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To the delight of the men and disgust of the brigadier, day broke without bringing any further orders to the New Cavalry Brigade. So it remained halted in the great open prairie which fringes the Beer Vlei. It may also be conjectured that De Wet and his following, as they were stripping the adjacent little township of Strydenburg, learned with satisfaction that the British columns, which lay round him like the spokes of a wheel to the axle, were as immobile as usual—Plumer from the force of circumstances, the others for the reasons set down in the preceding chapter. But the cunning guerilla had no intention of dallying at Strydenburg. It was not part of his strategy to spend two consecutive days in any one spot unless bent upon the reduction [185]of a garrison. Even British column commanders at times have been known to shake off their lethargy. He just remained in the town long enough to replenish his quartermaster's stores department and to take over the fresh ponies which Hertzog had collected for him, and then moved north in three columns, trusting to pass between the spokes of the imaginary wheel before Plumer had collected himself. Brand, with a thin hedge of Free Staters and rebels, was left as a decoy to cover Strydenburg, while the three columns made for Marks Drift in the loop of the Orange River, south-west of Kimberley. And as De Wet put the first day's plan of these movements into progress, the New Cavalry Brigade, by order, remained halted, covering the entrance to the pass at Minie Kloof.

The men, however, were delighted. For the first time for many weeks they were able to turn round and attend to their own personal comfort, to change their under-clothes and to sort their kits. The soldier man on service loves to sort his kit. The very fact that he is able to shake out his modest bag to the [186]bottom spells "holiday," and in latter-day trekking holidays for the men were rare. But even holidays can bring their heart-burnings, and about the breakfast-hour a howl of despair went up from the Horse Artillery lines. A casual stroll through the ankle-deep heather to Freddy's quarters repaid those sightseers who had energy enough to be interested in camp excitements. The horse-gunner major had long felt annoyance at the turnout of his Kaffir boys and teamsters. The predominant attribute of the Kaffir is vanity, an attribute which he possesses in common with all savages and most white men. The reason for this vanity we will not pursue, as we have nothing to do with the ethics of masculine conceit: it is sufficient for this history that it exists. Vanity has caused the Kaffirs of South Africa to acquire about fifty per cent of the British army tunics which have landed in that continent. Thomas Atkins, as a rule, is not over-blessed with money, consequently he cannot resist the temptation of the five golden sovereigns which the Kaffir is prepared to give for any scarlet tunic which is not in the [187]last stage of decay. The transfer of uniform came to such a pitch that an army order was issued on the subject. Not that an army order was sufficient to stay the general traffic in British uniforms, but it furnished such right-minded soldiers as the horse-gunner major with the "cue" which they required. Freddy's Kaffirs had struck a new and green regiment, and being themselves near the end of a six months' contract, they were "full of money." Consequently at Britstown, where money had possessed extra fascinations for the British soldier, the "boys" attached to the battery had been able to lay in a very complete outfit in Line regimentals. The halt gave Freddy his opportunity, and he had every kit laid bare. The revelation was wonderful. There was not a driver or voor looper who had not his scarlet jerkin. Many, indeed, had two, to say nothing of forage-caps, field-service caps, dragoon overalls, and gunner slacks. The Kaffirs had at first looked upon the kit inspection as a joke. But they lapsed into a puzzled silence when they saw their belongings cast upon a common heap. Their great white eyes grew bigger [188]and bigger, and their repulsive lips wider and wider apart, until, when the last bag had been ransacked, the torch was applied to the pile of clothing. Then they realised the blasting of all their hopes, and with one accord they gave vent to the despairing yell which had attracted the attention of the camp. They became like men possessed. Smiting themselves heavily upon the head with their fists, they went through the paroxysms of negroid lamentation. One could almost feel for them, great bronzed children that they are. They had worked hard for months, shared the privations and dangers of war with the white men, in order that they might return to their kraals bedecked as they thought in all the glory of the white man's clothes. To them the Utopia of life would have been their homecoming. The admiration of chattering women, the acclamation of piccaninies, and the hideous smile of their paramount chief as they humbly presented him with a battered helmet in a semi-decayed state of pipe-clay finish. But Freddy was no philanthropist when the honour of the uniform which his family had worn for two [189]centuries was at stake. And he was right. The dignity of the King's uniform is precious before all philanthropy: "These brutes in Gunner Uniform—never! They may keep their kharki; but I will not have our uniform outraged in my battery, whatever other people may think!"

