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So when Signals collapsed his adjutant, who, muffled in on the setter with his daily fur-collared British warm and refrain of “bally blinkin' wire's Gilgit boots, appeared, rabbitout again,” the staff officer was like, from the office tent. sympathetioally silent.
“Send for young Greene," “Can't some one put the said the Colonel. “I've got kybosh on the beggars ?” said a job for him.” the expert eventually.
Groene appeared, and for The staff officer knooked the the third time that morning ashes out of his pipe and Signals told his tale. dragged himself to his feet. “And what I want you to
“Tell you what, old thing, do," said the C.O. at the end we'll go round to the ‘Baggy of it, “is to take a dozen of Breeches' and get them to try your men and sit up. Being their luck with a chapao. & shikari, you may get someYou can put 'em up to some thing." likely spots.”
Despondent noises from the “Somewhat!” quoth the signaller were interpreted to blue - and - white banded one mean that needle-hunting in bitterly, but without enthusi- haystaoks was more luorative, asm. “But it's sure to be but the Baggy Breeches were another bally dud. Every nothing if not optimistio ; so he one's tried the chupao' indioated various likely places. stunt and got nothing exoept Later in the morning Greene, pneumonia, so far. Can't you with two of his out-throats and burn a village, or something a fishing-rod, departed downpleasing like that?”
stream. He fished many pools “ Village-burning's off at the over a long length, but for a moment. The authorities are keen fisherman his methods dangling peace-baits. But a were oareless. His bag, to be well-laid ohupao might oatoh preoise, was nil-not surprissomething. Anyway, we'll ing, since his gaze was never have another shot.”
apon the water, and he spent They walked across the quite a long time fishing a oamp to the mess of the most anlikely run under a “Baggy Breeches,” officially collection of small trees at the known as the 518t Bombay edge of a banked-up field. Foot, & newly - arrived unit Anybody casually wanderthirsting for Mabgad blood. ing about the Baggy Breeches The C.O., enjoying a leisurely lines that evening, had they late breakfast, greeted them been observant, might have cheerfully, and listened to their seen one or two unusual sights, tale of woe.
Item, groups of two or three “My idea, sir,” concluded men swathing their bayonets the staff officer, “is that some in strips of thin khaki; item, of your fire-eating youngsters Greene and an Indian officer might like to lay a chupao." breaking whole volumes of
The C.O., an enthusiast, King's Regulations by pasting leapt at it and shouted for strips of white paper between
the sights of a soore of rifles; on the hillside. It was a item, certain men in very muoh long delay ere they got going undress practising orawling again, and fortunate indeed quietly over a heap of stones. was it that no Generals were
Next morning, when the about. linesmen were out repairing Still later, the afternoon for the nth time, Greene, relief of the working party accompanied by an Indian came along, and with them offioer and a havildar, both oame a party of twenty men oonspiouously lacking the carrying their bedding, from trappings and adornments of whiob the most unintelligent their rank, fished that same observer could gather that the run again with equal ill. pioquet was being relieved. 8000e8s. During the morning Altogether there was a good oame & party of men with deal of to-and-fro movement, tools, en route for a picquet and it was late in the afternoon on the opposite bank. One ere the last of the parties had of the mules—strange to say, returned into camp. I regret & peculiarly dooile one as a to say that maroh discipline rule-took vast fright at the was poor, and the Baggy group of fishers, shedding Breeches moved in endless most of his saddlery and groups of fives and sixes, load round about; and it straggling hither and thither, took that party over an hour and at one time there must to colleot their staff and move have been as many as forty on again, which also was dotting the river-bank. strange, for the Baggy The staff officer, sitting on Breeches pride themselves on the edge of the camp, watebed the discipline and quickness the soene for some time and of their working parties. showed a strange disregard of
Later it transpired that it duty in not writing a "stinker" was ration and water day to the · Baggy Breeches on for the same pioquet, and their laok of soldierly beanother party passed by. haviour. On the oontrary, be Evidently & blight was upon appeared rather to enjoy the the Baggy Breeches this morn- display, and when & long. ing, sinoe, as they started ap legged, fair - skinned young the farther bank with their Pathan sepoy came up the hill strings of laden mules, & carrying Greene's fishing-rod flour - sack barst, and the with disgraceful to $85sudden loss of weight that Greene's helmet opon his head, side caused the badly-girthed and a most obvious mimicry saddle to slip round. The of Greene's walk and manner, full saok on the opposite side, followed at respeotful distance slipping between the male's by two grinning armed orderlegs, caused it to kiok the lies, he lay baok on bis pile mule behind, who retaliated, of sandbags and chuokled inthus producing shortly a stead of reproving the jester. complete mess - up of mules .
Night had fallen some time light had dissipated the faint baok, and bush and rook and mist in the river - bed, had tree showed ghostly in the taken up their position. Rodiffused moonlit mist which mained, therefore, to be seen hung about the river - bed whether the enemy's mathebetween the shadowy hills. A matical limitations and the few pin - prioks of lights and value of those brief minutes smudgy blurs of cooking firos of half light had been oorreotly marked the oamp perobed on estimated. the precipitous oliff faoe, while the light grew stronger as up and down stream an 0002- the moon's full oirole swung sional twinkling signal-lamp up higher above the dark marked the position of & jagged hills, and rook and stone pioquet. Save for the faintest and blaok glinting water splash of the fast - running showed in sharp contrast to water of the streams in the intense shadows of velvety front, & dead silence hung black under the bank and over all.
