"Not bad for a green crush."
The brigadier sat down on the edge of a great slab of rock to watch the baggage over the nek. It was a typical South African nek. An execrable path winding over the saddle of a low range of tumbled ironstone. Just one of those ranges which force themselves with sheer effrontery out from the level of the plain. Loose sugar-loaf excrescences which stud the sea of prairie with a thousand flat-topped islets, and weave the monotony of landscape peculiar to this great continent. The rough post-cart track led down into a vast amphitheatre, so vast that Western Europe can furnish no parallel to it. Yet its counterparts are met and traversed every day by the countless British columns now slowly darning the gaping rent in Africa's robe of peace. Who, if they had not known, would have said that the beautiful panorama, which the morning sun now unveiled before us, was a theatre of war? Away at our feet stretched mile upon mile of rolling Karoo and blue-grey prairie. True it was punctuated and ribbed with stunted kopjes. But still the everlasting plain predominated, until it was lost in an autumn haze which no sun could master. Immense,—a land without a horizon, a land every characteristic of which inspires a sense of independence and freedom. A sensation—an intoxication, to be felt, not to be described. Why should men fight in a land such as this? Surely there is room for all! The very animals of the field, ignorant of the selfishness bred of a limited pasturage and restricted space, are docile and free of vice. But with man it is different.
The dweller on the open plain learns freedom. The lesson of cramped cities is avarice—that the fittest may survive. Who shall blend the two? There, as we stood with our loins girt for war, did that great peaceful prairie unfold before us. As the morning sun grew stronger, the everlasting grey of the Karoo became jewelled with brighter tints. The middle distance of the plain was spangled with a streak of winding silver. A river tracing its erratic course between the kopje islets. At intervals along its banks the eye rested upon the patches of darker green. The home plantation of some farm, glimpses of whose whitewashed walls even now caught a glint from the strengthening sun-rays. Here was a stretch of yellow furrow—the finger of civilisation on a virgin waste. Here spots of shimmering white, where the surface of a dam reflected the flooding light of day. Here and there a flock of sheep relieved the monotony of the everlasting grey. While across our front a bunch of brood-mares were galloping in the ecstasy of day and freedom, and a bevy of quaintly pirouetting ostriches gave life to the wonderful picture. And presently a little fan of brown dots opened out on the grey below—opened out and diverged in pairs. Dots so small and insignificant that they looked like ants upon a carriage-drive. Out and out they spread, till they seemed lost and merged with the brood-mares and ostriches, now ceasing their wild movements and grouping in mild amazement at the strange invasion. And still the dots diverge. It is the advance-guard of our column—heralds of selfish man bringing horrid war into this peaceful vale. As the dots mingle with the ant-heaps on the plain, or are lost in the folds of the grey prairie, a pillar of dust rises from the centre of the fan. A larger mass of brown—the battery and its escort—a great kharki caterpillar creeping across the grey,—it is time to be moving, the last mule-waggon has topped the nek, and the last of the rear-guard are leading their horses up the post-cart road.
"Not bad for a green crush!" said the brigadier as he prepared to follow down the hillside. "Hullo! what is that?"
A spark had shown out of the misty distance. A little glitter. It came, trembled a second, and disappeared. Again it came, a many-pointed star, winking and shivering.
"Some one is calling up. Here, signaller!—where is the brigade signaller?"
A great dragoon tumbles out of his saddle and begins to arrange his tripod. In a few seconds his mirror has caught the sun in answer to the twinkling star in front.
"Who is it?"
A silence broken only by rhythmic clicks, as the signaller catches the distant conversation, and his monotonous reading of the code. A stolid assistant takes it down. "'T' group, 'W' group, 'I' group, 'Enna,' 'E' group—Major Twine, sir."
"Oh, the advance squadron. Well, that's satisfactory; we shall not have to bury them after all. What have they got to say?" and the brigadier sat down on his rock again as the signaller spelt out the message.
"Am moving now on Nieuwjaarsfontein. Parties of mounted Boers on both flanks. Have not been molested." Here the signaller broke down.
"Something has gone wrong, sir. They have gone out!"
For a moment the light again twinkled in frenzied haste. "Breaking station—shooting!" then all was dark.
"I think, sir," ventured the signaller, "that they have broken up the station because some one was shooting at them."
