
is eminently important that the general should be informed of the
progress they have made. The other aides-de-camp will be fully occupied
in seeing that the movements of the infantry columns are proceeding
without a hitch. The cavalry will push on to the Modder River to-morrow
and seize one of the drifts. It is intended to reinforce them early the
next morning, and they will then push on for Kimberley. You will remain
with them until they have passed the point at which they are likely to
meet with any serious opposition. Immediately they have done so you
will bring the news to head-quarters, which will probably have then
arrived at Jacobsdal, as the movements of the troops must be largely
influenced by the success or failure of the cavalry expedition."

"Very well, sir."

Just before Yorke was about to leave the mess-room he was summoned to
Lord Roberts's tent.

"Oh, Mr. Harberton, I only sent for you to tell you that I am going to
ride myself to-morrow morning to see the cavalry make their start. I
shall mount at five o'clock. You will ride with me."

It was a splendid sight when the commander-in-chief rode across
Dekiel's Drift. There were gathered some five thousand horsemen,
consisting of the Carbineers, the New South Wales Lancers, the
Inniskillings, the regiment of Household Cavalry, the 10th Hussars, the
9th, 12th, and 16th Lancers, the Scots Grey, Rimington's Guides, two
brigades of mounted infantry, seven batteries of artillery, and the
pontoon train of Royal Engineers. Although the whole had not passed
the river until midnight they were all ready for the start, and the
appearance of the commander-in-chief excited the greatest enthusiasm
among them.

No time was lost in a formal inspection. After a few words with General
French, who, hearing that Yorke was to accompany them, begged him to
ride with him, Lord Roberts drew back and watched the great column of
horse sweep past him, acknowledging the salutes of men and officers,
and waving his hand in encouragement and farewell. The troops had every
confidence in their commander, who had already given them sterling
proofs of his ability. Had his advice been followed by General White
at Ladysmith, four regiments of British cavalry would have been added
to Buller's force, and would have gone far to protect Natal from Boer
marauders, instead of remaining pent up in the besieged town until
their horses were either dead or unfit for service. Recalled to take
charge of the cavalry in the west, and to arrest the Boer advance
into Cape Colony, he had effectually checked their progress, defeated
them near Colesberg, and had by his activity confined them within a
comparatively small district. Now he was leading them on the expedition
with which his name will ever be associated.

It was a long march of thirty miles; the sun blazed down pitilessly,
and there would be no water until they reached the Modder River. The
general's staff was fully occupied in riding up and down the line
seeing that all went well. The general kept Yorke by him throughout
the march. He began the conversation by saying: "Lord Roberts tells me
that you have already been into Kimberley and out again, and that you
have been prisoner at Pretoria and have escaped. Let me hear about the
Kimberley business first, it will pass the time away, if you do not

Yorke was glad to remain at the head of the column with the general,
for the dust raised as squadron followed squadron was stifling.

"You have certainly had your full share of adventures, Mr. Harberton,"
the general said, when he had by close questioning extracted a pretty
full account of his adventures from him. "Now, from what you have seen
of the Boers, do you think that their resistance is likely to be an
obstinate one?"

"I must say that I think so. Owing to the lies circulated by the
Africander Bond, and by Kruger and the authorities at Pretoria, they
have come to entertain a deep and passionate hatred of us, and although
I feel sure that they will not be able to stand against us in open
fight, I believe that they will maintain a desperate resistance of
a guerrilla kind for a long time. They believe firmly that half the
powers of Europe are coming to their assistance, and that in the long
run England will be obliged to evacuate the Cape altogether. They
have even been told that Russia, and France, and Germany have already
declared war against us, and certainly no word of the truth will ever
be allowed to be published among them. In an irregular war they would
have an immense advantage in the great extent of the country, and the
long lines of railway by which our communications would be kept up,
and by the fact that they will be well informed of everything that
we are doing by their friends, while we shall be entirely in the
dark as to their movements. Lastly, their hopes will be sustained by
their absolute conviction that the Dutch throughout the whole of Cape
Colony will join them. From what I saw at the farm near Richmond, I
should say that this view would be justified if they should gain but a
single success that would give them encouragement. The fall either at
Ladysmith, or Kimberley, or even Mafeking would, I think, be followed
by a great rising."

"I am afraid that you are right, Mr. Harberton. Certainly I found the
Dutch population in the Colesberg and Stormberg district disloyal
almost to a man, although individually none of them had any complaint
to make against us. And, indeed, with an Africander parliament passing
what laws they choose, and an absolute equality in all respects with
the British colonists, it is hard to see what they could possibly gain
by our expulsion from South Africa."

From time to time small parties of mounted Boers could be seen in the
distance, and solitary scouts on the hills that skirted the plain over
which they were travelling. Occasionally shots were fired from distant
hills, but to these the column paid no attention. Herds of deer were
seen galloping across the plain, scared at the great moving dust-cloud.
The column was in open order. The regiments moved two abreast with the
9th Lancers ahead. The heat was trying indeed to the horsemen, but more
so to the horses. Several of the artillery animals dropped dead, and
all were terribly exhausted by the time that the willows fringing the
Modder were seen ahead. Major Rimington who acted as guide, performed
that duty well, and brought the column to the exact point at which he
had aimed--the Klip Drift. Fortunately the Boer force stationed here
was but a small one, and on seeing the great force approaching they
abandoned their tents and waggons and fled hastily.

Now was seen the advantage that had been gained by the demonstration
at Koodoosberg. The fear of being outflanked in that direction had
caused the Boers to gather there, and they had little thought of the
assault being delivered fifty miles away on their extreme left. Had
they had the time and the knowledge, a few hundred men with guns could
have made so desperate a resistance that help might have come up before
our force was established on the north bank. As it was they had passed
across without a shot being fired. The horses drank their fill, the men
bathed in the river, and by nightfall all were ready for action. A halt
had to be made the next day to enable Kelly-Kenny to come up with his
division, and at five o'clock the following morning this arrived, the
men having made a tremendous night march to cross the veldt. At eight
o'clock the cavalry prepared for a final advance.

The Boers had utilized the time that the halt had allowed them, and
during the preceding day considerable numbers had arrived and taken up
a position on hills some four miles from the river. The distance from
Klip Drift to Kimberley was forty miles, a distance that might, under
other circumstances, have been traversed without much difficulty, but
the horses had not yet recovered from the fatigue of their previous
marches, and the heat of the sun was again terrible. However, the goal
was Kimberley, and they believed, with reason, that once past the
new position occupied by the Boers, they would meet with no further
resistance, as they would pass far to the east of the Magersfontein
position, from which Cronje could not afford to send a large force
while Methuen was facing him on the Modder.

The Boer position was upon two hills connected by a long, low neck, and
as the force approached, a brisk fire of musketry, aided by some light
guns, burst out.

A short halt was made, and the guns of the batteries that were not
going on unlimbered and opened a heavy fire on the hills. As soon as
this began to take effect the cavalry continued their advance, and in
open order swept forward over the low neck regardless of the fire from
the hills. A few men and horses dropped, but without drawing rein
squadron after squadron swept along, and then at a more leisurely pace
continued their journey. The rate of travel soon became slow, many of
the troopers dismounted and walked by the side of their horses, some
even carrying on their shoulders their valises in order to relieve
the exhausted animals. It was late in the afternoon before, without
meeting another foe, they entered Kimberley amid the enthusiasm of the

Yorke had ridden with the cavalry until they crossed the neck, and
then turned his horse and galloped back to the Klip Drift with the
news that the obstacles had been passed. Crossing the river, he rode
for Jacobsdal. He heard firing as he approached the town, and when
he arrived there, found that the place had been captured by Wavell's
Brigade of the 7th Division, which had already joined Kelly-Kenny's at
the Klip Drift. Learning that General Roberts would not arrive until
the following morning, he started south and met the division with
head-quarters on the way, and reported that the cavalry had already
ridden through the Boer position and was on its way to Kimberley.

"By this time they will be there, then," Roberts said. "How were their

"I am afraid a great many will be lost before they reach Kimberley,
sir. Owing to the heat yesterday, they had not time to recover from
their previous marches."

"You have done very well to bring me the news so speedily," the general
said. "I expected to find you at Jacobsdal to-morrow, but I hardly
hoped that you would have reached me this evening. You have had as long
a ride as French."

The next morning the head-quarters reached Jacobsdal, and here received
the news that one of the convoys of waggons had been attacked by the
Boers at Waterval Drift, but were defending themselves. A battery
of artillery with mounted infantry were sent off at once to their
assistance, and with this aid the Boers were driven off. The native
drivers of the waggons, however, had deserted during the fight; and as
Lord Roberts had received news that Cronje and his whole force had left
Magersfontein, he ordered the waggons to be abandoned, as everything
depended upon speed to carry out successfully the operation upon which
he was bent, namely, to cut off Cronje's retreat to Bloemfontein.

Cronje had sent a portion of his force with the greater part of his
guns north. A good many of the Orange Free State men had deserted and
gone back to their farms, but with the rest of his guns, six thousand
mounted men, and a huge train of waggons, he had hurried along through
the interval between French's horse and the force at Klip Drift. The
vedettes of that force saw a huge cloud of dust in the distance and
carried the news to Lord Kitchener, who assumed the general command.
That energetic commander at once despatched his mounted infantry in
pursuit, and sent Knox's Brigade along the northern bank of the river
to harass the right flank of the flying Boers, and to bring them to
action if possible.

There were three drifts by which Cronje could cross the river on his
way to Bloemfontein, and unless all these were held he might get
across. He knew this as well as his pursuers, and all day kept back the
pursuit of Knox and the mounted infantry by occupying every hill and
kopje with a strong rear-guard, which had to be attacked and driven
off, only to take up a position farther on. But with night approaching
even Cronje felt that there must be a halt. He had marched twenty-four
hours; the horses and the animals of the baggage waggons were alike
utterly worn out; and, ignorant of the force that was pressing forward
on the south bank, he believed that he would next morning be able to
cross the river.

But he had not reckoned on the energy of the British commanders and
on the endurance of their men. The mounted infantry had, when the
fighting ceased, galloped back to Klip Drift, crossed there, and,
keeping along on the south side, seized the drift at Klip Kraal.
Thither came Stevenson's Brigade; Colvile's Division, and the mounted
infantry on their arrival went forward again and seized Paardeberg.
Cronje moved early in the morning, and Knox marched along the northern
bank to Klip Kraal. Cronje's scouts soon learned that the two drifts
were in our possession, and made for the third, named Koodoosrand. But
the exhausted animals were only equal to a short march, and Cronje,
feeling confident that this drift was open to him, again halted before
he reached it.

The delay was fatal to him. Kitchener, as soon as he learned that
Cronje was flying, had sent word to French, ordering him to move with
all speed to endeavour to cut off the Boer retreat. The message arrived
in the afternoon. The cavalry, in spite of the fatigue of the night
before, had all been out with the town force endeavouring to drive
the Boers from a strong position they held at Dronfield. The Boers,
however, had stuck to it tenaciously, for by their occupation of the
post they were enabling the force from Magersfontein with the guns
to move round Kimberley and make for the north. They were, late in
the afternoon, however, shelled out of their positions, and the weary
troops returned to the town just as the messenger from Lord Kitchener

Not a moment's time was lost. An inspection of the horses was ordered,
and it was found that of the five thousand that started from Klip Drift
the morning before, two thousand at the utmost were in any way fit for
further work. With this force, then, French started, after allowing a
few hours' rest, before the long night ride. Utterly weary as the men
were, they were inspired with fresh energy when they learned that they
were going to cut off the retreat of Cronje. All through the night the
march continued. Many horses fell dead, but there was no pause in the
advance. The stars were shining brilliantly. Cronje's exact position
was not known, and could only be guessed at, and Rimington, acting as
guide, aimed for the Koodoosrand Drift. Morning found them still some
distance away, for they had travelled slowly, most of the men marching
all night in order to relieve their horses. An hour's halt, and then
they moved on again. It was a terrible race, but it was won. About
midday they reached Koodoosrand Drift just as Cronje's advance guard
were arriving on the top of the hills commanding it. The wearied horses
were allowed a drink, and were then led away to a point where a dip
would shelter them from rifle-fire, and the men took up their station
to dispute the passage to the last.

It was plain that with these two thousand determined men the passage
could not be forced, and Cronje's scouts brought him the news that
the passage to Bloemfontein was barred. It was still open to him to
abandon the waggons and guns and to ride north, but, believing that
reinforcements would assuredly be sent to him, Cronje determined upon
fighting. He had already abandoned seventy-four waggons, whose oxen
could no longer draw them, at his last halting-place, and he now turned
and marched to a flat plain between Paardeberg Drift and another lower
down the river, still hoping to force his way across. It was only at
the drifts that the passage was possible; the banks were high, and
stood like walls on either side. Men on foot might have made their
way down to the water, and might have climbed up the other side, but
for mounted men, and still more for waggons, the river was absolutely
impassable save at the drifts.

On all sides foes were gathering closely. The British infantry had
accomplished marvellous marches. The Highland Brigade had marched from
Jacobsdal to Klip Drift over soft sand, but, exhausted as they were,
when called upon to continue their journey another twelve miles, no
murmur was heard. They had a terrible disaster to retrieve, and their
longing to be engaged with the men who had mowed them down in the dark
nerved them to further exertion. Behind them came Smith-Dorrien's
Brigade, a splendid body of troops, the Shropshires, Cornwalls, and
Canadians. These pushed across the river and took up their position on
the north bank; Kelly-Kenny's Division was also there, and by morning
Cronje had no longer the option of escape. He was fairly trapped. His
position was, however, a strong one. The bushes along the river bank
provided excellent cover for riflemen; while to the west, north, and
east he was surrounded by a level plain some fifteen hundred yards in
width, upon which the enemy would be exposed to a terrible fire from
his men in and under the waggons that formed the laager.



Had Lord Kitchener witnessed the battles of the Modder and
Magersfontein, it is morally certain that he would not have attacked
Cronje in his lair. But hitherto he had been engaged only with
barbarous tribes, who, although magnificently brave, were either
altogether without firearms, or were armed only with muskets of
obsolete pattern. He was unable to form an idea of the tremendous
effect of such rifles as those in the hands of the Boers, a race of
marksmen. Nothing could have been gained by such an attack, even
if successful, as the Boers must sooner or later have surrendered.
Escape was impossible, and the troops could be trusted to give a good
account of any force advancing to aid Cronje. Doubtless he was to some
extent influenced by the burning desire on the part of his men and
officers--who, with the exception of those of the Highland Brigade, had
not as yet been engaged with the Boers--to get at the enemy.

However, on the following morning Knox's, Stevenson's,
Smith-Dorrien's, and the Highland Brigades all advanced against the
position. When within a thousand yards, a semicircle of fire flashed
out from the waggons, as it had done from the bushes on the Modder. The
effect was terrible, and men went down by the score before the hail
of bullets, and the troops were forced, as the Guards had been on the
Modder, to throw themselves down before it. It would have been well if,
as on that occasion, the impossibility of success had been recognized,
and the troops had been ordered to remain in the same position
throughout the day, contenting themselves with returning the Boer
fire. But no such order was given, and companies got up and made short
rushes, each regiment burning to be the first to enter the Boer camp.
Some little relief was afforded by four batteries of artillery, which
kept up an incessant shell fire, distracting the Boers' attention,
preventing their taking aim, and shaking their nerve.

At twelve o'clock one of French's horse-artillery batteries came up
and joined the others at the work. Splendid were the efforts made by
many of the regiments to get to close quarters. The Canadians and
Cornwalls--Smith-Dorrien's Brigade--on the one side swept almost up to
the river bank, and the Welsh, Yorkshire, and Essex regiments did as
well on the opposite side of the semicircle, both forcing the Boers to
contract their lines, and limiting the space occupied by them.

The Highlanders did magnificently, burning to retrieve their defeat at
Magersfontein, and showed that they had entirely recovered from the
effects of that disaster. Their conduct was all the more worthy of
admiration, inasmuch as they had marched over thirty miles, and only
arrived on the scene just as the advance began. From the south side
of the river a heavy rifle fire was maintained by the troops on that
bank; and it is probable that some, at least, among the casualties on
our side were inflicted by their bullets, which passed over the Boer
camp. All day the fight continued, and all that had been effected was
to contract the Boer position along the river bank from three miles to
barely two. When evening fell, our troops were still in the positions
they had won during the day. But the cost was out of all proportion to
the advantage gained. They had suffered eleven hundred casualties. The
Seaforths headed the list with one hundred and twenty, the Black Watch
came next with ninety-six; ninety Yorkshires, the same number of West
Riding Regiment, eighty among the Canadians, seventy-six Argyle and
Sutherlands, fifty-six of the Cornwalls, forty-six of the Shropshires,
and thirty-one of the Oxfordshires, showed how every regiment had taken
its share in the fighting.

On the following day Cronje asked for twenty-four hours' armistice
to enable him to bury his dead. Lord Kitchener assented, but as the
morning wore on Lord Roberts arrived with Tucker's Division from
Jacobsdal, and with three more field-batteries, and five naval guns.
The Commander-in-Chief disapproved altogether of the armistice, which
was evidently a mere pretext to gain time; and he accordingly sent
word to Cronje that the armistice was at an end, but that any women
and children in the laager might come out, and would receive good
treatment. This offer was declined by Cronje. His refusal was the
signal for the guns to open, and all day a hail of fire was poured into
the Boer laager. Smith-Dorrien's Brigade was left on the ground that
it had won, near the river-bank to the west; while one of Tucker's
Brigades, commanded by Chermside, occupied the same position to the
east. The remainder of the troops were drawn off and posted so as to
prevent any portion of the beleaguered host from making their escape.

De Wet, with the force that had attacked and finally captured the
train of waggons at Waterval Drift, had come round and surprised and
captured a party of thirty men and four officers of Kitchener's Horse,
who were posted on a kopje two miles away from the laager. The loss
of this position was serious, because it opened the road to any Boer
force marching to relieve Cronje. That such a force was approaching was
known. Cronje had, when he found the passage at Koodoosrand blocked,
flashed signals asking for aid, and not only would the local forces
answer the appeal, but these would be largely reinforced by Orange Free
State commandos coming with all haste from Natal by rail. Accordingly,
five regiments of cavalry with four batteries were sent against the
kopje, the force being divided into two parties of equal strength, and
passing one on each side of the hill. A force of Boers they encountered
were easily defeated, while the artillery drove off the defenders of
the kopje, of whom some fifty were killed and as many taken prisoners.

Two days later another party approached. They attacked a kopje held
by the Yorkshires but failed to capture it, and then tried to carry
another hill held by the Buffs and were again defeated. In all eighty
were taken prisoners. Every night Boers crept out from their laager and
gave themselves up as prisoners, and by the end of the week we had six
hundred captives. All this time the guns had thundered almost without
cessation. From a balloon overhead signals were made as to the point at
which the fire should be directed. Nothing could withstand this hail of
iron. Scores of waggons were smashed up, oxen and horses killed by the
hundred, but few Boers were visible. Holes and tunnels had been driven
into the side of the numerous dongas that intersected the laager. Here
the women and children were sheltered, and here the men crouched in
readiness to sally out and defend the laager if again attacked, and
whenever our outposts were pushed forward, the fire from their trenches
was as heavy as ever.

At the extremity of the base of the semicircle Smith-Dorrien and
Chermside's men had been steadily pushing forward trenches. On the
night of Monday, February 26th, it was determined that the former
should make an advance. The Canadians were to lead it, the Gordons
to be in support, and the Shropshires to move to the left to protect
the force from any attempt of the Boers to take them in flank. Two
companies of the Canadians led the advance. The moon had not yet risen,
and to keep their position each man grasped the sleeve of the man next
to him. The rear rank carried spades and had their rifles slung behind
them. The 7th Company of the Royal Engineers followed them carrying
sacks full of earth. The distance to be traversed was eight hundred

Never did men undertake more nervous work, for at any moment they might
be swept by a storm of bullets such as had smitten the Highlanders at
Magersfontein. Not a sound was heard until they were within fifty yards
of the Boer trenches, and then the front rank struck against a wire on
which empty meat-cans were stretched. A rifle-shot was fired as the
clang rose, and the Canadians at once threw themselves on their faces.
Scarcely had they done so when a roar of fire from a line six hundred
yards long broke out. To move forward was impossible; the moon was
on the point of rising, and its light would enable the Boers to pick
them off unerringly. Accordingly the companies out on the plain were
ordered to fall back in very open order, and this was effected with a
comparatively small number of casualties.


The Canadians, however, now felt the benefit of the sacks of earth
carried by the Engineers with them. These sacks were thrown down the
instant the first shot was fired, and behind these the two companies of
Canadians and the Engineers lay in comparative shelter. This protection
was soon increased by the work of the men with shovels, and before day
broke they were firmly established, and from their position were able
to open a flanking fire upon the greater portion of the Boer trenches
on that side. The other companies of the Canadians had similarly
entrenched themselves a short distance farther back, and all felt
that the end of the ten days' investment was close at hand. The Boers
also saw that to continue the struggle would result in their entire
destruction, and at six in the morning a white flag was raised and
Cronje himself rode out. He was met by General Pretyman and conducted
by him to the head-quarters camp, where he met Lord Roberts, who shook
hands with him. Cronje then said that he had come in to surrender.
The general replied that the surrender must be unconditional. Cronje
felt that in the desperate position in which he was placed he could
not stand out for any conditions, but merely asked that his wife,
grandson, secretary, and adjutant should, with his servants, be allowed
to accompany him. This was granted, and he and those with him were the
same afternoon sent down with the other prisoners, about four thousand
in number, under a strong escort to the railway, by which they were
taken down to Cape Town.

Only a hundred and fifty wounded were found in the camp, and, taking
the usual proportion of killed and wounded, only some thirty or forty
could have fallen victims to the tremendous bombardment to which
they had been exposed for ten days, including those who fell during
the attack on the 18th. The aspect of the prisoners was miserable
to the last degree as, pallid, unwashed, unkempt, and ragged, they
staggered up from the holes in which they had been lying, worn out by
the terrible strain, sickened by the horrible odours that speedily
drove back the soldiers who entered the camp, and must have been
well-nigh insupportable even to nostrils accustomed to insanitary
surroundings. Some were sullen and downcast, but among the majority the
predominant feeling was evidently one of satisfaction at the end of
their sufferings, and the fact that, as far as they were concerned, the
fighting was over.

The scene in the camp was indeed terrible. Carcasses of dead animals
lay everywhere, the greater part, owing to the heat of the sun, being
in a state of decomposition. Waggons overturned, and sometimes smashed
to pieces by the explosion of our shells, showed the destruction modern
artillery can effect against material of all kinds, though it is
comparatively harmless against troops when not in solid formation.

