One Day

A child’s innocence is a very precious possession, this innocence ensue is the host of ever lasting faith, hope and charity. A child holds no ill will, never seems displeased with their mother or father, but simply reveres them with an ever lasting love that swells within the child. But, a child is more than uprightness, it is tender, and gently, and comforts those it sees in sorrow. The child expands its kindness beyond that to kin and lends a hand to the stranger. Children are sweet and generally benevolent, and it can either be preserved or tainted by those that raise the child.

Babes grow up knowing no evil that goes about the world, but see the world as beautiful and extraordinary as if it had been the first time they had seen it. The world is indeed wonderful when we are children, but as babes do, they grow up, mimicking those that influence them in their lives.

Mona wholeheartedly intended to raise Frida as best she could with full of love, hope and charity, because that was all she could afford to give her. But there were others that influenced Frida that came to dote on her as if she was the most precious thing that was bestowed onto them. Frida, was a delightful child, with large, blue eyes, which her father, Robert Otto, always said, “they were like the ocean, big and blue.” She was angelic in appearance, with a calm and happy demeanor. Adults that found themselves being self-effacing and at peace in the presence of this child. There was something about Frida that inspired them that most came to think she was an exceptional child. But, Frida, never felt exceptional, just overjoyed with life itself.

Now, Mona, rarely had any money or riches to give to her child, she owned no home of her own, or land to call home, and with that came poverty. She lived by the hand outs of Mr. Otto, and her uncle and whenever she could she would find a job here and there. But, Mona was carefree, others would say careless, but when it came to her child, she fawned over her daughter. She never worried about tomorrow, and left the cares of yesterday behind. Mona lived a simple life and made it her business to raise her child to be good and humble. Mona, taught her a little secret that was only among them, it was the secret to eternal youth and ever lasting joy. Mona knew that it was easy for a child to find it than a full grown man since they carried the cares of the world on their shoulders.

Every year, before the summer ended, after Frida had visited her father for most of the summer, Moan would take Frida to the seaside to enjoy the last few days before Fall set in. Frida loved those tender moments with her mother that were accompanied with Mona’s best friend, Susan. Frida, adored Susan, her godmother, she was as tall and as beautiful as her mother if not even more beautiful. Men gushed over Mona as often as they gushed over Susan. But, both women were not interested in consorting with them since Susan was married and Mona felt her priorities rested on her only child.

These last days of summer were remarkable as Frida played in the water while Mona and Susan sunbathe on the sand even when the sun was obstructed by clouds. They didn’t seem to be bothered. Only a few people were scattered about the shore, but Frida lived as it was only them that existed. Frida, had long ago learned to swim and was adapt at swimming to and fro, without her mother ever worrying of her child’s ability. Sometimes, Frida swam a little too far from shore, and Susan would raise her concerns to Mona to which Mona simply replied, “He’s got her by the hand, not to worry.”

Susan never questioned Mona, but she seemed more uneasy at letting six-year old Frida swim out so far out. To Susan’s relief, Frida learned to read her godmother’s distress and would swim back safely. As she returned, Frida got so excited she would tell Mona how she got to talk to Him. Mona was only delighted while Susan fretted silently, but knew not to meddle with Mona’s authority. Frida was growing up happy, and she was healthy and above all she was obedient that if Mona demanded something of her, Frida complied without a grumble. But, Frida was more than an obedient child, she knew never to cause affliction to others and cared wholly for them.

From the outside, Mona made it easy to raise a child like Frida. They would say, “well, it’s easy to raise her, she was born to be pleasant and some children are born to be unpleasant.”

Mona didn’t believe it, “nonsense, it’s hard work, it’s like having a job, your either good at your job or you are not, just like you can be happy about doing one thing or unhappy about doing it. I choose to be happy and teach her a doctrine which will be her foundation in life.”

“And what was that?” they would ask curiously.

Mona would laugh, “you would know if your heart was pure and holy.”

My Reminiscences of the Anglo Boer War

The British certainly meant business that day. It was baptismal fire of the Imperial Light Horse, a corps principally composed of Johannesburgers, who were politically and racially our bitter enemies. And that was more unfortunate, our guns were so much exposed that they were soon silenced. For a long time we did our best to keep our opponents at bay, but they came in crushing numbers, and speedily dead and maimed burghers covered the veldt.

This was the first, as it was the last time in the War that I heard a British band playing to cheer attacking “Tommies.” I believed it use to be a British war custom to rouse martial instincts with lively music, but something must have gone wrong with the works in this War, there must have occurred a rift in the lute, for ever after this first battle in Elandslaagte the British abandon flags, banners and bands and other quite unnecessary furniture.

About half an hour before sunset, the enemy had come up close to our positions and on all sides a terrible battle raged. To keep them back was now completely out of the question. They had forced their way between the kloof, and while rushing up with my men towards them, my rifle was smashed by a bullet. A wounded burgher handed me his and I joined Field-Cornet Peter Joubert who, with seven other burghers, was defending the kloof.

When the sun had set and the awful scene was enveloped in darkness there was a dreadful spectacle of maimed Germans, Hollanders, Frenchmen, Irishmen, Americans, and Boers lying on the veldt.The groans of the wounded were heartrending; the dead could no longer speak. Another charge, and the British, encouraged by their success, had taken, our last positions, guns and all.

Another last look at the bloody scene. It was very hard to have to beat an ignominious retreat, but it was harder still to have to go without being able to attend to one’s wounded comrades, who were piteously crying aloud for help. To have to leave them in the hands of the enemy was exceedingly distressing to me. But there was no other course open, and fleeing, I hoped I might “live to fight another day.” I go away, accompanied by Fourier and my Kaffir servant. “Let us go,” I said, “perhaps we shall be able to fall in with some more burghers round here and have another shot at them.” Behind us the British lancers were shouting: “Stop, stop, halt you——Boers!”

They fired briskly at us, but our little ponies responded gamely to the spur, and, aided by the darkness, we rode on safely. Still the lancers did not abandon the chase and followed us for a long distance. From time to time we could hear the pitiful cries and entreaties of burghers who were being “finished off,” but we could see nothing. My man and I had fleet horses in good condition, those of the pursuing lancers were big and clumsy.

My adjutant, Piet Fourie, however, was not so fortunate as myself. He was overtaken and made a prisoner. Revolvers were being promiscuously fired at us, and at times the distance between us and our pursuers grew smaller. We could plainly hear them shouting “Stop, or I’ll shoot you,” or “Halt, you damned Boer, or I’ll run my lance through your blessed body.”

Ben Viljoen, 1906