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Deeds Of Darkness

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"I don't think," observed Wagstaffe, since Kemp had apparently concluded his philippic, "that young girls are the only people who lose their heads. Consider all the poisonous young blighters that one sees about town just now. Their uplift is enormous, and their manners in public horrid; and they hardly know enough about their new job to stand at attention when they hear 'God Save the King.' In fact, they deserve to be nursed by your little friends, Bobby!"

"They are all that you say," conceded Kemp. "But after all, they do have a fairly stiff time of it on duty, and they are going to have a much stiffer time later on. And they are not going to back out when the romance of the new uniform wears off, remember. Now these girls will play the angel-of-mercy game for a week or two, and then jack up and confine their efforts to getting hold of a wounded officer and taking him to the theatre. It is dernier cri to take a wounded officer about with you at present. Wounded officers have quite superseded Pekinese, I am told."

"Women certainly are the most extraordinary creatures," mused Ayling, a platoon commander of "B." "In private life I am a beak at a public school--"

"What school?" inquired several voices. Ayling gave the name, found that there were two of the school's old boys present, and continued--

"Just as I was leaving to join this battalion, the Head received a letter from a boy's mother intimating that she was obliged to withdraw her son, as he had received a commission in the army for the duration of the war. She wanted to know if the Head would keep her son's place open for him until he came back! What do you think of that?"

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"Sense of proportion wasn't invented when women were made," commented Kemp. "But we are wandering from the subject, which is: what advantages are we, personally, deriving from the war? Wagger, what are you getting out of it?"

"Half-a-crown a day extra pay as Assistant Adjutant," replied Wagstaffe laconically. "Ainslie, wake up and tell us what the war has done for you, since you abandoned the Stock Exchange and took to foot-slogging."

"Certainly," replied Ainslie. "A year ago I spent my days trying to digest my food, tind my nights trying to sleep. I was not at all successful in either enterprise. I can now sit down to a supper of roast pork and bottled stout, go to bed directly afterwards, sleep all night, and wake up in the morning without thinking unkind things of anybody--not even my relations-in-law! Bless the Kaiser, say I! Borrodaile, what about you? Any complaints?"

"Thank you," replied Borrodaile's dry voice; "there are no complaints. In civil life I am what is known as a 'prospective candidate.' For several years I have been exercising this, the only, method of advertising permitted to a barrister, by nursing a constituency. That is, I go down to the country once a week, and there reduce myself to speechlessness soliciting the votes of the people who put my opponent in twenty years ago, and will keep him in by a two thousand majority as long as he cares to stand. I have been at it five years, but so far the old gentleman has never so much as betrayed any knowledge of my existence."

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The First Hundred Thousand
Ian Hay

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