If the Boer prisoners had expected--as would assuredly have been the
case had they been the victors--that the vanquished would be received
with exultation and triumphant jeers, they were agreeably surprised.
They had been brought up in the belief that the British soldier was
at once contemptible as a fighter and full of every evil quality.
They had already learned that he could fight; now they learned that
he was a generous enemy, and that his imagined hatred of the Boer had
no existence whatever. The patient endurance with which the besieged
had supported the tremendous fire to which they had been subjected,
had filled the soldiers with admiration and pity for men forced by the
iron will of their commander to maintain a resistance when there was no
possibility of escape, and they crowded round the captives, offering
them little kindnesses, helping the feeble, giving them tobacco and
other little comforts from their own scanty stores, carrying the
children, and assisting the women. There was no sign of exultation.
They were justly proud of the success they had gained, but no show of
this feeling was visible. As much honour was due to the British soldier
for his bearing at the moment of victory as for the desperate courage
and steadfast endurance he had displayed in trying to achieve it.

Yorke Harberton had been kept at work almost night and day from the
time he reached Jacobsdal, carrying orders to the different columns and
bringing back news of their position and progress. He would alternately
ride his own horse and that which Mr. Chambers had given him, and
when these required rest would use animals captured when Jacobsdal
was taken. Although the excitement had kept him up, he was completely
worn out when he arrived at head-quarters at Paardeberg. The other
aides-de-camp were in a similar position, and Lord Roberts with his
usual kindness told them that they must for a day or two consider
themselves relieved from further duty, and that their work would be
carried on by officers drawn from the cavalry. In spite of the thunder
of the guns Yorke slept for nearly eighteen hours without waking, then,
after a hearty meal, he rode round the line of investment, in order to
ascertain the exact position of the various regiments and brigades, in
case he should have to carry orders to them. But although after two
days' rest he returned to duty, there was little for him to do, as the
position remained unchanged until the final advance of Smith-Dorrien's

The joy of the troops at the capture of Cronje and his host--who
had left Magersfontein six thousand strong, and of whom only one
thousand who had slunk away to their farms retained their liberty--was
heightened by the fact that his surrender occurred on Majuba Day.
This feeling was especially strong among the Colonial troops, who had
hitherto been obliged to put up with the triumphant celebrations of
that event by the Boers. This feeling was still further heightened by
the receipt of the news that a day later Buller's army had relieved

Not until March 6th, a week after the surrender, was there any
movement. This pause had been absolutely necessary to rest the horses
of the cavalry, which had been half starved as well as terribly
overworked. Accustomed to be fed at regular hours, these were unable to
eke out the scanty rations served to them by cropping the dried-up and
scanty grass on the veldt, and even at the end of the week were still
scarcely fit for service. Thus no effort could be made to disperse the
large force consisting of local levies, commandos from Colesberg and
other places south of the Orange River, and those that had hurried up
from Natal, now all commanded by De Wet.

But in the meantime reinforcements had arrived--the Guards from
Klip Drift, the Australians and the Burmese Mounted Infantry, a
detachment of horse from Ceylon, the Imperial Yeomanry, and the City
Imperial Volunteers, who had distinguished themselves in the attack
on Jacobsdal, and were for all purposes of such warfare the equals
of any of the line regiments. Indeed, the South African troops, the
contingents from our colonies, and the volunteer companies which came
out attached to the various line regiments, shattered to atoms the
long-cherished belief of military men that civilians would be of no
real service in warfare. In point of bravery, readiness to submit to
discipline, and of cheerful endurance of fatigue and hardship, they
proved themselves equal to their comrades of the regular army, and
showed that enemies of Britain must not, in making an estimate of her
strength, omit from consideration the militia and volunteers, the
mounted corps that would spring into existence, and the aid of her
great colonies in case of need.

The position taken up by De Wet was a very strong one. In its centre
was a farmhouse called Poplars Grove. On both flanks rose hills
connected by scattered kopjes. Guns were placed on all the hills, and
along the front ran trenches, rifle-pits, and barbed wire; and a direct
attack would probably have proved at least as costly as Magersfontein.
But Lord Roberts possessed what Lord Methuen had not--three brigades
of mounted men and a strong force of horse-artillery. He had a number
of guns greatly superior in weight of metal to those of the enemy, and
an army of over thirty thousand men. But even with such a force he was
not a man to throw away a single life unnecessarily, and therefore
determined to turn the Boers' position. The cavalry were sent off
before morning broke on March 7th to make a wide sweep, and come down
upon the Boer line of retreat. Tucker's Division were to follow and
support them. Kelly-Kenny was to push straight along the southern bank
of the river, but he was not intended to attack until the cavalry and
Tucker were in their appointed places. The Highland Brigade were on the
north side of the river with the Naval Brigade, and these were to make
a turning movement.

Had the plan been carried out as intended, the whole of the Boer force
would probably have been annihilated and captured, and the war might
have come to an abrupt end, for both Kruger and Steyn were with De Wet,
and with the capture of the two originators of the war, all further
resistance might have ceased at once. But for once in his brilliant
career French failed. Thus, instead of sweeping quite clear of the Boer
line, he ran against the extreme left of their position. Daylight broke
before the cavalry were perceived, and the instant the Boer leaders saw
that they were in danger of being outflanked, and their retreat cut
off, they abandoned the position they had so laboriously fortified and
retired hastily. But there was still ample time for the cavalry to have
overtaken the guns and waggons, even if they could not have caught the
flying horsemen. They allowed themselves, however, to be held in check
by a handful of skirmishers, some fifty in number, who first held a
farmhouse, and when, driven from this, kept up a stinging fire from a
low kopje, until, knowing that the guns and waggons were out of reach,
and that the two presidents must have escaped, they retired.

Thus, for an hour this great body of cavalry and mounted men suffered
themselves to be detained on their all-important journey by half a
company of infantry. Such was not the method by which French had
relieved Kimberley. Then he had disregarded the rifle and artillery
fire of a vastly larger body of men, and had galloped straight on. His
mission was to the full as important now, and yet he allowed himself to
be detained for a precious hour, by which time the finest opportunity
of the whole war was lost. General Roberts remarked when he heard of
the utter failure of his plans, "In war you cannot expect everything
to come out right. General French can afford to lose one leaf from his
laurel wreath." Tucker's infantry had never fired a shot, and De Wet's
little band had inflicted some fifty casualties among our cavalry.

Had a portion of the mounted infantry been sent forward on foot against
them as soon as they opened fire, the matter would have been over in
five minutes, and the loss would probably have been much smaller.
The Boers, unmolested in their retreat, speedily rallied and took up
a fresh position at Driefontein; and on the 9th, Lord Roberts again
advanced. As before, De Wet had chosen his position well. It was some
seven miles in length. The northern flank was protected by the river,
the southern by a steep hill extending back for a long distance. The
general's plan was the same as in the previous fight, namely, to
outflank the enemy and cut off their retreat. For this purpose Tucker's
Division, with a portion of the cavalry, were to make a wide circuit.
The river prevented any flanking movement being attempted on that side.

General French was in command. The left wing was composed of
Kelly-Kenny's Division, the 1st Cavalry Brigade, and a regiment of
Mounted Infantry. He was to keep in touch with the centre, and not to
push his attack home until Tucker had worked round to the rear of the
position. But movements in the dark are always uncertain, and French,
in endeavouring to keep touch with the centre, moved his men more
and more to the right, unknowing in the darkness that he was already
ahead of that body. Thus, when he approached the Boer position, he was
absolutely between it and the main body. Morning was breaking now, and
Kelly-Kenny learned from a Boer farmer, who had doubtless been ordered
by De Wet to give false information, that the hill in front had been
abandoned. Therefore, he advanced until a storm of fire showed that he
had been deceived.

The Welsh, who were the leading regiment, were staggered by the rain
of bullets, and the Buffs passed them. So heavy was the fire to which
they were exposed that every officer was hit, and, throwing themselves
down, the men joined the Welsh in returning the fire of their unseen
assailants. The men of the Essex regiment, who were next in order,
pushed on, supported by the Yorkshires, and these with a cheer surged
over the crest and fell upon its defenders, who were the Johannesburg
Police, considered the best corps in the Boer army. It was composed of
men of every nationality. They had been the terror and scourge of the
town where they were supposed to keep order, and were, for the most
part, unmitigated ruffians. They possessed, however, that fighting
instinct that was absent among the Boers, a readiness to stand an
attack, and they here suffered heavily for it.

The Essex men were among them with the bayonet, and drove them like
chaff before the wind, leaving a hundred dead behind them. The moment
the position was carried, the Boers quitted their whole line of
defences and fled hastily. In point of the number of casualties the
action was an insignificant one. Kelly-Kenny's Brigade had lost four
hundred in killed and wounded, but they alone had been engaged. The
turning movement had failed altogether, from some miscalculation in
distance. The attack had begun long before Tucker and the cavalry had
reached their appointed place, and, as before, the Boers were able to
draw off their waggons and guns. Nevertheless, the consequences were
of immense importance. The road to Bloemfontein was again open, and
the Boers had learned that, however strong their position, they could
not hope to oppose the British advance. From this time until the army
marched into Pretoria they never again attempted to make an enduring
stand, but abandoned one after the other, without an attempt to defend
them, the positions they had prepared, or rather had forced the Kaffirs
to prepare for them with immense labour.

There was no delay after this success; the army swept forward, and
on the 12th they were within striking distance of Bloemfontein. The
cavalry pushed forward to the railway south of the town and cut it,
while Major Hunter-Weston, with a handful of Mounted Infantry, started
to cut the lines to the north of the town. The feat was a bold and
difficult one. The night was extremely dark, but they succeeded
in finding the railway and in blowing up a culvert, and returning
in safety after having fought their way through a Boer force they
encountered. This action was of immense service, as it prevented the
escape of twenty-eight railway-engines, two hundred and fifty trucks,
and a thousand tons of coal, which were all standing in readiness to
start as soon as the British were seen advancing against the town. It
is not too much to say, that had these trains escaped, Lord Roberts
would have found it next to impossible to supply his army with

As the troops marched through Bloemfontein to the spot selected for
their encampment, a mile or two outside the town, they were received
with enthusiasm by the British portion of the population. Union-jacks
waved from the windows, caps were thrown up, and women sobbed in their
joy at their release from the long strain of nearly six months of
Boer insolence and oppression. The general was met by a deputation
headed by the mayor, the landdrost, and Mr. Fraser--the last-named
being a Scotchman who had long been settled there, and had adopted
the nationality of the Orange Free State. He had won the esteem of
the Dutch population as well as that of the British, and had been run
against Steyn for the presidentship. Had he succeeded, the Free State
would never have thrown in its lot with the Transvaal, and would have
been spared enormous sacrifices and financial ruin. He was thoroughly
loyal to the country of his birth, and was appointed by Lord Roberts
chief magistrate of Bloemfontein, while General Pretyman was named as
its governor.

It was evident to all that there must be a long pause before the army
could renew its advance. The single line of railway, by which alone
it must depend for getting up provisions and stores, was threatened
along its whole length from the Orange River by the Boers, and indeed
was at present almost completely in their hands. The bridges by which
it crossed the Orange River at Norval's Pont, on the branch to Port
Elizabeth, and at Bethulie on the branch to East London, were known to
have been blown up by De Wet when he was summoned to hasten to Cronje's
assistance. Even when these had been repaired, and the Boers driven
back from Springfontein and other points held by them, it was liable to
be interrupted at any moment by small parties of the enemy, who would
have the aid and shelter of farmhouses near the line.

The army was now cut off entirely from its base at De Aar, and it would
be necessary not only to pass up supplies sufficient for its daily
consumption, but to collect great magazines for its supply when it
started on its march north. It was necessary, too, to fill up the gaps
caused among the horses of the cavalry and the mules of the transport.
No fewer than ten thousand had died or become utterly unfit for service
during the month that had elapsed since the advance began from the
Modder River, and even of those that remained, few would be able for
some time to perform hard work. Considering the enormous difficulties
in the way, it is wonderful that six weeks sufficed to complete the
preparations for an advance.

Yorke's first step when the force arrived at Bloemfontein was to call
upon Mr. von Rensburg. The latter expressed great satisfaction at
seeing him again.

"I had every hope that you had got through safely, Mr. Harberton. For
if you had not done so, we should certainly have heard of it here.
Moreover, there came a story that three Boers had been strangely
overpowered, and left tied up in a stable by two others, aided by a
Kaffir. The two men had been recognized as spies by one of the party
assaulted. The incident was considered as an extraordinary one, as
taking place in the heart of a town occupied by the Boers, without any
alarm being given. So far as was known their assailants had escaped.
It was certain that the two spies had ridden quietly out of the town,
and had been accompanied by the Kaffir. A hundred men started in
pursuit along all the roads leading west, but without success. I felt
no doubt that you were the men engaged in the matter, and I heartily
congratulate you."

"It was entirely due to you that we succeeded; your getting us that
ride in the train down to Colesberg, and the permit were of the
greatest service to us, and we could hardly have crossed the river
without them. Even as it was, it was a close thing, and it was the
greatest piece of good fortune that we were able to get out of the town
after the affair you speak of."

He then related how Dirck Jansen and his companions had been overcome
and silenced.

"You Englishmen are quicker of thought and action than our people,"
von Rensburg said. "I am not astonished that in a sudden struggle like
that, when both parties were equally surprised, you had the advantage.
I shall be glad, if your duties permit, if you will take up your
quarters here. I have no doubt that the Dutch rule in this place is at
an end, and I shall be running no risk whatever in showing that I for
one am well content that it should be so. The behaviour of your men as
they marched through the town to-day was beyond all praise. They must
have had a terrible time of it, for they all looked worn and haggard,
and had evidently been doing desperately hard work on the smallest
amount of food."

"Yes, it has been hard work, and our loss in horses and baggage animals
has been enormous; still, we are all well satisfied. In a month from
starting we have relieved Kimberley, captured Cronje and some five
thousand of his men, driven De Wet out of two strong positions, and now
occupy this town."

"I do not think you will have much more hard fighting, Mr. Harberton.
The men who came in here yesterday, after being driven from the last
position, were completely disheartened. They said they had been told
that the Rooineks were cowards, but that there was no stopping them,
and that your soldiers marched through a storm of bullets as if these
had merely been hailstones."

As the Government House, of which Lord Roberts had taken possession,
was close to Mr. von Rensburg's, Yorke had no difficulty in obtaining
permission to stay there. The time passed pleasantly for him; he
had just enough work to do in riding out to the camps with orders,
and in questioning farmers who had come in to take advantage of the
proclamation, that all who gave up their arms and took the oath of
neutrality would be permitted to return to their farms and remain there
unmolested. He had his friends of the 9th Lancers, and was always
welcomed in the camps of the cavalry brigades. He was introduced by Mr.
von Rensburg to several of the leading Dutch families, and passed many
pleasant evenings among them. As the shops were still fairly supplied,
the head-quarter mess was now comparatively luxurious, and altogether
he was far less impatient than most of the other officers for the
advance to commence.

Preparations for it had begun some time before, when Tucker's Division
had captured Karee siding, some twenty miles north of the town; but
not without considerable loss, for, as upon previous occasions, the
infantry attacked before the cavalry had completed their turning
movement. But on the 3rd of May all was ready for the advance. The
troops were glad indeed, for while they were stationed at Bloemfontein,
a terrible foe had made its appearance among them. Enteric fever had
broken out, the hospitals were filled to overflowing with sick men, and
the accommodation was altogether insufficient to meet the emergency.
For this no one could be blamed. The medical staff that had accompanied
the movement from the Modder River was sufficient to cope with and care
for any amount of wounded that were likely to be thrown on to their
hands; but it was not capable of meeting such an emergency, even with
the assistance of the hospitals that had been furnished and sent out
by private subscription from home. All that could be done was done;
but the first necessity was to provide for the wants of the fighting
men, to accumulate the stores on which they would have to depend
during their advance; and although many Red Cross trains came up,
there was, for a considerable time, a grievous deficiency of hospital
accommodation and hospital necessaries, doctors, and nurses.

In one hospital, where there were five hundred beds, there were
seventeen hundred sick. Upwards of a thousand men died, but there were
some seven thousand cases, and those who recovered were so debilitated
by the effects of the disease that they were unfit for further service,
and had to be sent down to the Cape or Port Elizabeth, and then to
England. The seeds of this terrible scourge had been sown by the
polluted waters drunk at Paardeberg. By some grievous oversight the
War Office had neglected the advice of those who urged upon it the
necessity of sending out a special corps to attend to sanitary points.
Had this recommendation been attended to, the lives of some four
thousand or five thousand men, and of over twenty thousand sent home
incapacitated for work, would have been saved.

Gatacre's force were able after De Wet's departure to move up to the
Orange River, repairing the railway as they advanced. On arriving at
Bethulie Bridge, the general found that, although that magnificent
railway viaduct had been destroyed, the road bridge was still intact.
It was known, however, to be mined, and there was a strong Boer force
on the other side ready to blow it up the instant the British ventured
upon it. It was saved, however, by the daring action of Lieutenant
Popham, of the Derbyshire Regiment, and of Captain Grant, of the
Sappers. The former, with two men, crept along the bridge at night and
removed the detonators, took away the dynamite from under the farther
span, and carried it off under a heavy fire, opened by the Boers as
soon as they found that the mines were being tampered with. But there
still remained heavy charges in the piers, and although the Boers
could not explode these in the ordinary way, as they were commanded by
our rifle-fire, they might have effected it by directing a shell-fire
against them. Captain Grant, therefore, completed Popham's work by
going across, removing the charges, and dropping them into the river.
As the reconstruction of the railway-bridge was a work that would
occupy months rather than weeks, the preservation of the road-bridge
was a matter of vital importance. Gatacre's force marched across it
after the enemy had been shelled out from their position on the other
side, and advanced along the line of railway. The cavalry pushed
forward to Springfontein, and there met two battalions of Guards sent
down by train from Bloemfontein--and thus the whole line of railway was
in our possession.

Clements, advancing from Colesberg, had thrown a pontoon bridge
across the river close to the ruined Norval's Pont, and thus, when a
temporary deviation of the line had been effected, this branch of the
railway was also available. Farther to the east, General Brabant, with
a force of Colonial Volunteers, the Royal Scots, and three guns of
field-artillery, advanced to Dordrecht, won a victory there, and pushed
on so rapidly towards Aliwal, that he occupied the bridge there before
it could be blown up, and then proceeded to stamp out the rebellion
in that part of Cape Colony. To the east of the line of railway, from
Bethulie to Bloemfontein, strong bodies of the enemy continued to
wander about doing considerable damage. But Lord Roberts was not to be
tempted to move any considerable forces to suppress them. His great
object was to march to Pretoria, his great work to collect stores that
would enable him to do so, and to do this he contented himself with
holding fast to the line of railway. Rails were often removed and
culverts blown up, but a few hours' work always sufficed to repair the

Two serious reverses, however, happened. A cavalry force had been
threatened by a strong Boer commando at the water-works that supplied
Bloemfontein. They were twenty-four miles from the town. The Boers
opened fire with heavy guns from a hill that commanded the British
position. Colonel Broadwood, who was in command, could not, with a
force composed only of mounted men, attempt to storm the hill, and
as the guns of the two batteries of horse-artillery with him were
altogether inferior to those of the Boers, he decided to retire upon
Bloemfontein. He knew that a messenger he had sent the night before
to ask for reinforcements had arrived there, and he received a reply
that Colvile's Division would be sent out before daybreak to meet him.
Believing, therefore, that there was no danger in front, he remained at
the rear of the column, which had been shelled by the enemy.

The waggons were at the head of the retiring column, which, as it
crossed the plain, had to go through a deep donga. Here the Boers were
in hiding. Each waggon as it descended was silently seized. A Boer took
the place of the driver, and it ascended the opposite side without
any alarm being given. So the whole convoy would have fallen into the
hands of the hidden enemy had not one of the troopers with it drawn
his pistol and fired. A volley of shots rang out, and the brave fellow
paid for his courage with his life. The nine waggons which had not
reached the donga halted. The two batteries were close behind them,
and, knowing further concealment to be useless, the Boers sprang to
their feet and opened a terrible fire on them. Men and horses went down
in numbers. The confusion was terrible. The men struggled to get the
fallen horses out of the traces, but were mown down by the continuous
rain of bullets. The rearmost gun of the leading battery alone was able
to get off, and galloped furiously back. Two guns of the second battery
were overturned by the struggling horses and had to be abandoned. As
soon as the others reached a distance of seven or eight hundred yards
from the edge of the donga, they turned and opened fire.

Roberts's Horse had been abreast of the guns and suffered heavily also;
but they, the New Zealanders, and the Burmese Horse dismounted when
they had retired a sufficient distance, and, throwing themselves down,
returned the fire of the Boers. Parties of cavalry were sent off to
discover some other point at which the donga could be crossed, and one
was found two miles to the south by an officer of Rimington's Scouts,
and towards this the force moved off. The artillery nobly covered the
retreat. But they had suffered terribly. Two of the guns had but two
men left to work them, and another was loaded and fired by an officer
single-handed; and when at last the order came to fall back, but ten
men remained on their legs, and several of these were wounded. The
Colonial corps covered the withdrawal by turns, and in two hours the
rear of the column had crossed the donga. Some thirty officers and
three hundred men were killed, wounded, or missing. A hundred waggons,
with seven guns, were lost. Only one officer and the sergeant-major of
the leading battery escaped.

The other disaster, which was equally serious, occurred four days
later, when a detachment of five companies of infantry posted at
Reddersburg were surrounded on their march from an advanced position,
and took post on a kopje. For twenty-four hours they defended
themselves gallantly. But they were without water, the hoped-for relief
did not arrive, and they surrendered the next morning.



On the 20th of April, Yorke was sent for by Lord Roberts. "I suppose
you are almost tired of remaining quiet, Mr. Harberton," he said with a

"I shall certainly be glad when we are off, sir. But I am by no means
sorry for a rest after being on horseback for six months. But I am
perfectly ready to go anywhere if I can be of service."

"What do you say to a ride to Kimberley?"

"I am quite ready to go, sir; though I hope to be back with you when
you advance."

Lord Roberts shook his head. "I hope to be away before you get back. I
have some despatches for you to carry. The wires are so frequently cut
by the Boers that I cannot trust to them in a matter of importance.
They relate to an expedition that is being prepared for the relief
of Mafeking. Lord Methuen is confronted by so strong a force of
Boers--doubtless a portion of Cronje's force, which moved north with
the guns--that he cannot go forward. Colonel Plumer in the north has
not a sufficient force to fight his way in. Therefore profound secrecy
is necessary with regard to the route of a force with which Lord
Methuen and I hope to relieve the town. It is for this reason that I
dare not trust to the wire. You have done good service, Mr. Harberton,
and if you like I will attach you to the force, which will start in
ten days or so. And if all goes well, you will be at Mafeking, and
will have time to rejoin me, say at Johannesburg, before I advance on
Pretoria. I cannot expect my progress to be very rapid, for although I
do not anticipate any serious resistance on the part of the Boers, I
shall have to make halts to enable the supplies to come up. And as the
party you will go with will travel fast, I do not think that, if all
goes well, you will be many days behind me at Johannesburg."

"Thank you very much, sir! If I cannot be with you, I should above all
things like to be at the relief of Mafeking."

"The despatches will be ready for you this evening," the general said.
"You can start with them as early as you like. I hope that your usual
good luck will again attend you."

