To this end, the Orange River Colony had been marked off into sections by the rows of blockhouses strung upon barbed wire. Drive after drive had been made into these enclosures; and every drive had brought its bag of game. But still the general himself had eluded them. Early in February, however, a giant drive had been planned, directed away from the enclosure in order that, once De Wet took refuge in his usual trick of doubling back upon his pursuers, he should find himself caught in the open trap. And, secure in the ultimate success of his plan, Lord Kitchener waited at Wolvehoek in expectation of its end.
The drive had been made, De Wet had doubled, and now the base of the triangle was flowing in upon him, fully confident of success at last. And the base was in part made up of the South African Light Horse, and Carew and Weldon were of that Horse, and they rejoiced accordingly.
Nightfall of the sixth found the quarry well inside the triangle, and the South African Light Horse drawn up in a straight line running westward from Lindley. The officers slept in their boots, that night, and every trooper held himself tense in his blankets, ready to cease snoring at an instant's notice. And far away to the northward, the moving search-lights carved the frosty darkness with their blinding cones of light.
Weldon was ordered out on picket duty, that night. All day long, he had ridden hard, until even the zeal of Piggie had begun to flag. Nevertheless, as the broad stripe of yellow reluctantly died out of the western sky, his excited brain denied to his tired muscles the sleep which they demanded. Accordingly, it was a relief when his orders came, and he found himself advancing cautiously out into the shadowy veldt.
Contrary to his usual mood when on picket, Weldon had no sense of loneliness, that night. Reaching away from him on either hand was the huge enclosing wall of humanity, pacing to and fro on picket duty, guarding the blockhouses, patrolling the wire fences between. Every man was alert to his duty; every nerve was taut with the consciousness that somewhere within the cordon was the leader who heretofore had escaped them, that each man was a link forged in the endless chain which was stretched around the invisible enemy. And, meanwhile, the starless sky and the waiting chain were equally silent and equally freighted with mystery. And the future seemed full of portent and very near.
Then, as the midnight hour swung past him, Weldon heard the rustle of a quiet footfall. It was Captain Frazer's voice that answered his challenge.
"I was looking for you, Weldon," he added.
"No. I felt restless and couldn't sleep, so I thought I would go the round of the pickets. They said you were out here. Where is Carew?"