"Very likely. Here, Mr Intelligence, just you get on your horse and gallop up to the main body. Tell Colonel Washington that I want to send an officer on to the advance squadron, now twenty-five miles in front of us: would he be so kind as to send one back to me. Don't waste time!"
Down the steep hillside, threading through the rumbling mule-trollies, with their teams zigzagging in the throes of a heavy drift, and their groups of chattering drivers, whose black polished faces are aglow with negroid bonhomie. "Aihu, Aihu. Bom-Bom. Scellum Oom Paul. Scellum President Steyn." Then a crack from the great 12-foot whip-thong, sounding like a well-timed volley. At the bottom of the incline a small spruit. There on the bank stands Willem the Zulu. A dilapidated coaching-beaver on his head. A square foot of bronzed chest showing between the white facings of an open infantry tunic. His nether limbs encased in a pair of dragoon overalls, with vivid green patches on the knees. Was there ever such a picture of savage good nature and childishness as the giant Willem swung the great bamboo haft of his whip above his head, and chided or exhorted his team straining in the drift! "Come up, Buller," to a favourite ass. "Kruger, you scellum," to a refractory lead, while the great thong cracked like a pistol as the leather hissed between the culprit's ears without touching a hair on its hide.
Splash through the drift. "D—n it, sir, can't you let a horse water in peace." And as you feel the springy Karoo beneath your animal's stride, you catch the lament of some officer whom you have hustled in the drift.
That first gallop in the morning! Although we who have been out here for months may hate the very mention of the veldt, yet if we live to go home we shall live to regret that we ever left it. We may curse its boundless wastes—curse that endless rise which so often has lain between our tired bodies and the evening bivouac; but the curses will die over the rail of an ocean steamer and with the fading lights of Cape Town, while the memory of the exhilarating air, the freedom, the stirring adventure lurking in every dip and donga of that wind-swept, sun-dried, war-racked expanse of steppe, will live with us for ever. Who can forget those autumn mornings, when the horse, influenced by the same exhilaration as his rider, races across the spongy soil; playfully shies at a half-hidden ant-heap; with cat-like agility avoids the dangerous bear-earth; when all seems strong, and young, and full of life; when war is forgotten, until the rocket-bird falls slanting across your path, and its plaintive note calls back to your memory the whine of the Mauser bullet! Yes, it is good to be a soldier. The chances are heavy; but, all told, it is worth it.
"Where the devil are you galloping to? Don't you know that you shouldn't approach mounted troops at that pace?"
You feel inclined to tell the cavalry colonel, fresh from the Curragh, that we had left all that behind eighteen months ago. But discipline rules experience, and automatically the respectful hand is up to the helmet-peak.
"The general's compliments, sir. He wishes to send an officer on at once with a message to Major Twine. Will you kindly detail one of your officers. He is to come back with me to the general at once."
"Oh, you are from the general, are you? Here, Sturt," turning to his adjutant, "send Mr Meadows back with this officer to the general. And you, sir, don't you in future come galloping up like that into my regiment."
"Very good, sir."
"Now, Mr Intelligence, I don't want you here any more. You have got to find out something about this road. I shall expect you to know all about those farms by this evening. So get along with your robbers. You can call yourself an egg-and-milk patrol, if you like. I should like some eggs for breakfast. Unless we strike Burghers, I halt at the first convenient water after eleven—from eleven until two. Go and find that water, and don't get shot."
Back again to the front. By throwing a circle the main body is avoided, and ten minutes' canter brings you to the advance-guard. To the brain of the advance-guard would have been perhaps a more truthful statement, for the subaltern commanding the leading troop is riding alone along the post-cart road. His men are but dots strung out on either flank like buoys in the Hoogly. The subaltern himself is full of importance, grievances, and map-study.
Subaltern. "Why haven't you given me a guide?"
Intelligence Officer. "There is only one road, and that is as clear as a pikestaff."
Sub. "It is the principle that I go on."
I. O. "Well, continue to go on it. You are doing all right."
Sub. "That is not the point. I ought to have a guide and an interpreter. This is not the only road in the whole bally country, I presume?"
I. O. "Well, here we are. There are five of us. You only have to command us. That's what we are here for."
The subaltern with evident disapproval took stock of the Intelligence officer and his following—the Tiger and three nondescript black boys.
Sub. "Have you been here before?"
I. O. "Never."
Sub. "Have your boys?"