Yorke bowed and retired. He had no doubt that Lord Roberts would, as
before, turn the Boers out of their positions by flanking movements,
and that if a great battle were fought, it would be close to Pretoria,
and he felt delighted at the thought of being with an expedition which
the general evidently believed was likely to effect the relief of

That town had, since the day of the declaration of war by the Boers,
been a cause of no little anxiety. As time went on, and the garrison
continued to defend themselves heroically, the feeling at home
heightened, until every scrap of news that came through was regarded
with as much interest as the more important operations of the army.

Mafeking was a small town, and was chiefly known in Britain as the
place from which the Jameson raid had started. It was the nearest point
of the western railway to Pretoria, and was within a few miles of the
Transvaal frontier. Unlike Kimberley, it contained no garrison of
regular troops, the force consisting only of three hundred and forty
men of the Protectorate Regiment, one hundred and seventy Police, and
two hundred Volunteers. But fortunately, early in July, the military
authorities at Cape Town had appointed Colonel Baden-Powell to organize
a force of irregulars, both for the purpose of preventing any native
rising in case of war, and as far as possible to defend the eastern
border. The difficulty of such a task, owing to the extreme length of
the frontier, had been recognized at once; and a better man could not
have been chosen for the task. Baden-Powell had, a year before, taken a
conspicuous part in the campaign against the Matabele; and before the
outbreak began, had organized the Protectorate Regiment; while, under
his orders, Colonel Plumer had raised a regiment in Rhodesia.

He saw that Mafeking was certain to be the first point of attack. It
was but a hundred and fifty miles from Pretoria, and was the route
through which the Boers would naturally pour into the colony, where the
population was largely Dutch. He had chosen as his chief of staff Major
Lord Edward Cecil, who arrived at the town on October 1, 1899, and set
to work to prepare the town for defence, with Captain Williams and
Captain Fitz-Clarence, Lord Charles Bentinck, and other officers.

The military authorities had sent up a certain amount of stores. These
were quite inadequate for the purpose, and Baden-Powell and Lord Cecil
took upon themselves the responsibility of ordering far larger supplies
to be forwarded. They might have failed in obtaining these had it not
been for the patriotism of Messrs. Weil & Co., one of the largest firms
in South Africa. These accepted the order, although quite aware that
the prices of all goods were advancing enormously, and furnished the
supplies asked for. And thus the store of provisions was accumulated
that enabled Mafeking to hold out for so many months.

But the requisitions for guns was not so promptly complied with. The
Africander government of Cape Colony, whose sympathies were wholly with
the Transvaal, pretended to doubt that there was any probability of
war, and refused to send up the guns, and when at the last moment half
a dozen small pieces of artillery were forwarded, they arrived too late
and were unable to enter the place.

On Baden-Powell's arrival he organized the town guard, consisting of
all white inhabitants capable of carrying guns, and even boys of from
fourteen to sixteen were formed into a cadet corps for orderly duty. An
armoured train was constructed and armed with a Maxim and Nordenfeldt,
and mines were laid in a circle round the town.

Already several large commandos of Boers had appeared on the frontier,
and whatever might be the opinion elsewhere, at Mafeking there was no
question whatever that these men were only waiting for the declaration
of war by Kruger to attack the town. On the day after the expiration
of the time named in Kruger's ultimatum the railway was torn up
forty miles south of the town, and an armoured train, bringing two
seven-pounders for Mafeking, was thrown off the rails, and an artillery
fire opened upon it. The officer who, with twenty men, was escorting
the train, defended himself valiantly for five hours, but was then
obliged to surrender. This was the first blood shed in the war.

The Boers had doubtless expected to enter the town with scarce any
resistance. They were five thousand in number, and knew from their
sympathizers in the place that, including the town guard, its defenders
amounted to only nine hundred men, with two seven-pounder guns and
six machine-guns. The difficulties of the besieged lay chiefly in the
fact that Mafeking, though but a small town, was scattered over a very
large area, and that the defences were naturally erected some distance
outside the circuit. These defences were planned by Colonel Vyvyan and
Major Panzera.

Two days after the declaration of war the Boers appeared before
Mafeking, and drove in the pickets round the town. The armoured train
and a squadron of the Protectorate Regiment went out and drove back
the Boers. Great numbers of the enemy hurried up and cut off the
party, but another squadron and a seven-pounder went out and opened
a passage into the town. The loss was about two killed and fourteen
wounded, while the Boers suffered much more heavily. Two days later
the Boers opened fire on the town with two twelve-pounder guns, and
in another four days Cronje sent in a messenger with the summons:
"Surrender to avoid bloodshed"; to which Powell replied, "When is
bloodshed going to begin?" Two or three days later the Boers brought up
a ninety-six-pounder, and the bombardment began in earnest.

On the 27th a sortie was made; one of the Boer trenches was carried,
the Boers were driven out with a loss of a hundred men, while we had
six killed and eleven wounded. About half the Boers who fell were
killed by the bayonet, and consequently this weapon was throughout the
siege regarded with a wholesome dread by the besiegers. There were
now, in addition to the ninety-six-pounder, five seven-pounders, one
ten-pounder, and two twelve-pounders playing on the town, and yet the
damage done was so slight that on the day after the sortie there was a
concert at the hotel, the officers all attending in fighting costume,
in readiness to rush out in case the Boers attacked.

Bomb-proof shelters were dug, everyone kept in good spirits, and
Baden-Powell sent out the cheerful message, "All well. Four hours'
bombardment; one dog killed." Another summons to surrender was answered
with the message, "Tell General Cronje that I will let him know when we
have had enough."

Two assaults were made, but they were both repulsed with loss, although
one of them was pushed with great energy against an old fort which was
the key to our position. It was held by Colonel Walford and men of the
South African Police. The attack was covered by the fire of four guns
and the ninety-six-pounder. The Boers fought well, and pushed up to
within three hundred yards of the little fort, but were repulsed with
heavy loss. We had two officers, Captain the Hon. D.H. Marshall and
Captain Pechell, among the six killed. Various skirmishes followed,
but the siege languished until, on the 18th of November, Cronje left
to take command of the force assembling to oppose the advance of Lord
Methuen. Commandant Snyman succeeded to his post.

Things went on quietly until a great sortie was made on 26th
December. The object was to attack a post called Game Tree Fort. The
storming-party was composed of eighty men and six officers. Captain
Vernon of the Protectorate Regiment was in command. Supported by
a considerable force and by guns playing on the enemy to distract
their attention, the storming-party dashed forward. Many fell as they
advanced, but they pushed forward till they reached the fort, which
was composed of sand-bags. These stood up like a wall, and no efforts
of the men sufficed to enable them to scale it, whereas from loopholes
left between the bags a murderous fire was maintained. Captains Vernon,
Sandford, and Paton were killed, Captain Fitz-Clarence wounded, and
Lieutenants Swinburne and Bridges alone escaped the deadly fire and led
back the survivors of the little storming-party. Twenty-one had fallen,
and four of those carried off were found to be mortally wounded.

After this there was a long period of inaction. The bombardment was
continued, Snyman, in spite of the protests of Baden-Powell, continuing
to throw shells into the nunnery and the women's laager, until the
colonel ordered a number of the Boer prisoners to be also confined
there. Occasionally a message was got through, and, carefully as the
provisions were doled out, the gallant commander at last informed
General Roberts that by the 20th of May the stock would absolutely come
to an end, and that he could not hold out beyond that date.

On 17th April, seeing that the force from Rhodesia under Colonel Plumer
was not sufficiently strong to fight its way through, and that the
expedition that had been sent there by way of Beira could hardly, in
spite of the tremendous exertions that were being made, be depended
upon to join Plumer in time, Lord Roberts ordered that a flying column
of mounted troops, under the command of Colonel Mahon of the 8th
Hussars, should start from Kimberley not later than the 4th of May.

Yorke, after leaving Lord Roberts, at once returned to his quarters and
told his host that he was going to Kimberley, and should probably not
return to Bloemfontein, but should rejoin the army on its way up the

"Are you going to take your man with you?"

"No, sir, I shall have to travel fast, and may have to ride for my
life. I shall take my best horse. If you will kindly allow me to leave
the other in your stable, my man can bring him on when the army moves."

"That I will gladly do, but you must let me lend you a better mount
than the one you are taking. I have two in my stable of which you
can take your choice. I think either of them is as good as any in
the state--or, I should say, in the colony, as, since your general's
proclamation, we are all British subjects."

"I could not think of accepting your kind offer, sir."

"But I insist upon it, Mr. Harberton. Indeed you will be doing me a
service, for since the war began I have had no use for my horses at
all, and they sadly want exercise. A month's hard work will be of real
benefit to the animal; and I should benefit too, for time was when I
did not mind how fiery a horse was, but now that I am getting on in
life I am not fond of having to fight with my mount."

"I am extremely obliged to you, sir; but I do not see how I shall be
able to send it back again to you."

"When you get to Johannesburg you can leave it with Mr. Chambers,
he and I will arrange how it is to be returned. In fact, as soon as
matters are settled down I shall certainly go there myself. Do not let
that trouble you in any way."

Yorke gratefully accepted the offer. Both of his own horses had felt
the hard work to which they had been subjected, that which Hans rode
more than his own; for the latter had been kept hard at work since
their arrival at Bloemfontein, and was certainly not fit to start on a
journey of many hundred miles. Both horses could, without difficulty,
go on at the rate the army was likely to advance, especially after
having another ten days' rest at Bloemfontein.

Hans and Peter were both disappointed when they heard that they were
not to accompany Yorke. But Hans himself, who throughout had taken
great care of the horses, admitted that these were not fit to start
on so long a journey. Accordingly the next morning at daybreak Yorke
started alone on the horse that had been lent to him. The distance
between Bloemfontein and Kimberley was somewhat under a hundred miles,
and this was traversed in two days, Yorke riding only forty miles the
first day, as he felt that it would not do to push the animal too hard
immediately after being so long without work. He did not hesitate to
complete the remaining part of the journey on the second day, as he
knew that the horse would have at least a week's rest before starting
again. It was a splendid animal, superior even to that which had been
killed at the time when he was taken prisoner on his way to Belmont,
and as it stretched out in a gallop under him he felt that he could
ride anywhere across country without fear of being overtaken by any
party of Boers he might meet.

On his arrival at Kimberley he handed his despatches to Colonel Mahon,
to whom he was instructed to deliver them if Lord Methuen was still at

"I have brought despatches for you, sir," he said as he entered that
officer's head-quarters. "Lord Roberts informed me that if, as he
supposed, Lord Methuen was still at Boshof, I was to hand them to you,
as they relate entirely to the force you are preparing. I have the
honour to be one of the commander-in-chief's extra aides-de-camp. My
name is Harberton."

"We have all heard of you, Mr. Harberton," the colonel said as he
opened the despatches. "Your journey to Kimberley, and your adventurous
escape from Pretoria, have made your name familiar to us all."

When he glanced through the despatches he said: "I am glad to see that
you are to accompany me till we get to Mafeking. Our arrangements are
going on most satisfactorily, and I have no doubt that we shall be
in a position to start on the day named. Now, you must be famishing
after your ride, though, I suppose, as an old hand, you did not leave
Bloemfontein without some provision for the journey. I will tell my
orderly to put your horse up at once. Dinner will be ready downstairs
in half an hour; they always keep a table for me and my officers."

The dinner at the hotel bore few signs of the long siege. Supplies had
been got up, and some of the principal inhabitants had returned, and
though at Bloemfontein things had been well managed and comfortable,
the style in which meals were served was very inferior to that which
had already been attained at Kimberley. Some ten or twelve officers
joined Colonel Mahon's party. No allusion whatever was made to the
intended expedition, which was kept a profound secret, as even at
Kimberley there were many Boer sympathizers, and it was all-important
that no rumour of the approaching departure of a large body of horse
should be known to them. It was to consist of the Imperial Light Horse,
which had arrived from Natal, the Kimberley mounted corps, the Diamond
Field Horse, a party of Imperial Yeomanry, and a detachment of the Cape
Police, a horse artillery battery with four guns and two machine-guns,
a hundred men of the Fusiliers to guard the waggons, fifty-two waggons
with ten mules each, and a number of spare horses to take the place of
any that might break down. The force amounted in all to twelve hundred
men. Not even to the officers who commanded the different corps was
their destination made known until the morning of the 4th of May, when
the force had ridden out from Kimberley.

Yorke had placed himself altogether under Colonel Mahon's orders,
and had looked after many of the details connected with the waggons
and provisions. The store of food carried was quite enough to last
fourteen days, this being the outside limit of the time that the march
was likely to occupy. Once off there was no delay. The mules and the
waggons did their work well, and the force moved round to the west
of the position of a large body of Boers, who were opposing Methuen's
advance by the line of railway, and on the 9th marched into Vryburg,
having done a hundred and twenty miles in five days. They halted here
for a day to rest the animals, and on the 11th they started again.
Hitherto not a shot had been fired. From this point they were watched
by the enemy, as their arrival at Vryburg had been at once notified
to the Boers, and at Koodoosrand a force was found posted in a strong
position in front of them.

Mahon, whose object was not to fight but to relieve Mafeking, moved off
to the westward; but here the country was found to be thickly covered
with bush, which greatly impeded the progress of the waggons, and
presently the enemy, leaving their position, threw themselves across
his path. There was a sharp but short encounter, and the Boers were
soon in flight. The casualties in killed and wounded on our side were
only thirty.

On the 15th the relieving column arrived at a village twenty miles
to the west of Mafeking, where, within an hour of their entry, they
were joined by Plumer's force, which had just been strengthened by the
arrival of four twelve-pounder guns of the Canadian artillery, and a
party of Queenslanders.

These troops had performed a marvellous march. On their arrival from
Canada and Queensland respectively they had been brought round by ship
to Beira, carried by train to the plateau of Rhodesia, from there in
vehicles a hundred miles to Buluwayo, then by train over four hundred
miles to Ootsi, and had then pushed on on foot for four days over
terribly bad roads at the rate of twenty-five miles a day, and had been
with Plumer only a few hours.

There was no fear now that they would fail to gain the success they
had striven for, as their united force was stronger than that with
which Snyman could oppose them. The Boer commander, however, would not
retire without one last effort, and he planted his force on a hill
which commanded the water supply; but after he had held his ground for
an hour, his guns were silenced, and he retired past Mafeking to the
trenches on the eastern side. Here, however, the Boers had no rest, for
Baden-Powell sallied out with his garrison, and Mahon's guns opened
upon them, so that ere long they withdrew and retreated eastward.

Mafeking was free at last! Only six days before, fearing doubtless that
relief would come ere long, and possibly hearing that a large cavalry
force was nearing Vryburg, the Boers made the most determined attempt
to capture Mafeking that had occurred during the siege. Early on the
morning of the 12th three hundred volunteers, under the command of
Eloff, a grandson of Kruger, crept up to the west of the besiegers'
line and reached the native quarters, to which they at once set fire.
The barracks of the Protectorate Regiment were held by Hore and some
twenty of his men. These, after a stout defence, were compelled to
surrender. Two other positions within the line were captured, and had
Snyman sent up his support at once, affairs might have ended badly;
but this failed to arrive. The telephone and telegraph wires called up
the defenders from all parts of the town. These gradually surrounded
the positions the Boers had taken, and prevented any reinforcements
from reaching them. Knowing that unless aided they must surrender in
time, Baden-Powell refused to allow the loss of life that must ensue
if the Boers were attacked, and contented himself with preventing them
from being reinforced, and at seven in the evening Eloff, finding his
position desperate, surrendered.

The defence of Mafeking ranks with that of Ladysmith in the
stubbornness of the resistance which it, an open town, made against a
powerful enemy, and is the more remarkable inasmuch as the garrison
consisted entirely of irregulars, with but two or three guns of the
smallest calibre, while the enemy had far more numerous and powerful
artillery. For six months the little garrison had maintained an
unflinching defence, during which time their spirits, and it may be
said their gaiety, never flagged under any privation, hardship, or work.

The service they rendered the country is beyond computation; for they
had detained throughout the early months of the siege five thousand
men, who would otherwise have been carrying fire and sword throughout
the Colony, and causing a general rising among the Dutch population,
who were only waiting for the fall of Mafeking and the arrival of their
friends to take up arms. Pressed as the garrison had been, they were
in better condition than the inhabitants of Ladysmith when that town
was relieved. The arrangements had all been admirable. Horse-flesh and
horse-soup had been served out regularly. Oats had largely entered
into the rations. A certain allowance of oat flour was served out,
and porridge was made from bran, by mixing the sifting of the husks
with water, letting this stand for twenty-four hours until it became
slightly sour, then boiling it for an hour and leaving it to cool. The
natives, who had an objection to the horse-flesh and horse-soup, were
in the latter days of the siege fed wholly on this porridge.

Mafeking was relieved on the 18th of May. On the 20th, Snyman had
informed the government at Pretoria that he had retired from before
Mafeking on the arrival of a superior force. Thence it was telegraphed
through Lorenço Marques to the Cape, thence flashed both to Lord
Roberts at Kroonstad, and home, and in a few hours the English-speaking
people throughout the whole of the British Empire joined in rejoicing
at the safety of the heroic garrison.

Yorke that evening received from Baden-Powell a despatch giving an
account of the incidents of the siege, and the capture of Commandant
Eloff and his party. With this, and the despatches of Colonels Mahon
and Plumer, he started at daybreak on the following morning. Uncertain
as to the position of Lord Roberts, he kept close to the line by which
the force had advanced, and on the afternoon of the fifth day rode into
Boshof. He had taken with him provisions for the journey, a bag of oats
for the horse, and a canvas bag of water. He was twice seen and chased
by small parties of Boers, but, thanks to the excellence of his horse,
he left them behind without difficulty. He travelled from daylight up
till eleven o'clock, halted during the heat of the day, and at four
started again and rode till dark, and by this means his horse was able
to carry him without great effort.

He found that Lord Methuen, with the greater part of his force, had on
the 12th moved forward, and that he had reached Hoopstad on the 17th.
Kroonstad had been occupied by Lord Roberts on the 12th, and the force
still at Boshof heard that a halt had been made there until the day
before Yorke himself arrived at Boshof. The commander-in-chief had
effected the passage of the Rhenoster River without fighting, the Boers
having abandoned the strong position they had prepared, owing to their
being threatened by the cavalry, who had crossed the river higher up.

After a rest of eighteen hours, Yorke started for Kroonstad. He
scarcely saw a person during his long ride. The advance of Methuen to
Hoopstad, and Roberts to Kroonstad, so alarmed the Boers that they
had for the most part abandoned their farms and trekked north. The
majority, however, of the men capable of bearing arms were with the
commandos, and a few women only remained in the farmhouses. On the
third day after leaving Boshof he arrived at Kroonstad. Here his work
was practically over, and he was not sorry for it; for, excellent as
his horse was, it was beginning to feel the terrible strain of the
journey, having accomplished over four hundred miles in nine days, a
performance that showed the strength and endurance of the horses of the
lofty plateau of the Free State and the Transvaal.


A strong force was stationed at Kroonstad, which was now the base of
the advancing army. Going at once to Lord Methuen, who had arrived
there from Hoopstad two days before, Yorke obtained an order from him
for carriage for himself and horse in a train that would start at
midnight. He spent an hour relating to the general the adventures he
had passed through since he had last seen him on the Modder.

"You must be well mounted indeed to have got down from Mafeking in nine
days, Mr. Harberton. Of course, you might have done it in a great deal
shorter time had you ridden direct from Mafeking here, though I quite
understand that, knowing nothing of the commander-in-chief's movements,
you could not well have attempted that, for you would have had to pass
through a country we have not touched yet."

"Yes, sir, it would have been only about half the distance--probably, I
should say, even less than that."

"Yes, much less. We only reckon it to be a hundred and fifty miles from
here to Mafeking in a direct line. But, of course, carrying despatches
you could not have risked that, especially as you would have had to
cross the Vaal, and you may be sure that every drift on that river will
be strongly guarded."

"I don't think I should have come much quicker, sir. For, according
to my map, the country is a great deal rougher than that through
which I have travelled; and as the Boers have not been disturbed, I
dared not have ridden by day, and could hardly have found my way by
night; and there was no road marked, leading south-east from Mafeking,
which is about the line that I must have followed. I knew, too, that
Lord Roberts would have heard the news of the relief of Mafeking via
Pretoria. Had it been otherwise, I should have risked the attempt,
knowing the intense anxiety throughout the army and at home as to the
safety of the garrison. As I was only carrying the details, two or
three days' difference did not seem to me to be of importance. Had I
travelled by that line, I could only have hoped to succeed by coming
in disguise. I knew that Lord Roberts hoped to move from Bloemfontein
two days after I left him, but there might have been fresh misfortunes
like that at Sanna's Post. The line might have been cut in several
places, and he might have been so delayed that he would not have been
at Kroonstad by the time I arrived there. May I ask how far the general
has got?"

"He crossed the Vaal to-day and bivouacked at Vereeniging. Generals
French and Hutton, I believe, have moved on to Rietfontein, and General
Ian Hamilton to Rietkuil."

"Then he has crossed the Vaal without opposition, sir?"

"Yes, the cavalry outflanked the enemy. False news had been spread
as to the drifts by which they would cross, and the route they took
completely surprised the Boers, who had all cleared off before the main
army reached the river."

At twelve o'clock, Yorke took his place with his horse on a cattle
truck, and the next day came up to the head-quarters, which had that
morning arrived at the Klip River Station, little over ten miles from
Johannesburg. There he delivered his despatches to Lord Roberts, who,
on hearing the route he had followed, complimented him warmly upon the
rapidity with which he had made his journey.

"We have only heard the bare fact that Mafeking has been relieved. Were
they at their last gasp?"

"It did not look like it, sir. I do not know what stores they had
remaining, but I heard that they were pretty nearly out of everything
except oats and horse-flesh. The men certainly looked somewhat thin and
worn, but by all accounts they had kept up their spirits wonderfully,
and confidently relied upon succour arriving by the time we named."

"Did Mahon succeed in capturing any considerable force?"

"No, sir. There was a fight outside the town, but our guns were too
strong for them, and they fell back to their entrenchments on the other
side of the town. Colonel Baden-Powell attacked them there, but I think
they only made a stand to get their big gun away. This they succeeded
in doing, and only one small gun was captured. If the horses had been
fresher, no doubt a heavy blow might have been dealt them, but they
had had a very heavy march. Certainly the four Canadian guns could not
have pursued them with any chance of coming up with them, especially as
they had abandoned their waggons and stores; and Colonel Baden-Powell
believes that they sent off the big gun the day before, and only fought
their battle with us to give it time to get a long way on the road."

"It is a sort of conjuring trick," Lord Roberts said, with a smile.
"Heigh-ho, presto! and the gun is gone. We have out-manoeuvred them
many times, but never once have we caught one of their big guns. Such
cannon until the present war have been considered as simply guns of
position and wholly out of the question in military operations in the
field. I am sure I am much obliged to you for the zeal and activity
that you have displayed, and shall have pleasure in mentioning your
name most favourably in my despatches."

On leaving the general's tent, Yorke, to his great satisfaction, saw
Hans standing near. "I saw you ride in, master, and glad I was, for one
never knows what may happen."

