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Action Front Boyd Cable

A Benevolent Neutral

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"Good egg," laughed Courtenay. "Hope you're liking the job."

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"Waal, I'll amit I'm some disappointed, Loo-tenant," drawled the sergeant. "Y' see I did expect I'd have a look in at some of the fightin'. I'm no ragin' blood-drinker an' bone-buster by profession, up-bringin', or liking. But it does seem sorter poor play that a man should be plumb center of the biggest war in history an' never see a single solitary corpse. An' that's me. I been trailin' around with this convoy for months, and never got near enough to a shell burst to tell it from a kid's firework. It ain't in the program of this trench warfare to have motor transport under fire, and the program is bein' strictly attended to. It's some sight too, they tell me, when a good mix-up is goin' on up front. I've got a camera here that I bought special, thinking it would be fun later to show round my album in the States an' point out this man being skewered on a bayonet an' that one being disrupted by a bomb an' the next lot charging a trench. But will you believe me, Loo-tenant, I haven't as much as set eye or foot on the trenches. I did once take a run up on the captain's 'Douglas,' thinking I'd just have a walk around an' see the sights and get some snaps. But I might as well have tried to break into Heaven an' steal the choir's harps. I was turned back about ten ways I tried, and wound up by being arrested as a spy an' darn near gettin' shot. I got mad at last and I told some fellows, stuck all over with red tabs and cap-bands and armlets, that they could keep their old trenches, and I didn't believe they were worth looking at anyway."

Courtenay was laughing again. "I fancy I see the faces of the staff," he choked.

"Oh, they ante-d up all right later on," admitted the sergeant, "when they'd discovered this column and roped in my captain to identify me. One old leather-face, 'specially--they told me after he was a General--was as nice as pie, an' had me in an' fed me a fresh meat and canned asparagus lunch and near chuckled himself into a choking fit when I told him about dad, an' my being booked up as a Benevolent Neutral. He was so mighty pleasant that I told him I'd like to have my dad make him a present of as dandy an auto as rolls in France. I would have, too, but he simply wouldn't listen to me; told me he'd send it back freight if I did; and I had to believe him, though, it seemed unnatural. But they wouldn't let me go look at their blame trenches. I tried to get this General joker to pass me in, but he wouldn't fall for it. 'No, no,' he gurgles and splutters. 'A Benevolent Neutral in the trenches! Never do, never do. We'll have to put some new initials on the Mechanical Transport,' he says, 'B.N.M.T. Benevolent Neutral! I must tell Dallas of the Transport that.' And he shooed me off with that."

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Action Front
Boyd Cable

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