Chapter 197736724

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Chapter NumberXXII
Chapter Url
Full Date1880-02-21
Page Number1
Word Count5202
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening Journal (Adelaide, SA : 1869 - 1912)
Trove TitleFreebench. A Tale of South African Life
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BT COPIA FAXDI, S.C.II. (Author of' 1 Tiotlve True Tale* of the Lam.")

Mrs. Faircraft was a mild, good-humoured woman of about forty-five, who, with her daughter, followed the business of a dressmaker. They were happy to receive the lady Introduced by Bliss Schneider, and to welcome the old acquaintance whom they had known as a successful trader at the Fields, and of whose more recent reverses they were ignorant. " I cannot add," said Smiley, ** to the recommendations of a lady who bean such an introduction ; but I feel a pleasure in remembering that, in the .days when I wss blest with prosperity and conld enjoy the pleasures of travel, I partook of the hospitality of her father and her relatives at their country seats at home." And, with this little speech, and promising to call next day, Smiley took his leave; for the avoidance of boredom was one of his fixed principles. The next day Smiley called and brought the Diamond Fields Gazette, which had arrived by the same post in which he and Phyllis had travelled. It contained a proclamation issued at Kirilberley under the Foreign Enlistment Act, reciting that a force was now being raised by the South African Republic to make war on the natives of South Africa, and notifying tfeat the grave penalties provided by the Act would be incurred by any British subject who should join that force. He handed her the paper in silence, merely pointing to the proclamation. When she had read it, he said be hoped her husband bad not been so imprudent as to join the force. Phyllis said she hoped not too, bat she looked a little sad, and Smiley went away without attempting any consolation.



Phyllis found the Faircrafts the kind and hospitable people that she bad been led to expect, and felt pleasure in their compsny, their unpretending little house, and their garden and verandah ; and had begun to look abrosd with satisfaction at the beauties of the town, rich as it then was with its many gardens of oranges, P<aches, aid loquate, fenctd-in with fragrant htdges of iosetre»s. She felt a pleasure, too, in its thoroughly English whita population, and e ven ve nt nred into the park to hear the band play. Wbat a contrast to Kimberley! If Harry were only by ber side bow happily could they live in each a placet fie ovula b» eigapainter, if

necessary, and carpenter and tinker and Jackof-all-trades, and she, she would do all that the happiest wife could do with a large heart full of ove and a little garden full of fruit. Thus she was thinking, as she eat one evening in the Faircrafts' verandah, when Tambooti returned from the Post-Office, bringing ber a letter forwarded by Miss Schneider. It bore a strange postage-stamp, and she went in and lit a candle and read as follows:— " Pretoria, January 18. " My dearest Phyllis — After leaving the Dutchman I pursued my journey to the next halting-place, a little town of ten houses, called Wilhelm's Kopje, where I put up at an inn. Here my horse was stolen, not from the iun, but from the veldt outside, where I had allowed him to run. When I say he was stolen I mean he was missing when I wanted him. No one would lend me a hoise to ride to the house of tbe field-cornet, or peace-officer, and so I left my saddle and bridle behind, and walked along with my tools on my back, thinking I might do some work. I was overtaken by a wagon and got a lift in it and went to sl^p. While I was sleeping the Dutchman tied me up with leather thongs, called reims, and charged me with stealing something from the wagon. They took me to the field-cornet's house, but he was not at home, so they handed me over to bis wife and a Hottentot, who was their servant, and I lay there for a couple of hours, while tbe cbildren mocked me and called me a thief until tt e field-cornet came home. '•Meanwhile the Dutchman had gone oS with tbe wagon and my tools in it. " When the field-cornet came home he talked to me for a while, during which I told him whit had happened to me, and then he told the black man to take the thongs off. The peace-officer then gave me something to eat, but refused wholly to follow my tools or enquire after my horse. He said his salary was small, and he conld not afford to do much for it, while, as for me, it would be far leas troublesome and far leas dapgerons to