"I am also glad to see you, Hans. I suppose Peter is here too?"

"Yes, sir, he is with the two horses; they are quite right again now. I
didn't ride either of them coming up, so that they should be as fit as
possible for work by the time you wanted them."

"I am glad to hear that, Hans, for this horse, good as it is, wants a
fortnight's rest after the tremendously hard work it has done since I
left you."



The difficulties of the advance were now past, the country was almost
level beyond the drift station, and in the distance was a low line of
hills on which tall chimneys could be made out, the chimneys of the
mines, which had brought such wealth, not only to those who worked
them, but to the Transvaal, and which, owing to the greed and avarice
of Kruger and his associates, had finally brought ruin upon the
country. So far the resistance of the Boers had been feeble in the
extreme. From one point after another, carefully prepared in every way,
they had retreated with scarce a show of resistance, and although they
might nerve themselves to fight one battle in defence of their capital,
it was certain that Johannesburg, a far more important town, would fall
into the hands of the invaders without an effort.

Many of the Free State men had left the retreating forces of the
Transvaal and remained in their own country. Although they had, through
the malign influence of Steyn, thrown in their lot with their northern
kindred, there had from the first been no real heartiness between the
two sections, the Free State men declaring that they were sacrificed
by the Transvaalers, that the whole brunt of the war had fallen upon
them, that they were not consulted, and were treated rather as if
they had been born servants of the Transvaalers than as men who had
sacrificed everything for their sake. The Transvaal men, on the other
hand, accused the burghers of the Free State of being half-hearted
in the cause, of being backward in fighting, and not to be trusted,
accusations which were certainly unfounded. The one desperate attempt
for the capture of Ladysmith, had been made by the Free State men,
who had fought with greater courage and determination than the
Transvaalers had ever done.

Their country had been made the theatre of war. It was their railways
that had been destroyed, their property damaged, their farms burnt.
They had been placed along the Modder to bear the brunt of the British
fire, while the Transvaalers had been posted in a comparatively safe
position on the British flank. They a civilized people, had been lorded
over by one inferior to their foes in all respects except physical
strength. It was small wonder that, seeing how all the assurances that
they had received had been falsified, all their hopes disappointed, all
their feelings outraged, they should have refused to go north to aid in
the defence of the country, which had done so little to aid them. The
wonder rather is, that they did not retire altogether from the contest
and accept the inevitable, when further resistance could but bring ruin
upon them.

Advancing from the Klip River on the 29th, General Ian Hamilton found
the enemy in considerable force with guns on a range of hills to the
west. The position being too strong for cavalry to attack alone, two
brigades of infantry were sent to their assistance; and the Gordons
and the City Imperial Volunteers with the greatest gallantry stormed
the heights. The fighting of the Boers here showed how great was
their demoralization, there was no such resistance as that offered
by the men who held the kopjes of Belmont and Graspan. The Gordons
had nearly a hundred casualties, but this was caused to some extent
by their advancing in open order in line without a pause; while the
City Imperial Volunteers, who were exposed to an equally heavy fire,
advanced by rushes, the companies in the rear keeping up a heavy fire
against the Boers on the sky-line, and so shaking the accuracy of their

Had the Gordons used similar tactics they would probably have suffered
much less than they did. While this action was going on on their left
flank, Henry with the mounted infantry moved straight upon Germiston,
a point at which the lines from Natal and Johannesburg joined the main
line to Pretoria. This junction lay among the great mounds of mine
refuse; these were occupied by the Boers, and there was some sharp
fighting, but the enemy were soon driven off in gallant fashion by the
dismounted men. The feat was a daring one, as it was impossible to say
how large a body of the enemy had been lying among the tips. The way
being thus cleared, the main force advanced to Germiston.

The next day the 7th Division, with a brigade of cavalry and
the mounted infantry, were established on the heights north of
Johannesburg. Ian Hamilton's column was at Florida, three miles west
of the town. French and Hutton lay between the two forces. During the
day Dr. Krause, who had been left in temporary charge of Johannesburg,
came out to the head-quarter camp and agreed to surrender the town
on the following morning. Early on the 31st the formal surrender was
made, and Lord Roberts entered the town at noon with two divisions.
The Union-jack was hoisted with the same ceremony as had accompanied
its unfurling at Bloemfontein. Lord Roberts remained there but a short
time, and then rode out to the suburb of Orange Grove, three miles to
the north of the town, which was left in charge of Wavell's Brigade,
while Mackenzie of the Seaforth Highlanders was appointed military

Lord Roberts had now a serious decision to make. The departure of the
main army to the north had emboldened the Boers of the Orange Free
State to undertake operations at several points against the line of
communications. The speed at which the army had advanced had rendered
it impossible for stores sufficient for their needs to be pushed up
along the single line of railway, and at the utmost only a day's
consumption for the army could be brought up in twenty-four hours. The
army was therefore literally living from hand to mouth, and the blowing
up of a single important culvert or small bridge that would even for
one day arrest the transit of trains would have had the most serious
consequences. Lord Roberts had therefore to decide whether to content
himself for a short time with the capture of Johannesburg, until the
safety of his communications was assured, and a supply for a further
advance accumulated, or to push forward at once to Pretoria.

He chose the latter alternative. Delay would enable the Boers to
recover from the demoralization which the complete failure of all
their elaborate plans for checking the advance had brought about, to
clear Pretoria of its stores, and above all to carry off the British
prisoners, some four thousand in number, with them. The latter was a
very serious consideration, as the possession of so large a number of
prisoners might have been used by the Boers as a lever to extort more
favourable terms than they could otherwise have looked for.

Yorke had ridden in with Lord Roberts's staff. As soon as the cheering
that greeted the hoisting of the British flag had ceased, and the
general was moving on, Yorke's eyes, as he looked round over the crowd,
fell upon a group of familiar faces, and turning he rode up to them.

"You do not recognize me, Mr. Chambers?" he said, as he dismounted.

"Why, it is Harberton," the latter exclaimed. "No, we none of us
recognized you, though we looked very narrowly at the mounted officers
with the two divisions; but we did not think of seeing you on the
general's staff. Besides, your uniform makes all the difference; you
were a Dutch farmer, you know, when we saw you last. We are glad indeed
to see you, as glad, I think, as to see the dear old flag hoisted."

While he was speaking Yorke had shaken hands with him, his wife and
daughters. "Now, of course, you are coming to us," Mr. Chambers went on.

"I do not know what we are going to do at present, sir," Yorke replied;
"I do not even know whether we shall stay in the town to-night.
However, I will ask leave when the day's work is over, and I hope to
be able to join you this evening, by which time I shall know something
of what the movements are likely to be."

"And of course, you will bring your two men with you?"

"With pleasure, sir. If I manage to come, they will certainly be able
to do so."

"Then we may expect you anyhow this evening?"

"Certainly; I have no doubt at all about getting away."

Yorke remounted his horse and rode after the general. General Roberts's
quick eye had noticed him ride up to the party; he turned round when
Yorke rejoined the staff and motioned to him to come up to him.

"So you have found some friends, Harberton?"

"Yes, sir; they were Mr. Chambers and the family, the gentleman I was
able to render some service to when his house was attacked."

"And I suppose he wanted you to go home with him?"

"He did ask me, sir, but of course I said that it was out of the

"I am going out to Orange Grove," the general went on, "and it will
certainly be two or three days before we advance again. I don't know
that I can do without your services altogether, Harberton, for there
will be a good deal to be seen to, but I can certainly spare you now,
and as long as I stay here it will be sufficient if you come at nine
in the morning, and you will always be able to get away by five or six
o'clock in the evening."

"Thank you very much indeed, sir."

And Yorke rode back to the square. His friends were just taking their
place in their carriage when he arrived, and were much pleased when
he told them what the general had said. "I will follow you at once,
Mr. Chambers, when I have found Hans; he and the Kaffir will be just
behind. There, I can see him now, with the other orderlies and spare

He rode at once to the party. Hans was riding one of the horses and
the Kaffir was leading the other. "This way, Hans. We are to stop at
Mr. Chambers's to-night; you know the way." The carriage had waited
till he returned, and he rode by its side out to Parfontein.

"I thought you were on General Pole-Carew's staff, Mr. Harberton?"

"So I was, sir; but when Lord Roberts arrived the day after my return
to camp, he took me as an extra aide-de-camp and interpreter, as
Pole-Carew's Brigade was not coming on at the time."

"We were very anxious about you; but we had a letter from von Rensburg,
telling' us cautiously that our friends had arrived there safely,
and had gone on by train to Colesberg. In a second letter, he said
that there had been a fray in that town, and from the description, he
believed that you and your men were concerned in it; but whoever it
was, they had got away. That was the last we heard."

"We did get off safely," Yorke said, "and made our way up to the
Modder, and then went on with the general. Of course we were at
Paardeberg and at the entry into Bloemfontein. Then I was sent up to
Mafeking with the relieving column, with whom I entered the town. I
started again that night with despatches, giving particulars as to
the siege and our march. As you may imagine I did not let the grass
grow under my feet, as I was most anxious to rejoin the army before
it arrived here. It was a close thing, for I only overtook it at Klip
River Station three days ago. You have had no more trouble here, I
hope, sir?"

"None at all; we have not heard of the matter since. Not only were
the three fellows here sent away, but we gave such information that
those who got away in the carts were arrested in the course of the day
and all five were together sent down to Portuguese territory, so that
the mouths of all who knew anything of the gold here were effectually

"I am very glad to hear that, sir. I have all along feared that the
men who escaped might have got together another band and renewed the

"They would not have caught us napping again, for I arranged, as I told
you I should do, for three of the engineers to sleep in the house. I
had intended to move into the town; but when I found that all those
fellows had been sent away, I had no longer any anxiety."

"Do you think there will be any more fighting before we get to
Pretoria, sir?"

"There may be some fighting, but nothing serious. The Boers who came
through the town in their retreat were perfectly disheartened; they
abused their commanders, declared that they had been grossly deceived,
and that it was of no use trying to stop the Rooineks, for that they
would not attack them in the positions they had fortified, but went
round at the sides, and they were obliged to retreat at once to save
their guns and waggons."

By this time they arrived at the house.

"That is not the horse you rode when you were here," Mr. Chambers
remarked as they alighted.

"No, sir; Mr. von Rensburg, when I started for Kimberley on my way to
Mafeking, insisted on lending me this horse, as both of my own were
worn out by the work they had had. It is a splendid animal, and has
carried me nobly, as you may imagine when I tell you that, after a
very rapid march from Kimberley to Mafeking, I started early the next
morning and rode down to Boshof and then up to Kroonstad, a distance of
over four hundred miles, in less than nine days. He said that I was to
ask you to take care of it until there was an opportunity of sending it
down to Bloemfontein, or until he came up here, which he was going to
do as soon as the roads were open."

"That I will do willingly. I dare say I shall hear from him now that
the line is open again, and it will be possible to send letters."

They now sat down to lunch, and after the meal Yorke gave the details
of his journey down, and of the struggle in the yard of the inn at

"That was a fortunate escape indeed," Mr. Chambers said, "and
wonderfully well managed."

"I can't think how you do such things," Mrs. Chambers remarked. "You
do not look more than eighteen, and yet you seem to be as cool and as
quick in deciding what is best to be done as if you had been employed
in dangerous work for many years."

"I don't think age makes much difference, Mrs. Chambers," Yorke
laughed. "The games that one plays at school make one quick. A fellow
sends down a ball at your wicket, and while it is on its way, which is
not much above a second, you have to decide what to do with it, whether
you will block it, or drive it, or cut it to leg. It is the same with
football, and at boxing or single-stick you have to guard a blow and
return it before, as one would imagine, you had time to think. In fact,
you don't know yourself that you think. I should say that a fellow is
quicker and cooler when he leaves school or college than he can be
years afterwards, when he has altogether got out of the way of using
his wits in a hurry."

After talking for an hour Yorke walked up with Mr. Chambers to the

"I hope we shall be getting to work soon," the latter said.

"I am afraid it will be some time before you do," Yorke replied. "The
country is still in a very disturbed state all down the line, and one
may almost say, as far as Cape Town; and I am afraid that it will be a
long time before the Boers accept their defeat as final, and that they
will carry on a partisan war for many months. It will be impossible to
guard every foot of line for nearly a thousand miles, and it will be
constantly cut. As they are all mounted, there will be no overtaking
the raiding parties with infantry, and we have nothing like enough
cavalry to police such an enormous extent of country. It will take a
long time, I should think many months, before we shall be able on the
single line of railway to do more than feed the troops, and until all
resistance is crushed out it does not seem to me to be possible for the
fugitives to return."

"Well, we must wait as patiently as may be. I am glad to see, by
the news that we have received through Lorenço Marques, that our
shareholders in England have neither lost heart nor patience, and that
the fall in the value of stocks and mines has been much smaller than
might have been expected. I own that I have had great fears of late
that the Boers would, when they saw matters going against them, smash
up the machinery and blow up the mines as far as they could. There
was great danger of it at one time, and indeed yesterday I feared
the worst. The rabble of the town, encouraged by Judge Koch, seemed
bent upon violence; Botha and his troops had retired, and there was
no authority whatever to keep order. Dr. Krause did all he could, and
when a mob, composed almost entirely of the lowest class of Irish and
Germans, went out to the Robinson mine the prospect looked desperate.
But Mr. Tucker, the manager, showed great tact and firmness; and he was
well backed by Krause, who pointed out to the mob that if the British
troops when they entered to-day found that the mines had been damaged,
they would probably have the whole of the lower portion of the town
burned, and every man who could not prove that he had taken no part in
the affair, shot; and therefore, as there was everything to lose and
nothing to gain by the destruction of the mines, it would be nothing
short of madness for them to commit so useless a piece of mischief.

"Happily he succeeded, and the mob returned to the town, and there is
nothing to prevent us from going to work again as soon as we can get
hands. Of course the mine has been somewhat damaged by our picking out
all the richest deposits during the last month's working; but as I have
no doubt I shall be able to get a few hands, as many men have remained
here, to drive headings and open new ground, I do not suppose that
there will be any falling off in our output when we once set to work in

That evening, after the ladies had retired, Mr. Chambers said: "Now,
as to yourself, Yorke. From what you said, I fancy you do not think of
remaining in the army after this affair is over?"

"No, sir. Owing to the death vacancies, I am now senior second
lieutenant of the 9th Lancers, and might get my step any day. But the
pay even of a first lieutenant will go but a very short way towards
the expenses of a subaltern in a crack cavalry regiment, and even if I
changed into the infantry, I could still hardly make ends meet. I came
out here, as I frankly told you, in order to make money. My father's
income as a clergyman will die with him; and above all things I am
anxious to be able to assure the future of my mother and sisters."

"That you can do at present," Mr. Chambers said quietly.

Yorke looked at him in surprise.

"You do not suppose," the director went on, "that such services as
you rendered to the company, and to myself and family, are to be
passed over as if they had never occurred. I have taken all possible
precautions to ensure the safety of the treasure, but I do not say
that they would have sufficed had those twelve men had possession of
the house for forty-eight hours. When they found that they could not
bale out the water, they would naturally have supposed that it was fed
from the cistern, or the pipe from the mine. They would have found out
the latter, and by turning on the kitchen tap could have emptied the
former; then they could have baled out the water and got at the top of
the safe. They would have had trouble with it, but among desperadoes
of that kind, and especially in a mining district, there would be sure
to be several who would understand the use of dynamite; at any rate,
sooner or later they would have blown it open and got at the gold.

"I have written a letter to the directors at home, saying that you have
saved two hundred and fifty thousand pounds worth of gold in an attack
made upon the house by a band of ruffians, with the connivance of my
three male servants, who were cognizant of the existence of the store.
I have recommended that at least five per cent of the sum thus saved to
the shareholders shall be voted to you, a recommendation which I have
no doubt whatever will be granted; especially as the very existence of
this money is still unknown to them, as I have not ventured to say a
word in my letters concerning it, because all of them were liable to be
opened by the Boer authorities. I should say that if they are at all
liberally inclined they will vote you a larger percentage; but at five
per cent the sum would amount to twelve thousand five hundred pounds,
which will, you see, enable you to ensure the future of those dear to

Yorke was silent with astonishment for half a minute, and then said
earnestly: "It is too much, sir; it would be out of all reason. I had
no thought of doing more than saving yourself and the ladies from those
ruffians, and no thought of reward ever entered my head."

"That may be, Mr. Harberton, but that is no reason whatever against
your accepting the money that you have fairly earned. It is not what
you feel about it, but what the shareholders and I--as I am a very
considerable shareholder myself--feel in the matter. There will be
nearly two hundred and forty thousand pounds to divide between us--a
sum wholly unexpected by them, and saved for them by you. It is a
matter of only the barest justice, and I am sure they will feel as
I do. I have, of course, written a full account of the affair--how,
although an escaped prisoner and in danger every moment of detection,
you went out of your way on hearing of this plot to hasten here;
how you in the first place overpowered and disarmed my treacherous
servants, and then warned me; how you and your two men killed no fewer
than ten out of the twelve men who attacked us; and how without your
interposition the ruffians would unquestionably have killed me, my
wife, and daughters before ransacking the place for the treasure--a
matter, by the way, that would have been a considerable inconvenience,
to put it in no stronger form, to the company, as they would have found
it difficult to replace me by anyone having at once so intimate a
knowledge of the mine and so large an interest in its success.

"And now we come to my personal interest in the matter. I wish to make
you an offer. I have no son, nor have I a nephew nor any near relative
who could stand to me in the place of one. I propose, therefore, that
you shall be trained up to take my place, so to speak, to act here as
my assistant, to learn the business thoroughly, for which you would
have ample opportunities, as I am inspector of several other mines,
in which I have also interests. When matters have quite settled
down, which may not be for another year or so, you can act as my
_locum-tenens_, for I shall certainly go to England with my family for
two or three years. I may return again for a year or so, and shall then
finally retire. By that time you will be fully competent to fill my
place here as managing director, and I shall transfer enough shares in
the company to you to qualify you for the post.

"This is no new idea on my part. I have for some months past been
thinking over returning to settle in England, but I have seen no way
of doing so without seriously inconveniencing the company. I now see a
way by which it can be managed. I have spoken of my plans to my wife,
and she most cordially approves of them, and it now only awaits your
decision. I may say that I hold twenty thousand shares in the company,
and that I consider that as managing director you ought to hold at
least five thousand, and that number I shall transfer to your name. I
am perfectly confident that you will do full justice to my choice of
you as my successor here, and you will not be long in acquiring the
necessary knowledge. I shall regard you as an adopted son if you will
allow me to do so, and I can answer that my wife and daughters will
gladly accept you in that position. I may tell you that you will not be
entirely cut off from your family, as you will be able to take three
months' holiday every year if you like to do so, which will give you
over six weeks at home, and perhaps you may bring one of your sisters
out with you to keep house until you marry. What do you say to this?"

"I don't know what to say, sir; your kindness is so great I hardly feel
that I can take advantage of it."

"My dear lad, place yourself in my position for a moment. Imagine that
there had been a plot to kill your father and mother and two sisters,
and that that plot failed by the interposition of a stranger. What
would you have felt towards that man? Is there anything that you would
not do for him? And if you had been a rich man, as I am, would you not
have felt that the gift of five thousand shares--which originally cost
me five shillings each, although they are now worth more than as many
pounds--would have been an inadequate expression of your gratitude?"

Yorke was silent, and after a moment's pause Mr. Chambers went on.

"You must think of us as well as of yourself. It will be a grievous
disappointment to us if you refuse. Even in a pecuniary sense, I
consider that my offer to you is an advantageous one to my family. My
stake in this mine and others is a very large one; every penny that
I have is invested in this way. At the present value of shares they
are worth over three hundred thousand pounds. It would be an enormous
advantage to have here a gentleman on the accuracy of whose reports
I could implicitly rely, and who would, which is not always the case
with managers of mines, frankly say if the prospects of any of them
were falling off or improving. It is my personal knowledge of the real
state of things that has enabled me to do so well--to get out of mines
whose prospects are not favourable, and buy into others, perhaps at
very low prices, likely to do really well when fully opened. I should
not, of course, wish to obtain reports other than those sent by you to
the boards of the various companies, but from what I personally know
of the mines I should be able to draw very valuable deductions from
those reports, and see the drift of them much better than men wholly in
ignorance of the workings to which they relate."

"You need say no more, Mr. Chambers," Yorke said; "I accept most
gratefully your splendid offer, and will endeavour to make myself
worthy of it. But I hope that you will allow me to attend to my present
duties until, at least, we have captured Pretoria. I could not in
honour go to Lord Roberts and say that on the eve of possibly a great
battle I desire to resign my commission. The war may continue in a
partisan struggle for months, or even for years; but with Pretoria once
taken it seems to me that there must be an end to fighting on a great
scale, and that I might therefore, without feeling that I could be
blamed for doing so, leave the army."

"By all means, Yorke; for, now that you have agreed to my proposal, I
can henceforth call you so. If it had been a matter even of months I
could have waited, but I believe that it is one of days only. There
may be a great battle, for, insignificant as has been the resistance
of the Boers to your advance, it is difficult to believe that, with
the example of what Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking have done, all
unprepared as they were, they can retire from a town that they have for
the past four or five years been fortifying."

"It is hard to believe that they could be so cowardly, sir, especially
as they would know that a lengthened resistance here would enable
the Burghers of both states to rally, and by cutting the line of
communications speedily reduce the besiegers to the greatest straits;
and indeed, even if they could only hold out for a week, the position
of the army would become extremely serious. One thing is certain, that
if they do not fight there they will never fight with any chance of
success again. They may cut off convoys, blow up culverts, and harass
us terribly, but it will no longer be a war, but merely the efforts of
bands of mounted bandits."

"Now we will join the ladies," Mr. Chambers said.

"My dear," he said when he entered the room, "you will be glad to hear
that Yorke has accepted our proposal."

"I am glad indeed," Mrs. Chambers said, shaking Yorke warmly by the
hand. "I began to think that we should never be able to get away from
here, and now I feel that there is a prospect some day of our doing so.
My husband would never have gone until he felt sure that he could leave
everything in the hands of one whom he could absolutely trust. Girls,
you will, I am sure, be glad to know that henceforth Mr. Harberton
will stand almost in the position of a brother to you. You have often
lamented that you had no brother; I don't think you could have had one
whom you could have liked better, certainly not one who could have done
more for you. And now, in another year, we shall be able to go home, as
you have always wished to do."

The girls both looked greatly pleased.

"I am glad Mr. Harberton," the elder said. "We both feel how much we
owe to you; and if you will let us, I am sure we shall both, as mother
says, come to look upon you as a brother."

"It is very kind of you to say so," Yorke said; "and as a beginning,
I hope you will in future call me by my Christian name. I hate being
called Mr. Harberton."

"It will be much pleasanter calling you Yorke," the girl said; "and, of
course, you must call us Dora and Mary. And it will be so nice, when we
go to England, to meet your father, and mother, and sisters. Of course,
we have many acquaintances there among father's business friends, but
it will be pleasant meeting people who can be real friends, and can
talk about something else than mines, and levels, and reserves, and

"I have a bit of news to tell you, Hans, which I think will please you
and Peter," Yorke said when, later in the evening, he went out to have
a talk with them.

