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Action Front Boyd Cable

As Others See

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"Act!" he said. "If I'd a make-up box and a false mustache 'ere, I'd act so as to cheat the French President 'imself, much less a parcel of beer-swilling Germs."

The German trenches were too far away to allow of any conversation, but 'Enery secured a board, wrote on it in large letters "Veev la France," and displayed it over the parapet. After the Germans had signified their notice of the sentiment by firing a dozen shots at it, 'Enery replaced it by a fresh one, "A baa la Bosh." This notice was left standing, but to 'Enery's annoyance the Germans displayed in return a board which said in plain English, "Good morning." "Ain't that a knock out," said 'Enery disgustedly. "Much use me acting to deceive the Germans if some silly blighter in another bit o' the line goes and gives the game away."

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Throughout the rest of the day he endeavored to confuse the German's evident information by the display of the French cap and of French sentences on the board like "Bong jewr," "Bong nwee," and "Mercridi," which he told the others was the French for a day of the week, the spelling being correct as he knew because he had seen it written down, and the day indicated, he believed, being Wednesday--or Thursday. "And that's near enough," he said, "because to-day is Wednesday, and if Mercridi means Wednesday, they'll think I'm signaling 'to-day'; and if it means Thursday, they'll think I'm talking about to-morrow." All doubts of the German's knowledge appeared to be removed, however, by their next notice, which stated plainly, "You are Englander." To that 'Enery, his French having failed him, could only retort by a drawing of outstretched fingers and a thumb placed against a prominent nose on an obviously French face, with pointed mustache and imperial, and a French cap. But clearly even this failed, and the German's next message read, "WELL DONE, WALES!" The Towers were annoyed, intensely annoyed, because shortly before that time the strikes of the Welsh miners had been prominent in the English papers, and as the Towers guessed from this notice at least equally prominent in the German journals.

"And I only 'opes," said Robinson, "they sticks that notice up in front of some of the Taffy regiments."

"I don't see that a bit," said 'Enery Irving. "The Taffys out 'ere 'ave done their bit along with the best, and they're just as mad as us, and maybe madder, at these ha'penny-grabbing loafers on strike."

"True enough," said Robinson, "but maybe they'll write 'ome and tell their pals 'ow pleased the Bosche is with them, and 'ave a kind word in passing to say when any of them goes 'ome casualtied or on leave, 'Well done, Wales!' Well, I 'ope Wales likes that smack in the eye," and he spat contemptuously. Presently he had the pleasure of expressing his mind more freely to a French signaler of artillery who was on duty at an observing post in this forward fire trench. The Frenchman had a sufficient smattering of English to ask awkward questions as to why men were allowed to strike in England in war time, but unfortunately not enough to follow Robinson's lengthy and agonized explanations that these men were not English but--a very different thing--Welsh, and, more than that, unpatriotic swine, who ought to be shot. He was reduced at last to turning the unpleasant subject aside by asking what the Frenchman was doing there now the British had taken over. And presently the matter was shelved by a French observing officer, who was on duty there, calling his signalers to attention. The German guns had opened a slow and casual fire about half an hour before on the forward British trench, and now they quickened their fire and commenced methodically to bombard the trench. At his captain's order a signaler called up a battery by telephone. The telephone instrument was in a tall narrow box with a handle at the side, and the signaler ground the handle vigorously for a minute and shouted a long string of hello's into the instrument, rapidly twirled the handle again and shouted, twirled and shouted.

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Action Front
Boyd Cable

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