I. O. "I cannot say. They speak no known language!"
Sub. "Great Heavens! I call it murder to send us out like this."
A dragoon sergeant galloped in from the right flank.
Sergeant (in great state of excitement). "Please, sir, mounted men have just crossed our front."
Sub. "Which way?—how many were there?"
Sergeant. "About five thousand, sir!"
Sub. "Great Cæsar's ghost! Five thousand!—did you count them, sergeant?"
Sergeant. "No, sir; nobody saw them, sir: it was only their tracks. There are so many they are all over the place, so I think that there must be about four or five thousand!"
I. O. "I'll send my men to look at them!"
Sub. "Yes, do. I'll go too; but I will first send a note back to the column."
I. O. "I wouldn't do that yet. It may only be a herd of springbok!"
The subaltern did not disguise his look of scorn at this reflection. But John the Kaffir, with the aid of the Tiger, announced that the tracks in question had been made on the previous day by Major Twine's squadron—perhaps eighty strong. So much for circumstantial evidence. But this is nothing. It is not fair to judge new troops on their first day on the veldt. If that sergeant is alive to-day, you might stake such credit at the bank as you possess that he would not only give you the correct number to within five of the group which made the spoor, but would also give a fair description of the nature of the party and the pace at which they had travelled. Such is experience.
At eleven o'clock, except that the ridge of hill had been left behind, it seemed that no impression had been made upon the great waste of Karoo in front of us. But the road led down into a pretty little glen, formed by the shelving banks of a tiny river. In the early days some wandering Voortrekker had chanced upon the fascinating spot, had marked down the crystal stream and fertile grazing. Here he had out-spanned his team, drawn fine with days of trekking, and his bivouac had grown into a permanent abode. Here he had lived and died, and no doubt his great-grandchild now owned the pretty little homestead where the column was to make its midday halt. All Dutch homesteads are the same, yet there are not two alike, which is a paradox in which every one who has trekked across the veldt will agree. There are the same kraals and cattle-runs. The home plantation surrounded with stone walls. The same outhouses and forage-lofts. The artesian well, with its fluttering windmill. The dam with dirty water, the little low-roofed dumpy dwelling, washed white, half-swing doors, low stoep, and trellis front. It is in their topographical surroundings only that they differ. The one will stand bleak and exposed upon a dreary plain, the other will nestle coyly behind a grove of pointed gum-trees in some kloof or gully. Chance and nature alone decide if in structure and setting they please the eye. Man is indifferent. A house is to shield him from the elements, not to improve the landscape or impress the passer-by.
Although the Intelligence officer knew little about the science of his new office, yet he had common-sense, which is a soldier's most valuable attribute, and he knew better after eighteen months of war than to ride haphazard into a farm-house, even though the farm-house was in Cape Colony. He borrowed two men from the advance-guard, and, with the aid of the Tiger and his boys, reconnoitred the environs before he sent back to the general to tell him that he had found an ideal spot for the midday halt. Then as the advance-guard occupied the nearest eminences, he handed his horse over to one of the boys and walked up to the stoep of the farm-house. The farmer and his frau stood on the verandah to welcome him, and, as is their wont, their family of girls of all ages crowded in the open door behind their parents to gain a view of the Kharkis. Just as the inevitable hand-shake had taken place, up cantered the Tiger.
"Here we are, sir. These are the kind of people we have to deal with," and he produced two gaudily framed pictures—President Kruger and President Steyn. "Our worthy host made a miscalculation this morning, for I found a Kaffir girl hiding these in the bushes."
"What do you mean?"
"Don't you see, sir, yesterday morning a commando was here. Then our loyal friend had these two pictures hanging up in his parlour. Last evening the squadron of 20th Dragoons passed through. Uncle here saw them coming, so he hid away Oom Paul and Steyn and put the Queen and the Prince of Wales on the wall. After the squadron had gone he expected his commando back again, so up go the Presidents. We came along first, so there had to be another transformation-scene, which I have partially disturbed. I'll bet my bottom dollar that their Royal Highnesses are now adorning the parlour." (Sinking his voice.) "It's a very fair weather-cock, sir; we are not a hundred miles from a pretty strong commando. It must be under some influential leader, or we shouldn't have this little burlesque."
