Boy Scouts Beyond The Seas
Some day you may want to go out to an Oversea Dominion, and it may very easily cost you your life if you don’t know how to use a rifle.
In the early morning our train stops at the little town of Newcastle, the last town in Natal towards the Transvaal border. Like Newcastle in England and Newcastle in New South Wales, this place has its coal mines, and like them also it has its Boy Scouts. The Scouts only paraded in small numbers, as most of them were away on their holidays in camp or at the seaside, but those that were present were a nice, promising-looking lot, very clean and cheery.
Alongside them were also the Newcastle Girl Guides, equally smart, and evidently doing their work well. To one of these I had the pleasure of presenting the medal for gallantry in life saving. Three children had got into difficulties when bathing, and were drowning when a lady dashed to their rescue, but she in her turn got swept out of her depth, and she, too, was in great danger of being drowned when the Girl Guide, Carrie Cross, sprang in to her assistance.
Although but a poor swimmer, this girl did not lose her head in the midst of the excitement where four people were drowning, but she gallantly went to their rescue without any thought of the danger to herself. She succeeded in getting hold of the lady, and in bringing her safely to shore after a plucky struggle. The children were unfortunately drowned. For her gallant conduct the Guide received the Silver Cross for life saving.
After leaving Newcastle, the line winds and climbs up the hills to the ridge which divides Natal from the Transvaal. The pass over this ridge is called Laings Nek, and formed a strong position for defence by the Boers in both the Boer campaigns of 1881 and of 1900, and there many a gallant soldier lost his life.
In the 1881 campaign, after trying in vain to drive the Boers out of their trenches on Laings Nek, Sir George Colley, the British General, took a portion of his force by night up to the top of the Majuba mountain, which overlooks the Laings Nek position.
As you will have read in “Scouting for Boys,” it was a Boer woman who first noticed the British on the top of the mountain, and pointed it out to the Boer Commandant.
Boers and British
You would think a fellow a pretty average cotter if, after a hard match at football, he showed a nasty feeling about it, that is, if, as a winner, he swaggered over the other side as being a lot of ninnies, or if, as a loser, he bore a grudge against the fellows who had won.
The manly way is for both sides to shake hands and be the best of friends after a game – the harder the game has been the better they can admire each other, and the better friends they can be. It is just the same after a war.
And that’s what I was so glad to find in South Africa; the Boers and British have learnt to admire each other, and have settled down together as friends, and all the better friends for the better knowledge of each other gained in a long-fought campaign. “The past is past,” they say, “let us look to the future.” And that is the manly way to look at it.
The troubles which have arisen from time to time between the British and Boer inhabitants of South Africa have not been due so much to ill-feeling on the part of the two peoples against each other, as to their two Governments getting at loggerheads and not understanding the question – that is, not seeing things from the other’s point of view.
The fault lies sometimes with one Government, sometimes with the other. The people, in both cases loyal to their own Government, had to follow suit, and so had to fight each other – thus ill-