Ladysmith eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 183 pages of information about Ladysmith.
the report that he has worn himself out or been carried away.  Whilst he was firing I tried to get sight of a small mocking bird, which has learnt to imitate the warning whistle of the sentries.  In the Gordons the Hindoo, Purriboo Singh, from Benares, stands on a huge heap of sacks under an umbrella all day and screams when he sees the big gun flash.  But in the other camps, as I have mentioned, a sentry gives warning by blowing a whistle.  The mocking bird now sounds that whistle at all times of the day, and what is even more perplexing, he is learning to imitate the scream and buzzle of the shell through the air.  He may learn the explosion next.  I mention this peculiar fact for the benefit of future ornithologists, who might otherwise be puzzled at his form of song.

Another interesting event in natural history occurred a short time ago up the Port road.  A Bulwan shell, missing the top of Convent Hill, lobbed over and burst at random with its usual din and circumstance.  People rushed up to see what damage it had done, but they only found two little dead birds—­one with a tiny hole in her breast, the other with an eye knocked out.  Ninety-six pounds of iron, brass, and melinite, hurled four miles through the air, at unknown cost, just to deal a true-lovers’ death to two sparrows, five of which are sold for one farthing!

     Sunday, January 21, 1900.

After varying my trek-ox rations by catching a kind of barbel with a worm in the yellow Klip, I went again to Observation Hill, and with the greater interest because every one was saying two of the Boer camps were in flames.  Of course it was a lie.  The camps stood in their usual places quite undisturbed.  But I saw one of our great shells burst high up the mountain side of Taba Nyama (Black Mountain) instead of on the plain at its foot, and with that sign of forward movement I was obliged to be content.

CHAPTER XVIII

“WITHIN MEASURABLE DISTANCE”

     January 22, 1900.

Twelve weeks to-day since Black Monday, when our isolation really began!  A heliogram came from Buller to say all was going well, and in this evening’s Orders we were officially informed that relief is “within measurable distance.”  I don’t know about time, but in space that measurable distance is hardly more than fifteen miles.  From Observation Hill I again watched the British shells breaking over the ridge above the ford.  The Boers had moved one of their waggon laagers a little further back, but the main camps were unchanged.  With a telescope I could make out where their hospital was—­in a cottage by a wood—­and I followed an ambulance waggon driving at a trot to three or four points on ridge and plain, gathering up the sick or wounded, and returning to hospital.

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Ladysmith from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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