Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

10 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



OUT OF THE DARKNESS. [BY RIFLEMAN PATRICK MACGILL.] Author of The Great Push," &c. The dug-out was a big one, well walled and strongly roofed, and capable of hold- ing a dozen men. It had been built by the Germans, and was part of their impregnable Hindenburg line, at that time occupied by the British. And now at midnight, when a cold shower was fall- ing in the trench outside, the dug-out con- tained half-a-dozen British soldiers, who were sitting round a brazier on which a canteen of hot tea was bubbling merrily. One of the men, a little soldier with a sun-freckled face and enormous shoulders, looked at his wrist watch and got to his feet. It's about my turn on sentry," he said, addressing the party at large. I've got to go out and get up on the fire-step." Not much doin' this night, any way. Scruffy," said a corporal who was seated on a box near the wall, and far away from the brazier. It's very quiet out in front." The softest job we've struck for some time," said the little man Scruffy. Nothin' happens here." "What about last night?" asked the corporal, looking towards. Scruffy, who was now standing at the door and lighting a cigarette. On the previous night a British patrol encountered an enemy patrol on No Man's Land. Rifle shots were exchanged, and the Germans re- treated. But that was of little account, a usual happening in the night life of the Western Front. The little man by the door had been out with the patrol party. That was nothin' to write home about," he said. We gave them a few rounds, and they gave us one or two in answer, and then vamoosed. It had no effect on the conduct of the war." He smiled as he spoke and looked at his watch again. Sentries would be changed presently, and the sergeant of the guard would come along at any moment now. He must hurry up with his cigarette. At that. moment somebody fumbled at the door which stood ajar and something staggered in. The corporal caught one square look and sprang to his feet. Scruffy staggered back with a gasp, although he had seen horrible sights before The ap- parition which had taken form from the darkness of the night staggered blindly towards him. The men by the fire sprang to their feet and edged away towards the wall. What is it? asked the corporal, ap- pealing to the occupants of the dug-out. Dunno," said one of the men. Don't go near it. It's mad, maybe." It's a Jerry, any way," said the cor- poral, gripping a rifle and pointing it to- wards the strange figure. If it's up to any monkey tricks it has come to the wrong shop." The thing advanced towards the stove, tripped over it, and fell, splashing the live sparks through the dug-out. Scruffy seized it by the shoulders and raised it to its feet. Other men in the dug-out rushed to assist, and between them they placed the queer creature on the box on which the corporal had been sitting a few moments before. He sprawled across it, his legs stretched out and his shoulders hunched against the wall. The mess-tin of tea which had been taken off the fire a few moments before the man entered was lifted, and a quantity of tea was poured into a tin mug. After he had drunk a portion the mug was placed on the ground, and the men in the dug-out looked at their strange guest. His eyes were dull and sleepy, his face sunken and emaciated, with the skin drawn taut over the cheek bones, telling of pain and suffering. He was covered with mud, and a red-streak ran from the left temple downwards like a little rivulet and disappeared under the collar of his field-grey tunic. His uniform was covered with ooze and slush, as if the man had been crawling through a drain towards the British lines. The corporal poured some more tea into the mug and handed it to him. He drank, his face warming and ZD paling at every mouthful. Where have you come from? asked the corporal, pronouncing each word slowly and distinctly. I wounded was last night," quavered b the man in reply. Out all the day I haf been and now I creep in here." Thought you were coming to your own lines? prompted the corporal. Ya," the man assented. Well, you're a jolly sight better off here," said the corporal. We'll see what we can do for you—you'll be able to get some food and sleep now." As he spoke he went to the door and shouted to the sentry on the fire-step opposite. Stretcher-bearers! he called. "Pass it along." The message spread from bay to bay along the trench, and the corporal re- turned to the German. The man was now lying back, his eyes closed, and, as far as could be judged, fast asleep. The little man Scruffy, now ready for his turn as sentry, looked at the stranger with eyes that were full of compassion. Poor devil!" he said. It was hel lying out there for twenty-four hours. W< must have given him one last night wher we were out on patrol. But I'm glad h< has got in all right." Even as he spoke a sergeant poked hi. head through the door, looked at th< wounded German, then at the corporal. "A prisoner! he exclaimed. "Has just reported himself," said th corporal with a smile. ."Well, be kind to him," said the sei geant. He looks as if he has got enoug to go on with. And you "—he turned t Scruffy-" you'r, next cn rlut., aren' you?"

Random Jottings about Men…





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