Part 5 out of 8
set forth his ideals for the chaplain service in the Canadian army.
"Three things," he said, "I tell my men, should mark the Canadian
chaplain service. The first, Unity--unity among themselves, unity
with the other departments of the army. Two words describe our
chaplains--Christian and Canadians. I am an Anglican myself, but
on this side of the channel there are no Anglican, no Presbyterian,
no Methodist chaplains, only Christian and Canadian chaplains. I
have had to fight for this with high officials both in the army and
in the church. I have won out, and while I'm here this will be
maintained. The second thing is Spirituality. The Chaplain must
be a Christian man, living in touch with the Divine--alive toward
God. Third, Humanity. He must be 'touched with the feeling of our
infirmity,' sharing the experiences of the men, getting to know
their feelings, their fears, their loneliness, their misery, their
anxieties, and God knows they have their anxieties for themselves
and for their folks at home."
As Barry listened, he heard again his father's voice. "They need
you. They are afraid. They are lonely. They need God."
"And remember," said the A. D. C. S., as he rose to close the
interview, "that I am at your back. If you have any difficulty,
let me know. If you are wrong, I promise to tell you. If you are
right, I'll back you up. Now, let us go and look over the
hospital. There are some of our fellows there. If you feel like
saying anything in the convalescent ward, all right, but don't let
it worry you."
As they went through the wards, Barry could not but notice how the
faces of the patients brightened as his chief approached, and how
their eyes followed him after he had passed.
They moved slowly through those long corridors, sanctified by the
sufferings and griefs and hidden tears of homesick and homelonging
men, to many of whom it seemed that the best of life was past.
When they had gone the length of the convalescent ward, the
A. D. C. S. turned and, after getting permission of the medical
superintendent, briefly introduced Barry to the wounded men, as "a
man from the wild and woolly Canadian west, on his way up the line,
and therefore competent to tell us about the war, and especially
when it will end."
Beside them stood a piano, and on it lay a violin in its open case.
Barry took up the violin, fingered its strings in an absent-minded
way, and said:
"I don't know anything about the war, men, but I do know when it
will end, and that is when we lick those Huns good and plenty, as
our American friends would say," bowing to the doctor at his side.
"I'm an awfully poor speaker, boys," he continued in a confidential
tone, "but I can make this thing talk a bit."
Without further preface he began to play. He had not held a
violin in his hands since he had played with his father at home.
Unconsciously his fingers wandered into the familiar notes of
Handel's Largo. He found the violin to possess an exceptionally
rich and pure quality of tone.
As he began to play, a door opened behind them, admitting Paula,
the V. A. D. and two or three young doctors, who took their places
in the corner about the piano.
"Do you know this?" whispered Paula to the V. A. D., as she caught
the strains of the Largo.
"Yes. I used to play it with my brother."
"Go to it, then," said Paula.
But the V. A. D. hesitated.
"Go on! Look at the boys, and look at his face."
The V. A. D. glanced about the room at the lines of pale and
patient faces, which, in spite of the marks of pain, were so
pathetically and resolutely bright. Then she glanced at Barry's
face. He had forgotten all about his surroundings, and his face
was illumined with the light from those hidden lamps that burn deep
in the soul of genius, a light enriched and warmed by the glow of a
heart in sympathy with its kind.
In obedience to Paula's command and a little push upon her
shoulder, the V. A. D. sat down at the piano and touched the notes
softly, feeling for the key, then fell in with the violin.
At the first note, Barry turned sharply about and as she found her
key and began to follow, he stepped back to her side. Immediately,
from his instrument, there seemed to flow a richer, fuller stream
of melody. From the solemn and stately harmonies of the Largo, he
passed to those old familiar airs, that never die and never lose
their power over the human heart--"Annie Laurie" and "Ben Bolt,"
and thence to a rollicking French chanson, which rather bowled over
his accompanist, but only for the first time though, for she had
the rare gift of improvisation, and sympathetic accompaniment.
Then with a full arm bowing, he swept them into the fiercely
majestic strains of the "Marseillaise," bringing the blue-coated
orderlies about the door, and such patients as could stand, and the
group about the piano to rigid attention. From the "Marseillaise"
it was easy to pass into the noble simplicity of his own national
song, "Oh, Canada!" where again his accompanist was quite able to
follow, and thence to the Empire's National Anthem, which had for
a hundred years or more lifted to their feet British soldiers and
sailors the world over.
As he drew his bow over the last chord, Paula stepped to his side,
and whispered in his ear:
"Where's America in this thing?"
Without an instant's break in the music, he dropped into a
whimsical and really humorous rendering of "Yankee Doodle."
Quickly the V. A. D. moved from the stool, caught Paula and thrust
her into the vacant place. Then together the violin and piano
rattled into a fantastic and brilliant variation of that famous and
trifling air. Again, with a sudden change of mood, Barry swung
into that old song of the homesick plantation negro, "The Suwanee
River"--a simple enough air, but under the manipulations of a
master lending itself to an interpretation of the deep and tender
emotions which in that room and in that company of French, British,
Canadian, American folk were throbbing in a common longing for the
old home and the "old folks at home." Before he had played the air
once through, the grey-haired American doctor was openly wiping his
eyes, and his colleagues looking away from each other, ashamed of
the tears that did them only honour.
Paula's flushed face and flashing eyes were eloquent of her deep
emotion, while at her side the V. A. D. stood quiet, controlled,
but with a glow of tender feeling shining in her face and in her
soft brown eyes.
Not long did Barry linger amid those deeps of emotion, but
straightening his figure to its full height, and throwing up his
head, he, in full octaves, played the opening bars of what has come
to be known as America's national anthem, "The Star Spangled
Instantly the A. D. C. S., the orderlies about the door, the
wounded French, British and Canadian soldiers that could stand,
sprang to attention and so remained while the violin, with its
piano accompaniment, throbbed forth the sonorous chords. With the
last bar, Barry dropped his bow to his side, but held the violin
still at his chin. Not one of that company moved, but stood with
their eyes fastened upon his face. After a moment's pause, he
quietly lifted his bow again, and on the silence, still throbbing
to the strains of that triumphant martial air, there stole out
pure, sweet, as from some ethereal source, the long drawn,
trembling notes of that old sacred melody, which, sounding over men
and women in their hours of terror and anguish and despair, has
lifted them to peace and comfort and hope--"Nearer, My God, to
The tension which had held the company was relaxed, the wounded
men sank to their seats, the A. D. C. S. removed his hat, which,
according to military regulations, he had worn to this moment.
On all sides, heads dropped in an attitude of reverence, and so
continued until Barry had drawn the last deep, vibrating note to
When he had laid his violin in its case, the old American doctor
came forward, with his hand extended.
"Let me, as an American and a Christian, thank you, sir," he said.
One by one the group of Americans came to shake hands with him, the
last being Paula, who held his hand a moment and said softly:
"Thank you, Barry. I believe all that stuff now. I have learned
The last of all to come was the V. A. D. Shyly, with a smile
radiant through her tears, she offered her hand, saying: "Thank
you! He would have liked that, I know."
"Captain Dunbar, where's your own violin?" The abrupt tone of the
A. D. C. S. startled them all.
"At home, sir. I didn't think a chaplain would need one."
"Whose violin in this?" asked the A. D. C. S. in his brusque
"I rather think this is mine," said one of the doctors.
"Will you sell it? I'll buy it from you, at any price you say. I
want it for him."
"You can't buy it, colonel," said the doctor. "It's his now. I
never knew it had all that heart stuff in it."
He took up the violin, and handed it to Barry. But Barry drew back
in astonishment. Then the old doctor came forward.
"No, Travis," he said, "we'll do better than that. What did your
"A hundred and fifty dollars, I think."
"Travis, this company of Americans, representing their country here
in France, as a token of their sympathy with the allies and their
sacred cause, and of gratitude to you, sir," bowing to Barry, "will
buy this instrument and present it to this young man, on condition
that he repeat in similar circumstances the service he has rendered
this afternoon. Am I right?" he asked, looking about him.
"You bet you are! Right you are!" said the doctors.
"Oh, doctor, you are a dear old thing!" exclaimed Paula.
Barry stood holding the instrument in his hand, unable to find his
voice. The A. D. C. S. came to his aid.
"In the name of my chaplain, and in the name of thousands of
Canadian soldiers to whom I promise you he will bring the blessing
that he has brought us this afternoon, I thank you for this very
beautiful and very characteristic American act."
"Well," said the old doctor, "I don't know how you folks feel, but
I feel as if I had been to church."
"Now, sir," said the A. D. C. S. to Barry, in his military tone, "I
am organising a company of musicians who will go through our camps
and help the boys as you have helped us to-day. I would like you
to be one of them. What do you say?"
"Oh, sir," exclaimed Barry hastily, laying the violin upon the
piano and standing back from it, "don't make that an order, sir.
I want to stay with my men."
His face was quivering with deep emotion. The A. D. C. S. looked
into the quivering face.
"All right, Dunbar," he said, with a little laugh, and putting his
hand on Barry's shoulder. "I guess you are all right."
"Some boy! What?" said the American doctor. "Here I think you had
better take your fiddle along," handing Barry the violin. "It
doesn't belong to any one in this bunch."
The burst of laughter that followed, all out of proportion to the
humour of the remark, revealed the tensity of the strain through
which they had passed.
Through the little town of Etaples they drove together in almost
complete silence, until they had emerged into the country, lying
spread out about them in all the tender beauty of the soft spring
evening. As the car moved through the sweet silence of the open
fields, the V. A. D. said softly:
"Oh, Captain Dunbar, I--"
"My name is Barry," he said gently.