The native question throughout the war has furnished an interesting study. It cannot be claimed that, under the circumstances existing in South Africa, good will result from this tremendous struggle for existence and paramountcy between two white races. It must always be remembered that South Africa will, similarly with India, be held by the dominant white race with the sword. It is not for us to trace here what troubles may be in store for the white races in the far future. The situation in the present and near future appears unsatisfactory enough. The untutored mind of the Ethiopian does not appreciate the finer ethics of social intercourse and the equality of mankind. Freedom to his reasoning means independence; to possess independence, to the semi-savage, is a proof of power. The inherent vanity of [190]the aboriginal then finds scope, and the nation which cringed and quailed under the sjambok of the Boer will be the first to rebel against the equity of the Briton. And what have we done during these long months of military occupation to counteract the evil effects of war. Nothing: Briton-like we have selected to work upon exterior lines. We have lived in the present, secure for the future. Who has attempted to follow the train of thought which has been uppermost in the native mind? Yet it would have been simple enough to have analysed their minds. Will it not have been somewhat of this kind?—"The Boers were few and the British were many. Yet it has taken the British months to stamp out the Boers who were few. Moreover, we have done all the scouting for the British—without us they themselves could have done nothing. Also of what value are the British soldiers? They are paid 30s. a-month. We—and we are black men—are paid by the British £3 and £4 a-month. Therefore we must be twice or three times as good as the British soldiers! And look how the British treat us. How different to the treatment we [191]received at the hands of the Boers. The British must be afraid of us!" And in the abstract this reasoning is sound. We do treat the native as if we were afraid of him. We do treat him so that he might justly compare himself favourably with the British soldier. We take it for granted that this illiterate black son of the south will know, as we do, all the troubles and standards of the labour market: will discern the reason, which to us is obvious, of his princely pay. But this is where our crass stupidity overtakes us. The native does not arrive at his conclusions through the same channel of thought as we do ourselves. How could he? And as we only use him to suit our own convenience, and remain reckless of the interpretation which he places upon our actions, we shall only have ourselves to blame, when, having pandered to the inherent vanity of the black, we suddenly find him at our throats. Not that we believe that the natives are sufficiently advanced to render our hold in the country insecure. But they have been pampered by us enough to make them imagine vain things, and vain [192]imaginings may result at no distant period in a repetition of that rapine, pillage, and massacre of isolated white settlements, which has ever furnished the saddest stones in the cairn of our great Empire.

As the sun rose it brought news from the Prieska Road. The helio twinkled out another message from the general: "Good water at Rietvlei, four miles on. Move on to Rietvlei, form your brigade there, and await orders from me." Almost at the same moment the helio from the summit of Minie Kloof called us up. "Have brought along two squadrons of the Mount Nelson Light Horse and a troop of the 21st King's Dragoon Guards. Pushing on as fast as possible"—signed, "Brigade-Major New Cavalry Brigade."

The brigadier appeared completely uninterested. He received the information of his coming reinforcement and the general's latest orders without comment, and having eaten his breakfast, returned to his tent. For the time being the brigade had become a cipher. The only really satisfied person in the camp seemed to be the Intelligence officer, who saw in the arrival of the real brigade-major an end to [193]the multiform duties which had been thrust upon him. The brigade stood fast, and presently, riding out of an almost opaque pillar of dust, the brigade-major and his detached command came meandering into camp. The arrival of the reinforcement moved the camp to interest. Much had been heard of the Mount Nelson Light Horse, which had been specially raised against Lord Kitchener's demand for more mounted men. The Mount Nelson Light Horse rode into camp. The gunners, who had turned out en masse to welcome their comrades, just put their hands in their breeches pockets and turned away with the single interjection, "Good heavens!" The dragoons, who were younger soldiers and less versed in veldt lore than the gunners, essayed a cheer. A fitful answer came back from the dusty arrivals—it might have been compared with the foreign cackle by which the clients of a Soho boarding-house give voice to their admiration of the tune of the dinner-gong. The brigadier came out of his tent and stood in the open, bareheaded and in his shirt-sleeves. Soldier without ribbons—frank, open, and gallant English gentleman. His expert eye [194]ran down the ragged ranks of his newly acquired legion. He had commanded Colonials during the hardest fighting in Natal. The Dragoons might not be judges, but nothing escaped his time-tested eye. He caught each detail, the Semitic outline of half the profiles, the nervous saddlepoise of the twice-attested Peruvian, the hang-dog look of the few true men among the ranks, who shrank that a soldier should find them in their present associations. The brigadier's moustache ill hid the working of his mouth. Then the ludicrous setting of the scene appealed to his light-hearted nature, and, laughing heartily, he turned to his staff with the single comment, "Gadzooks! they conspire against the fame of my fair name. There is only one place in the wide world that I can lead that 'push' to, and its name is Stellenbosch!"