steal Irom somebody else than to pursue^ my own property. I told him I would call public attention to the smallness of his salary so that he might be' better paid, and tbe public better served. But he seemed neither thankful noir frightened at the proipect of pub- ' licity, eo I left his house with nothing but what I had in my pocket. I determined to leave my horse and saddle and to follow my tools, which I should find it hard to replace. The wagon had gone northward, tne direction in which I h»d been travelling (ill' along; so this was a further inducement to follow it. Day after day I trudged along, but I was not afraid to take an occasional lift in a wagon, for I had nothing : left to steal. Bat however quick I went , the wagon on which Was my stolen property was always a day's march before me. !&.t every place to which I came I heard of- it,'and I also heard of many small parties marching north to join the Transvaal volunteers who are going to fight Sekukuni—the same force for which they were enlisting men when I was with you at Kimberley. - • " I passed through Harriamith, and went northward till'I crossed into the Transvaal, and took the road to Pretoria; for this was theroute taken by the wagon'which I wss following, and turned out, as you will see, to be the best one for myself. *' I bad not long left the Drakensberg behind me, and had entered on to the hot and cheerless plain nhich runs up to Pretoria, when I saw a strange sight. It was two white ment>n foot, and apparently unconnected with any wagon. They were walking slowly in the same direction as I'was, and bad probibly come from the Natil side, aa I had not heard of their being in front of me. When they saw me coming, they stood and waited for mel' Having been robbed ' of every thing already, I had nothing to lose, so X walked up to them. " One of them was a man who conld nowhere be passed by unnoticed. He was about my own height, five feet ten, with brtiad shoulders, which he carried well, very fair in complexion with a beard like Napoleou III., a weH-shao-d forehead,-a Greek nose, intelligent, blue eves, and light-brown curly hair. " Well, stranger," said he, in a slighly foreign accent, " where are you going to " To Pretoria," I answered. ' So are we. We are two poor devils without a sixpence. Have you got any money V " I have three half-crowns," I said ; " here is one fot each of joa, and X will keep the other tnvsell." They both thanked me. " And now," said the foreigner, " let me introduce myself and my friend. My name is Conrad von Schlickmann. I wss a Gapt&ia of Lancers, and fought in the Franco-Prussian war. Too may have heard of me." " Indeed I have," said I. " My friend," he continued, " is Monsieur Louvain, late of tile French service, who fought on the other side in the same war. We were enemies once, bat friends now. Tempora mutantur tt nos mutamur in illis. But I beg your pardon for speaking Latin." " Ton have no need to apologize at all," said I. " I know enough to pass for a decent scholar in any ^country but my own; and I may aa well correct your quotation, which should be— Tempora mutantur nos tt mutamur in illis. You see it would not scan the way yon had got it." " Sir," said von Schlickmann, ** I am delighted to find a gentleman and a scholar a badly off as myself." " And as for me," said Louvain, " I should be too happy if oar new brother in poverty would seek his fortune with us." " We are going to join the new force," said von Schlickmann. " What do yoa say to coming with us!?" Well," said I, " I might as well, for I hare lost my tools " And then I told them what had happened to me. " You have been a soldier?" asked Louvain. " No; and I have only learned a little foot drill," I answered. " Can you ride ?" asked von Schlickmann. " At home," I said, " they used to complain that I did it to the neglect of other things." "Bight." said von Schlickmann, " I like yoa well, and I will get yoa a good place in the corps." " And we will return yonr with interest when we yet to Pretoria," said Louvain. "Halloa!" said von Schlickman! "there's a wagon ontspanned there. Perhaps it's the one with your tools on board. We Bhall be up to it in an hoar. Tbe tools will be useful on the campaign." I do not know what there was about these men that took my fancy; bat I felt half a soldier already, ana my only fear was that the campaign' would last be} ond the season, and I should be too long absent from the beloved of my heart And this is all I could think about, as, with quickened pace, we inarched along, and I had nearly lost all interest in the wagon by the time we arrived at where it was