On Commando eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 120 pages of information about On Commando.
available place, as he had never in his life had so much trouble.  A small boy and a Kaffir had their turn also; the boy was on horseback and led, or rather dragged, another horse that refused to move.  He had to collect the cattle, which seemed to me almost an impossible task in the dark, among the many horses of the burghers.  When he had found Kindermeid, Witlies had disappeared, and when Witlies was found, then Vaalpens was missing again.  Kindermeid, a gray ox, was the most troublesome.  Repeatedly it passed by me, followed by the boy dragging the unwilling horse.  Then the boy exclaimed in sad, shrill tones, ‘See how the mare jibs!’ When his father angrily asked, ‘Have you found Kindermeid now?’ he answered, ’Yes, father, but now Vaalpens is missing; the mare jibs so, I can’t get the cattle together!’ When he had found them all and the rumbling of their waggon was dying away in the distance, I still heard him complain of the unwilling mare, in his sad, shrill little voice.  It was a small episode in my life that I shall not easily forget.  This was the last I saw of the flight of the women, for we had to stay behind to fight as we were retreating.  Later on I heard many sad tales about it, which I cannot repeat in this little book of mine.

The poor women and children were indeed to be pitied, but we had no sympathy with the men who fled in the winter with their cattle to the Boschveld, and now sought our protection, though they had never fought themselves.  The flight with the cattle was necessary, as the enemy would otherwise have exterminated them, but many of the men took advantage of the necessity, and sometimes three or four strong, sturdy men went with one waggon, where one man would have been ample.



I will not describe our retreat, as nothing of importance occurred.  We were constantly on the alert to move before the cunning French entrapped us within the circle that he was trying to draw around us.

At Trichardsfontein Malherbe and I had to go in search of our horses, which had strayed, so we were separated from our commando for some days.  When we found our horses we went to Ermelo, and stayed there until the enemy were so close upon us that General Louis Botha, who happened to be at Ermelo, and knew of our arrival, sent to say that we must leave the town.  We then joined his force and rode to Spion Kop.

‘In the land of the blind the one-eyed is king!’ Even so it was with Spion Kop of the Hoogeveld Ermelo.  During the three years of my University life in that distant little country that stands by us now so well in our need, I often climbed a hill about the size of Spion Kop.  That hill is famed for its height throughout the whole country, and bears the formidable name of ‘the Amersfoort Mountain.’

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On Commando from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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