"What is that, master?"

"I am going to stay out here, Hans! and to be assistant to Mr. Chambers
on the mine."

"That is good news indeed, Master Yorke. Then you are not going to be a
soldier any more?"

"Only till we get to Pretoria, then I am going to resign my commission
and come back here."

"And are you going to live in this house, master?"

"Yes, it has been arranged so, Hans; and that you shall take the place
of the man we tied up, that is, you will have charge of the stables;
and Peter will be there too, unless he makes up his mind to join his
tribe again."

"I shall not do that, baas, as long as you will keep me. Some day I
will go down and buy a wife, and build a little house near here. I have
been so long in towns that I do not want to be a wild fellow again, and
live in village kraals, and eat mealies, and have nothing to do but to
walk about and carry a gun on my shoulder. A stupid life that; much
rather live with baas."

The army remained but two days at Johannesburg, when, supplies having
arrived, on the 3d of June, an advance was made to Leeuwkop, a distance
of twelve miles. On the morning after the arrival at Johannesburg,
Major Weston, with two hundred Lancers, had started to endeavour to
damage the line of railway between Pretoria and Komati Poort, so as to
cut off the retreat of the Boers, but they came across a strong body of
the enemy, and were forced to retire, after having suffered nineteen
casualties. French, with a portion of the cavalry, started on the 2nd,
made a wide sweep round to the west of Pretoria, and after repulsing an
attack by a strong force, established himself to the north of the town.
On the 4th, the main army advanced. The Boers for a short time held the
river called Six Miles Spruit, but they were soon driven off. Some
guns opened to check the pursuit, but our batteries were brought up,
and speedily silenced them.

The Boers, however, menaced the flank as it advanced; and Ian
Hamilton's Division, which was marching to the left of the main
body, moved against them, and they fell back to Pretoria. As the
army approached the town, a heavy rifle-fire was for a time opened
from a ridge on which stood the great southern fort. But as the
latter remained silent, it was evident that its guns had been already
withdrawn, and that the opposing force was but a rear-guard posted to
check our advance while the town was evacuated. This and the field-guns
that supported it were soon driven off. Pole-Carew's Division, which
had now come up, swept over the slopes; the forts were found to be
abandoned, and the goal of the long march lay defenceless before them.
Here a halt was made for the night.

After dusk, an officer with a flag of truce was sent in from the
Mounted Infantry, who had taken up their post within a mile of the
town, to demand its surrender. No reply was given; but at ten in the
evening, the military secretary to Commandant-general Botha, with
another general, brought in a letter proposing an armistice. Lord
Roberts answered that surrender must be unconditional, and that an
answer must be sent in before five in the morning, as the troops had
been ordered to advance at daybreak. Before the time named, on the 5th
of June, Botha sent in to say that he was not prepared to defend the
place farther, and that he entrusted the women, children, and property
to our protection. The troops at once moved up close to the town, and
at three o'clock Lord Roberts arrived at the head of two divisions.

The British flag was hoisted, and the troops marched past. The general
established his head-quarters at the British Agency. The 15th Brigade
was told off to garrison the town, Major-general Maxwell being
appointed military governor. A hundred and fifty-eight officers and
over three thousand men were found in the prisons, but nine hundred
had been carried off by the Boers in their retreat. Orders were given
that these released prisoners should at once be reclothed and armed,
and sent down to form part of the force guarding the line of railway.

Mr. Kruger had fled before the arrival of the British army, and showed,
by leaving his wife behind him, as also did General Botha, that he had
no belief whatever in the atrocious calumnies the former had invented
regarding the conduct of our troops. Before leaving, Kruger carried off
the money in the banks, and the state treasure, and did not even pay
the officials the salaries due to them. After all his boasting, that if
the British ever entered Pretoria they would find him sitting in front
of his house, his despicable conduct when danger approached was only
what was to be expected from a man whose folly and ambition had brought
ruin on the people over whom he ruled, and who had trusted him only too



Although Pretoria was taken, Yorke felt that he could not as yet offer
his resignation. The position was still a serious one. Botha had
retreated but fifteen miles away, and had taken up an extremely strong
position, with fifteen thousand men under his command. The line of
railway ran through it, and from this he could obtain supplies from
his rear, and if need be, send off heavy guns and stores. The army
of General Roberts had dwindled as it advanced. Garrisons had had to
be left at the bridges and important stations. A brigade garrisoned
Johannesburg, and another Pretoria. The disease which had played such
havoc at Bloemfontein had accompanied the army, and had thinned its
ranks. He had but fifteen thousand men available for striking his blow,
and the cavalry horses were again almost unfit for service.

In the Orange River Colony De Wet had some eight thousand or ten
thousand mounted men under him, and was raiding the whole country,
capturing towns and threatening lines of railway. The bright side
of the picture was that Buller was now advancing, and might soon be
expected to clear out the Boers opposed to him, enter the Transvaal,
and relieve the pressure. On the 7th came the news that De Wet, with
two thousand men, had cut the line of railway and telegraph to the
north of Kroonstad. Fortunately, sufficient supplies had been found
in the town to enable the army to subsist for a few days. Had Botha
retreated to a greater distance, Lord Roberts would have waited, as he
had done at Bloemfontein, for remounts, reinforcements, and stores. But
with an enemy so strong, and able at any moment to take the offensive,
the general felt that measures must be taken without delay to drive
him away from the neighbourhood, and accordingly he went out with the
troops on the 10th, and next morning attacked the Boers.

The position held by the enemy was on a long range of hills that could
only be turned with extreme difficulty, and the cavalry were not in a
condition to execute so extensive a movement. French, with two brigades
and Hutton's Mounted Infantry, was to work round to the north-east
of the enemy's position. Two other cavalry brigades under Broadwood,
with Ian Hamilton's column, were to advance on the right. No attack
was to be made on the centre, as the position there was so extremely
strong that it would be impossible to carry it without great loss of
life. As it turned out, the Boers had posted but a small force there,
having determined upon adopting our tactics and falling upon both our
flanks while we were engaged in an attack on their centre. Both armies,
therefore, unknown to each other, massed a great force upon each flank.

The two cavalry columns first came into action with the enemy. French
found himself speedily met by so formidable a force, that he was unable
with the two thousand men under him to move forward. He was attacked
in front, rear, and flank. The country was altogether too broken for
the action of cavalry, and his men, therefore, fought dismounted and
in open order, and, aided by the three horse-artillery batteries, they
kept the enemy at a distance all day. Unable to advance, however,
French made no attempt to retreat, knowing that, unless he held fast,
the Boers would be able to throw their whole strength against the
other wing, which, as could be heard by the distant firing, was hotly
engaged. Night came on before the firing ceased, and the wearied
men slept where they lay, and, renewing the fight in the morning,
maintained their position all day.

On the other flank, Broadwood had been equally hotly engaged, and with
difficulty held his own, being hardly pressed by a heavy artillery fire
from front and left, while on his right rear a Boer commando attacked
him fiercely. This force was with difficulty kept back by the fire
of a battery of Royal Artillery, the same battery which had suffered
so heavily at Sanna's Post; but as these assailants retired, another
commando came up and pressed them hotly. These were charged in gallant
style by the 12th Lancers, who, though their horses were weak, fairly
rode over the mounted Boers and drove them to flight. The guns were
saved, but when, after the charge, the cavalry re-formed, they were
swept by a storm of bullets from the Boer marksmen. Lord Airlie, their
colonel, with two officers and seventeen men, were killed or wounded,
the former being shot through the heart.

Another threatened attack was repulsed by the Life Guards, and for a
time the force was exposed only to the fire of the enemy's artillery.
Hamilton's Infantry came up to the support of the brigade. As it was
now late, Lord Roberts determined to postpone the general attack until
the next morning. Although they had gained some ground, the day's
fighting had not been attended with much valuable result, except that
Lord Roberts had now thoroughly ascertained the nature of the Boer
position, and had determined upon the point against which the decisive
assault must be made the next day. This point was Diamond Hill. In the
morning the Guards Brigade with two Naval twelve-pounders reinforced
Hamilton, and its commander was ordered to move against Diamond Hill,
and then down towards the railway to threaten the line of retreat
should the Boers maintain themselves in other positions. Hamilton told
off one of the cavalry brigades, with an infantry battalion, to guard
his right rear, and the other brigade, with some mounted infantry, to
cover his right flank, while with the Sussex and Derbyshire regiments,
and the City Imperial Volunteers and the field-battery, he advanced
about midday against the Boer position.

He was met by a heavy fire on both flanks, and a continuous infantry
fire from the hill in front. The infantry moved steadily forward, with
the Guards Brigade in close support behind, and by two o'clock the
position was carried, the Boers falling back to a hill covering the
railway. After two hours' fighting, the infantry won their way to the
crest of the new position. Here they were exposed to a terrible fire,
and with difficulty maintained their position. The Boer guns pounded
their line, while a heavy rifle fire swept them with a storm of lead,
and there was nothing to be done but to lie still and return the fire
as best they could until aid came up. Meanwhile the artillerymen were
working with might and main to get the guns up the precipitous hill.
One battery at last succeeded, and although the men fell fast, the
guns were unlimbered and opened fire upon the enemy's batteries. Not,
however, until two other batteries had been got up the hill and brought
into action did the combat become equal, and as the afternoon wore on,
the accuracy with which our shrapnel burst began to keep down the Boer

General Roberts decided that it was too late to undertake further
offensive movements over unknown ground, and made his disposition for
a final advance on the following morning. When day dawned, however,
it was found that the enemy had withdrawn. The cavalry set out in
pursuit, without much hope of success, as their wearied horses were
scarce able to carry the weight of their riders and equipments. A
hundred West Australians, however, better mounted perhaps than the
rest of the cavalry, and more lightly equipped, followed the enemy up
for twenty-five miles, and gained a kopje near which the Boers were
retreating. As long as their ammunition lasted they kept up a constant
fire, killing a number of men and horses. It was singular that this
punishment was inflicted upon the Boers at the very spot where they had
treacherously surprised and massacred a British regiment on the march
nineteen years before.

On the day after the victory the army marched back to Pretoria,
having freed itself from the danger of immediate attack. The railway
communications were now restored. Lord Methuen, on the 11th of June,
attacked and defeated the commando of De Wet, and the garrisons along
the line were materially strengthened. Buller, while the engagement at
Diamond Hill had been going on, had, by some severe fighting, defeated
the Boers posted on a strong position at Aliwal's Nek, and the same
evening established his head-quarters at Joubert's farm, four miles
north of Volksrust, the border town of the Transvaal.

Yorke had been busily engaged during the two days' battle, and had had
several narrow escapes from the enemy's shot. Twice, before the guns
were brought to the crest, he had made his way up the hill on foot
to ascertain how matters were going there. A ball had passed through
his helmet, and another smashed his field-glasses. He was, however,
untouched, and when the day was over, he felt that he could now resign
his commission without any appearance of want of zeal. When, therefore,
General Roberts sent for him in the morning, after their return to
Pretoria, he determined to speak to him at once.

"I have called you, Mr. Harberton, to tell you that I have just heard
of another vacancy in your regiment, which will give you your step. I
congratulate you upon it heartily, and I only wish that it had been
from lieutenant to captain, in which case I should have pleasure in
warmly recommending you for a brevet majority."

"I am very much obliged to you, sir, and your kindness makes it all the
harder for me to say what is in my mind. I am desirous of resigning my
commission. I only accepted it for service during the war, and although
the war is not yet over, its end appears so near at hand that I feel
that my object in resigning my commission will not be misinterpreted.
You may remember, sir, that, when I had the honour of relating to you
the story of my escape from prison here, I mentioned to you that I had
been able to render some service to Mr. Chambers, the managing director
of the Parfontein mine. I saw him as I passed through Bloemfontein,
and he has been good enough to offer me a post as his assistant, which
is likely to lead to great advantages. He will himself be returning to
England with his family when things have quieted down, and is anxious
that I should go to him as soon as possible in order that he may give
me such instructions as will enable him to leave matters in my hands
while he is away. I had in no case thought of remaining in the army, as
I have no private means, and came out here to make my way in business.
I should certainly have preferred to stay on until the end of the
campaign, but the offer made me is so advantageous, that I am anxious
to avail myself of it."

"Quite right, Harberton," the general said. "You have already shown
that you possess all the qualifications required in an officer of
the army, but it might be a long time before you had again such
opportunities as those of which you have so brilliantly availed
yourself during this war. I think your decision is a very wise one.
You have done your share, and more than your share, in the events of
the war, and have very markedly distinguished yourself. It shows that
you have as much common sense as courage and quickness in making such
a decision. Many a young officer, if he had gained as much credit
as you, would have had his head turned, and refused even the most
dazzling offer, with the result that years afterwards, when living
in the dull monotony of a garrison town, he might bitterly regret
having thrown away so valuable a chance. Personally, I cannot accept
your resignation, but I can give you leave of absence until your name
appears in the _Gazette_; and I do so all the more willingly as it is
likely that we shall have a halt here for some weeks before we can
obtain remounts and reinforcements. In sending home my despatches,
which I shall do in the course of a day or two, I shall certainly
mention you as having performed exceptionally brilliant service. Should
you, while I am at Pretoria, have occasion to come here, I shall at all
times be glad to see you. I suppose your servant will also want his

"If you please, sir; he is still, I suppose, on the books of the Cape
Town Rifles. He was not transferred to the Lancers."

Again thanking Lord Roberts for his kindness, Yorke retired, and half
an hour later started with Hans and Peter for Johannesburg, where they
arrived that afternoon.

"Welcome back!" Mr. Chambers said as he came out on hearing them ride
up. "We have been thinking about you very anxiously since we heard that
there had been a two-days' battle and very hard fighting, and knew that
as an aide-de-camp you would be galloping about with orders in the very
thick of it."

"It was pretty tough work," Yorke said, "and, as you see, my helmet and
field-glasses have suffered, but I had not even a scratch."

"Thank God for that! Are you here on duty, or have you come for good?"

"I am here for good, sir. I sent in my resignation this morning, and
Lord Roberts has given me leave of absence until it appears in the
_Gazette_, which will of course be some time hence, as letters will
have to go and return, and they do not hurry things at Pall Mall."

"That is good news indeed. We shall all be delighted to have you here;
and you must look upon our home as your home now, you know."

On the following morning Yorke went into the town and ordered civilian
clothes for himself and Hans, and bought a suitable attire for Peter,
and on his return began work by descending the mine with Mr. Chambers.
He threw himself into the work with his usual energy, and during the
next two months paid a visit to every mine in the neighbourhood, Mr.
Chambers explaining to him the run of the lodes, the reason why every
level and heading was driven, the steps to be taken for extending
work and endeavouring to discover other lodes. Before descending, Mr.
Chambers showed him the plan of the workings, so that he could the
better understand them when he went below. When not so engaged he was
instructed in the nature of the books kept, and of the duties performed
by the various officials of the mines.

"You will understand, Yorke, that the question of driving levels and
carrying on the working is in the hands of the underground manager,
and is always discussed with me prior to any new steps being taken,
but this matter is not really difficult. It is only on locating fresh
lodes, determining their value, and how they had best be worked, that
geological knowledge is much required. The discovery is first made by
men thoroughly acquainted with the country. After determining that
the nature of the ground is favourable, they sink a small shaft twenty
or thirty feet deep on the lode. The samples are taken to the assaye
office in the town, and the proportion of gold to a ton ascertained
there. The assaye value is always considerably larger than it will turn
out on actual working, as much fine gold is lost in stamping and other
processes, though the greatest care is exercised. Still, if the assaye
product is, say, three ounces to the ton, it may be safely calculated
that the actual working will yield at least two and a half ounces.
However, you will not have to deal with this question. You have a
well-established mine on a fine lode, and it would be difficult to make
any serious mistake."

In the meantime scarcely a day had passed without news of fighting in
the south, attended by varied fortune. De Wet, in spite of his rapid
movements, had not been able to seriously injure the railway, and had
several times been met and sharply repulsed; but, on the other hand,
Delarey had gained a success at Nitral's Nek, eighteen miles west of
Pretoria; and Grobler had cut up some cavalry to the north of the town,
while twenty miles away a body of troops of the 19th Brigade had been
very roughly used on the same day. On the 16th of July, Botha took
the offensive and endeavoured to carry the British positions round
Pretoria, but was repulsed with considerable loss. There had been a
good deal of fighting farther west, and also near Rustenburg. In August
the area of resistance became still more extensive and active, for Lord
Roberts was accumulating as large a force as possible at Pretoria to
clear the main Boer army off the railway leading to Delagoa Bay, and
the forces elsewhere were necessarily decreased.

One evening early in August, Yorke, after dinner, went out to the
harness-room as usual to have a talk with Hans, and smoke a pipe by the
bright fire that was always maintained there during the hard weather.

"There is something I have to tell you, Master Yorke," Hans said.
"Peter came back from the town ten minutes ago. He went in at two
o'clock, and I had begun to wonder what he was doing there so long. He
tells me that this afternoon he saw Dirck Jansen, and the two men who
were with him in that affair at Colesberg, in the street."

"He did, Hans? Then we must be on the look-out. Dirck can be here for
no good purpose; and I should not be surprised if he has come to carry
out his old grudge against me; though how he can tell that I am here is
more than I can imagine. Of course they were together?"

"No; they were not far apart, but as they passed each other they
neither spoke nor looked as if they were acquainted. They were not
dressed as usual. Peter says Dirck was got up like a town Dutchman, and
the other two like Uitlander workmen. I don't suppose we should have
recognized the two men, though I should know Dirck anywhere. But Peter,
like all the natives, never seems to forget a face he has once seen,
and he is positive about them."

"I wish he had come back and told me at once, Hans. I don't know what I
could have done, but I certainly should have had him arrested, because
he is a British subject and a rebel, and we are in a position to show
that he was actually in arms against us. He can have no protection
papers to show that he had permission to return to his farm, and he
would have great difficulty in explaining what he was doing here. At
any rate, I could have got him a term of imprisonment, though I do
not know that that would be much good; it would only add one more to
what he considers his grievances against me. As to the other two men,
I could do nothing; they are probably Orange River Colony men, and
being unarmed and conducting themselves peaceably, could scarcely be
arrested. Still, I wonder Peter did not come straight back. Bring him
in here, Hans; I should like to question him myself.

"Sit down, Peter, and go on with your pipe," Yorke said when the Kaffir
came in. "So you saw Jansen and the two men who were with him at
Colesberg in the streets this afternoon?"

"Yes, baas."

"And they were not together, and did not seem to notice each other?"

"That is just so, master."

"I wonder that you did not come and tell me at once."

"I knew you were out with Baas Chambers. You rode away just before I

"So I did, Peter; I forgot that. We did not get back till just before
dinner. I remember now that I rather wondered that Hans came and took
our horses instead of you."

"As I knew you were away," the Kaffir went on, "I said to myself: 'No
use going home. Better see what these fellows are here for; they are
bad men. Dirck Jansen hates Baas Yorke; must look after him.' I had no
fear they would know me, they only see me a little time; one Kaffir boy
just like another, they never give me a thought. I watch and watch.
Dirck went twice into a bar and had drinks; the others went in once,
but never together. At six o'clock they all went to railway-station; I
go there too. You know every evening one train runs to Pretoria. They
all take tickets and get in, but not sit together. If I had had money
in my pocket I would have gone too; but you know I never carry money,
so that if I smell spirit, and want to break my promise, I can't do it.
So, as I could not go with them, I thought it best to come here and
tell you about it, then you can settle what is best thing to do. It not
safe for you, baas, now this fellow about. Peter remembers his face
when he saw you in that yard. He hates you, and would kill you whenever
he had the chance."

"That is certainly so, Peter. No doubt they have gone to Pretoria to
find me. They may have found out, from questioning men who have been
taken prisoners, that I was on General Roberts's staff. Soldiers might
not know me, but officers would know my name, and Dirck is crafty
enough to get the information he requires. I must think over what had
best be done."

He sat for four or five minutes looking into the fire.

"It is clear," he said at last, "that I cannot sit quiet and let him
hunt me down. He would have no difficulty about finding me. He would
only have to go up to a staff-officer and say simply that he was an
old acquaintance of mine and wished to see me, and he would be told at
once that I had left the army and was here with Mr. Chambers; then he
would only have to wait to get a shot at me. This time he would choose
a hiding-place so close to the road that he could not miss me. We must
hunt him down while he is tracking me, and the sooner we set about it
the better. We must ride over, Hans, there is only that one train that
takes passengers."

"I will start to-night, baas," Peter said. "Only thirty miles. I will
sleep till twelve o'clock and shall be there by seven. What time you
get there?"

"I shall set out directly after breakfast, say, at nine o'clock, and,
riding fast, shall reach Pretoria at twelve. I shall, of course, put up
at the hotel in which I stopped when I was with the army."

"I will be there, baas. Perhaps I find him before that. He sure to go
to street near generals, that is the place to meet officers."

"Very good, Peter; I think now that we can reckon on catching him
before he catches me. He does not know that he is being hunted; we know
that he is hunting us. That gives us a tremendous advantage. But we
must not be in too great a hurry; he is a deep fellow, and may be here
on some other business. If so, he will probably finish that before he
returns to Johannesburg. At any rate, we will watch him until we see
what his game is. You will have to do this principally, Peter, for, of
course, he knows both Hans and myself."

"I will watch him, baas. I will take my old clothes with me to-night,
so that I can change them when I like. He might notice me if he saw me
often near him in same clothes."

"That is a very good idea, Peter. Now, I don't know that I have any
further instructions to give you."

Joining Mr. Chambers, Yorke told him what had happened and what he
proposed to do.

"I think your plan a very good one. As you say, I have no doubt his
chief aim in coming here is to endeavour to find you out and kill
you. If that were his only object, I should say go straight to the
head of the police, who is, I suppose, the provost-marshal, and have
him arrested at once. But he may also be here to communicate with
disaffected inhabitants. The Boers may intend making another attack
upon Pretoria, and if they could arrange that at the same time there
should be a rising there, and perhaps houses fired in different places
so as to distract the attention of the garrison, it would certainly
have a greater chance of success. Therefore, by all means carry out
your plan. It would be best to say nothing about it to the ladies, it
would only alarm them, and they would worry all the time you are away.
I will say at breakfast that you are going to ride over to Pretoria on
business, and may remain there for some days. I will mention at the
same time that I am anxious to know when it is probable that we shall
be able to get a few of the miners up from the Cape or Natal, so as to
clear up and make preparations for a start. They will then suppose that
your visit to Pretoria is in connection with that."

This was carried out, and Yorke and Hans started early the next
morning, Mr. Chambers having arranged to have two of the engineers to
sleep in the house during their absence. Peter met them as they rode
into the yard of the hotel.

"Well, Peter, any news?"

