just previous to war being declared and offered his services to the English. So here in this house, were three women, a mother and two daughters, their husbands in different places and one actually fighting against the others; each woman fearful that tomorrow's mail may bring tidings that their blood chilled at the bare thought of; and so it is all over the country."
On the train journey back to Vereeniging via Germiston, Leslie encountered a friend Wilson and from him he learned: "R. M. Campbell the architect, who was fighting on the Boers' 'side escaped by speaking English in a midnight sortie' A number of men had been killed. Also on the train were a number of Boers returning for a week or two, each had some prizes in the shape of an officer's sword or a Lee Metford rifle or a bayonet and they strolled up and down the platform at Elandsfontein (Germiston) to the general admiration of the women and children. We had to wait for a train from Pretoria, carrying munitions of war to Cronje at Edenburg. The talk was all war and the losses on the English side at Modder River and Colenso."
On his return to Vereeniging, Leslie wrote: "We heard of a big fight at Colenso - General Buller's first attempt to relieve Ladysmith - and of the loss of the guns. The accounts we
names of burghers who had to appear at a given place at a certain date with horse, saddle and rifle. Altogether there were taken from Vereeniging about 100 men". Soon "rumours began to come in, and we began to realise that war is a terrible thing. The bad news was that hundreds of men were being slaughtered. As one Boer woman said to me 'What is the independence of the country to me when my man is dead'". Leslie confided in his wife: "We are not a whit more civilised than were the ancient Britons".
Leslie left his home in the village to live at the Central Mine and during his absence his house was burgled. The culprits were apprehended and Leslie was summoned to appear in court at Heidelberg on December 14, 1899. In Heidelberg, he visited old friends. "I found Agnes and Mrs. Harrington still living in the same house. Old man Harrington was still in Vryburg which had now become Transvaal territory, the Boers having "taken" the town. The women were safe and had been unmolested. Agnes's husband had been commandeered and was fighting at Ladysmith.He had been at Heidelberg about a fortnight previous. His horse had been killed by a shell and Agnes showed me his waterproof which was perforated in 36 places. Agnes took a melancholy interest in patching up the holes."
"John Harrington's wife was also here. John had gone down