[Illustration: THE DRIFT AND WATERING PLACE]
The Manchesters had been having an uncomfortable time of it, and I found Sir George White and his staff up on their hill. As we walked about, the little puffs of dust kept rising at our feet. We were within rifle-fire, though at long range. Now and then a very peculiar little shell was thrown at us. One went straight through a tent, but we could not find it afterwards. It was a shell like a viper. I left the Manchesters putting up barbed-wire entanglements to increase their defence, and came back to try to find another runner. The shells were falling very thick in the town, and for the first time people were rather scared. As I write one bursts just over this little tin house. It is shrapnel, and the iron rain falls hammering on the roof, but it does not come through. Two windows only are broken. Probably it burst too high.
November 8, 1899.
Fairly quiet day. The great event was the appearance of a new “Long Tom” on the Bulwan. He is to be called “Puffing Billy,” from the vast quantity of smoke he pours out. Nothing else of great importance happened. Major Grant, of the Intelligence, was slightly wounded while sketching on the Manchesters’ ridge. Coolies wandered about the streets all day with tin boxes or Asiatic bundles on their heads. Joubert had sent them in as a present from Dundee. They were refugees from that unhappy town, and after a visit to Pretoria, they are now dumped down here to help devour our rations. Some Europeans have come, too—guards, signalmen and shopkeepers—who report immense reinforcements coming up for the Boers. Is there not something a little mediaeval in sending a crowd of hungry non-combatants into an invested town?