Rum to be smoking one on the veldt with a hole in your leg!"
I lay listening to the horses, and to the myriad small strange voices of the veldt, to which I cannot even now put a name, while Raffles watched.
So there we lay together on the veldt, under blinding sun and withering fire, and I suppose it is the veldt that I should describe, as it swims and flickers before wounded eyes.
It was a day of rest, our first for weeks, but Raffles and I spent no small part of it in seeking high and low for a worthy means of quenching the kind of thirst which used to beset Yeomen and others who had left good cellars for the veldt. The old knack came back to us both, though I believe that I alone was conscious of it at the time; and we were leaving the house, splendidly supplied, when we almost ran into the arms of an infantry officer, with a scowl upon his red-hot face, and an eye-glass flaming at us in the sun.
He went to sleep and dreamt that he was suddenly sound of foot and out at the Cape in a regiment of Yeomanry; the pictures he had looked at in the illustrated papers gave materials for his fancy; and he saw himself on the Veldt
, in khaki, sitting with other men round a fire at night.
We waited a long while, till at last the woman came up to us and sank down on the veldt, for she was very weary.
If the woman Unandi and her child had died that day on the veldt, the gardens of my people would not now be a wilderness, and their bones would not lie in the great gulley that is near U'Cetywayo's kraal.
He stalked across the mountains and the veldt, his eyes blazed like the lightning, and in his hand he shook a little assegai that was red with blood.
You may laugh at him, you who have slept nights on the veldt
, with your rifle beside you and all the atmosphere of adventure past.
Yet his words were strangely prophetic, even to the three or four weeks in which those events happened that imperilled the fabric of our empire, and rallied her sons from the four winds to fight beneath her banner on the veldt
. It all.
What is more, this lot were thoroughly "salted," that is, they had worked all over South Africa, and so had become proof, comparatively speaking, against red water, which so frequently destroys whole teams of oxen when they get on to strange "veldt
" or grass country.
In the back woods of Canada, in far Australia, on the wide South African veldt
, wherever English-speaking people meet and gather, they join hands to sing that song.