A quick flush came into the beautiful face and a soft light to the
brown eyes, as she answered:
"And mine is Phyllis." Then she hurried to add, "I was going to
say that you helped me this afternoon as nothing has since my dear
"Thank you, Phyllis. What you have been to me through all these
days, I wish I could tell, but I can't find words."
Then they rode together in silence that was more eloquent than
any words of theirs could be. At length Barry burst forth
"Those Americans! What a beautiful and gracious act of kindness
that was to me."
"Oh," replied Phyllis, with answering enthusiasm, "aren't they
fine! That was perfectly ripping of them."
Barry's return to the battalion was like a coming home. In the
mess there was no demonstration of sympathy with him in his loss,
but the officers took occasion to drop in casually with an
interesting bit of news, seeking to express, more or less
awkwardly, by their presence what they found it impossible to
express in actual words.
It was to Barry an experience as new as it was delightful.
Hitherto, as far as any real fellowship was concerned he had lived
a life of comparative isolation among his fellow officers, and
while they were careful to preserve the conventions and courtesies
imposed by their mutual relations, he had ever been made to feel
that in that circle he was an outsider.
Among the officers who came to call upon him, none surprised him
more than did Major Bayne. While that officer had always been
careful to maintain an attitude toward him, at once correct and
civil, there had never been any approach to friendliness. As a
matter of fact, Major Bayne was too entirely occupied with his own
interests to have either the leisure or the inclination for
anything but a casual concern for the chaplain and his affairs.
That was not to be wondered at. Life in the army, notwithstanding
all its loyalties and its fine unselfishnesses, is, in some of its
phases, a brutally self-centred form of existence. Its routine
consists in the continual performance of "duties" under an
authority ruthless in its exactions and relentless in its
penalties. Only after months of experience of its iron rigidity
does the civilian, accustomed as he is to self-determination, with
a somewhat easygoing regard for the conventions of his community,
arrive at the state of mind in which unconsciously and as a matter
of second nature he estimates the quality of the most trivial act
by its relation to the standard set by the Military High Command.
Like a spectre does that solemn, impalpable, often perfectly
unreasonable omniscient and omnipotent entity lurk in the shadow
ready to reach out a clutching hand, and for some infraction of
regulations, wilful or inadvertent, hale the luckless and shivering
defaulter to judgment. It therefore behooves a man to take heed to
himself and to his ways, for, with the best intention, he may
discover that he has been guilty of an infraction, not of a
regulation found in K. R. & O., with which he has painfully made
himself familiar and which he has diligently exercised himself to
observe, but of one of those seventeen hundred and sixty-nine
"instructions" and "informations" which from time to time have
appeared in those sacred writings known as Army, Divisional,
Brigade, or Battalion Orders.
In consequence, an officer with a conscience toward his duty, or an
ambition for promotion, gives himself so completely to the business
of "watching his step" that only by a definite exercise of his
altruistic faculties can he indulge himself in the commendable
civilian luxury of caring for his neighbour.
And so it came about that Major Bayne, possessing in a large
measure the quality of "canniness" characteristic of his race--a
quality which for the benefit of the uninitiated Saxon it may be
necessary to define as being a judicious blending of shrewdness and
caution,--and being as well, again after the manner of his race,
ambitious for his own advancement, and, furthermore, being a man of
conscience, had been so entirely engrossed in the absorbing
business of "watching his step" that he had paid slight heed to the
affairs of any other officer, and least of all to those of the
chaplain, whose functions in the battalion he had regarded, it must
be confessed, as more or less formal, if not merely decorative.
But, in spite of all this, in the major the biggest thing was his
heart, which, however, true to his race type again, he kept stored
in the deepest recesses of his system. To "touch" the major's
"heart" was an operation of more than ordinary difficulty. It was
that very thing, however, which the letter to the battalion
Commanding Officer from the A. D. C. S. had achieved. The effect of
this letter upon the members of the mess, and most especially upon
the junior major in regard to their relation to their chaplain, was
revolutionary. Hence the major's visit to Barry upon the evening of
It was with an unusually cordial handshake that he greeted the
"We are glad to have you back with us, Captain Dunbar," he said.
"We missed you, and we have discovered that we need you. Things
have been moving while you were away. This battalion is undergoing
a transformation. The O. C. is tightening down the screws of
discipline. He sees, and we all are beginning to see, that we are
up against a different proposition from what we had imagined, and
right here, Captain Dunbar, I want to say for myself, and I believe
for the rest of the boys, that we have not given you a square
His attitude and his words astounded Barry.
"Don't say that, major," he said, in a voice husky with emotion.
"Don't say that. I have been all wrong. I am not going to talk
about it, but I am awfully glad to get a second chance."
"If you need a second chance, Pilot," said the major, for the first
time using the friendly western sobriquet, "believe me, you'll get
The major sat down, pulled out his pipe, and began to impart some
interesting bits of news.
"Things are moving rather swiftly with us these days. There are
many changes taking place. Duff has gone permanently to the
transport, and is in the way for a captaincy. Hopeton has gone for
a machine gun course. Sally is to be company commander in his
place. Booth takes charge of the bombers. Your friend, Sergeant
Knight, is slated for a commission. He is doing awfully well with
the signallers, and, by the way, there is something I want to show
you to-morrow, something quite unique and remarkable, our new
instructor in bayonet fighting. Do you know we were rather stuck
on our bayonet fighting, but he has made the boys feel that they
didn't know anything about bayonet fighting, or, for that matter,
about anything else. I think you will enjoy him. The boys are all
up on their toes. There is nothing like the scream of a live shell
'coming in' to speed up the training."
When the major had departed, he left Barry in a maze of wonder and
gratitude. That the battalion were glad to have him back, that all
the old feeling of latent hostility of which he had been conscious
was gone, and that they felt that they really needed him stirred in
his heart a profound sense of humility and gratitude.
Late as it was he felt he must go out for a stroll about the camp
just to see the men and give them greeting.
Wherever he went he was greeted with a new respect and a new
cordiality. It was as if he had passed through some mystic
initiation ceremony and had been admitted into a magic circle of
comradeship with the common soldier, than which no privilege is
more dearly coveted by the officers, from the colonel himself to
the youngest sub, and which is indeed, in the last analysis, the
sine qua non of effective leadership.
As Barry was passing the sergeants' mess-room the door opened and
there came out Sergeant Major McFetteridge himself, with two others
of the mess.
"Good evening, sergeant major," said Barry quietly passing on his
"Good evening, sir," said the sergeant major with his usual stiff
salute. "Oh, it's you, sir," he cried as the light fell upon
Barry's face. "We're glad to see you back, sir."
"Thank you, sergeant major," replied Barry, offering his hand, "and
I'm glad to be back with you all again."
"Thank you, sir. I assure you we're glad to have you. Won't you
come in, sir? The boys will all want to see you," and so saying
the sergeant major threw wide open the door.
Nowhere is class privilege more appreciated and more jealously
guarded than in the sergeants' mess. It is the most enclusive of
all military circles. Realising this, Barry was glad to accept the
invitation. The hut was filled with sergeants in easy deshabille,
smoking, lounging, playing various games.
"The chaplain, boys," announced the sergeant major, and instantly
every man was on his feet, and at attention.
"It's all right, boys," said the sergeant major. "The chaplain has
just dropped in for a minute for a friendly call, and we want you
to feel, sir," he added, for the sergeant major loved a little
ceremonial, "that we respectfully sympathise with you in your loss,
and that we consider ourselves honoured by your presence here
Barry was so deeply touched by the unexpected warmth of their
welcome, and by the reference to his recent sorrow, that he could
not trust himself to speak. Without a word he passed around the
group, shaking hands with each man in turn. By the time he had
finished the round, he had his voice in control, and said:
"Sergeant major, this is very kind of you. I thank you for this
welcome, and I am grateful for your sympathy." He hesitated a
moment or two; then, as if he heard his father's voice, "Tell them!
Tell them! They don't know Him," he added: "And, sergeant major,
if you will allow me, I have something I want to say to all the
men when I get a chance. I cannot say it all to-night to the
sergeants, but this much I would like to say: That since I saw
you, I believe I have got a new idea of my work in the battalion.
I got it from a sergeant major whose men told me that he was a fine
soldier and a brave man, and more than that, that he was 'like a
father to them.' That, sergeant major, was my own father. From
him I learned that my job was not to jump on men for their faults,
but to help men to know God, who is our Father in Heaven, and, men,
I think if I can do this, I shall count myself happy, for He is
worth knowing, and we all need Him."
His words gripped them hard. Then he added, "Before I say 'good
night,' may I have the privilege of leading you to Him in words
that you have all learned at your mother's knee?" Then simply he
spoke the words of that immortal prayer, the men joining in low and
After the prayer, he quietly said, "Good night!" and was passing
out of the hut. He had not got to the door, however, when the
sergeant major's voice arrested him.
"Sir, on behalf of the sergeants, I thank you for coming in and I
thank you for your words. You have done us all good."
The following morning, a sergeant from a neighbouring battalion,
visiting the transport lines, and observing Barry passing along
with Major Bayne on the battalion parade ground, took occasion to
"That is your padre, ain't it? He checks you fellows up rather
short, don't he?"
"Yes, that is our padre, or Pilot, as we like to call him," was
Sergeant Mackay's answer, "but I want to tell you that he can just
check us up until our heads touch the crupper, and it's nobody's
damned business but our own."
"Well, you needn't get so blasted hot over it. I ain't said
nothing against your padre that I haven't heard from your own
"That's all right, sergeant. That was before we got to the war.
