#Writephoto – Within

The front flap of the tent was tightly closed. Mrs De Wet opened it and gestured to them to enter. Marta’s first impression was of neatness despite the dim lighting and stuffiness inside the tent. A smell of sickness and impending death hung in the oppressive air.

A women in her thirties knelt on the floor next to a makeshift mattress. Her small son lay on the mattress, weak and frail. His face was flushed with fever and he had a hacking cough.

“I’m trying to keep him warm,” the mother said, by way of explanation for keeping the flap closed. “He is shivering with cold.”

“What is wrong with him?” asked Marta. She already knew but she needed to be sure. Her whole being shrank away from what she already feared.

“He has influenza. There are a couple of hundred cases of illness in the camp right now, a mixture of influenza, bronchitis and enteric catarrh. There had been some dust storms lately which the camp doctor thinks is causing more respiratory illnesses.”

Marta looked at Sannie, aghast. Their two families and their house servants had always lived a rural life and had little immunity to such illnesses. It was bad enough to deal with the multitude of biting insects and vermin but how could they deal with this?

A few moments later, Mrs Smit entered the tent with her children. She laid the dead body of her baby down on a blanket. The child had drawn its last breath while she was speaking to the Camp Commandant. He had given her directions to the children’s graveyard. She dropped into a seated position on the hard ground and sat there, rocking herself to and fro, and keening softly. Her worn and seemingly bloodless body was that of an old woman and her large eyes in her white face were wild and haunted. The death of her infant on top of the recent losses of her oldest son and toddler seemed to have broken something deep within her mind. It was frightening to watch.

Needing to escape the cloying confines of the tent and the overwhelming anguish of the mother of the dead baby and the mother of the seriously ill boy, Marta went for a walk around the camp, stopping to speak to the other women.

This piece has been posted for Sue Vincent’s weekly write photo prompt. I am desperately trying to finish my novella, A ghost and his gold, about the Second Anglo Boer War. Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I find it hard to tear myself away from my most recent writing undertaking. That is why I often weave prompts into my latest story idea as I have done here.

You can join in here: https://scvincent.com/2019/08/08/thursday-photo-prompt-within-writephoto/


28 thoughts on “#Writephoto – Within

        1. I am sure the government was very embarrassed about it. My story is fairly revealing but I have tried to be balanced as the Brits are defensive and the Boers accusatory. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle so that is where I aimed.


          1. I think the government has every reason to be embarrassed… not a great chapter in our country’s history… but so many of them aren’t. And I wonder how many countries’ histories would stand close scrutiny? No matter how ‘righteous’ the official history books might try to make them seem…

            Liked by 1 person

  1. During the American Civil war some wealthy homes were confiscated and turned into hospitals, mostly to serve the soldiers. Homeowners often buried their silver in the fields hoping to have something left to dig up once the war went through. Not all were lucky enough to remember where especially after the grounds were littered with bodies – some of the same family fighting on different sides.

    War in any shape or form is a horrid venue. But history must be placed in plain view in order to learn from it.

    Liked by 1 person

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