But if the Mount Nelson Light Horse couldn't fight, they could talk. They were full of second-hand blood. Had not a troop of theirs been captured by De Wet, had not their men and officer witnessed De Wet's cold-blooded outrage upon a British officer! All this was news to the New Cavalry Brigade, [195]and in view of a popular desire to lionise De Wet, it will not be ill-advised to put the history of his action upon record. We will not refer to the cruel murder of Morgenthal, precedented in modern history by the murder of Macnaghten by Ackbar Khan, or the pitiless treatment of the prisoners taken at Dewetsdorp in December 1900. To us this one incident is sufficient. When De Wet crossed to the south of the Orange River in the vicinity of Norval's Pont the troops which Lyttelton set in operation against him from Colesberg were too late to head him, and in the course of his doubling—and De Wet broke back with considerable skill—he captured a small proportion of his pursuers. These men having been pilfered of much of their wearing apparel, including boots, could only with the greatest difficulty keep pace with the rapid movements of their captors. It must be remembered that the sleuth-hound, Plumer, was on De Wet's trail, and the Boers had no time to waste if they were to evade him. There came a time when the half-starved, almost naked, and footsore prisoners could move no more. All the food that they had been given [196]was in live kind,—sheep that they had to kill, quarter, and dress themselves. Cooking was out of the question, as the elements were against them, even if they had possessed the necessary appliances. Half-way through an exhausting march—flight would perhaps better describe the nature of the movement—these wretched prisoners lay down, and refused to move another foot. The threats and chiding of their escort were in vain. Then some one rode forward and informed De Wet. The guerilla captain galloped back to the tail of the column, and, worked up into a paroxysm of rage, demanded the senior officer amongst the British prisoners. A tall English gentleman stepped forward.[31] In a moment the guerilla's arm was raised, and the cruel sjambok of rhinoceros-hide fell across the Englishman's face, leaving a great blue weal. The arm was raised for a second blow; but the Englishman, prisoner though he was, and though his life hung in the balance, closed with his brutal captor. Other Boers, doubtless feeling the sting of the blow as keenly as the recipient, separated the pair before the unarmed [197]Englishman found the ruffian's throat. But the blow had been struck,—an unarmed prisoner of officer rank had been chastised, an act of savagery fit to rank with the cold-blooded murder of an envoy. Yet the day will doubtless come when ignorant English people will vie with each other to do honour to the man who struck the miscreant blow. They will be persons ignorant of the feeling which permeated the army in South Africa. As the news spread round the camp, by common consent it was agreed that De Wet should never be handed up alive if it fell to the lot of the New Cavalry Brigade to bring him to his knees.

In obedience to the superior command, the whole brigade in the afternoon sauntered on the four miles set down in the general's message. The day had been a repetition of the one which had preceded it—one of those burning karoo afternoons, which seem to sap the very soul out of all things living. The feeling of dejection which pervaded the staff seemed to have communicated itself to the whole column, and the New Cavalry Brigade slunk rather than marched into camp. It was [198]not a cheerful camping-ground—a solitary farm-house of the poorest construction, and two shallow, slimy pools of water were the only attractions which it could claim. The men soberly fixed their horse-lines, and rolled over to sweat out the trials of the heat until sundown. The brigadier, who was still in his Achilles mood, retired to his waggon. The new brigade-major, who was the only man with any spirits left at all, busied himself with arranging for the night-pickets and nursing the Mount Nelson Light Horse. But over a bowl of tea, which the mess-servants arranged by four o'clock, the brigadier seemed to revive; and he had just become approachable when the colonel of the newly arrived contingent sauntered up to the mess-waggon,—a big, rather ungainly man, who arrived with all the self-assurance of one in authority.

Colonel (looking round the group of officers at tea and singling out the Brigade-Major, whom he knew). "Which is the brigadier?"

Brigadier (who had totalled the new-comer's checks in one brief glance). "I am that unfortunate. What can I do for you?"