I'm not huntin' for any trouble with anybody, but if any one wants
to start up anything with any one, sergeant, in this battalion, he
knows how to do it."
And this came to be recognised as an article in the creed of the
The bayonet-fighting squad were engaged in some preliminary drill
of the more ordinary kind when Major Bayne and the chaplain arrived
on the ground.
"We'll just watch the little beggar a while from here and go up
later," said the major.
As Barry watched the drill sergeant on his job, it seemed to him
that he had never seen a soldier work before. In figure, in pose,
in action there was a perfection about him that awakened at once
admiration and envy. Below the average height, yet not
insignificant, erect, without exaggeration, precise in movement
without angularity, swift in action without haste, he was indeed a
joy to behold.
"Now, did you ever see anything like that?" enquired the major,
after their eyes had followed the evolutions of the drill sergeant
for a time.
"Never," said Barry, "nor do I hope to again. He is a--I was going
to say dream, but he's no dream. He's much too wide awake for
that. He's a poem; that's what he is."
Back and forth, about and around, stepped the little drill
sergeant, a finished example of precise, graceful movement. He was
explaining in clean cut, and evidently memorised speech the details
of the movements he wished executed, but through his more formal
and memorised vocabulary his native cockney would occasionally
erupt, adding vastly to the pungency and picturesqueness of his
"He knows we are here all right," said the major, "but he would not
let on if it were King George himself. I'll bet you a month's pay,
though, that we can't get one foot beyond what he considers the
saluting point before he comes to attention, and as for his salute,
there is nothing like it in the whole Canadian army. Talk about a
poem, his salute has Shakespeare faded. Now he's going to move
them off. Watch and listen!"
"Ye-a-ou-w!" came the long-drawn cry, fiercely threatening,
representing in English speech the word "squad." Then followed an
expletive, "Yun!" which for explosive quality made a rifle crack
seem a drawl, and which appeared to release in the men a hidden
spring drawn to its utmost tension. The slack and sagging line
leaped into a rigid unit, of breathless, motionless humanity.
"Aw-e-ou-aw!" a prolonged vocalisation, expressive of an infinite
and gentle pity, and interpreted to the initiated ear to mean "As
you were!" released the rigid line to its former sagging state.
"N-a-w then," said the voice in a semi-undertone, slow and tense,
"this ain't no arter dinner bloomin' siester. A little snap--ple--
ease!" The last word in a sharply rising inflection, tightening up
the spring again for the explosive "Ye-a-ou-w--yun!" (Squad
attention.) "Aw-e-ou-r--yun!!! Aw-e-ou-r--yun!!!"
Without warning came the commands, repeating "As you were!"
"Attention!" He walked up and down before the rigid line, looking
them over and remarking casually,
"Might be a little worse," adding as an afterthought, "per-haps!"
After which, with a sharp right turn, and a quick march, he himself
leading with a step of clean-cut, easy grace, he moved them to the
"By Jove!" breathed Barry. "Did you ever imagine anything like
"The result of ten years in the regular army," said the major.
"It's almost worth it," answered Barry.
Arriving at the bayonet-fighting ground, the little sergeant major
put the squad through their manual as if they had been recruits, to
a running comment of biting pleasantries. After bringing them to
attention, he walked slowly down the line, then back again, and
remarked after due deliberation:
"I have seen worse--not often--" Then, in a tone of resignation,
he gave the order:
The men "stood at ease," and then "stood easy."
"Now, then," said the major, "we'll steal in on him, if we can."
They moved forward toward the little sergeant major, who remained
studying the opposite horizon in calm abstraction until their toes
had reached a certain line, when, like the crack of a whip, there
came once more the long-drawn cry with its explosive termination:
"Ye-a-ou-w!--Yun!!!" with the result that the line was again thrown
into instantaneous, breathless and motionless rigidity.
Toward the advancing officers the sergeant major threw himself into
a salute with one smooth, unbroken movement of indescribable grace
"Good morning, sergeant major," said Major Bayne. "Captain Dunbar,
this is Sergeant Major Hackett."
Again came the salute, with a barely perceptible diminution of
snap, as befitted a less formal occasion.
"Sergeant major," said Barry, "I would give a great deal to be able
to do that."
"Wot's that, sir?" enquired the sergeant major.
"That salute of yours."
"Quite easy wen you knaow 'ow!" permitting himself a slight smile.
"You are doing some bayonet-fighting, I see, sergeant major," said
"Yes, sir, goin' to do a bit, sir," replied the sergeant major.
"Very well, carry on!"
And the sergeant major "carried on," putting into his work and
into his every movement and utterance an unbelievable amount of
concentrated and even vicious energy.
On the bayonet-fighting ground, the first line of the enemy was
represented by sacks stuffed with straw, hung upon a frame, the
second by stuffed sacks deposited on the parapet of a trench. In
bayonet-fighting the three points demanding special emphasis are
the "guarding" of the enemy's attack, a swift bayonet thrust and an
equally swift recovery, each operation, whether in case of a living
enemy or in the stuffed effigy, being attended with considerable
difficulty. Barry was much interested in the psychological element
introduced into the exercises by the drill master.
"You must halways keep in mind that the henemy is before you. It's
important that you should visualise your foe. The henemy is hever
before you. Anything be-ind a British soldier won't trouble
anybody, and you are to remember that hit's either you or 'im."
In moments of rapid action the sergeant major evidently had
difficulty with his aspirates.
"The suspended sacks before you represent the henemy. You are to
treat 'em so."
Having got his line within striking distance of the swinging sacks,
the exercise was directed by two commands, "On guard!" and "Point!"
the first of which was supposed to knock off the enemy's thrust,
and the second to drive the bayonet home into his vitals, after
which, without command, there must be a swift recovery.
"Naw then, "Hn-gah!--Pint!!!"
For some moments, in response to these orders, the squad practised
"guarding" and "pointing," not, however, to the complete satisfaction
of the sergeant.
"Naw, then, number five, stick it hinto 'im. Ye ain't 'andin' a
lidy an unbreller!"
Another attempt by number five being still suggestive of the
amenities proper to a social function, the sergeant major stepped
up to the overgentle soldier.
"Naw, then," he said, "hobserve! There's my henemy. See 'is hugly
mug. Hn-gah! Pint!!!"
At the words of command, the sergeant major threw himself into his
guard and attacked with such appalling ferocity as must have
paralysed an ordinary foe, sending his bayonet clean through to his
guard, and recovering it with a clean, swift movement.
Having secured a fairly satisfactory thrust, the sergeant major
devoted his attention to the recovery of the bayonet.
"Fetch it hout!" he cried fiercely. "There's another man comin'.
Fetch it hout! Ye may fetch 'is spinial column with it. No
matter, 'e won't need it."
The final act in this gruesome drama was the attack upon the second
line represented by the sacks lying upon the parapet of the trench
beyond. The completed action thus included the guard, thrust,
recovery, the leap forward past the swinging line of sacks, and a
second thrust at the figure prone upon the parapet, with a second
recovery of the weapon, this second recovery being effected by
stamping the foot upon the transfixed effigy, and jerking back the
bayonet with a violent upward movement.
This last recovery appeared to cause number five again some
"Now then, number five, put a little aight (hate) into it. Stamp
your bleedin' 'obnyles (hobnails) on his fice, and fetch it hout!
This wye!" As he took the rifle from number five, the sergeant
major's face seemed to be transformed into a living embodiment of
envenomed hate, his attack, thrust, recovery, gathering in
intensity until with unimaginable fury he leaped upon the prostrate
figure, drove his bayonet through to the hilt, stamped his hobnails
upon the transfixed enemy, jerked his weapon out, and stood
quivering, ready for any foe that dared to approach. The savage
ferocity of his face, the fierce energy in his every movement,
culminating in that last vicious leap and stamp, altogether
constituted such a dramatic and realistic representation of actual
fighting that the whole line burst into a very unsoldierly but very
hearty applause, which, however, the sergeant major immediately and
"What do you think of that?" enquired the major. "Isn't he a
"He is perfectly magnificent," said Barry, "and, after all, he is
right in his psychology. There is no possibility of training men
to fight, without putting the 'aight into it!'"
A TOUCH OF WAR
The period of intensive training was drawing to a close. The
finishing touches in the various departments that had come to be
considered necessary in modern warfare had been given. With the
"putting on the lacquer" the fighting spirit of the men had been
sharpened to its keenest edge. They were all waiting impatiently
for the order to "go up." The motives underlying that ardour of
spirit varied with the temperament, disposition and education of
the soldier. There were those who were eager to "go up" to prove
themselves in that deadly struggle where their fellow Canadians had
already won their right to stand as comrades in arms with the most
famous fighting battalions of the British army. Others, again,
there were in whose heart burned a deep passion to get into grips
with those hellish fiends whose cruelties, practised upon
defenceless women and children in that very district where they
were camped, and upon wounded Canadians, had stirred Canada from
Vancouver to Halifax with a desire for revenge.
But, with the great majority there was little of the desire either
for military glory or for revenge. Their country had laid upon
them a duty for the discharge of which they had been preparing
themselves for many months, and that duty they were ready to
perform. More than that, they were eager to get at it and get done
with it, no matter at what cost. With all this, too, there was an
underlying curiosity as to what the thing would be like "up there."
Far down below all their feelings there lay an unanswered
interrogation which no man dared to put to his comrade, and which
indeed few men put to themselves. That interrogation was: "How
shall I stand up under the test?"
