8 April 1902
Drieknel, 40 miles west of Kerksdorp,
I received your letter of Feb 22nd & Jim's of 21st yesterday. I hear there is a convoy going to start in tomorrow, so I am writing this on the chance. I wrote to mother three or four days ago, but still have the letter. Our correspondence is kept up under difficulties now, as we are doing so much night marching that we don't feel like writing every day, and besides, the writing paper is about done. I left my writing case down country, we were cut down to such a small amount of baggage. It is as much as we can do to pack along a change of underclothing & enough tobacco to keep us going. You will have seen some account of the hot scrap our brigade had with the Boers under Delarey. The latest returns show that they had 4000 men & 4 guns, so we did pretty well to hold them off, as they certainly had us in a nasty position.
In my letter to Mother, I have given a fairly full account of the fight, so I am enclosing it to you, as I haven't time now to make this long, word having come that letters must be in in half an hour to go by the convoy tomorrow. I started this before noon, and it is now 7 p.m., so you see I don't get much written at once.
There is cheering going on in Damants' Horse lines just now, & we are wondering what is the matter. There have been rumors of peace the last few days, but whether news has come about that or what it is, we can only surmise until one of the boys, who has gone to see what the row is, gets back.
About the Foresters Insurance which Jim wrote about, the money we gave him was only to cover 6 months & the doctor's fee, so the assessment he paid was not excessive. We will remit for the following six months as soon as we strike a town. I was intending to write to the Pater this mail, but haven't time now, so will have to do so at the next opportunity. Please give him the news in this, & tell him we would like him to look after our Confederation Life Insurance & let us know how much we have to remit. As to the ranching proposition Jim spoke of, I don't think he can depend on us, as we cannot tell how long we will be at our present job, & I think there are good chances to make money here in other lines. Wages are high & men scarce & the country will boom as soon as this trouble is over.
We are forming quite a large camp here, & making it a supply base for a line of block houses from Klerksdorp to Mafeking. It is astonishing the way some of the lines of communication are block-housed every 400 yards, with wire entanglements connecting them.
I am writing by the flickering light of an inch of candle, so I may not be striking the lines very well, but I guess you can make out my hiergliphics.
I must close now, or I won't have light enough to finish by. We have just heard that Kemp is killed & quite a capture made, which was the cause of the cheering. Send these on home when you have read them. Kindest regards to all, & don't forget to write.
P.S. Missed this side [?], so you will guess the light I have. Charlie Devine has just come over. If you hear anyone asking for him, he is all O K & wasn't hit in the scrap.