"Yes, baas; at nine o'clock he came in front of the church. I did not
see him come, I was strolling about, but just at nine o'clock I caught
sight of him. He walked up and down. I say to myself, 'He waiting for
those other men.' But presently a man in the uniform of a Transvaal
artilleryman came along. He say something to Dirck, Dirck say one
word in reply, then follow him. They walk some distance; of course, I
follow; at last they go into small house half a mile from the place.
They stop there two hours, then Dirck came out alone. He looked very
satisfied. He walked half a mile, then met the other two men. They
talked very earnest, and all seem pleased, then they separated. Dirck
walked away again and went to another small house quarter of mile away,
and I come to meet baas."

"Very good, Peter; it is clear that Dirck has some other business in
view than that of seeking for me. I shall go and see the officer in
charge of the police arrangements at once. As I know him personally, I
can talk the matter over with him more comfortably than if it were a
merely official business."

On sending in his card to the provost-marshal Yorke was at once

"So you are back again at Pretoria, Mr. Harberton?" the officer said as
he entered. "Is it business or pleasure?"

"Business, and not of a pleasant nature. I should have come to you
later to lay the matter before you, and ask you to arrest a man who,
I believe, has come here for the purpose of taking my life; but this
morning I have made a discovery that seems to show that the object of
his visit here is of greater public interest than is my safety."

"Let me have the whole story, Mr. Harberton," the officer said; "there
is nothing like getting at the bottom of affairs."

Yorke gave a short sketch of his previous experience with Dirck Jansen,
and how his Kaffir boy had met him with the two men who had been
overpowered by him at Colesberg.

"That certainly looks as if he had come here with the intention of
avenging himself upon you, Mr. Harberton, and it was well indeed that
your man recognized him. What you have told me is amply sufficient for
me to order his immediate arrest as a notorious rebel."

"Yes, sir, and that is what I intended to ask you to do. But the case
seems to me entirely changed by what my Kaffir found out this morning,
and seems to show that he is here on a more serious business." And
he then told him all Peter had noticed; how he met, evidently by
appointment, an officer in the uniform of the Transvaal artillery, and
of their long conference together.

"That is indeed serious, Mr. Harberton," the officer said after taking
a note of Yorke's report. "Did the Kaffir say anything about the
personal appearance of this officer? A score of them are in the town on

Yorke repeated the account he had obtained from Peter of the man's
appearance, and the address of the house they went to.

"That settles it," the officer said. "The man is Lieutenant Hans
Cordua, a German. We are already watching him, and I am surprised
that I have not already a report of this interview. We have received
information from a man who is trusted by them that a plot is in
progress, the object of which is to get up a sudden rising in the town,
set fire to houses in various quarters, kidnap General Roberts in the
confusion, and murder all the officers as they issue from their houses.
We know that Botha has been in communication with him, and has been
asked to bring up a large force close to the town on the night when
the affair is to take place; and I have no doubt that this man, who is
evidently a fanatic, is here in reference to the arrangements. I am
only waiting until I hear that a definite date has been fixed upon, to
arrest Cordua and the other leaders of the affair.

"It is a desperate scheme, but might, had we not heard of it, have been
attended with some success. It has not advanced very far as yet--that
is, the leaders have not yet taken any steps to excite this rising.
They may consider that this could be done in a very few hours; there
are certainly three or four thousand men in the town who would be
likely to join heartily in such an enterprise. About half these are
Dutch, the others low-class Germans, Irish, and French. They are all
against us: in the first place, from an intense hatred of us; and in
the second place, because the stoppage of the mines, the cessation of
all trade, and the departure of all the employers of labour, together
with the dearth of provisions, have deprived them of the casual
employment upon which they subsisted.

"A few of them are working-men in the true sense of the term, and
certainly a good many were employed upon the railroads and in the
various railway yards. These men are ripe for anything in the way of
mischief, and if a whisper were passed round but a few hours before
the rising is to take place they would join to a man. Our discoveries
at present are a profound secret, though, of course, the military
commandant and the adjutant-general have been informed of them, and we
are to have a consultation at the commandant's this afternoon. The news
you have brought, that an emissary from without has arrived last night,
and has had an interview with Cordua to-day, will probably precipitate
matters, and I should not be surprised if Cordua and those concerned
are arrested this evening. It would be as well that your men should
continue their watch over this fellow Dirck Jansen, and I should be
glad if you will return here at six o'clock, as you may be required to
identify him."

"I would rather not appear in the matter personally if it can be
avoided, because, badly as he has turned out, he is, as I told you, a
nephew of my cousin's wife."

"I will take care that you shall not do so more than is absolutely
necessary. The evidence of your man, that he is a farmer from the
neighbourhood of Richmond, and notorious for his pro-Boer feelings, and
that he was with the rebels at Colesberg, would probably be sufficient,
corroborated, as it would be as to the latter portion, by your Kaffir,
who could also prove that he met Cordua by appointment, and went with
him to his house. He would probably not attempt to deny these points,
and would find it hard to give any explanation of his present visit
here. Of course, if he brought any document from Botha, we may find it
when Cordua's lodging is searched. If not, he probably will get off
with a few months' imprisonment as a notorious rebel."

"Very well, sir, I will call again at six o'clock."

Peter went on watch again, and just before Yorke was about to call on
the provost-marshal, met him with the news that Dirck had been hanging
about head-quarters, had addressed a staff officer who came out, and
that the latter had taken out a pocket-book, written a few words upon
a page, torn it out and given it to Dirck. When Peter left him he had
just entered a small German beer-shop a hundred yards away.

When Yorke entered the provost-marshal's room the latter said: "We are
going to make the arrest in half an hour's time, Mr. Harberton. We are
agreed that the crisis might at any moment come to a head, and that
although, now that we are forewarned, we could doubtless suppress the
rising, it could only be done at the cost of a good deal of bloodshed,
and the destruction of a vast amount of property by fire. Have you any
news from your boy?"

"Yes, sir, the Kaffir has been watching him all day. He has had no
communication with anyone, except that he accosted a staff officer, and
the latter wrote a few words on a piece of paper and gave it him. That,
I have no question, was my address, and bears out my idea that he came
here with the twofold object of arranging about this plot, and the time
when it was to be carried out, and to satisfy his desire for vengeance
upon myself."

"Well, we will put a stop to both these matters this evening. I will
send six men with an officer to seize him at this café, if he remains
there. At the same time, the parties will start to arrest the others;
they have been watched all day, and we know where to lay hands upon
them. The arrests must be made simultaneously, for the others would fly
at once if they heard that any one of their fellow conspirators had
been taken prisoner. As you do not wish to appear in the affair, your
man had better accompany the party to this café, if he is still there,
to point him out to the soldiers."

"Thank you, sir! I sent my Kaffir boy back to the beer-shop, and Hans
has gone with him; he will at once bring me news here if he comes out.
But I should hardly think that he will be likely to do so--unless, of
course, he has an appointment with Cordua later--as, when a Boer sits
down to drink, he generally makes an evening of it. However, I will go
down now and bring Hans here to lead the party of soldiers."

Half an hour later several parties of soldiers, each accompanied by an
officer, started from the police station. Hans joined the one that was
to arrest Dirck, Yorke followed at a short distance. Hans entered the
beer saloon with the officer, and, pointing to Dirck, said, "That is
the man, sir."

"I arrest you, Dirck Jansen," the officer said, "on the charge of
being a rebel, who has borne arms against our troops, and of now being
concerned in a conspiracy to effect a rising in this town."

Dirck leaped to his feet with a fierce oath; but the officer, warned of
the desperate character of the man, had given orders to the soldiers
who accompanied him, and two rifles were levelled at him. With another
curse Dirck said, "I surrender."

"There is a pistol in the fellow's jacket," the officer said. "Just
search his pockets, sergeant."

The latter did so, as Dirck remained silent and sullen, and a loaded
revolver was produced from his pocket. "Now, put the prisoner in the
centre of the squad, sergeant; he is to be marched to the prison at

As they came along past the spot where Yorke was standing, some forty
yards away, Dirck recognized him by the light of a shop window close
by. He uttered a hoarse shout of rage, snatched a knife that was hidden
in his trousers-belt, burst through the soldiers, and rushed at Yorke.
The latter was unarmed, but he stood still, bracing himself to meet the
attack. Dirck was within six feet of him when three shots rang out. The
officer had used his revolver, and two of the men their rifles. All
three bullets took effect, and Dirck fell dead at Yorke's feet.

"That was a narrow escape," the officer said. "I am sorry we had to
shoot him, for we might have got some information from him. However, it
will save trouble. Bring him along, men; his clothes will all have to
be carefully searched."

The body was taken in the first place to the provost-marshal's office
and there searched, but nothing was found upon him save a small piece
of paper, on which, as Yorke had suspected, were only the words, "Mr.
Harberton, with Mr. Chambers, Parfontein Mine."

"Now you can go back and sleep in peace, Mr. Harberton," the
provost-marshal said. "He nearly had his revenge at the last moment,
for Mr. Williams reported to me that he was within a couple of yards of
you, and that, had he and the soldiers not fired, your life would have
been sacrificed."

"It might have been, sir, but I fancy I could have caught his wrist.
As I told you, I have got the better of him twice, and I think I might
have managed him a third time; but it is just as well not to have had
to try it. Anyhow, I am heartily glad he has met his end, for I felt I
should always be in danger as long as he lived, as he was not a man who
would ever forgive what he considered an injury."

The following morning Yorke returned to Johannesburg.

"What! back so soon, Yorke?" Mr. Chambers said as he entered the house.

"Yes, the business is finished. There was a plot to carry off Lord
Roberts, fire the town, and kill all the officers. Dirck was mixed up
in it. He was arrested, and, seeing me, tried to kill me, but the
guard from whom he broke away shot him just in time, so there is no
more trouble to be feared from him. The other heads of the conspiracy
were arrested in the evening, so I hope all danger of that sort is at
an end."

At last all was ready for the general advance. Lord Kitchener had
been almost ubiquitous for the past three months, and wherever the
situation was grave he was certain to make his appearance, and by his
masterly arrangements set matters straight. The work of chasing De Wet
and Delarey had been steadily maintained, and although by swift and
constant turnings they had evaded their pursuers, they had at least
been prevented from seriously interfering with the railway, and keeping
reinforcements of men, and remounts for the cavalry, and stores, from
arriving at Johannesburg. Buller had been advancing steadily north,
fighting almost incessantly, and was reinforced by Lord Roberts, who
held a conference with him at Belfast, and communicated to him his plan
for combined action.

The country to be traversed was difficult in the extreme, and the
Boer position almost as strong as it had been before Ladysmith. The
fighting began on the 26th of August. Some ground was gained, and on
the following morning Buller launched his infantry against the strong
ridge held by the enemy. Pole-Carew attacked the centre, and French,
with two cavalry brigades, the left. The Boers for a time defended
themselves well, and the colonel of the Rifles, with eight other
officers and seventy men, were killed or wounded, but on the following
day the enemy were retreating all along the line. French pushed on with
his cavalry to Watervalonder, and was there joined by eighteen hundred
British prisoners, which number included the nine hundred carried off
from Pretoria, the rest having been captured in the many fights that
had taken place since.

On September 3d Lord Roberts sent Ian Hamilton to turn the position
of the Boers facing Buller. Strong as it was it was captured with
comparatively little loss. A week later Kruger fled to Lorenço
Marques, forsaking the country he had ruined and the people he had
deceived, caring only to cling to his ill-gotten treasures. Already
Lord Roberts had issued the proclamation of annexation. On September
24th Pole-Carew with the Guards marched into Komati Poort.

From this moment the war as a war was over; fighting continued for
months, but it was guerrilla warfare. Botha still held a force
together, De Wet and Delarey still carried out dashing raids; and
although early in December Lord Roberts returned home, and Kitchener
became commander-in-chief, matters were still unsettled. The efforts
of our infantry to come up with the mobile Boers, who were always able
to obtain remounts from the farmers, were altogether useless. The
cavalry were too few to restrain the operations of a foe who could move
rapidly from place to place over many square miles, strike a blow,
and disappear, and twenty thousand more mounted men, besides other
reinforcements, were sent out from England in the spring of 1901.

Before these troops arrived De Wet, after the incursion into Cape
Colony in hopes of getting the Boers to rise, was beaten again and
again, and escaped with the greatest difficulty back into the Orange
River Colony. This put an end to the guerrilla fighting on a large

"It may be months before we can get fairly to work again," Mr. Chambers
said one morning early in December, "and I am resolved, therefore, to
go home with my wife and the girls. I shall stay there with them only
until leave is given for the mining population to return. Then I shall
leave them in England and come back--at any rate, until everything is
again in thorough working order."

He had in November received news that the directors had granted Yorke
the five per cent commission that he had recommended, and that the
general meeting of shareholders had unanimously confirmed their action.
Yorke had written home to his parents, and had received an answer
saying how delighted they were to hear that he was done with the
fighting. He had now the pleasure of sending his father an order to
receive seven thousand pounds of his money lying in the hands of the
company, and requesting him to invest it in the name of his mother.
In January he had a visitor, for to his surprise one day Mr. Allnutt
walked in. He was dressed in deep mourning.

"Why, uncle, who would have thought of seeing you! This is a pleasure."

"Well, I got your letter a fortnight ago, saying that you were a sort
of _locum-tenens_ here, and I determined to run up and see you before
I went back to England. Your aunt died suddenly a month before. The
utter disappointment of her hopes broke her down altogether, and she
had aged ten years in appearance. She had learned of the death of Dirck
from two men who went from here with him. They said that he was shot
in the streets of Pretoria, where he had gone, it seems, to take part
in that abominable plot. Two days later she was found dead in her bed.
She had altered her will after that affair between you and Dirck, and
had appointed another cousin, a very decent fellow, her heir. He had
been in grave disfavour on account of his loyalist opinions, but she
had come to see that he was right; and at any rate, I am very pleased
that he has come into the place instead of Dirck. He has made a very
satisfactory arrangement with me, and with the income I shall draw from
the farm, and my savings, I can live very comfortably in England. Of
course now, from what you told me in your last letter, you would have
no idea of settling down as a farmer."

"No, indeed, uncle. I have a splendid position here before me, and I
hope that, by the time I am thirty, I too may return and settle in

Mr. Chambers came back in September, and mining operations were soon
in full swing. "Dora," he said to Yorke, "is going to be married at
Christmas to an officer who went home in the same ship with us. My wife
and Mary are coming back two or three months later; I shall get you to
go down to Durban to meet them."

"Why, I thought they were going to stay in England?"

"Well, they have changed their minds. They both were in favour of
coming back for a year or two, till I could go home for good. Mary
was especially anxious to do so;" and he smiled quietly, and Yorke
coloured. Maybe, possibly, Mr. Chambers and his wife had talked the
matter over, and something may come of it some day.



"Wherever English is spoken one imagines that Mr. Henty's name is
known. One cannot enter a schoolroom or look at a boy's bookshelf
without seeing half-a-dozen of his familiar volumes. Mr. Henty is no
doubt the most successful writer for boys, and the one to whose new
volumes they look forward every Christmas with most pleasure."--_Review
of Reviews._




  Published by


  153 to 157 Fifth Avenue      New York


"His books have at once the solidity of history and the charm of
romance."--_Journal of Education._


 A Story of the Boer War. By G.A. Henty. With 12 Illustrations. $1.25

The Boer War gives Mr. Henty an unexcelled opportunity for a thrilling
story of present-day interest which the author could not fail to take
advantage of. Every boy reader will find this account of the adventures
of the young hero most exciting, and, at the same time, a wonderfully
accurate description of Lord Roberts's campaign to Pretoria. Boys have
found history in the dress Mr. Henty gives it anything but dull, and
the present book is no exception to the rule.


 A Story of the British Conquest of India. By G.A. Henty. Illustrated.
 12mo, $1.25 net.

One hundred years ago the rule of the British in India was only partly
established. The powerful Mahrattas were unsubdued, and with their
skill in intrigue, and great military power, they were exceedingly
dangerous. The story of "At the Point of the Bayonet" begins with the
attempt to conquer this powerful people. Harry Lindsay, an infant when
his father and mother were killed, was saved by his Mahratta ayah, who
carried him to her own people, and brought him up as a native. She
taught him as best she could, and, having told him his parentage, sent
him to Bombay to be educated. At sixteen he obtained a commission in
the English Army, and his knowledge of the Mahratta tongue combined
with his ability and bravery enabled him to render great service in the
Mahratta War, and carried him, through many frightful perils by land
and sea, to high rank.


 A Story of the First Afghan War. By G.A. Henty. With Illustrations.
 12mo. $1.25 net.

The greatest defeat ever experienced by the British Army was that in
the Mountain Passes of Afghanistan. Angus Cameron, the hero of this
book, having been captured by the friendly Afghans, was compelled to be
a witness of the calamity. His whole story is an intensely interesting
one, from his boyhood in Persia; his employment under the Government
at Herat; through the defense of that town against the Persians; to
Cabul, where he shared in all the events which ended in the awful march
through the Passes, from which but one man escaped. Angus is always at
the point of danger, and whether in battle or in hazardous expeditions
shows how much a brave youth, full of resources, can do, even with so
treacherous a foe. His dangers and adventures are thrilling, and his
escapes marvellous.


NEW VOLUMES FOR 1900-1901.

Mr. Henty, the most popular writer of Books of Adventure in England,
adds three new volumes to his list this fall--books that will delight
thousands of boys on this side who have become his ardent admirers.


 Or, A Born Leader. By G.A. Henty. With 10 Illustrations by W. Rainey
 12mo, $1.50.

The breaking out of the Boer War compelled Chris King, the hero of the
story, to flee with his mother from Johannesburg to the sea coast. They
were with many other Uitlanders, and all suffered much from the Boers.
Reaching a place of safety for their families, Chris and twenty of his
friends formed an independent company of scouts. In this service they
were with Gen. Yule at Glencoe, then in Ladysmith, then with Buller.
In each place they had many thrilling adventures. They were in great
battles, and in lonely fights on the Veldt; were taken prisoners and
escaped; and they rendered most valuable service to the English forces.
The story is a most interesting picture of the War in South Africa.


 A Story of the Liberation of Italy. By G.A. Henty. With 8
 Illustrations by W. Rainey, R.I. 12mo, $1.50.

Garibaldi himself is the central figure of this brilliant story, and
the little-known history of the struggle for Italian freedom is told
here in the most thrilling way. From the time the hero, a young lad,
son of an English father and an Italian mother, joins Garibaldi's band
of 1,000 men in the first descent upon Sicily, which was garrisoned
by one of the large Neapolitan armies, until the end, when all those
armies are beaten, and the two Sicilys are conquered, we follow with
the keenest interest the exciting adventures of the lad in scouting, in
battle, and in freeing those in prison for liberty's sake.


 By G.A. Henty. 12mo, $1.50.

Desmond Kennedy is a young Irish lad who left Ireland to join the Irish
Brigade in the service of Louis XIV. of France. In Paris he incurred
the deadly hatred of a powerful courtier from whom he had rescued a
young girl who had been kidnapped, and his perils are of absorbing
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escaped in a most extraordinary manner. As aide-de-camp to the Duke of
Berwick he experienced thrilling adventures in Flanders. Transferred to
the Army in Spain, he was nearly assassinated, but escaped to return,
when peace was declared, to his native land, having received pardon and
having recovered his estates. The story is filled with adventure, and
the interest never abates.


"Surely Mr. Henty should understand boys' tastes better than any man
living."--_The Times._


 A Tale of the Thirty Years' War. With 12 Illustrations by Charles M.
 Sheldon, and 4 Plans. 12mo, $1.50.

The scene of this story is laid in France, during the time of
Richelieu, of Mazarin and Anne of Austria. The hero, Hector Campbell,
is the orphaned son of a Scotch officer in the French Army. How he
attracted the notice of Marshal Turenne and of the Prince of Conde, how
he rose to the rank of Colonel; how he finally had to leave France,
pursued by the deadly hatred of the Duc de Beaufort--all these and much
more the story tells with the most absorbing interest.


 The Story of the Revolt in La Vendée. With 8 Illustrations by Stanley
 L. Wood. 12mo, $1.50.

The revolt of La Vendée against the French Republic at the time of
the Revolution forms the groundwork of this absorbing story. Leigh
Stansfield, a young English lad, is drawn into the thickest of the
conflict. Forming a company of boys as scouts for the Vendéan Army, he
greatly aids the peasants. He rescues his sister from the guillotine,
and finally, after many thrilling experiences, when the cause of La
Vendée is lost, he escapes to England.


 Or, Through the Black Insurrection at Hayti. With 12 Illustrations by
 William Rainey. 12mo, $1.50.

This is one of the most brilliant of Mr. Henty's books. A story of
the sea, with all its life and action, it is also full of thrilling
adventures on land. So it holds the keenest interest until the end.
The scene is a new one to Mr. Henty's readers, being laid at the time
of the Great Revolt of the Blacks, by which Hayti became independent.
Toussaint l'Overture appears, and an admirable picture is given of him
and of his power.


 A Story of Napoleon's Invasion of Egypt. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by William Rainey, and 3 Plans. 12mo, $1.50.

The hero, having saved the life of the son of an Arab chief, is taken
into the tribe, has a part in the battle of the Pyramids and the revolt
at Cairo. He is an eye-witness of the famous naval battle of Aboukir,
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 A Tale of the Peninsular War. With 12 Illustrations by Wal Paget.
 12mo, $1.50.

The dashing hero of this book, Terence O'Connor, was the hero of Mr.
Henty's previous book, "With Moore at Corunna," to which this is really
a sequel. He is still at the head of the "Minho" Portuguese regiment.
Being detached on independent and guerilla duty with his regiment, he
renders invaluable service in gaining information and in harassing
the French. His command, being constantly on the edge of the army, is
engaged in frequent skirmishes and some most important battles.


 A Tale of Hotspur and Glendower. With 12 full-page Illustrations by
 Ralph Peacock. 12mo, $1.50.

This is a brilliant story of the stirring times of the beginning of the
Wars of the Roses, when the Scotch, under Douglas, and the Welsh, under
Owen Glendower, were attacking the English. The hero of the book lived
near the Scotch border, and saw many a hard fight there. Entering the
service of Lord Percy, he was sent to Wales, where he was knighted, and
where he was captured. Being released, he returned home, and shared in
the fatal battle of Shrewsbury.


 A Tale of the Huguenot Wars. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by H.J. Draper, and a Map. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

The hero, Philip Fletcher, has a French connection on his mother's
side. This induces him to cross the Channel in order to take a share
in the Huguenot wars. Naturally he sides with the Protestants,
distinguishes himself in various battles, and receives rapid promotion
for the zeal and daring with which he carries out several secret


 A Tale of the Western Plains. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by Alfred Pearse. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The central interest of this story is found in the many adventures of
an English lad, who seeks employment as a cow-boy on a cattle ranch.
His experiences during a "round-up" present in picturesque form the
toilsome, exciting, adventurous life of a cow-boy; while the perils of
a frontier settlement are vividly set forth in an Indian raid.


"No country nor epoch of history is there which Mr. Henty does not
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interestingly."--_New York Times._


 A Tale of the Seven Years' War. With 12 full-page Illustrations. 12mo,

The hero of this story while still a youth entered the service of
Frederick the Great, and by a succession of fortunate circumstances and
perilous adventures, rose to the rank of colonel. Attached to the staff
of the king, he rendered distinguished services in many battles, in one
of which he saved the king's life. Twice captured and imprisoned, he
both times escaped from the Austrian fortresses.


