13th Jan. 1902
My dear Grace.
Your letters are most amusing; you are the most impudent little monkey in the world; upon my word if I were at home I should be strongly inclined to put you across my knee. So now you have the pater & mater with you and I suppose you are very happy; I only wish I could be there too. We have been having pretty rough times of it lately, marching, marching all the time since we left Zastrou a month ago but I believe we have at last come to our destination and we are going to settle down. We thought we had finished yesterday but the water near the camp was not good and we were within rifle range of a kopje on which there were seen a lot of Boers when we first came up, so it was decided to move to a better place & here we are having started about 8.30; it is now 11.30. We are in the middle of a vast plain with splendid grazing ground all round us and about 2 miles and a half away is a tremendously steep kopje the beginning of a long range of hills which stretch away in the distance. On this kopje the Boers keep an outpost for watching us and directly a party moves out towards them they of course take to the hills and are lost. On the right of this kopje is a kloof (a sort of valley the sides of the hills on each side being very precipitous) and in this kloof yesterday we discovered two or three huts in which were hidden away over a hundred Dutch women and children. We shall probably burn these huts and turn the women out in the course of a day or two; it ought to have been done at once. There are one or two other kopjes dotted about the veldt about three miles or so from us and on these we catch glimpses of figures (Boers) moving about; directly we see enough of them we let rip the pom-pom into them and they run like rabbits into their holes. Through glasses all their movements & the switching of their horses’ tails can be distinguished easily. I have given up my wagon and now live in a sort of lean-to tent and cannot use a table in it, consequently I write my letters in pencil. I believe also that I can write longer with a pencil without getting tired than I can with a pen. We have started fortifying the camp and putting barbed wire entanglements round so as to prevent rushes or stealthy creeping in by the enemy on dark nights.
Since writing my last letters to Mother & R. I have received three more letters from you, M & R and also the sham V.C. which is most excellent. One good thing about this position we shall now get our mails regularly as Vicksburg being on the Basuto border is entered without any fear of molestation by the Boers, that is, from the other side (Basutoland side) and there is uninterrupted communication with Bloemfontein, so that when we go in for our weekly supplies we also bring out our mails. This is a most excellent arrangement. I do not know how long we shall be but most probably some time, perhaps a couple of months. I intend giving myself a month’s holiday some time this year as I am entitled to leave and feel that I must get away from the war and all things connected with it. I shall go to Cape Town or Durban. Next June I hope to be able to go. I could get home but that is out of the question till the war is over unless I am invalided which I am afraid in my present condition is impossible, I am like a porpoise and as red faced as possible. Healthy! I feel as if I were treading on air in the early mornings when it is cool.
Give my love to all your girl friends especially little “Sweet Seventeen” Dolly.
What is the name of Elviva’s people in Durban from Johannesburg? Is it Lichtenstein? because if so they are Jews & Heaven forfend! that I should go & see them. I cannot say I care for Israelites. There are some big timber merchants & brokers in Johannesburg called Lichtenstein the same name as the old fat chap in Calcutta. Good bye now with fond love from
Your loving brother