The farmer smiled benignly and pressed his hospitality upon the troops. Nor had the Tiger been mistaken. There, sure enough, upon the walls of the sitting-room reposed coloured portraits of the late Queen and King Edward, while, as the Intelligence officer stepped into the room, a strapping daughter sat down to the piano and played the first bars of the National Anthem. Poor subterfuge, since the damsel had overlooked the Free State favour pinned upon her breast!
"Eggs—butter? Yes, they had both; they would only be too glad—would not the general take food with them?"
The main body had just come in, the gunners were watering their horses, the Dragoons taking out their bits. The gunners knew what it meant, and the little major, who for some reason had undone his gaiter, shouted, without changing his attitude, the only necessary order, "Hook in!" To the Dragoons the muffled reports meant nothing. For all they knew or cared at the moment that hollow echoing rhythm might have been a housewife beating carpets. But the General, the Intelligence officer, and the Tiger knew.
Here came the news. A heavy dragoon, sweating from every pore, his face portraying the satisfaction of a man first shot over, came galloping in. He handed to the general a slip of paper from the subaltern in command of the advance-guard:—
"11.55. Enemy firing on my left flanking patrol—about fifty mounted men advancing towards me. I am on a rise 500 yards to the south-west of the farmhouse."
"That is a good boy," said the brigadier musingly, as he swung round on his heel and took in the topography of our position at a glance. "A very clear report. Here! you tell the officer commanding the pom-pom to take his gun up on to that rise. And you" (turning to another of his staff), "tell Colonel Washington to send a squadron with the pom-pom! Wait, don't be in a hurry; hear me out, please. Tell him that the squadron is to extend, take the rise at a gallop—dismount just before it reaches the top. Now you may go."
Then turning to the chief of the staff, "Have you got a match? Thanks. Now, tell Freddy to send two of his guns on to that rise south of the dam. Send a troop with him. I will be here with the rest to await developments!"
"Order given, sir!" and the Intelligence officer touched his cap.
"Good. Now you go with the pom-pom. I shall be here; let me know developments. Get along. Don't argue!"
Already the pom-pom is trotting out of the farmhouse enclosure and the squadron of Dragoons extending on the plain beyond. The faces of the gunners are as impassive as if they were about to gallop past at a review. They have been doing this sort of thing for months; it has no novelty for them. But with the Dragoons it is different. This is their first engagement; you can see it in the countenances of the men nearest you. The excitement which whitens men's cheeks and makes every action angular and awkward.
"Second Squadron 20th Dragoon Guards—Gallop!"
"Pom-pom—Gallop!" comes the echo.
The Boers must be close up, for the advance-guard is falling back. They are coming back for all they are worth. It will be a race between us and the enemy for the possession of the ridge; please Providence that we may be there first, for of a truth he who loses will pay the stake. The officers realise this, and sitting down to their work they make the pace. The wild line careering behind them suits itself to their lead; instinctively in its excitement and inexperience it closes inwards. Only 200 yards more. The sky-line is clear and defined. No heads have appeared as yet. One hundred yards! Now we are under the rise, the horses feel the hill—a few seconds and we shall know who has won the race. "Steady, men, steady!" Up goes the squadron leader's arm. "Halt! Dismount!" A chaotic second as the frenzied line reins in. "'Number Threes.' Where are the 'Number Threes'?"—"Way for the pom-pom." The straining team crashes through the line. The dismounted troopers follow their officers up the slope. A moment of suspense—and a long-drawn breath. We are first. There are the Boers dismounting a hundred yards away. "Action front, the pom-pom." "Down men, down!"—come the hoarse orders, and a ripple of fire crackles along the summit of the rise. "Let them have the whole belt." Pom-pom-pom-pom-pom-pom! The little gun reels and quivers as it belches forth its stream of spiteful bombs. For a moment the Boers return the fire. Then they rush for their horses, and in as many seconds as it takes to light a cigarette are galloping ventre à terre across the plain in an ever-extending fan. The merciless lead pursues them. The Dragoons spring to their feet to facilitate rapidity of fire, while the pom-pom churns the dry dust of the veldt into little whirlwinds among the flying horsemen. Five hundred yards away stands a kopje. In three minutes the last of the Boers have placed it between them and the British fire—except for the three or four that lie motionless upon the plain.
"Now we shall have it!" and the pom-pom captain turns to the squadron commander. "I advise you to make your men lie down again. I'm going to man-handle my gun down the slope."
