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|Action Front||Boyd Cable|
A General Action
|Page 4 of 13||
Sergeant Clancy moved off, but he went reluctantly.
"Why didn't you give him a bit more?" asked Brock.
"Because I know Clancy," said Riley, whispering. "If we had said more now, he might have suspected a plant. As it is, he's got enough to tickle his curiosity, and you can be sure it won't be long before a gentle pumping performance is in operation."
Sergeant Clancy came in sight round the traverse again, moving briskly, but obviously slowing down as he passed them, and very obviously straining to hear anything they were saying. But they both kept silent, and when he had disappeared round the next traverse, Riley grinned and winked at his companion.
"He's hooked, Brockie," he said exultantly.
"Now you wait and--" He stopped as a rifle-man moved round the corner and took up a position on the firing step near them.
"I'll bet," said Riley delightedly, "Clancy has put him there to listen to anything he can catch us saying."
He turned to the man, who was clipping a tiny mirror on to his bayonet and hoisting it to use as a periscope.
"Are you on the look-out?" he asked. "And who posted you there?"
"It was Sergeant Clancy, sir," answered the man. "He said I could hear better--I mean, see better," he corrected himself, "from here."
Riley abruptly turned to their own periscope and apparently resumed the conversation.
"I'm almost sure that's him with the white head," said Riley. "Out there, about forty or fifty yards from the German parapet, and about a hundred yards ten o'clock from our listening-post. Have a look."
He handed the periscope over to Brock, and at the same time noticed how eagerly the sentry was also having a look into his own periscope.
"I've got him," said Brock. "Yes, I believe that's the man."
"What makes it more certain," said Riley, "is that hen's scratch of a trench the other battalion started to dig out to the listening-post. They couldn't crawl out in the open to get to the General, and it's my belief they meant to drive a sap out to the listening-post, and then out to the General, and yank him in, so they could go through his pockets."
"It's a good bit of work to get at a dead man," said Brock reflectively.
"It is," said Riley, "but it isn't often you can drive a sap with five thousand francs at the end of it."
"To say nothing of a diamond-studded gold watch," said Brock.
"Well, well," said Riley, "I suppose the Germans won't be leaving him lying out there much longer. I hear the last battalion bagged quite a bunch that tried to creep out at night to get him in; but I suppose our fellows, not knowing about it, won't watch him so carefully."
They turned the conversation to other and more casual things, and shortly afterwards moved off.
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