A Visit to his Headquarters, and a Feast of "Tommy" Poetry.
At this time--on the very night before this, if recollection serves me right--I went up to the quarters of the Staats Artillerie, and there found General Pole-Carew in his headquarters. It was always like a breath of new life to see him, to hear his vigorous views on the war he believed in conducting against the Boers, and to note how thoroughly he was the master of all the information of value that could be obtained wherever he was.
His headquarters--remember he was the dandy of the army as well as one of its shrewdest and bravest men--was a bare-walled building that a monk would have considered cheerless. The dining-room, where his guests were received, was not as attractive as any dining-room in any Tommy's barracks at home. It contained a little table heaped with papers and a large table set with kitchen knives and forks, enamelled iron mugs, and sparklet bottles by way of combined service and ornament. I stayed to dinner of beef and potatoes, bread and butter, and whisky and water, and sat next to Colonel Crabbe, of the Grenadiers, with his arm in a sling from his second wounding in the war. A brave and gallant company was there--of beaux sabreurs and veterans who took life as it came and enjoyed its every phase.
Two titled ladies had been the last guests of that mess. I wonder what they thought when they realised how their idols of the Guards were living. And what they would have thought had they farther realised that these officers were really feeling up to their knees in clover, being vastly better off than they had been at any time in the previous five or six months. When they were enjoying the serious phases of campaigning--out on the veldt in tents, or oftener still with no shelter at all--the ladies would have found them just as spirited and gay--except that no ladies could ever have found them at all or ventured where they were.
Those men of the Guards have long been called the "London Pets" and "stay at homes" and "feather-bed soldiers," but they very quickly lived down their nicknames in South Africa. There nobody petted them; they had no beds (or even tents) between Modder of evil memory and Koomati Poort some six or seven months distant, in time, nor did they manage to get sent home--or want to do so, either. Lord! what brave chaps they are! and what fighters! I saw them fight at Belmont, at Modder, and at Maghersfontein, and I know. Through all the killing and wounding and sickness, the forty-four miles of marching in one spell of twenty-two hours, the half-rations, the tropic heat and the intense cold, the officers were ever jocular and spirited. One said to me, as he pointed at Maghersfontein Kopje, "Set a brewery up on top of that and my regiment will take the place in a romp." But the most characteristic anecdote I have to tell of one of these West-end London dandies is told by himself in a letter he sent to me: "It is cold and wet here now. I have got a bad attack of lumbago, and it took me ten minutes to straighten up and get on my feet when I woke this morning. I went off on outpost duty, and some Boers began sniping at my men until we could not put up with it any longer, when I gave the order to rush over to where they were and do them up. The devils ran away before we could kill them. I am sorry you are down with that leg. You should be here, enjoying all the fun."
We published the sixth of Mr. Kipling's fables in this number, among scores of articles most interesting there and then, but not repeatable to advantage here and now.
(Edited by the War Correspondents with Lord Roberts' Force.)
No. 13.] BLOEMFONTEIN, SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 1900. [Price one penny.
FABLES FOR THE STAFF.
[Footnote 14: Copyrighted; used here by permission.]
BY RUDYARD KIPLING.
An Intelligence Officer, meeting a strayed Kaffir without visible Means of Subsistence, reprobated him for a Spy and Forthwith cast him into Jail, where he languished for two Days.
At the Expiration of his Incarceration the Kaffir fell into the hands of a Discerning Colonial who filled him with Cape Smoke and engaged him in idle Persiflage for three Hours.
"My Word!" said the Colonial when the grateful Son of Ham had departed, "that Ethiop is full to the back Teeth of most valuable Information! Let us give him a new Coat and a Pound of Tobacco."
"On the Contrary," said the I.O., "He is a Wastrel and a Stinker. He cannot reply to Direct Questions and habitually contradicts himself."
"That," said the Discerning Colonial, "is just It! I am about to act upon his Inaccuracies."
This the Colonial did with great Success, and wiped up Seven of the Enemy advancing up a Spruit in the Cool of the Evening.
On reporting his Achievement, the Intelligence Officer reported the Colonial for supplying the Kaffir with Illicit Liquor.
MORAL. Oh Cæsar!
BY RUDYARD KIPLING, PERCEVAL LANDON, AND A. H. GWYNNE.
You cannot argue with a Shell, a Mule or a Press Censor.
The nearer to the Press Censor the further from Truth.
(N.B.--This is generally guaranteed by the Press Censor.)
It's a wise Field Marshal that knows his own Generals.
It's a long front that has no turning.
"A shell in time saves nine," as the 4'7 said when it opened on the sniper.
"Heaven helps those who help themselves," as ----'s Horse said when they found the poultry yard.
Providence and the Company Officer have a great deal to look after.
Between two rivers, drink Modderietly.
It's always the next shell that will do the trick.
Five under cover is fifty in the open.
PRICES IN BLOEMFONTEIN.
When you've tightened up your waistbelt just a pair of holes or so,
When you've tackled your last bit of armoured "duff,"
Then you put your bally pipe on, and you puff and spit and blow,
And you realize half ration ain't enough.
