Page:MKGandhi patriot.djvu/98

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83
IN SOUTH AFRICA

thrust back into Ladysmith. On November 2nd, telegraphic communication with the town was interrupted. On November 3rd. the railway line was cut. On November 10th. the Boers held Colenso and the line of the Tugela. On the 14th, was the affair of the armoured train. On the 18th, the enemy were near Estcourt. On the 21st, they had reached the Mooi River. On the 23rd, Hildyard attacked them at Willow Grange. From then onwards, Sir Redvers Buller was massing his troops at Chieveley, in preparation for a great effort to cross the river and to relieve Ladysmith, the guns of which, calling from behind the line of Northern Hills, told their constant tale of restless attack and stubborn defence" (Conan Doyle).

These were days of intense excitement in Durban, and the strain on all must have been severe. It tended, however, to draw together all sections of the community. It invested with heroism all who were willing to "go to the front," and it helped to awaken those better feelings, which afterwards found expression in the phrase "Sons of the Empire."

Hope centred in General Buller, but his problem was a difficult one, and hope was not always in the ascendant. That open ground on the southern