ontspuraed. " Is that the wagon ?" said von Schlickmaan " Make no mistake." " Yes," I ansevered; " thaf s the wagon." We miked up to the " boss." " You know this gentleman?" said von Schlickmann, pointing to me. " You have got some property of his. Where is it?" The man hesitated. "Perhaps you may have heard of me. My name is Oonrad von Schlickmann, and I am in no humour to be trifled with." the man sulkily produced my packet of tools. " Are they all right ?" asked oar leader. u All right," I said. " You have now carried this parcel a long way to please yourself, and you must carry it a little farther to please me," said von Schlickmann to tbe boss. "Sign this wagon-note to deliver these goods to the bearer of the note at Bouillon's Hotel, Pretoria, carriage paid." The boss complied. " Yon know yoa have made yourself amenable to the law, I suppose ?" The boss began a long exculpation of himself, but von Schlickmann cat him short with:— *' I don't want any of your yarns. The way I treat yon will depend on how yoa behave. What have yon got te eat ?" " We have a few rusks and some bacon," said he," but all the coffee is finished." "Then I'll thank you to make some more," said von Schlickmann; " and look alive about it." The Dutchman's sulk had gradually given way to fear, and fear produced a temporary activity, the result of which was that we had not only rusks and bacon bat some very good ham, and presently a cap of coffee when it was.ready; and when the meal was ended, Til trouble yoa," said von Schlickmann to tbe Datchmann, "for some of that excellent tobacco that yoa always carry." This order was also complied with, and, sitting there in the shade of the wagon, I enjoyed a pleasanter pipe thaa I had smoked for many a day. "As yoa are almost wholly inexperienced in the military art," said Louvain to me, " I may observe to yoa that one of the most prominent characteristics of a good general is the talent of securing to his followers rest and refreshment, and that talent is possessed in a remarkable degree by my excellent comrade.



By the Dext mail Harry's letter was continued as follows:— * * * * . * * * My two companions were in high good humour, which was a little infections, and I marched on with them in pretty good spirits, leaving the wagon to follow when the oxen had fed. We bad still three days' journey to go, and then the wagon overtook us and we had & ride, and duriDg our last ride we came in sight of Pretoria. " Can you play billiards ?" said Von Schliekmann to me as we sat smoking oar pipes in the wagon. " Very little," I answered; " and I only play for amusement and never for money." " Quite right," said he. "Never be ashamed to confess joi cannot 4o «thing, ud o«rw ri*k

money on a game wbkh you do not understand. We can play, and, in tbe present state of our purses, playing billiards will be our first duty. We shall arrive at 6 o'clock. We shall leave you at Bouillon's Hotel, and will return to you later in the evening." " And will bring you back your half-crown, cumarade," said Louvain, slapping me on the back. To Bouillon's Hotel accordingly we went, and I spent a dismal three hours vi bra ting between the confidence I felt in my new companions and icy shame at being at an inn without a penny in my pocket and afraid to order anything. There was one consolation, however; my tools h.d airived, and if my friends should deceive me, it might still be possible to e»rn a living. While I was pondering dejectedly on these thing?, Von Schlickmann came in with a smiling countenance. " There is a pound for you," said he ; " and when you have seen a little {joidiering yoa will learn never to be ashamed in the presence of these dogs of Dutchmen, unless, indeed," he aoded with a sigh, " it should ever be your misfortune to lead them." Wbile we were talking, in came Louvain. " Will you allow me," he said with the politertss that distinguishes his nation, "to return you joar half-crown together with seven more by way of interest ?" And he handed me a pound. '• yoa will allow me to say, Sir," he continued, " that though yoa have never seen a battle, yoa have already proved yourself a good comrade, and you will excuse me for adding that I was not lopg tn penetrating through your disguise of artisan, and am happy to think that we shall make our little campaign least one gentleman; i.h mon general 7" Quite right," said Von Schlickmann; *' and a bit of bread and cheese and go to bed. You'll probably have only one more meal to pay tor out of your own money. The rest will be at the charge of the South African Kepublic." I setmed now to be a soldier by foroe of circumstances. I was as if I had taken the Queen's shilling. Was I a fool not at once to change each of those sovereigns and give 17s. 6tL to each .man as he paid me ? Would it have been better to have started as a .workman on a capital of five shillings and to have resisted the good natare and appreciativeness of my new comrades ? 