[199]C. (saluting casually) "Glad to meet you, sir; I thought that I would come round to introduce myself—especially as I have some bad news!"

B. "A truly noble action, and one which is likely to ingratiate you here. What is it?"

C. "Nothing more or less than my men and horses are dead-beat. They will have to halt here at least two days before they will be fit to move. I have——"

B. "My dear colonel, have some tea; or perhaps you would prefer some whisky-and-sparklet? You bring me the best news that I have heard to-day!"

C. "Thank you, sir; but I am serious about——"

B. "Of course, of course you are serious, and I should have been delighted to have left you and your regiment here as long as you pleased—the longer the better. Only I shall probably have orders to move with my whole force before daybreak, and that being the case, I am afraid that your 'robbers' will have to move too, 'dead-beat' or not."

C. "But I assure you, sir——"

B. "There is no need to assure me of [200]anything, colonel. I have absolute confidence in your knowledge of the state of inefficiency existing in your regiment. Only I will beg you to remember in future that I am the judge as to the capabilities of movement of the units composing this column. But let us discuss the prospects of peace, or some other less abstruse subject than the Mount Nelson Light Horse. In the meantime, colonel, just to emphasise what I have said, my Intelligence officer has orders to go out to those farms over there to see if he can get suitable guides. I have ordered him to take a troop of your men. He will start in fifteen minutes. Won't you stay for your drink?" (The lion of the slouch-hat persuasion was reduced to the lamb; he saluted, and sidled away while the brigadier replenished his tea-cup.)

Brigade-Major. "That is about his size, sir. He has been more trouble to me in my march from Hanover Road than the whole of the truck, ox-waggons included."

B. "I know them. I knew that man's character from the tilt of his hat and the cut of his breeches. He will probably prove [201]a good swashbuckler if kept in his place. But he came up here to divide authority with me, and only one man can command this crush, and only one man is going to. These fellows, if you let them, always become saucy as soon as they pin ostrich feathers into their hats. They are welcome to the feathers, but they must drop the sauce. So cut along, Mr Intelligence, and see that you get that troop up to time. I don't mind if you lose it; but you must be back yourself sometime to-night. I want a reliable guide to take me anywhere within a radius of twenty miles, and all the information that you can incidentally pick up. If we hang about here much longer, we shall find ourselves let in for a night-attack, and a night-attack with a Town Guard crowd like my new addition is to be avoided."

The Intelligence officer went off to find the Tiger and get his horse saddled up. He had reverted to his legitimate duties at once, and was not sorry that the brigadier had detailed him for this particular duty, though he felt that his mission had been designed rather as a lesson to the colonel of the Mount Nelson Light Horse than as a necessary [202]precaution for the safety of the camp. But it took the troop a powerful long time to turn out, and when at last twenty men were mounted, they looked for all the world as if they were a party of criminals about to be driven to the scaffold. The Tiger whispered to the Intelligence officer—"We shall have to go easy with these fellows. If we were not here, they would march out of camp with both hands above their heads. They are the class of men who will become panic-stricken at a dust-devil, and surrender to the first cock-ostrich they meet!"

This may have been an exaggeration. There were some good men in the corps, men who had fought well in the earlier days of the campaign. But they were few and far between, and as events were to show, there were not sufficient of the proper stamina to leaven the whole.

The farms which the brigadier had indicated were situated at the foot of a spur of rocky excrescence which ploughed into the veldt from the north of Minie Kloof. They were only five miles from the camp. But that five miles proved too much for the escort. [203]Whether it was physical weakness or incipient mutiny it matters little. The men just crawled along. So slow was the progress that the Intelligence officer, afraid of being benighted, selected four of the better mounted from the troop and pressed on to his objective, leaving the escort to follow at such pace as they found convenient. The first farm lay in a small kloof right against the hillside, and the approach was so masked that the little party of scouts rode to within two hundred yards of its whitewashed front without as they thought declaring themselves. A rise in the ground and a hillock gave all the cover that the Tiger deemed necessary, and he suggested that the four troopers should be sent up a donga, which would enable them to climb the reverse of a second hill which overlooked the farm, while he himself went forward, covered by the rifle of the Intelligence officer from their present position. To the first part of the scheme the Intelligence officer agreed, but he reversed the order of the latter arrangement. Having seen the troopers well on their way, he left the Tiger to cover the advance, and rode leisurely [204]himself towards the farm. It was a very ordinary farm—not flush with the ground, but standing on a plinth of brick like an Indian bungalow. A great solemn quietness reigned over the whole kloof, not a living soul was visible, and the footfalls of the horse sounded strangely exaggerated as the solitary rider approached the verandah. Presently a dog stirred, trotted out into the sunlight, and barked furiously. It disturbed the inmates of the house; a girl hurriedly opened the upper swing-back of the door, looked out, and then closed the door with a bang. This was suspicious, and the Intelligence officer let his hand drop to the wooden case of the Mauser pistol strapped to his holster; his thumb pressed the catch, and he threw the pistol loose, keeping his hand upon its stock. Then to his shout of "Wie dar!" the upper portion of the door was again gingerly opened. The same face appeared, that of a round blue-eyed Dutch girl. She turned her impassive gaze upon the visitor, who, by way of opening the conversation, taxed his limited knowledge of the vernacular so far as to ask for a little milk.

