Part 7 out of 8
"Yes, only God," echoed Mrs. Vincent after a long pause. "They are
God's men, and to God they go at last. Truly they are God's own
While Barry was speaking, Phyllis, her hands tightly clasped, was
leaning forward listening with glistening eyes and parted lips.
Suddenly she rose, and went hurriedly to the door.
"Forgive me," said Barry, turning to Mrs. Vincent. "I should not
have talked about these things. It's Neil here that drew me out.
It's his fault."
In a few minutes Captain Neil arose and saying, "I'll see where
Phyllis has gone," went out at the same door.
"They are very great friends," said Mrs. Vincent. "We are very
fond of Captain Fraser. Indeed, he is like one of our family."
"A fine, brave chap he is," said Barry warmly, but with a queer
chill at his heart.
"Phyllis has made some very delightful friends in France. Those
Americans at Etaples were very good to her," and she continued to
chat in her soft, gentle voice, to which Barry gave a courteous
hearing but very casual replies. His heart and his ears were
attentive for the returning footsteps of those who had so abruptly
deserted them. While Mrs. Vincent was talking, an ugly question
was thrusting itself upon his attention, demanding an answer. He
could see--any one with eyes could see--that there was between
Phyllis and his friend Captain Neil some understanding. Just what
was between them Barry longed to know. It flashed upon him that
upon the answer to that question his whole future hung, for if this
girl was more than friend to Captain Neil, then the joy of life had
for him been quenched. No motor trip for him to-morrow. He had
had enough heart-wrenching to bear as it was without that. No! If
between these two a closer relation than that of mere friendship
existed, his way was clear. He would return to the trenches to-
"Oh, here you are, dear," said Mrs. Vincent, as Phyllis and Captain
Neil returned to the room. "You found the air too close, I fear."
"No," said Phyllis with simple sincerity, "it was Barry. I saw
those men, and I could not bear it. I can't bear it now." Her
lips were still trembling, and her eyes were filled with tears.
"And yet," said Barry, "when you were over there in the midst of it
all, you never once weakened. That's the wonder of it. You just
go on, doing what you must do. You haven't time to reflect, and
it's God's mercy that it is so. Thank God we have our duty to do
no matter what comes. Without that life would be unbearable."
"Now, what about to-morrow?" said Captain Neil briskly, as Mrs.
Vincent rose from the table. "We must settle that. What about it,
"I don't know. Do you think I should go? It's your party and it's
already made up."
"Not quite," said Phyllis, looking shyly at him. "You belong to
the party more than any of us, you know."
"Then what about Paula?" said Barry. "This is her party, is it
Phyllis was silent.
"I think, Captain Dunbar," said Mrs. Vincent, "if you would like
it, you ought to go. You need something of the kind, and you will
fit in admirably with the party, I am quite sure. To-day," she
added with a little laugh, "I was doubtful as to the propriety of
these young people going off all the way to Edinburgh by
themselves, but you know in these war times we do extraordinary
things, but now if you join them, my scruples will be removed."
"Some chaperon," whispered Captain Neil audibly to Phyllis. Then
he added briskly, "Well, then, that's settled. To-morrow at 8:37
we meet at King's Cross, 8:37, remember."
But for Barry the matter was far from settled.
"I can't quite make up my mind to-night," he said. "I shall be at
King's Cross, however, in the morning at any rate."
"But, Barry," began Phyllis, protesting, "you must--I want--"
She ceased speaking abruptly, her face flushing and then going
"Oh, rot, old man," said Captain Neil, impatiently, "you will come.
Of course he'll come," he added to Phyllis.
They moved together out of the room, Mrs. Vincent and Captain Neil
leading the way.
"Oh, Barry, aren't you going?" said Phyllis in a low voice.
"How can I answer that?" he replied, almost in anger. "Do YOU ask
me to go? Do YOU want me to go?"
"Of course, we all want you to go," said the girl.
"Is that your answer?" His voice was tense; his face strained.
"If that is all, Phyllis, I must say 'Good-bye' to-night. Why
should I go with you? Why should I stay here in London? There's
nothing for me here. The war is the only place--"
"Oh, Barry," she said, her eyes bright with tears, "how unkindly,
how terribly you talk." Then with a swift change of mood she
turned upon him. "What right have you to talk like that?" she
cried in sudden wrath. "What have I done--what have we done to
"Wait, Phyllis," he cried desperately. "Oh, let them go on," he
added impatiently. "For Heaven's sake, is there no place about
here where I can talk to you?" They were both pale and trembling.
"I must talk to you to-night--now--at once." He stood between her
and the door. "Can't you see I love you? I love you, do you hear?
If you don't love me, why should I live?"
"Oh, Barry," said the girl, in a hurried voice. "You must not talk
like this. Come this way. I know this place." She hurried out by
a side door, down a corridor, and into a small parlour, with cosy
corners, where they were alone.
"Now, Phyllis," said Barry, facing her, with a settled fierceness
in his voice and manner. "I am quite mad, I know, to love you, but
I do. I can't help it any more than breathing. I have no right to
tell you this, perhaps. I am nobody, and I have nothing to offer
any girl. I see that now. Oh, I see that clearly now, but I never
thought of that part of it before. I only loved you. How could I
help it? I hardly knew myself until tonight. But I know now," he
added in a voice of triumph, the gloom lifting from his face, and
the fierce light fading from his eyes. "Yes, I know now, Phyllis.
I love you. I shall always love you. I love you and I am glad to
love you. Nothing can take that from me."
All this time she was standing before him, her face white, her lips
parted, a look of wonder, almost of fear, in the brown eyes, so
bravely holding his, her hands pressed hard upon her bosom, as if
to stay its tumult.
"I have no right to say this to you," said Barry again. "You
belong to a great family. Perhaps you are rich. Great Heavens!"
he groaned. "I never thought of that. You are beautiful. Many
men will love you, great men and rich men will love you. You are
so wonderful. Why, there's Captain Neil, he--"
"Captain Neil," echoed Phyllis, with infinite scorn in her voice.
"Well, many men."
"Many men," she repeated, her lips beginning to tremble. "Oh,
Barry, can't you see? You blind boy. There's only one man for me,
Barry, and that's you, just you." She came near to him, laid her
hands upon his breast, her eyes looking into his.
"Phyllis," he said, putting his arms round her, a great wonder in
his voice. "It can't be true! Oh, it can't be true! Yet your
eyes, your dear eyes say so. Phyllis, I do believe you love me."
The little hands slid up around his neck; he drew her close.
"Phyllis, my dear, dear, love," he whispered.
He felt her body suddenly relax, and as she leaned backwards in his
arms, still clinging to him, he bent over her and his lips met hers
in a long kiss.
A WEDDING JOURNEY
"Just a moment, if you please, Paula. I should like to get down a
few notes of this bit. Oh, what a view! Lake, moor, hills,
Mr. Howland sprang from the car, sketchbook in hand, and ran
forward to a jutting rock that commanded the wide valley, flanked
by hills, in whose bosom lay a loch, shimmering in the morning
light. The car drew up on the brow of a long and gently sloping
incline, which the road followed until it disappeared in a turn at
the village at the loch's end.
"Get the little church tower in, father, and a bit of the castle.
I can see it from here," said Paula, standing upon the motor seat.
"I shall try this further rock," said her father. "Ah, here it is.
Do come, all of you, and get this. Oh, what a perfectly glorious
The little group gathered about him in silence, upon a little
headland that overlooked the valley, and feasted upon the beauty
that spread itself out before them, the undulating slope and
shimmering loch, the wide moors and softly rounded hills, the dark
green masses of ragged firs, and the great white Bens in the far
distance, and below them, in the midst the human touch, in a
nestling village with its Heaven-pointing spire.
"Hark!" said Paula.
From across the loch there floated up to them, soft and mellow as
an angel's song, the sound of a bell.
Mr. Rowland dropped his sketchbook, took off his hat, and stood as
if in worship. The other men followed his example.
"Father," said Paula, "let's go to church."
"Hush," said her father, putting up his hand, and so stood for some
"Oh, Scotland, Scotland!" he cried, lifting his arms high above his
head, "no wonder your children in exile weep for their native
"And your men fight and die for you," added Paula, glancing at
"Thank you," said Captain Neil, turning quickly away.
"Yes," said Paula, "we shall go to church here, father."
The church stood against a cluster of ancient firs, in the midst of
its quiet graves, yew shaded here and there. Beside it stood the
manse, within its sweet old garden, protected by a moss covered
At its gate the minister stood, a dark man with silvering hair, of
some sixty years, but still erect and with a noble, intellectual
"Let us speak to him," said Paula, as they left their car.
With characteristic reserve, Barry and Neil shrank from greeting a
stranger, but with fine and easy courtesy Mr. Howland bared his
head, and went up to the minister.
"We heard your bell's invitation, sir," he said, "and we came to
worship with you."
A grave smile touched the dark face.
