LADYSMITH. March 1st, 1899. DEAR CHAS:
This is just a line to say I got in here with the first after a gallop of twelve miles. Keep this for me and the envelope. With my love and best wishes--
LADYSMITH, March 3, 1900. DEAR MOTHER:
The column came into town today, 2200 men, guns, cavalry, ambulances, lancers, navy guns and oxen. It was a most cruel assault upon one's feelings. The garrison lined the streets as a saluting guard of honor but only one regiment could stand it and the others all sat down on the curb only rising to cheer the head of each new regiment. They are yellow with fever, their teeth protruding and the skin drawn tight over their skeletons. The incoming army had had fourteen days hard fighting at the end of three months campaigning but were robust and tanned ragged and caked with mud. As they came in they cheered and the garrison tried to cheer back but it was like a whisper.
Winston Churchill and I stood in front of Gen. White and cried for an hour. For the time you forgot Boers and the cause, or the lack of cause of it all, and saw only the side of it that was before you, the starving garrison relieved by men who had lost almost one out of every three in trying to help them. I was rather too previous in getting in and like every-one else who came from outside gave away everything I had so that now I'm as badly off as the rest of them. Yesterday my rations for the day were four biscuits and an ounce of coffee and of tea, with corn which they call mealies which I could not eat but which saved my horse's life. He is a Boer pony I bought from a Tommy for two pounds ten and he's worth both of the other two for which I paid $125 a piece. Tomorrow the wagon carrying my supplies will be in and I can get millions of things. It almost apalls me to think how many. Especially clean clothes. I've slept in these for four days. I got off some stories which I hope will read well. I can't complain now that I saw the raising of this siege. But I hope we don't stay still. I want to see a lot quickly and get out. This is very safe warfare. You sit on a hill and the army does the rest. My sciatica is not troubling me at all. Love to you all and God bless you.
LADYSMITH, March 4th, 1900. DEAR, DEAR MOTHER:
Today I got the first letter I have had from you since we left home. It was such happiness to see your dear sweet handwriting again. It was just like seeing you for a glimpse, or hearing you speak. I am so hungry for news of Nora and Chas and you all. I know you've written, but the letters have missed somehow. I sent yours right back to Cecil who is very lonely at present. Somerset has gone to the front and Jim--home--Blessed word! A little middy rode up to me today and began by saying "I'm going home. I'm ORDERED there. Home-- To England!" He seemed to think I would not understand. He prattled on like a child saying what luck he had had, that he had been besieged in Ladysmith and seen lots of fighting and would get a medal and all the while he was "just a middy." "But isn't it awful to think of our chaps that were left on the ship" he said quite miserably. It is a beastly dull war. The whole thing is so "class" and full of "form" and tradition and worrying over "putties" and etiquette and rank. It is the most wonderful organization I ever imagined but it is like a beautiful locomotive without an engineer.
The Boers outplay them in intelligence every day. The whole army is officered by one class and that the dull one. It is like the House of Peers. You would not believe the mistakes they make, the awful way in which they sacrifice the lives of officers and men. And they let the Boers escape. I watched the Boers for four hours the other day escaping after the battle of Pieters and I asked, not because I wanted them captured but just as a military proposition "Why don't you send out your cavalry and light artillery and take those wagons?" The staff officer giggled and said "They might kill us." I don't know what he meant; neither did he. However, I'm sick of it but there's nothing else to talk of. I hate all the people about me and this dirty town and I wish I was back. And I'm going too. I'll have started by the time you get this.