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Action Front Boyd Cable

In Enemy Hands

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It must be remembered that the burning fuse of a bomb gives no indication of the length that remains to burn before it explodes the charge. The fuse looks like a short length of thin black rope, its outer cover does not burn and the same stream of sparks and smoke pours from its end in the burning of the first inch and of the last. There was nothing, then, to show Macalister whether the explosion would come before his quick muscles could complete their movement, or whether long seconds would elapse before the bomb burst. It was an even chance either way, so he took the one that gave him most. Fortune favored him, and the roar of the explosion followed his flying heels over the parapet.

The officer, dazed, shaken, and not yet realizing what had happened, had gathered neither his wits nor his limbs to rise when Macalister leaped down almost on top of him. The officer's hand still clung to the pistol he had held, but Macalister's grasp swooped and clutched and wrenched the weapon away.

"Get up, my man," he said grimly. "Get up, or I'll blow a hole in ye as ye lie."

He added emphasis with the point of the pistol in the other's ribs, and the officer staggered to his feet.

"Now," said Macalister, "you'll quick mairch--that way." He waved the pistol towards the British trench.

The officer hesitated.

"It is no good," he said sullenly. "I should be killed a dozen times before I got across."

"That's as may be," said Macalister coolly.

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"But if you don't go you'll get your first killing here, and say naething o' the rest o' the dizen."

A shell cracked overhead, and the shrapnel ripped down along the trench behind them with a storm of bullets thudding into the ground about their feet.

"I will make you an offer," said the officer hurriedly. "You can go your way and leave me to go mine."

"You'll mak' an offer!" said Macalister contemptuously. "Here"--and he waved the pistol across the open again. "Get along there."

"I will give you--" the officer began, when Macalister broke in abruptly.

"This is no a debatin' society," he said. "But ye'll no walk ye maun just drive."

Without further words he thrust the pistol in his pocket, grabbed and took one handful of coat at the back of the officer's neck and another at the skirt, and commenced to thrust him before him across the open ground. But the officer refused to walk, and would have thrown himself down if Macalister's grasp had not prevented it.

"Ye would, would ye?" growled the Scot, and seized his captive by the shoulders and shook him till his teeth rattled. "Now," he said angrily, "ye'll come wi' me or--" he broke off to fling a gigantic arm about the officer's neck--"or I'll pull the heid aff ye."

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Action Front
Boyd Cable

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