The camp was overrun with rumours from returning battalions of the
appalling horrors of the front line. Ever since that fateful 22nd
of April, 1915, that day of tragedy and of glory for the Canadian
army, and for the Canadian people, the Ypres salient, the point of
honour on the western front from Dixmude to Verdun, had been given
into the keeping of the Canadian army. During those long and
terrible months, in the face of a continued bombardment and of
successive counter-attacks, with the line growing thinner, week by
week, hacked up by woefully inadequate artillery, the Canadian army
had held on with the grim tenacity of death itself. There was
nothing that they could do but hold on. To push the salient deeper
into the enemy lines would only emphasise the difficulty and danger
of their position. The role assigned them was that of simply
holding steady with what ultimate objective in view no one seemed
Week by week, and month after month, the Canadian battalions had
moved up into the salient, had done their "tours," building up
their obliterated parapets, digging out their choked-up water-
courses, revetting their crumbling trenches, and rebuilding their
flimsy dugouts, and then returning to their reserve lines, always
leaving behind them in hastily dug graves over the parados of their
trenches, or in the little improvised cemeteries by Hooge, or Maple
Copse or Hill 60, a few more of their comrades, and ever sending
down the line their maimed and broken to be refitted for war or
discharged again to civilian life. It was altogether a ghastly
business, a kind of warfare calling for an endurance of the finest
temper and a courage of the highest quality.
From this grim and endless test of endurance, the Canadians had
discovered a form of relief known as a "trench raid," a special
development of trench warfare which later came to be adopted by
their comrades of the French and British armies. It was a form of
sport, grim enough, deadly enough, greatly enjoyed by the Canadian
soldiers; and the battalion which had successfully pulled off a
trench raid always returned to its lines in a state of high
exaltation. They had been able to give Fritz a little of what
they had been receiving during these weary months.
While the battalion waited with ever-growing impatience for the
order that would send them "up the line," a group of officers was
gathered in the senior major's hut for the purpose of studying in
detail some photographs, secured by our aircraft, of the enemy
trenches immediately opposite their own sector of the front line.
They had finished their study, and were engaged in the diverting
and pleasant exercise of ragging each other. The particular
subject of that discussion was their various sprinting abilities,
and the comparative usefulness of various kinds of funk-holes as a
protection against "J.J.s" (Jack Johnsons), "whizzbangs," or the
uncertain and wobbling "minniewafers."
Seldom had Barry found occasion to call upon Major Bustead, with
whom he had been unable to establish anything more than purely
formal relations. A message, however, from the orderly room to
Lieutenant Cameron, which he undertook to deliver, brought him to
the senior major's hut.
"Come in, padre," said the major, who of late had become more
genial, "and tell us the best kind of a funk-hole for a
"The deepest and the closest for me, major, I should say," said
Barry, "from what I have heard of those uncertain and wobbling
"I understand that chaplains do not accompany their battalions to
the front line, but stay back at the casualty clearing stations,"
suggested the major. "Wise old birds, they are, too." The major
had an unpleasant laugh.
"I suppose they go where they are ordered, sir," replied Barry,
"but if you will excuse me, I have here a chit for Lieutenant
Cameron, sir, which has just come in," and Barry handed Cameron his
"Will you allow me, sir?" said Cameron.
"Certainly, go on, read it," said the major.
Cameron read the message, and on his face there appeared a grave
and anxious look.
"It's from the casualty clearing station, sir. One of our chaps
from Edmonton is there dangerously wounded, and wants to see me.
I'd like to go, sir, if I might."
"Oh, certainly. I'll make it all right with the O. C. Get a horse
from the transport. Which casualty clearing station is it?"
Cameron looked at his message.
"Menin Mill, sir."
"Menin Mill! By gad, I thought it was Brandthoek, but Menin Mill,
good Lord, that's a different proposition. That's way beyond
Ypres, you know. Right up on the line. You can't take a horse
there. Do you think you ought to go up at all?"
"I think I should like to go, sir," replied Cameron. "I know the
chap well. Went to school and college with him."
"Then," said the major, "you had better hurry up and attach
yourself to one of the transports going in. You will barely be in
"Thank you, sir," said Cameron, and left the room.
Barry went out with him. "Who is it, Cameron?" he said. "Do I
"I don't know, sir, whether you do or not. It's young McPherson of
Edmonton, an awfully decent chap, and my very best friend."
"May I go up with you, Duncan? I know Colonel Tait and Captain
Gregg, who are at the Mill, I understand."
"I would be awfully glad if you would, but I hardly liked to ask
you. It hasn't the reputation of being a very healthy place, I
"All right, Cameron. I'm going up," said Barry.
Upon enquiry they found that they were too late for the transports,
and again the question arose as to whether, in view of the major's
order, they should make the attempt by themselves.
"It was not really an order, I think, sir," said Cameron. "It was
more in the way of a suggestion. I think I'll go. The note said,
'dangerously wounded,' and he sent for me."
"All right," said Barry, "we'll go on, and we'll almost certainly
pick up some one who will be able to direct us to the Mill."
Their road, which took them to Vlammertinghe, led through level
fields, lying waste and desolate with rank, overgrowing weeds. As
they approached that historic village, they saw on every hand the
cruel marks of war. On either side of the road were roofless and
shattered cottages, grown around with nettles and briars. Among
these ruins, as they found on a later day, were the old garden
flowers, pansies and daisies, bravely trying to hold their own.
Among the rank weeds was to be seen the half-hidden debris of
broken farm gear. Here and there stood the ruins of what had been
a thrifty homestead, with its stone-flagged courtyard, around which
clustered its stables. Now nettles and briars grew around the
broken walls and shattered, staring windows. At rare intervals, a
great house appeared, with pretentious gateway, and grass-grown
drive winding up between stately and mutilated trees. Over the
whole countryside hung a melancholy and weird desolation, cottages,
homesteads, fields, the very trees crying aloud to high heaven for
pity and vengeance.
At Vlammertinghe, itself, the church tower still stood whole, but
the church itself was wrecked, as were most of the village shops
and dwellings. In the village was to be seen no living thing
except some soldiers, who in the broken cellars were making their
bivouacs. The village stood deserted of its inhabitants, ever
since the terrific onslaught of the Huns, on the 22nd of April,
1915, which had driven them forth from their homes, a panic-
stricken, terror-hunted crowd of old men, women and little babes,
while over them broke, with a continuous and appalling roar, a
pitiless rain of shells.
At the cross-roads stood a mounted officer, directing the traffic,
which here tended to congestion. As they entered the village, the
sentry halted them to enquire as to their bona fides. Having
satisfied him, they enquired their way to the Menin Mill.
"Menin!" The rising inflection of the sentry's voice expressed a
mild surprise. "The old Mill! Are you going there?"
"Yes," said Barry, answering his inflection. "Why not?"
"Well, sir, you know, it's rather a bad road. Warm bit of country
up there, but--" He shrugged his shoulders in quite a French
manner as if to say it was no business of his. "If you are going
to Menin, you keep this road straight through past Wipers past the
Cloth Hall, out by the Menin Gate. A hot place, that, sir. Then
straight on, taking the right incline for about a mile and a half.
You will see a big cemetery on your left. The Mill stands near a
big school on your right. But why not drop into the dressing
station, here, sir, right here in this old mill, which stands at
the cross-roads? You may catch an ambulance going straight up to
"Thank you very much," said Barry. "We'll do that very thing."
"Good luck, sir," said the sentry, saluting.
They found an ambulance about to start, and asked for a lift.
"All right, sir," said the driver, "but you'd better step in and
ask the officer."
They passed into a large and high-vaulted stone building, which in
peace days had been a mill. The old-fashioned, massive machinery
was still standing intact. Obtaining permission from the officer,
they took their places beside the driver of the ambulance, and were
soon on their way.
It was already growing dark, but, although the surface of the stone
pave was frequently broken with shell-holes, the ambulance, dodging
round the holes, rushed without pause along at a high rate of
"You don't use your lights?" asked Barry.
"No, not lately, sir," said the driver. "That's the newest order,"
he added in a tone of disgust.
The road lay between double rows of once noble trees, centuries
old, with the first delicate green of spring softening their bare
outlines. Now, splintered, twisted, broken, their wounds showing
white in the darkening light through the delicate green, they stood
silently eloquent of the terrific force of the H. E. shell.
As they went speeding along the shell-marked road they came upon a
huge trunk of a mighty elm, broken clear from its stump, lying
partially cross their track, which soldiers were already busy
clearing away. Without an instant's pause, the driver wheeled his
car off the 'pave', crashed through the broken treetops, and
continued on his way.
Barry looked upon the huge trunk with amazement.
"Did a single shell break that tree off like that?" he asked.
"You bet," was the reply, "and all these you see along here. It's
the great transport road for our front line, and the boches shell
it regularly. Here comes one now," he added, casually.
There was a soft woolly "whoof" far away, a high, thin whine, as
from a vicious insect overhead, with every fractional second coming
nearer and yet nearer, ever deepening in tone, ever increasing in
volume, until, like an express train, with an overwhelming sense of
speed and power, and with an appalling roar, it crashed upon them.
In the field on their left, there leaped fifty yards into the air a
huge mass of earth and smoke. Then a stunning detonation.
Insensibly Barry and Cameron both crouched down in the car, but the
driver held his wheel, without the apparent quiver of a muscle.
"There'll be three more, presently, I guess," he said, putting on
His guess proved right. Again that distant woolly "whoof," the
long-drawn whine, deepening to a scream, the appalling roar and
crash, and a second shell fell in the road behind them.
"Two," said the driver coolly. "There will be a couple more."
Again and yet again, each time the terror growing deeper in their
souls, came the two other shells, but they fell far behind.