"Click-clock, click-clock, click-clock!" go the Mausers. The Boers are on the top of the kopje. It is to be their turn now. No; there is a roar behind the farm, then another, and another. Then three little white cloud-balls open out on the lip of the kopje.
"Good little Freddy!" soliloquises the pom-pom captain as he snaps his glasses into their case. "He was watching them. I must get my beauty to the end of this rise, to catch them as they leave."—"Pom-pom, limber up!"
Boom-boom-boom. Three more little puffs of white over the kopje. Click-clock once, and the brush was over. What was it worth? Four mangled rebels on the veldt, and one stalwart dragoon, with white drawn face and sightless eyes turned to the beautiful blue of heaven!
The brigadier cantered up to the rise. A section of Horse Artillery rumbled up after him. "Look here," he said to the squadron leader, "you must get your men on to that kopje: they are not worth pursuing—there are not more than twenty of them. If I were you I should open out, divide and gallop round both flanks of the kopje; it's open veldt beyond, and we'll look after you from this ridge. You won't see any more of them than their tails. Don't pursue beyond 3000 yards. My orders are to go to Britstown, not to wear my horses out over scallywag snipers!"
"We must push on and get touch with our loose squadron to-night," said the brigadier, as he and his staff made a hasty midday meal off tinned sausages and eggs cooked by the terrified women of the farmhouse. "I wonder what has happened to that poor little subaltern boy that I sent on this morning. Ah! here's Mr Intelligence direct from the bloodstained field; now we shall know the damage!"
Brigadier. "Any Boer wounded?"
Intelligence Officer. "Yes, sir; two, and two killed."
B. "Are the wounded talkative?"
I. O. "One is too far gone, sir; the other is quite communicative."
B. "Well, what has he got to say?"
I. O. "He lies about himself. Swears that he is a Free Stater; but as a matter of fact his name is Pretorius, and he is a son of the farmer from whose wife we got our guides last night. By the merest chance we took a photograph of the farmer's two sons out of an album we found at the farm. And here is one of them wounded to-day. From his account it appears that a man called Lotter is here with a commando, and that he and his have just brought off rather a bad thing. Lotter's commando only joined the rebels returning from Nieuwjaarsfontein about an hour ago. The rebels knew that our advance squadron was at this farm last night, and when they saw us here, they mistook us for Major Twine, and knowing his strength attacked in good heart."
B. "I thought it was something of that kind. Well, we need not eat our hearts out about Twine. Those swine won't be taking any more to-day, especially now that they have reason to believe that we are about. But we won't waste time; we'll go on in half an hour. Send word round, and then come and have some food!"
As the shadows began to grow long across the level of stunted Karoo we had placed another ten miles behind us on the road to Britstown. Never a further sign did we see that day of our enemy. But this is typical of this free fighting on the open veldt. Your enemy comes upon you like a dust-devil—he appears, strikes, wins or loses, and then disappears again as suddenly as he came. You fight your little battle, bury your dead, shake yourselves, and forget all about the incident. This, it may be assumed, for the last year has been the nature of the life which all mounted men have led out here.
Just before the sun set, enshrouded in a curtain of rising mist, we reached a great ridge of table-land. A particularly wild and forsaken tract of country.
"We shall have to halt at the first water," said the brigadier. "What an unholy place to camp in! Well, if there are no Boers it doesn't matter. It's lucky that we had a turn-up against those fellows to-day. They will hardly stomach a night-attack with the echo of a pom-pom chorus still ringing in their ears. Is that a flag?"
The advance-guard were beginning to show like stunted tree-trunks upon the sky-line on our front. Yes; it was a flag. There was work for the lumbering dragoon signaller again. Slowly he spelt out the message: "No enemy have been seen. Ridge is clear. Right flanking patrol had touch with rear troop of Major Twine's squadron, now moving on Nieuwjaarsfontein. Lieutenant Meadows, rejoined, reports Major Twine's squadron seen several bodies of enemy; his squadron has been sniped, but not seriously engaged. Country very open on far side of ridge. Good camping-ground and water at foot of ridge."
"Good business!" said the brigadier, turning to his chief of staff. "Will you canter up and mark out a camp? It's a great relief to find that that advance squadron hasn't been scuppered."
