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Dispatch: 23 January 2017
Camp Fire Sketches/Hales, A. G./Paper/0859853393/S003-E
Originally published in London, 1902.
As the wind gathers sparks from the camp-fire, so these stories have been collected, here, there, and everywhere. Sometimes they may echo the throb of marching feet, as memory stirs again the half-forgotten echoes of falling footsteps on the grassy veldt. Sometimes they may be damp with tears as we stand together, you and I, on battle-fields, and look upon fallen fruit of war: the brave, proud men who died that our imperial flag might wave unchallenged in the breeze. Sometimes the headlong rush of mounted men, sweeping the grassland like hawks unhooded, may find a far-off echo in these tales of mine; for I have seen the best and bravest ride, and riding fall, and falling die. Sometimes the laughter and the song, the rude, the rough merriment that stirs in camps, the veteran's smile half smothered by his scars, the raw recruit's unbridled mirth, the lights and shades, the tragedy and comedy of war, may find a place in these poor pages. And, though I may not claim the master craftsman's skill which brings the ripple amidst African kopjes to your ears in peaceful English homes, or stir your blood with the thunder of the guns as Steevens did before they laid him in his shallow grave, side by side with those whom he in life had honoured, still I may tell things I know in such a way that the meanest man in all our Empire may feel how good a thing it is to call one's self a Briton.