1 knew not. All I knew was I had two pounds in my pocket, and was as. good as a soldier already; and I slept soandly. The ndxt morning I was breakfasting at aboat 9 o'«lock at a long table which had been deserted by all the other guests, when Von Schlickmann and Louvain came in. f.Holloa, you are.late this morning!" said tine former; "so are we. I have been to see the President. Here, boy, bring some breakfast. The S. A. £..pays;for our victuals in future. That's a comfort, ftquus me portal; alit respuUica." ' "Ah, I see," said I; " you have been round and got enlisted, and, as you have both had military experience, I dare say they will make you non-commissioned officers. Perhaps, after breakfast, you will take me round to the barracks?" They both burst out laughing. It was evident there was something pleasant in soldiering, at least to them. " After breakfast," said Von Schlickmann." " you will go and bay your horse and order your uniform, and I shall have much pleasure in presenting yoa to the President as my aide-decamp, if yoa will do me the honour to serve in < that capacity." And yoa ?" I asked, " what then are you going to. be ?" ~ " I ? why, Commander-in-chief, of coarse, and my triend here is so good as to be my second in command. Did yoa suppose that a soldier of noble birth, who has won an iron cross in the grandest campaign that Europe ever saw, and a gallant Frenchman who has earned his spurs in the same campaign, were going into the ranks to be led by Boers 'i Yoa must have thought us sorry, friends if all we would do for yoa was -to hand yoa over to the recruiting sergeant." " Sir," I said, rising, ** I am very much obliged to you, and I shall do my best to perform my duty." ** Oh, we are sure of that," said Loavain, as, fallowing the example of his leader, he shook me by the hand. '* When one has held command through a long campaign one learns to ki.ow a good man on seeing him. And now come and look for a mount before horses get dear." "Be so good as to give me your name in writing," Baid Von Sehlickmann to me. I did so: and be went out' telling us to meet him at the inn at noon. I went away to the market square. We looked round the horses, but without buying; one sufficient reason for which was that we bad not yet drawn any money. After some time, however, we fixed on what would suit us and returned to the inn. Von Schlickmann came in. " Here is my commission," said he, displaying a parchment with a big seal;" and Louvain end you can go and get yonrs at the Secretary's office at any time. I have bespoken them. Yoa will be appointed courier, and I make yoa my aide-de-camp as well. Yoa will draw 7s, a day, payable monthly, and your arms and horse will be found you. If you want to send any money away, yoa can sign an order to the extent of half your pay in favour of any one you please." " I shall do so," I said, " in favour of my wife." " Tone icr/e!" they both cried. " You are married ? yoa, a mere boy ?" " Ah, just so. I see it all," said Loavain; "yoa have quarrelled with her, bat wish to behave honourably. Like an Englishman." "I have sot quarrelled with her at all,"I said. " I love her very much." " Is she beautiful ?" said Von Schlickmann. Half sulkily, I gave a few woids of description. " C'erf bien extrordinaire," said Louvain, soliloquizing as he turned to look out of the window. " Most remarkable!" echoed the General, continning to eye me with astonishment. "Well, gentlemen," I answered, "with all deference to yonr superior experience, I don't see anything more remarkable in my being married than in another man being in want of half a crown yesterday and being Commanderin-chief to-day." " Bien repondu V said Louvain laughing. "Now for a bottle of champagne," said the General," to drink success to oar expedition." " Here, waiter! a bottle of champagne for Field-Marshal Von Schlickmann, his gallant lieatenaiit, and the wbole of hu etat majeur, and look alive about it." The boy came tanning back with a bottle and three glasses. Pop.' went tbe cork, and " Success to the Volunteers of the South African Kepublic!" cried the General emptying his gloss. " And to our gallant commander, 1 " said Louvain filling them all again. Tbe bottle was now empty, and the glasses immediately afterwards became so. " Here, Bursche!" shouted Von