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We arrange to retire from our posts, but still possess the enterprise to start a Portrait Gallery.

"THE FRIEND," No. 23--actually the 25th number we had edited--contained a notice that Mr. Kipling had sailed for England on the previous day (April 11th), and we were doing our utmost to get rid of our offspring, to find some one to adopt it.

As long ago before this as when Sir Alfred Milner was with us in Bloemfontein, we had made known to him and to Lord Roberts, through Lord Stanley, that the employers of certain ones among us were complaining of our expending part of their time and our energy upon this outside work. I am certain that no interest with which any of us were connected suffered the least slight or injury, for the result of our labour of love for Lord Roberts was simply that we worked twice as hard--and learned twice as much of what was going on as those correspondents who held aloof and let the whole burden fall upon us. My employer, Mr. Harmsworth, uttered no sound of criticism or complaint, by the way, and the only word about THE FRIEND that reached me from the Daily Mail was a cablegram wishing us success.

We were all tiring fast. I was lame with an injury which kept laying me up, and otherwise my condition was such that for weeks I had not been able to partake of any food except milk and soda water. I owe a great deal for moral and physical stimulus to Dr. Kellner, ex-mayor of Bloemfontein and head of the Free State Hospital, whose services to the British army should not be allowed to pass into history without his receiving some substantial honour and acknowledgment from this government. He told the noble matron, Miss Maud Young, and her nursing assistants (when they gave notice that they wished to leave at the outbreak of the war) that he "never heard before that politics had anything to do with the care of sick and wounded men," and up to that standard of duty he worked on with them as enthusiastically under the Union Jack as he had under the four-colour flag.

I did not know how ill and dispirited I was until one evening I went to the room of my assistant, Mr. Nissen, of the DAILY MAIL, and heard through his closed window in the Bloemfontein Hotel the sound of a banjo. It is a purely American instrument, and the plunk-plunk of its strings made my heart leap. I threw open the window and heard in nasal tones, affected by a Yankee colleague for the purpose of his song, a sentiment like this:--

Oh, I want ter go back to Noo York,
Ther "tenderloin's" ther place,
Where the men are square and the women are fair
And I know evurry face.

I want ter go back to Noo York
Ter hear Gawd's people talk.
Yer may say what yer please
Only just give ter me
My little old Noo York.

I felt like shouting, "fellow citizens, them's my sentiments." Suddenly I, too, wanted "ter go back ter Noo York"--with London as an alternative. I had not known it or felt it before, but that song, as new to me as any that will be written five years hence, touched the button that produced a nostalgia which Heaven knows I had good reason to feel without any such additional or peculiar incentive.

Mr. Landon was also very ill of what I took to be a slow African fever. We laid the facts before the authorities, and suggested that our colleague, Mr. F. W. Buxton, now back at work with us, was able to promise that the accomplished staff of the Johannesburg Star would gladly take THE FRIEND off our hands if its members could be passed up to Bloemfontein on their way to Johannesburg. They were all receiving salaries though nearly all were idle; the owners had suffered grievously by the closing of their establishment at the outbreak of the war, and they certainly deserved well of the British Army.

With this view our military editorial chiefs coincided, and Mr. Buxton busied himself in arranging for the coming of the editors, reporters, and printers, and the transfer of the little Organ of the Empire to their charge.

This number of April 12th began with a leader on "The Queen in Ireland," and this was followed by a play upon the society notes of other papers, written by Mr. Gwynne. Our prolific soldier-poet, "Mark Thyme," contributed two sets of verses, and once again we published the news of the world, like any genuine newspaper at home.

On this day we printed our first "alleged" portrait, No. 1 of a series of pictures of the notable characters in town. We selected Mr. Burdett-Coutts as the leading figure in this gallery, and made a most modest announcement that we had secured the portrait and were able to present it to our readers.

I am quite certain that never before in the Free State had a newspaper published a portrait made on the spot and of a newly arrived visitor. There were in the Free State no means for doing such work. But such is the non-thinking habit of the human race that not a soul questioned what we announced, or asked how the feat was accomplished. It was declared to be, in a way, like Mr. Burdett-Coutts, and every one took it for granted that there was nothing THE FRIEND and its editors could not do if they tried.

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NOTICE.

By kind permission of Lieutenant-General Kelly-Kenny, C.B., the massed bands of the 6th Division will play on the Market Square from 4 to 5.30 p.m. on Easter Monday.

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SOCIETY'S DOINGS.

BY H. A. GWYNNE.

A most successful dinner was given by ---- Battery on Saturday night. The A.S.C. awning was most artistically arranged between two buck waggons and was decorated with much taste, the junior subaltern having attached to it the fashion-plates and pictorial advertisements from The Queen. The "Maggi" soup was pronounced a success, and it was evident that the battery chef had put his heart into the work. A somewhat unpleasant incident occurred soon after dinner, which put rather a damper on the evening's hilarity and dispersed the party. An order had come for one of the ammunition waggons to go into Bloemfontein to fetch ammunition, and the sergeant, wholly without malice prepense, hitched his horses to one of the sides of the dining-room and removed it suddenly. We are glad to say that the collapse consequent upon this manoeuvre, although very disagreeable, produced no injury, and the company was able to leave sound in limb but swearing strange oaths.

---- Horse, always to the fore, whether bullets are about or the scarcely less dangerous glances of female eyes, entertained at tea yesterday a great number of guests of both sexes. It is a pity, however, that their camp is so far out of town, for most of their gentlemen guests were obliged to walk home, having "lost" their horses.

