It was the peacefullest, decentest
raid I ever heard of, and it would be difficult to
think of anything with a termination more tame and
But we have not got there yet.
The events which led up to it must
be got over first as briefly as possible, and then
we go on to what was called a formal declaration of
war between the inmates of the Military Camp and the
two principal actors at Harmony.
After the van Warmelos had discovered
on December 20th, through the enemy’s rank stupidity,
that they had been found out, a regular game of hide-and-seek
began to be played in and around their beautiful garden.
The curious thing about this game
was that it was only carried on under cover of darkness
and intense silence, a silence which could almost
be felt, and which became so uncanny as time went on
that the women found it quite insupportable and had
no peace by night or by day until the day on which,
a month later, the enemy took the initiative and made
what may be called an attack in front. There was
only one noisy actor in the game, which was played
for four solid weeks before the crash came, and as
many after, and that was Carlo, but, although his
feelings found relief in constant growlings and furious
barkings, I do believe even his nerves suffered under
the constant strain, for he became more and more irritable
and restless as time went on.
That dog gave a lot of trouble in
those days and was a source of great anxiety, as my
reader will see presently.
The fruit season was at its height.
The garden, heavily laden with the burden of luscious
fruits and blooming flowers, was a scene of beauty
and riotous luxury impossible to describe; and as the
different fruit trees bloomed and bore their rich
harvest in rapid succession, each after its kind apricots,
figs, pears, plums, apples, peaches, and, last but
not least, the noble vine with its great bunches of
purple and white Hansie and her mother
revelled in the wealth of Nature’s extravagance
from morn till eve.
Mrs. van Warmelo, an energetic and
tireless gardener, spent all her time amongst the
fruit, while indoors the task of putting up in jars
for winter use fell mainly on Hansie’s shoulders.
Nothing was allowed to run to waste,
and that year was always remembered as an exceptionally
fine fruit season.
It was nothing for Mrs. van Warmelo
to have 100 lb. of grapes cut before breakfast and
have them conveyed to the early market, and even then
the vines bore no trace of having been robbed or tampered
The soldiers, too, got their share,
and the sergeant-major’s small basket was often
filled for were they not on the best of
terms with one another?
But when the shades of night fell
over the land, and silence settled on the birds and
beasts and flowers, the sense of careless freedom and
security deserted our heroines entirely.
Unseen eyes watched them from behind
the leaves, and they knew that the very trees under
which they sat had ears, straining to catch up their
The Military Police unknown
to the women, as they thought were guarding
them and their property from intruders, and this was
known by Carlo’s incessant growlings and his
furious, sudden fits of barking whenever he came upon
some midnight prowler hidden under the trees.
I am sure the good dog never understood
Hansie’s apathy on this point.
After all he did to warn her of foul
play, to have his efforts rewarded with a scolding
or a careless “Do be quiet, Carlo. The kitty
is only catching moths,” seemed unjust and quite
unlike his mistress’s usual ready sympathy.
In time he got used to finding strangers
in the privacy of his domain and only showed his dissatisfaction
with an occasional low growl or a vicious snarl.
Perhaps “Gentleman Jim”
was not so bad after all, or perhaps he was only stupid,
because a few days after the flight of our friends
he came to Mrs. van Warmelo with the information,
given with an amused smile and more drawl than usual,
that “the officer had promised him plenty money”
if he ever caught a Boer on the premises or in the
garden, and that in future a strict watch would be
held over the property and an extra vigilance preserved
whenever the dog barked.
What more proof could be wanted after
that? Now they knew exactly how the land lay,
and in their hearts they thanked their simple servant
and still more simple foe, for the confirmation of
As the weeks went by and the time
for the Captain’s next visit drew near, Mrs.
van Warmelo again and again urged the necessity of
putting up the danger-signal (a small block of wood,
which was kept ready with a nail through it, lying
hidden behind the post), only to be met with an obstinate
refusal from her daughter.
“How can you be so reckless
and foolhardy, Hansie?” her mother would exclaim.
