Six Weary Months Had This
Village Withstood The Pitiless Pelt Of Rifle Bullet And Shell.
seemed as far away from them as ever.
But if troubles may be
allayed by sympathy, then theirs should have lain lightly. The
attention of the whole empire had centred upon them, and even the
advance of Roberts's army became secondary to the fate of this
gallant struggling handful of men who had upheld the flag so long.
On the Continent also their resistance attracted the utmost
interest, and the numerous journals there who find the imaginative
writer cheaper than the war correspondent announced their capture
periodically as they had once done that of Ladysmith. From a mere
tin-roofed village Mafeking had become a prize of victory, a stake
which should be the visible sign of the predominating manhood of
one or other of the great white races of South Africa. Unconscious
of the keenness of the emotions which they had aroused, the
garrison manufactured brawn from horsehide, and captured locusts as
a relish for their luncheons, while in the shot-torn billiard-room
of the club an open tournament was started to fill in their hours
off duty. But their vigilance, and that of the hawk-eyed man up in
the Conning Tower, never relaxed. The besiegers had increased in
number, and their guns were more numerous than before. A less acute
man than Baden-Powell might have reasoned that at least one
desperate effort would be made by them to carry the town before
relief could come.
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