"Oh, Fritzie," remonstrated the driver, "that's rotten bad work.
You'll have to do better than that."
Again and again, in groups of four, the shells came roaring in, but
the car had passed out of that particular zone of danger, and sped
safely on its way.
"Do you have this sort of thing every night?" enquired Barry.
"Oh, no," cheerfully replied the driver. "Fritzie makes a lot
better practice than that, at times. Do you see this?" He put his
finger upon a triangular hole a few inches above his head. "I got
that last week. We don't mind so much going up, but it's rather
annoying when you're bringing down your load of wounded."
As they approached Ypres, the road became more and more congested,
until at length they had to thread their way between two continuous
streams of traffic up and down, consisting of marching battalions,
transports, artillery wagons, ambulances, with now and then a motor
or a big gun.
About a mile from the city, they came to a large red brick
building, with pretentious towers and surrounded by a high brick
"An asylum," explained the driver. "Now used as a dressing station.
We'll just run in for orders."
At what seemed to Barry reckless speed, he whirled in between the
brick posts, and turned into a courtyard, on one side of which he
parked his ambulance.
"Better come inside, sir," said the driver. "They sometimes throw
a few in here, seeing it's a hospital."
They passed down the wide stairs, the centre of which had been
converted into a gangway for the passage of wheeled stretchers,
into a large basement, with concrete floors and massive pillars,
lit by flaring gasjets. Along the sides of the outer room were
rows of wounded soldiers, their bandaged heads and arms no whiter
than their faces, a patient and pathetic group, waiting without
complaint for an ambulance to carry them down the line.
In an inner and operating room, Barry found two or three medical
officers, with assistants and orderlies, intent upon their work.
While waiting there for their driver, they heard overhead again
that ominous and terrifying whine, this time, however, not long
drawn, but coming in with terrific speed, and ending with a sharp
and shattering crash. Again and again and again, with hardly a
second between, there came the shells. It seemed to Barry as if
every crash was fair upon the roof of the building, but no man
either of the medical attendants or of the waiting wounded paid the
At length there came a crash that seemed to break within the very
room in which they were gathered. The lights flickered, some of
them went out, there was a sound as if a tower had crashed down
upon the roof. Dust and smoke filled the room.
"Light up that gas," said the Officer Commanding. An orderly
sprang to obey. The gasjets were once more lighted and the work
"Rather near, wasn't that one?" asked Barry of a wounded man at his
"Yes," he replied casually, "they got a piece that time," and again
he sunk into apathetic silence.
In a few moments the driver had obtained his orders and was ready
to set forth.
"Better wait a bit," said the sergeant at the door, "until their
Evening Hate is over."
"Oh, that's all right," said the driver. "I guess Fritz is pretty
well through. They are rather crowded there at the mill, and I
guess we'll go on."
In his heart, Barry earnestly hoped that the sergeant would
interpose with a more definite command, but, inasmuch as the
bombardment had apparently ceased, and as if it were all in a day's
work, the driver, buttoning up his coat, said:
"We'll go, sir, if you are ready."
A few minutes' run brought them to the gate of the ruined city.
As the car felt its way through the ghostly town, Barry was only
vaguely conscious in the darkness of its ghostly skeletonlike
ruins. Fifteen minutes brought them to the Menin gate.
"Sounds rather hot out there," remarked the driver. "Well,
Fritzie, I guess we won't join your party this time. We prefer to
wait, if you don't mind, really."
He ran the car into the lee of the ramparts, by the side of the
gateway, waited there half an hour or so, until the "Evening Hate"
was past; then onward again to the Menin Mill.
They lifted the blanket covering the sandbagged entrance, passed
through a dark corridor and came into a cellar, lit by lanterns,
swinging from the roof, and by candles everywhere upon ledges or
upon improvised candlesticks.
No sooner had they come into the light, than Barry saw across the
room his friend, Dr. Gregg, his coat off, and his shirtsleeves
rolled to his elbows.
"Hello, Dunbar," said the doctor, coming forward. "I guess I won't
shake hands just now. Sit down. Won't you have a cup of coffee?
Jim," turning to an orderly, "give Captain Dunbar a cup of coffee."
Barry presented Cameron to his friend, and together they sat down
and waited. When the doctor was through with his patient, he came
and sat down with them.
"We came up to see a young chap named McPherson. I think you sent
a note down about him to-day."
"McPherson," said the doctor. "I don't remember, but I will see."
He turned to a desk and turning over the pages of a record,
apparently found the name, and returned to Barry.
"I am sorry to say that McPherson died this afternoon," he said.
"Dead," said Barry. He turned to Cameron. "I'm awfully sorry,
"Was there anybody with him?" he enquired of the doctor. "He was
Lieutenant Cameron's very close friend, and college companion."
"Oh, awfully sorry," replied the doctor. "Yes, I think Captain
Winter, the chaplain of the --th, was with him at the last. He's
not here just now. I can tell you where to get him. To-morrow is
his day here."
"Is--is--is his body still here?" enquired Cameron, after a few
"Yes, it's in the next room. Do you want to see it? He was pretty
badly smashed up, I'm afraid."
"I think I should like to see him," said Cameron. "I know his
people, you see, and I would like to tell them that I saw him."
"Oh, all right," said the doctor. He called an orderly.
"Come this way, sir," said the orderly.
Together they followed the orderly into the next room, apparently a
storehouse for grain. There lying upon the floor they saw three
silent shapes, wrapped in grey blankets.
"This is Mcpherson, sir," said the orderly, looking at the card
attached to the blanket.
He stooped, drew down the blanket from the face and stepped back.
In civil life, both Barry and Cameron had seen the faces of the
dead, but only in the coffin, after having been prepared for burial
by those whose office it is to soften by their art death's grim
Cameron gave one swift glance at the shapeless, bloody mass, out of
which stared up at him wide-open glassy eyes.
"Oh, my God, my God!" he gasped, gripping Barry by the arm, and
staggering back as if he had received a blow. He turned to the
door as if to make his escape, but Barry, himself white and shaken,
held him firmly.
"Steady, old boy," he said. "Steady, Duncan!"
"Oh, let me go! Let me get out of here!"
"Duncan, there are a lot of wounded chaps out there."
The boy--he was only nineteen--was halted at the word, stood
motionless and then muttered:
"You are right, sir. I was forgetting."
"And, Duncan, remember," said Barry, in a quiet and solemn voice,
"there's more than that to McPherson. That fine young chap whom
you knew and loved is not that poor and battered piece of clay.
Your friend has escaped from death and all its horrors."
"Yes, yes, I know," whispered Cameron, still shaking. "We'll go
out now, sir. I'll be all right. I assure you I'm all right."
They passed out into the dressing-room again, where the wounded
were continuing to arrive. Cameron was for departing at once, but
Barry held him back, unwilling that the lad should be driven away
beaten and unnerved by what he had seen.
"I say, Duncan, let's see some of these boys. We can perhaps cheer
them up a bit. They need it badly enough, God knows."
"All right," muttered Cameron, sitting down upon a bench in the
shadow. They waited there till Dr. Gregg came along.
"Hello, Dunbar, you are looking seedy. Feeling rotten, eh?" said
the doctor, eying him critically for a few moments.
"Oh, I'm all right," said Barry. "The truth is, I've just been in
there with young Cameron. Rather a ghastly sight. Cameron's badly
knocked up. Can you do anything for him?"
"Sure thing," said the doctor cheerfully. "Stay right there where
you are. I'll bring you something in a moment or two. Now sit
right there, do you hear? Don't move."
In a few moments he returned, bringing hot coffee for them both.
"There," he said in a cheerful matter-of-fact voice, "drink that."
Barry gulped it down, Cameron taking his more slowly, and with
evident distaste. The doctor continued to converse with them in
tones of cheerful and, as Barry thought, of almost careless
"Now, I must leave you," said the doctor. "I see there's a case of
shell shock. We didn't know how to handle that for a while. The
British R. A. M. C. for some months declined to recognise it as
requiring treatment at all. You might care to look at this chap.
Barry had been looking at the man ever since he had come into the
room, supported by two of his comrades. He was indeed an object of
pity. Of splendid physique, six feet and powerfully built, with
the fine intelligent face of an educated man, he stood there white,
twitching in every muscle, in a state of complete nerve-collapse.
Colonel Tait, who had been observing him keenly ever since his
entering the room, now approached him, greeted him with a cheerful
"Hello!" took him by the hand and felt his pulse.
"How are you, old chap? Feeling a little better than you were,
"Yes--doc--tor. Rather--rotten--though-- Be all right--to-morrow--"
"Sure you will! Still a little rest won't do you any harm. We'll
send you down for a couple of weeks, and then you will be fit
enough to have another go at the boche."
So saying he turned him over to an assistant, and went on with his
work. At this point Cameron, from whose eyes the look of horror
had not yet faded, leaned over to Barry and whispered:
"Let's get out of this. For Heaven's sake, this thing is getting
me." He glanced at Barry. "What, are you ill, too?"
"Ill," answered Barry between his clenched teeth. "Ill? No, why
should I be ill? Look at these boys. I see myself ill. By Jove!"
he added under his breath, "here's another shell shock. Sit down,
Cameron!" His voice took on a sterner tone. "Sit down. Don't be
Once more Colonel Tait took in hand the shell-shock man. This
second was a stretcher case. The man was very violent, requiring
two men to hold him on his stretcher.
"Oh, let him go! Let him go!" said Colonel Tait. "What's wrong
with you?" he said to the man. "Have you any wounds?"
"No, sir," chattered the man miserably. "Shell--shock,--sir.
