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Action Front Boyd Cable

A General Action

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Riley chuckled. "It's working fine," he said. "I'm only hoping that some ruffian doesn't spoil the game by crawling out and finding our General is no more than a false alarm."

"That would queer the pitch," agreed Brock, "but I don't fancy any one will try it. They all know the working party is liable to be discovered at any minute, and any one out in the open when that comes off, is going to be in a tight corner."

"There's a good many here," said Riley, "that would chance a few tight corners if they knew five thousand francs was at the other side of it; but I took the precaution to hint gently to Clancy that our machine gun was going to keep on spraying lead round the General all night, to discourage any private enterprise."

"Anyhow," said Brock, "I suppose the whole regiment's in it, and flatter themselves this trifle of digging is for the special benefit of their pockets. But what are those fellows of ours supposed to be digging at in the corner there!"

"That," whispered the Little Lad, grinning, "is merely an improving of the amenities of the listening-post and the beginning of a dugout shelter from bombs; at least, that's Clancy's suggestion, though I have a suspicion there will be no hurry to roof-in the dug-out and that its back-door will travel an unusual length out."

"Well, so long," said Brock; "I must sneak along again and have a look at the digging."

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It was when he was half-way back to the main trench that it became apparent the German suspicions were aroused, and that something--a movement after a light flared, perhaps, or the line of a parapet beginning to show above the grass--had drawn their attention to the work.

Light after light commenced to toss in an unbroken stream from their parapet in the direction of the working party, and a score of bullets, obviously aimed at them, hissed close overhead.

"Glory be!" said Rifleman McRory, flattening himself to the ground. "It's a good foot and a half I have of head-cover, and I'm thinking it's soon we will be needing it, and all the rest we can get."

The flaring lights ceased again for a moment, and the men plied their tools in feverish haste to strengthen their scanty shelter against the storm they knew must soon fall upon them.

It came within a couple of minutes; again the lights streamed upward, and flares burst and floated down in dazzling balls of fierce white light, while the rifle-fire from the German parapet grew heavier and heavier. Concealment was no longer possible, and the word was passed to get along with the work in light or dark; and so, still lying flat upon their faces, and with the bullets hissing and whistling above them, slapping into the low parapet and into the bare ground beside them, the working party scooped and buried and scraped, knowing that every inch they could sink themselves or heighten their parapet added to their chance of life.

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Action Front
Boyd Cable

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