"Milk!" the girl answered in passable [205]English. "Yes; I will get you milk. Just wait!"

She seemed a long time finding the milk, and the Intelligence officer began to feel the situation oppressive. He would have liked to have turned his head to see if there were any sign of his troopers being in position on the hill above him. But he had that indescribable feeling which often inspires a man with the belief that his every movement is being watched by unseen eyes. Those of you who have been tiger-shooting on foot will readily appreciate the nature of this sense. Yet, though he peered through the open door, his eyes could discern no movement or his ears any incriminating sound. Presently the girl returned with a glass of milk upon a tray. She opened the lower half of the door, and came demurely to the edge of the verandah. The Intelligence officer put out his hand to receive the glass, when in a moment the girl lowered her elbow and soused the contents of the glass full into his face.

"Hands up!" in stentorian tones from the doorway; and through a white mist of milk, [206]the Englishman had a vision of the business end of two rifles pointed at him at short range, held by rough bearded customers, and of a white-faced girl convulsed in laughter. The sobering effect of the metal throat of a rifle a few inches removed from your breast is considerable, and the Intelligence officer was a captured man. But for a moment only. Something swished past his ear, and a great star appeared in the white-washed plaster, just a foot above the Dutchmen's heads. The Tiger had risen to the situation. The girl's laughter died out, the two men ducked, and made instinctively for the cover of the door. The Intelligence officer had an eighth of a second in which to make up his mind. To have been truly sensational he should have covered the Burghers with his Mauser; but he was more practical, and by the time the men recovered their equanimity he was galloping as fast as his pony could lay legs to the ground back to the hillock where the Tiger was lying ensconced. Then he realised the extent of the hornet's nest into which he had blundered. Rifles cracked to right and left of him, like stock-whips in a cattle-run. [207]But it is hard to hit a moving body. Many who took part in the battle of Omdurman will remember how a single Emir on a scarecrow of a horse galloped unscathed along the whole length of the British division advancing round the base of Jebel Surgham, though every man in the firing-line did his best to bring him down. Similarly the Intelligence officer braved the gauntlet, and reached temporary security round the base of the Tiger's hillock without harm. There was no time to waste. The Tiger was down to his horse and mounted almost before his officer realised he was safe.

Tiger. "Come along, sir; it's been a near thing, but we have just time if we gallop for it!"

Intelligence Officer. "But the flanking party; we must not desert them!"

T. "We can do them no good. They must take their chance—for God's sake, gallop, sir!"

The Tiger indeed spoke the truth; it was a near thing. They had not placed a hundred yards between them and the hillock when dismounted enemy were at the top, [208]and the ground round the fugitives throwing up little puffs of dust as the bullets struck.

Their luck was in, and after a perilous three minutes, they were clear of immediate danger, as the popping of rifles from the rise in front of them gave evidence that the officer in charge of the supporting troop had risen to the occasion. If he had been a better soldier, he might have lain low, and let the fugitives entice their pursuers after them to their own destruction. But this had not occurred to the youth who had recently changed the pestle and mortar of a chemist's dispensary for the sword of a mounted infantry leader, and he did his best, in a suitably excited manner.