“We know that the men may come in any night,
and we know that the house and grounds are being watched,
and yet you want me to let our friends run right into
the trap, without lifting a finger to save them!
It would be an unpardonable thing, and I do believe
you are only longing to have the excitement of harbouring
“Perhaps that is it! But
think of the disappointment of the men to be turned
back at our very doors after having come so far through
untold dangers! Depend upon it they will not
come in again for nothing. They went through
too much last time, and there will be work of some
importance for us all to do if they come in again,
you may be sure of that. No, dear mother, let
us risk it, I beg of you. We are still in the
house, and Naude is no chicken. He will reach
us in spite of guards and fences, and ”
“Be followed right up to the
house and be taken here like a rat in a trap,”
Mrs. van Warmelo continued gloomily.
“I am not so sure,” Hansie
exclaimed, as cheerfully as her sinking heart allowed,
when this horrible picture rose before her.
“You know what our experience
has been of English vigilance and English sagacity;
now, if they had some of Carlo’s intelligence
we would have some reason to be anxious.”
The danger-signal was not put up,
but that things would have ended exactly as Mrs. van
Warmelo predicted I now have not a shadow of doubt.
The spies would have glided into the
house in the false security occasioned by the absence
of the danger-signal, they would have been watched
and followed to the very doors by the hidden foe, the
house would have been surrounded and stormed by armed
men, and a fierce, an unspeakably horrible encounter
would have ended in death and destruction if
they had come. But they were prevented on
commando from keeping their appointment that month and
at the very time when they expected to be safely housed
under Harmony’s hospitable roof, the place was
surrounded, an entry forced and every corner of the
house searched for spies.
It happened “like so,”
and we must now turn our attention for a moment to
a matter of small importance in order to understand
why Hansie was from home at a critical time, and how
she missed the keen enjoyment of being present at
For some weeks the advisability of
leaving home on a pleasure trip had been discussed.
While the moon was on the wane their friends from
commando would not be likely to pay them a visit, but
Mrs. van Warmelo, who never had much inclination to
leave her little paradise, persuaded Hansie to go
to Johannesburg for a few days alone to a dear young
friend, newly wed, who had repeatedly begged her to
They hoped that such an attitude of
innocent pleasure-making on their part would avert
some of the suspicion which rested on their heads and
cause a part, at least, of the surveillance to be withdrawn
Hansie hoped to be back home before
the appearance of the new moon, the time appointed
for Naude’s next visit, and it was red-tape,
nothing but red-tape, through which she was undone.
So many difficulties were placed in
the way of her obtaining the necessary permits that
by the time she got away she should have been on her
Let us see what her diary says.
“January 10th, Friday.
“My poor old diary! I begin
to foresee that it is going to die a natural death,
simply because I am tired of recording lies and rumours
[this was the black-and-white diary, kept on purpose
to mislead the enemy, should it fall into their
“I am now busy preparing
for a little trip to Johannesburg, but
oh dear! the difficulty one
has in getting permits!
“The English have never
been so strict before!
“Major Hoskins (who could have
helped me without further reference had he wished)
sent me to the Commissioner of Police, who asked
me to produce a note of recommendation from my ’ward
officer’ in B. Ward.
“My ‘ward officer’
refused to give me a permit without a
medical certificate that I
required a change of air.
“I told him shortly that I was
going for pleasure and that I would appeal to
General Maxwell if he could not assist me. He
said ‘that made all the difference!’
(what did he mean?) and asked me for the name
and address of the people with whom I would be
staying in Johannesburg, so I gave him Pauline’s
“No, that was not sufficient,
he must have the name of the
street and the number of the
“’I do not remember
the number, but I shall go home to look it
up and come back at once.’
“‘It will er be
more convenient if you bring it to-morrow,’ he
And Hansie understood that he was gaining time.
After all the fuss that had been made,
she was not surprised next day when the Commissioner
of Police asked her, very politely, while closely
inspecting the “note of recommendation,”
to call for her permits on Monday (this was Thursday),
as there would be some delay in having them “approved”
by the other officials.