trees. The old shikari instinot Crouched behind a low bank woke in Greene's mind as he of earth, Greene, ouddling his played with the safety • catok rifle, peered out across the of his rifle, and memory after stream to where, barely visible memory of similar waits oame even in the bright moonlight, a into his thoughts. But this great break in the hills flankwas far bigger game than ever ing the river marked the before, more ounding, more entrance of a nullah whioh dangerous; and a funny little served as a Mahsud highway. thrill played up and down his Beside him orouohed his orderly, baok as he thought of the & shot of no mean repate, and possibilities if the enemy had to left and right in the shadows spotted the game and decided of the trees that fringed the to hunt the hunters, i bank you could make out, if An hour passed like an you knew where to look, odd eternity, and the river-bed figures pressed into folds of the remained void of life. Time ground or against che ghostly and again he and the watching trunk of the willows. But men around him craned their even from Greene's vantage- gaze into the shadows ahead, point you would only have now concentrating on men's seen them had you known heads newly showing behind they were there, so still did a rook, now on orouching they lie.
figures that alike proved five The pantomime was con- minutes later to be but yet oluded, and out of the 150 more queer - shaped stones men who had been moving thrown into sharp relief by about over the ground all day, the ever-changing light. fifteen had remained hidden; Once again the subaltern and in the witching hour of bent his gaze down stream, ons when the daylight had and as he did so felt his heart
d e l the moon- hammer in his throat and a tense quivering run through half out of the rippling water. all his musoles, the nervous Another behind orumpled up quivering of repressed exoite- and dropped, and lay struggling ment, that died away 88 & space ero stiffening out still his fingers closed lovingly in the vivid moonlight, and the around his rifle. Surely those rest melted into the rooks blars were moving. He stared around as only tribesmen can. again, one, two-three-four- Next moment from beyond five. ... Yes! moving cer- them oame sports of fire as tainly, there, on the far side bullets zipped past, outting of the water diagonally to his through the branches or bury. position. The blurs drew nearer ing themselves in the bank. and revealed themselves an- The Mahsud never moves in a mistakably as human figures. heap, he knows too much. The He heard to left and right five in front had as many more faint movement; the men had in position at the foot of the seen them too.
hill to cover them. Too far off as yet, but they For five minutes more the seemed to be getting oloser. noise oontinued as the Baggy If they crossed the stream Breeches endeavoured to rehe could bag the lot, but it cover the corpses, an operation was no good trying to chase proving too expensive, since them since they would melt the Mahsuds by now had the into the bills. They came stream well covered, and to olose to the water, and then, advance into the light from to his disgust, turned right. the shadows was to reverse handed along the far bank, the rôle too much in the working away once more. The enemy's favour. range was longish for night So Greene gathered his party work: what he had prayed for and withdrew to camp, with was fifteen yards, this was the comfortable feeling that nearer sixty, but he ouddled he had correctly estimated tbe his rifle into his cheek, the value of the dusk and the orderly imitating, and pull- enemy's counting ability in ing the barrel down on the the matter of scattered bodies leading dim figure until of men, the white card strip dis. That night and for some appeared, pressed the trigger, nights after the signallers the orderly's shot following iddy-umptied continually, and on the echo, to be instantane. the linesmen lay abed till the ously suoceeded by a ragged sun got warm, and then luxuriburst to either hand. The ously descended to the river leading figure orashed to the to oatoh snow trout with ground and rolled down a little bent pins, praising the Baggy bank, head first, into the stream, Breeches with liberal use of tbe to lie motionless half in and G.S. adjective.
CHAPTER VIII.—"IN SURE AND CERTAIN HOPE."
The 80-lb. tent in the field added to the comfort of lying ambulance was comfortably in warm dry blankets, after warm compared to the cold & welcome meal of hot bovril dark without, and the oil and bully stew, ander passably stove, which stood in the good cover. middle, shed a pleasant glow All things considered, & on the tent walls and over bullet in the shoulder was the blanket-heaped stretchers, not a big price to pay for where, side by side on the such pleasant surroundings on ground, lay the infantry major, such a murky night. If only the sapper oaptain, and the things would quiet down a Gurkha subaltern.
trifle one might really get a Outside, the darkness was comfortable sleep. lit from time to time by the The sapper oaptain, whose unearthly brilliance of Very knee was very badly perforlights, and stabbed continu- ated and painful, must have ously by the yellow splashes been given a dose of morphia, of rifle-fire, while at unoertain for he was getting happily intervals & section of 3.7-inch drowsy, and replied to the howitzers filled the narrow major's occasional remarks river valley with orash of in & voice that seemed to H.E. shell.
be sliding farther and farListening to the noise, the ther down the road to joyful major felt that after all he oblivion. had by no means the worst As for the Gurkha subaltern, of the game- & feeling a0- he was far away out beyond oentuated, perhaps, by the speech or hearing, and lay very knowledge that such of his still, with arms downstretohed pals as were not aotively en. under his blankets, the tight gaged in making the din lay bandages about his head above oorled up in their sodden the olosed puffy eyes, and his olothes on the stones of the stertorons uneven breathing, river - bed between the fast- showing that he was past all running streams, wbich- worrying as to whether or shifting periodioally as they when the camp was likely to were blooked higher up with be rushed. dead mule or camel (dead men A very oallow British ward were not suoh serious ob- orderly-evidently new to the stacles) - Washed out the land-oame and suggested weary men trying vainly to taking off the major's boots, get a little rest in the general a proposal flatly negatived disturbance.
forth with, the wearer of the The oocasional whine and boots considering that if he slap of bullets about the stone did have to run for his life retaining-wall in whose shelter over the cold wet rocks in the the tent was pitohed, only midst of hairy men with knives,