A more dismal camping-ground could not have been found. The fair veldt seemed to have vanished. Instead of a sprinkling of farms, there was only one human habitation within sight—a miserable edifice of mud and unbaked bricks belonging to a Boer shepherd of the lowest type. The dam was a natural depression formed by what appeared to have been the crater of some long-extinct volcano. The country surrounding it was of the roughest, and to make the situation more depressing, with sundown great banks of cloud had gathered in the west. The brigadier might well be anxious for his small force of raw troops in such a fastness, and it is easy to appreciate the feeling which prompted him to personally post the night pickets. But raw troops, raw transport, all will settle down in time, and an hour after sundown the men were having their food.
Before the main body moved into camp the Tiger had made a discovery. He had found a wounded Boer in the shepherd's shanty. A stalwart young Dutchman, with his right hand horribly shattered by a pom-pom shell. The youth was in great pain, and, as the Boer so often has proved, was very communicative under his hurt. He was a Free Stater from Philippolis, and belonged to Judge Hertzog's commando. He was one of fifteen scouts sent by Hertzog, under a commandant called Lotter, to pick up the Richmond rebels and take them down to Graaf Reinet, where De Wet's invaders had orders to concentrate, before undertaking the more desperate venture of the invasion. He indorsed the other wounded man's version of the attack they had made upon us in the morning, and he also volunteered the information that Brand, Hertzog, and Pretorius were due to attack Britstown—our destination—this very evening. This information so far interested the brigadier that he ordered an officer's patrol from the 20th Dragoon Guards to leave camp at 3 A.M. and ride right through to Britstown without a halt, so as to arrive there by nine or ten in the morning. It was important to know if Britstown had been attacked, since until the concentration took place on the morrow the garrison there was weak: it was also important that the general officer commanding the combined movement should know of the deflection from Hertzog's commando which we had encountered. Lieutenant Meadows, having proved so successful in avoiding the enemy in the morning, was again entrusted with the mission, and he was given Stephanus as his guide.
The gathering clouds did not prove simply a seasonable warning. A great icy blast swept up the valley, driving a broad belt of stinging dust before it, and the bivouac was smitten through and through by a South African dust-storm. Five minutes of fierce gale, with lightning that momentarily dispelled the night, then a pause—the herald of coming rain. A few great ice-cold drops smote like hail on the tarpaulin shelter that served headquarters for a mess-tent. Then followed five minutes of a deluge such as you in England cannot conceive. A deluge against which the stoutest oil-skin is as blotting-paper. A rain which seems also to entice fountains from the earth beneath you. In ten minutes all is over. The stars are again demurely winking above you, and all that you know of the storm is that you see the vast diminishing cloud, revealed in the west by the fading lightning-flashes, and that you have not a dry possession either in your kit or on your person.
"Not much fear of sleeping sentries to-night," said the chief of the staff as we cowered round a fire under the waggon-sail.
"No; and it is just as well: it is on these sleepless nights that 'brother' is fond of showing himself," answered the brigadier. "I don't like all these Free Staters about. They may be able to stir up the new crop of rebels into doing something desperate. Raw guerillas, with a leaven of hard-bitten cases, are always a source of danger. But I think that we worked our own salvation in the skirmish this morning. They would hardly believe that we should have such a small force with so many guns. No; our luck was in to-day, when they discovered us instead of Twine's squadron. We shall make something out of the 20th. They are the right stuff: that squadron went for that rise to-day in splendid style. The Boer cannot stand galloping. I may be a crank—they believe that I am one at Pretoria—but I am convinced that I have discovered the true Mounted Infantry formation for the sort of fighting that we are now experiencing out here. If you find your enemy in any position that you can gallop over, without riding your horse to a standstill, go for him in extended order. You will get more results from an enterprise of this kind than from a week of artillery and dismounted attack. I hear that D. claims to have originated this formation. Why, I was practising it with my fellows in Natal before D. was born, or rather when he was an infant in the knowledge of war. I am as convinced that I am right as I am that the rifle is the cavalry-man's arm. It is not for shock tactics that you require to mount men nowadays: the use of a horse is to get into the best fire-position in the shortest possible time. The battles of the future will be decided by rifles and machine-guns, not by lance and sabre. There's heresy for you; but it's my honest conviction!"
 The double report made by a small-bore rifle.
 The major commanding the battery R.H.A.
 I.e., Brother Boer.