The Tiger's story was interesting. "Just as you halted at the farm, sir, I caught sight of the glint of a rifle on the top of the hill which we had sent the troopers to occupy. As I knew that it could not be our own men, I at once realised that we were in for it. They had seen us coming. I knew that the troopers were lost men—the Boers would let them blunder up the kopje, and when they arrived at the top, utterly blown and [209]useless, would disarm them without firing a shot. Everything now depended upon the chance of my having escaped notice. It was impossible to warn you without firing my rifle, so I looked round to see if I was being stalked. I could see no one on my track, so I just lay still and waited developments at the farmhouse. I saw the girl throw the milk, and I then calculated that a shot placed between you and the men would so disconcert them for the moment that you could be able to get away.

"As soon as you turned, the fat was into the fire, and I found that they were lying up for us all round. It was a mercy that they never spotted me before I fired. I suppose they concluded that five went with the flank scouts instead of four only. Anyhow, there must have been quite thirty of them, and we now know that they are there."...

"Well, young feller!" said the brigadier when the Intelligence officer reported himself, "what has all the shooting been about?"

He listened to the story, and remained thoughtful for a moment. Then he handed [210]the Intelligence officer a message, which ran as follows:—

"From De Wet Expert, Hopetown, to O.C. New Cavalry Brigade, Prieska or vicinity.

"De Wet was at Strydenburg last night. Repeat to," &c.

Brigadier. "What do you think of that?"

Intelligence Officer. "We have lost a big thing. But may we not be in the right position to-night? It seems to me that I must have run my head right into them."

B. "I am afraid not. We have just touched up the 'red herring'; but, great Scot! what a chance has been taken from me. Argue it out. Balance the probabilities. This is what I make it. Hertzog joined De Wet at Strydenburg last night. Hertzog joined him with the information that three columns had moved out of Britstown, by way of Minie Kloof. Three columns would be too much for De Wet in his dilapidated state; so he has just thrown out a patrol to observe us, while he has struck elsewhere. If he is still intent on going south, he will pass between Britstown and De Aar. But [211]I doubt if he tries the seaboard trick. If I know him, he will double back along his original line. He is a sly old fox. You may bet all you are worth that you blundered into his observation patrol, and that we have lost the best chance of the whole war simply through the idiosyncrasies of a stupid old man. I shall not trouble about your friends any more to-night!"

An hour after dark four sorry objects, stark-naked save for their vests, and with putties bound round their feet to replace their boots, staggered into camp. They were the four troopers of the Mount Nelson Light Horse which had furnished the Intelligence officer's flanking party. As the Tiger had surmised, they had fallen an easy prey to the Boers on the top of the hill. These had stripped them of all their clothes, and, after herding them in a donga for a couple of hours, had sent them back into camp with Commandant Vermaas's best compliments. They were to tell their general that De Wet would be in Britstown that night, and that he had passed within four miles of our camp with his whole force that afternoon.

[212]"That settles it," said the brigadier. "They would not have pitched that yarn if De Wet had been really going to Britstown. You can mark my word, he has gone north."

The words were still on the brigadier's lips when a native came in with a message in cipher from the general. It read as follows:—

"Reliable information points to De Wet being at Strydenburg. Concentrate there with me by midday to-morrow. I shall take the Zwingelspan Road, which will bring me out into the hills north of Strydenburg. You will take the Kalk Kraal-Grootpan Road, and install yourself on Tafelkop, south of the town. Arrange to have your guns in position by noon. Do not try to open up visual communication with me. Such a course might give information of our movements to the enemy. Send a receipt of this message to Zwingelspan, so as to arrive not later than 10 A.M. to-morrow." Signed, "N——, Chief Staff-Officer. P.S.—Am afraid that De Wet will have taken your convoy."

Brigadier. "Was there ever a worse [213]atrocity perpetrated than this? If he had only been man enough to have done this twenty-four hours earlier, when I implored him to do so, he might have been the greatest hero of the war by this. But here, Uncle Baker (to the brigade-major), just you send for that saucy fellow who commands the cyclists of the Mount Nelson Light Horse, and tell him that he and his cyclists have got to fight their way into Strydenburg by 10 A.M. to-morrow. Tell him that if he gets a message off to Pretoria before 10 A.M. to-morrow, it's as good as a D.S.O. for him. Tell him he must be prepared to fight like h—l, only don't frighten him too much: just tell him enough to keep him looking about him, otherwise his gang will get captured in detail by the first Burgher they meet. He may start when he likes. If I can get a message through to K. first, it won't matter how much I mutiny afterwards!"

....

FOOTNOTES:

[31] Major (now Lieut.-Colonel) Bogle-Smith.

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