Buried--twice--by a shell. Oh! Ah!"
The colonel had a few moments' conversation with Gregg, who came
over to where Barry was sitting and said:
"I say, Dunbar, watch this case. You will see some fun."
"Fun," echoed Barry, shaken and indignant. "Not much fun for that
"Stand up," said the colonel sharply.
The man stood up without much apparent difficulty.
"Ah!" said the colonel. "Shell shock. Bad case, too." His voice
was kind and sympathetic. He gripped the man by the arm and ran
his hand down his spine until he came to the small of his back.
"Pain there, eh?" he said, giving the man a poke.
"Yes, yes! Ouw! Doctor. Awful."
"Thought so," said the doctor. "Bad case! Poor chap! A curious
feeling in the legs, eh?"
The man nodded vigorously, still twitching violently and making
Still pursuing his investigations and continuing to sympathise with
his patient, the doctor enquired as to other symptoms, to all of
which the patient promptly confessed. When the examination was
completed, the doctor gave his man a hearty slap on the back and
"You're all right, my boy. Go treat yourself to a cup of cocoa,
and a good, thick slice of bread and raspberry jam--raspberry,
remember--and to-morrow you can report to your battalion medical
"What!" exclaimed the man. "Doctor, I can't go up again. I'm not
fit to go up."
"Oh, yes, you can, my boy. You'll be in good fighting trim to-
morrow. You'll see! You'll see! Come back here some day,
perhaps, with a V. C."
Thereupon the man began to swear violently.
"Here, none of that," said the doctor sharply, "or up you go to-
A grin ran around the dressing station, in which none joined more
heartily than the first shell-shock man, waiting to be conveyed
down the line.
"They don't get by the old man often, nowadays," was Dr. Gregg's
"You don't often get cases like this, though, do you?" enquired
"Not often. We have passed through this dressing station some
thousands of cases, and we may have had eight or ten malingerers.
But this is not all sham. There is a strong mixture of hysteria
and suggestion with the sham. A chap with a highly organised
temperament gets buried by a shell. That is a terrific nerve
shock. He sees two or three chaps blown to bits. Another nerve
shock. Now he has heard about shell shock as a result of a similar
experience. Immediately the suggestion begins to work and the man
discovers in himself the well known symptoms of genuine shell
shock, and, begad! I don't wonder. What we have just given him is
part of the treatment for hysteria--a little nerve tonic. A good
sleep may put him all right by to-morrow morning. The chances are,
however, that the O. C. will send him down for a few days' rest and
change. If so, the chap will be as happy as a clam. The boys will
rag him half to death down there, so that he will be keen to get
back again, and the chances are may get his V. C. Oh, we all get
scared stiff," laughed Gregg. "We are none of us proud about here.
That hero stuff that you read about in the home papers, we don't
know much about. We just 'carry on'."
"By Jove, Gregg! That's all right, but to just 'carry on' in this
business, it seems to me, calls for some pretty fine hero stuff."
"Well, we don't call it so," said Gregg. "Now I'll see about your
ambulance. I believe there's one about ready to go. I think I can
find a place for you and your friend, and it will save you a long
They came away from the old mill with mingled feelings. Barry had
to a certain extent recovered from his shock, and had himself
somewhat firmly in hand. Cameron was still silent and obviously
It was grey dawn when they arrived at the camp, physically weary,
nervously exhausted, and sick at heart. Barry wakened Hobbs, who
greeted them with the news that the battalion was under orders to
go up that night. By his own state Barry was able to gauge that of
his friend Cameron. The experiences of the last ten hours had been
like nothing in his previous life. The desolation wrought by war
upon the face of the country, upon the bodies of men, upon their
souls, had sickened and unnerved him; and this he remembered was
an experience of only a brief ten hours. He was conscious of a
profound self-distrust and humiliation, as he thought of those
other men, those medical officers, with their orderlies, the
ambulance drivers, those wounded soldiers. How could they endure
this horror, day in and day out, for weeks and for months? In a
few hours he would have to meet his fellow officers and the men.
They could not fail to read in his face all this that he carried in
By his grey, haggard face he knew that the same horror and fear had
gone deep into his friend's soul. There came to him the sudden
thought that Cameron, too, must meet his fellow officers, and must
endure their searching chaff, and that he would reveal himself to
his undoing; for no man can ever live down in his battalion the
whisper that he is a "quitter." That very night Cameron would be
forced to lead up his platoon into the front line, and must lead
them step by step over that same Vlammertinghe road, where the
transports were nightly shelled. In the presence of any danger
soever, he must not falter. When the shells would begin to fall,
he knew well how the eyes of his men would turn to their leader and
search his very soul to see of what quality he was. Far better a
man should die than falter. He had not failed to notice the
startled look in Cameron's eyes when Hobbs blurted out his news.
Some way must be found for the bracing up of the nerve, the
steadying of the courage of his friend.
"Come in with me, Cameron," he said, standing at the door of his
hut. "I'm dead beat and so are you. We'll have coffee and some
grub, and then sleep for a couple of hours until reveille."
Cameron hesitated. The thing he most longed for at that moment was
to be alone.
"Come on!" insisted Barry. "Hobbs will have a fire going, and hot
coffee in ten minutes. Come on, old chap. I want you to."
He threw his arm around Cameron's shoulder and dragged him in. The
boy dropped onto Barry's cot, and, as he was, boots and coat on,
was asleep before the coffee was ready. His boyish face, with its
haggard look, struck pity to Barry's heart, and recalled his
father's words, "These boys need their mothers." If ever a lad
needed his mother, it was young Cameron, and just in that hour.
He woke the boy up, gave him his coffee, had Hobbs remove his
boots, made him undress and covered him up in his blankets. Then,
taking his own coffee, he lay down on Hobbs' bed.
"Harry," he said, "give us every minute of sleep you can. Wake us
just one-half hour before reveille with coffee and everything else
good you can rustle, and, Harry, waken me before Mr. Cameron."
When he lay down to sleep he made an amazing discovery--that his
own horror and fear and self-distrust had entirely passed away. He
felt himself quite prepared to "carry on." How had this thing come
to pass? His physical recuperation by means of coffee and food?
This doubtless in part, but only in part. In his concern for his
friend he had forgotten himself, and in forgetting himself he had
forgotten his fear. It was an amazing discovery.
"Thank the good God," he said. "He never forgets a fellow, and I
won't forget that."
He woke to find Hobbs at his side, with coffee, toast and bacon,
and on the floor beside his cot his tub awaiting him--the tub being
a rubber receptacle exactly eighteen inches in diameter.
He hurried through his dressing, and his breakfast, all the while
Cameron lying like a dead man, and with almost a dead man's face.
Barry hated to waken him, but reveille was but a bare thirty
minutes off, and he had an experiment to work upon his friend.
"Bring the coffee, Harry. Not the bacon, yet," he ordered.
"Hello, Cameron, old boy! Wake up."
Cameron rolled over with a groan and opened his eyes, still dull
and heavy with sleep.
"Here you are. Pipe this down your tunnel and look lively, too.
You have got thirty minutes--twenty-five, really--to reveille, and
you have your toilet to perform--shave, massage, manicure and all
the rest--so go to it. Here's your tub. You can't get into it,
but soap yourself over, and Hobbs will sluice you with a pail or
"Why all this Spartan stuff? It's awfully cold. I think I'll
content myself with a nose rub this morning."
"Get out of bed, and be quick about it," commanded Barry, "unless
you'd rather take your tub where you are."
So saying he jerked the clothes clear off the cot, threatening
Cameron with the tub. Cameron sprang up, stripped, soaped himself
over, groaning and shivering the while; then stood outside in the
open, while Hobbs administered the order of the bath, and after a
vigorous rub, came in glowing.
"By jingo! That's bully! It's a pity a fellow can't always feel
just how bully it is before he takes it."
"Na-a-w then! a little snap!" ordered Barry, in attempted imitation
of the inimitable Sergeant Major Hackett. "A little speed,
ple-ease! That's better. I've seen worse--not often!"
And so he rattled on through Cameron's dressing and shaving
"Now then, 'Obbs, a little Delmonico 'ere. Shove this bacon
against your fice, Cameron."
"What about yours, sir?" said Cameron, as he sat down to the
luxuries which somehow Hobbs had "rustled."
"Had it, you slacker." Then with a swift change of voice and
manner he added: "Listen to me, Cameron. I'm going to have my
prayers. You won't bother me any, and if you don't mind I'll do
them out loud. Don't you stop eating, though. Hobbs, stop your
wandering around there and sit down and listen." Barry took his
"Cameron," he said, "one comfort in reading the Bible to a chap
with a father like yours is that you know all about the thing
already--context, historical references and theological teaching--
therefore, no need of comment. Also you have a good imagination to
see things. Turn on the juice while I read. Hobbs, you waken up,
Then he began to read the vivid words which picture as in miniature
etchings the life stories of the heroes of Faith who in their day
held their generation steady and pointed the way to duty and
victory. As he read his face became alight, his dark eyes glowed,
his voice thrilled under the noble passion of the words he read.
Then he came to this stately peroration:
"And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of
Gideon," and so on through the list of heroes, "Who through faith
subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped
the mouths of lions, (of whom the world was not worthy). Wherefore
seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so
easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set
before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our
faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the
throne of God."
Both reader and hearers were swept along upon the tide of dramatic
passion. They were themselves a part of the great and eternal
conflict there pictured; they, too, were called upon to endure the
Cameron had forgotten his breakfast, and with his kindling eyes
fastened upon the reader's face, was listening to the noble music
of the thrilling words.
Barry closed his book and laid it down.