 A Story of Wat Tyler's Rising. With 8 full-page Illustrations by W.H.
 Margetson. 12mo, $1.50.

The story of Wat Tyler's Rebellion is but little known, but the hero
of this story passes through that perilous time and takes part in the
civil war in Flanders which followed soon after. Although young he is
thrown into many exciting and dangerous adventures, through which he
passes with great coolness and much credit.


 A Story of the Peninsular War. With 12 full-page Illustrations by Wal
 Paget. 12mo, $1.50.

Terence O'Connor is living with his widowed father, Captain O'Connor of
the Mayo Fusiliers, with the regiment at the time when the Peninsular
war began. Upon the regiment being ordered to Spain, Terence gets
appointed as aid to one of the generals of a division. By his bravery
and great usefulness throughout the war, he is rewarded by a commission
as colonel in the Portuguese army and there rendered great service.


 A Story of the First Burmese War. With 8 full-page Illustrations by
 W.H. Overend. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The hero, having an uncle, a trader on the Indian and Burmese rivers,
goes out to join him. Soon after, war is declared by Burmah against
England and he is drawn into it. He has many experiences and narrow
escapes in battles and in scouting. With half-a-dozen men he rescues
his cousin who had been taken prisoner, and in the flight they are
besieged in an old, ruined temple.


"Boys like stirring adventures, and Mr. Henty is a master of this
method of composition."--_New York Times._


 A Tale of the White Hoods of Paris. With 12 full-page Illustrations by
 Walter Paget. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The story begins in a grim feudal castle in Normandie. The times were
troublous, and soon the king compelled Lady Margaret de Villeroy with
her children to go to Paris as hostages. Guy Aylmer went with her.
Paris was turbulent. Soon the guild of the butchers, adopting white
hoods as their uniform, seized the city, and besieged the house where
our hero and his charges lived. After desperate fighting, the white
hoods were beaten and our hero and his charges escaped from the city,
and from France.


 A Tale of the Exploits of Lord Cochrane in South American Waters.
 With 12 full-page Illustrations by W.H. Margetson. Crown 8vo, olivine
 edges, $1.50.

The hero of this story accompanies Cochrane as midshipman, and serves
in the war between Chili and Peru. He has many exciting adventures in
battles by sea and land, is taken prisoner and condemned to death by
the Inquisition, but escapes by a long and thrilling flight across
South America and down the Amazon, piloted by two faithful Indians.


 A Story of the War with Tippoo Saib. With 12 full-page Illustrations
 by W.H. Margetson, and a Map. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

Dick Holland, whose father is supposed to be a captive of Tippoo Saib,
goes to India to help him to escape. He joins the army under Lord
Cornwallis, and takes part in the campaign against Tippoo. Afterwards
he assumes a disguise, enters Seringapatam, and at last he discovers
his father in the great stronghold of Savandroog. The hazardous rescue
is at length accomplished, and the young fellow's dangerous mission is


 A Story of Napoleon's Retreat from Moscow. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by W.H. Overend, and 3 Maps. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

The hero, Julian Wyatt, after several adventures with smugglers, by
whom he is handed over a prisoner to the French, regains his freedom
and joins Napoleon's army in the Russian campaign. When the terrible
retreat begins, Julian finds himself in the rear guard of the French
army, fighting desperately. Ultimately he escapes out of the general
disaster, and returns to England.


"Here we have Mr. George Henty--the Boys' Own Author."--_Punch._


 A Tale of the Siege of Rhodes. With 12 full-page Illustrations by
 Ralph Peacock, and a Plan. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

Gervaise Tresham, the hero of this story, joins the Order of the
Knights of St. John, and proceeds to the stronghold of Rhodes.
Subsequently he is appointed commander of a war-galley, and in his
first voyage destroys a fleet of Moorish corsairs. During one of
his cruises the young knight is attacked on shore, captured after a
desperate struggle, and sold into slavery in Tripoli. He succeeds in
escaping, and returns to Rhodes in time to take part in the defense of
that fortress.


 A Story of the Norman Conquest. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by Ralph Peacock. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The hero is a young thane who wins the favor of Earl Harold and becomes
one of his retinue. When Harold becomes King of England Wulf assists in
the Welsh wars, and takes part against the Norsemen at the Battle of
Stamford Bridge. When William of Normandy invades England, Wulf is with
the English host at Hastings, and stands by his king to the last in the
mighty struggle.


 A Story of the Roman Invasion. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by W. Parkinson. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

This story deals with the invasion of Britain by the Roman legionaries.
Beric, who is a boy-chief of a British tribe, takes a prominent part in
the insurrection under Boadicea; and after the defeat of that heroic
queen (in A.D. 62) he continues the struggle in the fen-country.
Ultimately Beric is defeated and carried captive to Rome, where he is
trained in the exercise of arms in a school of gladiators. At length he
returns to Britain, where he becomes ruler of his own people.


 A Story of the Plague and the Fire. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by J. Finnemore. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The hero of this story was the son of a nobleman who had lost his
estates during the troublous times of the Commonwealth. During the
Great Plague and the Great Fire, Cyril was prominent among those who
brought help to the panic-stricken inhabitants.


"Ask for Henty, and see that you get him."--_Punch._


 A Tale of the Nile Expedition. By G.A. Henty. With 10 full-page
 Illustrations by John Schönberg and J. Nash. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

In the record of recent British history there is no more captivating
page for boys than the story of the Nile campaign, and the attempt to
rescue General Gordon. For, in the difficulties which the expedition
encountered, in the perils which it overpassed, and in its final tragic
disappointments, are found all the excitements of romance, as well as
the fascination which belongs to real events.


 A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The adventures of the son of a Scotch officer in French service. The
boy, brought up by a Glasgow bailie, is arrested for aiding a Jacobite
agent, escapes, is wrecked on the French coast, reaches Paris, and
serves with the French army at Dettingen. He kills his father's foe
in a duel, and escaping to the coast, shares the adventures of Prince
Charlie, but finally settles happily in Scotland.


 A Tale of the Spanish Main. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

A story of the days when England and Spain struggled for the supremacy
of the sea. The heroes sail as lads with Drake in the Pacific
expedition, and in his great voyage of circumnavigation. The historical
portion of the story is absolutely to be relied upon, but this will
perhaps be less attractive than the great variety of exciting adventure
through which the young heroes pass in the course of their voyages.


 Or, The Winning of a Continent. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

Mr. Henty here gives an account of the struggle between Britain and
France for supremacy in the North American continent. The fall of
Quebec decided that the Anglo-Saxon race should predominate in the New
World; and that English and American commerce, the English language,
and English literature, should spread right round the globe.


"Mr. Henty is one of the best of story-tellers for young


 A Tale of the Rise of the Dutch Republic. By G.A. Henty. With 10
 full-page Illustrations by Maynard Brown, and 4 Maps. Crown 8vo,
 olivine edges, $1.50.

This story traces the adventures of an English boy in the household of
William the Silent. Edward Martin, the son of an English sea-captain,
enters the service of the Prince as a volunteer, and is employed by him
in many dangerous and responsible missions, in the discharge of which
he passes through the great sieges of the time.


 Or, The Freeing of the Netherlands (1585-1604). By G.A. Henty. With
 10 full-page Illustrations by Alfred Pearse, and 4 Maps. Crown 8vo,
 olivine edges, $1.50.

The story of two English lads who go to Holland as pages in the service
of one of "the fighting Veres." After many adventures by sea and land,
one of the lads finds himself on board a Spanish ship at the time of
the defeat of the Armada, and escapes, only to fall into the hands of
the Corsairs. He is successful in getting back to Spain, and regains
his native country after the capture of Cadiz.


 A Story of Adventure in Colorado. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by G.C. Hindley. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The hero, Tom Wade, goes to seek his uncle in Colorado, who is a hunter
and gold-digger, and he is discovered, after many dangers, out on the
plains with some comrades. Going in quest of a gold mine, the little
band is spied by Indians, chased across the Bad Lands, and overwhelmed
by a snowstorm in the mountains.


 Or, With Cortez in Mexico. By G.A. Henty. With 10 full-page
 Illustrations by W.S. Stacey, and 2 Maps. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

With the Conquest of Mexico as the groundwork of his story. Mr. Henty
has interwoven the adventures of an English youth. He is beset by many
perils among the natives, but by a ruse he obtains the protection of
the Spaniards, and after the fall of Mexico he succeeds in regaining
his native shore, with a fortune and a charming Aztec bride.


 A Tale of the Conquest of the Punjaub. By G.A. Henty. With 12
 full-page Illustrations by Hal Hurst, and a Map. Crown 8vo, olivine
 edges, $1.50.

Percy Groves, a spirited English lad, joins his uncle in the Punjaub,
where the natives are in a state of revolt. Percy joins the British
force as a volunteer, and takes a distinguished share in the famous
battles of the Punjaub.


"No living writer of books for boys writes to better purpose than Mr.
G.A. Henty."--_Philadelphia Press._


 A Tale of the American War of Independence. By G.A. Henty. With 12
 full-page Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

A graphic and vigorous story of the American Revolution, which paints
the scenes with great power, and does full justice to the pluck and
determination of the soldiers during the unfortunate struggle.


 A Tale of Venice in the Fourteenth Century. By G.A. Henty. With 10
 full-page Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

A story of Venice at a period when her strength and splendor were put
to the severest tests. The hero displays a fine sense and manliness
which carry him safely through an atmosphere of intrigue, crime, and


 A Tale of Gustavus Adolphus and the Wars of Religion. By G.A. Henty.
 With 12 full-page illustrations by John Schönberg. Crown 8vo, olivine
 edges, $1.50.

In this story Mr. Henty gives the history of the first part of the
Thirty Years' War. The issue had its importance, which has extended
to the present day, as it established religious freedom in Germany.
The army of the chivalrous King of Sweden was largely composed of
Scotchmen, and among these was the hero of the story.


 A Story of the Grecian War of Independence (1821-1827). By G.A. Henty.
 With 12 full-page Illustrations by W.S. Stacey, and a Map. Crown 8vo,
 olivine edges, $1.50.

Deals with the revolt of the Greeks in 1821 against Turkish oppression.
Mr. Beveridge and his son Horace fit out a privateer, load it with
military stores, and set sail for Greece. They rescue the Christians,
relieve the captive Greeks, and fight the Turkish war vessels.


 A Story of the American Civil War. By G.A. Henty. With 10 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne, and 6 Maps. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

The story of a young Virginia planter, who serves under Lee and
Jackson through the most exciting events of the struggle. He has
many hairbreadth escapes, is several times wounded and twice taken
prisoner; but his courage and readiness bring him safely through all


"Mr. Henty's books never fall to interest boy readers."--_Academy._


 Or, The Beginnings of an Empire. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne, and a Map. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

The period between the landing of Clive in India and the close of his
career was eventful in the extreme. At its commencement the English
were traders existing on sufferance of the native princes; at its close
they were masters of Bengal and of the greater part of Southern India.
The author has given a full account of the events of that stirring
time, while he combines with his narrative a thrilling tale of daring
and adventure.


 A Story of the Times of Hannibal. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by C.J. Staniland, R.I. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

There is no better field for romance-writers in the whole of history
than the momentous struggle between the Romans and Carthaginians for
the empire of the world. Mr. Henty has had the full advantage of much
unexhausted picturesque and impressive material, and has thus been
enabled to form a striking historic background to as exciting a story
of adventure as the keenest appetite could wish.


 A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem. By G.A. Henty. With 10 full-page
 Illustrations by S.J. Solomon, and a colored Map. Crown 8vo, olivine
 edges, $1.50.

Mr. Henty here weaves into the record of Josephus an admirable and
attractive story. The troubles in the district of Tiberias, the march
of the legions, the sieges of Jotapata, of Gamala, and of Jerusalem,
form the impressive setting to the figure of the lad who becomes the
leader of a guerrilla band of patriots, fights bravely for the Temple,
and after a brief term of slavery at Alexandria, returns to his
Galilean home.


 A Story of the Luddite Riots. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by H.M. Paget. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The story is laid in Yorkshire at the commencement of the present
century, when the high price of food induced by the war and the
introduction of machinery drove the working-classes to desperation,
and caused them to band themselves in that wide-spread organization
known as the Luddite Society. There is an abundance of adventure in the
tale, but its chief interest lies in the character of the hero, and
the manner in which he is put on trial for his life, but at last comes
victorious "through the fray."


"The brightest of all the living writers whose office it is to enchant
the boys."--_Christian Leader._


 A Tale of the Gold Fields of California. By G.A. Henty. With 12
 full-page Illustrations by H.M. Paget. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

A frank, manly lad and his cousin are rivals in the heirship of a
considerable property. The former falls into a trap laid by the latter,
and while under a false accusation of theft foolishly leaves England
for America. He works his passage before the mast, joins a small band
of hunters, crosses a tract of country infested with Indians to the
Californian gold diggings, and is successful both as digger and trader.


 A Story of Wallace and Bruce. By G.A. Henty. With 12 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

Relates the stirring tale of the Scottish War of Independence. The
hero of the tale fought under both Wallace and Bruce, and while the
strictest historical accuracy has been maintained with respect to
public events, the work is full of "hairbreadth 'scapes" and wild


 Being the Adventures of a Young Englishman in the Service of Charles
 XII. of Sweden. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page Illustrations by Paul
 Hardy, and a Map. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

Sir Marmaduke Carstairs, a Jacobite, is the victim of a conspiracy, and
he is denounced as a plotter against the life of King William. He flies
to Sweden, accompanied by his son Charlie. This youth joins the foreign
legion under Charles XII., and takes a distinguished part in several
famous campaigns against the Russians and Poles.


 A Story of Escape from Siberia. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The hero of this story is an English boy resident in St. Petersburg.
Through two student friends he becomes innocently involved in various
political plots, resulting in his seizure by the Russian police and
his exile to Siberia. He ultimately escapes, and, after many exciting
adventures, he reaches Norway, and thence home, after a perilous
journey which lasts nearly two years.


"Mr. Henty is one of our most successful writers of historical


 The Adventures of a Westminster Boy. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by J. Schönberg. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

Harry Sandwith, a Westminster boy, becomes a resident at the chateau
of a French marquis, and after various adventures accompanies the
family to Paris at the crisis of the Revolution. Imprisonment and death
reduce their number, and the hero finds himself beset by perils with
the three young daughters of the house in his charge. After hairbreadth
escapes they reach Nantes. There the girls are condemned to death
in the coffinships, but are saved by the unfailing courage of their


 A Tale of Cressy and Poitiers. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne, Crown 8vo, $1.50.

No portion of English history is more crowded with great events than
that of the reign of Edward III. Cressy and Poitiers; the destruction
of the Spanish fleet; the plague of the Black Death; the Jacquerie
rising; these are treated by the author in "St. George for England."
The hero of the story, although of good family, begins life as a London
apprentice, but after countless adventures and perils becomes by valor
and good conduct the squire, and at last the trusted friend of the
Black Prince.


 Or, Through the Bombardment of Alexandria. By G.A. Henty. With 6
 full-page Illustrations by W.H. Overend. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

A coast fishing lad, by an act of heroism, secures the interest of a
ship-owner, who places him as an apprentice on board one of his ships.
In company with two of his fellow-apprentices he is left behind, at
Alexandria, in the hands of the revolted Egyptian troops, and is
present through the bombardment and the scenes of riot and bloodshed
which accompanied it.


 A Tale of the Siege of Gibraltar. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

This story deals with one of the most memorable sieges in history--the
siege of Gibraltar in 1779-83 by the united forces of France and
Spain. With land forces, fleets, and floating batteries, the combined
resources of two great nations, this grim fortress was vainly besieged
and bombarded. The hero of the tale, an English lad resident in
Gibraltar, takes a brave and worthy part in the long defence, and it
is through his varied experiences that we learn with what bravery,
resource, and tenacity the Rock was held for England.


"Among writers of stories of adventures for boys Mr. Henty stands in
the very first rank."--_Academy._


 Or, Through Afghan Passes. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

An interesting story of the last war in Afghanistan. The hero, after
being wrecked and going through many stirring adventures among the
Malays, finds his way to Calcutta and enlists in a regiment proceeding
to join the army at the Afghan passes. He accompanies the force under
General Roberts to the Peiwar Kotal, is wounded, taken prisoner,
carried to Cabul, whence he is transferred to Candahar, and takes part
in the final defeat of the army of Ayoub Khan.


 A Tale of the Boyne and Limerick. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The record of two typical families--the Davenants, who, having come
over with Strongbow, had allied themselves in feeling to the original
inhabitants; and the Whitefoots, who had been placed by Cromwell
over certain domains of the Davenants. In the children the spirit of
contention has given place to friendship, and though they take opposite
sides in the struggle between James and William, their good-will and
mutual service are never interrupted, and in the end the Davenants come
happily to their own again.


 A Story of the New Zealand War. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by Alfred Pearse. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The Renshaws emigrate to New Zealand during the period of the war
with the natives. Wilfrid, a strong, self-reliant, courageous lad, is
the mainstay of the household. He has for his friend Mr. Atherton, a
botanist and naturalist of herculean strength and unfailing nerve and
humor. In the adventures among the Maoris, there are many breathless
moments in which the odds seem hopelessly against the party, but they
succeed in establishing themselves happily in one of the pleasant New
Zealand valleys.


 A Tale of Bush Life in Australia. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by W.B. Wollen. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The hero, a young English lad, after rather a stormy boyhood, emigrates
to Australia and gets employment as an officer in the mounted police.
A few years of active work on the frontier, where he has many a brush
with both natives and bush-rangers, gain him promotion to a captaincy,
and he eventually settles down to the peaceful life of a squatter.


"Mr. Henty's books are welcome visitors in the home circle."--_Daily


 Or, With Peterborough in Spain. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by H.M. Paget. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

There are few great leaders whose lives and actions have so completely
fallen into oblivion as those of the Earl of Peterborough. This is
largely due to the fact that they were overshadowed by the glory and
successes of Marlborough. His career as General extended over little
more than a year, and yet, in that time, he showed a genius for warfare
which has never been surpassed.


 Or, The Days of King Alfred. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by C.J. Staniland, R.I. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

In this story the author gives an account of the fierce struggle
between Saxon and Dane for supremacy in England, and presents a vivid
picture of the misery and ruin to which the country was reduced by the
ravages of the sea-wolves. The hero, a young Saxon thane, takes part
in all the battles fought by King Alfred. He is driven from his home,
takes to the sea, and resists the Danes on their own element, and being
pursued by them up the Seine, is present at the long and desperate
siege of Paris.


 Or, The Hero of the Vaughan Pit. A Tale of the Coal Mines. By G.A.
 Henty. With 8 full-page Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo,
 olivine edges, $1.50.

"Facing Death" is a story with a purpose. It is intended to show that
a lad who makes up his mind firmly and resolutely that he will rise
in life, and who is prepared to face toil and ridicule and hardship
to carry out his determination, is sure to succeed. The hero of the
story is a typical British boy, dogged, earnest, generous, and though
"shamefaced" to a degree, is ready to face death in the discharge of


 A Tale of the Ashanti War. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The author has woven, in a tale of thrilling interest, all the details
of the Ashanti campaign, of which he was himself a witness. His hero,
after many exciting adventures in the interior, is detained a prisoner
by the king just before the outbreak of the war, but escapes, and
accompanies the English expedition on their march to Coomassie.


"Mr. Henty might with entire propriety be called the boys' Sir Waiter
Scott."--_Philadelphia Press._


 A Story of Ancient Egypt. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

A story which will give young readers an unsurpassed insight into the
customs of the Egyptian people. Amuba, a prince of the Rebu nation, is
carried with his charioteer Jethro into slavery. They become inmates
of the house of Ameres, the Egyptian high-priest, and are happy in his
service until the priest's son accidentally kills the sacred cat of
Bubastes. In an outburst of popular fury Ameres is killed, and it rests
with Jethro and Amuba to secure the escape of the high-priest's son and


 A Tale of Waterloo. By G.A. Henty. With 8 full-page Illustrations by
 W.H. Overend, and 2 Maps. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The hero of this story, Ralph Conway, has many varied and exciting
adventures. He enters the army, and after some rough service in Ireland
takes part in the Waterloo campaign, from which he returns with the
loss of an arm, but with a substantial fortune.


 Or, How George Andrews made his Way. By G.A. Henty. With 4 full-page
 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, $1.00.

The history of a hero of everyday life, whose love of truth, clothing
of modesty, and innate pluck, carry him, naturally, from poverty to
affluence. George Andrews is an example of character with nothing to
cavil at, and stands as a good instance of chivalry in domestic life.


 By G.A. Henty. With 2 full-page Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 75 cents.

Containing five stories, varied in scene and character, but all of
adventurous interest and telling of youthful heroism under dangerous
and trying circumstances on land and on sea.


 By G.A. Henty. With 2 full-page Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 75 cents.

This book should find special favor among boys. The yarns are spun by
old sailors, and are admirably calculated to foster a manly spirit.


 Illustrated by Harry B. Neilson, with verses by the Cockiolly Bird.
 4to, decorated boards. $2.00.

A new, original, and very amusing book of animal pictures in color.



 Profusely Illustrated with full-page plates, vignettes, cover design,
 &c., &c. Demy 4to (13 inches by 10 inches). $2.00

No artist has caught more thoroughly the individualities of the bird
world, or has reproduced them with more lifelike vivacity and charm.


 With 26 full-page Plates, a large number of vignettes, and cover
 design by Carton Moore Park. Demy 4to (13 inches by 10 inches), $2.00.

A strikingly artistic alphabet book. Mr. Park's drawings are marked
by extraordinary boldness and vigor of treatment; but they display in
addition a rare appreciation of the subtler characteristics of the
animal world. Of these individual traits Mr. Park has an intuitive
perception, and his pictures may almost be said to live upon the page.



By Sheila E. Braine. With 70 illustrations by Alice B. Woodward, and
Frontispiece in Colors. Square 8vo, gilt edges, $2.00.


 By Sheila E. Braine, With 85 Illustrations by Alice B. Woodward.
 Square crown 8vo, $1.75.


 By Mabel E. Wolton. With 80 Illustrations by H.M. Brock, and a Colored
 Frontispiece. Square 8vo, gilt edges, $2.00.

The little Browns are a delightful set of youngsters, more than usually
individual and self-reliant. During their parents' absence they extend
hospitality to a stranger, under the belief that he is their uncle from
Australia. The supposed uncle is really a burglar, and by their courage
and childish resource they outwit him. _The Little Browns_ is the work
of a true child-lover.



 A Story of the Fall of Carthage and Corinth. By Professor A.J. Church.
 With 12 full-page Illustrations by Ralph Peacock. Crown 8vo, olivine
 edges, $1.50.

The scene of this story centres in the destruction of Carthage by
the Romans. The young hero is captured by the Romans, but wearing
the dress of his twin sister, escapes death. Entering the army of
Carthage he is in the thick of the long conflict and passes through
many thrilling adventures. He is present at the final scene, and that
awful catastrophe is most vividly told. The story is full of valuable
historical details and the interest never flags.


