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A Yankee in the Trenches R. Derby Holmes

I Become A Bomber

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"Cheer, cheer, Darby," said he. "We may pull through yet."

"Don't think so," I insisted. "It's us for pushing up the daisies. Good luck if we don't meet again!"

I put my hand in and patted Dinky on the back, and sent up another little prayer for luck. Then there was a terrific shock, and everything went black.

When I came out of it, I had the sensation of struggling up out of water. I thought for an instant that I was drowning. And in effect that was almost what was happening to me. I was buried, all but one side of my face. A tremendous weight pressed down on me, and I could only breathe in little gasps.

I tried to move my legs and arms and couldn't. Then I wiggled my fingers and toes to see if any bones were broken. They wiggled all right. My right nostril and eye were full of dirt; also my mouth. I spit out the dirt and moved my head until my nose and eye were clear. I ached all over.

It was along toward sundown. Up aloft a single airplane was winging toward our lines. I remember that I wondered vaguely if he was the same fellow who had been fighting just before the world fell in on me.

I tried to sing out to the rest of the men, but the best I could do was a kind of loud gurgle. There was no answer. My head was humming, and the blood seemed to be bursting my ears. I was terribly sorry for myself and tried to pull my strength together for a big try at throwing the weight off my chest, but I was absolutely helpless. Then again I slid out of consciousness.

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It was dark when I struggled up through the imaginary water again. I was still breathing in gasps, and I could feel my heart going in great thumps that hurt and seemed to shake the ground. My tongue was curled up and dry, and fever was simply burning me up. My mind was clear, and I wished that I hadn't drunk that rum. Finding I could raise my head a little, I cocked it up, squinting over my cheek bones--I was on my back--and could catch the far-off flicker of the silver-green flare lights. There was a rattle of musketry off in the direction where the Boche lines ought to be. From behind came the constant boom of big guns. I lay back and watched the stars, which were bright and uncommonly low. Then a shell burst near by,--not near enough to hurt,--but buried as I was the whole earth seemed to shake. My heart stopped beating, and I went out again.

When I came to the next time, it was still dark, and somebody was lifting me on to a stretcher. My first impression was of getting a long breath. I gulped it down, and with every grateful inhalation I felt my ribs painfully snapping back into place. Oh, Lady! Didn't I just eat that air up.

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A Yankee in the Trenches
R. Derby Holmes

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