"Great, eh! Wonderful company! All the finest and the best of the
war's heroes are in it. Now, then, prayer--" He dropped on his
knees, Cameron and Hobbs following his example.
It was a prayer chiefly of thanksgiving for those who in their day
and in the face of anguish and terror and death had kept the faith;
of thanksgiving, too, for all who in this present day of sacrifice
in the home land and of sacrifice upon the field of battle were
keeping that same faith for the Empire and for this same sacred
cause of humanity. The prayer closed with a simple petition that
they in the battalion might be found worthy of a humble place in
that great company.
As they were repeating together the prayer "Our Father," the notes
of the reveille sounded shrilly over the camp.
"Go out, Hobbs, for a minute," said Barry after they had risen from
their prayer. He knew well that Cameron would want a few minutes
with him alone.
"Sir," said the boy, and his voice was quiet and steady, "I'm not
going to try to thank you, but I believe I can 'carry on' now."
"You bet you can," said Barry, gripping his hand. "You bet you
can! It's the point of view after all, old man, isn't it? For
ourselves it doesn't matter, but we have got to think of the boys,
and we have got to stay with the game."
Eighteen hours later the relief was completed, and the battalion
was in its place in the line, all but the sentries asleep in their
flimsy dugouts and behind their rotten parapets.
An hour later, Barry, who was sleeping with the M. O. in the
regimental aid post, was wakened from a dead sleep by the M. O.
"There's something doing out there," he said. "Listen!"
There was a quick succession of sharp explosions.
"Bombs!" said the M. O.
The explosions were followed by the rat-tat-tat--tat-tat--tat-tat-
tat of the machine guns. Instantly they were both on their feet
and out in the trench.
"I guess Fritzie is trying to put something over on us, being our
first night," said the M. O. "I'll get my boys out."
He ran to the adjoining dugout, where his corporal and stretcher
bearers were sleeping, roused them and sent them up the trench.
There was the sound of subdued voices and of quick marching feet
along the communication trench a few yards away. They stood
together listening for a few minutes.
"I'm going," said Barry, hurrying off in the direction of the
sound. "Come on."
"Captain Dunbar," called the M. O. sharply, "my place is here, and
I think this is where you will be most useful as well. They will
bring the wounded to us right here."
In a few minutes all was still again, except for the machine guns,
which still kept up their incessant tattoo.
The M. O. was correct in his forecast. In a few minutes down the
communication trench came a wounded man walking, jubilant in spite
of his wounds.
"Fritzie tried to put one over on us," he exclaimed, while the
doctor was dabbing with iodine and tying up his wounded arm, "but I
think he's got another guess coming. You ought to have seen our
officer," he added. "The first one in the bunch to be 'at 'em.'
With a bayonet, too, mind you. Grabbed one from a private as he
ran past, and bombs bursting like hell all around. Beg pardon,
sir," he added, turning to Barry. "He's some kid, poor chap. He's
got his, I guess."
"Who is he?" asked the M. O.
"Lieutenant Cameron, sir."
"Cameron!" cried Barry. "Where is he?"
"They are carrying the stretcher cases right down to the dressing
station, I hear," said the man.
"I'm going, doc," said Barry, and was off at a run.
At the casualty clearing station there was no excitement, the
doctors and orderlies "carrying on" as usual, receiving the
wounded, dressing their wounds, sending them down with the
smoothness and despatch characteristic of their department.
"Cameron?" said the doctor in answer to Barry's question. "Why
certainly, I'll show you." And he led him to Cameron's cot.
"Well, old chap," said the doctor cheerily, "we're going to send
you down in a minute or two. Now don't talk."
Cameron's eyes welcomed Barry.
"Dear old boy," said Barry, dropping on his knees beside him. "I'm
"It's all right," whispered Cameron. "They--never--knew.--You'll
write dad--and tell him--I kept--" The voice trailed off into
silence. The morphia was doing its merciful work.
"Kept the faith," said Barry.
"Yes," whispered Cameron with a smile, faint but exultant.
"Good old boy," whispered Barry.
"Yes, I--kept--I kept--"
The bearers came to carry out the stretcher.
"Will he recover?" whispered Barry to the doctor.
"Recover? Surest thing you know," said the doctor in a loud cheery
voice. "We can't spare this kind of stuff, you know."
And again Barry leaned over the stretcher and said, patting Cameron
on the shoulder:
"Good old boy. You make us proud of you. You kept the faith."
"Three months in that hell-hole of the salient have made their mark
on this battalion," said Transport Sergeant Mackay.
"Yes, there's quite a lot of these round the first line and back
about here," replied the pioneer sergeant, who was putting the
finishing touches upon some crosses, that were to be sent up the
line that night.
"That's so, Fatty. Whose is that cross you are finishing?"
"That's Lieutenant Salford's, a fine young officer he was, too.
Always had a smile. The deeper the mud the more Sally smiled. And
this here is Lieutenant Booth's. There's a chap now that picked up
wonderful. Two months ago everybody thought he was a big soft
slob, and those bombers say that he was all, right. And here's the
M. O.'s. Poor old doc! There was a man, now, if there ever was
one. He wasn't afraid of nothing. He would go walking about with
a smile when a bombardment was on, and in that last big show the
other day, they say him and the chaplain--there's another peach--
they 'carried on' wonderful. I wasn't around there at the time,
but the boys at the dressing station told me that them two worked
back and forward getting out the wounded, I think they had about
thirty injured up at that time, as if it was a kind of er summer
shower that was falling, let alone H. E.'s and whizzbangs, and then
after they got the last man out, the M. O. went in with some
stretcher bearers, just lookin' around before he left, and a shell
came and got 'em all, and they say it was about the last shell that
was throwed. And that's where poor Harry Hobbs got his, too. The
Pilot went out just a minute before, and when he came back that's
what he saw. They say he was terrible cut up over the M. O. Funny
thing, the M. O.'s face was just as quiet as if he had gone to
sleep, but the rest of the boys, well you could hardly get 'em
together, and the Pilot walkin' up and down there lookin' like a
lost man. We buried 'em right there by Maple Copse. I want to
tell you, sergeant, that that's the hardest job I ever done in this
war. The Pilot, he broke right down in the middle of the service.
It must have been hard for him. I've been with him now at every
funeral and he stands up to his work like a man. He takes it kind
of cheery almost, but when we was puttin' down the M. O. and poor
Harry, the Pilot just couldn't appear to stand it. I cried like a
baby, and you ought to have seen the crowd, the O. C. and the
adjutant and the pioneers, and they are all pretty hardened up by
this time. They have done enough plantin' anyhow. They just all
went to pieces. The shells was goin' overhead among the trees,
something awful, but nobody minded more than if they had been pea-
shooters. First time I ever seen the Pilot break, and I have been
with him ever since the first one we buried, and that was big Jim
Berry. A sniper got him. You don't remember? I guess you don't
see much or get much of the news back here."
"Back here!" exclaimed Sergeant Mackay. "What do you mean, 'back
here'? Don't I have to go up every night with the transport, and
through that barridge, too. This aint no 'safety first' job."
"I know, sergeant. I'm not sayin' you ain't at war. Believe me,
I'd rather be up front than to go up round Hell Fire Corner and
come back by the Menin Gate every night like you fellows. I ain't
sayin' nothing about that, but you don't see things that I see, and
you don't get the news same as I do. Now, about Jim Berry, you
know, he was goin' to do some snipin' in place of McCuaig, who went
to the machine gun company."
"McCuaig, in the machine gun company! I never heard that."
"Well, that's what I'm sayin'," said Sergeant Matthews, "you don't
get some of the chances to get news down here, same as me. You
see, when we're sewin' up the boys and fixin' 'em up like, and when
we're fixin' up the graves and puttin' on the crosses, you get kind
of thinkin' about things, and kind of lonesome, and so the boys
keep telling the news to cheer themselves up, and that's how I
heard about McCuaig. You see, McCuaig was snipin' the first tour,
and he's a killer, you bet, and he had only cut three natches in
his rifle. The boys say he had got four of the Huns, but he had
only put down three natches on his rifle to be sure, and after he
seen the machine gun work, stoppin' a raid, he comes to the
officer, and says he, givin' him his rifle: 'Say, this is all
right for sport, but it ain't good enough for killin' these devils.
I'd like to get on to your gang, if I can,' and they put him right
onto the machine gun. Say, he's sleepin' with that Lewis gun ever
since. Just pets it like a baby. What was I tellin' you? Oh,
yes, about McCuaig and Jim Berry. Well, he took McCuaig's place
snipin' and a good sniper he was too. He used to hunt, you know,
up in the mountains with Jim Knight every fall. Well, he started
out snipin' the day after McCuaig quit, and McCuaig gave him his
rifle too, and took him up to the 'hide.' Well, big Jim was always
a careless cuss, you know. He gets his eye on the hole, sightin'
his rifle, and McCuaig was watchin' through one of them new things--"
"Yes, that's it, Paris cope. Them French is mighty smart fellows,
you bet. When along walks a Hun. 'There he comes!' sings out
McCuaig. 'Didn't see him until he got past,' says Jim, pretty mad,
because Jim hated to show that he'd got 'buck fever,' or something,
and waited for the next. 'Here he comes!' says McCuaig, again.