Schlickmann, " Boy! Garfon ! acolyte of Bacchus! bring another bottle of champagne. I reply to your compliment, Loavain, by foregoing my national beverage and drinking the vintage of France." " Vintage of Styx wad Tarbaras!" said Loavain ; " bat I drink to you all the same." "There is one glass more," said Von Schlickmann, "let us drink to the health of oar youngest comrade. Young man, something about you tells me that you were meant for the career of arms from your very birth. Accidental associations have thwarted yonr destiny, till nature, true to herself, led you to aid two poor soldiers of fortune, and so introduced you to yonr rightful calling. Whatever service yoa may hereafter enter, yoa will not suffer from having fought under me. I understand my profession, and have been faithful to it. Some people have little faalts to find about my conduct in civil life, and the English Government regard me with so good will for having nearly wrested tbe Diamond Fields from them. Bat, as a soldier—I say it with humility and gratitude—my honour is unstained, and, if I were to perish now and my soul were to be stripped bare for angelic inspection, a winged messenger to the throne of justice would bear witness,' This man died an honest soldier.'" He struck his breast; the water stood in his eyes, and he evidently had some sorrowful memories before him. Loavain sympathized with him; and, indeed, it was plain that it was not in consequence of good fortune that two such men had chosen Booth Africa as their scene of operations. " Tu as bien dit, camarade," said Loavain; and he went up and kissed him. I was not as deeply affected as the others, and, as I did not expect to find my commanding officer under the influence of champagne and high feelings every day, I judged that this was a fitting occasion to get a little information. "I believe inyour honesty," I said; "but do you think the Government of the Bepublic will be as honest as you are ? How about tbe farms ? They offer us the skin on the bear's back." " Poor married man!" said Von Schlickmann —and Loavain laughed—I would have yoa understand that, in a savage country, my first duty is to the men I lead. If the Government are so imprudent as to do us an injustice, do you suppose that, with two or three hundred followeis, I should be nnable to rectify the omission." " You will observe, my friend," said Loavain, " that, in order properly to estimate the power of moral suasion possessed by a force such as oars, placing their confidence in a generous and able leader, yon must take a coup d'ceil of the country. _ In the first place, we shall be the only disciplined force in it. If the Boers pay their taxes, we shall be paid. If they do not, then we can levy tbe taxes and pay ourselves; and, if there should happen to be a large sum of money in any one place, why. you see, it would acilitate matters if we were to" — " I trust, after wbat Loavain has said." broke in Von Schlickmann," yoa will be satisfied that your rights are safe in my hands ?" "I have the utmost confidence in yoa," I ftOTOfted,

"Then go stcd get your commission?;, get yourselves armed and mounted, aud I will approve your drafts for whac you want. Wo marbh in two days with the men we have." I have got my commission and my appointment as aide-de-camp, and have sworn to serve the Government of the S. A. B, and ha»e signed an order tor half my pay to be sent to the best beloved of Your affectionate husband,




It was an unjust war. Sekukum and 1 his people had as much right to their land as Qdeen Victoria and the English have to England. It' was a silly war, begotten of tbe arrogance and stupidity of the Boors, during the absence in Europe of President Bargera, who was almost the only one among their public men who came any way near to the character or attainments of a statesman. The former generation,, whe were already fathers when they founded the Republic, were pastoral and simple, with a touch of bravery ; but their descendants were pits torn I and brutish, with no courage at all. Their arrogance and their greed made them blunderinto the war. Their President, on bis return, ioiTud it ready made to his hand; he led* his 4,000 men and their wagons to the front, where, rebellious at the gentlest enforcement of discipline, tbe poor creatures left the field without firing a successful thot, and each turned his back to the euemy amid cries of " to home!" Whether these Boeotians were more wise or more foolish iu handing over their fighting wjtk to mercenaries, it would be hard to say. On the one hand, the Boers oould not fight themselves^ on the other, but for an