"You rightly interpreted its message," he said. "Let me repeat its
"We are Americans, at least my daughter and I are," said Mr.
Howland, presenting Paula, a frank smile upon her beautiful face,
"and this is her young friend from London, Miss Vincent, and these
young officers are of the Canadian army."
"Canadians!" exclaimed the minister, meeting them with both hands.
"Oh, you are indeed welcome."
"We are all in the war, sir, I would have you know," added Mr.
The minister looked puzzled.
"Let me explain," said Barry. "Mr. Rowland and his daughter are on
leave from their own hospital which they have set up in France.
Miss Vincent is from the base hospital in Boulogne."
Like the sun breaking upon the loch in a dull day, a smile broke
over the dark face. He threw the gate wide open.
"In the name of my country, in this its dark hour, let me give you
welcome," and once more he shook them each by the hand. "We have
still half an hour before worship," he continued. "Pray do me the
honour of entering my manse."
They followed him up the shrubbery-flanked gravel walk to the door.
"Enter," he said, going before them into the manse. "Jean! Jean!"
"Yes, dear," came a voice like the sound of a silver bell, and from
another room issued a lady with a face of rare and delicate
loveliness. Her soft, clinging black gown, with a touch of white
at her throat, served to emphasise the sweet purity of her face,
but cast over it a shade of sadness at once poignant and tender.
"My dear, this is Mrs. Robertson," he said simply; "these friends,
Americans and Canadians, are from the war."
At that word she came to greet them, her face illumined by a smile
inexpressibly sweet, but inexpressibly sad. "You are welcome, oh,
very welcome," she said, in a soft Scotch voice. "Come in and rest
for a few moments."
"Our young friend here, Captain Dunbar, is chaplain of a
distinguished Canadian regiment."
"They are all distinguished," said the lady.
"A chaplain?" said the minister. "My dear sir, we should be
grateful for a message for our people from the front--"
"Oh, yes, if you would," added his wife.
"But," protested. Barry, "I want to hear some one else preach.
One gets very tired of one's own preaching, and besides I'm a very
"I'll take that risk, but I will not press you," said the minister
"Do, Barry," said Paula in a low voice, but he shook his head.
"I see you have some soldier friends at the front," said Mr.
Rowland, pointing to a photograph on the mantel of a young officer
in Highland dress.
"Our son, sir," said the minister quietly.
"Our only son," added his wife quietly. "He was in the Black
Watch." Her voice, with its peculiar bell-like quality, was full
of pride and tenderness.
"Oh," said Phyllis, turning to her with quick tears in her eyes and
holding out her hand.
"Ah," said the lady, "you too? Your brother?"
"My two brothers."
"My dear child! My dear child!" said the minister's wife, kissing
her. "Your mother was greatly privileged," she added gently.
It was a deeply moving scene.
"Madam," said Mr. Howland, wiping his eyes, "forgive me, but you
mothers are the wonder of the war."
"There are many of us in this glen, sir," she replied. "We cannot
give our lives, sir. We can only give what is dearer than our
lives, our dear, dear sons, and, believe me, we don't grudge them."
"Madam," said Mr. Howland, "the whole world honours you and wonders
"Sir," said Barry, obeying a quick impulse, "I cannot preach, but
may I tell your people something about their boys and how splendid
"Thank you," said the minister.
"Oh, would you?" cried his wife. "There are many there who feel
only the loss and the sorrow. You can tell them something of its
By this time in the eyes of all the visitors there were tears, but
on the faces of the minister and his wife there was only the serene
peace of those who within the sacred shrine of sacrifice have got a
vision of its eternal glory.
"Barry," said Paula, drawing him aside, "I love you for this, but
do talk about something, or I shall surely cry. These people break
"Oh, no," said Barry, looking at them, "there are no tears there.
They have been all the way through."
"Like people, like priest!" The folk that gathered in the little
church that morning were simple people of the glen, shepherds and
cotters from the countryside, humble villagers. They were women
for the most part, with old men and children. The girls were away
at the munition plants, the young men at the war, fighting or lying
under their little crosses or in their unknown and unmarked graves,
on one of Britain's five battle fronts, or under the tossing waters
of the Seven Seas where Britain's navy rides, guarding the world's
freedom. Simple peasant folk they were, but with that look of
grave and thoughtful steadfastness with which Scotland knows how to
stamp her people.
The devotions were conducted by the minister with simple sincerity,
and with a prophet's mystic touch and a prophet's vision of things
Barry made no attempt at a sermon. He yielded himself to the
spirit of the place, the spirit of the manse and its people, whose
serene fortitude under the burden of their sorrow had stirred him
to his soul's depths. Their spirit recalled the spirit of his own
father and the spirit of the men he had known in the trenches. He
made a slight reference to the horrors of the war. He touched
lightly upon the soldiers' trials but he told them tales of their
endurance, their patience, their tenderness to the wounded, their
comradeship, their readiness to sacrifice. Before he closed, he
lifted them up to see the worth and splendour of it all and gave
them a vision of the world's regeneration through the eternal
mystery of the cross.
They listened with uplifted face, on which rested a quiet wonder,
touched with that light that only falls where sacrifice and
sacrament are joined. There were tears on many faces, but they
fell quietly, without bitterness, without passion, without despair.
A woman with a grief worn face waited for him at the foot of the
pulpit stairs, the minister's wife and Phyllis beside her.
"Mrs. Finlayson wishes to speak to you," she said.
"Ay, ay! I jist want to say that you had the word for me the day.
I see it better the noo. A'm mair content that ma mon sud be
sleepin' oot yonder." She held Barry's hand while she spoke, her
tears falling on it, then kissed it and turned away.
"And this," said the minister's wife, "is Mrs. Murray, who has
given three sons, and who has just sent her last son away this
"Three sons," echoed Barry, gazing at the strong face, beaten and
brown with the winds and suns of fifty years, "and you sent away
your last. Oh, I wonder at you. How could you?"
"A cudna haud him back wi' his three brithers lyin' oot there,
and," she added, with a proud lift of her head, "and wudna."
It took some minutes for Barry to make his way through to the door.
He wanted to greet them all. He had a feeling that he was there
not in his own person but as a representative standing between two
noble companies of martyrs, those who had gone forth to die, and
those who had sent them.
"You have done us a great service to-day, sir," said the minister
in bidding Barry good-bye.
"It was a privilege to do it," said Barry as he shook hands with
the minister and his wife. "I shall tell the men about you and
"My dear, my dear, is he your man?" asked the minister's wife as
she held Phyllis' hand.
"He is," said Phyllis, glancing at Barry with shy pride.
"And he leaves you soon?"
"In two days," replied the girl, with a quick breath.
"Don't let him away till you give yourself wholly to him. Why not
to-morrow? It's a mother's word."
"That's what I say," cried Paula impulsively, seeking to cover the
girl's blushing confusion. "Neil," she added, turning to him, "I
should love to be married in just such a dear little church as
"All right," said Neil. "I know another just like it, and I shall
show it to you next week."
They wandered down by the loch's side. Passing a boat-renting
establishment, Paula suddenly exclaimed,
"My Land of Liberty, look there, Barry!"
"A canoe," she cried, running toward it. "A Canadian canoe!"
"A genuine Peterboro," he cried, following her. "Where did you get
this?" he inquired, turning to the boatman.
"My boy brought it with him from Canada, sir. He is an engineer.
I have his whole outfit in the house--tent, camp things and all.
He is at the war himself."
"Oh, Barry, look at the dear thing. What does it make you think
of?" She glanced at Barry's face and added quickly, "Oh, I know.
Forgive me. I'm a fool!"
"Come along, Phyllis," said Barry, drawing her away with him. "I
want to talk to you."
"We shall take lunch in half an hour, Barry," called Mr. Howland
after him. "We're due at Pitlochry, you know, for dinner."
"All right, sir," said Barry. "We'll be on hand."
"I wonder if she's got the nerve," said Paula to Captain Neil as
they stood looking after them.
"I wonder," said Captain Neil, looking at her. "Would you?"
"Would I," said Paula, with sudden shyness. "I--but you are not
going away in two days."
"No, thank the good Lord," said Captain Neil, fervently, "but,
Paula, I'll not forget."
At Pitlochry they found their mail awaiting them.
"A telegram for you, Barry," said Paula, who had assumed the duty
They all paused in examining their mail to watch Barry open his
"Guess," he shouted, holding his telegram high.
"Oh, glory, I know!" exclaimed Paula. "Extended leave. How much?"
"'Oh, excellent young maid, how much elder art thou than thy looks!'"
"Oh, Barry!" exclaimed Phyllis. "How much?"
"Five days, five whole days."
"Humph! It's the least they could do. They might have made it
ten," grumbled Paula.
"Mr. Howland, may I speak to you a moment?" Barry's look and voice
were eloquent of resolve.
"Certainly, Barry. Immediately?"
"If you please, sir."
They retired to a corner, where Barry could be seen with ardent
look and vehement gesture putting his proposition to Mr. Howland,
whose face showed mingled pleasure and perplexity. The others
waited patiently for the conference to end.