 Or, The Adventures of a Roman Boy. By Professor A.J. Church. With 12
 full-page Illustrations by Adrien Marie. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

The hero is a young Roman who has a very chequered career, being now a
captive in the hands of Spartacus, again an officer on board a vessel
detailed for the suppression of the pirates, and anon a captive once
more, on a pirate ship.



 A Story of Iceland. By S. Baring-Gould. With 10 full-page
 Illustrations by M. Zeno Diemer, and a Colored Map. Crown 8vo, olivine
 edges, $1.50.

No boy will be able to withstand the magic of such scenes as the fight
of Grettir with twelve bearserks, and the wrestle with Karr the Old in
the chamber of the dead.



 Cyril Harley's Adventures on Both. By F. Frankfort Moore. With 8
 full-page Illustrations by Alfred Pearse. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

The story belongs to a period when highways meant post-chaises,
coaches, and highwaymen, and when high seas meant privateers and


 Or, Ned Woodthorpe's Adventures. By F. Frankfort Moore. With 8
 full-page Illustrations by A. Forestier. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

In rescuing another lad from drowning, Ned Woodthorpe is taken on board
a convict ship. After a series of exciting events the convicts and crew
obtain the mastery. Ultimately the ship is recaptured and Ned and his
friends escape from their troubles.



 A Story of the Boer War. With 8 Illustrations by Wal. Paget. Crown
 8vo, olivine edges. $1.50.

Jack Somerten, the hero of _With Rifle and Bayonet_, is an English boy
who chances to be spending a vacation at the home of a school friend
in the Transvaal just before the outbreak of the Boer war. Jack is the
first Uitlander to find actual evidence that the Boers are importing
arms and ammunition in large quantities, but the Boers soon learn
that he has discovered their secret and from that time his life is in
constant danger. The account of his adventures and escapes during this
time and throughout the war makes one of the best war tales of many

The story gives also the most interesting details of Transvaal history,
who the Boers were, how they came to settle the Transvaal, and the
Government and customs that have arisen among them.


 A Tale of Cromwell's Invasion of Ireland. With eight page
 Illustrations by Stanley L. Wood. Crown 8vo, olivine edges. $1.50.

Dick Granville is the son of a Royalist who is driven from his home
in Cheshire and takes refuge at Castle Driscoe, in Ireland. When the
Parliamentary army crosses to Ireland young Dick Granville and his
cousin join a body of Royalist horse. They take part in the defense
of Drogheda, only escaping from the slaughter there by a miracle, and
afterwards go through a series of thrilling adventures and narrow
escapes in which Dick displays extraordinary skill and resource.


A Tale of the Zulu War. With 6 Illustrations by Stanley L. Wood. Crown
8vo. $1.25.

Donald Stewart, the son of an English missionary in Zululand, when
at school in England, is wrongfully accused of theft. He runs away,
enlists in the British army, and is sent to Africa. There he learns
that his sister and a friend are in the hands of Cetewayo. Disguised as
a Zulu, he rescues the two girls; and after the attack upon Ulundi, he
hears from a dying officer a confession of the theft of which he was


 By J. Chalmers. With 6 Illustrations by Stanley L. Wood. 12mo. $1.25.


 Being a Story of Chivalry in the Days of Henry III. By Edgar
 Pickering. With 6 illustrations. Price, $1.25.


 By Edgar Pickering. With 6 full page Illustrations by W. S. Stacey.
 Crown 8vo. $1.25.


Mr. Leighton's place Is in the front rank of writers of boys'


 Illustrated, crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

This is a story of Queen Elizabeth's time, just after the defeat of
the Spanish Armada. Mr. Leighton introduces in his work the great
sea-fighters of Plymouth town--Hawkins, Drake, Raleigh, and Richard


 By Robert Leighton. With 8 full-page Illustrations by Ralph Peacock.
 Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

This story of Olaf, King of Norway, opens with his being found living
as a bond-slave in Esthonia, and follows him through his romantic youth
in Russia. Then come his adventures as a Viking, his raids upon the
coasts of Scotland and England, and his conversion to Christianity. He
returns to Norway as king, and converts his people to the Christian


 The Story of a North Sea Fisher-boy. By Robert Leighton. With 8
 full-page Illustrations by Frank Brangwyn. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

The hero is a parson's son who is apprenticed on board a Lowestoft
fishing lugger. The lad suffers many buffets from his shipmates, while
the storms and dangers which he braved are set forth with intense power.


 A Story of the Norse Invasion of Scotland (1262-63). By Robert
 Leighton. With 8 full-page Illustrations by Alfred Pearse, and a Map.
 Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

This story tells how Roderic MacAlpin, the sea-rover, came to the Isle
of Bute; how he slew his brother in Rothesay Castle; how the earl's
eldest son was likewise slain; how young Kenric now became king of
Bute, and vowed vengeance against the slayer of his brother and father;
and finally, how this vow was kept, when Kenric and the murderous
sea-rover met at midnight and ended their feud in one last great fight.


 A Story of the Orkney Islands. By Robert Leighton. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by John Leighton, and a Map. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,

Halcro Ericson, the hero, happens upon many exciting adventures and
hardy experiences, through which he carries himself with quiet courage.
The story gives a vivid presentation of life in these far northern



 Or, the Last Cruise of the Essex. A Tale of the War of 1812.
 Illustrated. 12mo, $1.25


 A Tale of the American Navy. Illustrated by I.W. Taber. 12mo, $1.25.

The hero of the story becomes a midshipman in the navy just at the time
of the war with Tripoli. His own wild adventures among the Turks and
his love romance are thoroughly interwoven with the stirring history of
that time.



 Or, Fighting for the Lone Star Flag. A Tale of Texas. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by Victor Pérard. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

The story is of the Texas revolution in 1835, when American Texans
under Sam Houston, Bowie, Crockett and Travis, fought for relief from
the intolerable tyranny of the Mexican Santa Aña. The hero, Rex Hardin,
son of a Texan ranchman and graduate of an American military school,
takes a prominent part in the heroic defense of the Alamo, and the
final triumph at San Jacinto.


 A Tale of the Seminole War. By Kirk Munroe. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by V. Pérard. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

Coacoochee, the hero of the story, is the son of Philip the chieftain
of the Seminoles. He grows up to lead his tribe in the long struggle
which resulted in the Indians being driven from the north of Florida
down to the distant southern wilderness.


 Or, The Totem of the Bear. A Tale of Redcoat and Redskin. By Kirk
 Munroe. With 8 full-page Illustrations by J. Finnemore. Crown 8vo,

A story when the shores of Lake Erie were held by hostile Indians. The
hero, Donald Hester, goes in search of his sister Edith, who has been
captured by the Indians. Strange and terrible are his experiences; for
he is wounded, taken prisoner, condemned to be burned, but contrives to
escape. In the end all things terminate happily.


 A Tale of Toltec and Aztec. By Kirk Munroe. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

This story deals with the Conquest of Mexico by Cortes and his
Spaniards, the "White Conquerors," who, after many deeds of valor,
pushed their way into the great Aztec kingdom and established their
power in the wondrous city where Montezuma reigned in splendor.



A Brilliant New Story of Danger and Daring on the Sea. By Gordon
Stables, M.D., C.M. Illustrated, crown 8vo, $1.25.


A Story of Adventure by Sea. By Gordon Stables, M.D., C.M. Illustrated,
crown 8vo, $1.25.


 A Story of Battle by Land and Sea. By Gordon Stables, M.D., C.M. With
 8 full-page Illustrations by Sidney Paget. 12mo, $1.50.

The story of an English boy who runs from home and joins the southern
army in the late Civil War. His chum enters the navy, and their various
adventures are set forth with great vigor and interest.


 A Story of Adventure in the Arctic Regions. By Gordon Stables, M.D.,
 C.M. With 8 full-page Illustrations by G.C. Hindley, and a Map. Crown
 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The author is himself an old Arctic voyager, and he deals with
deer-hunting in Norway, sealing in the Arctic Seas, bear-stalking on
the ice-floes, the hardships of a journey across Greenland, and a
successful voyage to the back of the North Pole.


By Gordon Stables, M.D., C.M. With 8 full-page Illustrations by Alfred
Pearse. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The hero of this story is Columbus himself. His career is traced from
boyhood onward through the many hazardous enterprises in which he was
at various times engaged. The narrative deals chiefly, however, with
the great naval venture which resulted in the discovery of the American


 A Tale of Self-reliance. By Gordon Stables, M.D., C.M. With 8
 full-page Illustrations by W. Parkinson. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,



 By Harry Collingwood. With 12 full-page Illustrations by W. Rainey,
 R.I. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

In the war between Napoleon and the British, many privateers were sent
out from England to seize and destroy the French merchant vessels. On
one of these George Bowen went as second mate. Long distance duels at
sea, fights at close quarters, fierce boarding attacks, capture and
recapture, flight and pursuit, storm and wreck, fire at sea and days
without food or water in a small boat on the ocean, are some of the
many thrilling experiences our hero passed through.


 A Story of Aerial and Submarine Peril and Adventure. By Harry
 Collingwood. With 12 full-page Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown
 8vo, $1.00.

In this story the aim of the author has been, not only to interest and
amuse, but also to stimulate a taste for scientific study.


 By Harry Collingwood. With 6 full-page Pictures by W. H. Overend.
 Crown 8vo, $1.00.

A fine Australian clipper is seized by the crew; the passengers are
landed on one deserted island, the captain and a junior officer on
another; and the young hero of the story is kept on board to navigate
the ship, which the mutineers refit as a private vessel. After many
adventures Ned succeeded in carrying off the ship, and in picking up
the captain and the passengers.


 A Tale of the Slave Squadron. By Harry Collingwood. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by J. Schönberg. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.

The scene of this thrilling tale is laid on the west coast of Africa
among the slavers.


 A Tale of the Pirate Cays and Lagoons of Cuba. By Harry Collingwood.
 With 6 full-page Illustrations by W.C. Symons. Crown 8vo, $1.00.

The hero of "The Rover's Secret," a young officer of the British navy,
narrates his peculiar experiences in childhood and his subsequent
perils and achievements.


 A Story of the South Pacific. By Harry Collingwood. Illustrated by 8
 full-page Pictures by C.J. Staniland and J.R. Wells. Olivine edges.
 Crown 8vo, $1.50.

This story details the adventures of a lad who was found in his infancy
on board a wreck, and is adopted by a fisherman. Going to sea, he forms
one of a party who, after being burned out of their ship, are picked up
by a pirate brig and taken to the "Pirate Island," where they have many
thrilling adventures.


"Mr. Fenn is in the front rank of writers for boys."--_Liverpool


 A Romance of the Great East Swamp. With 12 full-page Illustrations by
 Frank Dadd. Crown 8vo, $1.50.


 With 6 page Illustrations. Crown 8vo, $1.00.


 Being the Strange Story of Travels in Asia Minor. With 8 full page
 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, $1.00.


 A Tale of the Land of the Incas. With 12 full-page Pictures by Gordon
 Browne. Crown 8vo, $1.50.


 A Boy's Adventures in the Eastern Seas. Illustrated by 8 full-page
 Pictures by George Browne. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.


 Or, A Boy with no Skid to his Wheel. With 10 full-page Illustrations
 by Frank Dadd. Crown 8vo, $1.25.


 A Tale of the North Shore. With 12 full-page Illustrations by Gordon
 Browne. Crown 8vo, $1.50.


 Her Voyage to the Unknown Isle. With 8 full-page Illustrations. Crown
 8vo, $1.00.


 The Story of a Wild Journey in New Guinea. With 6 full-page
 Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, $1.25.


 Or, The Cruise of the _Kestrel_. Illustrated by 12 full-page Pictures
 by Gordon Browne. Crown 8vo, $1.50.


 A Story of Cornish Nets and Mines. With 6 full-page Illustrations by
 C.J. Staniland. Crown 8vo, $1.00.


 Or, War in the Works. With 6 full-page Illustrations. Crown 8vo. $1.00.



 A Story of the Siege and the Commune. By Herbert Hayens. With 8
 full-page Illustrations by Stanley L. Wood. Crown 8vo, olivine edges,


 A Tale of the Time of Catharine the Great of Russia. By Sheila E.
 Braine. With 6 full-page Illustrations by William Rainey, R.I. Crown
 8vo, $1.25.


 By Oliphant Smeaton. With 8 Illustrations by Wal Paget. 12mo, olivine
 edges, $1.50.


 A Story of Adventure in British Columbia. By Clive Phillipps-Wolley.
 With 6 full-page Illustrations by G.C. Hindley. Crown 8vo, $1.25.


 An Australian Story for Boys. By Arthur Ferres. With 6 Illustrations
 by P.B.S. Spener. Crown 8vo, $1.25.


 By Hugh St. Leger. With 6 full-page Illustrations by Hal Hurst. Crown
 8vo, $1.50.


 A Story of the Days of Lord Nelson. By F.H. Winder. With 6 full-page
 Illustrations by W.S. Stacey. Crown 8vo, $1.50.


 Stories of the Red Indians. By Ascott R. Hope. Illustrated by Gordon
 Browne. Crown 8vo, $1.00.

"Mr. Hope's 'Wigwam and War-path' is notably good; it gives a very
vivid picture of life among the Indians."--_Spectator._


 By Ascott R. Hope. Illustrated by Gordon Browne. Square 8vo, $1.50.


 By Ascott R. Hope. With 6 full-page Illustrations by H.J. Draper.
 Crown 8vo, $1.25.


 The Story of the Danish Conquest of East Anglia. By Charles W.
 Whistler. With 6 Illustrations by W.H. Margetson. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

A tale in which is set forth:--How Wulfric saved the Danish warrior's
life; how he fought in the Viking ship; how he was accused falsely;
how he joined King Eadmund, as his weapon-thane; how he fought for the
king; and how he won the lady Osritha and brought her to his home.


 The Story of a Brother and Sister. By S.E. Cartwright. With 3
 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, $1.00.


 A Tale of the Time of Charles II. By Edgar Pickering. With 6 full-page
 Illustrations by Alfred Pearse. Crown 8vo, $1.25.


 A Story of Adventure in the good ship _Margaret_. By Hugh St. Leger.
 With 6 page Illustrations by Wm. Rainey, R.I. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

This is a breezy sea-yarn in which the reader is made acquainted with
Jimmy Ducks, a tiptop sailor-man and a hero at cutlass work; and all
his cleverness was needed when he and his messmates came to tackle the
Ocean Outlaw.


 What Led to It, and what Came of It. By G. Norway. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by John Schönberg. Crown 8vo, olivine edges, $1.50.


 Or, The Strange Adventures of a Boy Emigrant. By J.R. Hutchinson. With
 4 full-page Illustrations by Stanley Berkeley. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

"There is no question whatever as to the spirited manner in which the
story is told; the death of the mate of the smuggler by the teeth of
the dog is especially effective."--_London Spectator._


 A Tale of the Crusades. By William Everard. Illustrated by Walter
 Paget. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

"A highly fascinating work, dealing with a period which is always
suggestive of romance and deeds of daring."--_Schoolmaster._


 By Caroline Austin. With 6 full-page Illustrations by C.T. Garland.
 Crown 8vo, $1.25.

"A story that teaches patience as well as courage in fighting the
battles of life."--_Daily Chronicle._


 By Charles Edwardes. With 3 Illustrations by Harold Copping. 12mo, 75

A bright story of English schoolboy life, with mysterious happenings to
the hero, who has a secret and weird "power," bestowed upon him by his
East Indian bearer.


 The Working Genius. By George Macdonald. With 8 Illustrations by
 Arthur Hughes. New Edition. 12mo, 75 cts.

"Hallowe'en" Ahoy!

 Or, Lost on the Crozet Islands. By Hugh St. Leger. With 6 page
 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, $1.50.

The Search for the Talisman

 A Tale of Labrador. By Henry Frith. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

Famous Discoveries by Sea and Land

Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.00.

From the Clyde to the Jordan

 By Hugh Callan. With 30 Illustrations and a Map. Crown 8vo, $1.50.

Jack O'Lanthorn

 A Tale of Adventure. By Henry Frith. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.00.

Tales of Captivity and Exile

 By W.B. Fortescue. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.00.


A Thane of Wessex

 Being a Story of the Great Viking Raids into Somerset. By Charles W.
 Whistler. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

A Prisoner of War

 A Story of the Time of Napoleon Bonaparte. By G. Norway. With 6
 full-page Illustrations by Robert Barnes, A.R.W.S. Crown 8vo, $1.25.



 By Amelia Hutchison Stirling. With 55 Illustrations by Paul Hardy.
 12mo, $1.00.


 And the Tales that they Told. By Mary H. Debenham. With 25
 Illustrations by Paul Hardy. Crown 8vo, $1.00.

"We wish the winds would tell us stories like these."--_London Academy._


 By Beatrice Harraden, author of "Ships that Pass in the Night."
 Illustrated. 12mo, $1.00.

It is the story of a sunny-hearted child, Rosebud, who assists her
grandfather in his dusty, second-hand bookshop.


 Her Tricks and Troubles. By Clara Mulholland. Illustrated. Crown 8vo,
 75 cents.

"This naughty child is positively delightful."--_Land and Water._


 A Fragment of a Girl's Life. By Caroline Austin. Illustrated. Crown
 8vo, 75 cents.

A touching story of an unlucky girl at odds with her stepmother.


 The Easiest Book of Nursery Lessons and Nursery Games. By Jennett
 Humphreys. Charmingly Illustrated. Square 8vo, $1.25.

"One of the best books of the kind imaginable, full of practical
teaching in word and picture, and helping the little ones pleasantly
along a right royal road to learning."--_Graphic._


 By Edith King Hall. With 8 Colored Plates and 72 other Illustrations
 by Alice B. Woodward. Square 8vo, $2.00.

The story of what a little girl heard and saw in a toy shop.


 By Alice Stronach. With 6 Illustrations by Harold Copping. Crown 8vo.

In _A Newnham Friendship_ we have a description of life at Newnham
College. Carol Martin, a third-year student, befriends a "fresher,"
Elspeth Macleod, a shy, sensitive Highland girl, who has worked her
way from a board school to college. The enmity of a fellow-student and
a mystery about some parodies cloud Elspeth's happiness for a time.
But the clouds clear. Men students play their part in the story, and
the closing chapters describe the work of some of the girls as "social
settlers" in the east of London.


 Or, The Burkes of Derrymore. By Katharine Tynan. With 12 Illustrations
 by G.D. Hammond. Crown 8vo, olivine edges. $1.50.

A story of Irish country life. The three fair maids are the daughters
of an impoverished Irish lady. Their father had been disinherited by
his uncle for marrying against his wish. Sir Jasper's disinheritance
obliged them to give up their great house, Derrymore, but the family is
ultimately reconciled with Uncle Peter, who makes Elizabeth his heiress.


 By Sarah Tytler, author of "Girl Neighbors." With 3 Illustrations by
 Paul Hardy. 12mo. 75 cts.


 Or, The Old Fashion and the New. By Sarah Tytler. With 8 full-page
 Illustrations by C.T. Garland. Crown 8vo. $1.00.

"_Girl Neighbors_ is a pleasant comedy, not so much of errors as of
prejudices got rid of, very healthy, very agreeable, and very well
written."--_London Spectator._


 By Anne Beale. With 8 page Illustrations by T.C.H. Castle. Crown 8vo,
 cloth; elegant, olivine edges. $1.50.

"Miss Anne Beale relates how the young 'Heiress of Courtleroy' had such
good influence over her uncle as to win him from his intensely selfish
ways in regard to his tenants and others."--_London Guardian._


 A Story for Girls. By Eliza F. Pollard. With 4 Illustrations by W.
 Fulton Brown. 12mo, $1.00.

A Tale of the Scottish Covenanters.


 By Ellinor Davenport Adams. With 6 page Illustrations by Gertrude
 Demain Hammond, R.I. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

The boys and girls of Woodend band themselves together, and that
they have plenty of fun is seen in the shopping expedition to
purchase stores for their society, and in the successful Christmas
entertainment. Max Brenton's fight with Joe Baker, the bully, shows
that their work has its serious side as well.


 By Geraldine Mockler. With 4 page Illustrations by William Rainey,
 R.I. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

The mistake occurs at the very beginning of the book, gradually rights
itself during the course of the story, and at the end is found to be
the very best thing that could have happened. A very amusing character
is an eccentric aunt.


 A Story of Two Sisters. By Florence Coombe. With 3 Illustrations by
 Wm. Rainey. 12mo, $1.00.


 By S.E. Cartwright. With 3 Illustrations by Wm. Rainey. 12mo, $1.00.


 By Jennie Chappell. With 4 Illustrations by John H. Bacon. 12mo, $1.00.


 By Violet G. Finny. With 4 Illustrations. Price, $1.00.

Under False Colors

 A Story from Two Girls' Lives. By Sarah Doudney. With 6 full-page
 Illustrations by G.G. Kilburne. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

A story which has in it so strong a dramatic element that it will
attract readers of all ages and of either sex.


A Girl's Kingdom

 Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.00.

Olive and her story will receive welcome from all girls.

Dulcie King

 A Story for Girls. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.00.


Down the Snow Stairs

 Or, From Good-night to Good-morning. By Alice Corkran. With 60
 character Illustrations by Gordon Browne. Square crown 8vo, olivine
 edges, $1.25.

"A gem of the first water, bearing upon every one of its pages the
signet mark of genius.... All is told with such simplicity and perfect
naturalness that the dream appears to be a solid reality. It is indeed
a little Pilgrim's Progress."--_Christian Leader._

Margery Merton's Girlhood

 By Alice Corkran. With 6 full-page Illustrations by Gordon Browne.
 Crown 8vo, $1.25.

The experience of an orphan girl who in infancy is left by her father,
an officer in India, to the care of an elderly aunt residing near Paris.

Joan's Adventures

 At the North Pole and Elsewhere. By Alice Corkran. Illustrated. Crown
 8vo, 75 cts.

A beautiful dream-land story.

Adventures of Mrs. Wishing-to-Be

 By Alice Corkran. With 3 full-page Pictures in colors. Crown 8vo, 75



 Or, A Girl without a Home. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

Nell's School Days

 A Story of Town and Country. By H.P. Gethen. With 4 Illustrations.
 Price, $1.00.

Violet Vereker's Vanity

 By Annie E. Armstrong. With 6 Illustrations by G. D. Hammond. Crown
 8vo, $1.25.

Three Bright Girls

 A Story of Chance and Mischance. By Annie E. Armstrong. With 6
 full-page Illustrations by W. Parkinson. Crown 8vo, $1.25.

"Among many good stories for girls this is undoubtedly one of the very
best."--_Teachers' Aid._

A Very Odd Girl

 Life at the Gabled Farm. By Annie E. Armstrong. With 6 full-page
 Illustrations by S.T. Dadd. Crown $1.25.

White Lilac

 Or, the Queen of the May. By Amy Walton. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.00.


For the Sake of a Friend

 A Story of School Life. Illustrated. Crown 8vo, $1.00.

  CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 153-157 Fifth Ave.,
                            New York.

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