This was again done to gain time while
the authorities were putting their heads together,
trying to find out “what the dickens” she
could want in Johannesburg.
Hansie knew this well enough, although
she filled her diary with lamentations and wonderings.
“Will you be all right alone,
mother, at a time like this?” Hansie asked,
as, with her permits at last in her possession, she
hugged her mother in affectionate farewell.
“Oh yes, I am well guarded,
as you know,” Mrs. van Warmelo answered, laughing;
“there is plenty of time, and you will be back
before anything can happen.”
Hansie looked doubtful. Was her
mother play-acting? Did she mind being left,
and was she only eager to have her daughter out of
danger’s way? Or did she intend putting
up the danger-signal, after all?
You see, Hansie was getting so used
to plotting and scheming that she could not help turning
her newly acquired detective propensities on her nearest
and dearest when occasion offered, and she even misdoubted
the behaviour of her mother, tried as she had been,
and never found wanting, in many a crisis in the past.
“You will wire for me, won’t
you?” she asked suspiciously.
“Of course, of course but
there will be nothing to wire about, I am quite sure.”
With a sigh and many anxious forebodings,
Hansie drove to the station on her way to her “pleasure
She was met in the Golden City, now
more like a Dead City, by loving friends and a magnificent
St. Bernard dog, Nero, who soon made her feel at home,
although they could not altogether banish the cares,
dimly guessed at by them, with which she was oppressed.
The most reassuring news from home
continued to reach her until one morning, on the sixth
day after her arrival, a brief postcard from her mother
informed her in a few bald words that Harmony had been
searched on “Sunday morning the 19th inst.”
A few hours later Hansie was in the
train, speeding, with remorse tugging at her heart,
to her mother’s side.
It was something of a disappointment
to her, on arriving at Harmony, to find everything
exactly as she had left it.
Carlo greeted her with his old extravagant
demonstrations of affection and delight, and when
she looked searchingly into her mother’s face
she was met with a beaming smile. There was no
trace of the ordeal she had faced alone, and Hansie’s
anxious heart gave a throb of relief.
She was soon in full possession of
the details of the adventure, and it appeared that
the “raid” had been made in the early hours
of the 19th (Jan.), Sunday morning.
It had been raining heavily all night,
and the torrents were still coming down drenchingly
when Mrs. van Warmelo was aroused by a knock at her
bedroom window and “Gentleman Jim’s”
voice, with all the drawl gone, calling out anxiously,
“Missis, come, the police want you!”
Mrs. van Warmelo dressed hurriedly,
and on opening the front door was met by an officer,
who informed her that he had been ordered by the Commissioner
of Police to search her house.
Armed soldiers were standing about,
guarding the different entrances.
Mrs. van Warmelo led the way, and
the officer went through the house with her alone,
glancing under beds, opening wardrobes and moving
screens in his search “for men,” as he
said in reply to her questions.
“I am surprised that you should
have been sent to search my house for men,”
she said, with righteous indignation.
“I was surprised to see your
name on the black list, Mrs. van Warmelo,” he
She watched him in puzzled silence.
Evidently he knew her, or her name. Quite evidently
he was no
Englishman only a South African could pronounce
her name like that.
When they reached the passage leading
to the kitchen the officer suddenly started at the
sight of Flippie’s form lying curled up in deep
sleep. He bent over him, pulled his blanket down
cautiously, and said below his breath, “Oh,
The house having been thoroughly searched,
he turned to Mrs. van Warmelo and, courteously thanking
her for having allowed him to do so, asked permission
to go through the out-buildings, which was instantly
granted. There was no one, of course, and the
military, if they had expected to make any sensational
discoveries that morning, were grievously disappointed.
“Well, I am glad it is over,
mamma,” Hansie said when the story came to an
“It is better to have the house
searched in vain, than not to have it searched
at all, when one is on the black list. Perhaps
the surveillance on Harmony will now be removed, at
least to some extent, and the danger to Captain Naude,
when he comes in again, considerably lessened.”
That this was the case we shall see
in our next chapter.