"Oh, pshaw!" said Paula, "Barry ought to know by this time that the
pater simply can't make up his mind without me. I know what they
She moved over to them.
"Now, father, of course you will do as Barry wishes," she declared.
"Oh, I know what he wants. Now listen to me. Just wire Mrs.
Vincent that everything is perfectly all right, that you can
guarantee Barry, and that it's the sensible thing, the only thing
to do under the circumstances. Oh, we'll have it in that dear
little church. Splendid. Perfectly ripping! Eh, Phyllis? Come
over here at once. Now, father, get busy on the wire. Why waste a
perfectly good hour in just talking about it? What do you say,
folks? How many say 'Ay'?"
Up went Barry's two hands, and with them Neil's and Paula's.
"What about you, miss?" asked Paula, turning wrathfully toward
Phyllis walked quietly to Barry's side.
"Barry," she said, giving him her hand, "I have decided to be
married to-morrow. I shall wire mamma."
Barry answered her only with his eyes.
"By Jove!" said Paula, "you Britishers are the limit, for stolid,
unemotional people. Here am I shouting my head off like a baseball
fan, to get this thing put through, and you quietly walk up and
announce that everything's fixed but the band."
The wires to London that afternoon were kept busy, a message going
to Mrs. Vincent from each member of the party, but it was felt that
that from Phyllis to her mother was really all that was necessary.
"Dearest Mamma--Barry and I are to be married tomorrow. English
law makes London impossible, as Barry has only five days. I am
very happy, feeling sure you approve. Our dearest, dearest love.
A long wire also went from Barry to Mr. Robertson, the minister of
the little church, where they had spent such a delightful hour that
morning, but this wire Barry showed to no one.
The bride's bouquet was from the manse garden, a shower of white
roses, no purer and no sweeter than the bride herself. At the
church door, the party stood shrinking from the moment of parting.
At length Paula took matters in hand.
"As usual," she said, "the heavy work falls to me. Dear Mrs.
Robertson"--to the minister's wife--"goodbye. I shall always love
you and your dear little church."
She put her arms around the minister's wife and kissed her.
"Oh, we're going to see them off," said that lady. "Lead the way,
Captain Dunbar, please," she added, with a bright smile, giving him
a little push.
"Come, Phyllis," said Barry offering his wife his arm, and they
started off down the street toward the lake.
"Will you permit me?" said the minister, offering his arm to Paula,
who in mystified silence took it without a word.
"May I have the pleasure?" said Mr. Howland, offering his arm to
"Come, Captain Fraser," she said gaily, offering him the other arm.
"Just what is happening to me, I don't pretend to know," said
Paula, "but whatever it is, America is in this thing to the
Barry stopped at the boathouse landing. There, tied to the dock,
floated the Canadian canoe, laden with tent and camp outfit, and
with extra baskets provided from the manse.
"Oh, Barry, how wonderful! How perfectly wonderful!" cried Paula
in an ecstasy of delight.
In that farewell there were tears and smiles, but more smiles than
tears. The last to touch their hands was Paula. She managed to
draw them apart from the others, with her eyes glistening with
unaccustomed tears. "You deserve each other. Phyllis," she
whispered, alternately shaking and kissing her, "there was a day
when I would have fought you for him, until Neil came. Barry, you
dear boy, you may kiss me goodbye, and oh, may you both live
"Goodbye, dear Paula," cried Phyllis. "You have been so lovely to
me from the very first. I shall never, never forget you."
"Goodbye, Paula," said Barry, "dearest of all dear friends."
She stooped to steady the canoe, while Phyllis stepped to her place
in the bow.
"Goodbye to all of you. God love you and keep you all," said
He took his paddle and stepped into the canoe, Paula still stooping
over it to keep it steady.
"Dear, dear Barry," she whispered, and for the first time her tears
fell. "Goodbye! Goodbye!"
Together the little company stood watching them away, Phyllis in
the bow, not paddling, sat with her face toward them, Barry
swinging his paddle with graceful, powerful strokes, until just at
a curve of the shore, where some birches overhung the water, he
swung the canoe half round, and with paddle held Voyageur fashion
in salute, they passed out of sight.
THE PILOT'S LAST PORT
The little Canadian army was done with The Salient. The British
tradition established in the third month of the war, in that first
terrific twenty-two days' fight by Ypres, that that deadly convex
should be no thoroughfare to Calais for the Hun, was passed on with
The Salient into Canadian hands in the early months of 1915. How
the little Canadian army preserved the tradition and barred "the
road-hog of Europe" from the channel coast for seventeen months,
let history tell, and at what cost let the dead declare who lie in
unmarked graves which, following the curving line of trenches from
Langemarck through Hooge and Sanctuary Wood over Observation Ridge
to St. Eloi, and the dead under those little crosses that crowd the
cemeteries of The Salient and of the clearing stations in the rear,
and the living as well, who through life will carry the burden of
enfeebled and mutilated bodies.
For seventeen months the Canadians in shallow dugouts and behind
flimsy trenches endured the maddening pounding of the Huns' guns,
big and little, without the satisfaction of reprisal, except in
raid or counter-attack, suffering the loss of two-thirds of their
entire force, but still holding. Now at length came the welcome
release. They were ordered to the Somme. Welcome not simply
because of escape from an experience the most trying to which an
army could be subjected, but welcome chiefly because there was a
chance of fighting back.
They had no illusions about that great battle area of the south,
echoes of whose titanic struggle had reached them, but they longed
for a chance to get back at their foe. Besides, the Somme
challenged their fighting spirit. That glorious assault of the
first of July of the allied armies which flung them upon the
scientifically prepared, embattled and entrenched "German
Frontier," with its fortified villages, its gun stuffed woods, its
massed parks of artillery, and defended by highly disciplined and
superbly organised soldiery, stirred them like a bugle call. For
two years the master war-makers of the world had employed
scientific knowledge, ingenuity and unlimited resources upon the
construction of a system of defence by means of which they hoped to
defy the world, and upon which when completed they displayed the
vaunting challenge, "We are ready for you; come on!"
In that great conflict there was no element of surprise. It was a
deliberate testing out of strength, physical and moral. For the
first time in the war the British army stood upon something like
even terms in manpower and in weight of metal, with, however, the
immense handicap still resting upon it that it was the attacking
force. The result settled forever the question of the fighting
quality of the races. When the first day's fight was done, on a
battle front of twenty miles the British armies had smashed a hole
seven miles wide, while their gallant allies, fighting on an eight-
mile front, had captured the whole line. In two weeks' time, the
seven-mile hole was widened to ten. Fortified villages, entrenched
redoubts, woods stuffed with guns, great and small, had gone down
before that steady, relentless, crushing advance. The full
significance of the Somme had not dawned as yet upon the world.
The magnitude of the achievement was not yet estimated, but already
names hitherto unknown were flung up flaming into the world's sky
in letters of eternal fire, Ovillers, Mametz Wood, Trones Wood,
Langueval, Mouquet Farm, Deville Wood for the British, with twenty-
one thousand prisoners, and Hardecourt, Dompierre, Becquin-Court,
Bussu and Fay for the French allies, with thirty-one thousand
On that line of carefully chosen and elaborately fortified
defences, the proudest of Germany's supermen of war had been beaten
at their own game by the civilian soldiers of "effete and luxury
loving Britain," and the republican armies of "decadent France,"
and still the Homeric fight was raging. Foot by foot, yard by
yard, the Hun was fighting to hold the line which should make good
his insolent claim to the hegemony of the world. Step by step,
yard by yard, that line was being torn from his bloody fingers.
Into that sea of fire and blood, the Canadians were to plunge.
They remembered Langemarck and Sanctuary Wood and St. Eloi, and
were not unwilling to make the plunge. They thought of those long
months in The Salient, when the ruthless Hun from his vantage
ground of overwhelming superiority had poured his deadly hail from
right flank, left flank, front and rear, upon them, holding,
suffering, dying, day by day, month by month, and they were grimly
jubilant over the chance which the Somme offered them of evening
somewhat the score.
"We have something to hand Fritzie," young Pickles was heard to
remark when he had learned of the quality of the Somme fighting,
"and I hope he'll like it, for he's got to take it."
The battalion ranks, both officers and men, had once more been
filled up. They had a brief fortnight's training in the new open
fighting under barrage and then set off cheerfully for the "Big
Game." Ten days they marched and countermarched in the back
country, keeping clear of those two mighty streams "up" and "down,"
that flowed between ditches and hedges along the road that led to
the great arena, and catching glimpses and echoes as they marched
until, hard, fit, keen, they joined the "upstream" flowing toward
Albert. That stream was made up of those various and multifarious
elements that go to constitute, equip and maintain a modern army.