accideut, their mercenaries would have been their masters: At all events the new volunteers, so far asthey consisted of Europeans, were a good set of fighting men. Some had been recruited at the Diainond Fields, others at Natal; aud others ia; the little community at the Gold Fields, wherea few foreigners, chiefly English, pursued, on< the soil of the Transvaal, an industry for which the Boers had not the courage ar ambition. The new force consisted of a few of all sorts. Their leader .and his French subordinate we have seen. Captain Biedel, a German, commanded the artillery, and altogether the force boasted three iron crosses and foorcrossesof the Legion of Honour. The rank and file were chiefly English; but there were also Frenchmen and Germans, Swedes,, Poles/a few lrish implicated in the recent rebellion, and a sprinkling from the United States. There were few of thsm who. had not been either soldiers or sailors, and most possessed exactly that sort of self-reliance and"intellisence that suited them for the kind bf warfare Tn which they were about to engage.. "£he worst of all were the young Boen, who bad no idea of disoiplin'e or of honour,'and were so bow&rdly that, when the enemy was a hundred 'miles' off, these poor creatures would only .march under compulsion. The only necessary article of uniform was a' little blue cap, and the costumes worn were various; but still it was a pretty sight to see ' the volunteers inarch out of Pretoria: , Harry Holroyd had a pretty active time of -it in getting the men together jmd conveying his leader's orders, and had not much leisure to indulge in misgivings as. to whether, notwithstanding his misfortunes, he was doing the right thing in leaving his wife for so long. , When they got well out on the main ro\d there would have been more opportunity for gloomy thoughts if tbe Germans htd not struck up the Wacht am Ehein, which they sang in chorus and with spirit! Then the Yaukees started singing— " Well hang Sekukum on a soar apple tree As we go marching along." And everybody joined in it; and so they did in— " The man tbst hath good whiskee, »nd giveth his neielibonr none, Shall not have any of my wniskce, • . When Ais wiiiskte is done." And when, after midday, 4hey bad halted. and Lad fed their horses and themselves, and the flask had begun to circulate,, the Frenchmen started tbe tfaneUlaise, which went very well, and the refrain of which was taken up by most except the Dutchman. " Hang nationalities!" said Von Schlickmann, turning to those near him: " we are all in one boat now. It seems as though every song bad to do with some other force than our own. 1 would give a day's pay oat of my own pocket to any man who would start « good song for the Transvaal Volunteers." " Alas!" said Loavain, " I do not see any one in the corps who looks like a poet." "Nevertheless," Baid Harry, " stimulated by the mercenary inducement which the General has offered, I will, with his leave, give you— " THB MBBCBKABIHS' MABCH. We have Britons and Dutch, Yankees, Fenians, aoS much Motley throng: Some, in ttelds far sway. Have earned crosses and pay, So let's fallow where they March along. Sing, my men brave and tru6, Though our troop is but few— We are strong; There H be sweethearts and wives For whomever survives, So don't think of your lives: March along. Koble Prussians and Franks At the head of our ranks Join in song: May fair Christendom gain, And black Heathendom wane, As Gaul, Saxon, and Dane March along. There'll be gold to our band In the Blackamoor's land— Bight or wrong: What if some of tts fall ? Sure the loss is but small If the fortunes of all Match along. Harry sung well, and the two last lines ef each stanza were taken op as a chorus at first by a few, and afterwards by all who could catch the words. The effect was good, and exactly what Von Schlickmann wanted. •* Well done!" he exclaimed, grasping Harry's hand. " Holroyd, yoa shall be Poet Laureate to the corps." " The Bfiranger of tile Volunteers of the Bepublic," said Loavain. " But, ah! my General," be continued, addressing his chief; " I see more in the presence of this young man, so full of life and talent, than the mere cultivation of an esprit de corps among a mixed canaille. Parbleu! if we fall in this guerilla with such a man among aa, we shall not die the unrecorded deaths of filibusters and brigands. But people at a distance shall read that, though we were the mercenaries of these idiots of Dutchmen, the soil whereon we • fell was, for us, the field of honour!" " Saddle up!" said Von Scblickmnn. Tha • word was given, and In ten minutes the troop. was again on the march.