The Naval Brigade gave a soirée musicale on Monday night, which was perhaps the most brilliant affair of the season. The proverbial hilarity of sailors induced in their guests a corresponding feeling, and songs, toasts, speeches made the time pass merrily enough. A new game, the details of which we hope to give in a further issue, was played with great success. It is called "Hunt the Tompion." At the beginning of the evening Captain Bearcroft, R.N., gave a most instructive and bright lecture on the "New Tactics--Horse Marines."

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A "small and early" was given yesterday by the Royal Diddlesex Regiment. Dancing went on briskly until a transport mule came and died in the extemporised ball-room, causing two ladies to faint.

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A conversazione was given by the A.S.C. in their camp within the immediate confines of the town. The novel subject, "When will the War end?" was chosen for discussion. The arguments, which were often of a highly intellectual grade, were punctuated by sniping from trees and bushes on the kopje side. Two of the attendants who were distributing the choice and light viands to the guests were shot. True, their wounds were slight, yet the incident interrupted the even tenor of the conversazione.

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SOCIALISM IN VERSE.

BY MARK THYME.

Now, I always was a 'ardly-treated bloke,
I'm a martyr to my cause, as you may say--
I used to own a barrer and a moke,
And I'd sometimes earn a thick-un in the day.
But them Socialists they comes along our court,
And they says as 'ow all things should common be,
So, to 'elp the cause on quicker, I goes off and lifts a ticker,
'Cause the bloke 'ad no more right to it than me.

Well, for that I 'ad to do a bit o' time,
Though I argued it afore the majerstrit
As I'd done it out o' politics, not crime;
But the cuckoo couldn't understand a bit.
So I says when I 'ad left the bloomin' jug,
"I must strike a bigger blow to set us free;
I must play a nobler game." So I forges Rothschild's name,
'Cause the bloke 'ad no more right to it than me.

Now, living in a 'ouse acrost the street,
There used to be a very tasty gal;
She'd curly 'air and dainty 'ands and feet,
And was married to my very dearest pal.
'E says to me, says 'e, "When you're our way
Step in, old cull, and 'ave a dish o' tea."
Thinks I, "My dooty this is." So I offs it with 'is missis,
'Cause the bloke 'ad no more right to 'er than me.

But I won't be beat by any bloomin' lor,
To 'ave my rights, I tell yer straight, I'm game;
And, once I gets outside this prison door,
I'll strike another blow in Freedom's name--
The lor and all its engines I defy,
From the Stepper to the gloomy gallows-tree;
I'll go and get a knife, and I'll take some joker's life,
'Cause the bloke 'as no more right to it than me."

For my motto is: All should be common to all,
This covey is equal to that;
And if I'm short you've no right to be tall,
If I'm thin you've no right to be fat.
To call me a criminal's fair tommy-rot,
It's on principle all what I've done:
Yet, perish me, all the reward as I've got
Is my number--201.

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"SMART."

BY MARK THYME.

(Being a few hints to any of the fair citizens of this town who may contemplate spending a season or two in London.)

Ye Belles of Bloemfontein, pray hearken unto me,
And I'll show you how to sparkle in polite Society.
Never fear that you'll be visited with contumely or scorn
If you happen not to be aristocratically born,
For mere birth is not essential to means, if only you
Have the luck to be related to a brewer or a few;
And if only you have money, you need never be afraid
To swagger of the swindles of your former days of trade.
And your friends, as they receive you to their heart,
Each to each will the opinion impart: "She is vulgar, I admit, I don't like her, not a bit,
But then you know, my dear, she's smart."

Your dress must be--well--daring! You must have a tiny waist
And the colours must be splashed about in execrable taste.
Your bodice may be decent while you've still the gift of youth,
But must lower in proportion as you're longer in the tooth.
The colour of your hair and your complexion must appear
To vary with the fashionable fancies of the year,
And though your wit lack lustre, the tiara must be bright
That you've hired out from a jeweller's at ten-and-six a night.
And your friends, as they receive you to their heart,
Each to each will the opinion impart: "Looks quite odd, I must admit, I don't like her, not a bit,
But then you know, my dear, she's smart."

Then, as to conversation, let each syllable you speak
Be vehemently vapid or else pruriently weak;
Tell some tales distinctly risky, if not actually obscene,
While artfully pretending that you don't know what they mean.
In the intervals of slander you must prate in flippant tone
On some Theologic subject that you'd better leave alone;
And, though your speech be witless, nay, to some may seem absurd,
It matters not if reputations die at every word.
And your friends, as they receive you to their heart,
Each to each the opinion will impart: "She's ill-natured, I admit, I don't like her, not a bit,
But then you know, my dear, she's smart."

Your parties must be "tidy," so to bring about these ends
Find some lady with a title who likes living on her friends;
Hint that you'll supply the money that's essential to the task,
If only she will condescend to tell you whom to ask.
On your former friends and relatives politely close the door,
Though they may have been of service in the days when you were poor,
Be each guest of yours a beauty, full of pride,
A tiara on her head, a co-respondent by her side.
And your friends, as they receive you to their heart,
Each to each will the opinion impart: "She's a snob, I quite admit, I don't like her, not a bit,
But then you know, my dear, she's smart."

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OUR PORTRAIT GALLERY.

We have to announce the arrival in Bloemfontein of Mr. Burdett-Coutts, of London, of whom we have secured a portrait which we present to our readers.

[Illustration: THE FRIEND's front page.]

Parent Category: Books
Category: Ralph: War's Brighter Side
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