There were marching battalions, with their mounted officers,
bearing names and insignia famous in the world's wars for two
hundred years, and with them battalions who a few brief months ago
were peaceful citizens, knowing nothing of war. There were
transport columns, ammunition columns, artillery columns, with
mounted escorts. There were big guns, on huge caterpillar trucks,
shouldering the lighter traffic to the ditches, and little guns
slipping meekly in their rear. There were motor lorries, honking
and thundering their insistent way through dodging, escaping,
cursing infantry, forty-six miles of them to a single army corps.
There were strings of mules and horses with weirdly shaped burdens
on their pack saddles. There were motor cars bearing "Brass Hats,"
gentle looking individuals, excessively polite, yet somehow getting
men to jump when they spoke, and everywhere ambulances, silent and
swift moving, before whose approach the stream parted in recognition
of the right of way of these messengers of mercy over all the
enginery of war.
The "down stream" was much the same, with here and there differences.
That stream flowed more swiftly. The battalions marched with more
buoyant tread. They had done their part and without shame. They
had met their foes and seen their backs. The trucks, transport and
ammunition wagons were empty and coming with a rush. Only the
ambulances moved more slowly. Carefully, with watchful avoidance of
ruts and holes, which, in spite of the army of road-mending Huns,
broke up the surface of the pavements these ambulances made their
way. They must get through no matter what was held up.
And as they flowed these streams ever and anon broke their banks
and flooded over in little eddies into villages and fields, there
to tarry for a day and a night, only to be caught up again in
either one of those resistless inevitable currents of war.
"Look before you, major," said Barry, who was riding with the
Headquarters Company at the head of the column, as often now at the
invitation of the O. C.
The column was slowly climbing a long gentle sloping hill that
reached its apex some two or three miles away. On either side,
spread out over the fields, as far as the eye could reach, were
military encampments, in tents, in huts and in the open. Infantry
units, horse lines, motor truck parks, repair camps for motors and
for guns, ammunition dumps with shells piled high, supply sheds
bulging with their canvas-covered contents, Red Cross huts and
marquees, and Y. M. C. A. tents with their cues of waiting
soldiers, getting "eats" and drinks, and comforts of various kinds.
The whole countryside was one mighty encampment packed with
munitions and supplies and thronging with horses, mules and men.
"This is war on the 'grand scale,'" said the O. C. dropping back
beside them. "From the top of this hill we can see Albert and a
part of the most famous battle-field of all time. We camp just
outside of Albert on what is known as the 'brick field,' and in a
couple of days more we shall be in it. Well," he continued, with a
glance over the column following, "the boys never were more fit."
"And never more keen," said the major. "They are right on their
"Major, I expect to meet the divisional commander down here, and I
want you to be there. Captain Dunbar, you know him, I believe. He
has asked especially that you should be there as well."
"Yes, sir, I have met the General. To my mind he is an ideal
"Yes, and an ideal officer," said the O. C. "He knows his job and
he is always fit and keen."
At the top of the hill, a traffic officer, a young lieutenant from
the Imperial forces, diverted the column from the road into a
"Why is this?" inquired the O. C.
"There's the answer, sir," said the officer coolly.
There was a long drawn whine which rapidly grew into a shriek and
an H. E. shell dropped fair in the road, a short distance in front.
"Oh, I see, you have some of these birds down in this country,
"Yes, sir, this is their breeding ground," said the young lieutenant.
Once more came the long whining shriek and the terrific blast of
the H. E., this time closer.
"I would not delay, sir, if I were you," said the young chap
coolly, pulling out his cigarette case. "They get rather ugly at
"What about you?" inquired the O. C. moving off.
"Part of my job, sir," replied the youth, saluting.
"Well, good luck, boy," said the O. C., trotting to the head of the
"Thank you, sir," said the youth, turning to his job again.
They rode a hundred yards, when another shell came, there was a
terrific explosion, apparently just at the spot where the young
officer had been standing.
"By Jove! I'm afraid that's got him," said the O. C.
"I'll go and see, sir," said Barry, spurring his horse back to the
"Come back here, Barry," called the major. "Darn him for a fool!
What's the use of that? That isn't his job," he added angrily.
"He thinks it is, probably," said the O. C.
Barry found a great hole in the road with the officer's horse lying
disembowelled beside it, kicking in his death agony. There was no
sign of his rider anywhere. Fortunately there was a gap in the
column, so that no one else was near enough to be injured.
As Barry stood gazing about, a voice hailed him from the ditch,
which was several feet deep.
"I say, sir," said the voice, "I wouldn't just stay there. They
generally send over four of 'em. That's only the third. I find
this ditch very convenient, though somewhat mucky."
Barry looked at him in astonishment. He was white and shaken,
covered with mud, but trying to get his cigarette case open.
"I'd get off, sir, if I were you," he said, "until the next one
comes. Quick, sir, I hear it now."
Barry needed no second invitation. He flung himself headlong into
the ditch beside the young fellow, but the shell dropped into the
"That's as near as I like 'em," said the young officer, scraping
the mud off his clothes. "My poor, old gee-gee got it though." He
drew his revolver and shot the wounded animal. "It's hard on the
horses. You see, they can't dodge," he added.
"I say, my boy," said Barry, for the lieutenant was only a boy,
"that was a near thing for you. What are you going to do now?"
"Oh, just carry on," said the boy. "The relief will be along in
a few hours. Beastly mess, eh?" he continued, but whether he
referred to the disembowelled horse or the state of his own
uniform, Barry could not say.
"You are sure you are all right?" said Barry, as he shook hands
with him. "I'm awfully glad you weren't hurt."
"So am I," said the boy heartily. "Awfully rotten to be potted out
here playing a bally policeman, eh? What? Well, good luck, sir,"
and Barry rode off to join his column with a deep admiration in his
heart for the English school boy who, when war began, was probably
a fifth form lad, in whose life the most dangerous episode would be
a ball taken full off bat at point, or a low tackle on the Rugby
At Divisional Headquarters, they met the general, who after a
conversation with the O. C. greeted Barry warmly.
"So you have gone and done it, young man. Well, I admire your
nerve, and I congratulate you. I happen to know the family very
well. As a matter of fact there is some remote connection, I
believe. By the way, I have a communication from London for you,"
he added, drawing Barry to one side, and giving him a little slip.
"I happen to know about it," he continued, while Barry was reading
his telegram, "and say, if I can be of any assistance, I shall be
very glad. It's a step up, you see. I have no doubt it can be put
through quite easily and quickly, and I believe the step is coming
Barry stood with his eyes upon the dispatch. It was an offer of a
hospital appointment at the base, and carried with it his majority.
"I have no doubt the missus will be pleased, eh?" said the general
with a grin.
Barry pulled out a letter from his pocket, opened it and handed it
to the general, pointing to a paragraph. The general took it and
"And Barry, dear, remember that though you have a wife now, your
duty to your country is still your first duty. I would hate that
any thought of me should make it harder for you to carry on."
The general folded up the letter, put it slowly into its envelope,
and handed it back to Barry.
"I know her," he said simply. "I should expect nothing else from
her. You are a lucky dog, but, of course," he added, with a swift
glance at Barry's face, "some one must take that job."
"I fancy, sir, there are many for it, who are hardly fit for this
work up here," replied Barry quietly. "I think, sir, I'll just
carry on where I am."
"You are quite sure?" inquired the general. "Don't you want a day
or two to think it over?"
"I am quite sure, sir," said Barry, "I am quite sure that my wife
"Very well, then," said the general, "let me handle this for you,
and let me say, sir, that I am proud to have you in my division."
So saying, he gripped Barry's hand hard, and turned abruptly away
to the others.
They rode to their camp in almost complete silence, except for a
grunt or two from the O. C. who seemed in a grumpy mood.
When they arrived at Headquarters, the O. C. drew up his horse and
turning to the major, said,
"I don't know just what to do with this Pilot of ours. He is a
fool in some ways."
"A darned fool, sir," said the major emphatically.
"And," continued the major, "I am selfish enough to say that I am
damned glad--I won't apologise, Pilot--that he decided to stay with
us. It would have been just a little harder to carry on if he had
"Yes," growled the major, "but, oh, well, we have got to stick it I
guess. The Pilot is a soldier all right."
There was nothing further said about the matter, but next day as
Barry walked about the camp, among the men, their eyes followed him
as he passed, and every officer in the mess seemed to discover an
errand that took him to Barry's tent.
Two days later the Canadians moved up into the line and took over
from the Australians. They followed the Bapaume Road toward
Pozieres, passing through a country which had seen the heaviest
fighting in the war.
"This," said the O. C., drawing aside from the road, and riding to
a slightly rising ground, "is La Boiselle, or at least where it
was, and that I fancy is the famous mine crater. Sixty thousand
pounds of gun cotton blew up that hole."
There was absolutely no sign of the village, the very foundations
of the houses, and the cellars having the appearance of a ploughed
"That was a desperate fight," continued the O. C. "It was here
that the Middlesex men made their great charge. Fifty men reported
from the battalion when it was over. In that village they had a
whole division fighting before they were through, Middlesex men,
Royal Scots and Irish, for three days and three nights."
