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Action Front Boyd Cable

As Others See

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They lost three men, who were wounded through their slowness in escaping from the compartment where the bomb exploded, and this rather put the Towers on their mettle. As Private Robinson remarked, it wasn't the cheese that a Frenchman should beat an Englishman at any blooming game.

"If we could only get a little bit of a stake on it," he said wistfully, "we could take 'em on, the winners being them that loses least men."

It being impossible, however, to convey to the Frenchmen that interest would be added by the addition of a little bet, the Towers had to content themselves with playing platoon against platoon amongst themselves, the losing platoon pay, what they could conveniently afford, the day's rations of the men who were casualtied. The subsequent task of dividing one and a quarter pots of jam, five portions of cheese, bacon and a meat-and-potato stew was only settled eventually by resource to a set of dice.

As the bombing continued methodically, the French artillery, who were still covering this portion of the trench, set to work to silence the mortar, and the Towers thoroughly enjoyed the ensuing performance, and the generous, not to say extravagant, fashion in which the French battery, after the usual custom of French batteries, lavished its shells upon the task. For five minutes the battery spoke in four-tongued emphatic tones, and the shells screamed over the forward trench, crackled and crashed above the German line, dotted the German parapet along its length, played up and down it in long bursts of fire, and deluged the suspected hiding-place of the mortar with a torrent of high explosive. When it stopped, the bombing also had stopped for that day.

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The French infantry did not wait for the ceasing of the artillery fire. They gathered themselves and their belongings and recommenced to move as soon as the guns began to speak.

"Feenish!" as one of them said, placing a finger on the ground, lifting it in a long curve, twirling it over and over and downward again in imitation of a falling bomb. "Ze soixante-quinze speak, bang-bang-bang!" and his fist jerked out four blows in a row. "Feenish!" he concluded, holding a hand out towards the German lines and making a motion of rubbing something off the slate. Plainly they were very proud of their artillery, and the Towers caught that word "soixante-quinze" in every tone of pleasure, pride, and satisfaction. But as Private Robinson said, "I don't wonder at it. Cans is a good name, but can-an'-does would be a better."

When the last of the Frenchmen had gone, the Towers completed their settling in and making themselves comfortable in the vacated quarters. The greatest care was taken to avoid any man showing a British cap or uniform. "Snapper" Brown, urged by the public-spirited 'Enery Irving, exhausted himself in playing the "Marseillaise" at the fullest pitch of his lungs and mouth-organ. His artistic soul revolted at last at the repetition, but since the only other French tune that was suggested was the Blue Danube Waltz, and there appeared to be divergent opinions as to its nationality, "Snapper" at last struck, and refused to play the "Marseillaise" a single time more. 'Enery Irving enthusiastically took up this matter of "acting so as to deceive the Germans."

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Action Front
Boyd Cable

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