'Bang!' goes Jim. 'I've got him,' he shouts, hoppin' up to get a
good look, when McCuaig grabs him and jerks him down, swearin'
somethin' awful, and tellin' him he wasn't shootin' no mountain
goats. 'Oh shaw!' says Jim. 'They can't get me.' 'You keep your
head down, Jim,' said McCuaig. That's the very last words he said
to him, just as he was leavin' him. He wasn't down the next day
when bang! goes Jim's rifle, and again up he jumps to see what he'd
got, when ping! goes a Boche bullet right through his head. You
know McCuaig was real mad, and he stood quiet at that hole for
three hours. Then he got Corporal Thom to shove up a hat on a
rifle, when ping! comes the bullet and bang! goes Jim's rifle.
'Guess he won't shoot no more, unless there's shootin' in hell,'
says he, and makes another natch. Say, the boys all felt bad about
Jim and so did the Pilot. Well, we had to plant him that night, as
we was goin' out next day. It was out beyond the Loop. You don't
know where that is, I guess."
"Of course, I do," asserted Mackay indignantly. "I've been all
around that front line. What are you givin' us!"
"Oh, you have, eh! Well, I wouldn't unless I had to, you bet.
It's no place for a man with a waist line like mine. Well, as I
was sayin', that cemetery was right out in the open, right under
observation, and exposed to machine guns, snipers, whizbangs, all
the hull bloody lot of 'em. Wasn't no place for a cemetery anyway,
I say. I'm not after any bomb proof job but a cemetery should be--"
"Should be a quiet and retired spot," suggested one of the
"Yes. What's the use of getting livin' men shot up when they're
buryin' dead men, I want to know. Not saying anything about the
officers that's always round, and the chaplain. I say a cemetery
should be somewhere out of sight, like Maple Copse; now, there's a
good place, except that the roots make it hard diggin'. Up against
a railway bank like that down at Zillebeck, by the Railway Dugouts,
there's a lovely place."
"How would the Ramparts do, sergeant?" enquired another transport
"Ramparts? You mean at Ypres? Yes," said the sergeant, with a
grin, "but I'd hate to turn out the Brigade Headquarters Staff."
"Go on, sergeant."
"Well, as I was sayin', that's no place for a cemetery up there
beyond the Loop, but I didn't know so much about it then, you bet.
That's where we had to bury Jim. It was a awful black night, and
of course, just as we got out to the trench to go 'overland' to the
cemetery, them flares started up something awful. I don't know
what they was lookin' for, but when they went up, I want to tell
you, I felt about the size of a tree, and I wisht I was one. Well,
Jim, you know, was pretty heavy, an awful heavy carry he was for
the boys. I was tryin' to hurry 'em along, but that Pilot, he
heads the procession, and on he goes at a funeral march pace. Now
I believe in doin' things right. I've heard of some pioneers that
hurries their job. I don't believe in that, but when you are going
across the open on a dark night, with them flares going up, I say
between flares is a good time to get a move on, but, no, that there
Pilot, he just goes that pace and no more. I want to tell you the
boys was nervous and the officers too. The O. C. and Major Bustead
was there. I could see the major fussin' to get on. Well, we got
Jim down all right, and just as the Pilot got started, darned if
they didn't open up the biggest kind of a machine gun chorus you
"What did you do, sergeant?"
"Me? Well, I started huggin' mud and saying all the good words I
could think of. Even the O. C. got down on his knees, and the
major, he near got into the grave, but that darned Pilot stood up
there getting taller every minute, and goin' on with his prayer,
and the boys sayin' 'Amen!' that loud and emphatic that I thought
he'd take the hint and cut out somethin', but cut out nothin'!
Seemed as if his memory was workin' over time, the way he kept a
fetchin' up things that he could a easily forgot, and when he comes
to the benediction, the whizbangs begin to come. Up goes his hand,
the way they do. I thought to myself that that was a kind of
unnecessary display. I looks up and there he was, more like a tree
than ever. In fact, I says to myself--it's queer how you think
things at times like that--darned if they won't think the darned
fool is a tree, for nothin' but a darned tree would stand up in the
flare light and look so much like a tree anyhow. I guess that's
what saved him. He never moved until he was done, and then didn't
he stay with us pioneers after the rest had gone until we filled
up. Say, he's all right."
"You bet he's all right," said Sergeant Mackay, "and he's gettin'
in his work with the boys."
"What do you mean, 'gettin' in his work'?" enquired the pioneer
"Oh, well, you know," said Sergeant Mackay awkwardly, "he's makin'
'em think a lot different about things. I know he has 'em tied up
all right in their language." And this was as near to a confession
of faith as the sergeant cared to go.
"Oh, I can see a difference myself up the line," said the pioneer
sergeant. "The boys used to get out of his way. He used to jump
on 'em something fierce. You remember?"
"Well, they just love to have him drop in now and they tell him
things. I saw Corporal Thom the other night showin' him his girl's
picture, and the Pilot thought she was a fine girl too, and got her
address down, and said he was going to write her and tell her what
a fine chap the corporal was, and you ought to see Corporal Thom
swell up until he 'most bust his tunic."
"Oh, I know the corporal's dippy about the Pilot," said Sergeant
"Yes, and the officers, too," said the pioneer sergeant. "There's
Captain Duff. Well, you know what a holy terror he is."
"He's all right," said Sergeant Mackay stoutly. "He was my chief
for about a month here, and he was the first one to get this
transport licked into shape, you bet."
"I'm not saying anything against Captain Duff, but he was a
roughneck, you know well enough, and I guess he hadn't much use for
"Oh, I know all about that," said Sergeant Mackay. "The Pilot used
to go up with us on the transport. It was awful hard on Captain
Duff, handlin' the column and the mules and all the rest, to hold
in when the Pilot was along. The captain, he had to come round now
and then to the rear. There he would have a lovely time for a few
minutes, with the Pilot safe up in front. But the Pilot calmed him
down all right."
"Yes, and there's that young Captain Fraser," said the pioneer
sergeant, with a note of enthusiasm in his monotonous voice.
"There a soldier. He just loved fightin'. I remember the night he
got his wound. It was on a raid of course. If there was a raid
on, Captain Neil was sure to be there. He just about got his arm
blown off, but they say he's goin' to be all right. I was at the
regimental aid post when they fetched him in. Oh, he was a dirty
mess, face all cut up, and his arm hangin', and not a word out of
him until the Pilot comes along. Then he begins to chirp up and
the Pilot starts jollyin' him along one minute and sayin' Psalms
to him the next minute, and little prayers, and the boys around
listenin', sometimes grinnin' and sometimes all choked up, but I'm
awful glad Captain Neil is comin' round all right."
By this time the pioneer sergeant had his crosses finished.
"Well," he said, as he set the crosses against the wall, "there's
three of the finest officers we ever had in this battalion. You
take 'em up to-night when you go, sergeant."
"We're not going up to-night. The boys are coming out this
evening," replied Sergeant Mackay.
"No? Is that so? I never heard that. Guess I'll have to go up
with some other outfit. Comin' out this evening? Well, it's time
they were. They've had one hell all the time, I hear, this tour."
"Yes," continued Sergeant Mackay, "and the highlanders are sending
up their band to meet them and play them out. I call that a mighty
fine thing to do. You know our own band had to go up with water
and rations last night, and they can't get out until to-night. So
the Highlanders' band--"
"Pretty good band, too, isn't it?"
"Best pipe band in the army," said Sergeant Mackay with enthusiasm.
"Oh, a pipe band!" exclaimed the pioneer sergeant in a disappointed
"Yes, a pipe band, what else?" enquired Sergeant Mackay truculently.
"Why don't they send up their real band, when they're doin' it,
"What!" shouted Sergeant Mackay. "I'll tell you. For the same
reason that they don't make you O. C. in this battalion, you damned
fat lobster! There now, you've started me swearin' again, and I
was quittin' it."
Sergeant Mackay's wrath at the slur cast upon the pipe band, the
only band, in his opinion, worthy of any real man's attention, was
intensified by his lapse into his habit of profanity, which, out of
deference to the Pilot, he for some weeks had been earnestly
striving to hold in check.
"Oh well, Scotty, don't spoil your record for me. I guess a pipe
band is all right for them that likes that kind of music. For me,
I can't ever tell when they quit tunin' up and begin to play."
Sergeant Mackay looked at him with darkening face, evidently
uncertain as to what course he should adopt--whether to "turn
himself loose" upon this benighted Englishman or to abandon him to
his deserved condition of fatuous ignorance. He decided upon the
latter course. In portentous silence he turned his back upon Fatty
Matthews and walked the whole length of the line to get a mule back
over the rope. It took him some little time for the mule had his
own mind about the manoeuvre and the sergeant was unwontedly
deliberate and gentle with him. Then, the manoeuver executed, he
walked slowly back to the pioneer sergeant and in restrained and
carefully chosen speech addressed him.
"Look here, Fatty, I'm askin' you, don't you ever say things like
that outside of these lines, for the sake of the regiment, you
know. I'd really hate the other battalions to know we had got
such--" He halted himself abruptly and then proceeded more
quietly, "A man as you in this battalion. My God, Fatty, they'd
think your brains had run down into your pants. I know they
haven't, because I know you haven't any." He took a fresh breath,
and continued his address in a tone of patient remonstrance. "Why,
man, don't you know that wherever the British Army has gone, its
Highland regiments have cleared the way; and that when the pipes
get playin' the devil himself couldn't hold them back?"
"I don't wonder," said Fatty innocently. "They make a man feel
like fightin' all right."
Sergeant Mackay scanned his face narrowly, uncertain as to whether
he should credit the pioneer sergeant with intelligence sufficient
to produce a sarcasm.
"What I mean is," exclaimed Fatty, seeking to appease the wrathful
transport sergeant, "when you hear them pipes, you get so stirred
up, you know, that you just feel like kullin' somebody."
This apparently did not improve matters with Sergeant Mackay.