As they rode along, the guns on either side began their evening
chorus and from the far rear came the roaring rush of the H. E.'s
like invisible express trains hurtling through the air. It was
music to their ears, and they rode forward with a new feeling in
their hearts, for there appeared to be almost no reply from the
The battalion took to the trenches at the crossing of the Pozieres
Road, and so effective was the counter-battery work that they were
able to settle down into their battle positions without casualties.
The R. A. P. was in a deep German dug-out thirty feet below the
surface, with double entrances and heavily timbered. It had been
most elaborately prepared, planked on sides and floor, and fitted
with electric lights. There were two main rooms, with a connecting
corridor, leading to each entrance. They found an Australian
medical officer in charge.
"These chaps were regular settlers, weren't they?" said Barry,
after they had exchanged greetings.
"Yes, sir, they intended to sty, apparently," said the Australian,
in his slow drawl. "We found some letters on a wounded officer
indicating their intention to remyn for the durytion, but we wanted
the plyce--couldn't carry on without it in fact. It's quite a good
plyce, too," he added with a cheerful grin.
"Why, it's just bully," said the M. O. "I am only sorry that we
can't promise you as good in The Salient."
"I hear it is rather rotten, eh, sir?" said the Australian.
"Not as bad as Gallipoli, though," said Barry. "By Jove! You
Australian chaps did magnificently down there. Must have been a
"Oh, yes, quite hot for a while, but I fancy you Canydians didn't
have any afternoon tea party in The Sylient, eh? My word, there
was some fighting there. Oh, there it comes," he added.
As he spoke a muffled explosion was heard, and the dug-out rocked,
and the candles flickered.
"Can they get you down here?" inquired the M. O.
"I fancy a direct hit from a really big H. E. would disturb our
little home, but nothing else would. Of course, a shell in the
door wye would be a bit awkward, you knaow," replied the
The night, however, passed quietly, and except for a few slightly
wounded walking cases, there was little work to do. The Canadians
decided that in coming to the Somme, they had made a most happy
A quiet day followed the night, but the whole battalion was keyed
up with intense expectation for the attack which they knew was
fixed for the night following. With expectation mingled curiosity.
They knew all about raiding; that was their own specialty, but they
were curious as to the new style of fighting which they knew to be
awaiting them, the capturing, holding and consolidating of a line
of enemy trenches.
Nightfall brought the opportunity to gratify their curiosity. For
two hours before the attack, their guns put down the barrage to
cover the front line of enemy trenches, and to dispose of his wire.
The M. O. and Barry, with the Australian and their whole staff,
made their way to a ridge a few yards distant to see the show.
"Great Heaven, what is that?" inquired the M. O., pointing to what
seemed to be a line of flickering watch fires upon the crest of a
neighbouring rising ground.
"Guns! Ours," said the Australian, surprised at the M. O.'s
"Guns! My Lord, guns, Barry," shouted the M. O.
"Guns? And in the open! And on a hill! And wheel to wheel!"
cried Barry. "Thank the good Lord I have lived to see this day.
Look at the boys," he added in a low tone, to the Australian beside
They glanced over their shoulders and saw two of the orderlies
executing a fox-trot in the heavy shell-ploughed soil.
"What's the row?" inquired the Australian.
"Why, my dear chap," replied the M. O., "don't you know we have
never seen a gun in action in the open that way. Our guns operated
only from holes and corners, from hedges and cellars. Otherwise
they'd be spotted and knocked out in an hour."
"Ow!" said the Australian, "our bird men attended to that the first
dye of the fight. They sye there was a double line of observation
balloons along the lines, ours and theirs up to the 30th of June.
The next morning not a Boche balloon was to be seen. Our plynes
put their eye out in a single afternoon. Since that time, we hold
over them in the air. Ah! There are the heavies coming up now.
The full chorus will be on in half a minute."
A few seconds later, the truth of the Australian's prophecy was
demonstrated. The full chorus was on. For two hours the barrage
raged, and the din was such that they had to shout in each other's
ears to be heard. The hilltops were ringed with darting tongues of
red flame as though belched out by a thousand fabled dragons. It
was as if the air above was filled with millions of invisible
demons, whining, moaning, barking, shrieking in a fury of venomous
hate, while at regular intervals came the express train roar of the
twelve, fifteen and sixteen inch guns.
"It's almost worth while to have lived through those months in The
Salient," said Barry, "to get the full enjoyment of this experience.
Well do I remember the day when our O. C. asked for 'retaliation,'
and was told he could have six rounds, I think it was, or eight.
Meanwhile our trenches and dug-cuts were going up in bloody mud."
"I think we might as well go below," said the Australian. "They
will be coming in presently."
But Barry and the M. O. remained long after the first coming in
shells began to drop around. That barrage so long waited for, and
so ardently desired, was worth some risk.
Soon the wounded began to arrive, and throughout the whole night,
the M. O. and his staff were busy at their work. On the arrival of
the zero hour, the barrage lifted.
"Well, good luck go with the boys," said the Australian, fervently.
"They are out and over now. We'll get some of them presently."
Throughout the night, a stream of walking wounded kept flowing in.
Jubilant, exultant in spite of their pain, they bore with them the
joyful report that they had shifted the Hun from his trenches and
his deep dug-outs, and were still advancing. Singing at the top of
their voices, they came limping in, bloody and muddy, but wild with
exultation and joy. The day long looked for by the Canadians had
arrived. They were getting something of their own back.
The next day revealed the full extent of the achievement. The
whole Canadian line had swept forward for over a thousand yards,
had captured strong points, a fortified sunken road, the famous
"sugar refinery" and, overrunning their objective, had captured the
village of Courcelette, as well. It was a gallant little fight,
and quite a notable achievement.
After two days the battalion was pulled out, having suffered
comparatively slight losses, and more than ready to return when the
opportunity should come.
The next three weeks were spent in minor operations, consolidating
positions, repelling counter-attacks, and preparing for the real
"big go," in which the Canadians were to take their part in the
advance of the whole allied line, after which the battalion was
sent into reserve for a few days' respite.
The Canadian line was gradually wearing thin, but the spirit of
those who survived was the spirit of the whole allied line,--the
spirit that claimed victory and was not to be denied. As to the
nature of the task awaiting them, however, they well knew that it
was to be a fight in which the last ounce of resolution and only
the last ounce would carry them through to their objective.
The experiences of the allies during the past months had wrought in
them a settled conviction that victory was awaiting them, and a
settled resolution that that victory they would secure at all cost
At length the day arrived, a dull October day, overhung with rain
clouds and thick with chill mist. On the parade ground the
battalion was drawn up for the service which always preceded an
The operations of the past month had reduced the battalion to about
half its fighting strength. Only some five hundred men, with
officers barely sufficient to direct their movements, looked back
at Barry through the mist as he faced them for the service.
"Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation," he
read. The psalm might have been written for the occasion.
"He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence: I shall not
"My soul, wait thou only upon God: for my expectation is from him.
"He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence: I shall not
"In God is my salvation, and my glory: the rock of my strength, and
my refuge is in God.
"Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before
him. God is a refuge for us."
Barry made only a single comment upon the psalm, "Men, nothing can
move God, and nothing can move those whose trust is in God.
Remember God is to be trusted."
The reading was followed by the General Confession, the Absolution
and a brief extemporary prayer, concluding with the Lord's Prayer.
As Barry was mounting his horse a runner brought him an order from
his divisional chief, directing him to report at the casualty
clearing station in Albert for immediate duty. He carried the
order to the O. C.
"Look at this!" he stormed.
"Too bad! Too bad!" said the O. C. "Rotten luck for you."
"Look here, sir," said Barry, "I have always gone up with the
battalion, and I think--"
"I fancy they are getting on to you, Dunbar. You know you have
rather shirked the C. C. S. duty," said the O. C. with a smile.
"Isn't there some way out of this? If I got a substitute--"
"A soldier obeys orders, Captain Dunbar," said the O. C. gravely.
"Yes, sir, I know, but--"
"And he doesn't say 'but'," continued the O. C. "No, Barry," he
added in a kindly voice, "I have no responsibility or authority in
this. I'd be glad to have you come up with us. We are going into
the 'big thing' this time, I know, but perhaps it's just as well.
You go your way and we'll go ours. I'd like to say this to you,
however, my boy, you have been a great help to me with the men."
His tone was grave but kind, and it sent to Barry's heart a chill
of foreboding. "Good-bye, Barry," he added, shaking hands with
"Good-bye, sir. Good luck, sir. May I say, sir," said Barry,
"that you have helped me immensely with my duty."
"Do you say so, Barry?" said the O. C., a note of surprise in his
voice. "I'm delighted to know that."
"God keep you, sir," said Barry earnestly.
"Thank you, sir. We are in His keeping, aren't we?" and turning in
his saddle, he gave the order to advance.