You go into the market and you purchase lots of grub
Off the farmers whom friend Steyn has done a scoot from,
And when you ask the price of it, that's where you cop the rub,
For it takes away your breath just like a pom-pom.
Duke's son, Cook's son, all of 'em want their scoff, Fifty thousand horse and foot struggling to get some grub,
Each of 'em doing his country's work, and each being done in turn, If you want to buy things in Bloemfontein you must pay! pay! pay!
When they charge a "bob" for hair-cut and a tanner for a shave,
It makes you say things that you didn't ought,
And the 'umble loaf of "rootey" costs a tanner, or a bob,
Is this the kind of sympathy they're taught?
There's a luxury called butter that Tommy likes to buy,
And he'll have it if he's got the oof, you bet,
But three bob a bloomin' pound makes a hole in Atkins' pay
'Cos he ain't paid C'lonial wages (not just yet).
Clerk's son, Grocer's son, son of a Haberdasher, All the Gents in Khaki chucking their pelf away,
Each of 'em's done his country's work, It's hard to be done in turn,
If you want to buy grub in Bloemfontein you've to pay! pay! pay!
When you've tightened up your waistbelt just a pair of holes or so,
When you lay yourself out flat and go to sleep,
Then you dream of home and mother and some glorious feasts to go,
And you wake up, pray, and find you've done a weep;
For you've dreamt that bread and butter's gone up 3d. more in price,
(These loyal (?) folks charge really what they choose, sir),
Then you say, "Well, roll on, England," where there ain't no
And where there's many a cheap and comfy booser.
Merchant's son, Cook's son, sons of the plebs galore, Rushing, in ragged Khaki, anxious to spend their brass,
Each of 'em's done his country's work, but the extra bob a day Don't go far in Bloemfontein, where you've always to pay! pay! pay!
SONS OF BRITAIN.
BY W. BLELOCH.
When the bugle call to battle sounds
Afar in the land of our birth,
In the cause of race and Queen to fight,
We rise from the ends of the earth. Wherever the battle may be We rally by land and by sea To join in the fight of the free,
And our foemen have Britons to face.
Then Britain's sons again
Fill up the ranks with men,
Who'll fight! who'll die! Whose battle-cry:
"True Britons we remain."
We are sons of Britain every one
With pride of the blood of our race,
And we'll carry Britain's story on
As our fathers did in their place. Whatever the work to be done, We seek a full share, every one, And fighting till victory's won
Of the burden and glory we claim,
Then Britain's sons again, &c.
The glorious deeds her great have done
Are ours, whether Saxon or Celt,
As heirs of their name and fame we come
From snows and from bush and from veldt. Our honour we'll ever keep bright, By holding the front of the fight, And jealously guarding the right
For our sons and their sons again.
Then Britain's sons again, &c.
It may interest our friends at the Cape to know that a certain doctor, who lives not 1,000 miles from the Paarl--and who came on ambulance business to the Free State--was very busy on his arrival here, giving it out as the news of the day that "officers of the English Army were busy with sjamboks driving Tommy off the boats as Tommy did not want to fight." This statement was made in the Bloemfontein Club before several witnesses and is quite authentic.
"THE BRAVEST DEED."
It was at the battle of Abraham's Kraal. The Boers had fled from a position which we now occupied. They, in their flight, had to cross the open veldt to another kopje three-quarters of a mile from the first. We fired volley after volley into their huddled masses. My old friend standing by me noticed a wounded Boer trying to escape. He immediately dashed out amid a perfect hail of bullets, caught the escaping Boer, threw him across his shoulders and dashed back to cover, the bullets falling all round him. Unscathed himself, his burden was shot to death.
Private A. J. HARD, N.S.W. Mounted Infantry, Australia.
DEAR SIR,--The bravest deed I witnessed while with the 6th Division was the following:--
It was at Paardeberg on Sunday, 18th February, about 5 p.m. We were watching a hill overlooking Osfontein farm-house, when some of the enemy were seen to enter the garden surrounding that house. So an order was given by Second Lieutenant Romilly for No. 1 section of the above-named company to advance and try and drive them out. We commenced the advance by short rushes, meanwhile the enemy sending down a few shots. We succeeded in getting to within four hundred yards of the house when a perfect hail of bullets came, both from the house and hill. Then the order came to retire, as the fire was becoming too hot to attempt to get any closer. It was during this retirement that what I saw happened. One of our men, Pte. Driscoll, was shot in the back, and down he fell, badly hurt, when Second Lieutenant Romilly, on seeing him fall, at once knelt down and dressed his wound, doing it as coolly as if on a drawing-room floor. After doing this, with the help of Pte. Brown of the same Company, he hurried the man back to safer quarters, having to go a distance of over four hundred yards before being out of danger. The bullets fell all around them quite thick. How they managed to escape is quite marvellous, as several bullets went through their clothing, and one, as I heard the officer say, went between his lips--a close shave indeed!
Whether any recognition will be forthcoming for the above gallant deed, I cannot say, as there were none of those who occupy higher positions to testify as to its correctness; but the men certainly deserve something for so brave a deed.
I am, Sir, yours faithfully,