Barry rode with the column to the very mouth of the communication
trench running to Pozieres, dropping into step with each company
commander for a time, and leaving each with a cheery word of
farewell. At the mouth of the trench, he stood watching the men as
they stepped down and out of his sight, giving them a word of good
cheer and good luck as they passed, and receiving in return
answering smiles and greetings. Then with eyes unseeing, he rode
back to camp, heavy of heart, for he knew well that many of these
faces he would see no more.
The zero hour was fixed for five a. m. the following morning. As
the hour drew near, Barry at his work in the C. C. S., found in his
heart the words of the psalm, "My soul wait thou only upon God . . .
I shall not be moved." That wounds and death were awaiting many
of them he well knew, and his prayer was that they might meet the
fate appointed them with unshaken faith and courage.
By seven o'clock the wounded began to arrive and an hour later the
C. A. M. C. marquee was filled to overflowing with a cue of wounded
men forming outside in the falling rain. The suffering in their
pale and patient faces stirred in him a poignant sympathy. There
was the chaplain service tent adjoining. He ran to find the
chaplain in charge.
"Tell me," he said, "may we use your marquee for wounded men?"
"Sure thing. It will never be used for a better purpose."
Barry returned to the O. C. of the C. C. S.
"Why not direct that a part of this stream be sent to the adjoining
tent for registration, and for anti-tetanus hypodermics? These
poor chaps are standing out in the rain, chilled to the bone and
ready to drop."
"For Heaven's sake do it," said the O. C. "We are really up
against it here. Can you take that off my hands?"
"I'll try," said Barry.
In a few minutes the congestion at the door of the marquee was
relieved and the wounded men, to their own vast comfort, were
bestowed upon the benches and chairs in the chaplain service tent.
But something further was necessary to their comfort.
"Draper," said Barry to the chaplain in charge of the tent, "you
see these men? They have had nothing to eat since last night.
They have fought a battle, been wounded, and walked out some five
miles or so, since then. It's eight o'clock now. What about it?"
"What about it?" exclaimed the chaplain. "You watch me!"
He ran to the Y. M. C. A. tent, enlisted the secretary's aid and
in twenty minutes they together had transported to the chaplain
service tent coffee and cocoa urns, and with an organised band of
assistants were supplying the wounded with warming and comforting
nourishment. Never had those splendid services more quickly and
effectively justified their place in the army.
With the wounded came rumours, more or less fantastic, of disaster.
Something terrible had befallen the whole Canadian line. It was
difficult to get at the truth. As with all rumours, they
contradicted each other and left the mind in a chaos of perplexity.
The battalion had run into wire, where the machine guns had found
it, the battalion was practically wiped out, it had found cover in
a trench and was still holding on, the O. C. was wounded, the O. C.
was killed, and with him every company commander.
Again and again, Barry sent men to the signals to learn the truth,
but it was found impossible to get a message through. That an
overwhelming disaster had befallen his battalion was abundantly
evident from the numbers of wounded. With his heart growing numb
with pain he struggled with his work. Gradually, he was forced to
accept as true that a large proportion of the battalion were
casualties, that the O. C. was wounded, possibly dying, that many
of the officers had fallen and that the remainder were still
holding a precarious position, and fighting for their lives.
"I shall not be moved," he had read to them last night. The
promise was being fulfilled in the men of his battalion. They
could die at the wire or in the trench, but they could not be
moved. While mechanically carrying on his work, his mind was with
the fighting, dying remnant of his comrades. The O. C. of the
C. C. S. passing on his rounds found Barry carrying on with tears
blinding his eyes so that he could hardly see the figures he was
entering in his record.
"Your men are having a hell of a time, I hear," said the O. C. "I
say, boy," he added, glancing at Barry's haggard face, "let up for
"I'm all right, sir," said Barry, through his teeth. "Excuse me,
really I'm all right. It is a bit difficult to carry on when you
know that your friends are being cut to pieces, but I'm all right,
"All right, my boy," said the O. C., "we're up against it to-day.
I'll come for you in a few minutes, and we'll have a bit to eat."
Barry shook his head. He was too sick to eat, but the O. C. knew
better than he just what he wanted. In a few minutes he returned
with an assistant who took Barry's place.
"Come along, boy," said the O. C. cheerfully. "We have got to feed
the living that we may care for the wounded and dying."
"You are quite right, sir," said Barry. "I am ashamed of myself.
I'll be fit in a few minutes."
"Don't apologise for one moment," said the colonel, "if you felt
any less deeply than you do, you'd be something less than a man.
We'll get into touch with the Divisional Headquarters, and try to
get the facts."
He had no sooner reached his private room than his signaller
informed him that Divisional Headquarters had just been trying to
get him. It took some time, however, to get the message through.
Meantime, the Colonel was handling Barry with a wise and skillful
touch. He made him eat and eat heartily, seeking to divert his
mind in the meantime from the disaster that had befallen the
battalion to the big issues at stake, and pointing out with
resolute cheerfulness that the calamity that had befallen the
battalion was only a temporary setback.
"We're winning, my boy, and we're paying the price," he said.
At length signals got the D. H. Q. and called the colonel to the
phone. After a few minutes' conversation, the O. C. called Barry.
"The general wants to speak to you, padre," and Barry with an
apprehensive heart went to the phone.
"Oh, that you, Captain Dunbar?" It was the general's voice and
somehow it carried with it an atmosphere of calm and cheerful
confidence. "How are you getting on?"
"Oh, sir, very well. We are terribly anxious, of course."
"That's natural," said the general quietly. "We have had rather a
serious reverse. Your whole brigade met with wire, and I fear they
suffered heavily. The men behaved with great steadiness and are
still splendidly holding. We are, of course, making every effort
to relieve them, and with good hope of success."
"Have you heard of my O. C.?" inquired Barry.
"I fear rather bad news, Dunbar. Indeed, I fear he is seriously
wounded. We have sent him straight on to Contay. Your officers
have suffered quite severely."
"Have you heard what the casualties are, sir?"
"Not exactly," replied the General. "We shall not know until
evening, but we must be prepared for a heavy loss. By the way, can
you be spared from the casualty clearing station? I hear you are
doing fine work there. If you can run up, I can send my car for
"I'm afraid not, sir, just now. Perhaps later on in the afternoon."
"Let me speak to Colonel James," said the general.
The O. C. came to the phone.
"Yes, sir," he said.--"Well, we are short handed just now.--He is
really necessary at the present moment.--Yes, later on we'll send
him up.--Very well, sir.--We are doing our best."
The calm and confident bearing of his superior officer, made Barry
ashamed of the unnerving emotion from which he had been suffering
all morning. He returned to his work resolved to put aside all
personal considerations. The thing in which they were engaged was
vastly more important than the fate of any individual or of any
battalion. Victory was necessary, was guaranteed, and was
demanding its price. That price was being paid, and to that price
every man must make his contribution.
Toward night the stream of wounded gradually grew less, and the
O. C. sent Barry, in a returning ambulance, up to the Divisional
Headquarters. The serenity with which the general received him did
much to restore Barry's poise, which had been severely shaken by
the strain of the night and day with the wounded in the casualty
clearing station and by the heartracking agony he had suffered over
the loss of his comrades.
"Come in, Dunbar," said the general kindly. "Take a seat for a few
minutes. Have a cigar. These you will find are good, I think."
"Thank you, sir. I will take a cigarette, if I may," said Barry,
helping himself from a box on the table.
He had not been many minutes in the dug-out until he began to catch
the reactions of the place. The spirit was one of controlled but
concentrated energy. It was the spirit of the divisional commander,
and it passed from him to the humblest orderly in the room. There
was swiftness of action, alertness of mind, and with these a
complete absence of hurry or confusion. Runners were continually
arriving with urgent messages, phones insisting upon immediate
answer, officers coming in with business of vast importance, but
with no sign of flurry, the work of the Divisional Headquarters went
swiftly and smoothly on.
At length there was a pause in the rush of calls upon the general's
"Come in this way," he said to Barry, and led him to a smaller room
at the back of the dug-out.
"Very comfortable quarters these. They seem to have done themselves
quite well, haven't they? It is most convenient, for we certainly
should not have taken pains to construct such elaborate dug-outs as
these we have fallen heir to. Find a seat, Dunbar. I have got the
latest reports." His voice was very gentle and very kindly. "Yes,"
he continued, "we have had a bad night's work. Uncut wire and an
enfilade from a redoubt which should have been blown up. The
casualties are very heavy."
"What are they?" Barry asked.
"Quite heavy, Dunbar, I'm afraid. Only some fifty have reported so
"Fifty!" cried Barry. "Out of five hundred!"
"There will doubtless some more drop in," added the general, "but
we must be prepared for a heavy loss, far heavier, both in officers
and men, than we can afford. The Battalion Headquarters was
terribly wrecked by a succession of direct hits. Only a few of the
staff escaped unhurt. Colonel Leighton was a fine officer. I had
a great admiration, indeed, affection, for him. I know how you
felt towards him, and he to you."
The steadiness in his voice brought quiet, but the kindness in it
brought strength, and comfort. Barry became suddenly aware of the
crushing load of responsibility upon this gentle-voiced man. He
was eager to help.
"I wish I could help you, sir," he said. "I am sure we are all
ready to do our best."
"I know that, Dunbar, and all are needed. Major Duff has gone out
badly injured. The only officers remaining unhurt in the front line
are Major Bayne and Captain Fraser, both of whom are splendidly
carrying on. And you, too, have given great help to-day. Colonel
James assures me that your initiative and resourcefulness were of
the greatest service to him. Oh, by the way, a message came through
in a letter the other day, that I should have sent you, but other
things put it out of my mind, I am sorry to say." He touched a
bell. "You see I had to tell your wife, Dunbar, of your
determination to stay by us," he added with a smile. "Get me my
private post-bag, please," he said to the orderly. He selected a
letter from a packet, opened it, and pointed to a page. Barry
recognised the handwriting as his wife's. He read:
"I need not assure you it was none of my family's doing to get that
appointment for Barry. I was not surprised that he declined it,
but then you see I know Barry. He is at the place where I would
want him to be."
Barry kept his eyes steadily upon the words until he should be sure
of his voice. His heart was thrilling with pride in the girl who
had given herself to him. As the moments passed, he there and then
vowed that by God's grace, he would not shame her nor belie her
trust in him.
"Thank you, sir," he said quietly, handing the letter back.
"Helps a bit, eh, what?" said the general. "We can't let our women
down, can we?"
"No, sir," said Barry. "Is there nothing I can do?" His voice was
as steady and quiet as the general's.
"Oh, thank you, just the C. C. S., I fancy, at present."
At that point the door opened, and the corps commander came in,
wearing a very tired and anxious face.
"Bad business, general," he said, with a single word of greeting
and ignoring Barry.
"Yes, a very bad business, sir," said the divisional commander,
and Barry fancied he caught a new note in his voice, a note of
sternness, almost of challenge.
"Seems that we missed that wire, eh, along here?" said the corps
commander, putting his finger upon a map which lay on the table.
"We must have that patrolled very carefully, you know." There was
a note of criticism in his voice.
"Yes, sir," replied the corps commander courteously. "I wasn't at
all sure that the wire was cut, and so reported."
"This strong point should have been removed," continued the
divisional commander, putting his finger upon a point of junction.
"That I asked to be done, but McDowell seems to have missed it."
"The enfilade got us from that point, of course." There was no
mistaking the implication in the general's words.
"Ah! You reported that, eh?"
"You will find it in my report, sir. My division has suffered very
heavily from that strong point."
The corps commander turned, and apparently observing Barry for the
first time started and said,
"My friend, Captain Dunbar," said the general.
"Ah, Captain Dunbar," said the corps commander, obviously annoyed
at his presence at the interview. "I trust Captain Dunbar is
"Captain Dunbar's reticence," said the general with quiet courtesy,
"can be entirely trusted. He has just been doing some fine work at
the C. C. S."
"Ah, yes. You are a padre, Dunbar? Oh, I remember to have heard
about you. Very glad, indeed, to meet you, sir. Well, I must be
off. We'll see to that strong point at once, general. Good-night--
The general returned from seeing his visitor out. "Of course, we
keep these things to ourselves."
"Of course," answered Barry.
"And now," said the general with a kindly smile, "I have kept the
good news to the last. Your majority is coming through, and here
is a letter which came in my care. Now, if you will excuse me,
I'll leave you to take a bit of a rest. There's a cot, if you want
to lie down. Then we'll have a bite to eat later."
"Oh, thank you very much," said Barry eagerly, taking the letter.
"This is good news, indeed. My letters have been going astray
somehow. I have not had one for a week."
"As long as that," said the general with uplifted brows.
One sentence in his letter made music in Barry's heart.
"And oh, my heart's beloved, God has been good to me and to you,
for when the war is over, I hope there will be two of us to welcome
daddy back." To which sentence Barry in his letter, written in
immediate reply, said,
"Yes, dear, dear heart, God has been good to us, in that he has
given us to each other, and to us both this wonderful new life to
carry on when we are done."
When the general returned, he found Barry with his face on his arms
and dead asleep.
"Poor chap," he said to his batman, "he is done up. Let him rest a
They gave him an hour, after which they had their bite together.
"Now, general," said Barry, "I should like to run up to Battalion
Headquarters. I might be of use there."
"That's quite all right," said the general. "You will be glad to
know that that strong point has already been attended to. You
didn't hear the row, did you?"
"Well the relief is going in and your men will soon be out."
When Barry entered the Battalion Headquarters, he found only Major
Bayne and Captain Neil, with a signaller and a couple of runners,
completing the arrangements for the relief.
"You! Pilot!" exclaimed the major, as he gripped his hand. "Now
what the devil brought you here?"
"Couldn't help it, major. Simply had to come. I have been trying
to get you all day," said Barry.
"Awfully glad to see you, old chap," said Captain Neil, for the
major was finding difficulty with his speech.
"How many left, major?" said Barry.
"Five officers and seventy men," said the major in a husky voice.
"My God, how those boys stuck."
"I shall not be moved," quoted Barry.
"That's it! That's it!" said the major. "Not the devil himself,
let alone the Huns, could move them back from that wire. What is
it, Sergeant Matthews?" he inquired of the sergeant who came in at
that moment. "Have you completed your work?"
Sergeant Matthews was pale, panting and exhausted. "Yes, sir," he
said, "I think so. I didn't--I didn't--go quite the full length of
the trench. The boys said there was no one up there."
"But, Sergeant Matthews," thundered the major, "your orders were to
go to the very end of the trench. You know this battalion never
goes out leaving its wounded behind."
"We had a full load, sir," said the sergeant, leaning against the
"Well, you will have to go back," said the major, "and complete the
job. Can you carry on?"
"Yes, sir, I think so, sir."
As he spoke Sergeant Matthews swayed along the wall and collapsed
onto a bench.
"Give him a shot of rum," said the major curtly to a runner.
"Let me go, major. I'll take the party," said Barry eagerly. "The
sergeant is all in. I've had an hour's sleep and a feed and I feel
"Oh, nonsense, the sergeant will be all right soon," said the major
"But, major, I should like to go. The sergeant is played out and I
am perfectly fit. We can't take the risk of leaving wounded men up
there in that trench. Besides, there's little danger now. The
strong point is blown up, so the general told me before I left."
"No, Barry, I won't allow it. I won't take the chance," said the
major. "My God, man! there are only five officers left. I have
lost every friend I have got in the battalion, except Neil here and
you. I'm damned if I'm going to let you go out over No Man's
"Steady, now, major," said Barry. "I'm going to take a walk to the
end of that trench, just in case one of the boys should be there.
Don't say no. It must be done and done carefully."
"All right, Barry," said the major, suddenly yielding. "Better
take the sergeant with you. He knows the way, and I guess he's all
The major and Captain Neil followed the party up the stairs and out
into the trench. It was a beautiful starry night, and all was
quiet now along the front.
"I don't like it," said the major, as he and Captain Neil stood
together watching the party away. "I feel queer about it, Neil. I
tell you I wish I hadn't let him go, but he is so darned stubborn
about what he thinks is his duty."
"By Jove! Major, he always bucks me up somehow," said Captain
"Bucks us all up," said the major, and he turned to take up again
the heavy burden of responsibility so suddenly and so terribly laid
upon him. The relief had been completed, and the last N. C. O. had
just reported "all clear." The Headquarters Company, now reduced
to a poor half dozen, were standing ready to move, when the
"Yes, doctor," said the major, answering it. "Oh, my God! My God!
Not that, doctor! Oh, God help us all! I'll be right down. It's
the Pilot, Neil," he said, turning to his friend. "Just take
charge, will you please. I must run."
Breathless he arrived at the R. A. P.
"Any chance, doctor?" he asked of the M. O. who was standing
awaiting him at the door.
"Not the very least, major, and he only has a few minutes. He
"Now, may God help me," said the major standing quite still a
moment or two. "How did he get it?" he asked of a stretcher
bearer. "Do you know?"
"Yes, sir, we had just picked up the last man. Sergeant Matthews
got a wound in the leg, and we had to carry him. Just as we
started, they got to shelling pretty bad and we dropped into a
hole. I looked over my shoulder and there was the Pilot, the
chaplain, sir, I mean, with his body spread over Sergeant Matthews,
to keep off the shrapnel. It was there he got it."
"Damn Sergeant Matthews," exclaimed the major, and passed on.
Barry was lying on a stretcher, very white and very still, but the
smile with which he welcomed the major was very bright.
"Awfully sorry--for you,--old chap," he whispered. "Couldn't
really--help--it--you know--we--got--them all--I'm--awfully--glad--
to see you--just a minute--before--before--"
The major, by this time, was weeping quietly.
"You have--been--a good friend--to me--major--. We--have had--a
good--time--together--. Say--goodbye--to--the boys--for--me--and--
"Oh, Barry, boy," said the major, brokenly. "It's hard to have you
go. You have helped us all."
Barry fumbled with weak fingers at his breast. The major opened
his tunic thinking that he needed air.
"My--my--let-ter--" he whispered.
The major took the letter from his breast pocket, and put it in his
hand. Barry held it a moment, then carried it to his lips.
"Now--that's--all--major," he whispered. "Tell--her--I--thank--
God--for--her--and--for--the--other. Major--tell--the boys--that--
God--is good--. Never--to be--afraid--but to--carry on--"
It was his last word, and there could be no better. "God is good.
Never be afraid but carry on."
The next day but one they carried the Pilot to his grave in the
little plot outside the walled cemetery on the outskirts of the
city of Albert. It had been arranged that only a small guard
should follow to the grave. But this plan was changed. Sergeant
Mackay, who was the only sergeant left after consulting "the boys,"
came to Major Bayne.
"The boys feel bad, sir," he said, "that they can't go with the
Pilot, excuse me, sir, the chaplain."
"Do they?" said the major. "We want to avoid congestion in the
streets, and besides we don't want to expose the men. They are
still shelling the city, you know."
"I know, sir," replied the sergeant. "The boys have heard the
shells before, sir. And there's not so many of them that they will
crowd the streets much."
"Let them go, sergeant," said the major, and Sergeant Mackay went
back with the word to the men. "And I want you to look like
soldiers," said the sergeant, "for remember we are following a
soldier to his grave."
And look like soldiers they did with every button and bayonet
shining, as they had never shone for battalion inspection.
They had passed through an experience which had left them dazed;
they had marched deliberately into the mouth of hell and had come
back stunned by what they had seen and heard, incapable of emotion.
So they thought, till they learned that the Pilot had been killed.
Then they knew that grief was still possible to them. With their
grief mingled a kind of inexplicable wrath at the manner of his
"If it had been the O. C. now, or any one else but Fatty Matthews,"
said Sergeant Mackay in disgust, expressing the general opinion.
"It is an awful waste."
Under the figure of the Virgin and Child, leaning out in pity and
appeal over the shattered city, through marching battalions "going
in" and "coming out," the little pitiful remnant made its way, the
band leading, the Brigade and Divisional Headquarters Staffs
bringing up in the rear. The service was brief and simple, a
brother chaplain reading at the major's suggestion the Psalm which
Barry had read at his last Parade Service with the battalion.
At the conclusion of the service, the divisional commander stepped
forward and said,
"May I offer the officers and men of this battalion my respectful
sympathy with them in the loss of their chaplain? During these
last weeks, I had come to know him well. Captain Dunbar was a
chaplain in his brigade. He was more. He was a gallant officer,
a brave soldier, a loyal-hearted Canadian. The morale of this
division is higher to-day because he has been with us. He did his
duty to his country, to his comrades, to his God. What more can we
ask than this, for ourselves and for our comrades?"
Then there was a little pause and Major Bayne began to speak. At
first his voice was husky and tremulous, but as he went on, it
gathered strength and clearness. He reminded them how, when the
chaplain came to them first, they did not understand him, nor treat
him quite fairly, but how in these last months, he had carried the
confidence, and the love, of every officer and man in the battalion.
"Were the Commanding Officer here to-day, he would tell, as I have
often heard him tell, how greatly the chaplain had contributed to
the discipline and to the morale of this battalion. He helped us
all to be better soldiers and better men. He never shrank from
danger. He never faltered in duty. He lived to help his comrades
and to save a comrade he gave his life at last."
The major paused, looked round upon the gallant remnant of a once
splendid battalion, his lips quivering, his eyes running over with
tears. But he pulled himself together, and continued with steady
voice to the end.
"But not to say these things am I speaking to you today. I wish
only to give you this last message from our Sky Pilot. This is the
Pilot's last message: 'Tell the boys that God is good, and when
they are afraid, to trust Him, and "carry on."' And for myself,
men, I want to say that he was the only man that showed me what God
In that company of men who had looked steadfastly into the face of
death, there were no eyes without tears, many of them were openly
When the major had finished, the officers present, beginning with
the divisional commander, came and stood at the head of the open
grave for a single moment, then silently saluted and turned away.
It was the duty of Bugler Pat McCann to sound "The Last Post," but
poor Pat was too overcome with his sobbing at once to perform this
last duty. Whereupon the runner Pickles, standing with rigid,
stony face beside his chum, took the bugle from his hands and there
sounded forth that most beautiful and most poignant of all musical
sounds known to British soldiers the world over, "The Last Post,"
ending with that last, high, long-drawn, heart-piercing note of
Then, because the war was yet to be won, they "carried on," the
battalion marching away to a merry tune.
Beside Barry's grave there still lingered three men, the divisional
commander, Major Bayne, and Captain Neil.
"I am thinking of that little girl in London," said the divisional
commander, and for the first time his voice broke. The others
waited, looking at him. "We will hold back this news for a couple
of days, and I think, major, you ought to go and--"
"No, general!--My God, no! Don't ask me!" The major was profoundly
agitated. "Send Neil, here. He knows her well, and his wife is
her great friend."
"Very well, major, I think that will be better," said the general
in his courteous, gentle voice. "You know her, Captain Fraser, and
you can be better spared."
And so it was arranged. Captain Neil telegraphed Paula to meet him
at Boulogne, and together they made the journey to London, carrying
with them sad and fearful hearts.
They found Phyllis in a little flat which her mother had taken.
When she saw them her face went white, and her hands flew to her
bosom. Speechless, and with a great fear in her wide-open brown
eyes, she stood looking from one to the other, waiting for their
message. Paula went to her and without a word put her arms round
her, and held her close.
"I know, Paula," she said, putting her gently away from her. "I
know what you have to tell me. Barry is dead. My dear love is
dead!" Her voice was tender, soft and low. "Don't fear to tell
me, Neil," she said. "See, I am quite steady." She put out her
hand that he might see that there was no tremour in it.
"Sit down, darling," besought Paula, again winding her arms about
"No, no, let me stand, Paula dear. See, I am quite strong. Now
tell me about it, Neil--all about it. You were his dear friend,
Her voice, so sweet, so soft, so perfectly controlled, helped
Captain Neil with his task. It seemed an offence that he should
intrude any exhibition of grief or emotion upon the serene calm of
this young girl, standing so straight, so proud, and regarding him
with such brave eyes.
Then Captain Neil told his tale. He began with the last service
upon the Parade Ground before the battalion moved into action. He
told of Barry's bitter disappointment, and of their relief that he
was not allowed to accompany them to the front line. He told of
Barry's long day at the casualty clearing station, and of his
service to the wounded, and of how good the divisional commander
had been to him that night.
"It was there he got your letter, Phyllis."
"Oh, he got my letter. I'm so glad," whispered the girl, with a
quick breath and a sudden flushing of her pale cheeks. "He knew!
"I have his letter in reply here," said Captain Neil, handing it to
She took it in both her hands, kissed it tenderly, as if caressing
a child, and put it in her bosom.
"Please go on," she said, and Captain Neil took up his tale again.
He told how the major tried to persuade him not to go out after the
wounded that night.
"But, of course, he would go," the girl said with a proud little
smile, at which Captain Neil's self-control quite gave way, and he
could only look at her piteously through his tears.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," she said gently. "Can't you go on? I want to
hear so much every bit, but if you can't--"
At which, Captain Neil gripped himself hard and went on, "and so he
went out, and they searched the trench from end to end. They found
one poor chap, whose leg was badly smashed--"
"Oh, I'm so glad they found him," whispered Phyllis.
"Then Sergeant Matthews got his wound, and the shells began to
fall. They took refuge in a shell hole, and there, while covering
Fatty Matthews from the breaking shrapnel, Barry got his wound."
Captain Neil was forced to pause again in the recital of his story.
After a few minutes, he told of how they carried him to his grave,
and laid him in the cemetery outside the city of Albert.
"The boys were all there. There were not many of them left," he
"How many?" she asked.
"Seventy only, out of five hundred and four who went over the
parapet two nights before."
"Ah, poor, gallant boys! I love them, I love them all!" said the
girl, clasping her hands together.
"They were all terribly broken up as they stood about the grave,
and no wonder! No wonder! Then the divisional commander made a
little speech, and then our own major gave them Barry's last
"Tell me," said the girl gently, as Captain Neil paused.
"It was this," said Captain Neil. "'Tell the boys that God is
good, and when they are afraid, to trust Him, and "carry on."'"
"That was like him," she said. "That was like Barry! Oh, Paula,"
she cried, turning to her friend. "I'm so happy! It was a
beautiful closing to a beautiful life. He was a beautiful boy,
Paula, wasn't he? His body was beautiful, his soul was beautiful,
his life was beautiful, and the ending, oh, was beautiful. Oh,
Paula, God is good. I am so glad he gave Barry to me, and gave me